31 May 2016

Day 20: On Writing into the Abyss

Have you ever just wanted to do things the easy way instead? Me too, dude. Like, pretty freakin' badly.

The thing about writing this much all the time is that I don't always wanna do it.

SHOCK! HORROR! I don't always wanna write?! Say it ain't so!

Sorry, homes...

And, to be honest, it's not because I'm tired and I have a tiny family (although one could argue that those are pretty legitimate reasons).

The reason I don't wanna write is because I'm afraid it won't be any good.

Sometimes I don't wanna put in the effort of writing for an audience that may not even give any shits about what I'm putting out here. With the limited amount of resources of time and energy that my life is allotting me, would you write into the abyss if you were me?

The answer: We should. We totally f*ckin' should, dude!

Because, if we're doing it right, we're not writing for the abyss. We are writing for ourselves.

Write to put down words.

Write to speak your truth.

Write because you have no choice, but to let your words fly out of your body and into the world.

I've got to remind myself that writing is a chore I asked for. And really, I love it.

Sometimes there will be an echo back from the abyss and I'm really grateful for that.

Maybe there were more echoes that got lost somehow. Who knows? And if something I wrote resonated with something in you, I'm happy.

But in the meantime...

I'm going to find a way to do this, especially when it's not easy.

Whatever your choice of creative release may be, I hope you find ways to send it into the abyss as well.

May we all be surprised with what returns someday...

- Steph

30 May 2016

Day 19: Decorating my Creative Space with Inspirational Reminders

I thrive in space filled with organized chaos - it's the only way I can feel comfortable creating new awesomeness.

In the back room of a thrift store almost a year ago, I found a sewing machine. It was mint and cream colored and the wood was light and scratched up. Some drawers opened and were filled with even more treasures. Other drawers were missing handles; their treasures would be revealed later on.

Like any hipster looking to furnish their new space, I ran to it, claimed it by leaning on it (after taking pictures of course) and excitedly texted Roger. He needed to come now - I'd found the most perfect desk in the universe and it had to be mine this second. Nay - 30 seconds ago! 

I'm sure he rolled his eyes as he drove over to arrange the purchase. 
I was too busy clapping my hands, bouncing up and down, grinning ear to ear... 
you know how I get.

Then it sat in our living room for a year. We tried to make it desk-y, but failed over and over again. Mainly it just collected mail and dust.

Then today I noticed I hadn't done any real work all weekend. I turned to Roger and asked him to clear off my desk.

I got a face that was less than enthusiastic, but he lovingly obliged. 

We put away various pieces of crap from the last year and I got to decorating my creative space.

There's a tiny window I can look out where all I can see are leaves waving in the wind. Seriously - I don't even enjoy nature, but this is bloody gorgeous.

Sunlight through moving leaves with tiny birds flitting in and out of view seems something straight up outta Disney, yo! Nevermind the f*ckin' scampering squirrels! *dies of cute*

Little tokens of inspiration displayed on my window sill:
(right to left)
My lil Clyde, randomly thrifted chipmunk, Apple Hi-Chew from my bishop,
tiny vase with fake sakura blossoms, Ferdy the Felted Fox by Katy Kristin

The window sill proudly displays why I'm even creating. Clyde the Orange PacMan Ghost was one of the first things I've made and will be the first nerd JERK Crochet Pattern I debut in June. I know some of you are pretty excited for this. It's gonna be a minute (probably the end of June), but it's happening, dagnabbit! 

I gave Clyde as a gift to my autobio comic hero, Jeffrey Brown, back in 2009 at a comic convention for his son. I also left him my first comic book, Harry the Hipster Busts a Nut, to check out. I asked him to let me know what he thought of it, mainly because I didn't have much confidence in a comic I'd done in 24 hours. But he was gracious and wrote me a thank you card with a sketch of him and his son playing with my toy, which his son affectionately named "Orange Face." 

As my renewed entrepreneurial hustle is due to my own tiny son, Ellie, I wanted to look at "Orange Face" so he could remind me that when Ellie grows up looking at this in my space, there will be a meaningful story to go along with it.

