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Rain on me.

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Covid-fatigue is hitting everyone. I feel it all around me. This has been hard, hasn’t it friends?

Lately I have tried to allow this discomfort and fear and anxiety dust off the buried treasures within myself. I think there are extremely important lessons about life, and ourselves, that we can only learn in these types of seasons. I’m learning to be grateful for small things, to slow down and listen to my own voice, and how to show up for my family.

On Sunday I took a quick break from working on the sketches for “Still Stace” (pant, pant, there are 89 sketches now!) to go on my bike.

When I left it was sunny. Halfway through my ride, it clouded over and absolutely down poured rain. I pulled over, looked up at the sky and let it soak me. It felt renewing. I maintain that it’s one of the privileges to being alive.

There are days when we need to run and seek shelter from the rain. And then there are days when we open our arms, and invite the rain to wash over us.

Sending love, friends.

A new day is coming.

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I know, I know – I’m Canadian… BUT that doesn’t mean I wasn’t dancing in my kitchen at the Biden/Harris victory announcement yesterday!! Us Canadians are used to constantly living America-adjacent, and while political decisions don’t DIRECTLY affect us, they definitely affect us down the line.

And even though I’m not American, I love a lot of Americans. And yes, I’m a self-appointed emotional-support-Canadian. It’s been scary as hell watching what has been happening with this (lack of) leadership, especially for our LGBTQ friends and friends of colour. Yesterday felt like SUCH an influx of hope for a change! FINALLY.

But let’s focus on something amazing about yesterday: KAMALA. It was a historical day for all women! We all stand on the shoulders of so many great women who brought us to this moment. (I see you, Stacey Abrams!) Kamala becoming VP has opened the door for so many more women in leadership in our future. It’s about damn time.

I had to draw this in celebration!

Get ready for a new day, friends. It is coming.

Falling for the colours.

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Lately I’ve been working seven days a week on two shows Monday to Friday, and illustrations for “Still Stace” on the weekends. In between furious sketching and painting, I escape for mini hikes, walks and bike rides around our neighbourhood. It is for my literal mental health, and helps to reset my soul.

It’s Fall, and in this part of the Pacific Northwest, the fog sits heavier on the pines, and the leaves show off their brilliantly saturated colours. I breathe it in deeply. This is my absolutely favourite time of the year. Time for me to dig out my thicker hoodies and mustard-coloured toque, (if you aren’t Canadian, google that word) and admit that I do love to indulge in the occasional pumpkin spice latte.

The seasons changing reminds me that even in the middle of a world that feels upside down, there are some things I can count on.

A 20 minute speed painting I did after our hike through Gold Creek in Alouette Lake. (Tons of shows are filmed here including “Riverdale” and “The 100”.)
During a walk with my kids in our neighbourhood, we saw this super tall wheat-like grass (called madras, I think) and we were all enamoured with it! I couldn’t resist painting my fav Fall palette. 🙂

By the way, Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Canadians! Wow, 2020 has thrown me for so many loops, but damn. There’s still so much to be thankful for. So hug your bubble people, eat some stuffing, and let yourself be present in this moment of gratefulness. I’m gonna try to do just that. ❤

Editing Oct 20 to add a couple more Fall-esque pieces:

In this corner of the West Coast, we have leaves waaaaay bigger than your head! No, seriously. This drawing isn’t even an exaggeration. My kids love doing this every year!
A speed painting after a long day of painting for development, from a prompt word of “scarf”. I get really tight and nitpicky when doing development (for big clients), and doing a 20 minute speed painting is like a cleansing sorbet for my soul. 🙂
I just can’t seem to physically get through October without drawing some form of Halloween candy. I prefer to eat mini Snickers, but candy corn is MUCH more fun to paint 🙂
We were walking back to our car after a walk with the kids, and I loved the early evening Fall lighting and colours.

Beauty in barns.

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I love being an artist.

If I wasn’t an artist, I’d be a musician, a horse trainer, or a backup dancer for P!nk. (I’ll settle for kitchen dance parties with my kids for now.)

