8 Perfectly Haunting Sights in Prague

1. Marionettes

Our biggest regret is not buying a marionette from Prague. The city has several marionette shops with wicked carved characters dangling from their ceilings. They were so creepy, but there was also something charming about this ancient tradecraft of theatrical woodwork in this unique city. 

2. Astronomical Clock

Probably one of the most iconic landmarks of Prague, the Astronomical Clock is an intricate wonder. With crowing golden roosters, rotating disciples, and a number of other moving parts, it can be easy to miss some sinister symbols including the skeleton representing Death. There are several legends about the true symbolism of the skeleton, but our tour guide stated that it basically came down to yet another religious message to keep the people on the up and up. 

3. Gargoyles of St. Vitus Cathedral

St. Vitus Cathedral lies within the walls of Prague Castle and is a gorgeous and mysterious relic. Elaborately adorned with jutting spires and delicate arches, the structure is truly medieval in every sense. The roofline is dotted with ornate gargoyles that are also fully functional water spouts. There are gargoyles of every breed; demons, disturbed human figures, and every type of animal you can think of (even a lobster!). It was fun to turn each corner to see what twisted presence would be next. 

4. Memorial to the Victims of Communism

This haunting sculpture can be found in the lush, green grounds of the Petrin Hill park area. Unveiled in 2002, this sculpture is a tribute to the many victims of communism represented by a ghostly figure that slowly disappears as it fades into the background. A bronze strip runs up the middle of the piece giving estimated numbers of the people violently affected by communism. A plaque nearby reads, “The memorial to the victims of communism is dedicated to all victims not only those who were jailed or executed but also those whose lives were ruined by totalitarian despotism.”

5. Statues of Charles Bridge

There is nothing quite like walking along the Charles Bridge in the early, misty morning before the crowds and street artists descend upon the ancient stone structure. The 30 statutes that line both sides of the bridge are each a haunting sight in and of themselves. Some stare at you and others remind you of a dire point in time for the past people of Prague. 

6. The Estates Theater Cloaked Figure

There is definitely not a lack of interesting sculptures in Prague and this one is no exception. This piece titled the Cloak of Conscience, by Anna Chromy is one in a series of replicas that she has commissioned all over Europe. Her original piece was sculpted from 250 tons of white marble and was the starting point for her important message of unity, beauty, and humankind.   

7. Old Jewish Cemetery

This incredible cemetery includes thousands of graves for the Jewish people of Prague from the 15th Century to the late 1700's.  Literally stacked on top of each other, this forest of headstones is truly beautiful and lends to the haunting history of this Czech city. The crookedness of the headstones give so much character to the experience. You can pay a fee to wander through the gravestones and past a wailing wall in the heart of the tiny Jewish quarter. 

8. ? 

You know, just your average creature/ haunted figure reaching out from under a building as you wind your way up a random street to Prague Castle...


L.A. Not So Confidential

One of the most common questions that I get asked by future psychologists is, "How much does the real job mimic what we have learned through the media?"  

What an excellent question and I'm glad you asked! 

It's no secret that the media influences our lives as much as we allow it to. Subconsciously, it shapes our worldview, sense of self, and expectations. That has probably never been truer than now.

But the desire to work in the criminal justice field and the love of all things true crime probably stems from some variable of media for most people that choose to go down that poorly lit road. Although many influences shaped my interest, I rarely admit that it was a fiction book that sparked my interest in the field of forensic psychology. If I (and the rest of the world) hadn't been reading those damn Alex Cross books by James Patterson in the early 2000's, I'm not sure how I would've found my calling. Simply because the main character was both a detective and a forensic psychologist, I pondered, "That sounds super cool. I think I'll check that out." Next thing you know, I'm doing a Google search for forensic psychology doctoral programs.

Obviously, it doesn't really matter how you get there. As un-academic as my story is, I think it is a reflection of the times. In this moment of realization of how important media is for amateur sleuths and true crime buffs, as well as future criminalists, investigators, and forensic scientists of all sorts, I've decided to do something creative with this.