The thrifted chipmunk is of no consequence. ;D I've just always felt he ought to be on my window sill, begging to go play with those other squirrely mo-fos.

The Hi-Chew is kind of a big deal. For those of you who know-know me, you know I'm LDS. Lately, I haven't been the best representation of a traditional Mormon. In fact, it has been said that I'm a bit of an "Oxy-Momon." I totes own that - I've never been traditional in anything I've done. But I also think that gives me some unique perspective in my beliefs. Something that LDS folks really like to focus on is service to others. My bishop gave me his favourite Hi-Chew to let me know he loves me and believes in me. I was super hungry, but I didn't eat it.

I kept that candy as a reminder that no matter how hard it gets and how much I f*ck up,
I still have someone who loves me.

Ferdy the Felted Fox was made for me as a gift from my good friend, Katy Kristin. I've always admired her art (even before I'd known who she was. She draws all the hand-painted signs back home at the Westlake Trader Joe's) and just worshipped the way she captured cute. So when she made me a bright red fox with a tiny mint collar complete with a teeny jingle bell, I just about bawled my eyes out. 

I have community of lovely supportive humans who want me to succeed.
This book is also for them.

This Book Nook is filled with stuff I love...
My tiny house is basically all cooking stuff and books. Any wall that has space for a shelf is taken up by a shelf & filled to the brim with old friends. Over the last year, I've organized the shelf immediately to my left with my very most favourite books (a separate blog post all on its own), but it seemed only fair to have a reference section on the desk for cool shit I would need to look at over and over.

When I saw Real Artists Have Day Jobs by Sara Benincasa on the shelf at Rediscovered Books (click link for Staff Picks) in Downtown Boise, I just about whizzed myself. 

The struggle of combining the 9-5 with creative business-ing is f*ckin' real, my blog-bros.

While I've only thumbed through and read random snippets, it's hilarious and perfect for my specific set of circumstances. Chin up, mon'amie - we can make things happen slowly, but awesomely. ;)

I already talked about how f*ckin amazeballs Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert is in a previous post. I won't prattle on much more - except to say it gets even better and makes me wanna be a better human.

When I was in the middle of a consultation with my new client, Rochelle Cunningham, I was checkin' out her amazing little house. One of the things she had on her desk was "The Writer's Handbook." When I picked up her self-published paperback & started flipping through, I found several quotes that spoke to me. I had no idea it was a book full of daily inspiration for writers of all levels. THAT'S the kind of thing my mom would love... so now I love it.

Here were a few that jumped out to me:

"In writing, you must kill all you darlings." - William Faulkner

"Stories may well be lies, but they are good lies that say true things, and which can sometimes pay rent." - Neil Gaiman

"Writer's block is a fancy term made up by whiners so they have an excuse to drink alcohol." - Steve Martin

AND MY FAVOURITE (not only cos I'm a geek, but cos I'm emo-ish):

"Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke!" - Joss Whedon

Working happily in my cozy corner of cuteness...
Then there's Austin Kleon's Steal Like an Artist (cos what creative human's desk is complete without that?!) and a thesaurus-rex so I don't bore you with the same words over and over.

Yes - I'm aware that thesaurus.com exists. But perhaps you didn't notice the Polaroid camera post-it dispenser? Maybe you're not familiar with my obsession for ancient "tech"... so I'm not gonna judge. But seriously - you started it.


I've also got my cute felt coaster from my sister from another mister, Rebecca Saylor, so I don't cause any additional damage to this poor ol' machine's surface and some tiny coloured pencils with trendy AF shades. It's a good time.

As you can see, I'm happy here. Like, SUPER happy in this tiny place. Surrounding myself with meaningful awesomeness actually made me work for the last 3 hours without complaining (which is almost unheard of)! 

More writing, more researching, more exciting/relaxing time ahead!

Love and hugs, home skillets.

- Steph

29 May 2016

Day 18: A poem I wrote called "Bruce Wayne: A Performance Review"

Remember how I said I'd never share any of my poetry?


I had brunch with my friend, Amanda Ranth, and we were discussing why we write poetry: to express ourselves. I was telling her about how normally my poetry comes from this deep, sad, twisty place of longing and that's why I don't share my work publicly.

