Learning to be brave.

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Well, shoot.

Right now I am working on final revisions for my manuscript for “Still Stace”. I’m also reading Glennon Doyle’s “Untamed”. This is quickly becoming a tumultuous, beautiful, terrible, gut-wrenching, wonderful, life-changing gift.

I have to read it very slowly, digesting it in small bits. Sometimes in the bath (the only place to read where I can lock myself away from toddlers), I can only manage a couple pages. My copy of her book is already dog-eared, annotated and frantically underlined. I’m not halfway done yet.

I feel, as I know many people feel, it was written JUST for me in this season of my life. No but, really, it feels that way. Glennon, can you hear me??

Today was a rare day for me. I was taken to the spa for a glorious getaway. As I laid on a surprisingly comfortable wooden recliner outside, wrapped in one of their lush white robes, I tried to muscle my way through a good chunk of her book. I feel in my bones that I need to absorb what every page says, but it’s hitting (too) close to home. Once again I hit the “oof, that hurts” wall after just a few pages.

I folded it face down on my chest and stared up at the blue sky. The spa doesn’t allow technology on-site, so I was actually forced to notice things. The way the soft breeze rustled the leaves overhead ever so gently. I studied the way the clouds swirled and reformed their puffy shapes quickly and slowly at the same time. The soothing sounds of the spa music – all that was missing was a masseuse’s hands on my shoulders.

Brené Brown talks about how she knows a book is good when she wants to throw it across the room. Well, Glennon, your book has a lot of air miles in my mind. I don’t want what you are saying to be true, but dammit, it is.

She says:

“Brave is not asking the crowd what is brave. Brave is deciding for oneself. To be brave is to forsake all others to be true to yourself.”

That sounds easy.

That sounds logical.

That sounds impossible.

How is it, that at the age of 40, I am only now learning how to truly be brave?? How to  listen for my own knowing, not the mix of voices in my head that want to do the “right thing”, make others happy or do whatever it takes not to hurt them.

Guys, this is so tough.

As I write about my younger self’s struggles in coming out and finding peace with my faith and sexuality, I realize I am yet again on another excruciating journey of finding myself. (Not in the same way mind you, I’m gayer than ever.)

But then, that’s what’s life is, right? “Being human is not hard because you’re doing it wrong, it’s hard because you’re doing it right.” (Damn you, Glennon. Also, thank you Glennon.)

Okay, let’s keep reading.

This is 40.

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Yesterday, I turned 40. I’m not sure how that is possible, when inside I feel no older than 14!

Life is (real) messy right now, but I woke up feeling stupidly grateful to be alive, and convinced myself to take my first selfie ever because WELL WHY NOT. Are bathroom selfies still a thing?! (Revealing my age now.)

I know this:

I am loved.

My mind is smarter and clearer than ever.

My body is strong and healthy. (Working out almost daily is the best thing I have ever done for my mental health and self care.)

I am the closest today to who I was made to be, and I’m excited about that. I have screwed up big throughout my life, but dammit, I really like me.

I’m not certain I deserve this beautiful life I have, but I am trying hard to grab hold of every day, stay present, work hard, dream harder, and make the most of it.

40 is also the age I will be when books are published with my name on it. (Actual books! I still don’t fully believe that until I hold one.) So many of my dreams are yet to come true, so bring it on 40’s!!!! 💯🎉🌈

Yesterday was filled with my fav things – kitchen dance party with my kids, swimming in my fav lake and breathing in deep the mountain air, sneaking in a workout, and enjoying my fav foods with a few of my people (in our Covid bubble). Man, I am so damn lucky to be alive. I don’t want to waste this breath in my lungs.

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“I am a human being, meant to be in perpetual becoming. If I am living bravely, my entire life will become a million deaths and rebirths. My goal is not to remain the same but to live in such a way that each day, year, moment, relationship, conversation, and crisis is the material I use to become a truer, more beautiful version of myself.”
– @glennondoyle “Untamed”

From the Archives: “Tah-Dah”!