Being an artist allows me to observe the world differently. It encourages me to see beauty in all things, to learn as much as I can, and to keep growing. I hope I always stay curious, because this world is overwhelmingly fascinating.

I bike past this old barn almost every day, and I smile as I pass, admiring the weathered paint and rich textures it displays. I love thinking about the history of it. But it’s not enough to admire it, I had to finally spend some time painting it. It’s my way of truly appreciating something.

A day after posting this to social media, I was contacted by the woman who grew up at this farm. She recognized her barn right away, and she asked to purchase a copy of the print to put in her house. She said it made her incredibly happy.

As I said, I love being an artist. 🙂

My Octopus Teacher.

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Wow.

Have you seen this stunning film?

Wow.

I have always been enraptured by the beauty and mystery of everything under water. The impossibly saturated colours of all that swims, the astounding design of the creatures. I have always felt more connected to my own life, somehow, when I’m under water. Which is why I love swimming so much. Time seems to slow, things become clearer. Watching this film, it made me catch my breath. And yes, I cried (a lot) over an octopus.

What a profound reminder that life is precious, breathtaking and utterly fascinating. (Like COME ON, that pile of shells it made as a disguise?!) We are all truly connected – human and creature. After many months of feeling heavy and sad with *everything* going on, this film provided a fresh breath of curiosity and hope.

I had to put some of my inspiration into a quick sketch.

If you want to learn more, watch the film and visit Sea Change Project. We have to work hard to protect all of this beauty, like all our lives depend on it. (They do.)

Popsicles.

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Last week the heat was surprisingly tenacious here in BC. My kids and I gathered on a beach towel in our backyard after they had jumped in their kiddie pool for the 76th time. I brought out popsicles for them and smiled as they dripped gleefully all over themselves, reminded that even though 2020 has been so strange and hard – they’ve had a pretty great summer. (Granted, life is easier at 2 and 4 years old.)

I drew this, trying to capture that moment. It took some tries and erasing of many layers and perseverance to get this out of my head properly. It’s not exactly what I envisioned, but it will do. 🙂 ❤

Getting unstuck.

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The manuscript for my YA memoir, “Still Stace” is DONE. I can’t believe the metamorphosis this story has undergone since my very first pitch (and I am so grateful for my editor!)

The version I originally pitched in Feb 2019 (which got me my agent) was about 1200 words. I envisioned it as a picture book. Now, as a YA illustrated memoir, it’s over 43,000 words! I never planned to write so much, or so honestly, about reconciling my sexuality and my faith – but I am so grateful for this opportunity.

Now that the writing is done, the hard part begins. THE. DRAWING. It’s one thing to write about tough and vulnerable experiences – now I gotta draw them. This weekend I sat down to start my roughs for the first chapters, and felt the familiar spiral of doubt hit me. How can I do this? Am I good enough to do this? …I can’t do this.

I got stuck. This happens to me when I am working on something I feel a lot of importance behind. The only recipe that works to get unstuck, is:

1 – get outside, preferably on my bike, stare at the mountains, sweat, lip sync some amazing music

2 – come home and create a piece of art with no expectations or judgement

Here’s what I created to get unstuck. And it worked – I drew most of yesterday and got the first section of roughs done! (Sometimes it’s a combination of letting go, and just being kinder with ourselves.)

This is my fav street in Maple Ridge to bike down, and I loved how the late summer evening light was hitting these trees. I had to draw it. 🙂

This series of images came from listening to the lyrics of  “Be Alright” by @dantebowe and @amandalindseycook. I have found great encouragement from it, I hope you connect with it too!

It’s complicated.

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I almost didn’t post this.

But I’m 40 now, so screw it, I’m not editing myself anymore!

I wrote this after a recent visit with my parents. (I hid this from them  on social media. Because I do love them and don’t want to hurt them. But being honest about hard things is important.)

This is for every queer person who still has unaffirming people in their life who love them. It’s so hard. I hear you, I love you, you aren’t alone.

It’s so complicated.

complicated

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 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”