Snow falls in downtown Staunton, Va. on Feb. 12, 2014.

Snow falls in downtown Staunton, Va. on Feb. 12, 2014.

It has been one helluva year for me personally, and a roller coaster of a year for my work. As many of you know, I recently relocated to Italy with my (brand new!) husband, leaving my fantastic job as a staff photographer at a small daily newspaper in one amazing Virginia community. It was so, so hard to leave Staunton, and it was hard to leave the certainty of the paper, especially directly after getting so much recognition for the stories we had worked so hard doing for the past year, like our incredible reception at the Virginia Press Association awards with Best in Show for Norah’s story.

Rachel Hartzler, 7, takes a minute in between session of playing tag behind the Sugar Tree Country Store on Saturday, March 8, 2014, during the Highland County Maple Festival in McDowell, Va. The families of the children were at the country store to sell maple ice cream and maple chicken as a part of the festival.

Rachel Hartzler, 7, takes a minute in between session of playing tag behind the Sugar Tree Country Store on Saturday, March 8, 2014, during the Highland County Maple Festival in McDowell, Va. The families of the children were at the country store to sell maple ice cream and maple chicken as a part of the festival.

Looking back at my photos at the paper for the first five months of this year, though — man, I was shooting real shit. I was in a really weird place personally, as Tyler and I had no idea where we were moving or what was next for us. But also, I think I was just really tired of the newspaper game. I was tired of the pressures Gannett was putting on us for video, especially after we had done such amazing work. It never seemed like it was enough for the publishing company, though my paper was always incredibly supportive and my amazing boss, Mike Tripp, always had my back when the workload was getting too rough. Only one picture here was actually shot on assignment for the paper — everything else was from work I did on the side in Staunton, or after I left the paper.

Snow falls in downtown Staunton, Va. on Feb. 12, 2014.

Snow falls in downtown Staunton, Va. on Feb. 12, 2014.

Now that I’m finally settled in Italy, it’s been hard finding myself as a photographer again. I’m not allowed to work or earn an income in Italy, unless it’s on the base, due to some restrictions put on military families here, so freelancing within the country is a bust (though I can still work in surrounding countries and hope to at some point). The language barrier is also tough — though I’ve lived abroad before, in Denmark, English-speakers were plentiful there and here they are not. I’m hoping that it will become easier over time, as I feel more comfortable with the customs here and also remember not to be scared of making a fool of myself for doing a poor imitation of a foreign language I do not speak.

Reporter Megan Williams' head is shaved during a St. Baldrick's head shaving event on Thursday, March 27, 2014, at The Biltmore in Charlottesville. The head shave raises money for childhood cancer research. Williams was inspired by 8-year old Norah Mastrandea, who died in October from brain cancer. Williams raised $2,600 for the event.

Reporter Megan Williams’ head is shaved during a St. Baldrick’s head shaving event on Thursday, March 27, 2014, at The Biltmore in Charlottesville. The head shave raises money for childhood cancer research. Williams was inspired by 8-year old Norah Mastrandea, who died in October from brain cancer. Williams raised $2,600 for the event.

So, I’ve been feeling kind of confused lately. I’ve been mad at the situation I’ve been put in creatively. But after looking back at my work from the newspaper from the beginning of the year — I don’t feel so bad about this past year’s work anymore. I wasn’t happy doing daily work, and that’s so apparent in my images. The images that are on this blog — and there aren’t that many good ones, but there are a few I do like — they were shot when I was happy and felt free to do what I wanted to do. And even though I did like my work at the paper, I don’t think it could’ve sustained itself for much longer than I did.

Jessica Martinez poses in front of the window of a room inside the Elms Hotel & Spa on her wedding day, Saturday, May 10, 2014, in Excelsior Springs, Mo.

Jessica Martinez poses in front of the window of a room inside the Elms Hotel & Spa on her wedding day, Saturday, May 10, 2014, in Excelsior Springs, Mo.

I’m not super proud of my last year of images. But I also realize that one rough year does not a photographer make, and I need to remind myself to give myself a break sometimes, especially when I was in such a complicated place emotionally. It is frustrating, now — not knowing what’s next, not being able to pursue what I really want to pursue. But, I also realize that I have literally achieved everything I wanted to achieve since I was, like, 15. Every goal I have set out to do, I did — I went to an amazing journalism school, I had a great experience studying abroad there, I was fortunate to have some rewarding experiences at fantastic papers through internships, and I landed a job at a really great daily community paper, which was always my dream.

