The Voices in My Head

I hear voices. Really I do. At first, I hear them as distant muffles. After a while, if I quiet my mind and pay attention, I can tell they are talking to me. If I am very, very quiet and REALLY pay attention, sometimes I can hear what they are trying to say to me. But not always – they might wait a long, long time before getting close enough for me to hear. Sometimes, I get the exact words. Or, I just get a feeling and understand who they are and what they’re like. Maybe, it’s a message they want me to pass along. These characters show up in doodles, drawings and stories. Sometimes, they end up in my books.

For instance, Bob from my picture book Bob is a Unicorn, was just a voice at first. A pleading, insistent voice begging me to tell his story. I didn’t even know who Bob actually was or what he looked like until I had worked out the whole concept of the book completely in my head.

I might see them in my head before I know their story or even their message. Their story might be years away. It can be enough that I know who they are and I understood their message for me. I might years before they allow me to understand their full message. Once I know what they look like though? I create them – usually I am compelled to create them. I make them into figurines. I didn’t even realize I had this ability until I was in my late 20’s – to see something in my head and let me fingers create it in clay. There are times I don’t even look at the clay while I am forming whomever it is I need to create. It is like my fingers just KNOW what to do. I love when that happens.

Yesterday some new characters showed up and NEEDED to be created. When this happens? I have no choice. My day has been decided. That’s just the way it is. Here are who needed to come into this world yesterday:

SealofApprovalMy Seal of Approval. She showed up one day and wanted to be a message, I think. She just goes around being quite happy with people in general, and seems only to notice the things we do right and the awesomeness we add to a day. She is quite a friendly gal to have around. I don’t think she has a book in her. Ever since creating her, she seems very content to just hang out with the others and find the positives in life.

BoobiesNext are my Blue Footed Boobies. I saw my first Booby about a year ago when my friend Maggie texted me a photo of one of them. I could hardly contain my delight in knowing such creatures actually existed. And that they’re named BOOBIES?!?! Oh my goodness, my joy was limitless! I don’t for a minute thing this dancing duo is finished telling me their story. They make me smile. I don’t know their names yet, but I believe one is a boy and one is a girl. I can’t be certain yet, but eventually they will tell me more. Yesterday on Facebook they brought a smile to many, many people’s faces. And we all got to say BOOBIES and giggle like the 12 year old child that is inside all of us.

MustachioedOtterAnd here we have my Mustachioed Otter. He showed up the other day to tell everyone how awesome they are. He thinks he is quite awesome too. Today during the photoshoot, I realized he has quite an ego. HUGE, actually. Last night I was starting to hear what his name is. Today I am certain. This is Maurice the Mustachioed Otter. He does happen to think you are very awesome. But don’t forget to tell him how awesome HE is too. Really. Don’t forget. I have a feeling it would be bad if you don’t return his compliment.


There are three examples of exactly what goes on in my head. It’s a little crazy in there, but I have learned that if I trust these voices, they tell me truths I need and want to share. And when I am brave enough to share them without worry? I find they resonate with so many of us. It’s a scary thing to share what REALLY goes on in our heads. We may find out that people think we’re odd or strange or crazy. What I have found though, overwhelmingly, is that we’re ALL odd and strange and crazy and so when someone shows us their crazy? We breathe a giant sigh of relief and think, “Thank GOODNESS, me too! I can tell them about MY crazy, too!” And we usually find a new friend.

Being ourselves, being vulnerable, letting others see who we truly are is how we connect. How we realize we are not alone. Our uniqueness is what makes us who we are, and by sharing that? It brings us together. It’s okay to be different, okay to think differently. It’s scary to be different, I know. But when we share it, not only do we find the people who seem to be almost magically just like us, we also find the people that are different from us. Maybe as different as the sun is from the moon, but who appreciate us. I kinda think that’s what the whole point of us being here happens to be. Loving the ones like us and loving the ones nothing like us – finding the common ground.

(And of course there are those that will never, ever get us. And that’s okay too. We don’t have to all understand each other, but if we could just respect each other – though that is another post for another day.)

I better go now. There is someone telling me a story and I need to write it down. I have no idea who it is either. Wouldn’t it be awesome if it was one of the characters above? Yeah. It would be. But it is never, EVER that easy. I wish. The voices make me work so hard to figure out who they are.

Will it all be worth it?

lighthouse_marthas_vineyardTen years ago, if you had a window into my life, you would have seen me in a cubicle for 8 hours a day doing graphic design work, doing freelance graphic design projects some evenings for extra money, while also painting pet portraits most evenings for even more extra money. In between all of those things, I researched and studied the children’s book publishing industry. I began writing down ideas for my books.  All this while taking care of two young children. I slept little. Oh yeah, I was also in the middle of a nasty divorce. Good times.

I lived life at a constant speed of 100mph to fit it all in, get it all done. It was a life filled with pure adrenaline and desperation not just to pay bills, but to get to the life I wanted to be living – to authentically be ME. I had no time to think. I trusted in my vision and did everything in my power to move towards it – I never doubted what it was I wanted. I didn’t have the time to doubt.

Right now, as I type this, I’m sitting on my back deck, drinking coffee and thinking. Trying to organize all the thoughts in my head, figuring out what to do next, what to create next. Thinking and taking the time to process my thoughts is part of my job and I have the time to do it now. Let me say that again, I have time to think now. Wow.

There are moments I feel guilt that I’m not having to go a million miles per hour anymore. Sometimes I feel like I’m cheating when I can sleep, think, take time to enjoy and play in my life. But then I realize it’s because the hard work has paid off. The years of paying my dues, doing the things I didn’t want to, but had to, in order to pay my bills while still pursuing my dreams? THEY WORKED. 
My book sales now pay my bills, will send my oldest child college next month. They paid for me to go to a writer’s retreats last week to learn more about my craft. Most importantly, those sales allow me to help others – often. They allow me to volunteer to do projects for free because they touch my heart. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not swimming in money, but with saving and budgeting, and continually working and creating, I have an income that I created that I can count on. And on top of all that? There is more. Amazingly, there is MORE. Almost daily, I get emails, texts and messages telling me how something I created has helped them, even changed them or their children for the better. Stories that were born in years of desperation and a fair share of tears, have touched other people’s hearts. And that? Overwhelms me with such gratitude I can hardly contain it all.

I wish I could go back ten years and talk to my 31 year old self – the 31 year old who hardly slept, who often wondered if it would ever be her turn, wondered if she would ever be able to take a moment and breathe without wondering if that moment of doing nothing would mean she couldn’t pay the electric bill later…I wish I could whisper to her, “Don’t stop. The life you’re picturing, the exact one you want, is waiting there for you. It’s even better than you are imagining. Every sleepless night, every tear, every job, project and painting is so very worth it, it is making you who you are, who you will become. Keep going.” If you have a dream? Don’t stop, keeping going. Be willing to do whatever it takes. It will be WORTH IT. I promise.

The photo above was taken one morning at about 6:30am on Martha’s Vineyard where I was attending a writer’s retreat for the week. As I took that photo, all the thoughts in this post were swirling in my mind. I just kept saying, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” out loud. It was a moment I will carry with me forever.