Snow {Love} Birds

Nebraska’s most recent snow storm created the most beautiful backdrop for a Sunday morning shoot at Zorinsky lake.  Add in the warmth these two lovebirds share and we barely noticed the 28 degree temperature.

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Cole’s MILLION dollar smile, Tyree’s natural beauty, and the love and affection these two share gave way to an easy, natural and relaxed morning.  My goal was to simply capture the respect and admiration these two share for one another.

 

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Between walking through the snow capped trees and wading through ankle deep fields, we made sure to have fun and enjoy the moment in nature, which is definitely their element.

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And can we just take a moment on this next one.

Simply. Stunning.

 

Thanks for the fun, Tyree and Cole!

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Cheers to July 4th in Colorado!

Coffee & Cats

Guys.

If you didn’t think I was already crazy cat lady enough, go ahead and prepare yourself.  I took it next level.

New to Omaha: Felius Cat Café.

Felius is Omaha’s first and only nonprofit cat café! Their mission is to revolutionize Omaha’s cat adoption experience and reduce euthanasia rates.

I had the opportunity to sponsor a small part of the start-up costs and of course jumped on the chance.  And not because I am crazy cat lady…. well, partly… but also because I believe in the efforts being made across the U.S. to reduce the number of euthanized animals, increase the education surrounding owning and caring for pets, and the community based partnerships supporting animal care and rescue.  In this case, Wags to Riches has partnered up with Felius to provide adoptable cats!

(PayPal has me set up under my maiden name… I should fix that)

I follow a lot of cat rescuers on IG and have learned a lot on the topics of TNR, rescue, fostering, critical care and adoption.  Here’s looking at you kittenxlady, thecatcade, iamthecatphotogapher, littleman_mika, flatbuschcats, and others.

So while I comment often about my crazy cat lady ways in a funny/poke fun at myself way, I truly believe in the efforts being made to care for these little nuggets.  If you are lucky enough to own a cat from kitten to adulthood, you totally get their charm.

So, back to the post.  Felius is a cute little cat and coffee cafe located near downtown Omaha.

Photo courtesy of Felius, IG.

Patrons have the opportunity to play and connect with the cats on location while enjoying a cup of coffee or tea for a small fee.

Photo courtesy of Felius, IG.

I had my first visit last week and enjoyed an iced coffee and the company of a few cats for about 20 minutes.  While a few were pretty timid and working through trust issues and environment acclimation, a few others were ready to play!

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This particular darling in the photo below wanted so badly to play, but always bailed at the last second and retreated to a safe zone.  I believe I would have been successful in building trust had it not been for the family with two younger kids coming in the room with me.  It’s hard to get kiddos to understand the trust factor in kittos. 😉

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And don’t get me started on this lil snoozer.

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The room is designed with 100% focus on cats and their mannerisms.  Plenty of things to climb, places to hide and comfortable spots to snooze.  There is an escape room, per say, where the cats access through a tunnel.  It is in that room where their litter boxes can be found as well as food and water dishes ( in addition to a few in the main room) but also where the cats can seek refuge from the human race.  Could you imagine being on display all day long?  I asked several questions about this tunnel and escape room as it was very intriguing to me, but also comforting to know exists for them.

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With my sponsorship level I get a free hour visit every month.  I don’t know that I will utilize a full hour, but I definitely foresee a 30 minute lunch break in my future.  What better way to break up a work day then with some furry snuggles and play time?

Photo courtesy of Felius, IG.

You can check out Felius online by clicking here, or in person at 522½ S. 24th Street, Omaha, NE 68102.  If visiting in person just isn’t your thing, but you’d love to help support either organization, click on the below links for options!

Wags to Riches Amazon Wish List

Felius Donation

Cheers!

 

*All photos mine unless otherwise noted. 

End of A Fitness Instructing Chapter…

After a nearly ten year long chapter in my book of life, the time has come to say “see ya later” to teaching fitness classes.  I taught my very last class this morning at the Council Bluffs YMCA and I absolutely cannot think of a better gym to close out my fitness instructing tenure.  These people all showed up in my fave color of BLACK, with smiles on their faces, ready to get their butts handed to them as I dished out a mashup of all my FAVE moves.