My best friend (whom I met at an internship working with recently released offenders) is a fellow Los Angeles forensic psychologist and we share a geeky nature in all things mysterious and investigative. So, in the near future, we are going to bring you a new podcast called L. A. Not So Confidential. We plan to essentially apply forensic psychology concepts to the true crime stories that we love and the related shows, movies, and books or podcasts that we spend way too much devouring in our "spare time" (whatever that is). It won't be too heady and we hope that it's hilarious and ridiculous at times. Look it up if you are interested! The episodes will be out soon and you can follow along for updates here:

Twitter: LAnotsopod
Instagram: LAnotsopodcast
Facebook: www.facebook.com/lanotsoconfidential

My New Bag Crush

This bag is pretty amazing. I've been loyal to some other staples for a long time and although I am still pleased with my trusty sidekicks, the Bianca Alles bag offered some cool features that those other bags do not. 

There's just a special 'je ne sais quoi' about a deviation from the norm that feels fun, special, and promotes the desire of getting to know something new. This bag fulfills all of the above. I am still discovering new compartments and ways to use the infinite amount of space. Probably the best of all, the Bianca is an expert shapeshifter. It's part doctor's bag, part equipment tote, and part backpack (You'll remember my new found love of backpacks here). 

Alles bags were started by a mother-daughter team (yay- more lady bosses!) who were less than thrilled about ways to tote all of their stuff to and from photo shoots (the daughter is a model). Hence, they came up with a wide variety of bags, including camera bags, that are ideal for travel and can store a lot in a contained space that fits in your hand or on your back. 

Here are the 3 things I love best about this bag:

The Zip-Off Box
Clearly, the most distinct part of this bag, the Zip-Off box, is genius. I'm sure most people use it for shoes, but I am thinking about all the ways I can utilize this boxy area when traveling (I put my DSL camera in here will shooting this article). It's sturdy and holds the weight of the top portion of the bag well.  I'm even thinking about the ways I can have my daughter use it as a tray table play space so her Legos don't go flying all over the plane! It's also a convenient place to store the backpack straps.

Color combo choices

The Bianca, in particular, has some great color blocking choices. Additionally, when you attach the bottom, it looks like a whole new bag with the addition of more black. They offer 3 different versions of their backpack/ bag combs. Have a looksy here

A place for everything and everything in its place
I swear, every time I use my Bianca, I find a new zipper or pouch.  I'm a sucker for compartments and having everything tucked into a specific space so I can find stuff with just my hands. There are both pockets on the inside and outside and everything on the outside zips up for safety. This is going to bring peace of mind the next time I lay the bag down on the airport x-ray machine.  

Although Alles offered me a sweet little discount, the Bianca speaks for itself and lends to all of my own opinions that you have read here. I can't wait to try it out as a carry-on for a flight next month!


Top 4 Things to do at the 2017 L.A. County Fair

The Los Angeles County Fair has a long and rich history dating back to the 1920's when the fair found its home in the city of Pomona. What started as an agricultural exhibit all those years ago, has transformed into the biggest, most quintessential county fair on the West Coast. Year after year, the L.A. County Fair plays host to all of the fair standards like carnival rides & games, crazy food experiments, and a top notch concert series. Read on for my favorite attractions of 2017. 

The Real Deal with Psychologist Pay in California

I do a fair share of speaking with high school students about jobs in forensic psychology and I still find that many have the mindset that it is a well paying career, no matter what you end up doing in the field.  And why should they think any different? If you are a psychologist and go to 10 years of school, you are a doctor and doctors get compensated well, right? Not exactly and definitely not right away. 

Fortunately most students or early career psychologists with whom I speak are primarily motivated by the need to have an interesting, fulfilling career in which they can help others and make a difference in the world. But let's face it compensation is, and should be, important as well.  


Cali Corner: The Best Kids' Museum in LA

I wouldn't necessarily say that the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History is a kid's only museum or that you have to have a child with you to go, because I love this place. It was my favorite as a kid and remains one of the best museums in Los Angeles in my adult opinion. When I was in elementary school, my class went here for a field trip and somehow my mom didn't know about it until afterwards. I remember her being so crushed that she wasn't able to chaperone, so when my daughter's school field trip came up I felt like I was making up for this oversight 30 years later. It was an absolute blast to experience this wondrous place through my kiddo's eyes. 

Cali Corner: The Best Female Owned Boutiques in LA

This article was originally featured as part of a another great collaboration I did with Dazey LA, an art apparel & accessories company based here in Los Angeles.  Its creator is extremely talented lady boss who believes in supporting other female business owners. Give her site a looksy here. You'll find some great T-shirts, product collaborations, and the Dazey Zine, which features articles from other creatives, tutorials, and other inspirational goodness. 

