Marissa submitted part 2 of 4 of her short stories, if you don't recall her first "Autumn" you can revisit it here.

These short stories are meant to be thought provoking and relatable to a variety of audiences that we provide services to at Mirrored Images.


Two more miles... Push. Smile. Wave.

It's always the same thing, day in/out in this place.  "Senior living" they call it. I call it sitting around doing the same things every day. Each day is programmed. The same plan, the same people, the same food. I can't believe I am here. I'm 72 and have the energy of women half my age, but my family thinks "this is best" for me since my husband died. What they fail to see is, it's this place that is going to be the death of me. Even my daily run has become routine. The same neighbors on the same porches waiting on me to pass by. Smile. Wave.

These programmed days have become mind-numbing and have forced me to do some uncharacteristic things just to pass the time. With my granddaughter's help, I purchased a laptop online, and via the magic of the Internet a nice young man delivered it and set it up for me. The next thing I know I've found myself falling down the rabbit hole only to end up three lines deep into my user profile and searching for a recent photo of myself for a 50+ dating site.  I don't know much about these sites, but I hope it's free, because I am not trying to explain a monthly charge to Silver Seniors to my daughter the next time, she reviews my finances.

To be honest, I'm not sure I'm even ready to date. I can't believe anyone can ever come close to my Thomas. He just understood me. I realize I am alone, but I'm not lonely. I am not even sure I care enough to care enough about another person's thoughts or needs at this point in my life. Yet still, I've been sending late-night messages with a gentleman named Adam, and he's been pushing for a dinner date for a while.  He seems nice enough and I agreed, but now standing in front of the mirror getting ready, I'm searching my mind trying to find a kind way to get out of this and just go back to my couch.

Maybe I should call my daughter, I'm slightly hoping she'll talk some sense into me. She was a daddy's girl and I feel our relationship has been a little strained now that he is not here to buffer. Thomas just made things easier, without even trying. Now, without him, when she and I find time to speak, or on a rarer opportunity, we see each other, the air is different. He was the glue for us. Without him, I feel like we are two ends of a power cord, charged and not compatible. Still, she may be able to understand, she's older now and married. Maybe? [and yet I don't reach for my phone. Maybe another day.

Today I have this date. Date. What am I 20? It doesn't sound right even saying it in my head. I don't feel the butterflies I would've in my younger days getting ready, but perhaps I am not meant to. I am in a new season of my life and there is still life to live. No, he's not Thomas, but at the very least I will get to break up the daily monotony. A new face, a pleasant conversation, and a good meal may be the medicine I need right now to help me get over being SICK of this place.

Or this is what I tell myself as I close the front door behind me and head to the car. I sink into the seat and find myself looking in the rearview mirror making my final adjustments.  I'm moving too slow, and I know it.

I turn over the key and my engine revs loudly as if to encourage me.  Snapping the overhead visor closed, "ok Jan... here we go" and I drive off.

Are YOU on your list this year?


Every holiday season I struggle with holiday giving. The pressure to find the “perfect” gift can give even the best of us anxiety. Even with online shopping and overnight delivery there never seems to be enough time to complete shopping for everyone on the list, let alone think of yourself. Too often I’d get caught up in preparing/serving the meal, decorating, and wrapping gifts that I wouldn’t find the time to be present in those special moments I helped make. For years I’d be missing in family photos because I was in the kitchen or had yet to get dressed.

This year I vowed to change all that and I opted to gift myself with ‘peace of mind’. I challenged myself to remember to include ME on my list and I want you to do the same.

Gifting yourself doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. Sometimes the best gift is regaining free time so you can be available for what matters. These companies can give that to you, and you’ll feel like Santa and his elves have finally included you on the Nice List.

Skip the lines at the supermarket or the drive to your local butcher for the best cuts. Butcher Box allows you to choose quality cuts of pork, beef, and poultry, pre-portioned and vacuum sealed. Think ahead and purchase all you’ll need for your appetizers or main proteins for family-sized portions. If meat is not on the menu, make a few selections from the array of choices with Wild Alaskan Company for your Feast of Fishes.

If you are keeping it simple and dining for two [or just you], it can still be festive. You don’t have to settle for fast food just because you’ve opted out of the group festivities. HomeChef is one of the few home delivery companies that offers you shortcuts, but they don’t do all the work for you. Unlike other companies that prepare and provide you with the equivalent of an oven ready tv dinner, HomeChef sends you all the ingredients (pre-portioned and measured) along with the recipe to prepare an enjoyable holiday meal for yourself.