But then I remembered going to a MeetUp group called "Poetry in the City of Trees" for #NaPoWriMo in April and using writing prompts for the first time. I started to tell her about this silly one I had written. 

"Dude," she smiled, "You need to POST that SHIT!" What can I say? The lady's got a point!

Writing Prompt 2: Write a poem about a superhero coming to your house and confronting you about something. Somewhere in the poem, you have to state what your superpower is.

"Bruce Wayne: A Performance Review"
by Steph Cortes

Somewhere on the ledge of the roof of my mind palace, there is Batman.
He moves through my dark yet illustrious city of shadows with nimble and ept precision
as if he's been there too long.

He appears at random, as a dark knight does
to bring to my attention the turn my Gotham-y mind has taken.

"It's far worse than it ever was," he rasps,
not quite a growl, but not far removed.
"No one should be expected to contain 
the havoc of this many villains!
Not even with my freelance vigilante brigade!"

The more he waxes on, the hoarser he rumbles,
the less patience I have.
No longer tolerating his nonsense, I turn toward him.

"You were brought in to protect, Wayne," I start,
my knuckle whitening, readying for battle.
"Are you not up to the task the headhunter
promised you were sooo qualified to accomplish?"

His mask hid his raised brow, but the micro-gesture of a lax jaw have him away.
Having pierced through his expensive armor, I went on:

"If I must, I can tell you in which order to 
bring each issue 'to justice'," I mocked his voice...
"As I know you won't kill them per your contract."

Smirking, I grabbed my phone to compile a list in a text.
"But make no mistake: if I have to use my deductive powers again to do your job for you,
I'm going with Joker."

- 2:54 PM
3 April 2016
depression/tackling issues

28 May 2016

Day 17: The Weird Living Arrangement with Fear, Desire & Success

In creating art, there seems to be this constant battle. Between what? - It could be whatever demons you choose, mon'amie.

For me, I've got a couple of monsters dukin' it out like that Imagine Dragons video

For those of you who haven't seen this amazing video (or don't click links, cos - duh DISTRACTION!), here's how it goes:

  • Illegal stuffed animal fights ref'd by maniacal Lou Diamond Phillips 
  • Bad ass chick brings her pink bear into the ring
  • Shit goes DOWN!!!

I'll just leave this riiiiiiiiight here...

So, I believe that as creative humans, we all kinda have this kind of a fight going on in our souls. Some good things trying to get out, some fear or doubt trying to keep us down. Some outside force seems to determine whether or not we succeed in the end.

My particular monsters are Fear & Desire. Both of them are scared of Lou Diamond Phillips (who plays the role of Success in my movie theater). Sadly, they all have to live in the same tiny apartment of my brain.

They're not into each other. It's like a Criagslist rental went horribly awry, but they're stuck in their lease until their landlord evicts them. But that greedy landlord don't give no shits.

Okay - that's getting a little dark, but "bear" with me...

Fear is really into controlling Desire. Like, obsessively so. He should probably get some treatment, but no one's really called him on it yet, so he's just gonna go with it.

Desire is a bad ass in her own right. She's determined to get the f*ck out of this shithole and is gonna do everything to make that happen. Or that's what she tells herself every time her eyes get all fiery and stoked.

But Fear knows her buttons intimately. He'll remind her of all the times her will wasn't enough to make things happen - because, y'know - life!

At what point does Desire make it happen? When does she go to Success and let him know she's gonna get her own apartment? He'd be into it - more money for him...

I don't know. But I suppose it starts with a conversation with ourselves.

The bigger the payoff, the more we're driven, right?

Or are we f*ckin' paralyzed at all the possibilities?

I'm currently staring a big pile of Success in the face. It's incredible and, frankly, against all odds of actually becoming completely realized. But there's no chance of realization without goin' for it, right?

But my feet won't move.
I open my mouth and words don't come out.
I stare at screens and hope 
something brilliant appears.

The only actual work I've done is transferred my book outline to index cards so I can get all crazy pants with it when I went to Shut Up & Write this week (which kicked MUCH ass as almost everybody was brand new)!

