Category Archives: Interpreters With Brighter Focus

October 2021 Self-Care Workshops for Sign Language Interpreters

night sky landscape with dark field leading up to black tree line, dark blue mountain scape and light blue night sky with orange full moon going over mountains, tag: October 2021 Self-Care
Photo by Erik Mclean

Welcome to Fall!

This is a time of transition from one season to the next, from full bloom into the harvest and culmination phase of the growth cycle.  This is a time to reflect on what’s been supporting you, and what’s ready to be released. 

Here are some ideas for Fall reflection and release:

  • Take a walk in nature, giving special attention to the signs of transition around you. Leaves changing color, the smell and feeling of rain, the activity of birds, the decomposing of flower petals.
  • Sit for 5 minutes each night, studying the moon. Notice how the light and shadows slowly grow and diminish. Sketch what you observe.
  • Build a fire and bask in its light. Identify the various colors within the flames. Notice the patterns made as the wood or other material is slowly burned.

Community is a foundational support for Burnout Proof Interpreters, and we welcome you to reflect and release with us during our full moon gathering October 20th. All the details are below.

October 2021 Self-Care at Burnout Proof Academy

BURN | Connect + Support + Release

Click here to register for free

black background with yellow candle light, white text reading burn Connect + Support + Release, Burnout Proof Interpreters Collective, live one-hour group event, October 20th from 5-6p PDT, Bring what’s weighing you down, and watch it BURN, tag: October 2021 Self-Care

Are you tired of holding it all together?
Feeling alone?
In need of some care and tending?

Bring what’s weighing you down, and watch it BURN 🔥

Join The Burnout Proof Interpreters Collective for an hour of connection, support, and release under the full moon.

Together we will:

  • Offer into the flames one (or more!) thing that’s weighing you down
  • Witness and connect with each other in a wholehearted and affirming way
  • Experience the power of community, collective care, and belonging

Here’s what to do:

  1. RSVP for BURN for FREE + invite your friends (this work is more potent when we’re together)
  2. Mark 10/20/21  5 – 6 pm pacific / 8 – 9 pm eastern on your calendar
  3. Show up to release what’s no longer serving you and connect with others who get what you’re going through

Burn your burdens within the container of a supportive community

Click here to register

May you uncover and nourish even deeper layers of yourself this season, and may you know the support, connection, and belonging of your community. I look forward to connecting with you soon.

With love and bright focus, Brea (like the sea)

Eliza Greenwood: Interpreter with Bright Focus

Eliza Greenwood
ASL Interpreter, Artist & Social Entrepreneur
Owner of Greensoda Productions

Eliza in Hawaii, December 2013

Hawaii, December 2013

The thing I most love about my interpreting work right now is being in the middle-school environment. I enjoy the rush and chaos of students in the hall and tween angst in the classroom. I find millenials so interesting and worthwhile. I am lucky to be at a school with a DHH program where there are other DHH staff to support our students and each other. Each of us strives to strike the balance in our interpreter-educator roles, which vary based on our backgrounds and the needs of each student.

Eliza, Rocky Mountains, bike lesson with brother, May 1988

Rocky Mountains, bike lesson with brother, May 1988

Having a good life-balance at work, I believe, helps me have “juice” for my arts/creativity in my own business and helping others with their endeavors. When someone comes to me with a unique business dilemma, I am eager to help solve it, like a puzzle. I enjoy interacting with other creatives and feeling like I am helping to make a difference in the world. I am a “social entrepreneur.” Navigating this is sometimes tricky, because my altruist-self would love to simply give away the work for free, but my entrepreneur-self (the one who sees that the studio lights stay on) recognizes that being mindful of business is key. I am proud of how I have worked towards this balance through the long and challenging journey of creating and distributing my award-winning documentary.

