Because Nobody Says “Follow Your Brain”

It’s not every day that you start a new career- especially not after finding yourself in a consulting role for the largest software company in the world.  Now, I won’t say that I’m hanging up my marketing/consulting hat by any means, but I am certainly exploring a world I always wanted to pursue but didn’t have the slightest idea of where to start. It’s a bit (read: very) intimidating, particularly at my age to start down a path in modeling, but the feelings of exhilaration and empowerment far outweigh that intimidation and hesitation. It would be much more difficult to be doing this if I wasn’t being supported by my wonderful husband and some close friends. However, I won’t name names, but someone very close to me has chosen to not support this dream. In fact, this person has said things along the lines of “it’s a shame you don’t want to use your brain” and that it’s an empty career choice. I don’t want to even respond to those comments and lend them credibility, but I just had to put pen to pencil, so to speak, on my thoughts about that.

I think many of us are sleep-walking through our lives. I’ve been there before. Wake up, take a shower, go to work, go to the gym after work, come home, eat dinner, watch some tv, then repeat this 4 more days, before spending the weekend actually living. I’m all for having a stable career and predictable rhythm for yourself and your family, but what if that job you’re going to for 8+ hours a day is doing something that activates your brain but not your heart? I enjoyed my job at very much. I was there for more than 3 years, so of course I liked what I was doing (I am very quick to remove myself from situations that I feel are not a good fit for me). I loved my coworkers, we had a nice office space, and I enjoyed the actual work I was doing. However, my enjoyment for my job wasn’t something that burned in my chest or got me giddy before projects. The only time I did feel that way was before our annual customer conference, Transform, which I was responsible for planning and executing. When it came time to host the conference, I flew into part host, part performer, part marketer. It was my absolute favorite part of the job. Each year when it was over, I felt a similar lull and almost depression as I did after our wedding. I knew it was 11 more months until I got to feel that adrenaline rush again. Pursuing modeling is making me feel the way I felt during those customer conferences. That’s got to mean something, right?

In terms of what I’m contributing to the world through modeling, maybe it is truly nothing. But I don’t actually believe that. When I scroll through my Instagram feed, filled mostly by “curve” models like me (size 10 and above), I feel instantly empowered, and like I’m not alone. In a room full of models, I look around at our similar heights, and think “I’ve found my people!” Finally, a group of women who can all relate to the feeling I had for years, trying to shrink myself to the size of the people around me in any room that I was in. So maybe, when I post a picture of myself on Instagram from a recent photoshoot, someone out there who feels less-than for being larger than a size 10- or who questions whether or not she is beautiful because she is over the suggested BMI for her height, or needs to go to a special store to find jeans with her inseam, or can never find shoes in her size- sees it and feels as thought she’s not alone in her fight toward self-acceptance and self-love.

The other side of this argument that I’m making (for myself, not for my personal nay-sayer, mind you) is that to me, modeling is just a piece of the puzzle in a form of art. When a photographer takes a picture of a beautiful landscape, I doubt people say that the photographer isn’t “using their brain” or “isn’t contributing anything to the world”. A model’s job in many cases, is to contort or form their body to make a beautiful picture, captured by a photographer- an artist. Sure, in commercial modeling, it’s hard to call an advertisement for a grill or brand of frozen potatoes “art”, but it’s still an artform to be able to communicate a message or feeling using only your body. And, well, that requires using your brain too- maybe not the same way you use your brain to build out a project plan or write a technical guidebook, but there are multiple types of intelligence.

I shouldn’t feel like I need to defend my choice to model, but I think it’s difficult to understand when someone you love isn’t supportive of you. We naturally want the most important people in our life to be our biggest cheerleaders. But at the end of the day, remember that we all are born, we all live, and we all die. At the end of your life, are you really going to look back on the things you did because they’re what other people made you feel like you should do, and say “I did that for the right reasons”? We get one shot at this. You’re only young once, so make that crazy leap of faith into what your heart is guiding you toward, with complete disregard for those who question your ‘why’. You’ll never regret it.