This Saturday morning's Shut Up & WRITE! Crew at the Roastere:
Not Pictured: Nick Szafranski & myself.

But it was something, right? There were a couple of steps taken in the right direction.

I suppose my wish for all of us is to be able to occasionally kick Fear in the balls and go get a room of our own. Then we can decorate that room and fill it with everything that makes us wanna create awesomeness.

Sure, that Fear-f*cker can come a-knockin'... but nobody's gotta answer.

- Steph

27 May 2016

Day 16: Mentors - Someone to Look Up To & Tell You "You Don't Suck!"

Greg Daniels yammering on about something super profound and Mindy Kaling hanging onto her mentor's wise words.

When you're in the throes of doing a bunch of scary things at once, your mind goes nuts with self doubt. This single sentence pretty much sums up my week. In the middle of that, all I needed was someone to look up to and tell me: 

"You don't suck. You're amazing and here's why..."

This is why mentors kick ass. 

One of my personal heroes (and, in my mind, future bestie), Mindy Kaling also has one such mentor. His name is Greg Daniels and they worked together on "The Office." She asked him to write a few words on what it means to be a mentor for her book, Why Not Me?, and he did.

In his essay for Mindy, one of my favorite tips Greg Daniels gave was how to approach getting a mentor. Insider info from the creator of the American version of "The Office" on how to succeed when I'm trying to break into writing? SIGN ME UP! He said:

"I have had the benefit of a lot of great mentors... I know a lot of people are probably thinking, good for you, but nobody has ever wanted to be my mentor. You take your mentoring where you can find it, even if it is not being offered to you.

"Have you ever used your neighbor's Wi-Fi when it wasn't on a password? If you have the opportunity to observe someone at work, you are getting mentoring out of them, even if they are unaware or resistant. 

"Make a list of people you think would make the greatest mentors and try to get close enough to steal their Wi-Fi."

I've been listening to Why Not Me? on Audible and I love how Mindy talks about Greg. I also love how Greg talks about Mindy. There's this level of mutual admiration that you can feel; this admiration is where the magic happens.

After a day filled with tiny panic
attacks, this was my face post-
nacho lunch with Liks.
Having come from a less than ideal childhood, I can vouch for the importance of having people around you who are looking out for your best interests, especially those pesky magical ones.

I've been blessed with more than a few people in my life that seem to take this role on willingly (why? I may never truly know). 

One of those people is my editor, Greg Likins.

The fact that anybody I just happened to meet at work wouldn't mind talking to me about his cool skills still kind of baffles me. But suddenly, there I was, talking about some amazing shit. And  in the middle of all that amazingness, I found out we have lots in common, but we're just on different levels on the ladder to where we wanna be.

That happens to be a great place to be when you're lookin' to up your game in huge and scary ways. And it seems that successful mentor-ships have a pretty decent amount of give & take.

This is how I imagine mentorship usually goes:
  • Meet a human
  • See other human struggle with something you've been through
  • Help other human
  • Get surprised when other human wants to help you, too

So when I was freaking out this last week, Liks calmed me down. He talked me through the things rationally, we brainstormed some idea for my book outline and came out with a solid focus. And it's usually pretty hard to get me to focus, so that's another skill he can add to the list.

Greg Likins Editor
Books on the brain? Always.
I hope that one day, when Mindy & I are downing a bag of chicharrones and gulping Diet Pepsi's on her couch, we'll both bring up something we have in common: We have mentors we look up to named Greg.

"The Gregs" (cos we're totally call them!) are crazy selfless humans who don't know how helpful they are when they encourage us to be ourselves.

"The Mindys" (yeah - I'd be open to changing my first name, if that's what it was down to) wouldn't be half as dialed in were it not for The Gregs knowing how to assist us without hindering us.

The benefit of the balance between a dose of reality whilst dreaming
is unparalleled... that is, if you're open to it.

Being able to take feedback well and really consider what your mentor is saying can be the key to whether or not they continue to put forth the energy in being your mentor. It's hard work, yo!

I hope to surprise Liks by introducing him to people who need someone with his particular skill set: thoughtful editing with an emphasis on encouragement.

