• Kami

Updated: Mar 28

Standing on a balcony overlooking the Pacific Ocean, after jumping in. Photo by Maggie Farnum

"It feels like I've lost a part of who I use to be."

The words could hardly leave my mouth without getting a lump in my throat.

My brother Ben sat on the edge of my bed the other day, listening. He is such a good man. I wasn't going cry, but then he hugged me. :)

I was doing so well this year, so far. I thought I had kicked the Rocky Mnt sickness but last week it relapsed, which means extreme exhaustion and headaches- falling asleep in the middle of people's conversations & feeling like your head is going to explode. I had thought I'd leave it behind me as a great little chapter in my story.

haha :)

But would it be too optimistic to say, I am still in the middle of it, and it is probably one of the best chapters?

I kind of think God looked down and said, "Look at her go! We need to make sure she doesn't wander too far. Let's have this tiny little tick bite her just to knock her down enough to remind her that she is only a vapor." ;)

I know if left in default mode, I would wander so far from Him.

I can't tell you how thankful I am that God does not leave me in default mode.

You know, it's funny, because I don't like to be bound to anything. My independence is extremely important to me.

At least, that's what I've thought.

But that day, 6 months ago, thousands of miles from home, when I realized there was a chance of this sickness being fatal if left untreated, and it had been untreated until that day- the first thing that came to my mind was the hymn that says,

"Let thy goodness bind my wandering heart to thee."

I sang it. I read it. I wrote it on my arm. If I had a tattoo, I'd make it one.

The truth sank in for me. I actually do want to be bound-

not because of how weak I am, or scary circumstances. Those are real things. But it's that goodness that I want to be close to.

I want to be bound to Him because of how good He is.

Thank God He allowed me to fall flat on my face with this sickness. That was good of Him. He continues to pull me close. I can't even believe it.

Everything else fades in light of that. Isn't that the point of my life? Isn't that all I really want and need?

It's such a hard thing to explain.

This challenge that I hate, at the same time, I love.

I mean, I don't jump around for joy about it, but I've learned to hold it and give thanks. Sometimes I cry while holding it- because it hurts, because I'm grieving what's gone while embracing what is.

So, now, when I look at my life and think,

"It feels like I've lost a part of who I use to be."

I remind myself..... yes.....Yes, I have.

We all have, and will continue to.

Isn't that life?

Giving and taking. Changing. Moving. Like the waves. Why do I always come back to that? [the waves]

I think I'm going to make this my new logo... (the C is a wave)

"I have seen enough to know that Your love's the only anchor for my soul.

So, please, don't even let me go, if you do I would be lost forever, Lord.

Swept away by the waves of the storm.

Oh, Lord of the wind and the waves if you're with us we will not be afraid.

No storm can ever separate us from Jesus, You're mighty to save."

-Josh Garrels, Anchor of my Soul

Anyway, back to the story. I had been doing SO well, but one round of treatment wasn't enough, and I probably pushed a little too hard too soon causing a relapse.

You know how you sometimes think, "How horrible this has happened! I would be such a better person if this hadn't happened."

I got to that point last week. There was so much more I wanted to be doing with my life, but there I was, in bed.

I messaged my health coach- Kelly Reins.

She turned everything negative thing I could think of into hope.

I kind of picture her like this goddess with a sword who I summon from my dark valleys and she always rides in and helps slay all the bad guys.

When I'm too worn to figure out what to do next, she gives me a battle plan.

Percy Priest Lake, Nashville TN, Photo by Johan Doornenbal

I don't know what I'd do without Kelly. She has a heart of gold and always, always points me in the right direction. She's been to hell and back with her own tick borne illness journey, and you can see it in her strength and wisdom. No wonder I picture her wielding a sword.

So last night, she sat me down for a "buck up buttercup" session.

I told her I felt impatient. That I just want someone to tell me more clearly about what I have and where I'm at- in writing- make it official. No more of this "We just can't really know how long it will be." nonsense. ;)

She said,

"Of course you want confidence that you'll make it through

but you never know what the Lord will have in store for you. We have promises and we don't.

But here are some absolutes- If you continue to treat a co-infection, it will die. If you detox, it will leave your body.

If we don't get this eradicated by the time we are 99 and climbing mountains still, and we die, we will have new bodies. Some people who have been through this are now running marathons.

I think you have a lot to look forward to and I wouldn't worry about a long ways out but plan on having to do maintenance and keep treating for a while.

There’s a lot to look forward to in any challenge because it’s a refining fire.

There's something about the challenge to say, “Let me see how I can become better in any way, shape or form."

Because a better me makes me happier, a better me helps other people, a better me is a better storyteller, right? A better me has more insight and empathy.

It transforms.

It transforms especially in the kind of thing you do. It gives a lot of power, emphasis and feeling to what you do.

