Recently, a former student reached out to grab some lunch. So we met up at a local cafe when she was finished with her college classes.
Having been out of the classroom for over five months, I felt like I’ve been shedding my “teacher” identity. No longer reacting to the bell each hour. No longer grading papers every single day. But hearing her exclaim, “Mrs. St. Amant!” brought me back to that part of myself.
Me hearing “Mrs. St. Amant” for the first time in months.
We chatted about our lives and what we were up to. She told me how she was enjoying her college experience and meeting new people with similar interests. When she asked me about my job, I shared how much fun I was having working in such a different world, but I also mentioned the feeling of uncertainty and how uncomfortable it felt to grapple with more unknowns nowadays.
She smiled and said, “I remember when you talked to us about college…how we were so anxious and worried about getting an acceptance. You said that things have a way of working out. Remember?”
Yep. I remembered saying that. How easy it was for my old self to say. If only the old Desi knew what was in store.
Then she continued, “Once we made our college decisions, we were still anxious. But this time, it was about our future and whether or not we made the right choice.”
I smiled. It was all coming back to me. And it felt so bittersweet this time. I sipped my tea and listened.
She added, “You told us that we don’t change when we’re comfortable. When we experience discomfort, we can grow into our better selves.”
I chuckled. Dang, that Mrs. St. Amant could be wise…sometimes.
At that moment, I realized that I needed to hear those words. And I was so filled with gratitude that my former student gave me such a helpful reminder from my past.
Sometimes our past comes back to haunt us. But if we’re lucky, our past will come back to guide us just when we need it.
I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite poets, Maya Angelou: “I have great respect for the past. If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you don’t know where you’re going. I have respect for the past, but I’m a person of the moment. I’m here, and I do my best to be completely centered at the place I’m at, then I go forward to the next place.”
Jon has finished penciling the comic. People, he has FINISHED.
Life was wayyyy busier than we had predicted. Now he’s inking the pages. The more complex pages take a bit longer (due to more detail), but things are moving along.
We’re also working on strengthening a concept for Ruby & Copper, a story we’d been chewing on for the past year. We love the characters and have been brainstorming concepts, and we finally feel like we have a solid idea.
Working logline: Ruby wants nothing more than to be accepted by her community, and she feels that winning the local baking competition will get her there. But her inner monster, Egara, keeps getting in the way. She must learn to tame Egara or she’ll lose the last connection to her town.
Here it is, our very first peek at an Egara sketch!
Recent Read: Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon
This book was such a fun, quick read! I finished it after two days (I could’ve finished it in one day if I didn’t have work).
Kleon’s writing style is accessible, engaging, and funny. I dog-eared many pages as I read his insights. Furthermore, I also appreciated how Kleon included illustrations to make each point super clear and memorable.
Beyond his life lessons and insights on creativity, what I loved most was how the book gives us permission to seek inspiration from other ideas. Unlike imitation or plagiarism, we’re giving the inspiration our own twist and making it new and fresh (hence, “stealing” like an artist).
This is a book I’ll definitely re-read when I’m in a rut and need some quick inspiration to get going again!
Finn and Amelie are back to being besties despite Finn hanging out with Lilo more often lately.
Meanwhile, Lilo loves to get snuggly in her blanket on my work from home days.
This is a little late, but Jon and I watched Fantastic Fungi a few months ago and found it so fascinating. We had no idea what to expect, but it was such an engaging and intriguing documentary. The complexity of fungi and the potential implications for helping people suffering with mental illness gives me hope. I look forward to seeing more research on this plant’s potential for healing.
That’s it for now. Thank you so much for reading! I’ll be in touch again in December.
If you have a bestie (or even a frenemy) who’d like this newsletter, don’t hesitate to share this with them. :)
I recently listened to a podcast, called “How Awe Transforms Us,” which mentioned a term, “collective effervescence,” coined by a French sociologist named Émile Durkheim. To put it simply, it’s when people gather energy for a shared purpose.