Eliza, with award for Best Film that Breaks Down Stereotypes from the International Disability Film Festival "Breaking Down Barriers" in Moscow, Russia, November 2012

Eliza, with award for Best Film that Breaks Down Stereotypes from the International Disability Film Festival “Breaking Down Barriers” in Moscow, Russia, November 2012

My identity as an artist and social entrepreneur has also informed my interpreting work, certainly. For example, when tutoring students, it can enhance the learning process to swap stories. They are interested to know what it is like to help secure film festival sponsors and travel internationally, for example. On down-time, I have also helped obtain equipment for the classroom by drafting/editing grant proposals with my boss. I share this now with the understanding that it fits my particular circumstance, but for many other interpreting situations, it might not work at all. I like the below image because it reminds me of the cautiousness and tension between our compartmentalized/neutral interpreter roles and how we bring ourselves into our work.

If I were to give advice about managing these varied aspects of our lives as interpreters, I would recommend being mindful about the balance between our own input and output. You see, we act as message/information conduits, so the flow of communication energy can blur into our own. In the past, one tendency for me has been to lean towards being more outspoken and visible. Lately, however, it has manifested inward. I’ve been reading books and making time for one-on-one friendships. I have also found it helpful to do vision boarding on Pinterest as I recalibrate my input/output frequencies. The below bike in the tree image speaks to this for me; we inherently leave imprints with our service (as interpreters, artists, activists, whatever), and the work affects us, too.

Bike in tree, Vashon Island

Vashon Island, WA

This is the fifth post in a series on interpreters who are putting their hearts back at the center of their work. To read other stories and get inspired toward the life of your dreams, click here. If you’d like to be featured or know an interpreter who’s doing something great please email me!

Annie Haynes: Interpreter With Bright Focus

Annie Haynes
ASL Interpreter & Artist

Annie Haynes painting a Philippine disaster relief benefit donation piece

Annie painting a Philippine disaster relief benefit donation piece

Describe the work or activity that you are passionate about:

I have been involved in many different mediums of art most of my life. My mom taught me to sew, and there was a time that I would see her create without patterns. That’s became a “template for an attitude” that I apply today. I look at other art, other vistas and develop ideas; often I am inspired from photographs. I am a writer, have a self-published book of poetry and have written short stories, journals and a very neglected blog.

Annie Haynes, 2 years old

Annie, 2 years old

Artistically, I have worked with wood carving, sculpting jewelry, pottery, glass, photography, found objects and, within the past 4 years, mostly, I have worked with the medium of pastels or oil pastels. Art is always an invention of patterns or methods or work-arounds; I owe this to Mom.
A few of of my other other hobbies are gardening, dancing (ballroom, swing etc.) and biking.

Annie & Paul, 50 mile cycling fundraiser in Florida from Navarre Beach to Gulf Breeze and back

Annie in 1999, 50 mile cycling fundraiser in Florida

How do you feel when you are engaged in it?

I feel peaceful and connected to a “creative zone”. I do not (maybe I cannot) produce art all the time; I have surges of production and then times when I have no interest. I am compelled to make art, so, when I feel like I must do it, I go “whole hog”. I do note when times are more stressful, with art I escape, and (like Calgon), it “takes me away.”

Annie Haynes, ASL Interpreter & Artist

How does it fill your well, nourish you, or enhance your life?

I feel proud of an accomplishment. Nothing-becoming-something is a powerful feeling. I have a thought that takes shape, and I play with whatever elements of inspiration that I have, and when done, it feeds me. I LOVE color and am not a person who was ever well-fit in apartment living, due to the constrainment of white walls. When I bought my current residence, I had a painter (friend) start adding color immediately. I’ll never forget coming home and he was a fast worker, with at least one wall already painted in the most perfect soft green color. I walked in and I started crying; he was worried he had done something wrong. I was speechless and in tears, and when I found words, I assured him: “I am alright. It’s beautiful, so beautiful. I have COLOR!” I still feel THAT emotional when I am producing colorful art.

