Event: A Reading of Timmy the Button

I will be doing a reading of my book Timmy the Button, May 1 @ 2:00pm in Longmont! The target audience for the event is kids, but ANYONE is welcome to come!

 Hope to see you there! 

To RSVP email Art of Fashion at jatwood13@yahoo.com 

For details visit http://jatwood134.wix.com/mysite#!events/xzcki

Currently, Timmy the Button is featured at Tattered Cover in Denver, Book Bar, Boulder Bookstore, and Powell’s City of Books in Portland! 

Thank you for all your love and support! 

Advertisements

Squad Goals

Life is hard. Like really hard.

I mean I will be the first to say, life is so good, because of all the beauty in this world there is to experience, I mean there’s bacon, avocado, chocolate . . . I just had a life changingly-good brunch– breakfast tacos (I know!). There are a lot of great things besides food, like puppies, sunsets, oranges–oops, more food. . . .

Life can definitely be hard (despite breakfast tacos). About seven months ago, I was getting ready to go on a date with someone I was genuinely very interested in who made me weak at the knees. On the outside, I’m fuck yeah, I’m awesome, strut this stuff . . . but on the inside I’m like holy-shit-do-I-have-something-in-my-teeth and be excited-but-not-desparate-crap-I’m-totally-way-to-excited-be cool-gosh! I remember getting ready for my date with the required 19 outfit changes and 37 mirror checks, and being like I don’t think I can take anymore rejection. I felt like my heart would cave in, and that would be that, no more heart and no more hope.

I went on the date. I’ll be honest, the date was a bit bizarre . . . do you want to hear about it? Of course, you do!


So my date who I will call Boy-Jerk asks me out on a date late at night over social media (first red flag– now I know.) He says he’s going to be gone for a week and I’m like, well you got my number, call me. Boy-Jerk returns and silence. After having the usual 100 mile an hour spastic girl questions wizing around in my head like a game of quidditch, which can be summed as “I’m so confused,” I text Boy-Jerk and ask if we’re doing this date thing. (I didn’t use those exact words . . . I’m not completely retarded . . kinda.) He’s like yeah. And I’m like cool.

So we meet up at church, go to the service, and then he says he wants to talk to his friends. At the time, I don’t really know anyone, but I’m like, well here goes making friends to avoid being awkward. While I was talking to my new “best” friend (we actually are good friends now), Boy-Jerk tells me a mutual friend who we’ll call Boy-Oblivious is going to lunch with us and Boy-Oblivious wants to go to Noodles and Company (which by the way is the “Company”referring to the sauces and other stuff on the noodles . . . like I’ll have the #5 with a whole company of parmesan chicken? Just wondering.)

Anyway, I’m like oh-kay. I was pissed– I thought you were going on a date with me– but smeared my face with a big ol’ smile. Long story short, after missing the turn I almost just went home, but decided to go on the date anyway. I’m like maybe Boy-Jerk is just an idiot. . . . an attractive idiot, but an idiot. I sit for most of the date while Boy-Jerk and Boy-Oblivious bro-mance over working out, and other masculine fueled hobbies. At one point, Boy-Oblivious is like, “Hey, Kristen. . .” and asks me a question. And Boy-Jerk literally say “oh, yeah” like he forgot I was there.

Despite all this, after a parking lot chat with Boy-Jerk I was still a little twitter-pated, but then I totally got ghosted. Boy-Jerk and I are friends now so we’ll just call him Boy. (And Boy, if you by chance are reading this . . . it’s okay . . . we be friends. Thanks for the funny dating disaster story.)

 I was disappointed, but my heart did not cave in, and really a big part of that is because of my friends. I had a lot of “he be stuuupid” and “Kristen you’re great’s” and honestly, hanging out with my friends and having fun with them made the pain and disappointment disappear. My heart did not cave in.

