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.
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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.
My most visceral aches.
My wildest dreams.
My tender hopes.
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. ❤️🌈 🚲
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.
Gold Creek, Golden Ears Provincial Park – a fav hiking spot, and a location used often for filming shows & commercials.
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!
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!
Back in September, my wife Tams was out with our kids on a couple different occasions, and total strangers made very angry & unkind comments. One was from a lady angry she would bring a stroller into a store, and the second was after Hudson made an excited scream in a coffee shop. (Also, he’s not two yet, and very excited about life.)
I was frustrated these happened, within a week of each other, as this has been a totally exhausting and lonely stage of parenting – especially for Tams, when I am away working. So I wrote this post below as a response, on social media. It got picked up by the local news, which I will link at the bottom. (If you read the comments, many people missed the point of why I wrote this… but I guess it’s not for them, then.)
There are no perfect kids, there are no perfect parents and there are no perfect people. But there is always room to exercise empathy and be a bit more kind with each other. Let’s try.
Mr. Rogers said, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
I’m wondering today, can we do one better? Instead of just looking for the helpers, can we BE THE HELPERS?
Most of you read about @tamschomiak recent run-in with the random people in the local coffee shop, asking why she would bring our (loud) kids in there. It was really upsetting.
Today she was in a thrift shop with the kids and another random lady said “Why the hell would you come in here with that g*d awful stroller and two kids?” & gave Tams the most angry look. Sigh.
Friends, we can do better. We are all a little (lot) tired and sad and maybe just plain angry with the state of the world right now.
BUT WE CAN DO BETTER.
My warrior of a wife just wanted to take our kids on an outing, which in itself is NO SMALL FEAT just to get out the door, let me tell you. Like SO MANY parents out there, she’s constantly exhausted, she’s emotionally depleted, she’s feeling weary in the thick fog of parenting two young, bright, healthy, loud, enthusiastic, boisterous toddlers. She often has to manage things on her own, so I can focus on the projects I’m juggling, and she flipping rocks that job better than any Mama I know. But frankly, this has been a really tough season of life for us both.
Comments like these, they are so discouraging. Sometimes it only takes a mildly annoyed comment to plummet someone into depression, or just plain ruin the rest of their day. Don’t be the straw that breaks someone’s back. I refuse to be.
Waiting for your coffee, passing people on the street, around your co-workers… just do better. Smile more. Encourage people. Say thank you & mean it. Ask people how they are. Be gentler with each other, you don’t know what hurt may be hiding beneath the surface. Decide to care, just a little, about people your energy interacts with from day to day. Every interaction, big or small, makes a difference. EVERY ONE.
The only way this world will get better is if WE DECIDE TO BE BETTER.
And if you think of it, send a thumbs up to my wife to remind her she’s a freaking rockstar. ❤️
— with Tammy Chomiak.
Since I have been home taking care of Robson the last few months, AND trying to keep up with my full-time gig – doing any additional sketching seems like a pipe dream! BUT… once in a while, I am able to carve out a precious hour or two to do some art for myself.
Here are a few I have done so far:
Robson in the Woods admiring the trees as she does on our daily walks. 🙂 [digital]
Robson running around with multiple sweaters all day. Sometimes she wears 3 at a time. 🙂 [digital]
Robson and I go to the same park almost every day near our house. I love looking at this massive tree that reminds me of a mysterious cave. I finally drew it from memory. 🙂 [digital]
Hello my little one…. it’s me.
[We will teach you about Adele when you grow up a bit!]
I can’t even believe you are already 28 weeks along, and growing so strong inside of Mama’s belly. Wow, you are doing so great little bean!
First let me thank you for a precious gift you have already given me. [Truthfully I think you and God were in on it together.] A few weeks ago, your Mama and I were putting the Christmas tree up, and decorating it with all of our ornaments. Your Mama said she felt you moving around inside, and to come and see if I could feel anything on the outside. I hadn’t yet. I put my hand on her belly, and we waited there for a minute, in the silence of the twinkling lights from the Christmas tree.
All of a sudden we both felt a huge BOOM from inside – a direct hit to the palm of my hand, and my heart skipped a beat! I heard you, little one! Blinking back tears, I realized how real this journey is. This is happening – you are coming into our lives, a kicking, screaming, laughing, thoughtful little being. You, my little girl, are my miracle. I already thank God daily for your existence; for being allowed to witness this sort of love in my life. I am in awe.
Now, little bean, I have been thinking about something else I wanted to share with you.
As you will learn, there are many different types of families. Some families just have a Mommy. Some families just have a Daddy. Some have two Mommies or two Daddies. Some are raised by a grandparent or an aunt. Some – maybe most – will have a Mommy and a Daddy. The love is still the same, my sweet one.
I grew up with a Mommy and a Daddy. I was very lucky that they were [and are] both around for my whole life, spoiling me and loving me as I grew up. And if I am being honest, I was definitely a Daddy’s girl. My Daddy is very generous, very funny, and one of the true heroes in my life. I know I can always count on him to be there, fix anything, or make me laugh. I have always thought, even as I am now a grown-up, that I have the best Dad. (He will be the best Grandpa to you, I know it. 🙂
And as you get bigger and bigger in Mama’s belly, I realize that you will never say those words: I love you, Daddy.
My Evangelical Christian upbringing wants me to feel guilty about that. I want to say that I am sorry that I have chosen a “lifestyle” that omits a Daddy from your life. And I admit that it was one of the fears I had when I was struggling with becoming a Mama myself. How can I withhold anything from an innocent child?
