How to Be Happy

My twenties went something like this: graduate college; try to write a novel in a cabin for a year, fail; go to graduate school in N.Y.; return to S.C. and fall crazy, crazy in love. Get married. Move a few times. Start real jobs, making real money. A man hikes to Mills River, RMNP

My thirties were a beautiful mix of career building, novel writing, national parks camping and then parenthood, something that I thought was waaaay too mundane for Jonathan and I. Turns out, it's awesome. And so we had two girls, and as I was inching into dried-up-egg territory, having just turned 40, we gorgeously, blessedly welcomed a third daughter. She eased into the world in a simple tub of water at Mountain Midwifery Center. She was almost ten pounds, and floated up in the water like a chunky, swollen little monkey, one eye cracked to meet me, and the world.

A woman walks through Bishop Castle CO

I think of the years I have been an adult, and by far the best is my 40's. I am just a year or so in, but a lot of things are coming together. I think, mostly, because I know how to be happy even when life isn't perfect.

Simply, I have learned how to be grateful.

A pot of succulents in Colorado

Grateful for what I have, and even for what I do not have, because it teaches me patience, peace and contentedness. For an amazing book on the subject, check out Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts. The subtitle of the book is "A dare to live fully right where you are." I met Ann a few years ago when I was newly pregnant with that fat, gorgeous baby mentioned above and roiling with ante-partum depression, working a job that provided for us but was not my true calling, and desperate to see my husband's talents finally recognized. Yep, it was the right book for me and I took it and ran with it. To say that her dare to live fully even when life is grinding on your back resonated with me would be an understatement. I panted for the message she brought on paper.

A picture of a blooming chive

And so, in my 40's, I am thankful for so much. My gratitude for this imperfect life is messy and frequently uneven. I have been known to have temper tantrums with God. But happiness? It's the joy in the smallest of the small.

Back to the Drawing Board: Guppy Up!

Back to the Drawing Board: Guppy Up!

When you are writing a book, some scenes don't make it in for various reasons. For my second novel, my editor wisely cut about 20 pages that were truly terrible involving a cult-like artists' colony (bless her).

Here's a fun illustration that didn't make the cut for Jonathan's children's book, Guppy Up! (Penguin USA). He ended up writing some other rhyme, which left this scene with no place to go. Enjoy!

Fun Art Today: Illustrator Alex Mathers

wiredmountainillo_mysite Twitter is the best place to discover illustrators. I keep a Twitter list just for illustrators that I follow. I love scrolling the list to see what some pretty talented people are up to. Alex Mathers is one such illustrator. He's a globe-hopping freelance illustrator who works with the Google+ design team, among others. Alex is actually to blame for making Jonathan and I dream a crazy dream: going overseas with our gaggle of girls and working for a time at our projects. Why is Alex to blame for this scheme? It's because he wrote this absolutely wonderful post about his nine months freelancing in Tokyo. He makes freelancing abroad seem so...so...I don't know, something like possible. He's a dangerous man.

Another thing about Alex Mathers: He's an encourager. You know I love this. Alex runs this cool contemporary art site called Ape on the Moon along with the very talented Phillip Dennis who tweeted with me once so we're like practically best friends. Alex and Phillip post about other creative art makers who are doing very cool things.

Secret Pro Tip: Alex also runs the Red Lemon Club, a site dedicated to helping creatives find more clients, network and promote their work effectively in a very classy way (read: not email-blasting hundreds of creative directors.)

Last day to enter the Free Book Friday contest! We're giving away a hardcover copy of Love Is in the Air, Jonathan's new children's book from Penguin USA. Click here, comment and you are entered to (maybe) win!

 

Eye on: Illustrator Ben Clanton

Getting lost in blogs today, following links down the illustrator rabbit trail. I am digging Ben Clanton (author and illustrator of the brand new Vote for Me! picture book. He also illustrates Jasper John Dooley: Star of the Week by Caroline Adderson). Fun, pretty and engaging work. We love it.

From Ben's website: "It’s a big election year, and Elephant and Donkey are pandering for votes. “Hey you! Yes, you with the great hair and that dazzling smile,” says Donkey. “[I]f you pick me, I’ll give you peanuts!” promises Elephant. But it doesn’t take long for the candidates to forget about the voters and turn on each other (“Elephants don’t stink!” “Well, you certainly do, you big, stinky pooper scooper”), resulting in both figurative and literal mudslinging. Unlike some grown-up candidates, Elephant and Donkey repair their friendship—just in time to realize that the voters have already moved on. First-time author Clanton renders his battling duo in the pencil-like grays and blacks of classic editorial cartoons (Donkey almost always appears on the left against a blue background, while Elephant is on the right against red). Even readers unfamiliar with the political process will understand the demands being made on their loyalty. For children getting their first taste of presidential politics in 2012, this is a worthwhile testimony to the current state of political discourse. Ages 4–8."