If you've taken anything away from browsing the Dazey LA website, it's that Dazey ladies love to support each other in their creative passions and professional endeavors. Building a business is no small feat and even in a city as big as Los Angeles, women can make the time to support each other. So for this article, we sought out boutiques that we adore, that also happen to be owned by some badass lady bosses.  

Twin Peaks in Pictures

I totally get that this is going to be a niche blog post for some very special fans of a certain cult TV show. With the return of our beloved Twin Peaks after 25 long years and the 2017 Twin Peaks Festival happening in about a week, I thought it was time to take my readers to the area of North Bend, Washington in the Pacific Northwest in order to share some of my favorite images of the area where the show (old and new) and movie were filmed. I attended the Twin Peaks Festival in 2005 when it was just a few of us coffee & cherry pie loving nerds in a small, intimate setting. If you are attending this year, I am jealous for the excitement that it will carry unlike any year prior, since we are all watching the wonderful and strange world together again. 


Quick Post: Keeping fit this summer with Aaptiv

This summer I've been inspired by the Aaptiv fitness app. I have managed to use a variety of their workouts to get more activity in my days even during this crazy LA heat. Aaptiv has a clean, sleek interface and offers an abundance of workouts without feeling overwhelming. I usually end up giving up on fitness apps for one simple reason- the trainers drive me nuts! Somehow, I have not found one Aaptiv trainer that annoys me. There really is something for everyone on this app from meditation to training for a full marathon. Here are some of my favs:


Maui Eats

Koa's in Lahaina

As promised, here's your guide to eating in and around Kihei and why I love these places. 


Maui Adventures Lite

We seriously did a whole lot of nothing on this trip, but then again that was the point.

This was a much needed family vacation that included Grandparents, old friends, and a kindergartner. After trekking the tallest peaks in So Cal and traveling a good deal last year, this was our week of spending quality time in paradise with loved ones who only come together a couple times a year. 


Wall Traveled in DTLA

It's been fun getting to know Downtown LA now that I'm working here most days.  I've been especially drawn to the DTLA Arts District, which is changing at a rapid rate. But among the pop-up clothing stores and terrific vegetarian restaurants, is an impressive amount of, well, art. 

Wall art to be specific. Each corner you turn is like walking into another room adorned with the most chic, extravagant wall paper. Art that addresses political views, features female empowerment, and there are plenty of Global Angel Wings to remind us that we are all citizens of the City of Angels.  

Behind the Curtain

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Dr. Justin Trosclair, a chiropractor and podcast host, who highlights the work of doctors from various disciplines.  This summer, his podcast, A Doctor's Perspective, is featuring 8 female doctors and dives into the secrets of their success (Here's a hint: hard work), struggles in their work, and how they maintain their own mental and physical wellness. 

My interview (here) goes in depth into the work I have done with sexual offenders and touches on some controversial issues that I have had to deal with in my work with this population. I am also quite candid in how the work has impacted me and what I do to ensure I still have a fulfilling, untainted home life. 

I am passionate about mentoring early career professionals and I am confident that this podcast series will not only help students and young people learn about potential future careers, but will inspire already established professionals to learn about other disciplines in the doctoral world. Aside from focusing on giving our clients the best care, it is so important for us to support each other and continue to learn from one another. 


A Distant Mentality Turns One!

This is been quite a year! I started this blog mainly as a travel diary and a much-needed creative outlet, but it turned into so much more.

Over the past year I've been able to share my family's previous trips, I've highlighted my favorite places in and around Los Angeles, and the blog also became a career advice column of sorts. When I started out, I knew that I wanted to teach others how to incorporate travel into their work but this outlet has really allowed me to do so much more in that area; inspiring others to pursue the field of psychology.

The year's highlights for me have been a road trip through the Southwest, exploring the far-flung Pacific Northwest and Alaska, a work-turned-family trip to Denmark, and collaborating with other creatives and academics.


Cali Corner: My Favorite LA Sports Venue

I know, I know. Shocking that my favorite Los Angeles sports venue is not Dodger Stadium. It should be pretty obvious that I love baseball and I have been spending a lot of time near the Dodgers' home field lately, but when I think of my all-time favorite place to spend the day (and I mean all day), Santa Anita Race Track has my heart.

