My life in a year • A look back on 2018

My Life in a Year: A Look Back on 2018 - The Calm Collective

While this year has certainly had its ups and downs (one giant down and lots of little ups), I’m ready to accept the growth that’s come from it, and bring alllll of that energy into 2019 with fresh new eyes and a slew of really healthy boundaries and no doubt – more lessons and tests for me to practice just how much of a handle I’ve got on them ;) But that’s what I’m learning to love about life: the tests.  When you’re living life on a hampster wheel, or you’re asleep at the wheel (how many other “wheel” references are there?), or you’re living on auto-pilot, it’s SO easy and SO much more comfortable to just ignore the moments when you’re meant to detach, when you should walk away because there’s something better suited for you, when energetically things aren’t aligning – but “this is just how it is”, so you force it. You succumb to society’s standards for you and your life, and you quite possibly leave your own karmic purpose in the dust to settle. 

I feel really fucking proud to be awake. To be self aware. To be growing in that space every day. To know that even if I don’t quite get a handle on all off it and I feel really gnarly on random days, in the end, I can say that I really showed up for myself. I held loving space every single day, even when it felt unnatural, and I’m doing the work to learn all that it is I need to learn in order to fully take advantage of the time I’ve got here.

I do not, by any means, have it all figured out. But just being mindful of it all – of knowing (and believing) the fact that I AM is enough, that I don’t have to fill in any of the blanks, that just being here, awake and aware, is all I’m meant to do in this life. To flow, to live in alignment, to surrender to the hell yes’ and to wave away the hell no’s.

So, 2019, with all that being said: I can’t wait to meet you.

Here’s what 2018 looked like (the good, joyful nuggets)


Took a step away, and came back with fresh eyes and a huge heart for documenting raw, emotion-filled moments. 

Families have become my main jam, alongside photographing couples and shooting boudoir.

My mission with families is to capture them in their most authentic state. If your kid has chocolate on their face, great. If they run away from you during photos, awesome. Don’t worry – I’ll chase and document the pure joy they’re getting from organic play. Let them be little. Let your family dynamic be REAL. So that when you look back 10 years from now, 20 years from now, what you remember isn’t “fake smiles and matching outfits” – rather “so much love lives here, and I can hear his/her little laugh through that photo.”

My mission with photographing couples is to release any attachment to the awkwardness that can come from being in front of the camera and to remember that you showed up, you booked this session to create moments to look back on. It’s not about perfection – in fact, perfection to me is offensive when it comes to my art. I want the messy, organic, raw conditions and emotions. If it starts to rain? Perfect. If the wind keeps getting in your face? I’m all for it. It’s only, and forever will only, be about documenting you and your love just as you are – in your most authentic state. That, for me as the creator behind the camera, has made all the difference.

My mission with boudoir is to ensure that every single woman feels held, empowered and her most beautiful when she’s stripped bare. That when they leave my space after being photographed, they’re astonished by their bravery, their ability to surrender and to look at themselves in a whole new light. Wrapped in organic sheets or their favorite piece of lace, whatever it is that makes them feel.. something – that’s good enough for me. And it should be more than good enough for you. 

I was hired for my first travel photography gig with Noken where I spent 5 days in Portugal documenting the sites in and around Lisbon and Porto.  It was out of this world, and I’m so grateful for the experience. 

My two year contract came to a close this month with Oliver Gal, an art buyer who sold a dozen of my prints to places like Wayfair and Overstock,to name a couple. It was really amazing to see people hanging huge canvases on their walls in their homes with my work. I’m overflowed with gratitude for OG, and equally as excited to be able to start selling those prints again myself in my own shop. 


This year, the shop took a calm (ha) approach and all prints are available as instant downloads. It’s made my life a lot easier, and it’s also increased the sales which is alway so fun to see. In 2019, I fully intend on adding prints regularly (some fun ones coming soon and some oldies are making their way back!). I also intend on continuing to share and create more of my photography guides for photographers (logistics when working with clients, pricing information, timelines, etc) and continuing to build my Lightroom preset collection so that I can continue sharing those with all of you!


I made SO many amazing friends over the past year it still seems surreal, which feels like the greatest gift and the biggest takeaway of 2018 aside from realizing my own resilience and power. They couldn’t have come at a better time, and I’ve soaked up being with some of my oldest and dearest as well. We’ve seen live music, we’ve danced, traveled the globe, gone to sporting events, texted until our thumbs fell off about the Universe, spirituality and Human Design, drank wine in our pajamas, looked up at the stars, laughed until we cried, just plain old cried..  just to name a few. Thank you, to all of you (you know who you are) for breathing new life into my lungs.