Take it and channel it and use it and "Kami it"."

She laughed.

"We need a hashtag. #kamiit . Ya know, give it the old Kami 1, 2."

Jumping into the Pacific with Krista during her bachelorette party in Newport, OR. March 1st.

Ugh. I have so many good people in my life. We have made so many good memories the past month... and as much as I can talk about relapse, there is a heck of a lot of progress and exciting things happening, and I have saved the best for last. :)

In the past few weeks, more work has poured in that the last two years put together and I want to take the very best care of my clients that I possibly can! I feel like it's time to expand my business but I'm not entirely sure what that will entail yet and am weighing options.

I finally feel like I accomplished what I set out to do by going to Nashville--

My goal was to grow a clientele there, as well as growing my experiences and myself as a person. I felt like my work didn't grow as much as I had wanted, and the other day I found some left over fliers I had printed up and hung all over Nashville for wedding photography. I kind of just shook my head and thought, "What a waste, you didn't get any leads from this."

That night my phone rang.

It was a bride, and she found me from those fliers. She could probably hear my smile. Within days, 3 more jobs were booked in Nashville and I was probably jumping around my tiny house for joy. The dream was still alive and growing- going back to work in that city periodically, and to spend time there with my friends and family.

So, I just wanted to encourage you and myself- to be patient. Keep planting seeds. You never know what ones will sprout, but at least you will know that you did all that you could!!!

The best news is that I've picked Alaska as my next storytelling destination.

I remember sitting at the bar in my parent's house about a month ago, telling my Dad how my heart was being drawn to Alaska. I wish I could remember our whole conversation, because it was one of the best ones of my life. There were tears in both of our eyes by the end. We both love Alaska and the heritage it's given us. It just doesn't leave some peoples' hearts.

He shared some of his AK adventures that I'd never heard before. And I told him how I felt led to go back to my roots, to tell the stories of the fishermen, to help bridge the gap between the industry and the public. The public knows nothing about how amazing the fishing community really is- and how rapidly it's dying out. "The Last Frontier"- where the land ends and the sea begins. Where people live in cabins, and the sun never goes down. Where my Dad use to hunt, fish and gather artifacts, like oil lamps, when he was young. Where my great grandparents settled.

It was one of the rare times, actually the only time, when I've told my Dad about leaving home and he nodded his head- "Go".

Homer, Katchemak Bay, Alaska

Dream jobs have been lined up and I can't wait to share them with you.

So, I will be spending the next 6 months working in Alaska, the West Coast and Nashville.

All of my favorite places, all in the same year.

Love, Kam

Kenai River, AK
My Great Grandparent's cabin on a little island in Tutka Bay, Alaska
Capt. Kami driving dad's boat 1998, Alaska

Updated: Mar 11

On November 28th, I was on the west coast of Ireland, driving down one of the prettiest coastal roads I had ever seen: the "Wild Atlantic Way". I grew up on costal roads from Alaska to Washington, but this one topped them all.

We were heading to the Cliffs of Moher. I had my friend, Rachael in the car, who I met while farming in Nashville, and we were traveling with 4 new friends we just met the day before in our hostel in Galway.

The Atlantic was on our right. The water had so much soul. It moved fearlessly but looked so elegant. I wouldn't mind being like that water... It was transparent, yet deep, made of vivid, changing colors that I had never seen before in water. Mist hovered everywhere. It felt like it was alive, like a great mystery- something you'd never figure out but always respect.

That is where we met Jackie Maurer.

Jackie has a pottery studio that she built herself and a home on the water, where she lives a slow-paced life as a mother, potter and teacher.

I am so inspired by this woman.

What she has, she fought for.

That's what I wanted to share about Jackie,

she never stopped, never gave up, even in the middle of doubts that haunted her every day.

"There have been days when it felt like I was climbing Mount Everest, but it's amazing what you can accomplish with very little money, hard work and good people to help you out."

"Creativity takes courage." she says.

And maybe that's just how it works. The beauty isn't just what we become but also in what it takes to become it.

Jackie is a strong soul with so much to give. Her studio is beautiful, her pottery is beautiful, she lives in one of the prettiest places on earth. Her story manifests in who she has become and what she has created. I admire that she visualized what she wanted, went for it, and finally, after all these years her dream has become reality.

I asked about her story, how she discovered her passion and how she got to where she is today.

She says that what she does is definitely based on the idea of constraints within a space, behaviors, fragility and durability... pushing boundaries and finding her own language. She's always looking for and responding to the textures and patterns that naturally occur in nature, translating the soul of her rugged, beautiful, much-loved surroundings into pieces of art that are almost living and breathing themselves.

Jackie grew up in Ennis County Claire, only about 20 miles from where we were. When she was young, she spent her days swimming in the Atlantic or sailing, catching Mackerel off the boat with her family.

