Running on Empty Contest Begins for San Diego, CA!

Me Ra Koh

As of yesterday, we are officially SOLD OUT for our upcoming San Diego workshop in May! Brian, Carey and I are all so excited!!

Now it’s time to do my favorite contest of all! We have saved one spot for the mom who wins the new Running on Empty contest!

Here’s how it works!

In honor of how wonderful moms are and all that they do and give, Brian and I have reserved one spot in the San Diego Women’s Workshop from Friday, May 23rd to 26th for a special mom YOU nominate! That’s right, she’ll get a free pass to the beginner workshop as well as the Add On day with Carey and I talking about the business side of starting/enhancing your photography business!

To nominate a mom, you must post a comment telling us about the mom who you think deserves a big break in life! If your a mom, you’re probably laughing because we ALL deserve a serious break. But the moms we’re looking for are the ones who have had a ridiculous amount of stress in their life whether from trauma or things just not going her way this year. She is a mom in your life that needs a serious blessing to come her way. She needs a surprise giving her empty tank some fuel. If she is a woman that has miscarried, she is still a mom in my mind b/c I know her heart became a mother’s heart the moment she found out she was pregnant.

I’m proud to say that our last two winners stepped out on a limb and nominated themselves. Take courage in them and feel free to nominate yourself if you know you need a serious break. Who knows, you may have your house remodeled by Oprah! 🙂

We’ll collect all the nominees, have a committee of wonderful moms vote, and then announce the winner in the next few weeks!

Nominate her today, and turn her day around!

Be sure to let her know you’ve nominated her too! If I was a mom nominated I’d love to know that my friends were thinking of me whether I won or not!


Are you considering coming to one of our 2008 workshops?

If so, we still have some spots left in the upcoming Sonoma/Wine Country Workshop (April 25th-28th, 2008–the night of the 25th and 28th is optional)! Hurry and sign up before this workshop sells out too! (this is the only workshop we are taking registration for in 2008 as of now)

Come sip wine with us, laugh, cry, eat wonderful savory foods,

learn to use your camera, have a special portrait session with the acclaimed, celebrity photographer Rick Chapman,

and give yourself a break in life, while making new friends!

The workshop already has women who are flying in from Florida, Virginia, Colorado, CA and WA! You don’t want to miss this! Unless…unless you are in Texas, I believe we’ve decided to add Texas to our 2008 schedule too (details coming soon!)!! 🙂

For all the details on the Wine Country Workshop with the schedule and photos of where we are holding the event, visit this blog post! Online registration is available at and click on Workshops in the left hand browse box! FYI–If you own Beyond the Green Box–dvd 2, there is a coupon inside for $100 off any workshop!

To read about past workshops and what others have said, visit these links below! Enjoy!

The scoop on the January 2008 Workshop!

The scoop on the October 2007 Workshop!

The scoop on the September 2007 Workshop!

Feedback from Past Workshop Attendees!

“This was the BEST day I’ve had in a long time…it was so nice to wade through and be challenged, laugh along the way, conquer a fear, and leave wanting more. What a day! I can’t thank you enough!”

“I’ve had the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO lecture more times than I can count. This was the first time I’d heard it from a woman’s perspective, and the first time it really made sense!”

“I feel like I’m not just a better “photographer” but a better person! Thank you!”

“I loved the analogies as they weren’t technical but instead practical.”

“Me Ra has a gift in being able to teach technical material in a learnable way.”


  1. Jacque says:

    Me Ra, Thank you for acknowledging that a mother’s heart begins when she finds out she is Pregnant. My husband and I have lost two babies to misscarriage and in October we were able to hold our thrid child, Asher. Every day is a blessing.

  2. Denise says:

    I’ve added carey to my favorites since I saw her interview a few posts ago – that’ll be an amazing workshop!!

  3. Michelle says:

    What an awesome opportunity!!!!! Me Ra AND Carey???? 🙂

    I just took Carey’s workshop this weekend and that rocked!

  4. anonymous says:

    I want to nominate Jen Stewart for the running on empty contest. She is a mother of 4, 3 sons and a new baby girl. All of whom keep her on her feet at all times. She is amazing photographer and an amazing person. She works with the high school seniors at our church as one of our counselors and she is truly inspirational . She has helped me through so many hard times when i have lost hope, she gave me hope through her own personal stories. She is always open to us, students, whenever we need her, as well as her wonderful family. I don’t know how she does it, 4 children, close to 40 high school seniors, and running her own photography business. I know she goes through a lot of rough times and can become very overwhelmed with everything she does, but always keeps a positive attitude.

    She definitely deserves a break from her fast-paced, crazy life. To take some time to herself and enjoy something for herself. I know that since she has had Bella, her baby girl, she hasn’t had much if any time to do that.


  5. Jen Stewart says:

    Oh MY GOODNESS! I just received an anonymous email with a link to this post, saying that the sender nominated me for this contest. Thank you to whomever you are (sounds like it might be one of my high schoolers from church, but I’m wracking my brain trying to figure out WHO!). You have blessed me beyond belief just by nominating me 🙂

  6. Michelle says:

    I went back and forth on whether or not to nominate myself and finally decided that it was worth a shot. 🙂 Who better to know what I am feeling and why I could use a break than me?

    As you know, 2006 was a difficult time in my life with the birth of my son with Down Syndrome, his heart surgery and then his bronchiolitis which left him in a hospital for 26 days on a ventilator.

    That is only a small portion of what occured during the fall/winter of 2006.

    The Thursday before Halloween 2006 was when Cody was admitted to the hospital for bronchiolitis. The following Tuesday, I had to leave his side for a couple of hours to visit my Godmother who was lying in a hospital room across town after having a severe stroke that left her in a coma. She passed away 2 days later.

    The hardest part was explaining to my then 3 year old that although she was in a hospital and had passed away, it didn’t mean the same was going to happen to his baby brother even though he had all the same equipment attached to him.

    Cody was finally released out of the hospital the Monday before Thanksgiving. What a great Thanksgiving that was!

    The following week, my younger brother (who had been visiting us) was in the emergency room with kidney failure. Just as they were going to insert the needle to start dialysis, miraculously his kidney started functioning!

    Fast forward one month later to right before Christmas. My mom’s only brother who was a well-known (retired) police officer in the Phillipines was brutally murdered. It was her only brother and he always treated me like his own daughter even with the physical distance between us.

    Although all of this happened in 2006, I don’t think I ever began the healing process until just recently. It was hard to get over the emotional stress that happened in 2 months that I locked all those feelings away.

    I now have a new lease on life and am trying to appreciate all the little things more because you never know when they will be taken away from you.

    As I write this, I am sitting amidst a house full of boxes in anticipation of our move out of San Diego at the end of the month. (I know, who would voluntarily leave San Diego, right?)

    Although I will miss San Diego, we have more than the best of intentions for moving:

    1) Be closer to my kids’ grandparents so they can continue to build their bond and hubby and I can finally go out on dates after 5 years of being “mom and dad” and not husband and wife

    2) Save up money to adopt a baby girl from China

    and most importantly
    3) Be available for my younger brother when he undergoes a 2nd kidney transplant (hopefully this summer) in which I will be the kidney donor

    I know that 2008 is going to be a blissful year for me and the events of 2006 only made me stronger! Here’s to moving ahead!

