Sinclair: Your website says you “found cannabis through chronic illness.” Tell us more about that. Also, what led you to doing marijuana advocacy?
Roo: Since I can remember, I’ve had chronic health issues thanks to a seven year stint with Lyme disease. About 5 years ago, in addition to the health issues I already had, I was diagnosed with endometriosis. It’s a reproductive disease that affects 1 in 10 people with ovaries. This illness required me to have multiple surgeries, try slews of pharmaceuticals that gave me symptoms like severe depression, anxiety, deep tissue bruising, burning rashes, and more. I felt at an absolute loss because all the things designed to help me were only hurting me and masking the symptoms.
I had a friend, at the time, suggest that I try out medicinal marijuana. I had smoked before as a teenager and totally dismissed it at first. I just absolutely couldn’t believe cannabis would actually have medicinal benefits. But then I thought about other herbal treatments which I used in conjunction with antibiotics to fight my Lyme disease, and decided to give it a go.
That was when I truly found cannabis. That was the point where I took the time to educate myself about how and why the plant works. It completely changed my view on something that had such a negative stigma around it.
My illness alone is really what got me started with my marijuana advocacy. When you truly believe in your medicine, and it’s constantly being threatened or demonized, you have to stand up for it and fight for it.
Sinclair: What’s something we often get wrong about marijuana?
Roo: From non-patients: “You have to smoke marijuana to get the medicinal benefits.” This is a common concern and worry in newer medical communities, or in older generations who might benefit from the plants medicinal qualities. There are a multitude of ways to use cannabis, and a multitude of ways to use cannabis without psychoactive effects. The idea that you have to “get high” is simply not true at all.
From patients: “It’s all about THC.” While THC content can help it can also hurt for chronic pain. Too much THC can actually cause pain, and THC results alone will not tell you which plant will be right for treating your symptoms. Instead of looking at THC content, medicinal users should be checking the plants terpene content. As with any cannabis product, start low and go slow!
Sinclair: You’re Twitter profile states that you’re “Growing and Glowing”. Tell us about one way you’ve grown in the past year?
Roo: The past year has been one of immense growth for me. I swear I say that every year, but that’s a good thing I suppose. In the past year, really in the past 6 months, I’ve made huge strides in my happiness. I’ve struggled with depression for a while, my hormone imbalances don’t make it easier, and I’m a natural born people pleaser. I have this need to make everyone around me happy even if it’s at the expense of my own happiness. That’s where I’ve grown a lot in this past year.
I made more of a focus on my self care. Saying no often to tasks that would normally drain me, focusing on the outcome I wanted rather than what I didn’t want, and saying “I don’t give a f*ck what people think about me,” are probably the three main things that have helped me step back and take more time for me. As a result, I’ve been so much happier, I’ve landed an incredible job doing what I love, and those around me are still here and they respect my space.
That’s not to say there haven’t been struggles internally and externally. It’s been kind of a “fake it till you make it” deal. I’ve had to actively work to re-wire these deep-set habits of making my life decisions based on others want, but it’s been so rewarding.
“When you truly believe in your medicine, and it’s constantly being threatened or demonized, you have to stand up for it and fight for it.” – Roo
Sinclair: As a photographer, how do you choose the subjects you shoot?
Roo: If i’m just shooting for myself, I tend to gravitate towards the natural world. There’s so much to explore, so many textures, so much light, and so much magic it just never disappoints. But in reality, every day I leave the house with rose colored glasses on. I’m constantly looking for beauty in my environment.
If I’m shooting for a company, I ensure that our vision aligns with each other. Any companies I work with need to align with my values in order for it to work. When I first started I would shoot with anyone, it ended up being stressful and had limited rewards. I found that shooting for companies that align with you always rewards me far more, and flows much better.
Sinclair: Share one of your favorite photos that you’ve taken with us and tell us why you love it.