Featured photo shot by Nathaniel Ortega (IG: NathanielEdits) of Denver, CO

On Overcoming

“You’re cute, but we don’t do plus size.”

The words cut through me and my tepid confidence like a knife. Those words, spoken to me by the waif-ish casting director of a New York modeling agency, confirmed every worst fear I had ever had about myself. As long as I could remember, I was bigger than all the girls I knew (and most of the boys). I was taller than my 5th grade teacher. I had about 50 pounds on the girls around me throughout middle and high school, and I wanted so desperately, more than anything, to be able to blend in with a crowd. At 5’10 and only 15, I felt like some sort of ogre. Many times, people would tell me how great it was that I was so tall, and how envious they were. I would often joke in return, “You can have a few inches if you want!” I was joking, but I may or may not have googled “height-reduction surgery” a few times. I was battling an eating disorder, disdain for myself, and above all of that, the natural turmoil of being a hormone-riddled teenager.

By college, things had gotten a bit better. I was taking better care of my body, working out regularly instead of depriving myself or punishing myself after heavy meals, and was starting to have a bit more self-esteem. Unfortunately, I had my weak moments. I bought diet pills on Amazon, desperate to be thin like my sorority sisters. All of the 55 women I lived with would swap clothes and raid each others closets’ before a night out. I had no such option at 6’1 and a size 12. The pills turned me into a basket case. When I wasn’t having hot flashes or dizzy spells, I was snapping at friends and family for no reason. My moods, my skin, my sanity, and just about everything else were negatively affected- but I was losing weight, quickly, and that was all that mattered. It took me fainting outside a classroom, and going to the hospital with what I thought was a heart attack (it was a panic attack, but I was convinced I was dying) for me to stop taking those horrible pills, and to begin my slow road to recovery.

In the years since then, I have found many things that have helped me find myself amidst the heavy shroud of insecurity that has always lingered. I found success in my career, which helped me build confidence in my intelligence and drive. I started working out 3 or 4 times a week, and drinking less than in college, which made me feel altogether more clear and present- I stopped hating my body, and beginning to see a sliver of the potential for strength it had. I found love with a man who made (makes!) me feel like I can do absolutely anything I want- and I started to believe him. I discovered SoulCycle, where I learned to appreciate the work my body can do and the release you can feel when you push yourself to the utter brink of exhaustion as a team. Then, most recently, and most importantly, I had my son. After 9 grueling months of morning sickness (why do they call it morning sickness when it’s all damn day?), 3 days of early labor, and pushing our beautiful boy into this world, I realized how powerful my body is, and how tightly loving my body is woven into my loving myself. Finally, I was ready to revisit something I had wanted for so long, but had never quite believed I could do.

After a glass of wine (or two), I submitted polaroids to Wilhelmina Denver online. I clicked submit, shrugging as if to say “eh, they won’t call you anyways so just do it”. I’m so glad I was wrong. I was called in for a meeting with a casting director, who told me on the spot that they would be offering me a contract. I honestly thought it was a scam. I was so convinced they were preying on someone who clearly desperately was clinging to a pipe dream. But soon after, I shot my portfolio session with a highly regarded photographer. I started being submitted for roles in the area. I attended a runway workshop, where I was told I nailed my walk, and was asked if I wanted to do a show at the end of this month. Today, I attended a fitting with the designer for that show (who happens to be an old classmate of mine from University of Colorado), who said “you’re perfect! I’m booking you to walk, in this dress”.

While in Seattle last week, I did a photoshoot with a local photographer (IG: @abigailjaephotography) who typically does weddings, maternity shoots and family portraits. I told her I wanted to do something a little different. We shot at Golden Gardens, a beautiful beachside park in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. It was 8:00pm, with sunset soon approaching. I thought we would have enough time and light for us to walk down the beach, away from the crowds, but because time was so limited, we just started shooting right then and there. The second I heard the first shutter sound, the rest of the world had faded away. I didn’t care how many people were there, how many were watching and commenting (or taking pictures with their flash on- yes, that actually happened), or how frigid the water was. What mattered was capturing the light, creating a beautiful photograph, and living in this moment of pure elation. The cover photo for this post is the preview I received later that night from the photographer. When I look at this picture, I feel like I’ve never been more proud of anything I’ve done. When I look at this picture, I feel capable, powerful, and beautiful- but mostly on the inside. When I look at this picture, I feel healed.