Two girls sit on a statue outside the Boone County Courthouse before the March March during the True/False Film Fest in Columbia, Mo.

Two girls sit on a statue outside the Boone County Courthouse before the March March during the True/False Film Fest in Columbia, Mo.

So, if the powers that be need to throw a wrench in my perfectly-planned life and laugh at my 10-year plan, well, maybe that’s for the best. I’ve always been a planner — I’ve always been goal-oriented. But this past year has really messed with that part of me, especially when it comes to being a part of a military family. And it’s taught me a lot about myself — namely that I don’t like to be uncomfortable. And I think, maybe, if I’m uncomfortable for a little bit — if I’m thrown out of my comfort zone, if I’m shook up — maybe it will make me a stronger photographer, and most important, a stronger person, in the end.

Katy Miller kisses her father after giving him some water to drink on Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, in Dooms. Hutchinson has dementia and is currently homebound and being taken care of by his daughter, who lives with him.

Katy Miller kisses her father after giving him some water to drink on Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, in Dooms. Hutchinson has dementia and is currently homebound and being taken care of by his daughter, who lives with him.

And I’m exaggerating when I make this year sound like a shit show. It totally hasn’t been. I’ve talked countless times about how thankful I am to finally be with my partner, Tyler, after many years of long distance. Plus, I got to spend the summer with my seriously great family, which I was so grateful to be able to do before moving abroad. But I was also super fortunate to attend the incredibly prestigious Eddie Adams Workshop in October. And shortly after that, I launched a lifestyles blog with my best friend, Theresa Berens, called Freckle & Fair — a venture that we’ve literally talked about doing for three years and finally, because I had plenty of time on my hands, were able to do. And I’m having a blast pushing boundaries with her and just doing whatever we want to do.

Cotton candy ice cream at my favorite ice cream shop, Dari-B, in Excelsior Springs, Mo. with my dad.

Cotton candy ice cream at my favorite ice cream shop, Dari-B, in Excelsior Springs, Mo. with my dad.

I know nothing about what the next year holds. I think most of it will be spent in Italy, and I hope that a lot of it will be spent with Tyler, though the military will determine what of that will be true. I hope I take lots of pictures, but I do not know if they will be photojournalistic or food styling or travel photography or street photography. Hell, maybe I’ll even get comfortable with portraiture for once.

Children play soccer in the sand on the beach in Positano, Italy.

Children play soccer in the sand on the beach in Positano, Italy.

I do know that thinking I know what the next year holds is laughable, but also that if I don’t get off my butt and make happiness for myself, no one else is going to do it for me. And also that if I keep worrying about what other people think of what I’m doing, I will definitely not find happiness. So, here’s a pledge of allegiance to the struggle — the struggle of creative types to figuring out what it is they want to do. And also a big ol’ thank you to the universe for giving me the freedom and time to explore whatever the hell that might be.

Tyler comes home after a long day of work.

Tyler comes home after a long day of work.

Women sit down to eat during an Italian country Western night  on Saturday, July 19, 2014, in Vicenza, Italy.

Women sit down to eat during an Italian country Western night on Saturday, July 19, 2014, in Vicenza, Italy.

Theresa laughs while chowing down on a sprinkled donut and iced coffee in Brooklyn, NY.

Theresa laughs while chowing down on a sprinkled donut and iced coffee in Brooklyn, NY.

Lee Karasik puts on his braces before starting the day on Monday, Oct. 13, 2014.

Lee Karasik puts on his braces before starting the day on Monday, Oct. 13, 2014.

Snow covers Innsbruck, Austria.

Snow covers Innsbruck, Austria.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


I think I’ve said this a few times about my recent life, but this last month has been overwhelming in the most beautiful of ways. I arrived in Italy two days ago, moving here at long last to join my favorite, Tyler, in our new lives together.

Lee Karasik, who was born with cerebral palsy, puts braces on his feet in the morning of Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014, at his home in Kauneonga Lake, New York.

Lee Karasik, who was born with cerebral palsy, puts braces on his feet in the morning of Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014, at his home in Kauneonga Lake, New York.

 But the week before I left for Italy, I was humbled to attend the Eddie Adams Workshop in upstate New York. I echo others’ sentiments when I say that I wasn’t sure I belonged there until I officially arrived and was handed by pink name tag — I thought perhaps my name was on the master list by some grand mistake or joke. But no one questioned me, and I spent the sleepless weekend talking photography and journalism, a topic I’ve missed discussing so fervently, and meeting so many amazing people — photographers or otherwise.