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Upon graduating from Sheridan College in 2009, I completed my thesis animated short film entitled “Tah-Dah”. It ended up making it into over 40 film festivals and winning two awards in filmmaking! I went to LA twice for festivals, and to Hawaii & Maryland to teach animation workshops. I sure squeezed a lot out of my little 2-minute film! 🙂

*Original music for “Tah-Dah” composed by Corey Wallace

I was going through my own archives, realizing it was over 10 years ago (!!) and found it neat to discover some old interviews. What would I have told myself ten years ago about my life now? And where will I be ten years from now…? I have to say, I am pretty proud with how hard I have been chasing my dreams.

Here’s a short radio interview I did with CBC in 2010 in Winnipeg – I remember going down to their studios very early one morning. What a fun experience chatting with them!

 

Here’s a little interview I did on the red carpet at Feel Good Film Fest I went to in LA – they screened the films at the iconic Egyptian Theater – such a surreal experience to see my film play there!

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Here’s a newspaper I was featured in Maryland for their International Film Fest – I was lucky enough to go down and teach a series of animation workshops to kids there. SO much fun, and the people there were so incredibly hospitable & wonderful!

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Thanks for all the fun & memories, “Tah-Dah”! I can’t wait to see what the next ten years bring.

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Schitt’s Creek fanart

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I know I am late to the fanart train for this show, but I have loved this clearly Canadian classic since it started airing here – well before it got wider acclaim!

I grew up in Winnipeg watching Eugene Levy & Catherine O’Hara and their amazingly brilliant antics on SCTV. I would curl up at the foot of my parents bed and laugh, even though I’m sure I had no idea what most of the skits were about. The costumes and funny voices were enough for me! I was in awe – they were like Canadian Carol Burnett’s!

“Schitt’s Creek” is genius, hilarious, heartwarming and groundbreaking. I want to do so SO much more fanart for it, but SIGH, I am overloaded with projects. So here is one sketch for now – available on my Etsy store if you want to buy a signed print. 🙂 I am filled with glee whenever I can get back to drawing on paper, so I hope to do more soon.

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Pride.

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It’s the last day of pride month. 🌈

2020 has felt more formative for me than ever.

My gay Christian journey started when I was 16, but now that I am (so very) close to the big 4-0, I feel like I am just beginning in a lot of ways. I’m truly learning what it means to trust myself – the deep, knowing me inside. To show up for myself and do hard things.

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I’m learning it’s good and necessary to take up space in this world, to say things, to deeply feel things.

2020 has been a tremendously hard year – for everyone – but often the hardest times bring about the most growth and beauty. I have a sense the coming months for me will be the hardest, but I am tenaciously hopeful and believing for the growth and beauty in the midst of it. (Maybe, because of it.)

A friend sent me this quote that I have said to myself every day lately:

“I will go, and I will go afraid.”

– Morgan Harper Nichols

I hope that wherever you are on your coming out journey, you know it is okay.

You are more than okay.  You are loved.

Happy Pride, my friends. ❤️🌈🎉

📷 Photo of Stacey ©2019 Camilla Hrytzak.

A parent-scare + restore-faith-in-humanity story.

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As a parent, you never know when your kids will get hurt, but you are always waiting for it on some level. (And when you have a 2.5 yr old son like mine, you wait for it every day.)

We explored a new place last night, a walking trail (mostly concrete) around a man-made lake. It had been raining off and on, and past their bedtime, so we took one last photo of the kids before heading for the car. Our son then decided to run up a wet rock and slipped, falling head first on the concrete with a loud & sickening CRACK. (Yes, lots of blood immediately everywhere.)

Friends, there’s so many good people out there.

Thank you to the couple who were passing by, who stopped and immediately asked if they should call 911. They called, talked with us and the dispatchers, waited with us and directed the ambulance & paramedics to where we were.

Thank you to the young girl on her skateboard who passed by, and stayed just to quietly hold a big umbrella over us as it rained. Her smiles of comfort for our 4 yr old daughter helped so much, too. (Thanks to, I think, her dad, who gave us the umbrella to keep when the paramedics got there.)

