In Loving Memory of Professor Mark Fertig

A digital self-portrait created by Professor Mark Fertig, who passed away in April 2021 at 48-years-old.

Because of COVID-era restrictions, events like funerals, memorials—and the kinds of public gatherings that have traditionally been utilized to help people pay tribute to and collectively grieve the loss of those we’ve lost—are now unadvisable or even impermissible. As a result, we’re forced to find creative or digital ways to come together, eulogize, and pay our respects to those who leave this world.

This April myself — and other graphic design alumni of Susquehanna University — lost an incredible friend and mentor, Professor Mark Fertig. I’d like to express my sincerest condolences to his wife, children, and closest of kin…


From Pixar’s #MeToo Whistleblower

During my five-year stint as a Pixar employee (from 2009–2014), I had the privilege of working alongside some of the best storytellers, artists, and engineers in the business, and got to see my name roll with the credits for seven internationally acclaimed animated films. But when reporters reached out in early 2018––just before John Lasseter’s name hit the headlines as the latest casualty of the #MeToo Movement––I decided not only to go on the record about my experiences with sexism at the studio but also to share my broader story on my own terms.

In the…


How Consistent Movement, Not Immobility, Helped to Eradicate My Chronic Pain

“We know that the purpose of physical symptoms like TMS [Tension Mitosis Syndrome] is to keep attention focused on the body. If the pain disappears but you are still fearful of physical activity…the battle has not yet been won. The pain will return unless you overcome those fears.”

~Dr. John E. Sarno, The Mindbody Prescription

The dynamic footage above was shot a few weeks back by my partner, Jarek, at Sun Peaks Ski Resort in British Columbia, Canada. When I watched this video of his 11-year-old nephew and I cutting down the mountain later that day, my eyes welled…


A Retrospective on My First Aspecting Session

Disclaimer: None of the following content should be used as a substitution for sound, professional medical or psychological advice. The author is not a doctor or qualified psychology expert, but is a private citizen reflecting on her own experiences.

“If you find parts of yourself missing, do not search for them in somebody else. I swear you will find them one day; and if not, you will discover pieces you have never seen before. You are not a simple work of art. You are the entire museum.” — Ming D. Liu

Who Am I?

Though political polarization prompted me to turn off news…


Believing fight or flight is our only response to threatening situations makes it easy to victim-blame. It becomes natural to think that if we’re only programmed to fight or run away, then anyone who doesn’t [fight back or flee] clearly wasn’t very threatened. What scientists and psychologists now understand is that the brain has a very intricate system of self-preservation…

When you’re faced with a threatening situation, you [can] lose power to the part of your brain that can help you consciously decide what you should do next, understand how the situation will affect your future, make a detailed or…


The following is a chapter excerpt from “Trigger Point: The Hail-Mary Healing Memoir of a Yuppie Redneck Drifter.” Click here to learn more, or start from the beginning on Medium.

Chapter 3: The Hollow Space

Hollowed out. Washed up. Vacant. Wiped clean.

I feel so empty it’s as though there’s no longer an “I” to attach myself to. It’s a bizarre state — this sudden and unshakable sense of identitylessness; a feeling that’s equal parts eerie, familiar and strangely calming.

I probably wouldn’t be able to identify myself in a perpetrator lineup right now, but my selfless self is still acutely aware that she must…


Image by Luz Mendoza from Unsplash.

The following is a chapter excerpt from “Trigger Point: The Hail-Mary Healing Memoir of a Yuppie Redneck Drifter.” Read the previous chapters and the memoir disclaimer here.

Chapter 4: Indian Style

“Your father was a very confused person in life, and he remains so in death,” Jana says, her eyes all floaty, like she’s focusing on something just behind my head.

I rock uncomfortably back and forth on my hips despite the large yoga pillow that separates my ass from the hardwood floor. I try to find some magic angle that will release me from the stiff, achy, smoldering, stabbing, bull-shit chronic pain sensations…


Surrealist portrait, photographed by Scott Rist, edited by Cassandra Smolcic. Ubud, Bali, 2019.

By the ripe old age of 31, my body was so consumed by unrelenting chronic pain, compounding sickness and disillusionment with my “American Dream” that I started to wonder if I’d be better off dead.

For the better part of a decade, the pain had taken virtually every aspect of my life hostage. After years of unsuccessful treatments and therapies, my condition had been classified a “permanent disability” by the doctor in charge of my Worker’s Compensation case, crushing my hopes for recovery. …


How dead-end treatments, shallow diagnostics & falsified medical studies overshadow the keys to our recovery

Photo by Pablo Guerrero.

Disclosure: The links below marked with a (*) are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

“The process of self-healing is the privilege of every being. Self-healing is not a miracle, nor is self-healing a dramatization of the personality as though you could do something superior. Self-healing is a genuine process of the relationship between the physical and the infinite power of the soul.”

~ Harbhajan Singh ~

Self-Generated Wisdom and the Thesis to My Recovery

“Your body hasn’t been responsive to treatment and I don’t have any more therapy options to offer,”…


Lord Ganesha Hindu deity golden statue in Bali Indonesia. Photo by Artem Bali.

The following is a chapter excerpt from “Trigger Point: The Hail-Mary Healing Memoir of a Yuppie Redneck Drifter.” Click here to learn more, or start from the beginning on Medium.

Chapter 2: Pak Man the Balian

Less than 24 hours from now, I’ll find myself lying belly-up—glazed in coconut oil and sweat like a honey baked ham—while a gray-haired medicine man vigorously jabs his fingers into my abdomen, as though he could rearrange my organs from the outside. …

Cassandra Smolcic

Multimedia Artist . Spiritual Activist . Complex Character

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