Intrigued, I honed in on the examples of collective effervescence:
Love that “connection fuel.”
In a world that feels so disconnected and isolating—despite our technological connection…or maybe because of it—we need to find a sense of collective effervescence more than ever.
Collective effervescence (CE) ranges from the mundane to the sacred. It can be spontaneous or planned. It fills our human need to feel part of something bigger than ourselves. Ironically, it also makes our world feel smaller (in a good way): like we’re part of a “village.” In the U.S., we put individuality on a pedestal, but too often we forget that we are part of a larger society. This connection is not something that our phones or social media scrolling can replicate. It requires our full presence and engagement.
However, this isn’t the same as the superficial “we’re family” statements we might’ve heard at work and now largely understand to be problematic.
Some of my favorite CE instances: cheering with other parents at my kids’ baseball games. Or dancing at hula competition, where we literally had to dance as one. Even if we didn’t win, the energy I got from sharing that experience with others fed me for days.
Now that I ride the train a few days a week for work, I’ve had more of these moments. One day, our train to Union Station experienced delays, eventually arriving only FOUR MINUTES before the last Metrolink to my Orange County was scheduled to leave. There were several of us in that train car who needed to catch that train home, so we all made a plan to try to make it.
As the train doors opened, I held my bags tight and sprinted across the station with the other riders. Complete strangers just minutes ago, us fellow commuters cheered each other on as we ran up the stairs and dodged other passengers. With about a minute to spare, we all made it onto the train. Our middle-aged muscles burned and we gasped for air. But dammit: we did it.
With that said, in what ways have you experienced collective effervescence recently? Which experiences have stood out in your memory?
Moreover, pursuing creative endeavors can be isolating, especially when you’re hitting a rut or experiencing rejections. So when you’re feeling “meh,” consider how you can curate collective effervescence and feel less alone. When you feed your spirit, you may find more energy to overcome creative challenges.
I’ll leave you with this Herman Mellville quote, “We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men.”
Jon’s almost done with the most tedious, time-consuming part of making a graphic novel: the penciling stage. Life has been SO crazy with school, work, the kids’ activities and appointments, and other unexpected hiccups. Next, Jon will ink and color the pages. Fingers crossed that these next few months will be kind to us and allow him to catch up.
If you didn’t get a chance to purchase a book, visit our site and get one asap. We’ll be closing the storefront site in one week: Monday, 11/6 at 9am, so don’t miss your chance!
Recent Read: Fante Bukowski 2, by Noah Van Sciver
I randomly found this graphic novel in our bookshelf and gobbled it up quickly. It’s a hilarious story about a struggling writer named Fante Bukowski, who dreams of being a successful writer, yearning for credibility and respect in the writing world. However, his hubris and comical lack of talent keeps getting in the way.
I laughed out loud at certain scenes and how painfully relatable they were, like this one:
If you are a writer, an artist, or do anything creative, pick up Fante Bukowski. It's a fun and enjoyable read!
Lilo and Finn are practically besties now. Amelie isn’t thrilled, so she’s keeping her distance. But worry not: we’re offering Amelie lots of emotional support as she adapts to this change.
#1: Here’s another show we’ve been watching as a family: How to Get Rich.
The title is a bit misleading (in my humble opinion) because it’s not about “getting rich,” per se—it’s about maximizing one’s financial well-being. This can involve starting your own business, getting out of debt, or saving enough to afford a new place to live. The host, Ramit Sethi, is a financial expert who helps various people overcome financial challenges and meet their personal financial goals. The show is super engaging and leans in on the stories behind each person. As Ramit helps each client, he also integrates important lessons and tips for us to be more informed. I think financial literacy should be taught in schools, and we’re seeing the impact of not educating generations of kids about handling finances. The fact that my kids ask to watch this means I can definitely give it a big thumbs up!
