Eight years ago, I was still in Germany, sewing and knitting for my baby and myself. I started doing surface patterns and illustrations every now and again for knitting magazines. I still carted around all my art supplies with the thought I'd get back to that dream of illustrating children's books one day.
Five years ago, I still had zero books published, and was recently re-emigrated to the U.S. I was picking myself back up after missing my community and friends I'd made in Germany. I decided to dust off my paintbrushes and started painting whatever was in my head and start taking my art seriously. I started an art collective and together we worked on getting better at our craft.
But, goodness I was rusty! My first paintings were rough, but I needed to get through making a bunch of my 'okay' work to get to where I am today!
Then three years ago, I illustrated my first picture book! To me, it was a proof of concept. I could be a children's book illustrator. Look, here's the proof! That made me work even harder at refining my own stories.
And in a few weeks, my first book as author and illustrator will be hitting bookshelves near you!
When you hear 'progress not perfection' I hope you'll think of my journey. Every action you take toward your dreams is progress. Every painting you finish. Every drawing you refine. It's all progress.
snippet from my upcoming book, ABUELITA AND I MAKE FLAN, Charlesbridge 2022
It has been super difficult to simultaneously work on happy, cheerful art and stories for children… when yet another school shooting takes their lives… and nothing in this country changes. The dilemma is that I try to keep my deep emotions separate from the person I present to everyone. My paintings and artwork tend to be jolly and upbeat, but I am a sensitive person. I feel things deeply. I am a mom to a school-aged child, a former teacher, current children’s book author-illustrator… and unfortunately I’m also a gun violence survivor. If you know me personally, you already know the circumstances. How can I show up when I feel heartbroken inside?
The label ‘gun violence survivor’ empowers just as much as it disempowers. The reason you are a survivor is nearly always out of your control. A person you knew (or didn't) decided to use a gun to hurt people you loved, knew, or were randomly nearby. And that feeling of being powerless is terrible, awful and very frustrating.
So, I am struggling with how to stay true to the inherent promise I make to you, my readers and friends and family, while also expressing my extreme distress concerning the recent school shootings.
I'm a fan of turning big feelings into positive action. If preventing gun violence is something you feel strongly about as I do, there are organizations out there that have been trying to help keep people safe from gun violence for years…
And many other organizations exist around gun violence. Unfortunately.
I don't believe we are so powerless to change as a nation. How many more people will be lost to gun violence until things finally change?
I need to catch you all up! I want to get the blog back up and running, and things are finally settling down enough to get back to it...
My little family moved back to Florida in May. When I say 'back', I must say that Florida is my home state. It's where I was born and my family has resided for the last 50 years. So, when husband got an offer, we packed up, left California, put an offer on a house from the 60's and moved to an island between two rivers near Florida's Atlantic coast.Lots happened this summer between tradeshows and new-home tasks and starting a new school...
And then Irma.I was beyond terrified by the size of the storm. I hadn't lived in hurricane country in over a decade, it's a new-to-us house and we have big trees all around the house. I evacuated us as fast and left as early as possible just in case. My art is now at a nearby co-op gallery, and after I checked on the art gallery, we shuttered the house, packed up supplies and drove north. And drove. And drove. And drove. We made it to Georgia in pretty good time, and the next morning I drove some more and we made it to a friend's house where we watched from afar the storms progress.Every day, we were glued to the noaa.gov site watching the very slow progress of the storm as it headed toward Miami (where much of my family resides). The predictions of the storm's path kept shifting from east coast to west coast of Florida, but it didn't matter. Hurricane Irma was so huge, if you were in Florida, you were gonna feel it. In fact, even in north Georgia we felt Irma's winds. Even that far away from the center of the storm, we were out of electricity for a few hours. Once we knew the storm had passed, we made our way back.As we drove back to Florida, we saw a lot of fallen trees and blocked state roads. When we got back home, it was dark, but we could tell some of the traffic lights were out. Electricity had just come back online, and we were a boil-water notice for a while BUT, there was water coming out of the tap. I'm counting our lucky stars there was no significant damage to our house (just a small leak in the front entryway)!I've included photos so you can see the nearby boardwalk after the storm. As of this writing, a few weeks after, boats that lost their moorings are still tipped over the former boardwalk edge. Piles and piles of foliage and debris are still on people's curbs, but they are receding each week.
|Cocoa Village Park, 9/2017|
|Boats that lost their moorings, 9/2017|