"I remember, when I was very young, thinking I'd love to give pottery a go.",

"My father introduced me to a potter to see how I would like the trade. She let me throw on the wheel for about 20 minutes. I was hooked".

From there, she did a few classes in County Claire but not long after that her dad saw an ad, looking for an apprentice for a famous potter named Stephen Pearse, who was located in Shanagary Co Cork.

"Education wasn't working out for me at the time. I was not very settled and very unhappy with it. So at 15 years old, I moved into a caravan in the back end of nowhere and took on this apprenticeship on my own."

I love how she was aware of what was not working for her, and took action to change it & find what would.

During the apprenticeship, she was fending for herself, living in a little coastal town, where, in the dead of winter, there was absolutely no one. "It was a wake up call", she said. "The hardship really started to get to me."

Jackie would get up for work every morning and walk the road for 20 minutes in the dark and cold. She would make about 250 birds and hedgehogs per week that went on top of casserole dishes, as well as making mugs and throwing basic shapes.

After 16 months, she went back to school and finished her education.

Jackie had an interview with Thomas Town Pottery Skills Course, and they accepted her.

"It's quite hard to get into. It was intense and high pressured. We would throw pots 5 days a week, sometimes 9am-9pm. I was only 19 at the time and I was there for the duration of 12 months."

From there she went to become an apprentice for Mandy Parslow, in Tipperary, who had a small cottage in the heart of the beautiful Glen of Aherlow.

"Mandy was self sufficient and threw pots during the day and was connected to her home life and the mountainous region the rest of the time."

"I was really attracted to that lifestyle. That's the reason I accepted the job. She lived the life I was aspiring to live."

Jackie would drive 2 hours one way, twice a week for 3.5 years, something she would say was worth it, invaluable even. With the rest of her time, she invested in her own wheel and kiln and started focusing on producing her own work in her hometown.

In 2006, Jackie had a baby girl named Jane, and she had bought a house with her ex-partner. They planned to make a studio there as well, where she could work and be home for Jane, but soon the dream and relationship fell apart.

Around the same time there was a recession in Ireland and there was no money.

She had so many reasons to give up but she also had reasons & dreams bigger than herself to keep going.

One of the biggest, she told me, was to make sure she was there for Jane every day.

Jackie went back to college, where she finished with a first class honours degree whilst also raising her baby. She would arrive home to a cold house every evening, build a fire, do the chores and study late into the night

"It was bloody hard work." she said thinking back.

If you drive down her lane today, you will probably find her working, creating and teaching classes. I know from experience that she will gladly welcome you into her life. Jackie was trained by world renown potters and is passionate about sharing the skills of ceramics so they are not forgotten.

Jackie comes from a family of jewelers, and the stamp she uses is the same stamp her great grandfather used for stamping his own work, with the initials, "JMS".

"It is most definitely over 100 years old. I feel so privileged to use this stamp, due to its old age, and because I get to keep on the legacy of craftspeople in my family."

If she is not home, she is probably across the street swimming in the Atlantic. I love that she has a paddle board next to her studio.

If you are ever driving along the Wild Atlantic Way, please stop, and not only meet Jackie but support her work. The world would be lucky to learn from her and to have her art in their homes- almost like pieces of the Wild Atlantic Way itself.

http://www.jackiemaurer.ie

"And maybe that's just how it works. The beauty isn't just what we become but also in what it takes to become it."

Jackie fashions her work after the landscape around her

P.S. I am placing an order with Jackie next week so if anyone would like to buy her work, please let me know and we can combine shipping!

PC: Evelyn Soha

"You wanna know something really funny?" the stranger asked as he walked up to me.

"When I pulled in and saw you standing on the porch of that little cabin, I thought you actually lived in it!"

He kind of kicked the gravel and shook his head, like, would you believe that?

I smiled. Probably raised an eyebrow. "I do." :)

It's such a small dream, the Kamishak. :) For years I just wanted a little cabin.

I drove by one every day for about 2 years and talked about how I wanted one like it someday.

One day, when I was photographing a wedding, my dad sent me pics of a little cabin he found for sale. He had heard me talk about this idea, so he knew.

He said he could pick it up that day with his tow truck, and I said yes, I would buy it, without even seeing it first.

That was 2017.

Even though it's just a shack, it's one of the best things that's ever happened to me. It's been my own personal dream that came alive. I never really thought of anyone loving it as much as I did, or people feeling the same joy it gave me.

I just poured my heart and soul into it because it made me so happy.

However, I did have ideas of moving it next to the river, having it 100% perfect to rent out on Air BnB.

It's funny how we can think things are so out of reach when they're not. How we set these standards that we think we need to achieve for a certain outcome and we don't.

If I held fast to that standard I had in my mind, I would never have experience the joy and lessons that I have. If I had waited for everything to be just how I had imagined, that goal would still be so far down the road.