#2: Our Dia De Los Muertos Altar
We’ve added a few more family members to our altar this year. But honoring and remembering them has brought us some peace and comfort. ❤️❤️
Our pomegranate haul from this month. We actually picked about three times the amount that you see in the picture, but we shared a lot of fruit with friends and family.
Thank you so much for reading! I’ll be in touch again next month with more updates.
If you know someone who’d like this newsletter, don’t hesitate to share this with them. :)
In the past years, each time I heard a staff meeting facilitator ask us to “remember our why,” my eyes would roll, and an “ugh” would gurgle up from my throat.
My “why” giving me headaches.
I’ve realized that it’s so easy to be cynical. In fact, that’s my default mode. I have to work hard and push myself to not be that way. While I think there is a valid reason for some cynicism, it can quickly spiral out of control. As a parent, it’s not the greatest mindset to model either. A “why” gives us purpose and motivation. It feeds our need to feel hope. Although there are parts of cynicism I like (such as my dark sense of humor), I need to keep that side of me in check. Constantly.
With that said, here’s a poem that helped me feel more connected to my “why.” It’s not a “professional why” or a “creative why”--it’s more existential than that. Once I read it a few years ago, it stuck with me as a favorite.
“Good Bones” by Maggie Smith.
Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.
I have found myself asking, “What kind of world did I bring my kids into?” A world full of hate and fear and suffering and chaos. Yes, it feels bleak at times. Yes, I lay awake at night sometimes wondering how they will navigate through this.
When I get overwhelmed, my mind goes back to that line: “This place could be beautiful, right? You could make this place beautiful.”
Smith is right: despite the ugliness we see, there’s still hope. Why? Because we can always discover and nurture what’s beautiful.
The “good bones” are harder to find these days, but they are still there. Despite the noise, there are many people quietly and tirelessly doing what they can to spread the good.
It’s up to us to see the good.
For your viewing pleasure, here is the video.
We’ve completed our Crowdfunder and surpassed our 2nd and final stretch goal. Woohoo!
You may have noticed that we re-opened the Crowdfundr website. We had to temporarily activate the storefront due to some issues a few supporters had with their transactions. Some transactions (processed with Stripe) labeled the contribution as “TikTok,” which caused confusion for several of our supporters and their banks. Luckily, we were able to get ahead of this and make sure to clarify what happened.
If you didn’t get a chance to purchase a book, visit our site and get one asap!
Now, Jon is working hard at illustrating the remaining pages. Then it’s time to color. Once that is complete and we check that everything looks good, we’ll send it off to printing! 🥳🥳
Recent Read: Stamped (for Kids), by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi and adapted by Sonja Cherry-Paul
My youngest son read this book, and it captured his attention right away. So much so that he finished it in two days! It also prompted him to ask big questions, and we talked about what he learned about our country’s history and our current society. I appreciated how the book’s language is accessible and written for a younger audience so that they can wrap their heads around complex ideas.
When he finished Stamped, he closed it and looked at me with sadness in his eyes, shook by the ugly elements of our history. But he had a newfound determination to share his insights with others--he even asked his teacher to make this book required reading for his class. My hope is that he will continue to stay curious and keep learning.
The band is back, y’all!
In truth, this is a rare occurrence. But we’re glad they’re getting more comfortable with each other. Baby steps.
We discovered this show, and it was so eye-opening. Even our kids were into it. The host visits various locations around the world to learn how people improve their longevity. But it’s not just about living longer. It’s about living better. The people he features, those who’ve reached their 90s and even surpassed 100 years of age have so much wisdom to share. It made me think about my habits and how we as a family can have better balance. If you’re looking for a wholesome and inspiring show, I highly recommend this one!
Hurricane Hilary--you probably already forgot about her lol--was thankfully pretty weak by the time it hit our area last month, but it still did some damage on our pomegranate tree. We had to tie it with rope to our patio in order to keep it from falling. But the fruit is coming in and still growing, which is good. Once we harvest the pomegranates, we’ll have to prune the tree and add some support.
This month’s question:
With so many products to choose from, I have to ask: which pumpkin spice products are actually worth the hype?