To tie the meal together, allow Winc to make some suggestions for wine that will excite your palette. They offer vegan, low sugar and low sulfite options that will keep your party going without the guilt or hangover the next day. Order a few days in advance to ensure delivery on time for your event, or just order to restock your supplies after your friends and family have left.

… but what do I wear:

I love a little bit of sequins and holiday glamour like everyone else but purchasing an entire wardrobe for holiday parties seems a bit much. So why not rent your glitz and glam? This Thanksgiving I finally used my trial membership to Eloquii Unlimited and I received four pieces that gave me casual and fun options to wear for our family meal.

For this coming holiday season, Rent the Runway offers something for everyone and every occasion. With a mobile app and reoccurring discounts, you are ten minutes and a few clicks away from all you’ll need to get from your job’s holiday party through the New Year. Whether you choose cocktail chic or full out glam, RTR has it, including a wide selection of bags and accessories to complete the look. Return them for free when you’re done and they’ll even dry clean them for you!

Whichever you choose, these are just a few of the options available to lessen your load this holiday season and give back some of your time so you can enjoy your holiday with those you love. So this year remember that when you are making your list and checking it twice, it might be nice to include something for you on YOUR list.

New Turkey Day Traditions

When you get married you have these ideas about your family merging, large family gatherings and Hallmark quality photo ops and then reality happens.

My family and our culture didn't really celebrate Thanksgiving (don't look at me like that) but my husband comes from such a large family that one year my mother-in-law charged us all an admission fee. Seriously. But I understood. Year after year preparing this huge feast that amounts to more leftovers than the average fridge can store is a bit of an undertaking.

One year my husband and I volunteered to give his mom a break and make dinner from appetizer to desert. Little did we know that over the course of the year our mom's cancer would return and our family Thanksgiving plans would become her repass. Emotions aside the undertaking was made more difficult when the headcount tripled.

I'd never made a turkey before (see my prior comment lol) so I enlisted help for the foulest part of it and we made it through. But at the end of the night when everyone was enjoying the meal and I lay partially comatose on the staircase landing I found myself thinking...” I can't do this again”. I mean...is the turkey the key? Has Thanksgiving become more about the turkey and the trimmings or is it about the family/friends and feelings? If it's the latter, can't we try something different?

So, I polled a few lovely ladies, who like myself, have opted to break the mold in lieu of a less traditional holiday meals. If you want to step outside the kitchen and join us and your family on the couch, try out some of these alternatives:


Breakfast Thanksgiving:

Have friends and family that are already coming to visit bring a casserole, frittata, or other breakfast dish. Add in a bevy of quick breakfast proteins and start the day off as a family. You can burn off the carbs and calories playing a family game of touch football in the yard rather than checking the bird.

Seafood Thanksgiving

This is my family's tradition, and I may be biased, but it's awesome. Shell out a bit for some crustaceans and celebrate with a clam bake or seafood boil. Throw down some brown paper and keep it simple. Gift your friends and family fun bibs and the resulting photos will have you "cracking" up for years to come.

Tailgate Taco Bar

Take Thanksgiving outside. Put a projector up to view the game in the backyard or head out to the garage. Slow cook some chicken, brisket or pork and go crazy with the fixings! Put out a few chairs and have a blast.

TakeOut or TakeAway

Let's face it. These last 18+months may have many people yearning for the holiday festivities, but perhaps it's just a bit overwhelming to jump into all the hullabaloos. You can have your family and your takeout too! The beauty of cultural differences also means there are restaurants open on thanksgiving. If your grandpa, brother, and aunt can't agree on what to eat, use the power of DoorDash, GrubHub and UberEats to get them their favorites and make a spread of it all. You can still have your holiday table set with takeout. Takeout not your style? If you want a sit down but don't want to cook plan ahead and contact your favorite restaurant. They can arrange a catered takeaway meal you can pickup. Hey, it's still homemade and you won't have the mess to clean up.

So why not give yourself and your kitchen a reprieve this Thanksgiving. The turkeys will thank you.

xoxo, Marissa

boudoir, boudoir photogaphy, mens jersey, knee high socks, empty nest, blog, short story, self love, north georgia, atlanta, gainesville, buford, cumming, alpharetta


Marissa is working on a series of short stories that are completely relatable and hopefully thought provoking to our audience.  Her first entry... Autumn.


boudoir, boudoir photogaphy, mens jersey, knee high socks, empty nest, blog, short story, self love, north georgia, atlanta, gainesville, buford, cumming, alpharetta[BEEP, BEEP, BEEP].  Why does everything have to have an alarm nowadays, as though my attention deviating for one minute would somehow veer me off course. [BEEP, BEEP, BEEP]. I mean seriously, does the dishwasher, stove, microwave, and my phone all work together to remind me times up? I am 54 years old. I know what time it is.   I’ve waited 30+ years to finally not have to reply to a morning alarm and now days before my retirement party, my microwave is going to send me over the edge.