Buenos Aires, Park City, Montana, Florida, Las Vegas, Joshua Tree, Los Angeles (as a weird, uncomfortable solo trip), San Francisco, Detroit / Grand Rapids, and Portugal. 

Back to that weird uncomfortable solo trip – I’ve never traveled alone.. though it’s something that’s always been on my list (I’m talking like a big trip: Bali, Peru.. something of that nature). This year, after my relationship ended, I had NO idea where I wanted to live. Chicago didn’t feel like the obvious answer to return to, and instead I wanted to explore something that always stood out to me… “what would it be like to live in Los Angeles?” 

Well, the short version is that it wasn’t for me. But I’m so grateful that I tried it on. I listened to my intuition so intensely, and over and over again.. although I loved the weather and the water so much, it just didn’t feel like home. I spent time with friends of friends, got to sit next to Chelsea Handler while eating tacos (win/win), contemplated tattoos that I didn’t end up getting (until I got to Chicago), and fell sick for TWO straight days where I could hardly even move. Right there lied the lesson. I was forced to sit super still, to get clear on what it was that I actually wanted.

And in that moment, what I learned I wanted was to go back to Chicago.

My best friend Lindsay flew out to LA to be with my on my birthday, and I shared with her my realization for what my next move was going to be. From there, we planned, I executed, and here I am. Living in the West Loop, soul-full, taking everything day by day.


I launched a Podcast, I started a Mindfulness Coaching 1:1 Program and a Grief Coaching 1:1 Program, I found my niche within the conscious living arena and fully leaned in – which has made all the difference in how I show up here on the blog, I tried out the capsule wardrobe movement and haven’t looked back, I launched the Monday Mindfulness series, and am currently behind the scenes working on a Retreat alongside one of my amazing, talented, soul-inspiring friends. 


I woke up. Back in February, I had one of the coolest experiences when working with a Shaman (also my dear friend), and the momentum and enlightenment that came from that one experience overflowed into my life in a way I could have never expected. I’ve had to work (hard and diligently) to keep it afloat and at the forefront of my life, but it’s been worth every drop of effort. 

I learned how to read tarot cards, I got really good at pilates and barre (my favorite workouts in the entire world), and realized that my body is so incredibly resilient (and that I really, really love her.) I learned how to meal prep (and dare I say cook? Cook-ish?), I learned that I’m really just a wine girl (Pinot Noir please and thank you), that sunflowers and butterflies and 12:34 are my Universal signs, and that my out-to-coffee order is a Dirty Chai with an extra shot with Almond or Oat milk. 

I taught myself to love meditation and to crave it when I wake up in the morning. I learned that it’s one of the easiest ways I can access my dad, and reprogram old patterns that never served me. I also realized that I can meditate anywhere, but my preference is first thing in the morning or late at night in a bath with a shit ton of epsom salts. 

I realized I’m obsessed with Eating Evolved cacao coconut cups to curb my sweet tooth, that eucalyptus makes me really happy (fresh or dried out) and that hanging it in your shower releases the oils and makes your shower experience heavenly. I learned that even when your heart hurts at 33, your mom can still make you feel as good as she did when you skinned your knee at 5. I learned that I’m a lot smarter than I ever gave myself credit for, that writing is my healing place, that good music and moving your hips in flow can release shitty energy from your body, and that some of my best ideas have been shared with my dog, Jasper, before anyone else. 

I’ve owned that I’m a nurturer, and sometimes to a fault. In the (very recent past), if you let me, I’d give you everything and take care of you forever, and in turn would probably forget to take care of myself or be able to tell you what it is that I, myself actually want. 

2019, we’re going to shake things up in that department.

Here’s the beautiful reality: I finally learned the difference between nurturing others and nurturing myself. And that the only way to nurture others with intention and long-term without any ounce of neglect to your own self worth, is to first love every fiber of your own being and all of the magic in your bones. Through doing that work, I taught myself that rejection is purely energetic. So is money and you’re never in lack – in love, in finances, in life. 

I learned that in one year.. in 365 days, you can both hit rock bottom, crumble, and rebuild into something.. someone, that you fully and whole heartedly recognize and feel at home with. That being alone is anything but lonely, and that this space I’m in right now? Sometimes uncomfortable but always lovely? It’s sacred. 

Can’t wait to see you all in the fresh, New Year. x

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