  7. Michelle says:

    Part 2:
    Why do I feel I could use the mini vacation of a workshop?

    As a full-time domestic engineer, I have lost myself in the world of momminess and domestic duties. Finding that balanace of being “Michelle” and “mommy” is something I have battled with since DJ was born almost 5 years ago.

    I can honestly say that momminess has won every battle and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    I would, however, love more of that me time to be “just me” again and not “DJ or Cody’s mommy” as I’ve come to be known at DJ’s preschool.

  8. Krystal Mann says:

    Okay, so I’m nominating my best friend Megan Slack for the Running on Empty Contest. She NEEDS this more than I can put into words but I am going to try and muster up some words and hope they fit together well enough for you to see how awesome she is to all of those around her.

    Megan is a wonderful mother to two precious little boys and a loving wife to her husband. She had Isaiah at a young age and at a very young age, Isaiah was diagnosed with autism. Megan spent her entire life devoting her time and energy to him, taking him to therapy, fighting the school district to make sure he had every chance possible to be the best he can and through all of that, not paying attention to herself or her dating life.

    Fast forward a few years, she met a man whom she prayed long and hard for before ever even giving thought to being in her life because she knew how things would affect Isaiah if they didn’t work out. Things went fairly well and she felt certain this was the soul mate for her.

    Somewhere during this time, her father passed away and she was devastated, along with her son. It was hard to pick up the pieces and I can’t remember if it was before or after this that she really started to pick up her camera and really start to shine.

    The guy she was dating was involved in a band and so she spent countless hours photographing the guys and working really hard to make a business for herself. Megan and I actually photographed our very first wedding together and we were so excited!

    Megan then got married and devoted many more hours giving to the band, taking as many photos as she could, all while balancing taking care of a child with autism and struggling to make ends meet. If you know anything about musicians, they don’t make any money. And, somewhere in here, she also managed to go to school and became a certified/licensed massage therapist so she could add some additional income to the pool.

    A few months after Megan and I shot our second wedding together, I ended up moving to Nashville for my husband’s career. While things took off for me, Megan was still sacrificing her time and devoting herself selflessly to her family.

    Last year Megan gave birth to a second child and shortly after the birth of Jesse, her husband left to figure things out for their relationship. It was heartbreaking for her, because not only did she just give birth to a baby, she had lost her income, health insurance and still had commitments to wedding clients. She was devastated. Needless to say, she wasn’t sure which way was up or down.

    A few months have passed and she and her husband are making strides to heal their relationship. Again, she is selflessly, committing her time to her family and again hasn’t had any time at all to devote herself to building her business or learn new things. She is a person of strength beyond what I could ever hope to be as a woman of God and as a mother.

    She does everything without complaining and is a role model for so many, even in times of heartbreak. I love her dearly, and while for a brief moment, I thought about nominating myself, Megan deserves this so much more than anyone I can even imagine. I’m sure there’s something I’ve left out that could add to this, but hopefully, I’ve been able to state how I feel eloquently enough that she will be considered. Thank you!

  9. Danny Bowers says:

    I would like to nominate Kim Bowers. She is an amazing wife and mother of 2 boys. This past year she has been a huge foundation for our family. My prior job issued a 27% pay cut and you can imagine what that did to our family. We always committed that we would live within our means, but having your salary cut like that created some major discomforts in our lives. My wife did a great helping us get through a rough 8 months. I had to grab 2 side jobs, working 20 hr days & through it all my wife kept our family in balance. But through keeping us in balance she has really used up most of your fuel tank. I took a new job and moved. Part of the move meant not having our own home and living with family. This move has been rough on all of us, but through it all she has made every day of my life & my son’s life a joy to wake up to.

    She has taken up photography about 2 years ago and absolutley loves it. She has devoted much of your free time to being the best she can be. She has found a gift and is focussing on it.

    A large passion of hers is also mentoring young women and believing in them as a teenager to become someone who is great. Every week she meets, shares, cries, holds, encourages & challenges young women to know who they are and pursue a life worth living.

    I know there are many women who could use this offer, but from a husbands perspective this would mean the world not only to her, but also me to give her the opprotunity to do this.
    Thanks for reading this and considering her.

  10. Michael says:

    Hello Me Ra,

    I would like to nominate Claudia Landis, my beautiful wife and the mother of our two children, for the reserved spot at your upcoming San Diego Women’s Workshop. Claudia definitely needs and deserves to win this contest, and I believe she would be the most appreciative of all the possible candidates. Let me explain to you why I am making such a bold statement. Claudia is a stay at home mom to our two children, Cecilia and Michael, who are three and two years old. Claudia decided to give up her career in the business world when Cecilia was born three years ago. Her acts of servanthood and sacrifice have not gone unnoticed or unappreciated, but with this change Claudia has had to sacrifice having the financial means to do the extras in life, like attending this conference. Thankfully, by always trusting in God and following His leading we have been able to support the family on just one income. I can say it has been difficult at times, but we would not change our decision for anything. The impact Claudia has on our children is invaluable and no amount of salary or material possessions could every be worth more than what staying home means to our children and me. I try to constantly encourage her that she is doing the most difficult and most important job in the world.

    In addition to the normal challenges that come with raising two toddlers, both of our children have severe food allergies. Claudia has worked through this challenging ordeal with the attitude of a true servant. Because the children are allergic to all dairy products, as well as eggs and nuts, Claudia has had to be exceptionally diligent when it comes to researching foods and ingredients, staying on top of doctor and allergist visits, and being assertive and diplomatic when it comes to educating all the various people who come in contact with our children on a day-to-day basis. When we drop off our children at the church nursery or at preschool, it is definitely a stressful event for Claudia. She has to spend the extra time educating the workers, and she leaves instructions and the medication needed in case of an accidental exposure. Since exposure to certain foods can be deadly for our children, it is extremely important that every person involved understands the potential consequences. Claudia has done an excellent job at dealing with this stressful and challenging situation. Even though Claudia has a lot on her plate with two young children with food allergies, she still finds the time to volunteer every week at a local women’s pregnancy center. I am always amazed how she somehow finds the time to meet this committment with all of her other responsibilities. It isn’t uncommon for Claudia to deliver a cooked meal to a family who recently had a baby. This may not seem like a huge task, but when you consider all the time and effort that goes into something like this (while 2 young children are at your heels), you start to see it for what it truly is. Her heart for serving her family and others is a blessing. She is making a real difference in the lives of our children and the other people she serves.

    One of the aspects that has been difficult for Claudia since she left the corporate world is the fact that she misses being intellectually and creatively challenged. Fortunately she has found something that has met her needs in this area, and that something is photography. I managed to scrape enough money together to purchase an SLR camera for her about a year ago. Since then she has used the camera on an almost daily basis. She has also been following your blog and has even purchased some of your training material, which she has found very beneficial. She even won one of your picture contests several months ago. It gave me such happiness to see the pride and joy in her eyes when she told me. I really believe Claudia has a natural ability to take great pictures, and her desire to pursue this art seems to grow in intensity as each day passes. It is my desire for her to be able to pursue this passion to wherever she wishes to take it. She deserves it! I am so thankful that God has provided me with such a wonderful wife and excellent mother for our children. I wish that we had more funds available to send her to a workshop like this. I know she has passed up others that she would have loved to attend. I can say that being able to attend this conference would make her year! Her birthday was just last week, so this would be an excellent belated birthday present! 🙂

    I would be happy to answer any additional questions you may have. Thanks so much for the encouragement you have given Claudia since she found your website. Please consider Claudia for this open position at your upcoming workshop.