Microwave dinners have been the way of life since our youngest went off to college. It just doesn’t seem to make sense to make large family meals with no family around to eat them.  Sure, he’s around, somewhere in this too large house, doing God knows what with his time. Most of the time, I don’t see him, but his presence is marked by the occasional relocated item, or a toilet seat left open so I can fall in during the middle of the night. Otherwise, it’s like living with a ghost. Unexplained sounds echoing around the house, without a soul to speak to.

This was the dream, the big house, the land, the space. Now, it’s just a reminder that they are gone. I am proud of our success with both our girls, but when it comes to my marriage? That’s something else entirely.

I tried for a while. I mean, for years we’ve talked about what we would do when the kids were gone, and we had the house to ourselves. Yet, now, all those plans seem to have packed their bags and left along with our kids.  I’ve tried to make plans for date nights, trips, game nights with our friends – but he’s always doing his own thing.

For a while, I’ve been jealous of him. His ability to occupy his time without me. He doesn’t seem to need me to feel complete or to fill the seemingly endless hours in the day.  Maybe it’s because I made it my job, because it was my job, to manage our home and the kids. He has always been around but has never been present. I am not sure if he failed to step up enough or if I just took on too much myself.  Either way, now I feel like I’ve been laid off from one job and about to retire from another. What am I going to do with all this time?

My friends are all in a similar pattern of rediscovery. All our children are a phone call, rather than a room away and don’t need us in the same way. Now that I must return to my previous role, the “me” before I was mom, I worry I’ve forgotten my lines.  I struggle to find things to say to him daily and the silence is deafening.  Something has got to change. I am too young to be wasting away in this big house like it’s a mausoleum.

My mother couldn't be any more different than I am. She normally makes basic suggestions: get a hobby or cut my hair, but recently she suggested I step out of the box entirely and take some boudoir photos. "If that doesn't get his attention nothing will" she says. I can't believe I'm even considering it, but I need to find a way to remember who WE were before it’s lost entirely.  Yet every time I visit the website I chicken out.  Am I ready to immortalize my naked body? What if he doesn’t like it.

Closing the website (yet again) I wander out the backyard door and I find myself transfixed watching a team of strangers buzzing around my yard preparing for the weekend’s events. My mind drifts to a time not so long ago when he and I were just starting out and we all loved being under the same roof. Now I can’t seem to get my kids to even RSVP for my retirement party. It's amazing how some new beginnings start at the very point other roads may be coming to an end.

It’s the autumn of my life and the irony of my name is not lost on me.  For years I’ve placed other plans, dreams, and goals on hold while I made our house a home and now what? What dreams do I have left? Do my plans include the life I built? Is the road I chose to take over 20 years ago leading me in the right direction?  Standing in the now I do not have any of these answers, but I am going to do my best to find out.

You Are Enough

Too often we as woman feel like we must compete. The world shows us images that are over altered and filtered to perfection.  Social media displays lives more carefully curated than the MOMA, leaving us to question "what's wrong with this picture, why am I behind the others in this race". Without even knowing it we've become runners in this race called life.

The Fore Runner: You started off strong perusing the vision you had of your life. Ticking off all the boxes. You may have been ahead of others in your social circle. You felt you were on track but what happened?

The False Start(er): In this race of life the gun went off and you feel all the runners have left their mark but you. By your assumption you are lagging. You have goals unmet, finances unsaved, trips not taken, and you look around and it appears everyone else is jumping hurdles and running laps around you.

The Pace Keeper: While others set the pace you've just been keeping it. You're not falling behind, but you aren't pushing forward either. You're stuck mid heat and it's driving you crazy. You feel that you need to break free of the monotony of the daily to-dos. You find your mind drifting off daydreaming about the forks in the road you've reached and the "what ifs" of the road not taken.

The truth is that while you may be setting the pace or following behind, there is always room for self examination.

Before social media we only had to be concerned if our neighbor’s lawn was greener or the woman in front of us at spin class was faster. Now, we wake up to a world competing for our attention and making us feel inadequate from miles away. We give attention to our phones, our FB, Snapchat, TikTok before we greet our families laying nearby.

We choose our trips, meals and outfits based on their "Insta" worthiness and fill our "clouds" with 100 versions of that perfect selfie.

We determine the value of the decisions based on likes by people we wouldn't recognize if we passed them on the street. Via social media promotions, ads, and influencers, we’ve learned the cost of everything, but the value of nothing.

But why? Why do we feel the need to compete? Why do we care what others think? Why isn't our own voice and opinion enough?

