Instagram is a great connector and a great teacher in my life.
I started drawing cartoons in early 2017, first just as a creative outlet and then as a way to process some of my thoughts and work through my mental health trouble spots, particularly my anxiety.
I began sharing my art on Instagram to spread a little joy in the world—especially during the very strange times we’re living in!—and as some of my drawings began to get attention, I realized just how many people are out there in the world struggling with the same things that I am. As someone who lived the first 30+ years of her life feeling ashamed of having an anxiety disorder, it was genuinely life-changing to see for the first time that not only am I not alone, but I’m in a very good company. I’m grateful that Instagram has allowed me to make so many human connections and create a real sense of commonality and community for me.
Instagram has some lessons for me as well—often it feels scary and vulnerable to post my artwork. Will people relate? Will they understand? Will I be laughed at, or rejected?
I’ve had to work hard not to take Instagram too seriously, to learn not to let troll comments or a misunderstood post get under my skin and impact how I view myself and my artwork. That’s still a struggle for me, but I’m getting there.
My perfect day would involve self-care, creativity, and lots of time with loved ones. I would be happy to sleep in, practice yoga or lift weights, spend a few hours drawing and painting, and then cuddle up with my family on the sofa to watch a movie. I wouldn’t say no to some time in the mountains or at the beach, either!
What are some of the choices you’ve made that made you who you are?
I think the first really huge, life-altering choice I made was to drop out of graduate school in 2005. I was pursuing a science Ph.D. at the University of Chicago at the time, and after many painful months of feeling truly unhappy in my program, I decided to walk away from it and seek work in a more creative field (graphic design). This was a huge choice not just because it started me down the path toward art as my life’s work, but also because it was the first time I realized I could change my mind about something really huge, say “no,” walk away, do something else.
We live in a culture that emphasizes never quitting, never giving up, persisting toward a goal at all costs. Those can be wonderful things, but it’s also so important to look at everything in your life and let go of anything that doesn’t serve you. I was absolutely terrified to walk away from my first career, but once I did I realized just how liberating it is to let go.
Another huge choice I made was starting my yoga practice in 2011. It seemed like a small thing at the time, but my practice has had a huge ripple effect in my life, opening the door for me to physical fitness and health, and a meditation practice that has been tremendous for both my creative pursuits and my mental health.
If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
Ever since I read the Harry Potter books, I’ve wanted the ability to Apparate. I live 2500 miles away from where I grew up, and it would be wonderful to just pop home for a visit instead of having to take a 5-hour plane ride!
I have two generous, kind, beautiful young daughters that I homeschool. Raising them has so far been the greatest and most fulfilling thing I’ve done in my life. They are 7 and 4, and seeing them grow into the people they’re going to become is really an indescribable experience.
Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
I’d really love to live abroad! One of the best experiences of my life has been moving from the deep south of the US to the west coast—I have loved getting to live in a place so different from where I grew up, getting to know its climate, its culture, its character, and personality. I’d love to take that experience a step further and live in another country for a year or a few years to learn even more about the world. My husband works in a small industry so we’re limited by that on where we can live, but hopefully, a move like this is in our future at some point, even if it’s after retirement.
I have a really strong type A personality, so relaxing is actually pretty difficult for me. There’s always a little voice in my brain telling me I “should” be doing something more productive. For me the activity I’m doing to relax isn’t as important as taking the time to breathe and remind myself that it’s okay to relax, that I have set aside time in my life to do nothing and just be, and that that’s as valuable and important as running around accomplishing things. I still haven’t fully internalized that message yet but I’m getting better.
If you could invite anyone in the world to dinner, who would it be?
I’ve already mentioned Harry Potter in this interview, but it would have to be JK Rowling. I admire her so much for her creativity, her tenacity, her forthrightness, her wisdom. She is a true force for good in this world, an exceptional soul who uses her voice to speak for those who aren’t heard and to share her truth. It would be an honor to share a meal in her inspiring presence.
I think this book is still in the process of transforming my life. I recently finished reading The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer, and it’s been working some pretty deep magic. More than anything else I have read or studied in my spiritual journey, this book helped me understand a lot about myself and the way I interact with the world, and gave me tremendous tools and impetus to change how I think and live. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in finding peace and spiritual growth—it is truly revelatory (no pun intended). 🙂