@stevehomol (Insta) Steve Homol Photography
Today we’d like to introduce you to Cassie Hepler.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Cassie. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I began writing as soon as I could write. My mom likes to tell me how in third grade I would write plays, act in them and direct them. I guess it’s been in my blood since birth. I also loved writing poetry, journaling… and watching my mom develop and inspect her photographs. This love of communications led me to Penn State University where I secured a Communications Degree (journalism major with an English minor). I worked in traditional newspaper settings as almost every role you can imagine until I went freelance with a short stint as an assistant editor at a political paper in Philadelphia. I launched my travel/lifestyle blog at the same time ExplorewithCassie.com (formerly Explore-Philly and Explore-NJ) and the name change/merge happened when I decided to move west. I had to put the blog on hold for a bit while I got scoliosis fusion surgery in February 2016 (I called it a bloody valentine to myself) but after that $300K surgery, I could not afford to fall in the ice and snow or get in a car accident. After a press trip with Visit Phoenix/Mesa in October of 2017 and I was sold on Arizona. The chill vibe, the happy, smiling people, the sunshine and proximity to California were deciding factors. I now live in the trendy Arcadia section of Phoenix, AZ and love it! When I tell people I can walk to places like OHSO Brewery, they lose their minds because most places in Arizona, you have to drive.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
People who just meet me assume it’s been smooth sailing all along. Dealing with scoliosis my whole life, I just sucked up the discomfort and pain. When it became completely unbearable in winter of 2015 and I was napping like an old lady all the time. It was time to slice and dice and become bionic. Before surgery, I was curved 53 degrees to the left and had no waist, the only way I can describe it was like carrying a baby elephant on your left hip. Afterward, I am curved a mere 3 degrees. I literally have chromium and titanium rods and screws in my back like you see at the hardware store. Sure, I can’t do plow pose in yoga anymore and am a bit numb on my right flank but I would trade anything to be pain-free. Luckily, I am the 1% who has no back pain now and keep in shape (doctor’s orders) with pilates and core work. Through all this, I started a blog, was still modeling/acting and somehow working at the political newspaper. It’s really minding over matter, consistency and finding a balance that works for you.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into ExplorewithCassie.com story. Tell us more about the business.
ExplorewithCassie.com is not just another lifestyle/travel blog all about me. As a matter of fact, you will not see any stupid selfies on there of me that you normally see on a blog. I like to call it a blogazine because I have a team of writers/photographers and videographers making it happen with me. If you are loyal to me, I am fiercely loyal to you and build my team up. We like to cover good causes, charity, real people, and businesses. I think the keyword is integrity. I made a pact with myself to not work with jerks in 2016 and am sticking to it with great results! I consider myself a content creator (photography/social media/videos) and publisher but cannot stop the writing bug when it bites me. Someday I would like to write a book (or two) however the blog is currently keeping me very busy. Our tagline is finding the unusual out of the ordinary!
Looking back on your childhood, what experiences do you feel played an important role in shaping the person you grew up to be?
It has not been an easy path for me. I watched a friend die in a car accident when I was 16 years old. I have had several close friends pass way too early. Scoliosis was my albatross to bear at an early age. However, you have to acknowledge that life ebbs and flows. Sometimes, you are on the beach looking out and admiring the beauty and sometimes you are in the middle of a rainstorm. Your attitude determines your altitude and you make the best of what you are given.
- Website: www.explorewithcassie.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/explorewithcassie/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ExploreWithCassie/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/explorewithcass
- Other: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cassiehepler
@stevehomol (Insta) Steve Homol Photography, Cassie Hepler Photography