Actual runners don't watch those in the lanes nearest them. They've learned that if you focus on the race of others is a guaranteed way to lose. They must keep their eyes on their own path. Run as no one else is there and win or lose the race based on their own merit. Their interior voice is their only monologue.

I think we can learn a lot about competition from those who live their lives between the actual lines of a track. Run for YOUR life. Make your own goals and set them according to your means and needs. Travel where you want and eat some of the best food (which is normally not the best looking lol).

Don't be afraid to stay in your lane. Cut out those things/people that are toxic or impeding your road to happiness. Turn your phone off and be in the moment. Leave it plugged in another room and get to it when you've started your day, rather than letting it set the tone of your day.

The world will always be there. Set about making your place at your own pace.


In a world full of followers, be a leader of your own life.

Love The Skin You're In

When I was younger, I lost my mother early, so I didn't get some of the lessons you'd need later in life as a woman. I never got the birds and bees, "monthly," or boys talk. However, as I age, I realize there is another lesson to learn; the importance of taking care of the skin you're in.

Living with my grandmother, the neighborhood adopted me and frequently invites me to my friend's homes permitted me to roam freely and make discoveries. I'd find myself in their bathrooms transfixed by their mom's self-care products with no idea of their purpose. As six-year-old I’d wonder how one person needed so much stuff. Or better yet, how could they know what to use, for what and when? As a kid, the most skincare advice I got was "the only thing that should tan is leather." Not sage advice, but memorable at the least. However, what I think my grandmother was trying to say in her way was, protect your skin!

Your skin is your largest organ, and we wear it on the outside. It's more exposed than the heart most of us wear on our sleeves (figuratively) and takes on all the world's scars, yet skin care can leave some of us as baffled as I once was standing in front of that medicine cabinet years ago.

I've tried makeup subscriptions, clothing memberships, and jewelry clubs, but skincare is still an ongoing need so I figured we could all learn together how to both protect and renew our biggest asset. Yeah, you may have your go-to body butter or lotions for your main areas, but what about the specialty zones? Are you taking care of those?

Above the neck:

First, I will need us all to agree that products we use on our general body shouldn't be used on our face. If our skin is our largest organ, your face is the most delicate portion and requires special attention. That SPF you've been using to protect your poolside isn't going to work as well or as long on the soft skin above the neck.

Whether you are a sun worshipper seeking a tan or, like me, you hopscotch from one shady spot to another, the sun is damaging, and taking care of your skin earlier in life will yield more significant results the longer you live.

A light sunscreen that will allow you to layer it under your makeup or use it with other products is the best investment you can make. If you prefer to choose the level SPF protection you need or mix your sunscreen with your facial moisturizer like V-8 hides vegetables, it's an important addition.

We are all particular in our focus on our skin ranging from age to acne, and the options can be overwhelming. Websites like Skin Store eliminate a bit of the guesswork, allowing you to search by specific concern or ingredients. The website also has great suggestions for eye cream, but that's a whole other medicine cabinet we don't need to open right now.

If you aren't confident what products to choose or want something more personal, try Curology. Their website conducts a virtual evaluation (via a brief quiz and a few selfies) with their team of dermatologists. They review your info and develop a skincare regimen made for you. The best part is their sample box gives you 30 days' worth of time and product to try their choices. Even after the trial, if you don't like the products, they offer a 90-day money-back guarantee

Around the rear and down there:

Second, to the face, your butt is a bit of a diva and should be treated accordingly. Your bum takes many hits daily with all the ups and downs of driving and the past year working from our home offices. It needs a bit of TLC to lift its spirits. Whether you are looking to lose the cellulite, get a lift, gain a bit of clarity from the particular acne that creeps back there, or you want to bounce a coin off it like Serena Williams, there's a cream for that. Here are a few of the bests.

For the particular areas around the front, I would always suggest speaking to your OBGYN first to ensure you don't throw off your natural balance, but there is always a need for skincare especially post wax/sugar/shave. At these times your skin isn't protected (by hair) and is a delicate as a baby's bottom. However, that's where the similarities end. Unlike a baby, its best to stay away from talcum powders and fragrances that can block your pores and lead to breakouts. Stick to oils or lotion-based solutions infused with good for your ingredients such as jojoba, tea tree, lavender, and vitamin C.

And let's not forget the arms. Yes... the dreaded pits. Especially during the summer months when we tend to sweat more these areas need more attention. Detoxifying your armpits once a week will help keep the areas skin healthy. Body exfoliators can be a bit rough so try a mask like Mega Babe Happy Pits for a more gentle approach.

What are those??