Happy Warrior’s Day

I think most of us have heard the quote, “be kind, for you never know what anyone is experiencing or going through”- or some variation on that idea. What I have learned in the last few years that is along the same lines, albeit a bit different is the idea that everyone knows something you don’t. By that, I don’t just mean that the person sitting next to you on the bus has a different level of education from you, has read an article you haven’t, or works in a different industry. I mean that everyone around you, even the ones that live in the same city or work in the same field as you, experience life in a completely different way. Recently, I’ve had my own experience of “crossing the threshold” from one plane of understanding to another- when I became a mother.

Mother’s day is this Sunday, and it is the first one I have spent as a mother. In my family, we unfortunately didn’t grow up making a big deal about Mother’s Day- partly because my mom doesn’t like being made a fuss over (or at least that’s what she says), or perhaps because they’re a cynical bunch who believe that most holidays were a product of a Hallmark & Hershey’s partnership. However, this year will be very different to me. When I look around me at all of the mothers who have had an impact on me- my mother, my mother-in-law, my closest friends who have kids, my fellow coaches’ wives, I see the strongest people in our society.

Looking back, I remember having so much fear about giving birth, and could hardly see past the act of labor. All I could think about was the unbearable pain, hours of contractions, anxiety about whether or not our son would be alright, and what if something went wrong. Now, I laugh at how I thought that would be the hard part. I hadn’t thought ahead to the weeks of recovery and awkward mesh underwear, the total mental and physical exhaustion that came from never sleeping more than 2 hours at once, the stress and pain of a blocked milk duct (and thinking I’d failed at breastfeeding), the total hopelessness when I couldn’t get him to stop crying in the middle of the night, the separation anxiety when I had to return to work, the awkward task of pumping and chilling milk in a male-dominated office, or the guilt I feel every time I’m away from him. When I look at a mother, that’s what I see now. Before July 27th 2018, I never understood that the mothers around me lived with all of those things day in a day out- and many managed to also cook dinner, clean the house, put on makeup and do their hair, and work out?! How is that even possible? Well, I can tell you now, that all any of us can do is literally take it one day at a time.

In the last 9 months, I’ve had so many ups and downs. I dealt with all of the usual steps toward feeling “normal” again after having had a baby, and I also battled (still do) postpartum depression and anxiety. There are days that I feel my soul being sucked out when my son cries, and I want to be anywhere but there. But those days have become far fewer and far between. Now, I think I’ve climbed the hill and can say with confidence that I trust that everything will be okay, I’m doing the best I can, and that our little babe is in the best hands he possibly can be in- because all of that energy I’ve put in has been out of the world’s most powerful love one can ever experience- the love of a mother.

I don’t think of mothers as just mothers anymore. I think of each and every one of them as Warriors. So, here’s to you, all the Warriors walking into work with their pump in their laptop bag, or planning their family’s dinners for the week, or dropping their baby off with a sitter so they can go to the gym for just an hour of “me” time. I see you and salute you all. Happy Mother’s Day- or rather – Happy Warrior’s Day!

The Unbearable Weight of “Should”

When you become a parent, your world view inevitably changes. In some ways, you’re prepared for that. After all, I don’t think there’s a single parent out there who didn’t receive tons of (sometimes unsolicited) advice from family members, friends, strangers in line at the grocery store, etc. But despite all of that advice, and any research you do before D day, nothing can prepare you for how heavily what you “should” do will weigh on you as a parent.

In the first few weeks of our son’s life, all I was doing was trying to survive. I was up at night with him, getting sometimes no more than 3 hours of sleep, struggling to eat 3 square meals a day, and of course recovering from childbirth. Those days were challenging, but also pretty awesome, as I slowly got to know this person who had joined our family. After the first few weeks, we settled into a rhythm. Football season was officially underway, the team was off to a great start, and we were headed into my favorite season. I had people telling me I didn’t look like I had just a baby, some said I was the most energetic new mom they had ever met. In some moments, I thought to myself, “I really think I’m getting the hang of this!” Then all of a sudden, something changed.