May we all aim to be mentors with that kind of focus, especially when we don't realize our Wi-Fi is being tapped.

Love & junk,

- Steph 

26 May 2016

Day 15: This is my Excited Face!

Ha! I did the things and it wasn't a big deal. Well, it WAS, but I won't find out how big of a deal until I get my writing brutally pulled apart by new author friend.

I'm not sure if it's masochistic of me to look forward to this. I just know that after late nights, early mornings and hurried lunches, this was even better than the best I could do.

Writing a big book outline was the biggest thing I've done in my short writing career. 

I turned it into three editor friends and the first review is great.

  • I trust Liks when he says it's great because he's seen my shit writing & gives me helpful notes. I've also been kindly ordered to start writing chapters.
  • I trust what Mere says when she reads it because she was a more successful business owner than me and she will always call me on my bullshit. Her notes so far were awesome, but I asked her to tell me what's bad.
  • I will trust what Amanda says because she has not steered me wrong yet. And she laughs at my jokes. That part is kinda important for me. She also happen to know her shit.

So, you guys - wow. I'm kind of excited. 

You may not be able to tell, but this is a pretty big deal for me. 

Day 14: Emo to Awesome? On the Self Confidence Cycle of an Artist

Old comic I drew to keep myself out of the fridge
titled "Are Your Emo Eating?" - 2009
And from the emo ashes of yesterday, a hot zombie babe arises!


If you're planning of following this blog for a little bit, you'll probably have to come to terms with the highs and lows of my self-confidence. Luckily, this might be similar to the highs and lows YOU may feel as an artist.

Funny how that works, right?

Just because I've been successful before doesn't mean that I know every single trick in the book. Don't get me wrong: I know HELLLLLLLA tricks! But I'm also constantly learning about new ones, and if I find helpful ones, in trying to master the use of those new tools.

When we're taking the time to learn something, it means we're investing time we'd normally put toward actually accomplishing our usual tasks. And sometimes when we're not producing what our memory has told us is the norm, we feel lame.

Well, *I* feel lame.

It's not because we're not doing work (though that time watching "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" while scarfing down ham & swiss probably could've been spent more productively), but because we don't live up to previous expectations.

That's where that intrigue I was talking about comes in.

I often want things to work out a certain way. My challenge has been accepting when they don't gracefully, recalibrating accordingly by managing my silly expectations and shooting for NEW stars!

My self-confidence is shot down continually & I'm usually the one holding the smoking gun. Whoops.

LESSON: We will all feel shitty at times. If at all possible, it'd be great if we were 
able to pick ourselves up, shake ourselves off and get moving on the next time.

Not every dream is realized, but it's better to dream than to wallow in self doubt.

- Steph

24 May 2016

Day 13: On Intrigue

A day spent in panic is a day full of wasted energy. And, apparently, I'm a fan of wasting ALL the energy.

It's just so much easier to run around in circles than to do ALL the things. It's so much easier to dream than to realize those dreams. It's almost as if the dream is better than the reality.

Yes - I'm being vague.

And yeah, I'm kinda doing it on purpose.

I was listening to Mindy Kaling's Why Not Me? and she said something that really struck me, both professionally and personally.

"Why was I even entertaining this? I don't know why exactly.
Maybe because, well, in spite of everything, I was still intrigued by [...].
I'm not proud of it and it's a little embarrassing to say, but sometimes you like the idea of someone [or something] so much, you just wanna do whatever it takes to make it work."

There are lots of things that intrigue me. I'm pretty much a giant sufferer of "OOH SHINY/ SQUIRREL!" syndrome. 

Oh - you haven't heard of it? Let's probably because you're a healthy, relatively normal, functioning human adult. Congratulations for learning how to focus. Can we get back to me now?

#RealTalk: There's a time & place for intrigue, dudes. There's also a place for reality.

Make sure your intrigue is in line with where you wanna go. And if it isn't, don't try to hard too make it work.

"Whatever it takes" isn't necessary when you've been told a million times by the universe (and those who care about you) that you're wasting your time.