Last and certainly not least when you are making your way around the canvas that is your skin, keep an eye out for those changes only you'd notice. Questions such as "did I always have that birthmark" or "is this a mole?"' are normal, but shouldn't be answered by self diagnosis. Make an appointment to see a dermatologist and get ahead of any possible changes that aren't positive.

As we age our skin can be our biggest confidant or a snitch. It's can make us look younger, tell our age or make claims we are older. It's all about how we take care of it.

Facials, massages and products aren't reserved for someone else or some other time they are tools in your arsenal and should be used for self-care. Whether it's a relaxation need for mental health or an aesthetic one. Taking care of you and the skin you are in shouldn't be an option; it should be a requirement. So, make it a priority.

Beloved, Playa Mujeres, Honeymoon, Covid travel, Mexico, couples only, couples trip, all inclusive cancun

A Girlfriends Guide to Baecation

We all know there are times when you need a girlfriend's suggestion for those more personal things, like a GYN referral or colorist who won't turn your hair orange on the way to blonde.  So, it's natural to seek the same counsel of a girlfriend when you're looking to getaway.

For this, I turned to our not-so 'newly' wed, Jenn. I knew she had just recently gone on a long overdue vacation to Mexico, and I wanted the details. Where to go, what to avoid, what did/didn't require a vaccination, etc.    Sitting across the table, drinks in hand, I waited for Jenn to let me have it. The Good, the Bad, the Unforgettable, and the Never Again.

Jenn and Chris chose Mexico because they do not require a vaccine or quarantine period to enter the country, and as of June no Covid swab to get in either.  But, you’ll need one to get back to the USA and most hotels provide the swab free of charge to guests who stay a minimum of 3 nights.

The Good

Beloved, Playa Mujeres, Honeymoon, Covid travel, Mexico, couples only, couples trip, all inclusive cancunThe first stop was Beloved, an all-inclusive couple’s only beachfront resort in Playa Mujeres. Jenn selected a two-story casita with a private plunge pool as their home away from home. The resort offered all the standard amenities in terms of activities and multiple gourmet food/drink options, some of which required a dress code, but the experiences made all the difference. It was truly an all-inclusive and the only thing she and Chris found that wasn’t included was certain wine at the steak house.

Beloved Cancun, couples only, covid travel, honeymoon, five star restaurant, gourmet mexican cuisine


I knew I would be booking a trip to Beloved when Jenn shared the details of the authentic gourmet Mexican meal the manager offered them (not on the menu), complete with a history lesson.  This location came as a recommendation from Jenn’s friend Amy and the couple were very pleased with the entire Beloved experience.

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. The couple's first three days went by way too quickly as they were off to their next city.  A taxi took the couple to the next location, an hour south of Beloved.



The Bad

When Jenn told me that they started this leg of their trip trying to find a rental car, without a credit card, in Mexico, I already knew this was going to be "the bad" part of the trip. Thankfully, they found an establishment that would accept a debit card, but the car itself would prove an obstacle later in the trip, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Jenn says Easy Way Rent a Car was outstanding to work with and very accommodating (thank you Jorge).

I remembered Jenn posted on social media about changing resorts halfway through the trip, so I had to ask for more details. How bad-was bad that you had to change course and possibly lose money? "Girl!" was her response, and I knew I was in for it.

First, let's talk about Ocean Riviera Paradise, which did everything, but live up to its name, unless the smell of ocean wetness, i.e., mold, is pleasant for you. The resort offered different "levels" of service, the best of which was their "Privileged" level. Yes, you heard me 'privileged.' They were so proud of this term they branded everything, from the building signage to the guests' bracelets. The excessive branding and efforts to sell their guests a timeshare made relaxation difficult. Power outages and the lack of hot water (later turned into NO water) made rest after a long day in the Mexican sun impossible.  Dinner wasn't an option, with the resort's best being a Hibachi restaurant equipped with 7-Eleven quality sushi and casino quality alcohol.  The Privileged Lounge serves tapas between meals, Jenn and Chris question if the meat was even real meat and followed that statement with “the food was inedible and disgusting.”

The Front Desk and staff were unresponsive to complaints, and even having a personal butler couldn't salvage this resort.  The only thing worthwhile was the Wi-Fi they used to search the web for another hotel for the remainder of their trip. 8 AM check out, anyone? One night was enough!

The Unforgettable

Kimpton, IHG, boutique hotel, tulum, mexico, honeymoon, travel, couples trip, romantic vacationSanity and serenity came in the form of the Kimpton Aluna Tulum, a boutique hotel with a dedicated staff, and the new (and last) hotel for Jenn and Chris' honeymoon. Despite the laid-back vibe, Tulum has so many options to make the city unforgettable. You should have seen Jenn's face light up as she described Tulum. She made me want to run and check my bank account and drain it for all it's worth to run away to the sandy beaches of this small town, never to return.