Even the slackers killed it. ❤

 

I know for most, this isn’t much of a thing.  But this thing is HUGE for me and I am not sure I am emotionally QUITE ready for this chapter to end, however, professionally and personally it’s time.

With a career shift (I am still in higher education but have switched institutions and programming size), comes great opportunity, and I am eager to spend my time really digging deep into strengthening programs that cater to our under-served student population and bridging the gap between secondary and post-secondary education across the Metro area.

Some really exciting stuff, guys!

But, with that, comes sacrifice!

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My fitness instructing career began clear back in 2002 in my hometown fitness facility and after a brief hiatus in between my move to the City, I held positions with 24 Hour Fitness, Gold’s Gym, IWCC, and the Omaha Metro YMCA, specifically with the Council Bluffs branch.

I LOVE(D) it.

Teaching fitness classes in the city opened up the door to my stint as a national fitness trainer as a Master Trainer for BBLive, which provided an incredible opportunity to meet fitness minded folks from all across the U.S. and within my territory of Iowa and Nebraska.   (You can read more of my Master Trainer life here and here).

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I still to this day talk to Sarah (second from right) at minimum once per week.  The friendship built through MT’ing was a gift in and of itself.

And the HUNDREDS of people I had the great privilege of training over the course of two years was such an incredible journey.

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To close this chapter is pretty sentimental.  But, to close it with the YMCA folks who have been with me for nearly FIVE YEARS at the same time, same day, is something I will cherish to the end.

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The CB-YMCA is where the Slacker Corner was formed:

 

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And where I earned the OFFICIAL rights to be the Supervisor of them all:

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It’s where I learned time and time again that age is just a number and mental strength always perseveres.

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It’s where I got to know members on a deeper level and held the honor of celebrating their milestones and achievements in their health and wellness journey (here’s looking at YOU Randy in your incredible journey to doing a BURPEE in class with us)

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The folks at CB-YMCA learned to live with me through all my costume themed classes and endless photo opportunities:

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The CB-YMCA is where we celebrated members, turned family, and fought with them battles never before imagined:

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We celebrated BIRTHDAY’s and HOMECOMINGS in a BIG way:

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They chastised me with signs, questionable words under their breath and always with splashes of humor:

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And celebrated with me my LOVE of all things BLACK:

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We grew together as a family as we left the old for the new:

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And banded together to overcome not only the end of the workouts, but life’s ever waving highs and lows.

Class was more than class. It was (and will continue to be) a time of togetherness, camaraderie and love.

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In my reflection over the last several years, I see grit, tenacity, passion, exhaustion, fear, triumph and happiness.  I gave it my all and I sure hope every class, every trainee, every one-timer and every regular truly felt the love I had in teaching and took away something from their experiences.

Putting that mic on brings out a side of me that is a rarity.  Taking the microphone off for the very last time this morning has left a void, but I know, in my heart of hearts, I WILL be back again one day in front of the class.  Let’s just call it a cliff hanger with a sequel to be determined.  And I am sticking around on the sub list so I can get my “fix” on the occasion… 😉

Until then, I am going to continue my participation at a gym I attend as a participant (here’s looking at you, Edge Body Bootcamp) that challenges me physically and mentally every single day.  It’s my personal happy place.  Fitness is a LARGE part of who I am and what makes me happy.  It is not something I will ever let go.  I live for the challenge it places on me. It’s my own personal competition and I am my own opponent.  I friggin’ LIVE for it.

So, on that note…

Here is a CHEERS to my run in fitness instructing.  It’s been fun!

Until next time…

The Hobby | Biker Photos

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It all started summer 2017 with this girl, this bike and a camera I had received as a gift nearly three years prior.

I didn’t completely know what I was doing, and I certainly still don’t, but I knew I wanted to try and capture a few photos of Liz with her bike.  And what started out as a fun night of unknowns, turned into a hobby worth exploring.

But not for reasons you might think.

I am connected to many influential, intelligent, beautiful, gracious and inspirational women.   Add to the equation a woman who rides her own motorcycle and you end up with a pretty powerful subject.

