Reflections and Resolutions

Before writing a word of this post, I have butterflies in my stomach. I’m not sure why, except I’m going to share some personal thoughts with you, and that either scares me or excites me. 😉

This photo was taken during our vacation to Estes Park last summer. We were at the highest point of Rocky Mountain National park by the Alpine Visitor Center. It was a stormy day, but as we were looking out over the beauty of the landscape, the sun broke through the clouds. This photo is my favorite of the whole trip because it is a picture of 2013 for me – lots of darkness with some moments of brilliant light and hope.

In 2013, I fell while at an airport and landed head first on a concrete floor. I sustained a concussion, and suffered from a Mild Traumatic Brain injury for over 6 months. I’m not sure how any kind of brain injury can be characterized as “mild,” but I guess the fact that I could look and act normal (most of the time) made it mild. But I wasn’t normal.

Brain injuries are very tricky things in that it isn’t the whole brain that is affected, just very specific parts. For instance, I could still do photography well. In fact, I feel like 2013 was by far my BEST year as a photographer. But other things were difficult, like remembering words and names. The most frustrating thing about my injury was constant headaches and fatigue. I don’t even want to know how much Advil and Aleve I took last year!

By mid-November, I was starting to get worse and the darkness started to close in around me. It was then that a client told me about a chiropractor named Dr. Pietila who she had taken her son to after his concussion. Dr. Pietila specializes in Functional Neurology, meaning he is trained in both Chiropractic and Neurology. After just my first appointment, I felt about 40% better, like someone had opened a release valve on my head. Within just a month, I was feeling almost completely normal! I am beyond grateful.

They say that suffering is a great teacher and I now can say from personal experience that it’s true. 2013 changed me. Through the gift of pain, supportive friends and family members, I learned to let go of being strong and I learned vulnerability. I learned to let go of perfection and I learned to laugh at myself and stop filtering so much. Most of all, I learned to love in a way I have never loved before.

So as I look to 2014, I hesitate to make resolutions because I know how one event can change the course of a year. But one of the best lessons I learned this year was from a dear friend. She taught me to celebrate my strengths and accomplishments, as well as the strengths and accomplishments of those around me. So when I saw this Facebook post by photographer Jeremy Cowart, I decided to adopt his new year’s resolution:

“My only new years resolution and I challenge you to think about it.

Let’s all do a better job supporting each other this year.

Share each other’s work.
Share each other’s accomplishments.
Forget about competition.
Celebrate community. ”

I’m looking forward to this new year with a new me. I can’t wait to keep this resolution and be a cheerleader, encourager and supporter of those around me. It’s gonna be amazeballs!


  1. Vanessa Green

    January 10, 2014

    So glad you are coming out of the fog. Love the resolution. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Laura Radniecki - Love Nourished

    January 10, 2014

    Shelley, thank you for this post! Thank you for your vulnerability and openness. I am excited to see what 2014 holds. Here’s to more sharing, encouraging and lifting each other up! P.S. I love that you ended your post with ‘amazeballs’ too! 🙂 xo!

  3. Krissy

    January 10, 2014

    You inspire me so much!

  4. Marian Adoranti

    January 11, 2014


  5. cate bryson

    January 11, 2014

    Shelley – thank you for sharing this. Such good words and lessons for us all.
    Prayers are always with you.
    Love, cate b

  6. Cynthia Mackowick - Traun

    January 12, 2014

    WOW- this brought a tear to my eyes. Not only is the image nothing less of spectacular, but your message behind the image is inspiring! It would be a better world if we all could do a better job at supporting each other. Thanks for sharing your personally story, and I am glad you feel better. Cheers to 2014!

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