    Michael Landis

  11. Tami says:

    I am blushing right now that I’m even nominating myself, but thought why not? I am in need of a break, change and help.
    I taught special education for 8 years and left my career following the birth of my twin girls. Taking this leap into stay at home mommyhood brought on many changes for my family and myself. First being going from two incomes to one income. While this made a serious impact on our life, we have been blessed to somehow find it to work for us and it was definitely what our girls needed.
    After a dramatic miscarriage, achieving another successful pregnancy was almost unreachable. After ongoing failed attempts, we finally delivered our twins. Our babies we prayed so long for will only have these days once, and we were willing to make any sacrifice to allow them the opportunity to have me home as they were a miracle. With this dramatic change, it allowed me to follow my passion for photography with what I thought would be uninterrupted attention. Boy was I wrong! Two years later, I am now in a place in feeling like I’m cutting into the beautiful time God allowed me to help my family grow and manage the chaotic household to be a home of love and source of strength.

    I’ve recently felt overwhelmed with a sense of guilt in the time I’ve taken away from my family to pursue my passion. This feeling of guilt is hard to bare as I am in love with photography but can’t let it outweigh the love for my family. How do I find a balance? That is where I’m at. There is so much growing that I need to do in photography but don’t know when to give it the attention it needs without cutting into my family time.
    I feel like I keep being redundant in sharing my confusion with finding a balance for family and photography. This is just a glimpse into the chaos in my mind and heart. There are days I feel like a wreck with my heart, as it tries to find room for two loves. I then end up just hiding away in my house with my girls and camera and feeling inadequate and stagnant in my skills. I guess I just don’t know where to begin in finding the balance that I see so many other woman be successful with. Where do I begin?
    Now after all this rambling, which I’m finding therapeutic…I am nominating myself to use this opportunity as a beginning. A beginning to start a learning foundation for my passion that will give me a direction without shorting my family of my attention.

    Thank you! Thank you for giving women, like me, this opportunity.

  12. Carrie Butler says:

    I would like to nominate my great friend Emily Ingram. In order to understand why the girl needs and deserves a refuel, you have to know a little bit about her. She is that friend that everyone wants to have, and wants to be. She is that girl that flies by the seat of her pants, that has the coolest adventures, that does all those things that you are too afraid to do yourself. That girl that is so free and fun, who meets new people and within seconds has a new lifetime friend. That girl that has the gorgeous hair, and beautiful smile and infectuous laugh. The one who you can’t help but love. And despite the fact that you secretly want to be her, you can’t help leaving every conversation with her feeling uplifted and refreshed because she is also that girl that makes you feel like you are the greatest person on earth to her. She has recently fallen in love with and married a great man, who also came with a full time two year old. As anyone who has ever struggled through the first year of marriage can attest, it is not always a day at the beach. And as anyone who has ever spent time with a two year old can attest, also not always a picnic. And yet there she is, she has given up that freedom, that ease of life, and traded it to be an instant mother to a child that just needs someone to love him. Again, a lot of us have struggled through having a two year old, it isn’t easy. (I know at times the only thing that kept me from flinging myself out a window in escape from that wriggling, squirming, screaming little monster before me was the memory of a mere three months earlier, before she decided that Mommy could not possibly put the straw in the juicebox correctly, before she thought climbing on top of the changing table and taking off her own poopy diaper and throwing it face up on the carpet was a great game, before having to get a sitter to go to the store because when she tags along and we leave too early, she screams so loudly people think I am kidnapping her.) (sorry, just wanted to paint a vivid picture to bring my point home) Emily has lovingly taken all this on in the midst of adjusting to a new life with a new husband, going to school full time and caring for an aging and quite nearly helpless grandmother. And she does it all without complaint. Sometimes I wonder if she ever looks back and misses her old carefree life but I bet she is too busy being a fabulous mother to this little guy to even worry about it. This is why I think she deserves this award. For selflessly dedicating herself to a child and family who really need her.

  13. Emily says:

    I would like to nominate my sister Michelle.”Running on Empty” is the perfect description for her! By now she’s gotta be running on nothing but fumes! As children we were dealt quite a hand. Our father was an alcoholic and his addiction ruined our parents’ marriage. After the divorce (which happened when we were very young) our Mother was diagnosed as a Bipolar or Manic Depressive. (That in itself is a very long story) If you know anything about Bipolar it is a very horrible condition and is very hard on the family! We basically raised ourselves and often had to be the caretakers to our severely ill mother.
    As a very young girl my big sister had big dreams. She always said she would be a Lawyer. When it came to school she always did exceptional despite the problems we had going on at home. On her own she got grants, scholarships and loans to go to school. She had her first child at 20 years of age. She cut back on her schooling (but continued to go) worked full time and became a wonderful mother. 4 years later she had her second child. At the time my sister was stuck married to a very physically and emotionally abusive man. The abuse finally got to the point where she couldn’t hide it anymore (as she had been doing for so long) people started calling the police etc. This almost broke her! Somehow she remained strong. Eventually this horrible excuse for a man abandoned her and her then 4 year old daughter and >1 year old son. I don’t know how, but somehow she kept going. I believe it was for her children. She wanted to give them more of a life than what we had and she had to keep things together for them. So she worked, mothered and fit school in where ever she could.
    After a year of hearing NOTHING from her husband she met a new man. She fell in love with him and finally knew what it was to really be loved. Then started the long process of trying to divorce her husband who was still missing in action. Once the divorce was finally achieved she married this man.
    Her new husband came along with his own painful past marriage. He had been married, had 2 children of his own and his then wife decided to cheat on him and destroy their family. So her new husband brought in his own 2 children a couple years older than hers. Although his children still lived with their mother they spent a fair amount of time with my sister and her husband. So now she is the mother to 4 children, working and still fitting in school.
    A few years later her husband’s cousin then 14 lost his mother. He never knew his father and when his Mom died he had no one. My sister and her husband took him in got custody of him and now she is the mother of 5. She raised him up well and despite all odds he is currently serving our country as a solder in the Army. He is also currently studying Law.
    From the time they were married her husband had been interested in adopting my sister’s children. He was and is the only REAL father her children have ever had. Once things were going to start in the adoption process her ex-husband called out of no where because child support services had caught up to him. He began threatening her and saying that if he was going to pay anything he was going to see the kids! My sister had heard nothing from this man for 8 years! She is actually in the middle of 3 different courts (family, adoption and revoking her ex’s rights as a parent) this has been very stressful, scary and upsetting for her whole family. She was forced to tell her children about the situation. Her daughter remembers him but her son who will be 9 knew nothing of him.
    At the same time her step daughter who is 14 is having a hard time at home dealing with her step father and being forced to be a stand in mother to her very young 1/2 brother and sister because her own mother works graveyard and sleeps all day. Her step daughter wants to come live with my sister and her husband so they are in court with a custody battle over my sister’s step daughter at the same time as the other court issues.
    I am hoping that all 4 of the children going through this will get what they deserve and the orders will be that my sister’s kids can be adopted by her husband (and that her ex-husbands rights as a parent are removed) and that her step daughter can be removed from the situations she is dealing with and come to live full time with her father and my sister.
    I am happy to say that somehow my sister keeps moving forward. God only knows how she is doing it, but she is. Oh and she is in the middle of her last year of Law school!! That alone is a miracle but add it to everything else and it is unbelievable! That strong little girl has grown to be a wonderful mother (not only to her own 2 children but to 3 others the children are now ages 8,12,14,16& 20) she is an inspiration to others and will be graduating from Law school at the end of this year!! She came from nothing and achieved these things on her own (Thank God for credit cards and loans…hence the reason she can’t afford the workshop at the moment) This would be some very necessary fuel to her empty tank! Sorry for going on so long (believe it or not this is the short version!)Thank you for letting me share a piece of this beautiful woman with you. I hope you will consider her for this amazing opportunity she could really use it!
    ****Everyone who is reading this could you please say a prayer for my sister and her family as they go through this awful situation? Thank You!