This has been an insightful bummer message by yours truly,

- Steph

23 May 2016

Day 12: Five Lessons I've Learned from Writing Everyday

Back when I was young & creative, I used to constantly sketch.
Picture by Mark Congdon
(I think? Or whoever I was dating at the time)

When you've tasked yourself to write everyday, you quickly learn what your limitations are:

1. I am not good at schedules or deadlines because I am better at triaging situations that need my attention

Whether it's a client who needs input for her first craft fair or taking a night off to recharge, some things take precedence over writing words on time.

2. Even if I missed the deadline, I'll write the f*ckin' words anyway!

I'm super awesome at getting down on myself when I don't meet an arbitrary goal I've set.
I'm sure some of you are, too.

I suppose I'm feel rather enthusiastic lately!

Custom Elliott Smith shirt by my hubs.
We're thinkin' of sellin' em...

Email me if you want one!

One thing I really took away from podcast Episode 101 of "Explore Your Enthusiasm" with Tara Swiger was the actions we take after we don't meet our goals matter just as much, if not MORE, than meeting them in the first place. She breaks down a bunch of reasons why we may not have met our goals and ways to execute them anyway. (If you wanna listen, click here. There's also a free goal worksheet!)

When I walked around the neighborhood at night listening to that episode, I decided that goals are markers we want to reach. But without doing the work (if we just give up), we'll never get any closer.

So now I just write the damn words!

3. I have nuggets of wisdom in all of this profanity & people enjoy it.

The thing I'm hearing most in the feedback from this project so far is "I had no idea you were so funny!"

*dead pan stare*

... seriously, guys?

... like, seriously?

Ugh. Apparently, I need to talk to you more.

4. I need to work on my "22 minute episode" format.

The thing about slice of life posts is that it needs a beginning, a middle and an end with a moral or lesson. It's the reason sitcoms are so popular: they tackle an issue while telling funny stories that get resolved in 22 minutes.

If you couldn't tell, I'm not concise. I effing SUCK at getting to the point. I need pointers on getting point-y. Help?

5. It's not as hard as I thought. But I don't consider myself a blogger.

My friend, Andie, introduced me to another writer (professional columnist extraordinaire, Minerva Jayne) as a blogger. And while I do BLOG, I know being a blogger is a lot more work than just putting words on the Internet.

I still consider myself a quirky writer. Thoughts?!

I'm open to hearing what you think, internet.

If you're out there : WHAT SAY YOU?!?

Day 11: Calling my Dead Grandmother

This is not something I talk about a lot because, like with most things that are deeply personal, it hurts.

When I talk about my grandmother, I have to quantify it with "Y'know, the live one." My maternal grandmother, Lila, is a wonderful human who I've started becoming closer with over the last coupe of years and I'm really grateful for that.

But she's not the one I think of when I say "Abuelita" and even if it's a little unfair, she never will be.

For those of you who need the Cliff Notes, I was a caregiver to my paternal grandparents for 16 years (half of my life). It was hard at times, trying to navigate end of life care without having learn how to start my own, however, it was worth it. 

I learned very valuable lessons from Lito (my grandfather, Marco, who passed in 2007) and Lita (my soulmate/grandmother who passed in 2015). They always believed in me, had great sense of humor and knew when to call bullshit. These are traits I try to make sure I keep in the family for years to come. *smiles*

Like with all family that you're close with, you occasionally have something come up when all you want to do is pick up the phone.

Yesterday was one of those occasions.

Roger and I were babbling with Elliott like we do (family discussions are real with nearly 6 month olds, you guys) and he made this face that was awesome.

"Dang, I wish I should probably call Abuelita to thank her for the gift," I trailed off, recalling another thing on a endless to-do list. As an afterthought which also serves as a coping mechanism, I added, "Y'know, the live one."

"Ugh, why do you always do that?!" Roger spit out. "Everyone knows who you mean."

I sat there for a minute and just stared at Ellie. "I know you know, but it's something I keep having to remind myself of. I'd give anything to call Lita up and hear her voice go 'EH!' or laugh or get excited about how big Ellio (cos that's totally how'd she'd say it) has gotten lately."