But, my Sweetheart, I won’t apologize. Because I have chosen love, and love is something we never apologize for. My heart is too full of peace and gratefulness to be sorry, little one. No, you won’t have a Daddy in the traditional sense. You will have two Mommies instead. Two Mommies that already love you so entirely, it is hard to properly put it into words. So we will show you. We will show you with every hug, with every tear we wipe away, with every cuddle, with every crust we cut off your bread, and with every moment of sleep we lose when you cry or are sick. You will be so absolutely loved.
I believe to the depths of my soul, that this is the path God has chosen that has led you into this world. I believe that God knows what He is doing, and He isn’t scared that you will be coming into a family “without a Daddy” – but that was His plan. God does not make mistakes – He makes miracles.
So maybe one day you will be with your friends and they will be talking about their Daddies, and it will hit you: I don’t have one. And maybe you will wonder why. And I hope you will come to us with all of these questions, and more. And above all, I hope that your heart and soul is just so surrounded with love that you won’t feel like you are missing anything – but have everything you need. That is my prayer for you, little one.
We are counting down the days until we can stare into your beautiful little face. 🙂
My dear sweet little bean,
You don’t know it yet, but you are so entirely loved.
These past few weeks, the word miracle has taken shape inside of your Mama, and I have had the honor of having a front row seat to the unfolding of it all.
Let me tell you a little bit about how you got here. After all, your Mommies are a bit older and bound to forget some of the details one day.
My sweet little one, this road to bring you into our lives has not been the easiest, nor the most traditional. But as you will find in life, some of the most incredible things in life require the roughest road to getting there.
Your Mama and I went to a fertility clinic and tried six times to bring you into our lives. Each time, we were hopeful and our hearts filled with visions and dreams of what could be… until we heard “Sorry, not this time.” Little one, we shed many tears wondering why we had to wait, and what we were doing wrong. I have to be honest that my heart started to wonder if you would ever come into our lives.
We decided to try a very complicated process called Invitro Fertilization, or IVF, for our seventh – and final – try. [Maybe I will draw a story to explain how it works for you one day!] Your Mama gave herself many needles of medicine for many days, had two procedures, and then we waited and we prayed.
Photo of two fertilized embryos implanted on July 26, 2015: [the day after my birthday :D]
The day we were to find out if you were going to begin your journey to us, your Mama and I met over lunch time when we were both at work. We pulled over to the side of the road, and in the car we called the clinic and held our breath. When we heard those words: “You are pregnant!” – well my sweet child… that was the moment that our hearts burst with a joy I cannot properly put into words. Those tears were oh, so very sweet. And without the lows of the six no’s, the high of this seventh yes would be so much less sweet. And for that, little one, we are so grateful.
On this Thanksgiving weekend, we reflect on this season of waiting. It has brought your Mama and I closer together, and forced us to trust that the God we believe in, has it all under control, despite what we can see or feel. He has been so faithful to us through each step of this process. So in the end, we are thankful for this season of waiting, and for the tough lessons our hearts have learned. What a gift it has turned out to be – the slow and hard waiting, in this world of rushing from point A to point B. We are so thankful, knowing that the waiting will allow us to cherish your arrival that much more. For how can we enjoy the mountaintops without the valleys?
Your Mama and I have been together for many years, and we love each other so much. You will soon find out how incredible she is – she gives the best warm hugs, she cooks the most yummy meals, she will laugh at silly things with you, and she will have a calm wisdom for you when you don’t know if things will be okay. You will be so proud to share some of her genes, and I can’t wait to see how your little face bears an adorable resemblance to hers.
Your Mama, not me, is the one who is carrying you in her tummy right now. But my child, I am carrying you just as gently in my heart until we get to hold you in our arms. We just can’t wait to hold you, dance with you, stay up nights with you, pray for you, wipe the tears away and laugh alongside you.
My precious little bean, you should know that some people have their own opinion about the love your two mommies share. But my sweetheart, the world is sometimes scared of things that are different. I believe that the God who is knitting you together in Mama’s womb right now, is the same God who holds us together, and has blessed the life we have led together so far. We have made mistakes, but we have tried to love, and love well – and we believe that is the most important thing. The love we share is so ready and waiting for you. And through the years of loving each other, maybe we can all show the world that love is love, and family is family, no matter what it looks like.
Maybe you won’t remember, but I have been dancing with you already. I put my hand on Mama’s belly and then I may or may not listen to the latest Justin Bieber song and dance. I am sure one day you will put music on that I don’t understand, but I promise to dance with you anyway.
I pray that you will know what true compassion is, that you would see someone and not question whether or not to help. I hope that you will lead the sort of life who idolizes the Malalas, and not the Kardashians. I hope that you awake each day with a sense of hope and wonder, and embrace beauty in all things. I pray that we can share with you how love can heal, how forgiveness is powerful, how grace should always be the goal, and how to live a life that puts love first.
I know the label Christian is a scary one sometimes, but believe it or not, your Mommies still hold onto that label. Yes, we have been hurt and misunderstood by a lot of people who bear that label, but please keep in mind my little bean, that where the Kim Davis’ of the world exist, there are also the Mother Teresa’s. We have been hurt my little one, but we have also been loved so very well. We can’t wait to share with you why our faith is so important to us, and to see where your journey of life and discovery takes you.
We are trying to be patient these last few months… but we just can’t wait to meet you, Baby Chomiak.
Until then, my little one, keep growing strong.
6 week ultrasound:
8 week ultrasound:
13 week ultrasound: [Oct 2015, already sucking his/her thumb]