Isla Mujeres, Mexico

This is another throwback to last November; it’s part II of our trip to Cancun we took for my cousin’s wedding. My mom’s 60th happened to fall a few days after the wedding, and since the whole family (my parents, my sister, Kirk and Chris) would all be in the same locale, convincing us to stay a few more days in the tropics to celebrate her birthday wasn’t a hard task.

After the wedding, we left the Rivera Maya and headed north to Cancun, where we hopped a ferry for the 5-mile trip to Isla Mujeres. My mom couldn’t have picked a better hotel: Cabanas Maria del Mar sat right on Playa Norte, a beach with sand so soft walking across it your feet squeaked. Breakfast was served at a restaurant under a huge thatched roof, its tables in the sand. For three days we hung out in hammocks, stalked lizards, rode around town in a golf cart, and went sailing (boat photos to follow ;). ☼

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Playa Norte.

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On Kirk’s kindle: How to Inexpensively and Safely BUY, OUTFIT, and SAIL a Small Vessel Around the World.

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Exploring town on foot.

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Kelz.

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Primary island transportation: scooters and golf carts.

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A cart of our own.

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Bummer we didn’t pack our boards.

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One of these days, we’ll be out there looking back this way.

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A handful of shots from Mom:

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Island retailers know their target market.

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Lindsey & Tom’s Wedding

Back in November, my cousin Lindsey and her husband Tom got married at the Hard Rock in the Riviera Maya, a beautiful stretch of coastline along the Caribbean side of the Yucatán Peninsula. The region, known for its all-inclusive resorts, is dotted with palm trees, lounge chairs, and trimmed with white sand beaches. For three days we concerned ourselves not with how much we ate or drank, but wondering if we were taking enough advantage.

One morning I was lying on a chaise lounge under a palapa when a server came by with a tray of drinks. “Daiquiri?”

It was barely 10 a.m.

“Well, since you’re here…” I said. “Kirk? You want another before lunch?”

We grinned. Ridiculous.

In fact, that was the biggest question all weekend. “Another drink for you, señorita? Señor?”

Sure, why not.

Cheers, Lindsey and Tom! ☼

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Kelly.

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Mom & Dad.

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Sisters, undoubtedly.

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Kirk & me.

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Kelly & Chris.

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My cousin Kristin’s son, Harrison.

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Kirk, and my cousin-in-law, Ryan.

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Mom & Kelly.

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Maid of Honor, Kristin, fulfilling duties.

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Dad.

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Bride & Mother of the Bride, my aunt Karin.

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Dad, what…

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Harrison, loving limes.

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Checking out grandma’s iPhone.

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Four generations.

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Unofficial wedding photog.

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En route to the reception.

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My grandma, Omi. Believe she’s 90?

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Mr. & Mrs. BenGera!

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Dance party.

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Student Debt Free

“I did it.”

It was Wednesday morning. Kirk and I were sitting at our desks in our home office.

“Did what?” said Kirk, looking up from his computer.

I spun my desk chair to face him. “I paid off my loans.”

“Just now?”

“Just now. $1296.82. Last principle payment.”

“Are you serious?” He cracked a big smile.

– – –

I graduated college in 2008 with $55,000 in debt. For a few years I floated from job to job, and bounced back and forth between global hemispheres. I wasn’t making much money, and could barely afford to make the minimum payments on my loans. I was so discouraged by the amount I owed that I avoided checking my accounts — it was too depressing. The task of repayment seemed insurmountable. After a call to my loan administrator, I found out if I kept making only minimum payments, it would take me 18 years to pay off my debt.

Drag around that baggage until I’m 40? No thanks.

In 2011, Kirk and I made our way to California in search of sunshine and surf. After about a year of getting settled and starting our own business, things started happening. San Diego Home Photography heated up. I scored some writing and photography work with Carlsbad Magazine. I pulled evening shifts at a wine bar.

After four years of making minimum payments, I was able to make my first extra principle payment. I was so excited I wrote this and danced in my kitchen. At this point, my debt was at $45,000.

For the next three and a half years, I worked my ass off and kept spending to a minimum. Going out to eat and buying new clothes were low priorities, as was shopping in general. Travel was my weakness. If I would’ve stayed put for a while I would’ve paid my debt off sooner. (In 2014 alone, we took nine trips.) Oh well, I’m a sucker for seeing new places, and my family during the holidays.

No matter. It’s 2015, and I’m student loan free. And just before the big 3-0. That feels pretty damn good.

– – –

“Aw, I wanted to prepare! Champagne and confetti…” said Kirk.

I smiled. “It doesn’t matter.”

“We have to celebrate,” he insisted.

What would be nice, actually, is a little fanfare from the loan companies. Send Ed McMahon over with some balloons. Or mail a certificate of congratulations. At least something on the payment received page, like this.

“Come on,” said Kirk.

A minute later I was standing in the front yard holding a room-temp bottle of André. We hardly ever have sparkling on hand, but thanks to the previous weekend’s festivities (mimosas + morning MSU football), we had an extra bottle. How serendipitous.




Cheers. ☼

Yoga Promo Video

In our seven-ish years spent in the working world since Kirk and I graduated with BAs in Telecommunications, Information Studies & Media (I know, who named that degree), we’ve both veered away from what had been our primary subject of study: video production.

I gravitated to still photography and freelance writing. Kirk ended up in project management and software development. Our separate ‘career’ paths, if you call them that, have brought us not only further from our passion for film and video, but also from the creative collaboration that had formed the foundation of our relationship from the get-go.

“Remember when we used to film stuff together?” I asked Kirk, earlier this year. “And sit behind our computers editing, for hours and hours…”

“And set up the projector and screen to show previews at waterski tournaments?” he said.

“We designed DVD jackets…”

“Sold advertising to ski camps in Louisiana…”

“Went to that hip-hop concert in Lansing to ask the band if we could use their music…”

“Filmed waterski nationals in Kentucky…”

“Yeah.” I laughed. “And even got ourselves an intern.” (I mean you, Cory Woolf (; )

Kirk and I were long overdue for a creative, collaborative project. Video, specifically.

– – –

This spring, after kicking around some ideas, Kirk proposed a video about yoga. Yoga is rather tame subject matter, and fairly easy to shoot. I practice yoga. At a studio, in fact, who’s owners might want some marketing material.

Andy and Tamara, owners of Vinyasa Arts (and teachers and teacher trainers, themselves), were excited by the proposition. They even knew what kind of video they wanted: an informational/inspirational promo about their teacher training courses.

Over a period of a couple months, Kirk and I planned out the project, filmed a handful of times at the studio, then knocked out the post-production.

We started with creating interview questions and putting together a mock script. We shot b-roll of Andy’s and Tamara’s classes, and interviews with their teachers-in-training. We looked through the footage, transcribed the interviews, sought out the narrative. We put together a rough cut and overlaid b-roll. We watched it over and over, trying to find the flow, bouncing ideas off each other, finessing the cuts, the music, the story.

Working together.

It’s been a quite a few years since we’ve done this whole video thing. (Our equipment is just as old, too.) The end product isn’t without flaws, but no piece of work ever is. We produced something, and delivered it. For that, we’re stoked. ☼