And Roger knew exactly what I meant.

Our eyes started to tear up. Roger's eyes only do that about once a year, so it was a big moment for him.

Roger adored Lita. They hardly spoke to one another because of the language barrier, but they cared for each other. Roger made sure he could help her whenever he could. He was so sweet to someone he wasn't even related to. And he found it really hard when she had to be admitted to the hospital in the end.

So we both thought of what Lita would think of Ellie. We both think about the laughs they'd share. We both picture the purest expression of sheer happiness on her face when she would see him smile at her. 

Because he would (and probably does).

"Well, at least now I don't have to pick up a phone to call her," I concede. "I just can't hear her on the other end of the line."

We both stare at our son and a seat next to him. 

I envision Lita without any pain, leaning down and making faces at him, her long beautiful nails tickling his toes... 

... and then he started giggling. 


Well timed, son.

With a small sad smile on my face, I looked over at the chair and whispered, "Te quiero mucho, mucho, como calucho, chiquita."*

Roger leaned over to lock eyes with the baby and cooed, "Ellio! Ellllllioooo! En que quedamos? Me quieres o no me quieres?"**

Even though we couldn't hear her on the other end of the line, the family felt complete for an instant. And that's all you really need, right?

May you all enjoy those who make you feel complete a little extra today.

Love and junk,

- Steph

Day 10: Birthday Shenanigans with Andie

I think the good people of Boise may want to consult with Las Vegas on their new marketing campaign. 

"What happens in Boise stays between you and the trees"
strikes me as appropriate. 

After all, it was me, the trees and a WHOLE lot of fun this weekend and I wouldn't have traded it for the world. It was pretty much Andie's fault.

Recently I've had the fine pleasure of mixing it up with quite a few interestingly quirky individuals, but none quite as fine as Andie. This gal, ladies and gents, makes me feel young, wise and happy in many ways. Lady crush? Maybe. But really, I just adore her to pieces.

There's some kind of special magic that takes place when you happen upon another human that gets you. It's as if there's a spark that ignites deep within both of your souls and join attempt to join forces by constantly pulling your bodies toward one another.

If you're smart, you don't fight it. If you're less smart, you miss out on a lot of potential growth through varying levels of shenaniganizing. Luckily, Andie and I didn't miss a beat.

"Let me lure you into a wooded area
that may or may not change your life."
It's no secret that I've been walking a lot lately and so has Andie. She walks way more than I do and usually it's through varying degrees of nature.

[Footnote: For those of you who don't know me, you'll be mightily surprised to find out that I, a fat big city hipster transplanted into the desert climate Gem state, does not have a fondness for nature. I actually own a shirt that states "Nature Is The Worst!", words in the form of logs. I like to thing Ron Swanson would be appropriately pissed... but I digress.]

The more I heard about her walks, the more appealing they became. So I asked if I might accompany her on one someday. She agreed and so I decided to take her up on it. I'm really glad I did. On the first nearly 6 mile urban hike, it was harder for me to keep up (there's 10 dress sizes and at least 150 lbs difference between the two of us). But that didn't stop me from wanting to go again. 

This time around it was the day before my birthday. So Andie made sure it was extra special. She led me into the woods and showed me some cool spots to sit and reflect. We sat in the rain and watched ducks while waxing poetic on modern lady problems.

A fiery redhead and a silver streaked brunette
walk into the woods & decide to go squirrel hunting...
One of the things that my walks with Andie have taught me is that it's okay to just be who you are and take the time to enjoy yourself.

I have a tendency to take on a lot of projects and always plan on completing them all. I'm "blessed" with a need to make amazing things happen when I see the opportunity arise.

But while I'm planning & executing, I burn out from all the personal exertion. I tend to forget about my well-being in leiu of my perceptions of the greater good of the artistic community that surrounds me. This has been a blessing and a curse for me in the past. With the SF Etsy team (which my dear friend, Rebecca Saylor, is doing AMAZEBALL things with now) and my brand, nerd JERK

Hindsight is 20/20 and I can see myself starting to head down that burn out path again years later. It's a good thing I'm better at listening to my friends this time around.