  14. anita says:

    I’ve thought for a couple days whether or not to enter, and decided to go out on a limb and nominate myself. At the very least, I think it’s therapeutic to write this out. Thanks Me Ra for your heart and thoughtfulness in offering this opportunity… your entry struck a chord when you talked of women who have miscarried.

    Over the past

  15. anita says:

    hmm… last submission didn’t seem to completely work… try again…

    I’ve thought for a couple days whether or not to enter, and decided to go out on a limb and nominate myself. At the very least, I think it’s therapeutic to write this out. Thanks Me Ra for your heart and thoughtfulness in offering this opportunity… your entry struck a chord when you talked of women who have miscarried.

    Over the past

  16. I am nominating myself for the “Running on Empty” contest. Simply because, I am and have been running on empty for some time! This past year has been full of much transition and personal struggle. My husband, two children and I moved from Washington to Oregon after experiencing an incredibly difficult season in our lives. We left everything behind that we love and we are starting over.

    Our storm began when we decided to purchase our first home. As soon as we signed on the dotted line, my husbands thriving business took a major and very unexpected nose dive. It was a frightful and very stressful time for us. I was doing my best to raise our children and do what I could to bring in extra money. It was at this time that my drive to start my own business was kicked into high gear. Photography became a blessing that not only provided that much needed extra income, but it also became a cornerstone of hope and joy in my life. As I stood in a dark place behind the lens I was able to capture the beauty in life all around me and in others. Photography became a refuge in which I could envision and dream for brighter days ahead. The images I began to capture continually encouraged me to be grateful, and count my blessings, regardless of our current circumstances. We came to a point in our struggle where we had exhausted all of our resources. It was an all out battle to hold onto our home, our marriage, our faith, our hope, our health and our sanity. I remember my lowest point was when I found myself at the local WIC office, having my 1 year old and 4 year olds blood tested for nutritional levels so they could determine what foods we would be eligible for. As my daughter screamed, as she was pricked with that needle, I felt such tremendous guilt and failure as a mother. She was going through this pain, because of us! It was truly the most humbling experience of my life. I will never judge another for the circumstances they are in, because “If it weren’t for the grace of God there go I” and there sat I!

    In the midst of this storm there where added burdens of deep concern. 1) My dad was in the hospital receiving a total hip replacement and nearly lost his life due to a blood clot. 2) My mom was in the grip of a severe bought of clinical depression that nearly took her life as well. 3) My aging grandparents where in the final stages of Dementia and Alzheimer’s which just came to an end as they both passed away this November and December. It’s amazing how life can throw so much at us all at once sometimes.

    Through all of this, I too have been facing my own health concerns. I have done my best to cope with severe and at times debilitating pain in my joints, lower back and hips. It comes and it goes, with no rhyme of reason and has affected every aspect of my life. Just two months ago I finally got a diagnosis…. Yes, at the ripe age of 38, I was told that I have advanced Osteoarthritis! Are you kidding me? Talk about discouraging news! No wonder I felt crippled after shooting my first two weddings. There has still been no solution for my pain other than exercise and anti-inflammatorys. So now at the local pool, I do water aerobics several times a week with the old folks that come on a bus! It really is quite a treat! I am grateful to 70 year old Lois and 80 year old Fred who have been showing me the ropes. Anyhow, I am on a daily mission to become stronger and healthier as I face my pain head on. I am determined to grow in the nurturing of my family and my love and knowledge of photography regardless of my physical limitations. I think I am being forced to except that I might be in a season of study and learning, rather than actually being out on the field like I wish to be. This is difficult, because my spirit wants to just go for it, especially as spring and summer is upon us. I want to thrive not just survive in life and all endeavors! I am determined to keep my photography dream alive! I would be so grateful to have the opportunity to continue my studies in photography, especially during this “down” season of my life. I would not be as far as I am in my business if it weren’t for the inspiration and teaching from MeRa and Brian already, I would be thrilled beyond belief and so very encouraged to be present at the San Diego Workshop.

  17. Kim says:

    I can’t believe I’m going to nominate myself for this, but I figure, why not? One thing I’m learning this year is I have to take the risks to receive the rewards.

    I’m a stay at home Mom of 4 young children. On April 9th, they will be 2,4,6 and 8 and who do they appreciate? MOM! MOM! (Just a little humor for ya!)

    I have thoroughly enjoyed being a stay at home Mom and there is nothing I would rather be doing. But it does have it’s moments and is extremely tiring.

    My husband and I have been terrible about scheduling time for ourselves and having date nights mostly because it costs money to hire a sitter and it’s difficult for us to deal with our kids, so we can’t imagine anyone else having to do it. So, to say the least, I’ve been running on empty for about 4 years. I say 4 years, because I didn’t feel the pinch until the 3rd was born.

    He’s been a very difficult child that takes everything out of us every day. He can be an absolute angel and then an absolute terror. We are just finding out that he is bipolar and also has sensory integration disorder. We are starting to go through testings and evaluations to find out what exactly is going on and what is the best way to treat it, without trying to use medication. I’m not saying medicine is wrong and can’t help, I’m actually open to using it, I just want to try everything else first.

    On top of having the four kids, with one having a little trouble, we are also in a financial mess with the crash of the housing market. We own two homes because we didn’t sell our home before our second one was done being built. We have renters in there, but it’s not nearly covering the mortgage and now we are upside down on both houses and can’t sell either one. Talk about a little stress.

    So, I have taken on watching other people’s kids to try to bring in the extra money we are short every month. I’m also trying to launch my photography business and have bought both or your DVDs and your business kit. They are all extremely helpful. I have also joined Carey’s my fun camera online community and have found that very helpful.

    I would love a weekend get away where I can improve on my skills and learn with someone right there showing me what to do, because I really need to boost my confidence and do something for me! I find myself being way too hard on myself as I search the internet looking at all of the professional photographer’s galleries and seeing that my pictures don’t even come close. I keep clicking away, learning more and more from each picture.