I’m not sure if it was adrenaline wearing off, the reality that I was the responsible adult now, a combination of the two, or just extreme exhaustion setting in, but seemingly from one day to the next I felt completely drained- both physically and emotionally. While being everything for this little person was the most intensely joyful thing I have ever experienced, I also found it to be a bit of a crushing feeling. Especially considering Nathaniel’s schedule, the fact is that a majority of the time, I alone am responsible for the sustenance, safety, entertainment, and overall wellbeing for our son. That in itself is an overwhelming notion! So for a while, I felt a bit lost. Where was the excitement and joy from the first few weeks? Where was the energy I seemed to have in the beginning, even after only sleeping in 3-hour stints? I felt like a terrible mother, or like I was simply faking being capable of this new job. It all came to a head when I laid down to sleep one night after rocking our son to sleep, but found myself inexplicably unable to sleep. My thoughts were swirling in my head at a million miles per hour, most of which extremely negative toward myself and my abilities to parent. I felt completely out of control.

The next morning, I told my husband how I was feeling, and that I didn’t want to give in to this wave of negativity I felt I was being dragged down by. So, I decided to set some new ground rules in order to enjoy – and not just survive- parenthood.

  1. Ask for help. I, like many women I know, have a very hard time asking for help or knowing when I need to delegate something. To me, it feels like a weakness to tell someone “I can’t take all of this on”, especially in our area of Silicon Valley where everyone describes themselves as “go-getters”, “self-starters” and entrepreneurs.
  2. Stop the negative thoughts in their tracks. This little boy is literally made for me, and I for him. I am the person who is best able to take care of him, so no, he doesn’t deserve a “better mother” or “belong with someone who knows what they’re doing”. He and I are right where we need to be
  3. Let go of the notion of what I “should” be doing. So often, I will be sitting on the couch snuggling with Auggie, when I have the feeling that I should be reading a book to him or playing with his toys with him, rather than binge-watching ER for the 5th time. It eats me up, that guilt that I’m not doing what I should do for him. So when I feel that way, I remind myself that I am NOT frying his brain by not stimulating him 24/7, and that these days of hours-long snuggles are very limited. I’m going to want them back badly someday
  4. Take care of me. I have vowed to myself to work out at least 3 times a week, as exercise has always been my most effective and soothing form of self-care. Thanks to the help of my mother-in-law (who we are so thankful to live near), I get out of the house twice a week, and typically use at least one of those afternoons to go to SoulCycle. Between SoulCycle, Fit4Mom classes (Stroller Strides is fantastic for new mamas!) and walking our neighborhood, I’ve been able to clock serious workout hours the last few weeks since pulling myself out of my fog.
  5. Most importantly, enjoy every second. This time is already flying by. My boy is growing up so quickly before my eyes- growing out of his infant bathtub, his newborn and 3 month clothes (even though he is just over 3 months). He can do something new every week. Last week, it was long drawn-out babbling, this week it’s reaching for his toy and putting it in his mouth. Next week, he may be rolling over! I don’t want to spend any of this precious time doubting myself or stressing about what I should be doing differently.

The most important thing I have learned by becoming a parent is that we are all just guessing at how to do things right, despite how put-together some people may seem. I think we all know the mom who seems to just know how to do it all right off the bat and seems to have it all down. Hint: she doesn’t. She’s probably just slowing down and enjoying the moment enough to not let the stress of feeding times, diaper changes, meltdowns, breastfeeding woes, or what she “should” be doing get to her. And maybe, at 3am when her baby’s been crying for an hour and she can’t figure out why, she’ll doubt herself too. But hopefully she’ll sit there, rock that little babe of hers until she quiets, and remember that this too shall pass.

So hang on to this moment even if it isn’t perfect. That’s all you “should” do.