Lee Karasik, who was born with cerebral palsy, puts braces on his feet in the morning of Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014, at his home in Kauneonga Lake, New York.

Lee Karasik, crawls into his room on Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014, at his home in Kauneonga Lake, New York. Lee says he usually crawls to get around his home, as it’s easier than using his walker, which is what he typically uses in public, in addition to his motorized scooter.

I don’t know if I can stress to you enough how confused I was before attending Eddie. I felt (and still feel) such a lack of direction in my career — like I was just flailing, trying to grab onto things that I think I liked or wanted to do or thought I should do because it would be a good career move. After leaving my job in May, I really didn’t know my place in photojournalism — could I cut it with a freelance career? Was that something I even wanted to do?

Lee has breakfast with his mother, Mona, in the morning on Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014, at his home in Kauneonga Lake, New York.

Lee has breakfast with his mother, Mona, in the morning on Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014, at his home in Kauneonga Lake, New York.

EAW definitely raised more questions than answers for me, but pushed me forward to give me more direction. I saw so much passion from so many people there, that I knew that I couldn’t just keep doing something just because it’s what others expected of me. Erika Larsen spent three years living with the Sami reindeer people in Norway with no expectations for publication or anything other than personal growth. Phillip Toledano photographed his dying father and documented the incredibly personal story on a website with no intentions of getting the response that he did. And I think it takes that kind of personal journey and that kind of love and dedication to do work that really resonates. I think that sort of work actually comes from sort of a selfish place — a place where it’s just something you know you have to do it because you need it for yourself. And I don’t know what that means for me, or where it will lead me as a photographer but more importantly as a person, but it’s the kind of work that really lit my hair on fire, as my old photo professor, Rita Reed would say.

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Tyler and I were able to spend a month together in Italy, setting up our home and exploring our new city, before we had to part ways again due to a training deployment. We saw so much in the short time we were there — we know the next three years are going to be jam-packed with beautiful sights, amazing food, and quite a cultural learning experience.

A woman photographs a panoramic view of Vicenza as seen from Monte Berico.

A woman photographs a panoramic view of Vicenza as seen from Monte Berico.

People gather at tables to eat during a country western night in the suburbs of Vicenza, Italy.

People gather at tables to eat during a country western night in the suburbs of Vicenza, Italy.

Italians mill about in jeans, cowboy hats and American flag clothing during a country western night in the suburbs of Vicenza, Italy.

Italians mill about in jeans, cowboy hats and American flag clothing during a country western night in the suburbs of Vicenza, Italy.

Italians exchange greetings during a country western night in the suburbs of Vicenza, Italy.

Italians exchange greetings during a country western night in the suburbs of Vicenza, Italy.

A couple embraces at the Piazza dei Signori in Vicenza, Italy.

A couple embraces at the Piazza dei Signori in Vicenza, Italy.

Young Italians hang out on a bridge over the Fiume Retrone in downtown Vicenza, Italy.

Young Italians hang out on a bridge over the Fiume Retrone in downtown Vicenza, Italy.

A view of Sirmione and Lake Garda from the south can be seen from a castle guarding the city.

A view of Sirmione and Lake Garda from the south can be seen from a castle guarding the city.

Beach-goers lay out in the grass in Riva del Garda, overlooking Lake Garda from the north.

Beach-goers lay out in the grass in Riva del Garda, overlooking Lake Garda from the north.

A view of Sirmione and Lake Garda from the south can be seen from a castle guarding the city.

A view of Sirmione and Lake Garda from the south can be seen from a castle guarding the city.

 


Well, I have finally arrived in Italy and finally have Tyler at my side. This isn’t the home stretch, though — we will only be spending a little over a month together until he has to go on a training mission and I will return home for a few more months. However, this time together has been invaluable and it’s been so nice being an actual couple living in our actual place together with a sort of hologram of how our future will look.

A child jumps across stones in the ruins of Pompei, the city destroyed by Vesuvius, on Tuesday, July 15, 2014.

A child jumps across stones in the ruins of Pompei, the city destroyed by Vesuvius, on Tuesday, July 15, 2014.

Our neighbor trims the neat hedges surrounding his yard on Saturday, July 5, 2014, in Sarmego.

Our neighbor trims the neat hedges surrounding his yard on Saturday, July 5, 2014, in Sarmego.

