The last post of the trip…

So once I left Colorado it was back to Kentucky to pick up my car and also to speak at a local college in Indiana. Just recently I started doing some public speaking gigs and my speech initially was geared towards other professional photographers. When I was asked to speak to college kids I did a bit of tweaking and it rocked! The students were SO incredible. They were engaged, enthusiastic and extremely talented.

I stayed after and spoke to a couple of students one on one and that turned out to be probably the best part of the experience. I got feedback within hours of the talk about changing lives and inspiring their passion. I was floored and flattered. I was so excited to have been a part of their journey, even if it was only for a few hours. It made me that I want to do a lot more public speaking and I want to do it now!

My last stop of the trip was Nashville, Tennessee. I went there to experience the amazing city and to see my awesome friend of 20+ years, Sarah! Sarah moved to Nashville about 8 years ago to pursue her dream of being in the music industry and she is crushing that dream! It’s been so amazing because her and I have been on what I love to call “the road to happiness,” for the same amount of years. We both started going after our dream career at the same time and it’s been incredible to share this road with her.

 

Sarah is one of the few people in the world that I can sit down with and be real with on any given occasion. She lets me tell it like it is and she gives it right back. She is a truly beautiful person on the inside and the outside and I feel so lucky to call her my friend. She also recently got engaged to a super stellar guy and guess who is going to be their wedding photographer?!

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I spent a few days in TN longer than I expected because of a huge ice storm. It was insane to see how another state reacts to bad weather and it made me feel like an invincible New Englander but truth be told this ice storm was no joke and would have caused trouble even here in Ct. The good news is that it made for an impromptu ice storm party at Sarah’s friends house. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard or enjoyed meeting strangers as much as I did that day. We mixed champagne with card games, good food and great company. My first and last Nashville ice storm party was a success.

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From Nashville I drove to Roanoke where my father used to live. It’s always held a special place in my heart. I drove back to old familiar surroundings like his old house and the famous Roanoke star! Even though it was bitter cold, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed with a warm and fuzzy feeling of very special childhood memories. IMG_8189IMG_8202IMG_8214

My last day on the road was supposed to be my second to last day on the road but I just kept driving. I was so close to home and I needed my bed so after 10.5 hours of driving I ended up in Essex, Ct at the Black Seal of course. It was amazing to be greeted by my best friends and a cold beer. It’s taken a few days to actually feel settled now that I am home. I felt like a stranger in my own home for the first 24 hours. But now that my pup is home, my laundry is done and I’m unpacked- home feels amazing.

So I guess thats it. This incredible 3 week journey is over. I saw and experienced things I never imagined possible. I got to see some of my favorite people in the world as well as meet some new very special people. As cliche as it sounds I learned a shit ton about myself on this trip. Things that I truly needed to unravel. Things that I have brought home with me, and things that I’m still figuring out. But this trip was one of the best decisions of my life and I will cherish these blog posts and my photographs forever.

Were there any other questions? Oh ok, yes you in the back? Oh you were wondering about that boy I met in Fort Collins, Co? Well, he’ll be here in two weeks and my tickets are booked to go back 3 weeks later to see him in April. So things are going well, to say the least 🙂

Stay tuned…the real adventure has just begun.

That time I fell in love in Colorado…Part II

So there we were…the Town Pump. Its a super tiny bar with awesome, crazy bumper stickers (see below) as well as great beer and even better company. We started chatting with the bartender and I explained what I was doing in town and how I was traveling around the country. She was super pumped about my story and before I knew it, there I was behind the bar.

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Once we spent some quality time at the Town Pump we went to the another bar down the road where we were able to play pool, chat more and discover not only how bad I am at pool but what a sore loser I am 🙂 Luckily Joey happens to be on the nicest human beings I’ve ever met in my life so he took my sore loserness in stride.

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So by this time, keep in mind we are at our fourth bar, I am feeling good, I am feeling confident and I am feeling very fortunate to have actually met the man behind the myth. We totally hit it off. We laughed and drank and shared stories. As we played pool I realized this might be my only chance of the short 48 hours that I would be in Fort Collins (24 hours of them already passed) that I would have to kiss the man that for the first time in a long time, made my heart flutter. So as I passed by him and gave him the pool stick to take his turn, I grabbed him and kissed him. And well- it was fanfuckingtastic.