Thank you so much for reading! I’ll be in touch again in October. If you have any friends who’d like this newsletter, feel free to share this with them. :)
I wanted to send a quick reminder that we are in the last hours of the Three Bee Honey Campaign.
We exceeded our second stretch goal (yay!!), so that means everyone will get more of the story.
Also, today (8/19) at 11am PST (2pm EST), Jon will be hosting a live draw-along on his Instagram. He’ll walk you through multiple illustrations of TBH characters in honor of World Honey Bee Day.
And that’s a wrap!
If you haven’t purchased a book yet, be sure to order one soon. Once the clock runs out, we will switch the Crowdfundr page to “view only.” Fans will be able to purchase the book, stickers, bookmarks, etc. at conventions we visit or next year when we release book #2.
That’s all for now, but I will get in touch again in September with our regular newsletters. We truly appreciate your support through our very first Crowdfundr! :)
I’m sure we’ve all been seeing the “back to school” displays in stores and posts on social media.
In past years, I’d see them and cringe/laugh knowingly, remembering that my summer was skidding to a sudden halt. I’d resign myself to the oncoming chaos and grit my teeth at the avalanche of work I’d face for 10 months straight. But at least I didn’t have to struggle alone. I had fellow teachers going through it with me, sharing the struggle from the trenches.
But that’s not happening this year. This year, I’m not going back to school. This year, I’m on my own uncharted path. And that realization has got me feeling some type of way. Kinda twisty and sad. Kinda relieved. Definitely shook. Definitely unsure.
This is real. I made a “big girl” decision and I’m sitting with my big girl feelings now. I understand that these emotions are normal when facing a big change. Rest assured: I’ll work through those in time, and if I need a stronger outlet, maybe I’ll get myself a pinata when the going gets tough.
Speaking of big feelings, I’ve been trying to meditate more to help myself keep calm. Lately, I’ve been using a meditation app (Headspace) to do that.
I appreciate the menu of options for whichever state of mind you find yourself in. I’ve even introduced it to my family to help us pause and have mindful breaks. Since life is so busy, I tend to go for the shorter ones, but they still feel helpful.
The campaign is in its last few days--what a whirlwind!
We mentioned earlier that Three Bee Honey will feature guest artists. Here are the talented illustrators featured in your copy of the book.
As we head toward the finish line, we are pushing ahead to try to reach our second and final stretch goal: $4,500, which will allow us to expand the story.
What’s in it for you? More world-building, more story, and more of the adventure.
We know it’s within reach, so spread the word to people you know who would enjoy this book. If you haven’t had a chance to order your book, be sure to do it asap!
Also, because we met our first goal, those who purchase a physical copy of the book will receive a FREE Three Bee Honey bookmark set!
This offer expires at 12am on Monday, 8/21 at so don’t miss out!
This week, we have a livestream event for the Kids Comics Unite Community, where we will share our journey and talk about our creative process.
Whew…that’s all for now, but I will get in touch again right before the campaign ends to send last minute reminders. Feel free to share this newsletter (or the campaign) to anyone you think would enjoy it. :)
Ever notice how angry people seem nowadays? Like big mad. Triggered by the smallest provocation, raging on the road, even cursing out service workers for making a mistake on an order. I could go on and on. It’s all hit a tipping point. But in addition to some serious therapy, I think what the world needs is a piñata.
Yes, a piñata.
I know it’s a bit strange, but hear me out.
Over the past few months, I’ve attended parties that included piñatas. And these weren’t all kids’ birthday parties either. But these gatherings all had one thing in common: a big, colorful piñata. A colorful piñata we were not just gonna hit, but absolutely destroy.
Me when I get in front of any pinata--get that blindfold ready!
And I must say, the act of taking a swing at one is immensely satisfying.
Then I thought about a podcast I recently heard about this festival in Italy called The Battle of the Oranges. The citizens of Ivrea gather oranges, and each winter for three days, they throw the oranges at each other. Like a water balloon fight, but more bruise-inducing. And why do they do this? The villagers seek catharsis, which means “the process of releasing.”