Right now, things are wonderful and stressful and overwhelming and lovely and then exasperating and I’m just adjusting to it all. We have days where we find an amazing bottle of wine and eat bread drenched in olive oil and fresh basil for dinner and then sit in our new poorly-furnished apartment and listen to the Italian neighbor kids play until it gets dark at 9:30, but the nearby stubborn and confused roosters are still crowing. And then we have days where we are met by Army gridlock and bureaucracy and awkward interactions at the store because we don’t know Italian and just need someone to tell us where to find a mattress topper to fix our ”adequate” government-provided bed and get overwhelmed with a plethora of questions we don’t know how to solve or where to go to solve them and so we just lay in our lumpy bed together and laugh or cry or sigh and have another glass of wine (and thank goodness the wine is always good).

A man runs across the sand on Tuesday, July 15, 2014, in Positano on the Amalfi Coast.

A man runs across the sand on Tuesday, July 15, 2014, in Positano on the Amalfi Coast.

People swim in Stone Beach in the Mediterranean Sea on Sunday, July 6, 2014, in Sorrento.

People swim in Stone Beach in the Mediterranean Sea on Sunday, July 6, 2014, in Sorrento.

Sometimes I think we’re crazy, and then other times I know we’re crazy, but I’m just so glad Tyler and I are together. And even with all of the uncertainty with my future career since I left my job and all the insanity just adjusting to a new life, I just didn’t realize how much we needed to be in the same place. I forgot about how it felt to just know that I could go home at the end of the day and have a conversation with him about everything going on in my brain, and how we consistently just know how to prop the other up and give the mutual support that we didn’t know we needed. It’s weird how you can go convince yourself being apart is OK, and then you get reunited and you don’t know how you did it for so long, and all of a sudden, being separate for even 5 minutes seems like an eternity.

A woman walks through the streets of Vicenza on Friday, June 27 in the city center.

A woman walks through the streets of Vicenza on Friday, June 27 in the city center.

Children jump into the Mediterranean Sea at Baia di Puolo on Monday, July 7, 2014, in Sorrento on the Amalfi Coast.

Children jump into the Mediterranean Sea at Baia di Puolo on Monday, July 7, 2014, in Sorrento on the Amalfi Coast.

Children gather at an ice cream bar on the Baia di Puolo on Monday, July 7, 2014 in Sorrento.

Children gather at an ice cream bar on the Baia di Puolo on Monday, July 7, 2014 in Sorrento.

So, these pictures may seem like “travel” pictures, but really they’re “adjustment” pictures. Because we’re not traveling in Italy — this is not our vacation. This is our new life. And these are our first impression to our new reality of living in a foreign country as semi-newlyweds.

A boy mops up the floor of a tabacchi as the clerk looks on, laughing, on Wednesday, July 9, 2014, in Amalfi.

A boy mops up the floor of a tabacchi as the clerk looks on, laughing, on Wednesday, July 9, 2014, in Amalfi.

Living in Italy is amazing and we are so thankful to be here, but we also are doing it as a new military family and doing it as Americans who know so little about so many things. And that poses its own form of unique challenges. But we are young and in love and stupid and excitable and figuring it all out — together, finally, thank God.

A man sells produce, including grahita limones, or "big lemons," on the side of the road leading on Tuesday, July 8, 2014, into Amalfi.

A man sells produce, including grahita limones, or “big lemons,” on the side of the road leading on Tuesday, July 8, 2014, into Amalfi.

A woman walks on the beach in Minori on Wednesday, July 9, 2014, on the Amalfi Coast.

A woman walks on the beach in Minori on Wednesday, July 9, 2014, on the Amalfi Coast.

Tyler falls asleep watching "Adventure Time" in his room in the barracks on Del Din on Friday, June 27, 2014, in Vicenza.

Tyler falls asleep watching “Adventure Time” on Netflix in his room in the barracks on Del Din on Friday, June 27, 2014, in Vicenza.


Right now, I’m technically unemployed. I left my job a week ago at the amazing community newspaper, The News Leader, in Virginia in preparation for a move to Italy with my partner, Tyler. He was just stationed with the U.S. Army in Vicenza with the badassery that is the 173rd airborne brigade combat team. He’s been there for almost a month now, in-processing, adjusting to Italian life and sampling all the food for me so I know what to eat immediately once I arrive. I am still stateside.

Shannon Curtis and Pat Jarrett slow dance at Dice's in Staunton.

Shannon Curtis and Pat Jarrett slow dance at Dice’s in Staunton.