I have this friend named Amanda (she’s SO cool), and she has this great ability to help me laugh at the drama in my life. I have many a time called her with that gut-wrenching  feeling of like “wow this is the end of the world” and by the end I’m thinking about the same situtaion with the attitude of “Life is funny. What an adventure!” Amanda and I tend to just have a lot of adventure together anyway, like not being able to find the Disneyland parking lot we parked in and sleeping in IHOP because we have searched for it all night and literally can’t find it. She was also the one who I was with when we both had the idea to try crawfish for the first time. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when we ordered a whole basket-full each of sea cockroaches. (If you know how to eat these things and want to teach me . . . I’m open to it, maybe.)

I wouldn’t be the person I am today, nor have gotten through life, and had so much fun without my squad of guy and girl friends. I love you all. . . .


A week or so ago, I found the song “Here’s to Us” by Halestorm and was reminded of all the lovely people I have in my life and how we are all in this together. If you have your squad, text them and let them know that they mean something to you. If you feel like you don’t have a squad, don’t worry, you will find them. It may take time (it certainly did for me. Let me tell you about high school . . . ), but they are out there. You are not alone, the human experience can make us feel like we are the only ones, but there are a whole lot of other people going through the same thing wondering if they are the only ones. Be brave. Reach out, share with those who’ve earned the right to hear your story.

And so I say to all my friends, family, to you . . . I feel so lucky to have you in my life. Thanks for whispering words of love and encouragement when I’m down and feeling like I can’t go on. Thank you for speaking truth and calling me on my bullshit. Thanks for loving who I am, rough edges and all, and for laughing at my dumb jokes and puns. I love you guys and Life, you’re not taking us down . . .  here’s to us.

You are a Badass.

So I’ve been reading a self-help book called You are Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero. I know sometimes when we hear the words “self-help” we cringe; we immediately picture a wussy little man wearing pleated khakis with glasses and a haircut from the 90s who has mommy issues and calls his therapist at all hours of the day . . . like Buster from Arrested Development. . . . .

Anyway, just so you know I don’t wear khakis . . . I like self-help books. They have made a big difference in my life, because lets be honest, it’s hard and confusing AF being a human.

But for realz, tho . . . a month or so ago I was caught in state of panic. I would wake up, go through my day, then go to bed with intense anxiety . Everything felt like it was teetering on the edge about to send it and myself into the abyss of ruin. I ended up texting my friend/fitness coach/role model a long-ass, novel-length text detailing how I was feeling that could be summed up by “I’m freaking out about my whole life and I’m losing my mind.” She asked if she could call me (you know it’s bad when a text won’t do), and like a snake charmer playing a lute helped me calm all my inner writhing feelings of “AHHHHH” into a neat little workable pile. She also suggested I read the book You are a Badass.

You have to understand my friend/fitness coach/role model is also a mom/hairstylist/owner of a hair salon/nutrition school student. She runs her businesses as well as helps run her husband’s business. She also has done Tough Mudder, runs half-marathons, and mud runs and does all other kinds of other awesome. She also happens to be one of the coolest, most positive, sweetest, encouraging people I know. She’s a badass. Also she gets up at 4 AM, which in my mind makes you a badass or a complete lunatic: she’s a badass. Knowing she was suggesting I read this book made me want to read it all the more.

I consider/aspire to be a badass which by me saying this might make you think I’m a total tool, but some people think lizard people created the world so . . . you can think whatever you want, but hear me out. Here are my badass-ery creds:

  • recently published a kids book, despite the obstacles and am currently knocking on “big deal doors”
  • I have 7 tattoos including one sleeve, I have a nose ring, and I shaved part of my head (okay, maybe I at least look the part)
  • I have a “Go big and let’s F***ing do this” attitude.
  • I have been told I am.
  • I already feel like a douch bag making this list so I’m done, but maybe you should make a list like this of things you like about yourself, because you’re awesome!

Honestly, despite my best intentions, I still wake up in the morning with an oily face looking like a cave troll and have the attitude of a sad sopping wet wash cloth. I live with my parents and my bank account well . . . you hear those crickets?