This is a way for everyone to let out all pent up negative emotions, angst, and resentments. The local leaders plan around this event, including clean ups after the fact, making this well-organized chaos. And people can decide not to partake if they choose.
As author Jon Mooallem describes, the residents “would throw the oranges very hard, very viciously, often while screaming profanities at their targets or yowling like Braveheart, and they would throw the oranges for hours, until their eyebrows were matted with pulp and their shirts soaked through.”
At the same time, this battle was healing, as “they would also keep smiling as they threw the oranges, embracing and joking and cheering one another on, exhibiting with their total beings a deranged-seeming but euphoric sense of abandon and belonging — a freedom that was easy to envy but difficult to understand.”
I think this tradition is brilliant. We all need our version of The Battle of the Oranges. While throwing citrus fruit can get a bit sticky or even cause real damage, hitting a piñata is way, way more manageable. But it still gives us that much-needed release.
Feeling in a funk? Frustrated with someone in your life? Fed up with the indignities of adulthood? Take a bat or a stick, hang that piñata, and as it swings in the wind, give it a good, hard whack!
I also think piñata companies need to get on this and market to adults. There’s a whole bunch of us ready to let out a lot of repressed energy, especially after these past few years.
So next time you hit up a piñata shop (there are a bunch near me in Santa Ana), get yourself a “just because” piñata. Get yourself a “just in case” piñata for the tougher weeks. It’s calming. It’s cheaper than therapy.
And the best part? There’s no birthday party required.
We’ve officially reached our stretch goal! Yay!
That means everyone who has ordered a book (Worker Bee Package or higher) will get a free bookmark set with their shipment when the book comes out.
Barney Smith from Story Comic interviewed Jon and me about our campaign. You can click here to listen to us talk about how we made it happen and the process of developing Three Bee Honey.
Also, our stickers came in. You can check out our unboxing video here. They are super cute!
If you want a sticker set and a print, be sure to put in your order before August 19th, the day our campaign ends!
Top: Finn likes to lay down right in the middle of my younger son’s army guy set up.
Middle and Bottom: In this heat, the pets like to sleep under or near the fan to stay cool.
The Brooklyn Public Library, in partnership with the Seattle Public Library, is combatting the recent wave of book censorship with a program called Books Unbanned. This program will grant access to audiobooks and eBooks to teens and young adults living anywhere in the U.S.
Sadly, books are being banned all over the country, even in California.
But we have the tools to push back on this rampant censorship and protect everyone’s right to read. If you know a teen or young adult who would like a Books Unbanned card, please share this resource with them.
That’s all for now, but I will get in touch again as the campaign winds down with last minute updates. We greatly appreciate your support!
Feel free to share or forward this newsletter (or the campaign link) to anyone you think would enjoy it. :)
Hey friends! Our Crowdfundr campaign launches in just ONE day, and Jon and I are working hard behind the scenes to get everything as ready as possible. We just posted this video to kick off the launch.
To commemorate this event, I thought I’d try a different angle in summarizing our experience preparing for a Crowdfundr. We are so excited to get Three Bee Honey out into the world, but it’s definitely been a LOT of work. But we’re making progress, and that alone is worth celebrating.
The ABCs of Crowdfunding
Anticipation building as you countdown the days
Believing in yourself when the doubts get loud
Cross the Rubicon and announce your campaign
Don’t forget to take a shower!
Endless edits on the story and the website
Fall, but then get back up
Go get some sleep, kiddo
Have to complete way too much math to figure out a budget
Infinite to-do lists
Just keep swimming, even when life gets in the way
Know that you’ll be okay, regardless
Learning how to make TikToks, Reels, and Stories
Manifest your daily goals #bossbabes
Noticing that one mistake after it’s posted-gah!
