Did you ever feel that you just made a decision that was right, true, but heart-wrenching and so difficult?
I did. It was in 2003 when I moved to Tennessee with my family and my husband, who at the time was my fiance. It was scary and daring and strange. And the worst part was leaving our family and friends behind. It’s one thing that’s torn me apart inside these past 9 years… Mostly because as difficult as it was, I knew beyond any doubt it was right, we were supposed to make a life here.
My husband and I make the 10 hour drive home a few times a year to see our family – But it’s difficult, especially when it’s the holidays, to really ‘do life’ together like if we’d always lived there. So last summer, when my sister-in-law Heidi said “I wrote a children’s book! I really believe in it and wanted to know if you would illustrate it” I was really excited!
See, Heidi is a supermom with two amazing kids, full time 3rd grade teacher and if that’s not amazing enough, now a published author. I’ve always admired her drive and capability to do 100 things at a time.
(I’ve got one track mind. Literally. I had to just turn off my iTunes in the background cuz I couldn’t focus on what I was typing.)
I felt like after a while Heidi and I would swap stories, me about the adventures my sisters and I were having, she about the funny stuff her kids were up to. And that was really all. So when she asked about the book I was over the moon to finally have something she and I could share as an “Amber/Heidi adventure”. Creating something positive that would connect two very different people.
She mentioned again at Christmas and I was all “yah! really that’d be a lot of fun!” Around Easter time, I was coming up with little sketches here and there for her characters from the rough draft she’d sent me when Heidi called.
“I’ve been contacting publishers and have a few that are interested!”
I was thinking, awesome! Hmm, maybe get it out in a year or two, I know these things take time. I was about to record my final record with my sisters in the summer and thought I have the fall to work on the book.
A few weeks later, Heidi called again.
“Pretty sure we have a publisher! She’s totally on board and is excited about the story! We want to release it in September or October!”
“Of this year?!” Gulp. Of course this year. Heidi is so incredibly efficient, when she wants something done, she gets it done. End of story.
Me? Well, I think I invented procrastination. I am an artist by trade after all.
I started to get nervous I couldn’t do it. Just over three months to start from scratch and have 26 full page color illustrations to a printer. Plus, Mon-Fri my ‘day job’ had me in the studio recording. I admit I started thinking “Well maybe Heidi and I can connect over new lip gloss, or a TV show or something.” But finally I committed and got to work.
And we did it! Heidi was working behind the scenes to set up a book release, press, mini school assembly book tour for the first week of October, while I was hunched over my sketchbook. Hundreds of hours later, on October 2, 2012 we released the book! It’s called “It Could Happen…On The Bus”, the first in a series of anti-bullying messages that Heidi was inspired to write for her own class and students all over the country!
I was in Indiana, PA for a week of events! We rocked the school assemblies and were giddy at the book release party holding in our hands something we both sunk our hearts into.
It’s an incredible feeling to finish well in anything. Especially when you’re part of a team.
But my favorite part was that I had a week with Heidi, my brother-in-law, Jon, my niece Jocelynn and nephew Chase and my husband’s parents Don and Linda. I got to go to dance class with my 4 year old niece, have dinner each night, talk about their days, played trains with my 1 year old nephew.
I got to “do life” with them. Something I’d always wanted.
But I also completed something wonderful. And I have Heidi to thank for that. So thank Heid.
So yah, to sum up, my sis wrote a book. I made the pictures. Check it out!
My life has consisted of two things for the past few months. Writing/recording “At The End Of Everthing” with my sisters (EVERLIFE < That’s us.) and illustrating my first children’s book “It Could Happen…On The Bus” that my elementary school teacher sis-in-law, Heidi, wrote about how to deal with bullies.
It’s amazing. I’m in a place in my life to do two things I am literally in love with. Music and art.
I can’t believe it really. We’ve spent so many years (my sisters and I) trying to hang on in a desperate and confusing industry, learning to run a business of music.. Trying to understand the fine line between creativity and cash when someone says “Hey, I need a great song, so do you mind reaching in your soul to gimme something that appeals to your demographic and is snappy? We need to slap a price tag on that sucker.” We started to lose ourselves in the politics.. and Kickstarter has afforded us the opportunity to do it our way.. for people who really wanna just hear the tunes.
Why am I telling you this? I guess cuz sometimes when things are dark and seem so twisted that you don’t know who you are anymore.. well, no bad thing will last forever.. and fighting through might make you a better version of who you were created to be. I’ve never said “well that was a piece of cake!” about anything worth doing.
Be encouraged wherever you might be. You are loved and you are on purpose. And you get one life. Make it count.
p.s. here’s a few studio shots from my new pal Rae Marshall and the tentative cover for the book! (colors are funky)
So my sisters and I have been in a band since 1997. Fifteen years of touring our globe, meeting new friends, sharing our faith through song and having some incredible adventures.. Now the adventure is coming to a close with our final record (for now…) and we’re raising support to complete it thanks to Kickstarter.com.
Here’s our video. If you like what you see, please re-post or retweet our Kickstarter link!
