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Life & Work with Monica Ketchum

Today we’d like to introduce you to Monica Ketchum. 

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
My story… has a lot of chapters. I’m a self-made woman and proud of it. A Michigander all my life, I’ve had my own photography business, HumanKnd Co., since 2011, where I’ve documented everything you can imagine. I’ve been a mom blogger and a social media influencer where I’ve encouraged moms and tried to make light of all the heavy lifting we do and also share heartwarming things I’ve learned along the way. I’m also a rock hound, and my goodness am I obsessed with hunting rocks. It’s funny because that hobby is something I’ve done since I was just a little girl on the shores of Lake Superior, and here I am today, still sifting through rocks for hours and hours seeking out agates and enjoying Michigan to its fullest. I started SheRockHunts on Instagram, and it took off with sharing my mental health struggles and applying them to my rock hunting adventures; and speaking of that, I have a book in the works for exactly that. The chapters in between those “things I do” include hard things like divorce and a long-distance relationship and coming out as a lesbian and raising two kids as a single mom and dealing with oppression and working through PTSD from sexual assault, and learning and growing through it all. Some of my proudest moments are helping others by sharing my story as if it’s a stepping stone in their story because I certainly didn’t go through all of that just to go through all of that. All of this leads up to my current chapter of joining the Michigan State Police force in January 2023, planning a life together with my best friend and soulmate, Michelle, and raising Zeke and Charlie to be kind humans in a world that can sometimes be not so kind. Rockhounding, writing, photography, and adventure will continue to be the fresh air that keeps me alive as I navigate this journey called life. 

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
A smooth road? I wish I could say that, but it most definitely has not. I think my favorite part of my journey though, on my way to each “destination,” let’s call them, is what I learn along the way. When I was pushed out of the closet by angry people in 2020, I decided to take back my life and come out myself as a lesbian mom. By doing that, I found my strength, I found that I am brave and that I can be authentic and accomplish anything I set my mind to, no matter what anybody says. I found my inner voice, I found passions again that run so deep (yes, rocks), and I went on a self-discovery journey through my mental health space. Situational struggles around me might appear to make things difficult, but at the end of the day, I realized it was my mindset that could make me or break me. While going after my 14-year dream of becoming a police officer, I was told I was selfish doing such a thing, I was told I couldn’t handle the stress and the pressure, I was basically told I’d fail, and then that inner voice gets louder and says “Monica, you can do hard things,” and here we are, doing hard things because if I’ve learned anything in being a self-made woman, it’s this: “the truest, most beautiful life never promises to be an easy one.” I actually welcome struggles because I like growth. All flowers grow through dirt, and so can you. (Big shout-out to Glennon Doyle’s “Untamed” for opening my heart and mind to so many powerful things like that statement!)

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
What do I do? What defines me? What am I known for? I think to this day; it’s hard for me to answer these questions because I do so many things, I love so many things…for the last 4ish years, I’ve been known as SheRockHunts when I’m spotted on the shores of Lake Michigan, it feels thrilling to be known by other people, to be called “famous” because of something I love to do—rock hunt and talk about mental health. I’m proud of my own personal journey that’s led to me creating the SheRockHunts community, that draws people together to talk about rocks and to feel safe enough to talk about deeper things too. I’m proud of that. I like to think I have pretty great photo skills to be in business for 11 years; I’ve been pretty proud of the amazing weddings I’ve got to document and the new lives I’ve got to witness, and everything in between. And side note…I was stopped today by the gate guard at my day job (being a forklift driver in the outside yard at Menards), and he said, “Young lady. you’re my hero.” I asked him why he would say that and his response was this: “because every day I come in and do my job, and every day every guest tells me how special you are and how much you help them, and they rave about you doing such a wonderful job in the yard as a woman in a man’s world, you’re my hero because you’re strong and you make the world a better place.” There…that’s something I’m proud of. I’m proud of making the world a better place, which is what I hope to do in all my avenues of life, as a mom and a future wife and a future police officer, as a rock hunter and future author and mental health advocate, as a safe place for others to land, as a photographer and friend, my hope is to always inspire and to always leave the world a little brighter. I like to think as a creative person, my brushstrokes of life can leave a positive mark on the world.

We’re always looking for the lessons that can be learned in any situation, including tragic ones like the Covid-19 crisis. Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can share?
I actually dove into the pandemic during a nasty divorce, navigating a long-distance relationship, and trying to be a single mom while jumping back into the workforce after being a stay-at-home-mom since my kids were born…so if I learned anything, it’s GIVE YOURSELF GRACE. I spent many weekends on the beach alone, rock hounding, breathing fresh air, and thinking. It was in those quiet, alone times during the pandemic that I could actually see! I could see that it was important to be patient with ourselves, it was extremely important to fill up our own cups so we could pour into others, and self-love mattered more than we knew. I’d leave the stillness and quiet and go back into the chaos of pandemic life and working in retail, and I’d have to pull myself aside and remind myself to breathe, to give myself grace dealing with other humans, and that everything would be ok eventually. I learned that everyone was struggling and kindness mattered. Having just actually had Covid and recovered from it, I also learned that we just have to roll with the punches. Life comes at you fast. Are you ready to just hold on and enjoy the journey? I learned that I am. 

Pricing:

  • Photography: $300 for an hour session
  • Rocks: raw rocks are available
  • Book: coming soon
  • Twitter realness: free!

Contact Info:

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