Optimize your network and make the ask
Parent the kids and be generous with screens
Quality videos take time--learn how to edit
Remember to draft a few newsletters along the way
Scrambling the week before launch
Take breaks and laugh or watch a show
Update your fans--even if it’s just your best friend
Visit other campaigns to learn and offer support
Whenever you can, update your subscribers
Xtra rewards are always a good idea for your big spenders
You can do it ALL--sike! Just kidding!
Zen feeling that hits after it’s all done.
The campaign hasn’t even launched yet, but I’m stoked at the level of encouragement and support we’ve gotten. Here are some cool things we have in store for you:
In addition, we have:
Subscribe to our campaign for updates. Thank you so much for joining us on this journey!
It’s Thursday, so I thought I’d throw in a few throwback pictures of our four-legged friends. Aren’t they the cutest?? *Squeeee!*
Since the kids are on summer break, we have a chance to spend more time together, which has its pluses and minuses, for sure. To break up the long summer days, we have family game nights. One of our favorite games is Catan. It is a game of strategy, and the object is to use your resources to build as many settlements and cities as possible.
That’s all for today, but I will get in touch again soon when the campaign goes live. We truly appreciate your support through this process! :)
Life calls on us to be brave. Often. That fact is as predictable as the anticipation you feel at the top of a rollercoaster when it reaches its first drop.
Don’t get me wrong: I love a great ride. That inching upward. The gripping of the lap bar. The unhinged screaming as we go down.
But it’s that drop I want to reflect on today.
It really be like that sometimes.
It always tickles that thrill seeking part of our brains, but it can inspire some anxiety as well. We know the drop is coming. We even stood in line for this ride. Voluntarily. Maybe even for hours.
But when we inch closer, that realization of “Oh crap, here we go!” flashes through our minds.
Life is like that sometimes. We anticipate a drop coming, and maybe we panic and wonder if we can go back. But like the wise Miley Cyrus once said, “We can’t stop, won’t stop.” And this applies to life changes and facing our call to action.
Here are some moments I’ve recently experienced that required a little momentum and a whole bunch of courage:
We’ve been working on this story for YEARS. Pitching it. Fixing it. Pitching it again. All the while, keeping our faith in it alive. We could have let this go when no publisher made an offer. But we just can’t.
So here we are, determined to bring this story out into the world.
You can help make this happen by checking out our campaign and subscribing to it for updates. I’m developing some TikTok videos to show the behind-the-scenes fun stuff we do. We also have some awesome add-ons in the works, such as various rewards packages, featured guest artists, and freebies for the first contributors.
Does this little book about bees require bravery? Sure thing. But we’re ready.
Current Read: Wizard of Ads, by Roy H. Williams
One of the teachers in my copywriting class suggested this book, The Wizard of Ads, by Roy H. Williams. I thought it would be a dry book about advertising, full of pedantic writing. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how entertaining and engaging this book is. In its essence, this book is about the way people think. I attached a picture to show a sample piece. I appreciated the short, thought-provoking essays, which would each end with a delightful and clever insight or punchline. This book isn’t just for advertising--it’s great for better understanding people and what motivates them.
Lilo so badly wishes she was accepted by the cool cats. <<-- maybe there’s a PB book idea here?
I recently started working for RPA, an advertising and marketing agency. I had the pleasure of participating in their recent PRIDE Promo Video. It was my first time being a puppeteer, and it was so fun! I was surprised by how much of an arm workout it was, but I developed a deeper appreciation for this artform.
My start as a professional puppeteer.
Our tomatoes are coming in, and we are excited to pick the first ripe ones for our salads and sandwiches. We also added more plants around the yard that pollinators would enjoy.
Thank you so much for reading this newsletter! I’ll be sending you more updates for the next month as the campaign launches.
This month’s question: how have YOU been brave lately? I’d love to hear about your journey doing something courageous--no action is too small. Feel free to comment on my blog or reach out and share.
If you have any friends who’d like this newsletter, feel free to share this with them. :)
Some updates, musings, and sharing of inspirations.