Nestled up against the San Gabriel foothills, the Santa Anita Race Track is a spectacular sight. Despite being in the midst of the great depression, the race track opened in 1934 to keep Southern Californians entertained. Many racing legends have been made here and you can still see celebrity trainers and jockeys on a daily basis.

But the aesthetics of the buildings are my favorite part. Green and yellow and properly Floridian, you truly feel like you are on a fancy vacation as soon as you walk through those gates. Additionally, the inside is over the top with tropical birds, golden chandeliers, and palm fronds wallpaper. Part indoor and part outdoor, the experience has something for everyone. There are shady benches next to sculptures and fountains and play areas for the kiddos in the center of the track (by way of underground tunnel, of course). 

My best suggestion for spending time here? 

Either come get breakfast early in the morning at Clocker's Corner where you can get table service while watching the ponies during their morning workouts. Or, arrive an hour or so before the first race and wander the grounds. Grab the "best turkey sandwich ever" in the clubhouse and choose your daily double.


The Saguaro Mommy & Me Getaway

I already wrote about why Palm Springs is so special to me and how it scorched its way into my heart throughout my childhood. It is for those reasons that sharing this special place with my daughter is all the more fulfilling. She's growing to love it too. What kid doesn't love splashing around in the pool all day and staying in a cozy new bed? My daughter used to refer to Palm Springs as "the white hotel" after we stayed in, you guessed it, a minimalistic white hotel when she was quite young.  But that all changed when we decided to do a mid-week getaway right before everyone descended on the area for Coachella. She now prefers "The Rainbow Hotel."

Changing Direction: Why & When?

Is there ever a perfect time to make a major life change? Not really. You can do your best to project the perfect time to have a baby or to buy house but there's really no guarantee what the future has in store for us and that can be very daunting. Especially for those of us who like to plan every little detail of life (okay, not really but pretty much).

Recently I made a major career shift and I want to tell you how I went about my decision making process of jumping from one ship to another. 


The Painted Desert

My third grade teacher, my favorite teacher of all time, taught us the best way to remember how to differentiate between dessert and desert when spelling.  Dessert had two SS for "sweet stuff" and desert had on S for "sand." I love that and I think about it every time I travel onto that dark desert highway on my way to Palm Springs.

I think I smell colitas...

Palm Springs has alway been a sort of Mecca for me.  I took some of my first steps here and learned to swim in hotel pools on weekend family vacations. I crushed on that first older boy as a poolside teen and brought my sister here to get away from it all after a bad break-up.  It is truly that place where you can drive for an hour or two and feel like you are hundreds of miles away from whatever you want to leave behind, be it job, the bustle of the city, or a heartache. I would even come here for a bit of rest and sun worship to study before finals. The air is still and the sun is intense and it makes for the the ideal setting for mentally checking out. 

The mini road trip from LA has it's share of roadside attractions and the town itself is full of quirkiness, competing with the classy mid century aesthetic. Although I've been coming here for decades, I still find something new to gawk at as I drive down Palm Canyon Blvd. These days, I'm finding myself pulling over to snap a picture.  When I think of the most Insta-worthy city, Palm Springs is a hands-down winner for it's size. 

What's your local escape and why do you love it?

Colorful OC

To kick off my week in between jobs (Yep starting something new next week!), we decided to have a "Family Date Night" that we would all enjoy. The theme ended up being our own little World of Color!


My Top 5 Tricks for Self-Care

Ibiza, Spain

I just finished recording a podcast interview about my work as a forensic psychologist and how I maintain my own mental wellness. Many types of doctors and other professionals who work in an environment where people constantly need your assistance can experience their own residual troubles or burnout. To be our best for those who we love to help, we need to be the best versions of ourselves at work and at home. Here's how I accomplish this:

1. Being social outside of my profession

A key to self-care when you work in an intense field or when you really just want to get your mind out of work mode is to surround yourself with friends that do not do what you do. This will allow you to talk about stuff other than your work and get back to what matters most to you in your family and social life.  As we get older this can get tricky. You usually meet people at work or through people at work, so some real strategy needs to go into this. Maintain friends you knew before you became a professional. Get together with work friends and their spouses (who hopefully do something else for a living). Get involved in a social activity (think hiking group) that doesn't revolve around your job. 

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