    I keep telling my friends and my husband that I just feel like I have lost my “joy”. I’m not walking with God as closely as I once was and I know that has a lot to do with it. I find myself in “survival mode” every day. I just have to get through today and then I can deal with tomorrow when it gets here. I feel like I’m being too grumpy with my kids and putting unrealistic expectations on them and I see myself wanting to lighten up, but just can’t get out of this pit of depression.

    I’m feeling very burned out after 8 years of putting everyone else’s needs in front of my own 100% of the time. I don’t even usually get breakfast until 10am (and I’m up at 6am with the kids) just because that’s when there is finally a little lull in the schedule and I can quickly shove something in. That just gets wearing year after year.

    I wanted to come to this workshop so badly and I was so glad to see your traveling workshops this year, because I live in Arizona and this was one I could drive to, but with our current financial state, there was just no way to pay for the workshop.

    So after serving in multiple ministries at our church every weekend, volunteering at my daughter’s girl scout troop, driving two kids to their sporting events every week, cooking every meal for my family (since my husband does not know how to cook – although he has BBQ’d a few nights for me after realizing I could really use the help) and babysitting everyone else’s kids, I could really use a weekend getaway to San Diego to work on a passion of mine and to use that as a vessel to help other Moms and families.

  18. To Kim,

    I just read your post and your story sounds so familiar to me. I just wanted to let you know that I am praying for you. I know what it is like to struggle financially, have a difficult child to raise and be in the midst of depression all at the same time. It is very, very difficult indeed. I pray that you hold onto the Lord with all your strenght, with all of you heart and with all of your mind. Lean into Him and hold on tight! There are blessings and beautiful things to be learn even in the midst of your struggle. Take Care and know that you are not alone!


  19. I am so excited about nominating one of my best friends who just happens to be my sister-in-law as well. Amber ( is an amazing person who gives so much of herself to the people everyday. She and her husband have a beautiful family with two of the cutest little boys you’ll ever see! She’s creative, beautiful on the inside and out and has made it her motto to live her life joyfully and out loud! The crazy thing is that she does all of this while she and her family live as missionaries in a little forgotten village in Kosova. Most of the men of their village were killed during the civil war there after which Dan and Amber moved there to work in a kindergarten loving the children who had lost their fathers. In the years since, they have laid their own lives down and loved the people of that village thru their sorrow and loss. They’ve learned the difficult language and ways of life in Krushe Vogl all while enduring homesickness and a completely different culture. They live with their two adorable boys while living in a war-torn country. They couldn’t even get mail until recently. In the middle of all of this, Amber has attempted to document their lives there with her camera. She takes beautiful pictures while living her everyday life. She also takes pictures for other internationals who are working in Kosova. I’m sure they love having a fun, caring and thoughtful person capture their best moments for their families and loved ones back home. It’s so easy for me to say that Amber is just an amazing person all the way around. She’ll be home enjoying some time in the States with her family during this time. This would be the perfect opportunity for her to get away and enjoy learning and growing in her creativity. Go Amber!!! Love you girl!

  20. Emily says:

    Me Ra,
    So I know that if we’re nominating someone, it is supposed to be a mom “running on empty.” However, sometimes in life we must think outside the box (something you photographic souls are quite familiar with), so I am nominating a dad who runs on empty many a day during the week! This dad happens to be my husband, who, without his love and support, I would not be able to hold my own head above water. We had a little girl last year, and the year has been full of all the surprises that come with being a new parent. However, in each occasion, my husband has been hands on, doing far more than the average man. He washes bottles, he changes diapers, he runs out to the grocery store on a moment’s notice to get some formula. He is the best. So, you may wonder, why does he deserve this opportunity? Because he wants to get his foot in the door of photography and because I want him to start experimenting with something that is for him and not his girls. 🙂 We only have this one shot at this thing we can life, and we need to make the most of each moment. We need to live with no regrets, and in my husband’s case, I don’t want him to look back on this period in his life when he is 50 and wish he had given this thing called photography a shot. He is so creative, and works in a field that truly limits this; he needs an outlet. And as he sat on the couch last night watching your video, I was just so proud of him that he was beginning to think outside of his box, his comfort level, his routine, and exploring the possibility of what if…I hope you take my wordy, albeit heartfelt, case into consideration…afterall, sometimes the unexpected outcome makes for the best picture! Thanks!

  21. Lauren says:

    It’s so hard to build up the courage to nominate yourself! I have started this comment a half-dozen times ever since this entry was posted. 😉

    I am so thankful for the blessings in my life right now, so it is hard to talk about how run down I feel. I think that this workshop would be such a gift – a fun chance for me to be myself, to rest and recharge and learn so many good things from Me Ra!

    I met and fell in love with a wonderful man a few years ago and right after I graduated college in 2005, we got married. With my new husband came an 8-year-old stepson that lives with us full time. It has been hard adjusting to being a new wife and a new mom all at once, especially to an older child. We’ve done well together and grow a little closer every day – I’m the only mom he has ever known and it’s been fun going from “Lauren” to “Mom” in his eyes.

    Because of where we live, I have had to take contracted administrative jobs rather than start a career of my own in aviation. It has been very difficult finding work at all, but I have been very frustrated because I have dreams of having my own career.

    Admidst the stress of my first year or marriage, being a new step-mom to an 8-year-old boy used to things being strictly “him and dad,” and working for companies who treat contractors very poorly – my husband received a phone call a few days before our first wedding anniversary. His old high school girlfriend called to tell us he had a 15-year-old daughter who wanted to meet him. I could have never imagined in a million years that I would be going through all this – DNA testing and a buying plane tickets and explaining to a young boy why we never knew he had an older half-sister.

    It is so, so heartbreaking to have to go through that kind of situation as a new wife – especially being 9 years younger than my husband and having waited and prayed for him. I am thankful that the mother has not been nasty or demanding, the only contact was so the girl could meet her father. Still, I am carrying around a terrible anxiety that someday she will start asking for money or demanding child support.

    A month after the DNA came back positive that this girl was my husband’s daughter, we found out that I was pregnant. A lot of people questioned my husband and I if our decision to have a baby together was wise and tried to take away my joy that I was having my own baby with the man I loved very, very deeply.

    I call her my angel because she saved me; I am not sure how I could have survived the heartbreak and confusion and hurt that came with the surprise-step-daughter situation had my baby not been with me.

    I was hired as a full-time employee, rather than a contractor, by a large corporate early in my pregnancy. It wasn’t a career position, but it would provide the benefits and maternity leave that I would need. Unfortunately, I had a supervisor who was very against my taking more than a handful of weeks for maternity leave. I was only with the company as a full employee for a few months so I would not qualify for FMLA. I went over her head to the HR department and arranged for my time as a contractor to be counted towards eligibility for FMLA approval. I told her that I planned to take 12 weeks off to be with my baby girl. Through a very suspicious set of circumstances, they drummed up a bogus accusation against me and fired me a month before my baby girl was born.