Kimpton, IHG, boutique hotel, tulum, mexico, honeymoon, travel, couples trip, romantic vacation, habitas, yoga, retreat, fine dining


Jenn provided mouth-watering details about her meal at Habitas Tulum, a steal at $150/couple with drinks included. Habitas is a wellness resort, offering respite and restoration for your mind, body, and belly. The hotel offers several dining options, all with a chill vibe that is a stark difference from Beloved, but the food and quality are on an equal scale.



Habitas offers mental and physical wellness options, but if you are looking for a deeper dive, Jenn mentions Ikal. This community is a yoga enthusiast's dream getaway and is worth the trip to reset your battery.




However, yoga retreats are quite Jenn's scene (as much as she wishes it could be), so a Kimpton guest referred her and Chris to Tantra, a beach club offering more of a party. Our favorite couple arrived by noon and quickly understood the reason people come here. It's the place to see and been "seen," both in person and on your IG. The designer built every angle of this place for social media. There's a cover charge, but they provide you with food and beverage credit for half of it, so you might as well enjoy it.  Park yourself on a beach lounger (approx. 2000 pesos/day) and take in the view.


Drinks are expensive at Tantra. One or two can be an excellent way to start the night, but you don't have to eat there. Follow the locals and try an authentic street taco at Antojitos La Chiapanaca, where lunch + beer for two paired with live music for the friendly cost of around $16 USD!  Jenn found Antojitos on another blog which rated several of their items on the menu as #1 in Tulum.  They were right.



Tacos, not your thing? Seriously? Ok, no judgment. How about Mediterranean food?  Pasha is in downtown Tulum and offers beautiful tasting platters that will fill you after a full day's adventure in the city.





If you are feeling a bit adventurous, visit a local cenote. Cenote Dos Ojos (Two Eyes) sits between Tulum and Playa del Carmen. Boasting one of the largest underwater cave systems in the world makes Dos Ojos a tourist draw, so if you want a quieter dive to try Cristal Cenote. This local spot is open (rather than a cave), and has picnic tables and a lot of locals, so pack a lunch and make a day of it – and be sure to leave some room in your bag for shopping at the local stores. These artisans offer one-of-a-kind keepsakes you will want to carry on your flight home.  El Pueblo (downtown) Tulum is known for being less touristy, more authentic, and less expensive than the Hotel Zone.  Kimpton offers free bicycles to guests, so the duo took a short ride from the hotel to downtown Tulum via bicycle.  No Tulum trip is complete without going for a bicycle ride through town.


It was time to return to the US for Jenn and Chris. My drink was nearly gone, and Jenn was finishing her story, but not before a Covid swab and one more adventure.


On the way back to the airport, Jenn and Chris decided to give Playa del Carmen another try.  The city is beautiful and has more to offer than just one resort, so they wanted to look around.  I hope the shopping was good because this second chance came with the cost of $75 to remove the boot put on their car. There was no signage when they parked that stated there was a parking fee, but with 1300 pesos, they were able to get it off just in time to make their flight.


Having learned a few lessons on this trip from Jenn, I wanted to pass it on:

  • Use cash (not debit/credit) when possible.  With debit/cc you will have a foreign exchange rate for every transaction.
  • Pesos = better than USD and easier for you since the exchange rate fluctuates daily.
  • All staff wear masks and they're pretty strict on others wearing masks indoors.
  • Eat locally.
  • Don't be afraid to change course a little if a hotel is not up to your standard. Just be sure to get your refund!
  • Try something new; you are on vacation!
  • Use Google maps to get around, but don't depend on Google for accurate open/close times for local establishments.
  • Rent a car ONLY if you are familiar with the area. Chris knew what he was doing, but driving is nothing like it is in the US. It can be intense.
  • Have fun! Nothing goes as planned, but don't let that ruin the trip.


Hot Girl Summer


With the summer approaching and the world starting to reopen another ‘virus’ has begun spreading among us…Wanderlust. We need to travel and NOW! Maybe we still can’t make it to that far away island, but that shouldn’t stop us from exploring what’s in our own backyards. Now that small groups are growing, why not get together with a few of your female friends and set out on a Hot Girl Summer Getaway. Here are a few suggestions that won’t zap your vacation with travel time.


Many people have visited the bustle of Nashville, but Chattanooga (TN) has a laidback vibe all its own that makes it a great weekend.  While Chat’s not known for having a large night scene, it makes up for it with daytime attractions.  There are plenty of unique and fun hotels in Chattanooga that will spark your friends IG envy. Check out The Dwell Hotel or Hotel Indigo and reserve your room early, they sell out quickly. To make the most of your day, try and arrive the Friday night so you can get a jump on the next day.

