FAQ

MY HEALTH

What are you diagnosed with? I officially have Chronic Lyme Disease, Hypothyroidism, and Meniere’s Disease. But I’ve been misdiagnosed with several other things, and diagnosed with many secondary things that are simply symptoms of the above.

What is Chronic Lyme? Lyme is a type of bacteria and it’s co-infections that come from a tick bite. If you don’t catch it early, it can spread throughout the body, including major organs like the brain and heart, and can penetrate any cell wall. Chronic Lyme basically means that you’ve probably had Lyme disease for a while but never caught it, and now it’s chronic, meaning that it’s super hard to get rid of.

What are your symptoms? I have extreme fatigue, achy pain all over my body (as in, I can’t think of one body part that doesn’t hurt), stabbing pains in certain areas of my body, rheumatoid arthritis, limb weakness and numbness, migraines, headaches, neck aches, confusion, memory loss, hair loss, weight fluctuation, grogginess, stiffness, brain fog, chest pain, organ pain, digestion issues, nausea, dizziness and vertigo, vision problems, rib pain, breathing problems, sleep disorders, on-and-off limb paralysis, and weird allergic reactions that don’t seem to be linked to any food. It all sucks.

What are you doing as treatment? I use the Cowden Protocol in order to help kill the Lyme bacteria in my body. I also do many other things in order to help detox the bacteria when it is killed and to help with pain management, like: chiropractic, acupuncture, massage therapy, essential oils, the BioMat, infrared saunas, reflexology, eating well, and many other things.

Do you have any food sensitivities? I am vegan and mostly gluten-free. I also don’t test well to processed sugars (white and brown sugar, agave nectar, etc). Though I test fine for dairy, I don’t feel well when I consume it, and I have an allergy to eggs. I became vegan for health reasons, but the reasons to STAY vegan have become more compassionate reasons.

What DO you eat?! I get this one a lot. I eat lots of fruits, veggies, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and some soy products on occasion (if it’s non-GMO). I make my own nut and coconut milk. I can consume maple syrup and stevia with no problem. Living in Austin, it’s really easy to eat out (we have lots of amazing vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants here). I eat really good-tasting food. I like food too much for it not to be tasty. When we have friends that come over for dinner, they eat vegan at our house and always ask for the recipe, even if they’re normally meat-eaters! 🙂

PHOTOGRAPHY

What camera equipment do you use? I use a Canon 5D Mark II and my backup is a Canon EOS 40D. I also own several lenses. The lenses I use for portraits are the Canon EF 50mm 1.4 and Canon EF 85mm 1.2L. For travel, I use the Canon EF 16-35mm 2.8L (wide-angle) and the 50mm. For macro shots, I use the Canon EF 100mm 2.8. I own a few other lenses that I plan on selling.

What software do you use to edit your photos? I use Photoshop CS6 exclusively for editing including edits in Adobe Camera Raw. I use Bridge CS6 for culling, batch renaming, and organizing.

How do you edit your photos? I edit mainly in Adobe Camera Raw, and then I use Totally Rad, specifically RadLab, for all other edits (like sharpening, color boosts, black & white conversion and more). I’ve been using Photoshop for well over a decade now, so I am pretty proficient in it. I use RadLab mostly for ease and timeliness. You can see how I edit my photos here. For retouching and cleaning up, I use only tools in Photoshop and no 3rd party software or actions (mostly because I’m cheap).

What apps do you use for iPhone photography? Again, I use a Totally Rad app for most of my iPhone photo edits – PicTapGo. It’s amazing and so easy. I also use Pro HDR to make my levels more even in any given photo, without making it look too HDR.

Can I buy one of your photos? Yes, of course. Just contact me letting me know which one and what size print you would want to buy. (I print my photos through MPixPro.)

TRAVEL

How are you able to travel so much? Well, first of all, we don’t have kids. 😉 But really, since we own our own businesses, we set our own schedule. We also prioritize travel, budget for travel, and save for travel. We forgo other luxuries in order to have enough money for travel (we literally DON’T shop except for food and when our clothes start getting holes in them after wearing them so many times). We’re also completely debt-free (meaning no car bill, no student loan bill, no credit card bill, etc),  so since we don’t have money that we owe to anyone, we instead use that money to save for things like travel. We also know how to travel cheap and look for deals.

Don’t you think there are more important things than traveling? Yes. Of course. We may travel more than the average person, but there are others who can travel much more than us because they don’t have anything tying them down. For me, my priorities that come before travel are my dogs, Lyme treatment, Mark’s business, and my homebase (which includes friends, family, our go-to restaurants, our favorite city, and a steady stream of income). And I LOVE these things that “tie us down” (besides my treatment). You might call us part-time travelers. I still realize that we are extremely blessed to be able to travel often, and am very grateful. I don’t pretend to be one of those travelers that says “ANYONE can travel! It’s just about making it a priority!” [Insert eyeroll emoji here.] I know from experience that not everyone is able to put travel near the top of their priority list, and also that not everyone even wants to.

Do you ever get to travel for free/go on sponsored trips? Yes, sometimes! This is new, though. We have been lucky enough to work with a few visitors bureaus, hotels, and other businesses in order to get sponsored trips or a few free sponsored activities while in a particular place. I have also been lucky enough to enjoy other free travel, as well. Because of Mark’s business, we sometimes get wedding gigs in other places (we’re headed to Denver, Nashville, and LA for gigs this year) and make a trip out of it. Also, I just went on a free Alaskan cruise because my brother works as a travel agent for cruises. We also fly enough (for vacations as well as business) to get mileage points with our favorite airlines, which helps us get free flights on occasion. I have also won a couple of trips! (Keep entering in those contests!!)