Annie Haynes, ASL Intepreter & Artist, Grapes for Whitesides

What aspect(s) of yourself does it allow you to express?

From an early age, I would try and figure out shapes and patterns in nature and draw them. My childhood bedroom was upstairs, and out that window was a majestic oak. I don’t know how many times I drew the limbs and leaves, just figuring out what came first and what came next, the flow and growth and balance and the ways the limbs split off fascinated me. Art allows me to express my visual curiosity. Sometimes, it’s with photography, as I photograph the play of shadows and light, then I take some of those pictures and reproduce them into art.

Annie Haynes, ASL Interpreter and artist, Birch Trees painting

How has this work affected or changed your life?

I am adding another dimension to my life. I enjoy having art around me and painting or photography, sculpting or glass work – it settles me.  I also like to give-back and I’ve donated art to auctions and raffles, so my artwork has a “life of their own” in charity, out there. I had a long hiatus of not doing anything artistic, and when I compare that time to now, I am more proud of myself for opening the floodgates and directing inspiration. I look at everything with a more analytical and critical artist eye when I am doing art. Adding interest in life is a way to never be bored!

How does it inform your interpreting?

Because producing art settles my mind, it improves my focus. The more I can give myself to the process of interpreting, without distraction,the more I am in the moment. Nuances are important in interpreting and the more I become analytical visually for art – the nuances of my work, being analytical – are more easily noted.

Annie Haynes, ASL Interpreter and artist

Why do you do this work? What’s your motivation for doing it?

How could I NOT do this? Honestly, I feel this is in my blood. I was always doing art since elementary school. A new motivation, ironically, happened while interpreting. While interpreting K-12, I interpreted art classes. Content-wise, the instructor shows what the new project is – and the rest of the day (maybe even the next week) is spent with out instruction, leaving an interpreter quite available to choose what do do with their time. I always had permission to do what that class project was – and – it was a great role model for some of the under-motivated kids to see an adult get their hands dirty and get in there. THIS was my re-motivation. I didn’t always have a finished project, but art classes often encouraged various methods and mediums and, for me it “blew the walls off my box”, and my attitude changed to “I CAN”. My motivation today, is to grow as an artist and maybe make a name for myself? Hey, a girl can dream!

Annie Haynes, ASL Interpreter and artist

Annie dancing in 2012

Which of your values does it represent?

I have always had a STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES value. This is why I am an artist. I also value being industrious. I have seen coastal plein art (working outdoors) and it fulfills my desire to be retired and working with the ocean in view. That is the very best of being industrious and productive.

What advice do you have for someone just beginning to align their work with their heart?

DO it. Take classes in things that interest you. There are free workshops, offered by art-supply businesses and it’s an easy way to get your feet wet. Even though not all the methods I learned at free workshops were things I was interested in, I had the opportunity to try. One of my friends says she can’t draw, but she took a class that taught her to do art with layers of paper. Her work is beautiful, and she surprised herself what she could do, even with a “I Can’t Draw” attitude!

Annie Haynes, ASL Interpreter and artist, in her garden with berry-stained fingers

Annie in her garden with berry-stained fingers

Visit Annie’s blog

This is the fourth post in a series on interpreters who are putting their hearts back at the center of their work. To read other stories and get inspired toward the life of your dreams, click here. If you’d like to be featured or know an interpreter who’s doing something great please email me!

Christi Brittain: Interpreter with Bright Focus

Christi Brittain
ASL Interpreter and Artist

Christi Brittain, Interpreter & Artist at Freckles N' Toes

Freckles N’ Toes

Describe the work or activity that you are passionate about.

