Following Passions

My career has not followed a linear path. Once I let go of the ambition to dominate the professional bowling circuit, I stayed in school long enough to get a graduate degree in psychology and to become a licensed clinical psychologist. I was more interested in research, though, so I started my professional life as an academic psychologist, writing grant proposals and managing projects related to mental illness, addiction, homelessness, and HIV/AIDS. I wanted to change the world, at least for some of the people living on the margins of society.

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I left the university life after a dozen years. Solving deeply ingrained social problems turned out to be really hard (and draining), and I was ready to see more of the world and change it one person at a time. After traveling around Central America for a couple of months, I decide to write about the places along the mythical but underappreciated Mississippi River. I wrote a few books and a lot of blogs about the Big River, while working a day job as a data analyst.

The constant through my adult life (other than my husband John) has been travel (and a desire to change the world, or at least parts of it). After exploring much of the continental United States, I took my first trip away from North America in 1999. Since that trip, I've sipped snake wine in Vietnam, toured post-war Bosnia, walked around Machu Pichu, and paid my respects at a wake in El Salvador. As long as I'm breathing, I'll be traveling.

Hooked on Travel

My family took long road trips when I was growing up, which might be why I can't shake the travel bug. I’ve visited nearly 40 countries and 49 US states (here I come, Rhode Island!). Like many people, I travel for a few simple reasons: for novelty, to relax, to learn a few things, and to meet people.

When I travel, I consume content from sources that are written by independent curators of travel information (like Lonely Planet or Rick Steves), as well as content that was produced by professional copywriters from tourist bureaus. I understand the difference and value them both.

As a travel writer, I’ve spent years exploring the sites and experiences that are unique to the Mississippi River Valley. I’ve written travel guides, features for magazines and newspapers, and dozens of blogs.

Because I spend a lot of my time on the road talking to people about what they like and what they don’t in their travel experiences, I understand that different people have different expectations and desires when it comes to travel. One of the lessons I’ve learned is that it’s critical to manage those expectations—to let customers know clearly what to expect.

In my own work, I used clear, simple language to help travelers know what to expect from the places along the Mississippi River. That's just as important with copywriting. I want people to be excited about your place or destination, and, when they arrive, I also want them to feel like they are getting the experience they wanted.

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