IMG_4335

Some days I show up to life like a rockstar: “Here I am. I’m hot and awesome and I’m doing awesome things and my life is going places.” Rage Against the Machine is playing in the background. And some days I’m like don’t look at me I’m a fat-loser-whose-never-ever-going to do blah blah blah blah. I’m going to die alone because I’m a sad nothing blah blah blah. Cue the sad farty country song. (I’m sorry, I’m just not that into country.)

All that to say, since reading this book I still wake up sometimes feeling like a gross lame thing, but I don’t live in the pity party. I have a five-minute stop-in drink and leave. Thanks, but no pity party. I’ve got somewhere else to be.

One of the main themes in Sincero’s book is “it’s all about perspective.” For example: I can sit here like a sad sack on the floor and say things like “I’m never going to move out of my parents house, because I’m the idiot that chose to be a writer and life is hard.” Or. . . I can say I’m not sure how I’m going to move out of my parents’ house because right now I don’t have a ton of money and being alive is expensive, but I have job which is so great for so many reasons, and there are solutions to making more money. I can do this.”

Another example is singleness. Some people trudge around being like “I’m single, dur dur-dur.” Instead of being like, “Sup, world I’m single! I have no commitments right now and I’m having the time of my life! First of all, no one wants to be with lame-o sad-face and so you will be single, and being sad is a waste of time. I could go on because I have been lame-o sad face and it sucks and honestly I think single people need to have more fun. (If you’re a single person and having more fun, I’d love to hear how you are having fun in life and in that weird land full of awkward interactions and mind-games called dating. Comment below, please!)

Sincero talks about that this shift in perspective makes you more available for possible solutions and opportunities. The human brain is a beautiful thing. While we are going about our day, it is working in the background on solving problems. And so the reason we tend to have great ideas in the shower is because taking a shower doesn’t require much brain power usually, and our brain can show us the answer to a “problem.” Also, when we say we physically can’t do something our body will say “really? okay.” and we won’t be able to do that something. Yay science! Despite our best intentions, our beliefs will manifest themselves in how we behave no matter what.

So, if you’ve already decided that you can’t, you most likely won’t. If you’ve decided you can’t get your dream music career going and you’re somewhere and you notice a music producer, you’ll probably sneer and be like “Ha! Thanks Universe.” and go about your sad life. But if you really want to be the next big thing and you believe you can, there is a higher likelihood that you will go talk to the music big-time and gain an opportunity.

I’m not saying just because you believe you can do something, it will happen. Depending on what your goal or dream is there are certain things that will have to be in place for that goal or dream to be realized. But having a positive outlook on life will make achieving/finding that thing that makes your life seem like a dream easier, because “our fantasies are our realities in an excuse free world.”

This year, I decided I was going to have a perspective shift; to see problems as obstacles that can be conquered and to generally stop worrying about stupid sh*t. I decided to have more fun. I have been just as tired as I have before, but instead of being depleted by worry, I’ve been tired, but fulfilled by time spent living life.  I decided that I can, instead of “well, hopefully.” And I decided to practice loving myself more than I ever have before. Not to sound like an infomercial or anything, but this book has really given me the tools and has been a great reminder that life can be more than great: it can be everything I dream it can be. And you guys, my life isn’t perfect, and I’m certainly not perfect, but I’m really happy. As Sincero says, “It’s about having the cojones to show up as the brightest, happiest, badassiest version of yourself, whatever that looks like to you. . . You need to go from wanting to change your life to deciding to change your life.” And acting on it.

Sooooo, I hope you’ll read this book because it’s amazing and will change your life for the better. Imagine how awesome your life could be if you let go of fear and embraced yourself and your life. Imagine how this world could be if it was filled with happy and fulfilled people. And remember “the only failure is quitting. Everything else is just gathering information.”

So seriously read this book.

Here’s one more quote: “The key to [the greats’] success is that they decided to go for it, they stopped listening to their tired old excuses, changed their lousy habits, and got the f**k on the f**k.”