That night will forever be in my mind as one of the best nights I’ve ever had. From the moment we met to the moment I boarded my plane- Joey and I didn’t leave each others side.

The next day we did go on his motorcycle and it was awesome. The weather was unseasonably warm, I got experience one of his biggest passions and I even got to hang on a little tighter than I needed to because, well- I wanted to and he didn’t seem to mind.

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He took me out to an awesome dinner and I even got to meet a few of his very cool friends along the way. When I asked if he could bring me to the bus in the morning to catch my VERY early flight out of Denver he had a better solution which was to take me himself. The thought actually hadn’t even crossed my mind, I couldn’t imagine asking someone to wake up at 4:00 and drive and hour to get me to my flight. For him, it wasn’t a question.

So yes, I entitled this blog that time I fell in love in Colorado and I want to make something clear, I can’t say that after 48 hours I fell in love, that would be crazy! And I’m not sure what will happen with Joey and I but I hope for wonderful and big things. But I did fall in love in those 48 hours, I fell in love with how he made me feel, I fell in love with facing those “firsts,” I feel in love with being brave enough to plant a kiss on my new crush and I fell in love with what genuine happiness feels like because sometimes…you forget.

So for that, yes, I absolutely fell in love in Colorado.

That time I fell in love in Colorado… Part I

When I woke up in Fort Collins I was super confused but once I got my bearings I was so excited to be there. In the morning I spent a some quality time with Walter’s colleagues discussing how I might be able to help them with some future photography projects. We went to lunch together and I was introduced to the downtown area. I told him “this is the type of city I could live in.” It has the charm of a small town but the edge of a big city. I’ve never been to anywhere like it. Every corner is filled with either a super cool new restaurant, some sort of art space, a unique store or cool bar. I spent the afternoon exploring all of the above.

After I checked out the downtown space, I borrowed Walter’s car and found myself driving towards the mountains. I ended up finding some gorgeous space and the windows were down, every song that came on the radio was perfect and I got to breathe in the Colorado air. Here’s an example of what I came across on this solo drive. IMG_7922

So here is where a little backstory is necessary. My sister Megan visits her boyfriend Walter in Colorado quite often and back in December while she was there she met a guy named Joey. The two of them hit it off and Megan did what she does best which is being a life coach 🙂 She started grilling Joey about what type of woman he would like. He gave a few examples, then his friend Hannah spoke up and gave some more details and Megan decided she had the perfect woman to meet all his criteria. She showed him a picture and he responded, “She’s beautiful!” Megan replied, “Thats my sister.”

I remember Megan telling me about that night and although I was flattered I couldn’t get myself too excited since whoever this man was, he lived halfway across the country. I didn’t have any plans to travel the country at that time and even once I did- I never had plans to go to Fort Collins, CO where he lived.

So once I was there I figured I would message this stranger who I was Facebook friends with, let him know I was in the area and that if he were around, him, Walter and I should meet up for drinks that night. He was totally down with the idea and I’ll admit, I took a little longer than usual to get ready for the evening than I usually do.

Walter took me to his favorite spot, The Social. We hung there and he ordered some of his favorite apps and drinks that are his usuals and that I loved. I tried not to let Walter notice me checking the entrance of the place periodically to see if my new friend was here. At one point, I stuffed my face with some of our yummy food and of course without realized it, Joey had arrived, he was right behind me- Walter was introducing us and I had a mouth full of food.

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Once I swallowed my food, the conversation amongst the three of us began. Here’s a little known fact about me: I can talk to anyone, I mean anyone. I can start a conversation with a complete stranger, I can sit at a bar by myself and make friends but when I meet someone I’m actually into- I get very nervous and the conversation doesn’t flow as smoothly as usual…at all. In fact I think within the first 5 minutes of our conversation I shared the Black Seal “Unicorn party,” story I once heard and without getting into much detail- it was highly inappropriate when I heard it half in the bag from a good friend, it was TOTALLY inappropriate to be sharing with a complete stranger. But Joey laughed (thank god) and hopefully appreciated my nervous conversation piece.