My sisters and I love to sing. We were recording a video for the release of our new O Holy Night Medley we released and Julia decided we were taking things too seriously. (She was right.) So this was the result of taking a break from the serious.
I love to sketch. It’s the one creative thing I’ve done the longest in my life… Music happened around 11 years old, photography bug bit me at like 17.. But sketching has always come naturally to me.
I watched a Doctor Who episode last fall called “The Empty Child” while I had the flu. On the couch with tea and my sketchbook out… and this is what happened…
So then a whole year has passed. I forgot about my silly sketch of the 50′s mom and her weird roots… Then the other day my sister and I re-watched the episode (she’s just now discovering the series) and eureka! I remembered her..
So after some fanagaling in Illustrator and Photoshop, here she is.
I absolutely love being creative.. Sometimes so much so that I get overwhelmed with all of the ideas swimming in my head, then I accomplish nothing. Which is crazy, because that means the ideas are stuck.
As much as music is part of who I am in my creative space, it doesn’t stop there… Sketching, painting, design, photography.. Really it’s about capturing moments. Important, small moments in life.
But sometimes, it’s just about slapping a new coat of paint on something to give it another go round.
Now, I’m not really a DIY idea kinda gal. (I’m more so now that Pinterest has grabbed hold of me) But last fall my pal Sharon came to help me revamp an old vanity that had been in my family since I was a kid.. It was lovely as is.. but very ‘loved’. Tons of nicks and scratches from when my sisters and I were younger. So I decided to give it new life to match my silvery/black/blue/cream bedroom.
So here’s the photo journey through the first time I spray painted furniture. i LOVE how it turned out. Fantastic!
Things I learned:
1. Gotta shake the Kilz Primer Spray a TON so as to not get little bumps in the finish.
2. Rustoleum brand covers great, however, Krylon’s nozzle is MUCH easier to hold down for long periods.
3. i adore glossy grey paint, especially on this plastic Goodwill mirror (which was actually my baby sister’s mirror, I didn’t know that until after I painted it. whoops.)
So a few weeks back, myself, my girl Britt, her sister Lindsey, and our friend Jess embarked on a cross country journey.. We decided to help Britt move to Los Angeles..the four of us in her Honda Civic, crammed full of all her wordly possessions, and us. I have to admit I was a tad nervous.. ‘What?!’ you exclaim, ‘Nervous to travel on the road? Isn’t that what you’ve done for 14 years?’ Well, yes, actually it is. But in all that time, I have never taken a “girls roadtrip”.
See, traveling with my lovely sisters is different than most people just hopping in the car for a vacation.. I really kind of see us as more like “band guys” than girls when it comes to the logistics of travel. We are like robots, almost.
Last year when Sarah and Julia and I (and Fella) took the same trip from Nashville to LA, we were 2/3 of the way there after the second evening. The next morning we woke, went to Denny’s in Flagstaff AZ and Sarah kinda blankly stared at the both of us. “We are rushing through this trip like we are late for a show. Maybe we should relax” So then we went to the Grand Canyon and tried to chill out.
Kind of funny right, worried that I wouldn’t be able to relax? (I know I just read that and saw how ridiculous it sounds. I probably should have written that down before I left.)
Well, turns out, I had a great time. New experiences, no matter how old I get, are still freaky to me. I’m a homebody at heart, yet I sought out the road and music and adventure for most of my life so far. I love meeting new people and learning new things! And yet, there’s always a bit of precaution and pause in my mind when I do.
I had a fantastic time even though the trip was bittersweet since Britt was moving permanently to LA. Even though the world gets smaller each day, it still feels far.
Here are some snapshots to let you in on our little epic journey through the U.S…
Squished into the Civic!
her first lotto ticket! no winnings but the odds get better as you go! haha.
Stopped in OKC to stay with my bro Gage and his family, best host ever!!
Stopped at a Walmart and asked where was a good place to eat, they sent us to the WOW Diner.. Great people, great food!!
Poster in the bathroom of WOW Diner, just a pretty.
on the road, beautiful…
Chee’s Indian Trading Post. Thought this woman was lovely.
just bob, he lives in Arizona. on a shelf.
britt and linz in battle
My first and only dollar in the penny slot machine! (I lost it)
And then her luck changed in the penny slots!
Linz and her yummy drink at Sugarfactory in Vegas!
banana hot cocoa at the Sugarfactory!
I wanna do this in my living room! Bellagio’s front desk.
At Wolfgang Puck in Vegas.. me and the Sunshine Girl.
Lindsey and Jess at Wolfgang Puck in Vegas!
We stopped to see Hoover Dam and it was 109 degrees!
VEGAS!!! and the Hoover Dam!!
All of us with Breezy on Malibu Beach!
Ally and Breezy hosted a Doctor Who party! So sweet of the non-Whovians in my group that stayed for the festivities!
Hard Rock Cafe at Universal before we went to see “The Help”
Wonderful Tardis Brownie Cake by Ally!!
Malibu, Neptune’s Net, and Universal!
Jess and Me!
Linz and Me!
Britt and Me!
Me Jon and Brandi
My cuz Erin and Me at the Griddle in LA – (BEST breakfast tacos ever)