New Season, New Life


The 2018 season is upon us, and with this new football season comes a new season of life as well for Nathaniel and I. On July 27th, we welcomed our precious son into the world, just in time for fall camp. The last two and a half weeks have been filled with baby snuggles, long sleepless nights, hours of staring as his beautiful little face, and so many moments I wish we could bottle up and keep forever. What’s interesting is that I anticipated this camp and season to be the most difficult yet, just based on having to be everything for our son, while also doing what I can to make it through the long hours without Nathaniel home with us. What I’ve found (even though it’s still early) is that it’s been just the opposite.

Every year when camp begins, I run through the dates ahead of us in my head, thinking about how we’ll get through those weeks apart, and find myself wishing that time would fly. This year, I absolutely don’t have the same mentality. Every day with our little Auggie is such a gift, and I know that if I were to set my mind to “get through the season as quickly as possible” mode, I would simultaneously be wishing away his life as well. I feel like I can so easily picture him being 3 years old and running around on the field with his dad after practice, and while I can’t wait to see those moments as well, I love this phase that we’re in right now.

I have such a good feeling about this season, and all that it will bring for our family, this team, and the wonderful community of friends we’ve made while here at Stanford. It will be such a joy to introduce Auggie to this world, and see him thrive in it!

The Day You’ll Never Forget

Our wedding was the most beautiful day of my life. It was one of those days where everything comes together in such a perfect way, that it truly feels like a dream. It went by in such a blur, but every little detail will always be so precious to me. Here are a few shots that tell the story of that incredible day.

Photography by: Someplace Wild 

Hair by: Ella Leyva 

Makeup by: Adrienne Syth

Flowers by: Aili Ice

Cake by: The Cake Maker (San Francisco)



I Went to WSU, But I Root for Stanford.

Bronte to Bondi Beach Walk

I went to Washington State University, but I root for Stanford. Pretty disloyal, right?

Like clockwork, every season I get at least 2 or 3 snide comments from my fellow WSU alumni, calling me a traitor for rooting for Stanford. Whether it’s one of sorority sisters, someone I had a class or two with, or someone I met only once at a party in sophomore year whose name I don’t remember, my fellow alumni never fail to remind me that I went to Washington State University, and that I’m a “traitor” for rooting for Stanford.

In 2009, I transferred from University of Colorado to Washington State University, quite reluctantly. I hadn’t even considered Washington State when graduating from high school, as I had no desire to live in what I deemed a tiny college town surrounded by wheat fields where there was nothing to do. I was not excited to move to Pullman Washington after having lived in Boulder, but having been from Washington State, I made the move because of the financial impact going to an in-state school would have on my family.

When I arrived in Pullman, my hesitance melted away- quickly. I went through sorority recruitment, and was lucky enough to join Alpha Phi. My sisters made the transition from Colorado to WSU much easier than anticipated, and right away I realized how lucky I was to be in a “tiny college town surrounded by wheat fields”. Because of how isolated Pullman is, your options for entertainment are limited. There were frat parties, days at the Dunes, and lots of Busch Light all around. And then there was football. Every Saturday in the fall, students of WSU gather at house parties, greek live-outs, The Coug, or in Martin Stadium, and all root together for their boys in Crimson and Grey. It’s a pretty magical thing being in the student section, feeling the combined energy of thousands of people all banding together for one unit. Together on those game days, we were one determined team, celebrating our wins together, and drinking away the losses together. It was an incredible tradition to be a part of.  When I graduated in 2012, I thought I would be a Coug fan forever.

In 2015, I “met” (we had gone to high school, but never really knew each other) my husband. He introduced me to a whole new world of football. While I had rooted for the Cougs in college and since then, I didn’t really know the rules of football, understand the landscape of college football, or have any clue about what goes into running a college football program. That all changed when we moved in together 6 months into dating, and he started working as a recruiting assistant for Stanford’s football team that fall. That season, when WSU played Stanford, I felt extremely torn. I had spent the last few months getting to know the coaching staff and their families at Stanford, and had been made to feel like part of the program. But for the 6 years prior to that, I had cheered for, traveled to watch, and been a Coug. It felt wrong to root for anyone but them.  I rooted for Stanford anyway, but felt awful the whole time.