So the theme of the night so became “Mary Beth’s Firsts.” At the social I tried deviled eggs for the first time, at the next bar we went to I tried an oyster shooter and (vodka, tomato juice, spices and an oyster), crab legs (I know, I know I’m from New England). I took it all with stride and Joey mentioned my next first should be riding on his motorcycle the next day. As scary as it sounded I didn’t want to loose a chance to see him again so I said yes!

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As the night was coming to a close I realized I wasn’t tired and would really love to spend more time exploring the city. I asked Walter if it would be ok if I caught a cab home since I wasn’t quite ready to go. Before he could say yes, Joey offered to stay with me and show me a little bit more of Fort Collins. Of course that was my plan all along but I didn’t want to put any pressure on him, especially since he had work the next day. My plan worked though and I was thrilled. He said, where would you like to go next? He said there was a fancy place, a middle of the road place and a dive bar with Jello shots. Of course I choose the dive bar and we made our way across the street to my new favorite bar called the Town Pump where within a half hour I would become the new bartender.

To be continued..

An AMAZING tattooed, urban, red-hair-don’t-care Shoot

So after a few days chilling with my cousin I left Utah and flew to Denver, Colorado. My first night would be spent with my friend Lilly who I met in Mexico this past November. She is a florist and we connected to see each other again but also to do a styled shoot. A styled shoot is simply when a whole bunch of vendors get together and do a shoot based on everything they could ever wish for. Our theme was urban chic and my friend found an amazing set of models, two awesome dresses, her own flowers, professional hair and makeup and all those goodies!

Monday was the shoot and it was flippin awesome! We had a such a good time and I loved exploring Denver! The models were awesome and the day went really well. It was the first time on the trip that I felt like I had my groove. Not in the way that Stella got her groove back but in the way that I was totally comfortable and confident. Here are some examples of what we got that day!

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At the end of the day I was wiped. Sometimes people don’t realize how exhausting photographing can be. Think of it this way, every second for 6-12 hours we are deciding where to shoot, how to pose people, what the settings on the camera should be, how to manipulate the light and how to somehow get that *it* factor into the photo. So I was tired but still running on adrenaline and super excited for the evening because I would be having dinner with my sisters boyfriend Walter.

Water is a pretty fucking awesome guy if I do say so myself. He entered our lives a few years ago when we needed him most. I say “we,” because my family works as a unit. We welcomed him with open arms and since then he has been constant blessing.

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He took me out that evening to a seriously fabulous dinner. I’m not the fancy type but I do adore a really wonderful “fancy,” dinner time to time. We sat, ate, drank and chatted for a long time. During dinner he mentioned he could probably get me a meeting where he works for some photography work. Since he works at Otterbox, the most famous phone case business there is- I said yes right away. That changed some plans for me and would mean I would no longer be hanging in Denver as planned. Instead I would head north a hour to Fort Collins where he lived. That decision would soon prove to be the best decision I would make on this entire trip….stay tuned 🙂

Panic in the Mountains…

My next stop would be the main stop of the trip, the reason I am on this trip at all and that was to get to Salt Lake City and hang out with my cousin. My cousin has lived in Salt Lake for about 8 years and for 7 years and 11 months I’ve been saying I would come out. Bobby would tease me by texting amazing images of sunsets and sunrises. I finally decided to make my dream a reality but taking this amazing trip and getting out to Utah with multiple stops along the way.

To give you a brief history on Bobby and I, we’ve been cousins for 30 years but we didn’t see much of each other past the ages of 8 or 9. You know how things go sometimes when families seem to spend less and less time together. Almost 10 years ago a tragedy within our family brought us together again. It was as if I was meeting him for the first time all over again and all I can say is everything finally seemed right in the world. I finally found the person in my family who’s personality reflects mine- outgoing, funny, adventurous and a little off the radar. We immediately bonded as adults and grew to be closer than ever. Unfortunately soon after, Bobby moved to Utah so I only get to see him about once a year.