There is plenty to do in Chattanooga, so grab your morning pick me up from Frothy Monkey or Wildflower Tea Shop and get a move on. Make memories and your own fragrance at Good Fortune Soap before heading to Look Out Mountain for the day. Located just a few minutes away, but in another time zone Look Out Winery pairs it’s wines with a variety of brick oven pizzas for an affordable mid-day meal. If you like the view from the top of the mountain, head underground to Ruby Falls for view of their cascading waterfalls.  Hungry post cave walk? Dinner options are not hard to come by in Chat and there’s something for every palette.  If you want to try something out of the ordinary, check out Flying Squirrel on Johnson Street.

Sunday is definitely the day for brunch in Chattanooga.  Locals and visitors flock to Stir and State of Confusion for food, but more importantly their $1 mimosas.  Make the most of their brunch hours since you won’t be doing much of anything after a few rounds.

Savannah, GA is a great girl’s getaway and frequent go-to for bachelorette weekends. This walking city allows you to take in the sights from all angles. During the day, beat the heat and stay in the shade in one of the city’s parks, take a trolley tour, or relax pool side at your hotel.  When the sun goes down, choose to mobilize on a Pedal Pub, socialize on a roof top bar or take your beverage to go (it’s legal there), it’s your choice.  For a crafted cocktail and a great turn on classic American, stop by Repeal 33 and try the Hendrix Gin Martini.  It tastes like a summer day in a glass, you’ll want a bottle to go. Or, if you are like me and you prefer a bar that feels a bit secretive then head to Whitaker St. and enjoy some shared plates at Flock the Wok. The food is not only amazing, but it will give you the much-needed base for the evening’s events at their speakeasy, Peacock Lounge, located right downstairs. You and your ladies can make reservations for dinner and drinks and never have to leave. When the night is over, you’ll be happy you made the choice to book a boutique hotel like the Kimpton Bice which offers personal attention, or the Adaz whose central location will save you a ton on Ubers.’

If you are lucky enough to be a GA resident, you might already know about the hidden gems that lie in the mountains of Northern GA. However, if you don’t, please allow me to spill the tea, because no one is going to spill wine, that’s for drinking!  And drinking will occur during your tour of the Vineyards of Northern GA, so it’s strongly recommended that you arrange a designated driver for your day drinking to drive you from Kaya, Wolf Mountain, or Montaluce to the Cottage and back again.  DSH is a great provider in the area offering both public/private wine tours and round-trip transportation via Sprinter van. So why not check-in to local hotel like the Limelight Inn or rent a cabin in Dahlonega and take in some live music at the Crimson Moon. Make the most of this local getaway and return home recharged.


Regardless of where you choose, it’s the people that help make the memories. Take this opportunity to reconnect with your friends, reinvest in your friendships and build new ones.

Spring Cleaning!


Each new season brings with it a unique opportunity, but there's something about Spring that gets a chance for rebirth and change. Since Spring is officially here (or so the calendar says despite the 30-degree mornings and 70-degree afternoons), let's take the opportunity to do some spring cleaning while we wait for the weather to make up its mind.

As a self-proclaimed Home Edit addict, I've always been a fan of organization and a regular customer of the Container Store. I love an organized pantry and fridge more than anyone. Yet, it was a recent addition to my bookshelf that changed my perspective on editing. Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up was a game-changer for both my closet and my life. Her organization methods are intelligent and space-conscious, and she believes that the possessions we own and the places we spend our time should spark joy. Using the Konmarie method made me look more closely at my life.  I quickly realized that my life, as it was, wasn't bringing me much joy, and it started with my closet

Like so many of us, I always feel like I have nothing to wear, yet I have a closet full of clothing.  With Marie's help and some examination, I had to admit that I've never worn half the items I owned. I gravitated to the same 10-15 things every time I got dressed, which led to wear and tear of my favorites and a closet of items I didn't want.  Yet, I continued to allow these other items to occupy my space and time. Why? They didn't do anything to help me, and I didn't look forward to wearing them. They were buried in the back of my closet and the bottom of a drawer. For what? Was there going to be an apocalypse sometime soon where my size six flare bottom jeans were going to save the day? The more I thought about it, the more I wondered why couldn't I let these old items go and the bevy of memories that hung along with them?

Your clothes tell a story. They help people know how to identify you and enable you to let people who you are or want to be. There is so much more than just fabric to what we decide to dress and present ourselves in each day. Clothes can be your armor or your costume. Shouldn't we be sending the right message? Why should we store fabric memories that bring us anything less than joy?