One day I decided, why not go for it right now? Why not list it (still not ideally how I'd want my listing) and see what happens? What if it worked? What if I made money off of it to put back into the dream, which would propel it farther, faster?

So January 1st, I decided to list it on Air Bnb, just to see if there was any market in the area. Sure enough, living next to Mnt St Helens, there is.

I never really thought the dream could get better or bigger so soon, but after a few hikers rented it out I learned that it could.

This dream that I had been keeping to myself was now shared.

My heart grew. What I thought was a full cup was now overflowing.

How could something so small give back so much?

I had one couple stay, who had just sold everything they owned in Seattle and hit the road for Colorado. They said they admired the simple living. Everything they owned now fit in their car.

They sat and talked with me over bacon and eggs that morning. When they stood up to leave, they said, "I just want to say thank you for creating such an amazing experience for people. This has been so wonderful and I'm so glad it was our first stop. We will always remember this."

I was speechless. Because little did they know I doubted anyone would enjoy the dream as I did, and they had. And I almost hadn't shared it. What if I had kept it to myself?

All I could think about was how the only thing better than living my dream was sharing it.

Some nights with guests were spent discussing travel.

One girl pulled up a chair as I worked on my computer and shared some of her hardest struggles, as if we were old friends. She laid it all out. 100% vulnerable, free, okay with showing up and being seen for exactly who she was and what she'd been through. She was not only embracing her story but sharing it.

How could my heart be so full? I thought after every guest left.

I thought I knew the feeling of a full life. But life doesn't work like that. It's always surprising us. You think you know full? It'll show you even fuller. You think you know low? It'll take you lower.

Isn't that where all the magic happens? When you show up, feel, go with the waves, when you share your story- your dream- your nightmare...

You whisper, "You are not alone." to another soul.

And words like that change lives.

With my friend Kathrina Leavitt at Pearcy Priest Lake in Nashville, TN. First time seeing each other since she had a TBI and I had Rocky Mountian Spotted fever. Was a pretty monumental moment just to be alive and at the lake, looking back on all we had been through. PC: Johan Doornenbal

"We need more people who are willing to demonstrate what it looks like to risk and endure failure, disappointment, and regret- People willing to feel their own hurt instead of working it out on other people, people willing to own their stories, live their values, and keep showing up- to recognize the power of emotion and to not be afraid to lean into discomfort and uncertainty. We feel the most alive when we’re connecting with others and being brave with our stories." -Brene Brown

"Relationships are at the heart of who we are and all we do. While dreams can seem to be about tasks or achievements, ultimately they are always about people. That's because God is inherently relational. He IS love, and whatever He calls us to do will be about love too." -Holley Gerth

"Life brings you to your knees. It brings you lower than you think you can go. But if you stand back up and move forward, if you go just a little father, you will always find love. While it may be easy to wallow in the tragedies that shape our lives, and while it’s natural to focus on those unspeakable moments that bring us to our knees,

we must remind ourselves that if we get up, if we take the story a little bit farther… If we go far enough, there’s love."

-Isabel Diaz (life itself)

New video updates on the Kamishak here

Things that living in 84 sq feet has helped me with:

-getting rid of excess

-decreasing options (which gives outcomes like getting ready faster)

-putting in front of you what is important by process of elimination

-eliminating who you are not, which helps you find more of who you are

-realizing very little is needed to make a happy life

-being able to keep the things that are important to me in good shape

-not a matter of owning less but enabling myself make more room for more of what matters

-fill my life with stories to tell and not stuff to show

In addition to connecting with people over my tiny house, I have unintentionally grown my photography & storytelling business into helping people brand-

to find their voice, mission, heart of their work, style.

I don't even know what to call it.

Sometimes I wrote a bio for them, sometimes I overhaul their website and marketing strategy, sometimes we peel the layers back and find what they really need was just a new perspective shift, self love, forgiveness. It's all connected. My mind is blown at how much our personal, spiritual life effects our work.

Just like I realized my tiny house dream was made better by sharing it, so was my journey with business.

These things can seem to be about tasks or achievements, but ultimately they are always about people.

People willing to own their stories, live their values, and keep showing up- to recognize the power of emotion and to not be afraid to lean into discomfort and uncertainty.

Whenever I'm in a meeting with a client I can feel that glow on the inside that comes from connecting with others being brave with their stories and helping empower them to live it out.

I am so passionate about this. My last client said I talked so fast he couldn't even take notes. haha!

So I'll leave you with this.

People don't buy what you sell they buy why you sell it.

If you're interested in growing your work even more, my sister and I are hosting an entrepreneur meeting at her house at the end of the month! Please contact me if you are interested in coming. We are all about empowering one another and there is no charge.

Let's help make each other's lives better!!

Love, Kami