Everything in our lives is up in the air at the moment. We have no timeline, no deadline, no end date — just months of paperwork, bureaucracy and possible deployments ahead until I can get to where he is. Every day is an exhausting battle and I struggle with small things like going out with other couples or planning small trips a few weeks out. In the end, the only thing I want to do is be where he is — or at least on my way to being there — and to know that he is safe.

Patrons stand near the bar at Dice's in Staunton.

Patrons stand near the bar at Dice’s in Staunton.

So, what does all this mean for me — as in, my career and what I’m doing? To be honest, I have no idea. Two years ago, I would have been terrified of that fact. And I’d be lying and naive if I said I wasn’t currently nervous or worried about the lack of a timeline or steadiness in my current employment situation.

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I’m closing out my last month here at The News Leader. Everything has happened both so slowly yet so quickly — it’s hard to believe that things are moving at all. But within the next week, I will be back in Missouri with my lovely family to spend a few month finishing Army paperwork.

Mike Moses of Richmond opens up the the Shenandoah Valley Soaring glider's association's hangar at Eagles Nest on Saturday, April 6, 2013 in Waynesboro.

Mike Moses of Richmond opens up the the Shenandoah Valley Soaring glider’s association’s hangar at Eagles Nest on Saturday, April 6, 2013 in Waynesboro.

I’ll write a goodbye blog post here in the next couple days, but for now, I wanted to post a few pictures from the last month or so — my last few assignments for the newspaper.

The sun rises on the main maintenance hangar on April 7, 2013, at Eagle's Nest Airport in Waynesboro.

The sun rises on the main maintenance hangar on April 7, 2013, at Eagle’s Nest Airport in Waynesboro.

A plane flies overhead at Eagle's Nest Airport on Saturday, April 6, 2013, in Waynesboro.

A plane flies overhead at Eagle’s Nest Airport on Saturday, April 6, 2013, in Waynesboro.

Runners take off at the beginning of the Park to Park half marathon on the morning of Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Ridgeview Park in Waynesboro. The race went from Ridgeview Park to Stuarts Draft Park.

Runners take off at the beginning of the Park to Park half marathon on the morning of Saturday, April 26, 2014, at Ridgeview Park in Waynesboro. The race went from Ridgeview Park to Stuarts Draft Park.

A mother duck walks with her four ducklings in the rain on Tuesday, April 29, 2014, at Gypsy Hill Park in Staunton.

A mother duck walks with her four ducklings in the rain on Tuesday, April 29, 2014, at Gypsy Hill Park in Staunton.

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Boy, it has been a lot time since I’ve updated the blog. Lots of things are changing in my life currently, and I have a lot exciting adventures coming up very soon — and some that could come sooner!

Snow covers the Stonewall Jackson Hotel and downtown Staunton on Monday, March 17, 2014, in Staunton.

Snow covers the Stonewall Jackson Hotel and downtown Staunton on Monday, March 17, 2014, in Staunton.

But all that is for another time. In the meantime, I figured I’d catch up on recent dead tree work. Thanks for looking.

Children burn palm leaves at the end of a Mardi Gras celebration at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church on Tuesday, March 4, 2014, in Waynesboro. Mardi Gras, or "Fat Tuesday," is a feasting day before Ash Wednesday, which is a 40-day period of fasting and reflection before Easter. The palm leaves are from last year's Palm Sunday and once they are cooled, will be placed on people's foreheads for Ash Wednesday.

Children burn palm leaves at the end of a Mardi Gras celebration at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church on Tuesday, March 4, 2014, in Waynesboro. Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday,” is a feasting day before Ash Wednesday, which is a 40-day period of fasting and reflection before Easter. The palm leaves are from last year’s Palm Sunday and once they are cooled, will be placed on people’s foreheads for Ash Wednesday.

Pastor D.F. Barnwell leads the closing hymn during a service for the Lenten Luncheon series on Wednesday, March 19, 2014, at Cherryvale United Methodist Church in Staunton. Multiple area churches gather for the Lent services and raise money for SACRA, a local organization that provides economic assistance.

Pastor D.F. Barnwell leads the closing hymn during a service for the Lenten Luncheon series on Wednesday, March 19, 2014, at Cherryvale United Methodist Church in Staunton. Multiple area churches gather for the Lent services and raise money for SACRA, a local organization that provides economic assistance.

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The Highland Maple Festival is one of the best events in this area of Virginia. If you like food, or beautiful scenery, or are a human being, it’s the greatest. I decided to feast like crazy while I was there this year and indulged in maple-glazed chicken, buckwheat pancakes and, of course, the infamous warm, doughy maple donuts.