    Losing my job has been stressful, but I have gotten to spend more time at home with my daughter, who was born in August of 2007. We can’t afford for me to be a stay-at-home mom, but having these last 7 months with Kaitlyn has been a wonderful blessing. All the same, I have felt stressed and guilty about not having a job or providing any income for our family. I am anxious and heart-broken because I desperately need work, I may end up flipping burgers because of the severe job-depression here, and when I finally get a job, my baby girl will be in daycare. I have one more week of unemployment left before we will have to start using credit cards to get us by until I get a job. It wouldn’t be as hard if I was finally starting a career, but the emotions are so much heavier knowing that it will be just another in-between job.

    It feels refreshing to share hopes and dreams and some of my sorrows here with other Moms who also know how draining it can feel to let go of our dreams for the people we love.

    Thank you, Me Ra, for being a wonderful woman and mother. I am learning a lot about photography from your blog but I am also learning a little more about being a mom and being myself.

  22. Daniel Litzinger says:

    I would like to nominate my wonderful, beautiful, brave, wife Amber Joy for the Running on Empty award. My sister in law, Cindy Litzinger, beat me to this nomination for Amber, but I thought that I could add a closer view to it. So here it is!
    We are missionaries to war torn Kosovo and have been for the last six years. We serve the people in a village that was destroyed by the war and almost all the men were slaughtered. In a now Muslim nation this means that Amber has had to change a lot. Everything she does, whether it is cook, take a walk, how she raises her children, and even the clothes she wears is under scrutiny, and there is often no down time from it. The culture is very male-dominated, and we have learned to live accordingly. She very rarely goes anywhere by herself just to avoid the worry of ‘how it might look’ and how the men will look at her and mostly stays in the house unless I am with her. For a young independent American woman maybe you can imagine that this is very difficult. I, being a man, have not had to change near as much.
    We also volunteer to run the Kosovo branch of an international aid organization. This includes operating a kindergarten that has four to six year olds everyday and six employees. Four times a year, we host two week medical teams to poor villages where the people are not able to get adequate medical care for themselves. It has been a wonderful experience for us, but it has also been difficult. The Geman doctors and nurses that come throw in yet another cultural mix and mindset as they live with us and many of them love to tell us how we should live, eat, raise our children, etc. While I go out with the doctor teams everyday Amber runs the kindergarten, raises our two extremely active boys and does all the cooking for us. The great thing is that she really does it all with such Joy and such an amazing attitude.
    We have missions teams all summer long to do various projects and that brings in many different peoples and just plain hard work.
    But the main reason I want to nominate my wife is the stress we have been under increasingly the last few years. When we came here we had to live with our bosses since we could not afford to rent a different place. We lived with them three years before they were able to move out. Unfortunately they are twice our age and very anal micromanagers. On top of all the other stress and culture shock, it is very difficult to live with strangers who think in a completely different way and try to control your life. Only because we love the Kosovar people so much we have come back year after year even though it has gotten even more difficult with our superiors. This year especially has been the most difficult for Amber as I try to find a resolution to the problem and many people have come against us and have tried to tell us it is “all our fault”. This is one of the only times Amber says that her Yet in it all Amber has encouraged me to always do the right thing even when others haven’t and I want to retaliate.
    Amber is the best mother I have ever seen, showing our children how to love and have Joy even when we have not been loved. She is so creative with them and teaches them in such a way that they don’t even know they are learning difficult things and should be bored.
    In our little village she captures on film the beauty that surrounds us that I have a hard time seeing past all the mud and dirt. She shows me the perfect color of the blossom when she could have raised her lens just a bit and seen instead the burnt out building behind our place left over from the war.
    It is in this pressure cooker of a situation that I appreciate Ambers Joy so much. She has become such a strong woman who exudes confidence, wisdom and love (at the age of 28!). I can not imagine any woman who would put up with what she has and have seen many people in easier circumstances leave here because “it was too hard”. I know that you would be blessed if you chose Amber Joy to take part in your workshop.
    Amber has been dreaming of taking a photography workshop for a long time and it’s very difficult for me because I would love send her to one but can not because I just don’t have the money.
    Also, we just happen to be coming back from Kosovo to San Diego on the 20th of May for furlough. To give Amber a few days to just “be” in America and take part in such an amazing opportunity for women would bless me beyond belief. I pray that you are blessed and think so much of you both for giving this opportunity to stressed out women. I think it is such a great idea!
    Thank you.
    Daniel Litzinger

  23. Going On Vacation…

    I just have to start this post by saying how much I feel loved!

    Chris gave me the most wonderful gift. Not only is he sending me to a workshop I was wanting to attend, he’s sending me away for 3 days without any kids. I love my kids DEARLY, but…

  24. Jen Stewart says:

    To Kim,

    Your story touched so close to home. I too have 4 children and have experienced MANY of the things you spoke of burnout, feeling overwhelmed, and feeling inadequate when comparing my work to others. I’d love to chat with you if you’d like. Feel free to email me if you’d ever like to chat with someone who can relate 🙂

  25. sara says:

    I would like to nominate my endearing and absolutely beautiful identical twin sister, Becky. If someone meets the definition of “running on empty” – my sister embodies it fully. I am six minutes younger than my identical twin sister, Becky, and although she may technically be older than me, I still look up to her for more reasons than nature has intended.

    She has mastered the craft of making motherhood look so easy to those on the outside, however if you knew where she has come from … you would know a different story. She stays busy working full time, perfecting and working towards accomplishing a part time photography business, chasing around (and oftentimes being dragged around) by an extremely active 2 1/2 year old, spending many nights as a single parent as her husband is out working his night shifts and other ‘mom’ tasks that come with the title. However, besides all of this, my sister deals with a pain inside of her that will never go away … the loss of a child. The exhaustion and wariness of the situation would have taken their toll on most any first mother; however Becky was oftentimes the rock that the rest of us would lean on during the ordeal. Rylee Ann was the light and love of Becky’s life and made everything else worth it. Nothing can compare with the joy and affection felt towards a mother’s daughter. Becky has had trials in her life but she is always trying to put one foot in front of the other. She harbors her own disappointments and is always concerned about every one else’s dispositions. She wants happiness for others. She has been a source of strength, courage and hope for not only me but for every one around her. And in so doing I would hope that she would have this opportunity to finally take the time for herself. My sister is an incredible woman and as much as I wish I could take on all the pain that she has had to go through, I can’t. If there is something tangible I could do for my sister, I know that this opportunity would be something that would change her life forever.

    My nomination for my sister is for hope, it is for love and it is for the genuineness that Becky personifies.

  26. Kenda says:

    When I first started reading this post, I thought “oh man, could I really use this workshop and get-away!” I have definitely had my share of trials over the last few months and I feel like I am running on empty almost everyday; however, my cousin, Jamie, deserves this nomination more than anyone I know, especially more than me.

    Jamie is a wonderful, caring and God-fearing woman. She married a man about 13 years ago and after several heart-breaking years of trying to get pregnant, they decided to visit a fertility doctor. Jamie underwent IUI several times and after almost giving up hope, she learned after taking a super-ovulation drug that she had 5 eggs mature. The doc assured them that there was less than a 1% chance all 5 would fertilize. After a sonogram confirmed all 5 eggs did fertilize, Jamie learned she would soon be having quintuplets. YES, 5 BABIES ALL AT ONCE. Jamie was hospitalized at 19 weeks and stayed in the hospital until she gave birth to her five boys on December 14th, 1999. The boys were 2lbs and under but all went home within a few months.