I am an artist. I have been drawing for as long as I can remember. I used to draw pictures of aliens when I was young. I remember being in summer camp when I was about ten years old and I saw a teenage girl drawing a giant picture of a woman’s eyes. I studied the way that she drew the eyes, fascinated with each little detail. I was determined to draw eyes too. After practicing and practicing I finally got it down. I began drawing eyes on everything, including my aliens. Eventually I ventured into drawing full faces. I would occasionally draw pictures of men and children but I favored drawing portraits of women. I drew images of fictional women as well as portraits of people that I knew and photos from magazines. I also liked to mesh human features with nature.

I recently discovered paint and fell in love with it instantly! I have no idea why it has taken me so long to get my feet wet. After my first painting I knew that I wanted to try to sell my art or at least share it with others. I have wanted to be an artist since I was very young, but always put it on the back burner because of my confidence in my work as well as a fear of not being financially successful. People have been asking me where I got my sudden courage to pursue my dream. After some reflection I’ve realized that it began when I married my amazingly supportive partner last year and then fully bloomed when I finally got the courage to chop my hair off! I know that it sounds a little bit simplified, but it’s true.

Freckles N' Toes PaintingsHow do you feel when you are engaged in it?

I’m a mother of two beautiful girls, a spunky four year old and a giggly four month old. I interpret in the evenings and come home exhausted. When I get home at 11:30pm to a quiet house, I stay up and paint. All of the tough VRS calls, the exhaustion, the teething baby, all goes out the window. I can engage in something that is all my own. It is very freeing and relaxing. The only way that I can describe it is pouring my soul out on paper. It feels similar to when I hear a song and it carries me away to an old feeling or memory. The one problem is that I sometimes paint until 2:00am and then tend to the baby all night. I often get lost in the process and lose track of the time.

Christi Brittain paintingWhat aspect(s) of yourself does it allow you to express?

My art mainly focuses on the empowerment of women as well as the abstract quirky thoughts that I have from time to time. I was raised by a very strong mother and her beautiful lady friends. I also have a group of women that I am very close to. By being there to watch these ladies blossom, and sometimes struggle, I have been inspired and empowered. I incorporate my life experiences as well as theirs into my work.

6 year-old Christi and Mom

6 year-old Christi and Mom

How has this work affected or changed your life?

I feel more centered and connected to those around me. I think that a large part of this is because I get a chance to really relax and unwind during my painting time. It has helped me to stay spiritually connected and it gives me something new to be excited about.

How does it inform your interpreting?

I have more patience and compassion when I am not stressed out. When I come to work I feel more at ease and I’m able to direct my thoughts to ideas for my next painting in between jobs/calls. This helps me to let go of the last job/call and be mentally prepared for the next. I’m also learning new art vocabulary, which is never a bad thing when it comes to interpreting!

Free Your Spirit Freckles N' Toes Painting

Why do you do this work? What’s your motivation for doing it?

I paint because it is fun and it makes me feel amazing.

Which of your values does it represent?

All of them! That is the neat thing about art. I can incorporate anything I want into it.

What advice do you have for someone just beginning to align their work with their heart?

Embrace it! Don’t be scared, just trust the process. As one of my paintings says,

“Believe in Possibility.”

Believe in Possibility Freckles N' Toes Painting

This is the third post in a series on interpreters who are putting their hearts back at the center of their work. To read other stories and get inspired toward the life of your dreams, click here. If you’d like to be featured or know an interpreter who’s doing something great please email me!

Andrea Gehrz: Interpreter with Bright Focus

Andrea Gehrz
ASL Interpreter, Master Astrologer, & Owner of the Moira PressAndy Gehrz, interpreter, astrologer, author

971.404.5068 or

Describe the work or activity that you are passionate about:

I am passionate about teaching the ancient science of light, otherwise known as astrology.  More specifically, I am very interested in resurrecting ancient Greek astrological texts in order to teach what I learn to modern day students of astrology.

Andrea Gehrz, chart reading, client, personal growth

Andrea, with a client

How do you feel when you are engaged in it?

