Posted in about shae, fearless, strangers, travel


I think almost every parent tells their children, “Don’t talk to strangers.” We are taught that strangers are dangerous, can hurt us, abduct us, or worse. That “stranger danger” feeling often follows us into adulthood.

I was asked this week how I handle eating alone, traveling alone, being alone. It was an honest inquiry from someone who has recently moved away from family and friends and is on their own more than they ever have been.

Almost a decade ago, I tried an experiment, starting out small, and eventually adding to it – I challenged myself to talk to strangers whenever I left the apartment. Now, talking to strangers is second nature to me. I do it all the time.

Monday, on my way to Fort Lauderdale, I was in line to board the plane with a man named Glenn, also from Houston. We had a great conversation and went our separate ways.

This morning, I found out a coworker, also in Fort Lauderdale, was taking the same flight home as I was. She has been taking many trips back and forth from Houston to Fort Lauderdale the past few months. When we were in line to board the plane, we both saw Glenn.  He had seen her quite a few times at the airport, and he thought it was wild that she and I knew each other and we were all on the same flight home.

I saw him on the plane in the last row.  I was a few rows ahead.  When we landed, he all of a sudden was right behind me like some sort of airplane aisle ninja.  He said goodbye to me and my coworker and we all went our separate ways.

We saw each other again at baggage claim and he exclaimed, “OH MY GAWD YOU STALKER!” and we started laughing.  We talked a bit, and as we parted he said, “see you around Airport Dweller.”  His wife pulled up and they both waved and merged into traffic.

I think I’d find it incredibly funny if I ever saw him again.  He’s about to start working quite a bit on the West Coast.

If I didn’t make a point of talking to strangers, I wouldn’t have had the conversations and laughs I had today.  I have a whole list of stories I now have to tell because I went out of my comfort zone to cultivate conversations with strangers.

Try it. One stranger. One person at the mall or the grocery store. Your dry cleaner. The lady who sells hotdogs at the ballpark. Most people will be open to a sentence or two.

Add to your story.  Talk to strangers!


Posted in commentary, Ocean, travel, travels, Uncategorized, value


FullSizeRender 3

Work has taken me to Florida again.  This time, I planned a trip to the beach as it will likely rain the rest of the week.  I wanted to get some sand between my toes before I dive into work tomorrow.

After dinner, I sat on the beach for a glorious hour, listening to waves crash and watching a dad bury his two girls in the sand.   I received a text that my parking meter was running low, so I reluctantly headed back to the MINIVAN the rental place gave me.

An old man (and by old, I mean way older than my father), was sitting in a row of chairs in the plaza by himself. He made eye contact so I went over and introduced myself. Carl is no longer able to get down to the ocean. Bad knees, bad hips, bad everything, so he comes down and sits as close to the ocean as he can.

He asked how it was down on the beach and if I put my toes in the water and the sand and what it felt like, so I told him. This particular beach had damp, coarse sand that actually flaked off easier than powdered sand. He thought that was a great description.

We talked some more, then he said, “go while you can. You never know when you won’t be able to feel the sand between your toes anymore.”

He was still smiling, but my heart broke a little bit.  Clearly, he loved the ocean. Those chairs were as close as he was going to get to it at this point in his life as far as he was concerned.

I’m not old by any means, but I know I am at the end of the summer of my life. I can’t imagine a time when I won’t be able to do simple things that give me pleasure, but I know it’s inevitable.

“Enjoy everything while you can,” he reiterated.  “Was it a good trip to the beach?”

Yes, Carl, it was.  Thank you for the reminder that I need to squeeze everything I can out of every moment I can.


Posted in breast cancer, femininity, travel, travels, weight loss


I have passed the middle of one of the busiest years of my life. I am tired, for sure, but I’m so grateful to be on this journey. 

My travels started in March with a trip to Maui, and with work, I started in May with a trip to Philadelphia, followed by a trip in mid-July to Los Angeles, and I just got back from New Jersey and will leave again for Los Angeles again this Sunday. 

Fortunately, I am fond of traveling, even for work. I just bought a new suitcase for the half dozen or so trips I have left this year, and the half dozen or so I will have next year. 

Daisy, the best suitcase ever!
Daisy, the best suitcase ever!

Daisy already has road wear, but whatever.  She is easy to maneuver and she is easy to spot and forces me to pack lighter. I love my work shirts – they help me pack lighter too. They don’t wrinkle either. 

I am on the quickest pace I’ve had since I had breast cancer. I’m not kidding – sometimes I wonder where the energy is coming from (right up until the point it absolutely disappears).  I am balancing two huge projects at work – which I’ve likened to juggling two burning bowling balls and trying not to get burned – and I’m surviving.  

I say “surviving,” and I am. Not always as gracefully as I’d like, because, well, this is me, and I have hit bumps in the road and found myself crying in frustration when I physically and mentally collapse in exhaustion, but I’m still going. Still getting better. Still figuring out what life is supposed to be like after the breast cancer/hysterectomy/RNY gastric bypass clean slate. 

I haven’t lost a pound in about 6 months. That’s been about as frustrating as anything. I’m still on the medicine that makes me gain weight, but I didn’t think I’d come to this plateau so soon. I’ve fluctuated the same 5 pounds since March. Up/down. Up/down. I’ve not gained any weight back per se. My measurements are still the same or even less. I feel no pressure to move the scale, but I’m still frustrated. I refuse to go back to being morbidly obese. I refuse to return to what was.  Getting the scale to move again is not my focus right now, but if it did, I’d be thrilled.

I have zero chances at establishing any sort of routine between now and next June. This is where I am challenged to find routine in the spontaneous demands of my job until these projects are finished.  I’m trying to see this as an opportunity rather than a hinderance. I know I am capable. I can do this.