    I could go on and on and tell you how hard the first few years of life were for this family but the gripping part of the story comes on the boy’s 3rd birthday. Jamie’s so-called loving husband delivered her a letter on this day and told her he could not live there anymore. The stress was getting to him and he needed a break. This very selfish person left his five sons (did I mention one has severe cerebral palsy and another is developmentally delayed?) and his jobless wife on the day after the boy’s third Christmas. He assured Jamie this was a temporary situation but Jamie soon learned he moved in with his lover who also had children…three young boys. As I mentioned, Jamie had no job as she was the stay-at-home mother to these beautiful little boys. After welfare and WIC and child-support, Jamie still could not support her fatherless family. She went back to work and had to find a college-aged kid to nanny her children. In return, the girl received her room and board as this is all Jamie could afford.

    Fast forward to now…God blessed Jamie with a loving man to spend her life with. John also has a son and she loves him very much. John is incredibly supportive and loves Jamie and all five boys very much.

    After surviving several heartbreaks throughout these past 9 years, Jamie is well deserving of a trip to San Diego. She is definitely running on empty taking care of five feisty 8 year olds and a new husband while working full time throughout the week. Briley needs extra attention as he is special needs and that also takes a great deal out of Jamie. She is a budding photographer and a wonderful, caring and very fun woman who is full of life. I nominate the bravest woman I know, I nominate the most faithful woman I know – I nominate my cousin, Jamie! She is my inspiration.

  27. Troy Allan says:

    I am grateful for the opportunity to nominate my sweetheart Annette. It is certainly not complicated to write about someone who always puts others first and deserves a little time for herself. Annette is a life long learner and over the past year, as I have been deployed with the US Army, she has taken full responsibility of raising our two year old son, managing our home and working on her photography. Not having me around for fifteen months, as I have been serving as a Chaplain to our Armed Forces, Annette has learned great skills of independence and parenting. She has sacrificed her own needs and desires to share with the world her husband and put our two year old first; all the while spending late nights studying and learning more about her passion for photography.

    Annette and I do not have the hardships of others, we have been blessed with a great responsibility to serve others and seem to have many blessings because of this service. We know that service means sacrifice and Annette demonstrates these qualities everyday. As I am currently on vacation from my responsibility as a Chaplain, I have noticed Annette is never on vacation from her responsibilities of being a full-time mom. Wouldn’t it be amazing to send Annette on a retreat, not only to grow and learn, but to rest for a few days while Dad takes on the responsibility and samples sacrifice on a two-year old level? It could be scary for Dad, possibly more frightening than a deployment to a war-zone.

    I hold no reservations in nominating Annette to attend your seminar. She is dedicated to her love of photography and your seminar would provide her the opportunity to continue her life long learning goals. It would provide fuel for her tanks as God will surly call us to serve the men and woman in the Armed Service in harms way in the future. Annette’s sacrifice to our Country should not go unlooked and this seminar would help her to understand that people notice those who sacrifice. Those of us who serve in the Armed Forces know it is truly those at home that sacrifice the most.

    Thank you for your consideration in choosing Annette to refuel her tank as she continues to learn and grow as a woman, wife, photographer and most importantly a mother.


    Troy D. Allan
    US Army

  28. anita says:

    ok… i will try to post just one more time. =)…

    I’ve thought for a couple days whether or not to enter, and decided to go out on a limb and nominate myself. At the very least, I think it’s therapeutic to write this out. Thanks Me Ra for your heart and thoughtfulness in offering this opportunity… your entry struck a chord when you talked of women who have miscarried.
    Over the past year, I have had 2 miscarriages.
    The first time, we of course struggled and hurt as anyone would. But I also had the added complication that it was diagnosed as a molar pregnancy (you can google the term if you are unfamiliar with it). A molar pregnancy has the added risk of abnormal cell growth which, worst case scenario, can lead to cancer. Thankfully, mine did not seem to progress so severely and in time, my HCG levels that they monitor as an indicator returned to normal. However, as a result, we were told we needed to wait a while before trying to conceive again to avoid any further risks. I had recommendations of anywhere between 6 months to 1 year of waiting. It was hard to deal with not even having the hope of trying for another baby for several months.
    My husband and I have always wanted a big family, and we are blessed with a wonderful 2 year old daughter. With the desire to have kids closer in age, we were eager to be able to try again for another baby. So we leaned more towards the “wait 6 months recommendation”, and started trying again.
    Well, we got pregnant again pretty quickly. But we had our first ultrasound about 2 weeks ago, and it showed an empty sac… along with 2 more follow-up ultrasounds. They diagnosed it as a blighted ovum miscarriage (a more “normal” kind of miscarriage). This second time has been harder to handle in many ways, as I feel like I hadn’t recovered from the first time and am being hit doubly hard. The grief is beyond words.
    (As a side note, I happened to get probably the worst cold I’ve ever had right in parallel with all this going on… and so physically, I was even more ragged and sleep-deprived through it all)
    Well, I decided I’d prefer to let this one pass naturally, as I emotionally wasn’t ready to go back for a D&C. But then just earlier this week, the doctors were concerned because my HCG levels were continuing to increase at a non-typical rate…. So now they are concerned it may be another molar pregnancy… which has may have many complicated implications.
    So I ended up having to have a D&C after all, so that they can test the tissue and see what exactly is going on. (I actually just had the procedure this morning, and am at home recovering today)
    I can’t even think about the idea of it being another molar pregnancy at this point… and will just cross that road when/if it comes. I also am more torn or hesitant about trying for another child in the near future, feeling the need for more time to heal.
    In the midst of all this, I am so thankful for my beautiful 2 year old who does give us much joy. And I am saddened – but learning to accept — that she may not have siblings who are close in age with her to play with and bond with. And we’re learning – or trying, at least – to trust in God’s timing and control, as His ways are higher than ours. And trusting in Him to grow our family in His time. I am so thankful for many people who have prayed for us, and I know that has pulled me through some very dark days these past couple weeks.
    A trip to San Diego for a weekend full of photography sounds like a much-needed and wonderful getaway. Since having my daughter, photography has become such a fulfilling creative outlet for me to capture precious moments of my daughter, as well as doing the same for other families.