When I am in the process of translating ancient Greek texts, I feel a great sense of excitement at what I find in the text itself.  I also experience a feeling of accomplishment at being able to apply the unique skills I have learned through sign language interpreting to these ancient and profound works.  To be honest, it feels magical.  Always.

ancient greek, translated by Andrea Gehrz

Ancient Greek

How has this work affected or changed your life?

This work has affected my life deeply.  Not only has it expanded my knowledge base in general, it also has opened my eyes to what is possible in one short lifetime. On a daily level, this work has given me a sense of purpose. No matter what I do, I always know that there are ancient Greek texts waiting to be translated, and students waiting to learn high level astrology.

book translation, Andy Gehrz

An Introduction to the Tetrabiblios of Ptolemy, Translated by Andrea Gehrz

How does it inform your interpreting?

In terms of interpreting, this process has attuned me to the importance of choosing texts wisely.  In my current ASL interpreting practice, I now attempt to focus my work on texts that excite me. I am much more likely to prioritize jobs that contribute to my core values in some way.

Why do you do this work? What’s your motivation for doing it?

I do this work because I thrive in challenging situations. The work itself is continually interesting, and contributes to a more fascinating world. Working on ancient texts touches me in a way that the modern world cannot.  While today’s pace is quick and ever-changing, these ancient texts offer consistency and focus.

What advice do you have for someone just beginning to align their work with their heart?

Open your heart to the wisdom of your highest self, your oversoul.  Consult often and with gusto.

Andy Gehrz

This is the second post in a series on interpreters who are putting their hearts back at the center of their work. To read other stories and get inspired toward the life of your dreams, click here. If you’d like to be featured or know someone who’s doing something great please email me!

Cindy Culpovich: Interpreter with Bright Focus

This is the first in a series of posts highlighting interpreters who are creating balance & igniting joy in their lives by putting their hearts back at the center of their work. My intention is to inspire us all with stories of people who are making their dreams a reality, people that we know and love. Sharing our stories gives us an opportunity to connect with and learn more about each other, with the added benefit of learning more about ourselves and what excites us. Get ready to be excited & inspired!

Cindy Culpovich
ASL Interpreter & Owner of Organizing Your Space

asl interpreter & organization expert Cindy Culpovich or


Describe the work or activity that you are passionate about:

I love people and having the opportunity to help people improve their lives and get out from under stress that’s weighing them down. It’s such a privilege for me to be invited in to people’s lives and that they trust me enough to allow me to help them with clutter chaos or other types of chaos that is causing them to be weighed down.

Cam Kitchen B 1

Before Organizing Your Space

How do you feel when you are engaged in it?

Mostly I love it. Sometimes it can be stressful helping people wade through paper and possessions that carry a lot of stressful memories or emotions in them, but the end result is very encouraging.

Cam Kitchen A 1

After Organizing Your Space

How has this work affected or changed your life?

I am constantly learning from my clients and growing personally as I do this work.

How does it inform your interpreting?

I see a link between my 2 professions. As an interpreter, I’m a communication expert and when I’m working with people on sensitive personal issues, communication is a huge part of it and my skills in that area aid in my success with clients. In the same way, working one on one with people helps me to hone my communication and learning to read people’s unspoken messages which helps in my interpreting career.

Why do you do this work? What’s your motivation for doing it?

I love the organizing work I do because I love helping people. I also like the fact that I can earn money doing something that I really enjoy!

Cindy Horesback

Cindy in 1986

Which of your values does it represent?

My love of people and that people and relationships are the most important thing to me.

What advice do you have for someone just beginning to align their work with their heart?

If you can figure out what you love doing and pursue that as a career, you will be greatly blessed.