Finding balance has never been my strong suit, but I’m getting better at it. I hope to have more tales to tell as the time goes on, more tales where I’m not just fighting like a girl, but kicking ass like a woman. What got me through the challenge of breast cancer must mature into something that can sustain me as I keep moving forward.

I fought like a girl and won. Life has gone on. Time to kick ass.

Posted in Ocean, photography, pics, travel, Uncategorized


South Padre Island, Texas

I’m sitting on a somewhat comfortable couch in a hotel in Corpus Christi, Texas, with football on the tv (muted) and iTunes radio playing some totally incredible jazz. I feel totally relaxed and accomplished, since what I came to Corpus Christi to do for work went really well and I completed my task.

One of the perks of traveling for work is that we have offices in some beautiful places and sometimes I actually have enough time to go enjoy some of the local sights or cuisine.  Last night, I went for a walk on a lovely beach on South Padre Island.

I love the ocean. I especially love the beach. When those two things are paired and the water is less brown than other places on the Gulf Coast, I get a tad camera crazy.  The lighting was perfect (we were out there around six) and the tide was coming in. There weren’t many shells and the waters were very stirred up (TS Ingrid) but the whitecaps were beautiful.

South Padre Island, Texas

I did, however, find a couple shells to shoot. I left them there so someone else could enjoy them.  I went to a souvenir shop and bought some polished ones there instead.

South Padre Island, Texas
South Padre Island, Texas

I can’t describe how good it was to take the camera out and do something fun and creative. I have a new appreciation for my camera since my first DSLR was stolen a couple of months ago.  I’ve vowed not to let this one go to waste.  I will leave you with a few more photos from last evening’s walk.

South Padre Island, Texas
South Padre Island, Texas
South Padre Island, Texas
South Padre Island, Texas
South Padre Island, Texas

Posted in photography, travel, vacation


Vacations are a doorway to an alternate reality, at least they are for me.  Vacations are a glimpse of what my life could be like if I could ever woke up and was a (paid) creatively-driven photojournalist or had married a younger, more chiseled (former navy seal or hot photojournalist) clone of Rick Steves or someone who works for him. For 7-10 days or so, I get to live that fantasy, traveling via plane or car hopping from city to city, gratefully accepting the hospitality of others so I can live at least as a creatively-driven traveling  photographer, even for a short time.

Morning fisherman, Hermosa Beach, CA
I photographed nearly everything I could.  I practiced my street photography, I took postcard-esque photos, I recorded events and places, and I shot my life as it was happening.  I was so relaxed and content and just soaked in all the different things, places and people as much as I could.
Murphys, CA
It’s strange what goes through my head when I see what most would ignore as plain or mundane. For example, the above shutter was a random object that I couldn’t walk past until I took this picture.  It turned out better than I had imagined.  I will look at this picture and I will think of that tiny town and the slow pace.

I came back Sunday and was attacked by a thick coating of pollen, quite a bit of which came from this tree:

The pollen-related headache and opening the door and walking back into my apartment quickly snapped me back to reality, the reality where I work a day job, I pay have and pay bills, and photography is just a hobby (and I’m not married to a chiseled former navy seal traveling photojournalist).  I cherish each vacation I get, because the alternate reality helps me enjoy my current reality, but not only that, those short bursts of alternate reality show me that life is possible and maybe not as far out of my reach as I think.

The reality of vacations is just a preview for my retirement into full time photography, whatever that looks like.

Here are some other random photos from the trip.  Will post more later.
Candy Store in Murphys, CA
Sidewalk Snail, Hermosa Beach, CA
Near Rancho Palo Verde, CA
 Near Rancho Palo Verde, CA
Near Rancho Palo Verde, CA
Posted in creativity, NANOWRIMO, travel, Writing


About a week ago, I had decided to try to squeeze out a novel in November, as I have done twice in the last five years, for NANOWRIMO. The day after I allowed myself to make that declaration public and start getting excited about it, my boss delivered the news that I needed to travel to our New Jersey office.  The time window for this to happen was about three weeks.

I was a little taken off guard by my boss’ request because the NJ office and I had tried to schedule this trip the second week of October, when, for all intents and purposes, it was the most convenient time for everybody, especially me, but the trip was a no-go.  So now, the only week that made sense within the proposed window was the first week of November.

I will have no time whatsoever to devote to NANOWRIMO on this trip unless I get extremely creative. I could get the novel started on November 1st, but I will be packing that night and the Texans are playing the Colts in Indy on Monday Night Football.  So, while I plan on writing that night, I won’t be writing much. Tuesday, I will have time on the plane to write.  That will require me to take my laptop to New Jersey, which I hadn’t planned to do. I would also have some time to write before bed on Wednesday and Thursday nights in the hotel.

The next two nights, however, I will be in New York City with my work buddy Chrissy, and I promise you, the laptop will not see the light of day.  I can, of course, write more on the plane on Sunday on the way home if I don’t pass out first.  If I take the laptop, I only lose 2-3 days, and since I tend to finish early most of the time, that’s not an insurmountable deficit.  If I don’t take the laptop and I come back and try to start writing on the 9th, I don’t know that I will actually get started, let alone finish.

So you see the dilemma.  Do I give up before I even start, or do I go ahead and try to overcome this wrench in my plans? I still haven’t decided.  First I have to see if I have an idea that I believe is worth trying to overcome this obstacle.

I’m tired of all the things that suck my creative well dry, or obstacles I let get in my way, and I need to write 50,000 words in 30 days more than I ever have.  Perhaps this trip will provide a much needed refill of the creative well. Then, after I do 50,000 words in 30 days, maybe I should do a similar photo contest as well.  Regardless of how this turns out, I need to refocus my time on the activities and people that feed my soul, and begin to tune out all that does not.

Stay tuned for updates!