  29. I am nominating Shannon McFarland, my wonderful wife and beautiful mother of our two children. We married in NY in December 2001. After the wedding, we loaded up her house and moved her to our new place in Virginia where I was in the Army stationed at the Pentagon. She became pregnant in 2002 and gave birth to our son in March 2003. In May of 2003, we received orders moving us to Fort Hood Texas in October of 03. With our 6 month old son, Shannon packed us up once again and we drove to Texas. Upon arriving to my new unit, they informed me that I would be leaving for Iraq in December of 03. She didn’t take that news easily, but she stated she new what/who she married “a soldier”. When it came time to leave I could see the exhausted look on her face. She had been taking care of the unpacking, my son, the house and me because i was at work close to 13 hours a day getting ready for Iraq. I realized at that point that I had taken her for granted during that time. I don’t know how she made it through that 12 month deployment. She was taking care of a big house, an 8 month old child and the worrys of a wife of a deployed soldier. When we got the chance to talk for a few minutes once in a while, she would talk about my son and check how I was doing. Not once letting me know of her daily stresses, worries, or issues/concerns. During that time, she had moved us into another house. I came home in December of 2004. Upon returning home, we were informed that I was being sent to recruiting school in South Carolina in September 2005. That meant another 2 months away from home. My pregnant wife and our son loaded up the car and drove from Texas to South Carolina to surprise me at my graduation. Once we got back to Texas, I informed her that we were moving to Arizona for my next Duty station. She packed the house up once again and we moved to Arizona in December of 2005. Upon arrive in Arizona I was hospitalized for 1 week with illnesses from Iraq. So, of course, she had to unpack everything by herself once again, but this time she was 9 months pregnant and ready to give birth any day. She gave birth to our daughter that same month. Once out of the hospital I began my new job…..12-14 hour days 6 days a week. She now was feeling like I was in Iraq again because on my only day off, I was working from home or sleeping. That went on from December 2005 until March 2007 when I got out of the Army. We stayed in Arizona until I accepted an offer for a job in Alabama. Guess what….she had to pack us up again, but this time she had the help of our 18 month old daughter and 4 year old son. We then made the long drive from Arizona to Alabama. My new job started the the day after we arrived………but you won’t guess what happened…..yep….she had to unpack the entire house again. In February her grandmother passed away. She bought a plane ticket to be with her family and attend the funeral. NOTE: this is the first time she has been away (literally) from either child for more than an a few hours. Now she had to deal with the loss of her grandmother and the worries of her husband and two children alone together for the first time. I tried to console her, but I realized words weren’t enough because she was the glue that kept everything running in our lives. She returned home to find me stressed out and exhausted from my 4 day vacation with the kids. I was quick to tell her the new found respect I had for her and her strength to take care of everything without complaining one bit. Let me mention that she is also the “Team Mom” for our sons football and baseball teams. Her love of photograpy keeps her up once the kids and I are in bed. She spends hours at night reading books, looking at websites and e-mailing photographers for any information they will give her. As I sit here typing this, I realize that my wife really deserves this trip as she truly is a “Mom Running on Empty”. I know there are a lot of mothers that deserve this, but I know from hundreds of women that being a military wife takes a an extra toll on you mentally and physically. Honey, if you don’t win this trip, please know that the kids and I are blessed to have you, and thank you for your caring, loving, everybody else before you attitude. We wouldn’t have made it this long if you didn’t keep us glued together, and strong through all the hard times. Thank you and I love you.

  30. abbey says:

    I am going out and nominating myself for this! I would LOVE the opportunity to fly out and attend your workshop. I never get the time I want or need to dedicate to my one and only passion besides my family, photography. I also nominate my family (husband, 1 yr. old & 2 yr. old).. they need a break from ME taking their pictures. ha! I need to venture out and have new “subjects”! I do not have a sob story, I read the above comments and wish I could personally give every woman on here and who wrote a comment the chance to attend your photography course, and have a much needed vacation. So many women make sacrafices for their families, friends, work, etc… We need a national “running on empty” day! Basically, I would love to attend your course and have more time to study photography. I would like to get the guts to venture out and make it a priority and start my own little business. Maybe this would give me the kickstart or the confidence I would need to be successful.
    Thanks for taking the time to read this, and to empower women with your knowledge.

  31. Krista says:

    I would like to nominate my sister Carolyn Pospisil for the Running on Empty contest. She is the one who introduced me to your beautiful photography and got me hooked on your blog. My sister has definitely has more than her fair share of stress in life.

    My sister has always been an inspiration to me, whether she knows it or not. She met her (now) husband Jim around the time that I graduated from high school. He was a relative of an ex-boyfriend and had 4 young children. They spent a lot of time together and eventually she moved in and helped to raise the children. They talked about marriage but it was complicated, he had to track down the children’s mother to get a divorce. As well as I can remember this process took several years of utter frustration.

    As the kids grew up, I could see that my sister really wanted to have a biological child with Jim. I was heartbroken each time she had told me that she miscarried. After multiple losses, she sought help from a specialist and eventually found out that she had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). She underwent many different treatments for PCOS but so far none have been successful.

    Sunday June 3, 2001 was the day that truly changed all of our lives. At 8:45pm, my sister’s 15 year old step daughter Erin was seen getting into a car outside of her friend’s house. No one has seen or heard from her since. Erin has been missing for almost 7 years now. She was classified by the police as a runaway but other circumstances have lead our family to believe that she was abducted. For more on Erin’s story visit My sister and my parents have become advocates for missing children and are involved with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. My sister is a volunteer for Team Hope. They provide support for families of missing children. ( Erin’s disappearance has been very difficult on my sister and her family.

    My sister just recently reached a new milestone in her life. At 38, my sister just became a grandma. Her grandson was born on January 31 and she has another grandbaby on the way that is due next month!

    Between all that she has on her plate with her job, volunteering, and her family, I don’t know how she does it. She never takes time for herself. She loves photography and has a new found inspiration in her grandchildren. I would love for her to be able to attend the workshop. I think this might just be the “jump-start” she needs to keep her motivated to continue doing all of the wonderful things that she does for others.

  32. My Wife's Husband says:

    I am nominating my wife Christina. She is a wonderful mother and wife and has put herself “on hold” many times for our boys. She has taken 4 long years to develop her photography business…and it has been slow going. She believes strongly in the mission to raise our boys herself and I love her for the dedication she has shown at 2 am with colds and sleepless babies. She is the most wonderful mother to my boys, she laughs with them and gets me to laugh and live more often.

    After we go to bed she is up all night surfing the web learning tutorials on photo shop and finding more inspirations for the next photograph she wishes she could take.

    Because of our financial situation, she is unable to attend the workshops. She has signed up for local workshops through the local camera store, but I think meeting you and Carey would give her so much more scope than I could ever hope to give her.

    She is not a beginner by no means. She has a beautiful “eye” and has been trying to get her foot in the door for 4 years while raising our boys.

    I would love to give her the opportunity to see her dreams come true and find inspiration again to keep building her business.

    We have been together for 10 years and she is my world. I want her to recapture some of herself she has hidden away…because THAT is why I fell in love with her.

  33. […] In a couple hours we will announce the winner of the Running on Empty Contest, but first I want to honor ALL the women (and one dad ) who were nominated. What struck me the most is that even though these women are running on empty, their surrounding world sees them as beautiful, inspiring, and strong. I know each of these women have shared their own dose of pain and loneliness, and in some miraculous, mysterious way the little they have to give is being multiplied and changing the lives around them. […]

  34. […] last workshop item. Start thinking about a woman you know who is Running On Empty. That’s right, we have the Running On Empty contest for the Chicago workshop coming up! We […]

  35. Great info, thanks for the post!

  36. my dad is a massage therapist and he can really relieve minor pains and injuries ;-:

  37. I have been heart broken more than a few times and it never gets better. There are ways to get your ex back though you have to be willing.