Thank you to the man who stopped to ask what our son’s fav show was, so he could pull it up on his phone to help him stop crying. (Who knew I would be actually grateful for damn Blippi.)

Thank you to the man who stopped and said he lived nearby, if we needed to take our son there or if he needed to run home to grab first-aid supplies.

Thank you to the paramedics for their ongoing work in the world right now, in this situation, and for giving him a teddy bear after he wouldn’t stop crying in the ambulance.

Thank you to this rainbow for showing up immediately after the ambulance left, carting my son off to the hospital, and making me feel all the feels. 😭❤️🌈

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Everyone’s fine now and home (with stitches) and we are grateful.

Don’t give up on humanity. We met a lot of helpers tonight. 🙏❤️🙌🏼

Church.

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Pausing along the Maple Ridge / Pitt Meadows Dyke trails to breathe in the mountain fog.

Right now, this is my church.

On my bike, sweating down these trails, God and I have it out.
Almost every day.

This (quarantine) time feels uncertain, in more ways than one.
So, I confess my scariest fears.

My most visceral aches.

My wildest dreams.

My tender hopes.
My heavy shame.

My loud celebrations and my quiet grief.

My beautiful questions, my untamed excitement, and my honest heartbreak.

Something about this mountain air, it’s healing.

We can do this.
We can do hard things.

I hope you’re hanging in there, friends.

And I hope you are finding your church too. ❤️🌈 🚲

DreamWorks “Rhyme Time Town” premieres June 19th!

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At the tail end of 2018, I joined the amazingly talented and tiny crew at Doberman Pictures in Vancouver, to work on this adorable DreamWorks preschool show, “Rhyme Time Town”. I threw myself headfirst into the beautiful-ness of this little show, and ever since then, I have painted my heart out on all the various locations. (Many of which are in this trailer – please, I beg of you, pause it on that town overview map, just to acknowledge my many hours?! I promise I will feel it, haha.)

I think this is the 13th or 14th show I have worked on – I think after ten you just stop counting, right? But this production may be the most beautiful one yet. I’m really proud of all my brushstrokes (that will be onscreen for 0.4 of a second, oof), and to work alongside this incredible crew.

It premieres on Netflix June 19th, and if you have or know any toddler-like or preschool children, I promise they will like it! And maybe, just for me, can you notice how carefully the trees were painted?!

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So proud to have my name in the credits among this amazingly talented crew! 😀

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Local travel posters

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Since I work full-time in children’s animation and illustrating kids books, sometimes I love to dust off my graphic design skills for fun.

I have always loved those vintage-esque travel posters – but who is traveling anywhere right now?? Well, they are opening up some local things around us, which helps ease the Groundhog Day feels a bit.

So the idea came to me to do a couple posters for my fav local Maple Ridge places, as a fun exercise. I have already gotten some custom orders from people – so if you want your fav place illustrated in a poster like this, feel free to reach out! 🙂

Alouette Lake, Golden Ears Provincial Park – this beautiful lake is about a 10 minute drive from our house, and we often escape for the day or bring dinner and let the kids play in the sand.

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Gold Creek, Golden Ears Provincial Park – a fav hiking spot, and a location used often for filming shows & commercials.

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Ridge Meadows Dyke trails, Maple Ridge / Pitt Meadows – biking about 25-30K almost every day on these trails has been saving my life during quarantine!

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June 17 update:

A friend commissioned me to design three custom travel posters of their fav spots, with their kids built into the designs! 🙂 Such a fun idea!

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Human DOING.

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This quarantine time has made me see I am way better at being a human DOING, rather than a human BEING. I like to be busy. I don’t like to be still and feel hard things. It’s ugh, and uncomfortable. But this time is teaching me that’s exactly what I need to do.

Slow down.

Breathe.

Feel it. Stay with it. See what it can teach you.

This illustration came to me when I jogged passed one of my fav trees this week. Man, it felt good to dig out my pencils & ink pens and lose myself on paper. (Drawing on toothy watercolour paper is also really satisfying. My Moleskine sketchbook was full so I had to – happy accident.)

Hope everyone remembers to slow down! Love to you all.

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