Tiny enclove mural that's constantly changing by artist in
"Freak Alley" that's done in Sharpie. This was amazing to
look at and imagine how long it must have taken...
One of the various talents that Andie is gifted with is her discerning glare & penchant for giving tactful advice. I'm sure it's something she was born with, as she does it so well.

She can read me (even from the back of my head when we're at our desks at work) with a precision so sharp, it cuts through all the bull & walls I purposefully toss up to keep from getting too hurt these days when things don't work out like I'd hoped.

And because the back of my head seems too thoughtful and disappointed with my current progress into my personal creative endeavors, she suggested we go for a nature walk, followed by an art walk, followed by a comedy show hosted by Boise's coolest drag queen, Minerva Jayne, where we'd meet up with a rad pastry chef who made croissants for a living so that we could go hop to a bar tended by a spunky pig-tailed punk rock bad ass who's been slinging tasty shots for the past 35 years (note: She must've started at age 5)!

These shenanigans helped restore my deeply depleted creative reserves.

I got to take in some quality comedy, meet the comics after the show (even the lovely Minerva herself!) and forget my worries for a night as I took in a new city I'd been living in for over a year. 

It was glorious.

Something I think we can all take away from this: 

Give yourself a break to go out and do something you love with cool humans every once in a while.

Creative artists tend to have this need to go-go-GO full steam ahead in order to "make it big" out there in the art scene. And yes - that's usually how it works. But some kind of balance is needed. You can't be expected to perform tiny miraculous feats without some sort of power behind it.

Don't let your creative juice reserves depleted too deeply. It's the killer of all passion and what drives you to make things.

Speaking of which, I should probably makes things... ;)

- Steph

20 May 2016

Day 9: The Softer Side of Tyler or A Complete Lie

This is Tyler the Douchebro. He's my trainer and we've talked about how I don't really like him that much. This may be a gigantic understatement or it may be a lie. I can't figure out which...

I made the grave mistake of telling Tyler he's mildly internet famous.

I couldn't help it. I just wanted the chance to say "Douchebro" out loud. C'mon, you guys - can you imagine saying "DOUCHEBRO!" in the personal training room FULLLLLLL of douchebros?! 

It was too good an opportunity to pass up. So I took it. 

And then came the consequences.

Tyler was curious to read about what I had wrote. I warned him it was not good. 

"That can't be true. You LOOOOOVE me!"

Poor little naive Tyler-face. He had seemed to have forgotten that I am the only female on this planet on which his bro-charms have no effect. I have told him, "I always ask for the ugly, funny trainer. Then they gave me you. That's some fuckin' bullshit right there."

He's the "ugly, funny" trainer they gave me, with a girl cropped out of his photo. When I asked him for a pic to include in my redaction blog post and he texted me this, I told him it was ridiculously appropriate.

Anywho, back to the Softer Side of Tyler:

He read the post. I figured I had nothing to hide as I'd already posted it all over the interwebs. 

He laughed a lot throughout his 4 minutes of reading and then he gave me my phone back.

Tyler was mildly amused... but secretly full of vengeance.

How could a guy with this face make me suffer, you wonder? 

Easily - he's my personal trainer and I made the mistake of trusting him.

After being determined to "go HELLA HARD" every time just to prove his ass wrong, I decided to go along with almost anything he said.

Four sets of 45 squatting exercises later, when I could hardly wobble to get something to drink, I started to wonder what had happened.

He kept me entertained by talking our usual shit (though it was smattered with a few more encouraging comments this time around, which was very helpful) and I kept going. I was falling over and I kept going. I was feeling weird when I got up from squats and quite literally going balls to the wall (this one weighed 12 lbs and he's named after an ex).

The one thing Tyler does that ALWAYS makes me feel happy is saying "Mer!!"

When I'm about to give up, he'll start counting, "One, mer. TWO, mer. THREEEE, mer. Four, MER!"

I can't stop laughing.

So, well done, Tyler. Not only have you sought and reveled in your sweet, sweet vengeance - you've also won me over with a nerdy phrase.

Tyler - 1. Steph - 1.

The battle rages on...

- Steph
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