Ok, so like seriously, go buy this book right now.

Endings: the Color of Memory

A couple days ago, I saw someone walking their beagle dog and was reminded of my childhood dog Penny. She was my best friend and even though she was disobedient and ornery, she had a big heart and I knew she loved and my family and me. She died while I was away on a trip. I didn’t get to say goodbye and I wasn’t there to comfort her as she passed on. Not being there for her final moments, even though it was out of my control, has made me sad ever since.

While I was admiring the cute little beagle and missing Penny, I had an epiphany. . . . What if, instead of focusing on my sadness and regret, what if I focused on the happy memories  and funny stories that I had with her; that I had an awesome dog who was part of my life.

What I’m trying to get at, is that unless you’re dying of boredom or your bladder is so full you just can’t even . . .

. . . most endings suck. Goodbyes can be excruciating. Grand adventures coming to an end feel like a let down. Heartbreak can feel like too much to bear. And as healthy humans, we should feel all the feelings.

But when the time to mourn has ended, we should eventually move on; sometimes we just need to let go and hopefully we can eventually rest in the peace and thankfulness that whatever it was or whoever it was, was part of our lives. An ending doesn’t have to diminish the beauty of the beginning and middle. The moments that were filled with love and laughter still are still a part of reality even though they are part of the past. Those memories will always be a part of you and the story of your life.

Life isn’t just a 80 year period of turning oxygen in CO2. It is a story, at least that’s how I choose to view life and having this perspective is the only way my life can make sense.   I don’t understand the reasons why I have gone through certain events in my life, and the “so I can help other people” reason, many days isn’t good enough. But viewing my life as a story arc with highs and lows, victories and loses somehow makes my life make sense: I can’t articulate the “reason why” events happened, but it is part of my story and I’m still here breathing and living, with a little more wisdom. I’m not afraid anymore.

The stories we love are those filled with low points, difficulties, as well as happy, funny, and fair moments.One of my favorite movies of all time is Gladiator, because despite it all Maximus defied all the obstacles that stood before him. We love stories because we don’t know what’s going to happen and/or we enjoy their fun or humor. We enjoy them because of the drama. To have a good life is not to avoid pitfalls, mistakes, and dark days. A good life is made when despite it all you are still here and you are not only alive, but you are living, flowing with the currents of life that are out of your control.

As cliche as it sounds, like in nature, things die to make room, to fertilize for the next season, stage of life. We make mistakes so we can gain wisdom and experience that will, if we allow it to, influence and cultivate a richer life.

I don’t know your story, and I don’t know what it’s like to be you. But I can tell you from experience that a change of perspective can color your world so differently and change your life for the better.

Peace and Love,

K

P.S. Check out Allison Fallon’s post called What No One Says About New Beginnings

Timmy the Button is finally here!

Timmy the Button Cover

Since it has been such a long time I feel as thought I should address all my blog readers as, Hello Earthlings! I am still a human living on this earth. Seriously though, I’m sorry it’s has been such a long time, but I am very excited to share with you that the children’s book that I have been working on for the past year is finally a reality.

You can check it out on Amazon here. A new iBook version will be available soon and I plan to post a reading excerpt in the next couple weeks.

Bringing this project to completion has been such a wild ride, and definitely a learning experience. I was met with problems and obstacles that come with doing something I’ve never done before and that come with life in general. But holding the completed project in my hands, has confirmed that seeing the project through and holding true to my vision for the project was totally worth it.

One of the hills I chose to die on with this project was that it would be hardcover bound book. I struggled to find a printer who offered this option and who would also produce an affordable book. When I finally found the printer that I would use, I encountered more problems: from document formatting problems, to uploading issues. At my wits end and a pile of tears on the floor, I happened to think of my uncle and that he might be able to help me with the formatting and uploading process. Not only did he help me format the book to the required format, but he also made the book shine, by amping up the color of the illustrations, changing the font, and a few pages of the overall book layout.