The following summer, my husband (boyfriend at the time) was offered a chance to be a volunteer defensive assistant for the team. He didn’t just take the opportunity he was given- he took it and ran. I’ve never seen someone dive headfirst so quickly into something with such passion. His life became dedicated to understanding the playbook, getting to know the players he was coaching, and doing everything he could to learn all he needed to to be an affective assistant on staff. It was incredible to watch, and made me work that much harder in my own career. He already had been, but solidified himself that much more as my driving force and inspiration in life. He began waking up at 4:30 or 5:00am to be in the office with plenty of time to get his work done before the first meetings of the day, and I wouldn’t see him until sometimes 12:30 or 1:00am that night when he crawled, exhausted, into bed. It was a tough time for us at first, as it was hard to not feel like I had become his second priority after football. That season was admittedly very difficult, and at times I wondered if I could do a lifetime of this kind of a schedule. But, what got us through that first season was the intoxicating intensity of game days, and being a part of the program that he was so tirelessly dedicating himself to. I got to know some of the other spouses of the coaches, and realized quickly that I was not alone in all that I was feeling. By the end of the season, I was saying “we’re on staff at Stanford” instead of “my fiancé is on staff at Stanford”.

I wish I could show the people who call me a traitor what it’s like to be a part of this. I wish they could see us wives having a therapeutic wine night together on a night during training camp when we know our husbands won’t be home before 1am. I wish they could feel the energy when you’re boarding the team plane on your way to a bowl game. I wish they could be there on family dinner nights when we get a short 30 minute meal with our husbands before heading home alone, knowing they won’t be home before you’re asleep. I wish they could feel the joy of a win after your husband has put in a 100 hour work week toward that game- or the crushing blow when you walk away with a loss and you feel like all those late nights weren’t even worth it.  I wish they could understand that Stanford not only pays our bills, but also gives us the opportunity to travel the world. This past August, I had the privilege to travel with the team to Sydney Australia, where we kicked off the season against Rice University. I wish they could understand that we, the wives of college football coaches, are not fans. We are part of the team.

This is mine and Nathaniel’s third season with Stanford football, and I could not be more proud to call it our home. So, If cheering for Stanford on game day makes me a traitor to my alma mater, then so be it. Because I think it makes me a pretty damn good wife, and at the end of the day that’s what matters.

Still. Life.



Each season is a new beginning. Each football season brings new projects to stay busy. Call it nesting, or call it settling down, but my new focus since getting married has been cultivating the most relaxing home environment possible. There’s something so soothing about looking at a room in disarray, and slowly rearranging and cleaning until the energy of the room flows freely. I wanted to try and capture that energy today when the lighting was just right.


Harborview Sunset


Harborview Park

San Mateo, CA

April 25, 2017


One of the perks of recruiting season is that while the position coaches are out on the road, Nathaniel and I have lots of long, open evenings to spend together. In an attempt to avoid spending all of those precious hours sitting on the couch watching our favorite shows (there’s a time and a place for that, of course), I suggested we take a walk at sunset this evening. We got a few good shots before the sun went down. As we were heading home, the place was coming alive with raccoons, all kinds of birds, and swarms of bugs- our cue to go!

Engagement Photos

In September, I got engaged to the love of my life. He took me to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in Half Moon Bay on a Wednesday, in the middle of the season. He’d been acting strange all week, and had been pushing to go out that night instead of being homebodies as we typically we would do on such a day. Instead, he gave me the best surprise of my life! A few months later, a great friend of ours whose husband coaches with N was wonderful enough to shoot our engagement pictures for us. Here are a few favorites…

Photos by: Melissa Turner


Now, we are just over 2 months from the big day! I have no idea where the time has gone. It felt like just yesterday that I had 7 months to plan. But, ESFJ that I am, we’ve prepared early and thoroughly, and can sit back and enjoy the next two months (hopefully) stress-free. The countdown has begun- I cannot wait to be REW!