Do you have any tips on traveling cheap? Well, for us, we can travel cheap mostly because of what we like to do when we travel. We mostly travel for the outdoors and nature, which doesn’t cost as much as museums, tours, restaurants, spas, and night-life. We like to camp when we travel, so that’s really cheap, too. We also make most of our meals when we travel. When we’re in cities, we’ll use AirBnB to stay in an extra bedroom of someone’s home, which usually costs no more than $50 a night. We also aren’t big into souvenirs. The photos I take are our souvenirs. 🙂 (Use above link to get a $35 credit when you book with AirBnB!)

BLOG

How long have you been blogging? Do you remember LiveJournal? I started one when I was in my junior year of high school, and then jumped to MySpace, and then landed on Blogger. I started my first blogger blog in order to keep my friends and family updated when I moved to Hawaii. And then another one when Mark and I got married, which eventually became Let Birds Fly, and is now Travel Heals as of September 2015. So I’ve been blogging on and off for about 13 years. I’ve been blogging as the author of Let Birds Fly/Travel Heals since 2009. Travel Heals is now happily on a self-hosted WordPress site as of October 2014.

Why WordPress? I never thought I’d move to WordPress, but after hearing horror stories of blogs being shut down by Google, images lost, and hackers hi-jacking blogs and putting them up for ransom, I decided it was time. With Blogger, you don’t even own your blog. I wanted full possession of my blog. Plus, I’ve heard SEO is better, but I guess I’ve gotta learn how to do that now!

Can I re-post your article on my blog? I’m very flattered you would ask. You may post ONE photo to your blog, and you MUST link back to the original post on Travel Heals. You may NOT post the entire blog post or any written material of mine without permission.

Will you guest post for me? I’m very flattered that you would ask this as well. However, because of my health conditions, I can barely get posts up on my own blog!! So for right now, no, I cannot guest post on your blog.

Can I guest post on your blog? I reserve guest posts mainly for other people with chronic illnesses, invisible diseases, sicknesses, disabilities, and the like who love to travel in order to share their stories. But if you feel that what you would guest post would fit my blog, then I’d love for you to e-mail me about it.

What are your favorite blogs? I’m pretty sporadic in my blog reading, but the ones I most consistently read are Hope Engaged, A Pretty Place to Play, We Took the Road Less Traveled, In the Pink and Green, and Oh She Glows.

MARK

Who is Mark? Mark is my husband. On March 28th, we celebrated 7 years of marriage.

What does Mark do for a living? He is a professional DJ, wedding singer, and a recording musician. He is amazing at what he does, and he is in such high demand that he has to turn down tons of weddings a year. If he didn’t take off on some days and some weekends, he would be booked for every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night, along with a few other days of the week. He is starting to expand his business now, and at times has up to 3 other people DJing under his business. Mark does not have to spend any money to market his business at all. He gets all of his weddings through word of mouth, and even though he keeps raising his prices, people just keep paying to have him. We’ve had brides reserve their date 2 years prior at times because they want to make sure he is at their wedding. He also sings and plays piano during the week at nursing and retirement homes (they actually pay money for this). As you can tell, I’m very proud of him!

What makes Mark’s DJing so different than others’? Mark can read people very well, and knows exactly what to play to get people on the dance floor and stay on the dance floor. He also has an entertainment factor going on during the weddings, since he sings and plays piano during the dinner music. He can sing anything from standards (Frank Sinatra, Michael Bublé) to classic soul (Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Al Green) to oldies and even country. People love that he sings at the weddings; it’s his biggest pull.

What instruments does Mark play? His voice is his main instrument, however, he also grew up playing the drums for his family’s band and playing piano. He mostly plays piano and sings now.

How did Mark get into DJing? His older brother started doing it just for some extra cash while Mark was in college, and Mark started helping him. Music is second nature to Mark’s family, so after he got the feel for DJing and MCing, it just took off. He’s been DJing ever since (over 10 years now!). It was a great way to help him make some money while in college, but now it’s his full-time job.

How did you and Mark meet? We met at a camp for kids with disabilities. His family was the worship band for camp, and his younger brother was a camper, since he has cerebral palsy. I was the programs director. You can read our love story here. (It’s embarrassingly long. For real. I am legitimately embarrassed–not by the story, but by how long it is.)

Besides music, what are Mark’s favorite things to do? Mark loves being outside. He loves playing basketball and ultimate frisbee (he’s on a league here in Austin). He has recently been playing golf a lot with my dad. Mark loves hiking, swimming, camping, and climbing trees. He loves being barefoot, loves playing with kids, loves dogs (especially ours!) and loves being goofy with his friends. He likes to read and watch movies. He also loves to travel, just like me!

What does Mark think about your blog/blogging? For the most part he loves it. He’s a journaler himself, and he likes that blogging is a way for me to chronicle my life. He also likes to be able to just show someone my blog when they ask about me, my dogs, or our travels.

ME

When are you gonna get pregnant!?! When I was diagnosed with Lyme, we found out that Lyme can be passed on to the child in utero. There is no way I’m going to let that happen, so it looks like we might never get pregnant on our own.

What about adoption?! Since I can barely take care of myself, there’s no way I’d be able to physically take care of a kid. Add in all the emotional stress adoption has, along with psychological issues for the family, and there would be no way that I would ever get better from Lyme. Plus, with all the health issues I have, it would be a miracle if an adoption agency would even let me adopt!

So…no kids?! When we first got married, we thought we wanted kids right off the bat, and lots of them! Thank goodness that didn’t happen, because as my health steadily got worse and worse, we realized that I wouldn’t be able to take care of a child if we had one (let alone many). So, probably no kids. Lyme takes a long time to get rid of (if I even CAN get rid of it), and I don’t want to be having babies when I’m 45 or older.