I tell you this story to encourage you to go after those things in life that YOU really want. I say to those of you who are experiencing the blood, sweat, and tears of your passion, dreams, or goals, don’t give up. Grit your teeth, scream into a pillow, yell obscene language into the night, and keep on reaching and pushing, because the struggle to make what you want a reality is worth it; sometimes when we feel like we can’t go on, someone appears to help, or something happens and makes a way. This isn’t to say that success is a guarantee, but in my experience, the universe has a way of rewarding those who put in the time and effort into something worthwhile.

I would like to take a moment to thank those who partnered with me in this project. Jennie, for being the first to believe in this project and for creating such beautiful illustrations that truly brought this story and it’s characters to life. To Lee Ann Bisulca for your invaluable editing: this story would not be what it is without your hard work. Uncle Eric, for “rescuing me” and making the visual aspects of this book all they could be: the book wouldn’t be what it is without your talents. To Stacey and Margie for providing me with opportunities to sell and showcase my book and for all your encouragement and love. To my mom and dad, for being patient “patrons” and for the ways you helped me bring this project to life and EVERYTHING you do for me: I am blessed to have you as parents.

Thank you to all my friends, family, and kind strangers who have supported this project and my writing. Writing is a solitary art, but I would not have finished this project or continued in this career with out your love and support.

 

 

 

 

“But Really I Just Don’t Care”

How many of us never start something, because we’re afraid of the ending: will we succeed, or will we crash and burn, looking the fool. Fear is healthy. Fear keeps us from jumping off cliffs (without the right safety gear), acting out the way we want, sending us to hangout with a crook named Ernie behind bars or in a cozy padded room; it keeps us from losing that which we love. But fear sometimes is just a toothless shadow, that keeps us from trying new things, living life to the fullest, and pursuing our dreams.

I think of myself as a rebel, someone who doesn’t give a f*ck about what people think, but really some days I’m scared. Like really scared. Scared to death of failure of making the wrong choices, and missing out. I’m afraid of not working hard enough and so will fall short of my dreams; I’m afraid of looking like a crazy idiot “in front” of all these people that know my chosen career path. And so begins the cycle of not taking chances, because I don’t think I’m good enough, then hating myself later because I didn’t take a chance, ending me up in a mental bog of anxiety, frustration, and more fear. A bog like, you know, the one in the Lord of the Rings when Frodo falls in because he followed the lights and Gollum gets to have a heroic moment.

Anyway . . .

About a month ago, I made the pilgrimage to the Black Sheep a divey music venue in Colorado Springs. I want to go to more live music shows and so my goal this year is to visit as many of the small venues in the area as possible, without becoming completely broke. Brick + Mortar a two piece band from New Jersey was the band I was seeing that night at this legendary venue.

During their set, they shared the story behind their song “Bangs” (I love when artists do this.) The lead singer and bassist (I’m always impressed when someone can play bass and sing.) Brandon Asraf shared that like many, he was afraid of not making it. He was afraid of looking like a fool. He said that the road to the stage had been long, hard, and not traveled without perseverance. He said this is what their song “Bangs” is about: it’s about the contradictory voices in an artist’s consciousness. One day the voices will say “This piece you are working on is the absolute sh*t, you’re the sh*t!” (“This is awesome! You’re going far, kid. Woohoo!”) Then the next week or next day the voices will say “Wow, you’re sh*t. This is sh*t.” (You really think you’re going somewhere with that crap? Wow, you’re crazy and delusional. You’re going to end up living in a box, and no one will remember your name, because you’re an untalented weird, crazy turd.”)