The night I arrived we were literally like 2 ten year old girls on a sleepover. We couldn’t stop talking and although we were both exhausted, there was so much to catch up on that we chatted away till about 4 in the morning, happy to be sleeping under the same roof 🙂

The next day, Bobby told me that he wanted to take me to his favorite place in the entire world, but that’s all I knew. We hopped in the car and drove for 4.5 hours. I had no idea where we were going or what we were doing but knowing Bobby I knew it would be amazing. We arrived that night and although I could see the town name, I couldn’t see much more. In the morning when I woke up I walked out of our hotel and saw this:

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I was stunned, grateful, amazed and breathless (literally and figuratively). We were in Zion National Park in the desert of Utah. Bobby informed me that tonight we would be doing a hike to the top of a mountain called Angels landing to see the sunset. To call Bobby and outdoorsmen would be an understatement. Bobby has done and experienced things that most people will never even come close to doing their entire lifetime. He is an avid ice and rock climber, runner and just about anything else that involves serious super human powers. So to say I was anxious about doing this hike with him would be an understatement.

IMG_7784This is the sign by the mountain, it shows how many people have died here. Awesome.

I watched the hours pass knowing that soon enough I would be a the bottom of a 5 mile hike up a mountain that people from all over the world come to hike. We packed my camera, a few beers and some snacks to enjoy once we reached the top. And when I say we packed, I mean I packed and Bobby carried. So we started and things were pretty good, “I can do this,” I thought. Well thats because the first half mile or so was relatively flat and simply got us to the bottom of this god forsaken mountain.

The incline began and although it was tough my inner athlete came out and I pushed along with a break here and there. What I wasn’t counting on and didn’t take into enough consideration was my avid and very intense fear of heights. All of a sudden I looked to my right, realized how high we are and my body went into full panic mode. If you’ve never experienced a panic attack, be thankful and if you have then you might have a bit of an understanding of what happened next. It was as if the little robots that run my body and mind decided to go into overdrive and I could hear that red sirens going off, shut down mode. I literally grabbed onto the mountain and wouldn’t let go and started to cry. I could NOT do this. Every single inch of my body was panicking, my mind and heart racing, my vision blurry and my balance was non-existent. I was furious- I wanted to kick this mountains ass and surely the opposite was happening. And you know who stood there and told me I was amazing and let’s call it a day and enjoy beers at the bottom- my rockstar cousin Bobby.

See even though he is a super human adventurer he understands that we all have our own limits. I asked him to let me try to walk, he stood by my side and I almost collapsed in fear. Tearing up again flashbacks of this exact feeling on a cliff jump about 5 years ago start racing through my mind. I was going cliff jumping with friends and when it was my turn this exact thing happened and I eventually had to crawl my way down the cliff and I’ve never forgotten how disappointed I was in myself that day and any time I think about it. I said to him- “Let me try one more time and that will be it.” He agreed, I put my head down, focused on my tiny feet, my shallow breathing and repeated the word PUSH through in my head. Bobby went with it and for the next 45 minutes told me that I was crushing it. You know how they say your body and mind can be capable of doing things you never imagined- well this was living proof for me. I walked and I didn’t stop. I hiked the rest of the entire mountain and when I got to the very top, this is what laid in front of me. (That tiny spec is my cousin).

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I might be a good photographer but this photo, or any photo for that matter could never truly tell the story of what that view looked like to me. It looked like heaven. I looked like endless possibilities. It looked like strength. And most importantly t looked like family.IMG_7903

 

Bobby and I did this together and I would never be the same. We sat on the top of the mountain enjoyed a much deserved beer, wiped off my tears and listened to the nothingness of the mountain. It was the sound of silence and it reminded me of how big this world truly is. It reminded me that this is a world where you can either move with the adventures you are handed or you can work against them. This mountain wasn’t going to move to make this hike any easier on me. It didn’t care if I was scared or if I was afraid of heights. It stood there solid in it’s foundation and it was up to me if I wanted to defeat it. No one else. And as I took in her beauty and looked around me, with no sound it at all I heard her say “you’re welcome.”

Zion, I am forever grateful. Thank you.

 

“Where’d ya get that kid of yours?”

The next stop on my trip was to see my friend Bekka. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky and previous to doing Capture full time, my old job allowed me to travel there once a year. One year it was her and her new awesome boyfriend, the next year it was her new daughter and her awesome boyfriend turned husband and this time (it’s been a few years) it was her, her 2 year old daughter, her awesome hubby turned awesome dad and little baby boy Asher. Here is me and my new love bug nephew:

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It’s amazing to see your friends go through so much positive change over the years. It’s also really strange. I connect with people based on the time period we met in my life. For me and Bekka- we were in high school. She became an amazing friend super quick. Her and I can laugh for hours on end, we found a strong connection when it came to God and the two of us have always kept it real with each other which is lifelong friendship material #1 to me. So when you base your beliefs about a person based on what you know about them from so many years of friendship its super strange to see them take on a new role in life that you never experienced with them before.