Why should you be stuck to the same routine to avoid dealing with the other items in your life?

This Spring, I challenge you to open the doors of your closet and your soul and do some spring cleaning.

Take those jeans that you wore back when you were a size whatever and say goodbye. Honor their contribution to your story, but close that chapter. It's no fun having a younger and smaller version of you hanging around judging the new you. Donate them to your local Goodwill or sell them on Poshmark, Mercari, or eBay and buy something that you can wear NOW that will make you feel fabulous.

Take a scroll through your phone and social media.  Examine the person you are becoming and eliminate those you follow or follow you that aren't in line with this new vision.  We aren't required to remain friends with those who have hurt us, devalued us, or do not contribute to our growth.  Allowing these people to witness your new growth will only bring toxicity into this new chapter.

Look around your space, whether at home or in the office. Does it reflect the person you are or want to be? Does it bring you joy? If not, why not? Or rather, what are you doing to change it.

Spring is all about turn-over, growth, rejuvenation, and change.  It's an annual reminder that we get to choose and renew our plans.  Tailor your clothes to fit you, do not squeeze yourself into a life that doesn't quite "fit" anymore.

strong women, boudoir, boudoir inspiration, boudoir photoshoot, boudoir ideas, boudoir near me, photographer, female empowerment, self love, body positive, survivor

Coming Through The Abuse

strong women, boudoir, boudoir inspiration, boudoir photoshoot, boudoir ideas, boudoir near me, photographer, female empowerment, self love, body positive, survivor

You know that first drop of water that falls on your floor that first major rain of spring. No, you don’t. Why? Because many people don’t see the first drop of change. They live in a belief that they are protected from the elements, the outside, if they are safe in their home. But what if the element you need to avoid is inside with you?

This is how abuse begins. It doesn’t come all at once. It’s subtle like a slow leak. A hurtful word said in an argument or a slur, a grasp of your arm just a little too hard. It’s then followed at best by false promises and assurances that it’ll never happen again, or more readily, denial, misdirection and blame.This divide between your ideal of love, promises you made to yourself, plans you had for your future and the reality of the world within your own home is so vast, often time we fall in. Into despair and disbelief that allows us to be gaslit.

Some of us may have less strings or soul ties to their life making a clean break a possibility, but more often there are other lives involved that keep us in place and in pain longer than we should. Tied down by the “what ifs” of it all. What if I do this and it hurts the kids? What if I never find love again? What if he/she can change? What if I tried harder, made this change or that? The list goes on. Then you realize those single droplets have become too much to avoid, there are pots filled all around and you find yourself side stepping trying to evade a disaster, until one day you scream... I need a new roof!


A new home

A new start

A new beginning

A renewed me


Many of us have decided at one point that change is needed. For those among us that are rebuilding their esteem via self-love, we need to seek new sources of power. Friends, family and new interests are all helpful, but there is sometimes you need a new visual.  Viewing yourself through Jenn’s lens could be the first time you truly see yourself as the phoenix you are. Burnt but not broken, reborn from the ashes of your prior self. These images can be the source of power you’ll need to gain the strength for the road ahead. The strength it will take to leave, to change the narrative and begin a new chapter.

This is something to be celebrated.

You do not have to be broken because you pushed to your breaking point.

You do not have to feel ugly because someone who is ugly (inside) told you so.

You do not have to continue to question your intelligence because you allowed yourself to believe in them for so long.

Their problems are their burden, not yours.

You are in a new house now with a new roof, and hopefully a new lease on life.

Love yourself enough to date yourself.

Send yourself flowers out of love, not apology

Get dressed and wear something they’d never allow you to leave the house

Or stay home and dance around naked because you can!


Your space is now a reflection of your healing, growth and personal style. You have a place in the world that is uniquely and solely yours. If you choose to share it in the future, great. But there’s no rush. This is your time. For now, hang that photo of the new BAD BOSS you on the wall and strut…it’s a new day.

XoXo Marissa


Our sessions have been referred to as being therapeutic, and our clients do share a lot of their personal trials & triumphs with us.  So many inspirational women have walked through our doors; fighters, survivors, mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, ex wives.... every walk of life.  We're truly humbled by the amount of women that have trusted us to keep their stories private but show their strength and perseverance through our imagery.  Lately we've heard an abundance of stories of survival... surviving the person who is supposed to love and protect you.  I asked Marissa to write a blog about the topic, the underlying message is that you are not alone.

The National Domestic Abuse Hotline can be reached via web or phone (800-799-SAFE).


PS- Client pictured is not related to this topic, it's just a beautiful image of a beautiful woman. :)