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According to the Motorcycle Industry Council, the number of women riders in America is growing daily.  In fact, in 2015 female motorcycle owners made up 14 percent of the industry.   In 2003, an estimated 9.6 percent of the motorcycle owners in America were women, which shows us an increase of over 50 percent in 10 years.

Nice work, gals!

Women Riders Now provided us with an even larger breakdown:

  • Slightly more than 17 percent of Gen X owners (born from early 1960 to mid-1970s), and 17.6 percent of Gen Y owners (born in the 1980s and 1990s) are women.
  • Among Boomer owners (born between 1946-1964), women make up 9 percent.

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We are a highly educated group as well!

  • 47 percent of us have a college or post-graduate degree.

 

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As I said…

 influential,

intelligent,

beautiful,

gracious,

inspirational

WOMEN

Before I knew it, one session turned into another and another, and with those sessions I started to grow in my confidence, abilities and knowledge.   Each shoot I critiqued and analyzed to find something new to take away, whether it was a new technique or studying the settings I had used to get the desired outcome.  I fully invested in studying aperture, ISO and shutter speed and how they intertwine.  The importance of angles and subject placement started to take shape.

The positioning of the sun and the effects it had on the shooting range was an eye opener for me.  Using natural light to enhance the subject while avoiding unappealing shadows or bright, nearly drowned out spots, can be tricky depending on the time of day and location.

 

I started to work on the concept of depth and subject placement in order to get the end result desired, whether it be a bold, loud full landscape statement, or a naturally blurred or bokeh effect background with the focus on the subject.

 

I have learned so much, and have so much yet to learn.  I don’t want to be a hobbyist who is a simple “point and shoot” type.   There are plenty of “photographers” out there.  Anyone with a fancy camera can wave their hand in the air.

Am I a professional photographer?  Absolutely not.  Do I want to be?  No.  Am I trying to be?  No.

I am enjoying learning a fun hobby while working toward producing products for people that have a look and feel of minimal effort, but polished and a semi-professional edge.

 

But, my dear friends… it’s more than that.

Those influential, intelligent, beautiful, gracious and inspirational women I am fortunate enough to know?  I want you to see them too.

 

And I want them to truly see it in themselves.

 

 

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I want to help boost confidence in the individuals in front of my lens.

I want them to own and embrace what makes each of them unique.

 

I want to pull out the happiness and joy these girls exude and put it in print for the rest of the world to experience.

 

I want these girls to feel pride when they see themselves in print.

 

I want to help build self-esteem, self-confidence, pride, happiness and joy into each of my subjects

one shot at a time.

 

And with that,

I think I found my niche.

 

I look forward to the spring months ahead where I hope to hit the ground running with more opportunities to capture photos of not only my friends with their bikes, but also to the many other strong, powerful women (and men) out there riding their own.

When you are ready, so am I.

 

 

 

 

The Grand Tour | Exclusive Omaha Screening

Amazon Prime Video is taking over Omaha this weekend for a free event that I’d love to share with you.

Coffee Cruise Omaha AKA Cars and Coffee Omaha have been asked by Amazon Prime to host an exclusive viewing of Amazon Prime’s The Grand Tour show THIS Saturday night, October 21st.

Already into season two of the record-breaking The Grand Tour, audiences will see presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May embarking on their most extensive Grand Tour ever, traveling through more locations than before and attempting to avoid any further mishaps and injury along the way. The trio will spend over 100 days across five continents, racking up more passport stamps from Croatia, Mozambique, Dubai, Spain, Switzerland, Colorado, New York and many more exotic locations around the world.

 

The event will be held on Saturday the 21st at HyVee on 3410 N. 156th St.   The parking lot opens at 5:30 with complimentary food and beverage for the first 400 who fill out a survey for Amazon.  The screening will be outside on a 20′ x 26′ screen with professional sound system. “Drive-In” movie style! There will be some seating provided by Amazon, but a folding chair of your own is also recommended.

Car lovers – bring your classics and cruise on over for this exclusive screening!   What a great Saturday evening event for you and your family.