Asraf ended his story with (paraphrased), “You know, eventually I decided not to give a f*ck, because I love making music, and so I don’t have a choice. I have to make music whether I ‘make it’ or not. Do what makes you feel alive and don’t give a f*ck.” The song began and the room was alive with an energy of hopeful rebellion:

I know I’m never gonna make it anyway
I think I’m gonna make it anyway
I know but really I just don’t care
I think I’m gonna make it anyway
I know the things that I just can’t say
I think I’m gonna say ’em anyway
I know I think I’ve finally found my way
I think I’m gonna make it today

I don’t know about the other people in the crowd, if they were artists or had big dreams, but I felt a giant weight lift off my shoulders. I felt like I could breath again. I still care about “making it” and making a career, but I was reminded why I create: because I love it, because it makes me feel alive, because I can’t not create. This attitude took the focus off “making it” and the fear of living in a box and no one remembering my name, that my writing would become recycled for commercial toilet paper (the worst of all toilet papers!); to focusing on the actual art I’m working on and loving on the actual piece instead of cutting it, stretching it, and manipulating it into something that I think the gods of the commercial universe will deem acceptable. I am a screenwriter so I understand the importance of the commercial properties of a work, but for my own sanity I needed to stop thinking about that part of the process.

Being an artist is really great. People think you’re cool and thoughtful, and mysterious. They talk about when they will say “I knew you when.” But being an artist is also hard. Often times, I feel misunderstood. I feel frustrated when people wonder why I don’t have something done. Granted, I have my own problems of finishing things and really struggle to order my life around writing, versus hoping that I’ll have some time to write. (The universal struggle of creating: balancing all of life’s and art’s demands.) I also struggle when I feel like I’m sacrificing things for reaching the end goal and the end goal feels so far away.

But that’s why it’s really awesome when other people with similar goals share how they felt or are feeling about “making it,” or the struggles and pressures of being an artist. We remember we’re human and we’re in it together with a bunch of other humans who are trying to make something of themselves and share a piece of their souls. And we see them when they succeed, and remember to work harder and we succeed. And they will see us when we succeed, and they will work harder and succeed.

It is like we are all in a world of perpetual darkness, each person carrying a torch. Sometimes our torch, our dreams, our passions, who we are dims and goes out. We are discouraged and we question everything about who we are and what we are doing. We don’t care, and we feel like giving into the current of what “everyone else” is doing. But then we hear a song like “Bangs,” or read about someone’s story of perseverance, or someone gives us a kind, hopeful word, our torch is re-lit and we stand up tall once again, and continue walking our path, perhaps re-lighting the torch of someone else. We can be like Samwisw Gamgee helping carry each other to the top of our own mountain. (I really love Lord of the Rings. Can you tell?)

Seriously, though . . .

We underestimate ourselves so often. We can. We will. But who really cares, because we’re living right now.

 

Love&Hate

It seems you can’t have the Mother Theresa’s without the Adolph Hitler’s. I have often heard some variation of the phrase “I hate people.” People are annoying. They get under our skin, and we want to punch them in the face. Honestly though, I question the human race’s ability for goodness when I read demeaning comments online. I question society’s future when I hear of one of my youth group kids being bullied at school: her artwork being ripped up and thrown on the ground like garbage.

But yet, I still hear stories of people who gave all they had for another. I have experienced the simple kindness of a stranger buying my coffee; it’s a “small” act, yet still has meant so much to me that day. I have seen someone give to another simply because they wanted to. An unsolicited compliment or encouragement can be medicine for the soul.

The beauty and horror of the human disposition and action lies in each person’s free will to make conscious choices. Yes, we are all affected by our environment, upbringing, the things that have been done or happened to us; if we are honest with ourselves, we would realize that we choose where we go, what we do, and who we become. How else would stories exist of those, despite all odds, reached out and touched greatness? They gritted their teeth and made a choice each day, each minute, and those seemingly small insignificant choices propelled their entire life.

We live in a society of victims. No one seems to want to take responsibility for their actions. Everyone is offended by someone, and everyone is apologizing for something. I wonder what the world would look like if we all took responsibility for our words, for our actions, and if we also had a bit more grace for our fellow man, who like ourselves is flawed, affected, and mean, but ultimately desperate for love and acceptance.

What we do and how we respond to life, eventually becomes who we are.  Who do we want to be?

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one, wild and precious life?” ~ Mary Oliver