Interpreters with Bright Focus

interpreter with big heart

photo by andreamb

Interpreters have big hearts

As practitioners in a profession that demands the full and undivided attention of our bodies and minds, burn out is a legitimate risk if our hearts are not engaged in an equally inspiring task. When we show up day after day, with the belief that only our hands are valued, we can feel resentful, compartmentalized, and lethargic–all of our effort is going out and none is coming in. Energy doesn’t work this way; this is not sustainable.

self-care and inspiration fills the well

photo by BelleWood Gardens

The well runs dry

Life depends on a cycle of energy use and replenishment. Energy is a commodity that we depend on, yet so often we don’t pay attention to where we receive it. We have an amazing capacity for sustained work as long as we are receiving the nourishment and inspiration we need to keep our well replenished. If we’re continuously giving, and rarely receiving, that well runs dry and we come to a grinding screeching halt. This imbalance in our lives and the stress it causes can lead to all sorts of nasty ailments: body pains & injuries, illness, trouble sleeping, a general sense of crabbiness, and feeling stuck. No one likes these things.

In these moments of feeling trapped by the weight of the world, change seems like the last thing we have energy for. Mustering the creativity or the motivation to do something different is daunting, and so usually we don’t. Maybe we’ve tried it before and it didn’t work. We’re too tired and can’t manage to even think about it. We don’t know what we’d do differently even if we wanted to. Our world looks like a dry, prickly desert, with no water for miles.

Your life is the sacrifice

If we choose to trudge on like this, the price we pay is in our quality of life. Sure, we are breathing. Our hearts are beating. But are we really alive? No. Not according to my definition. For me aliveness involves excitement about waking up each day, happiness and joy when I see the beauty that surrounds me–not just aesthetically but spiritually: the wonder of life taking place and people finding their way–continuing to get up, even when I’m bruised, rising because I know the responsibility for my life is all mine. I want to secure a steady supply of water, because I am creating something extraordinary with this one precious life of mine.


Receiving is your responsibility

Fortunately water is not scarce. It can be found in every nook and cranny, often right under our noses if we open our eyes for long enough to see it.  A smile from a stranger passing by = a drop. The hug of an old friend = a drip. A 10 minute walk in the woods = a glug, and so on…until pretty soon the well is full. These are the moments we can miss so easily if we are looking down. But when really savored, these tiny offerings can make the difference between drought and abundance.

2 Tips for Keeping Your Well Topped Off

inspiration cycle

Arieh Friedner

1. Stand in the river

Put yourself in the flow of the give and take of life. Find a way to utilize your gifts and talents, and share them with others. You may think that this will deplete energy, but the truth is giving helps us to engage in the cycle of life and this brings energy back to us. Seek out those rivers in your life: a spiritual practice or community, running, yoga, being in nature, volunteering. The activities that feed you may be different, but you will know it when you engage in it by the energy and inspiration that it brings you.

2. Recognize the water that surrounds you

There is wonderful goodness all around, you need not look far. Right now I’m seated on a beautiful comfortable bench, made by my partner. This handmade piece of furniture is a gift of labor & love to our family every day. Kaden, my son, just looked up from his project and said, “Mom, I love you.” When I remember to stop and really take that in, feeling gratitude and love pour in and fill my well, I am recognizing that water. There are so many times throughout our days that we are faced with these gifts. The choice is ours to pay attention.


In the coming weeks I will be highlighting interpreters who have put themselves into the river by engaging in work that feeds their spirits creatively and gives them a sense of purpose. These Interpreters with Bright Focus can be examples and sources of inspiration for each of us as we move toward what sustains us in our lives. My personal vision is that creating and participating in this flow of energy, making sure that my well is continuously replenished, allows me to show up in the world as my best self in order to be of service to others. I hope that you will join me in discovering what you really want to create in your life when your well is there to sustain you.

Happiness Is Contagious…Catch It!

I learned from Scott Crabtree this week at The Science of Happiness that the happiness of others is contagious. I want to capitalize on this principle! I will be highlighting the positive direction that interpreters are creating for themselves, and there are so many to list. If you know of an interpreter who is spreading happiness by manifesting his/her passion please let me know, I would love to share their story here!

Portrait of a group of business people laughing against white ba