Roo: For me, photography is about capturing a moment in time that brings back memories or evokes feeling. This photo is one of my favorites that I’ve shot in the past year for those reasons. This was in the Badlands of South Dakota, a favorite spot of mine, on a cool October day. I saw two Big Horn Sheep, usually a rare sighting, and got out to sit with them – from a safe distance of course. The grass was golden and flowing in the breeze, mimicking waves. The mom and her baby just sat there eating and enjoying the moments of silence. It was beauty in its purest form.
Sinclair: Have you ever felt like a fraud while on your journey to where you are today?
Roo: Constantly! I have a huge case of imposter syndrome. For the most part I’m 100% self taught in most of my endeavors. I read books, learn on my own, but have no formal training in photography, or the cannabis field.
College has been difficult for me with my health issues and with a family that has really pushed for a college education. I’m constantly feeling like a fraud in my own home for not having finished yet. I’m committed to learning, but by our societal standards, the only experience I have is field experience.
In this past year I’ve been easier on myself, realizing that field experience can be just as good as formal training, and that we all have our own ways of getting from point A to point B. Honestly, affirmations have also been a game changer for me when it comes to feeling less than.
Sinclair: What’s something that’s been bringing you joy lately?
Roo: Audiobooks! With my job, I’m often driving 2 hours per day minimum. I love music, but sometimes it can get a bit old. Audiobooks have been amazing lately! I love that I’m able to devour whole books in a day and fill my mind with knowledge or uplifting stories. I tend to listen to entrepreneurship, self development, or nature books.
Honorable mention: popsicles. It has been HOT!
Sinclair: When was a time that self-doubt was at its worst for you while on your career and life journey?
Roo: In my career, hands down when I first got into the cannabis industry. I was set up in a position that was partially marketing and social media, and partially inventory control. Though I had been working with company collaborations for photography, and completed most of my degree, I felt like such a fake. Everyday I felt like I had no idea what I was doing and if I was even cut out for the industry. I was so unsure of myself and my abilities, even though I knew I was more than capable of figuring it all out.
In my life journey, I’ve felt immense self doubt in the past year caused by decisions to leave what has not been benefiting me. I would say it was most prevalent when I was moving from Las Vegas back to Maine after only being there for 3 months. I had felt like I quit, like I wasn’t doing the right thing, and like I wouldn’t be accepted back into my community. Turns out it was one of the best decisions I’ve made, but in that moment it felt gut wrenchingly horrible.
Sinclair: What are your unshakable values and when did you become clear on them?
Roo: I’m so happy this is a question! I actually just went through the process of re-aligning myself with my core values. I had been feeling so off for months and months. I asked myself, “Am I living my life in alignment with my values?” And I realized I needed more clarity on what my values were. I have been shedding other people’s projections and I needed to fill the empty slots with my own in this process.
When I really sat down and took the time to think long and hard about my personal values, I came to these as my core set: honesty, kindness, love, community, happiness, individuality and sustainability. I feel that when making decisions based on these values, I become more and more myself and feel better and better about my path.
Sinclair: What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone struggling with self-doubt and feeling like giving up on their dreams?
Roo: Write down exactly what you want, how you’ll feel when you get there, and why you want it. I’ve found that when I have a reference of why exactly I wanted something in the first place, and when I can go back to that in moments of weakness, I’m able to push through the discomfort. Remember that these growing pains are temporary. Find ways to be grateful now and push through until you make it!
Sinclair: Imagine that all your life’s work disappeared and you only had 1 minute to tell the world what you believe to be true. What would you say?
Roo: I believe the best things we can do for this planet are to honor ourselves and show love to all things big and small.
Roo is a Maine based photographer, medical cannabis advocate, and self growth junkie. She focuses on sharing her experiences with chronic illness, cannabis, and self growth in hopes of uplifting and inspiring others.
Featured awesomeness: Americans For Safe Access. Fighting for safe medical marijuana access for all patients. Includes great resources for those wanting to learn more, and provides funding for medical research. The more we know, the more empowered we become.