Watching Bekka be a mom isn’t so much strange as it is amazingly fitting and heart warming. The only strange part really is like- where did these kids come from? We are being moms now? When did we become adults? In fact when I arrived my first words were “You got another one!” referring to her new baby boy. When you never hang out with them during pregnancy and then a child appears next time you visit it’s sort of surreal. But my main point is- Bekka is an amazing mom. I ALWAYS knew she would be. She had talked about having kids as long as I could remember. Her little girl is a spitting image of her beautiful self and her new baby boy already has a piece of my heart.

I hung out with Bekka and her family and was able to be fed a home cooked meal which is sort of priceless on a trip like this. Bekka told her daughter my name is Auntie MB and that tuned into Auntie B which is my new favorite nickname. The great part of this trip is although I’m in a lot of places, the people I see make it feel like home. So although it’s tough to live out of a few bags and not have the comforts of home- my friends, each in their own unique way give me back a piece of myself when I spend time with them. It’s the piece, like I mentioned before, that I reflect on as who I was when I met this person. You can’t help but reminisce on old times with friends but with that comes self realization of where you once were, where you are and where you want to be next time you have an in person conversation with long distance friends. I’m just lucky to be able to have these conversations face to face with people who once lived a walk or a bike ride away and now require cars and planes to be able to see. The uncomfortable has been worth it. More to come on that….

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Connecticut meets Kentucky

So as far as I know that last 7 hour trip will be the longest leg of driving I have which is a great thing because I did less than superb with it. I like to do all things in a superb way. My next stop was Lexington, Kentucky to see my friend Harding. Harding used to live in Ct and we met at church. How cute are we?! We became long time friends over similar taste in music, wine, religion and the rare Sunday about every 6 months where we went from Church to the black seal and stayed there for what I’ll describe as simply too long on any given day 🙂

I had my groove back driving and it felt good and relaxing to get back behind the wheel. The 3 hour drive felt like nothing compared to the day before and I was greeted in Lexington at Harding’s brand new house which is actually a very old gorgeous Victorian by his wife who I simply adore, Wells. Wells is the type of person that hugs you because she means it and says she is happy to see you and is truly happy to see you. She is the epitome of what I would describe as a Southern sweetheart. The day Harding told me about her I told him he would marry her and he did! Good job Harding!

Harding came home shortly after I got there bearing a wonderful hug, some burgers and beer. We all sat and chatted. This was superbowl sunday so Harding and Wells were going to be hosting a party at their house that night which would be a great chance for me to meet all their friends.

During the afternoon I did some work and then got to have the insane pleasure of face timing with Pixel who is currently with her breeders. Pixel seemed very confused and simply adorable. She could hear my voice and kept looking for me but couldn’t see me. Her breeders and I decided Pixel would need some practice at this face timing thing but for me it gave me a small dose of my love bug that I so much needed.

Superbowl time came and that was filled with so much good food, drink and new peeps. I’m sure most people wondered who the blue haired half shaven head girl was but I didn’t waste time in letting them wonder- I walked right up and introduced myself. Everyone was great and became a Patriots fan in light of their new New England friend 🙂 I probably don’t have to tell you what a great game it was because if you don’t know that then you probably didn’t watch it and probably don’t care. But if you are someone who watched it- damn was that a good game! My new found friends and I made some seriously hilarious jokes along the way, so much was put in our hands to be made fun of. I mean the dancing sharks? Not only did I love them but I now want to be one! Thanks Tracy for the selfie stick!!! Harding and wells are in red and white to my left.

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The next day I walked around Lexington and found myself drawn to gorgeous artwork all over the buildings downtown. Here are some of my favorite shots:

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Harding and I had lunch and caught up a bit more before I had to drive to Louisville, Kentucky- my next stop. I was glad we had that time to chat, laugh and say goodbye, even though we just said hello.