Rachel Hartzler, 7, takes a minute in between session of playing tag behind the Sugar Tree Country Store on Saturday, March 8, 2014, during the Highland County Maple Festival in McDowell, Va. The families of the children were at the country store to sell maple ice cream and maple chicken as a part of the festival.

Rachel Hartzler, 7, takes a minute in between session of playing tag behind the Sugar Tree Country Store on Saturday, March 8, 2014, during the Highland County Maple Festival in McDowell, Va. The families of the children were at the country store to sell maple ice cream and maple chicken as a part of the festival.

One of my photographs was also featured on a project by Roger May called Looking at Appalachia. It’s a wonderful project looking to create a more encompassing and accurate depiction of the Appalachian area, as most of the images from the area were taken 50 years ago during a “War on Poverty” campaign commissioned by LBJ. I think it’s a wonderful project and can’t way to see the other crowdsourced images that come out of it.

Ron and Kay Sommers of Fishersville look into tapped sap pails at Rexrode's Sugar Orchard on Saturday, March 8, 2014, during the Highland County Maple Festival in Monterey, Va.

Ron and Kay Sommers of Fishersville look into tapped sap pails at Rexrode’s Sugar Orchard on Saturday, March 8, 2014, during the Highland County Maple Festival in Monterey, Va.

Bill Ellenburg sells pork rinds with the Monterey Lions Club on Saturday, March 8, 2014, in front of the Highland County Public Schools during the Maple Festival in Monterey, Va.

Bill Ellenburg sells pork rinds with the Monterey Lions Club on Saturday, March 8, 2014, in front of the Highland County Public Schools during the Maple Festival in Monterey, Va.

Fred Frye fries pork rinds with the Monterey Lions Club on Saturday, March 8, 2014, during the Highland County Maple Festival in Monterey, Va.

Fred Frye fries pork rinds with the Monterey Lions Club on Saturday, March 8, 2014, during the Highland County Maple Festival in Monterey, Va.

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Ash Wednesday is one of my favorite celebrations in the Catholic Church. I’ve always really liked Lent — I think it’s a great period of reflection and Ash Wednesday is the start of all that. “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

Congregants leave the church after Ash Wednesday service on Wednesday, March 5, 2014, at St. John the Evangelist in Waynesboro. Ash Wednesday signifies the beginning of the Lenten season, the 40 days of reflection that lead up to Easter Sunday.

Congregants leave the church after Ash Wednesday service on Wednesday, March 5, 2014, at St. John the Evangelist in Waynesboro. Ash Wednesday signifies the beginning of the Lenten season, the 40 days of reflection that lead up to Easter Sunday.

Congregants walk back to their seats after receiving communion during Ash Wednesday service on Wednesday, March 5, 2014, at St. John the Evangelist in Waynesboro. Ash Wednesday signifies the beginning of the Lenten season, the 40 days of reflection that lead up to Easter Sunday.

Congregants walk back to their seats after receiving communion during Ash Wednesday service on Wednesday, March 5, 2014, at St. John the Evangelist in Waynesboro. Ash Wednesday signifies the beginning of the Lenten season, the 40 days of reflection that lead up to Easter Sunday.

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February was a messy month and I don’t think I wore anything but boots the entire time. Mud, snow, muck — you name it, I walked through it.

Ronald Shiflett walks down Beverley Street with a shovel after over a foot of snow fell on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Staunton.

Ronald Shiflett walks down Beverley Street with a shovel after over a foot of snow fell on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Staunton.

People light their candles before the candlelight vigil in the memory of Waynesboro Police Department reserve captain Kevin Quick on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, in Waynesboro. Quick served on the police force since 1990 and was last seen on Jan. 31. A body was found in Goochland County Thursday that was confirmed to be Quick. Three people were arrested and charged in connection with his death.

People light their candles before the candlelight vigil in the memory of Waynesboro Police Department reserve captain Kevin Quick on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, in Waynesboro. Quick served on the police force since 1990 and was last seen on Jan. 31. A body was found in Goochland County Thursday that was confirmed to be Quick. Three people were arrested and charged in connection with his death.

Bette Amsler, who says her favorite television show of all time is "Breaking Bad," wears her Heisenberg t-shirt in her apartment. Amsler profiles people for The News Leader.

Bette Amsler, who says her favorite television show of all time is “Breaking Bad,” wears her Heisenberg t-shirt in her apartment. Amsler profiles people for The News Leader.

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