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’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. :)
Last week, I did something I never, ever thought I would do.
I resigned from teaching.
It was my dream job. The one I was set to do for 30+ years until retirement. And I chose to walk away.
There are so many reasons--more than I can actually explain well in a single newsletter post. Maybe I’ll write a memoir about it someday, lol. Honestly, I'm still processing this transition, and I feel like I will be for some time.
However, if I had to boil my rationale down to a single word it would be this:
Changes in teaching--pretty much all aspects of the job.
Changes in my priorities.
Changes in me.
This decision to leave did not come easily or impulsively. It was one I agonized over for years. It was scary. It was filled with unknowns compared to the relative predictability of teaching. It was uncomfortable.
But last year, I decided to make an exit plan. I started freelancing as a copywriter for advertising and marketing, and I took classes to develop my portfolio. All while teaching English full-time. And being a baseball mom and a wife.
Needless to say, it was the most grueling 18 months of my life.
^^me this past year. Forever thankful for Jon’s help and tireless support.
Now, I’m working as a copywriter at an advertising agency. This world feels so different (in good ways) from the world I just left, and it sometimes feels a little…unreal. Like I’m going to wake up and be back to my old “normal”: sitting in my classroom, grading tests and essays, and hearing the bells ring every 55 minutes.
This process reminds me of a David Bowie song--also called “Changes”--which has these lyrics that really resonated with me:
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-changes, don't want to be a richer man
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-changes, just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can't trace time
One of my students this year wrote an essay, and in their piece, they asserted the importance of being comfortable with discomfort. In that space, we can discover our potential and find the most growth.
That idea really stuck with me, so much so that I read the essay to my own kids because I wanted them to understand that healthy discomfort shouldn’t be avoided. It is a stepping stone into a better, stronger, wiser version of ourselves.
Packing up my classroom, saying tearful goodbyes to my beloved students and colleagues, and starting a brand new job in a brand new industry has definitely been uncomfortable.
^^me when the emotions hit. Reader, I was no match for the torrent of tears that flooded me on my last week.
In fact, saying goodbye to this part of my life was one of the hardest things I’ve done in a long, long time.
But I’m embracing the hard things. The discomfort. The unknown. All of it.
Instead of dwelling on the “what was,” I’m going to allow myself to lean on the “what could be.”
Here’s the David Bowie song if you’d like to listen:
^^Our cats and pup are always on the lookout from their favorite spots around the house.
Current Read: Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
I just started reading Raymie Nightingale, a middle grade book by Kate DiCamillo. It centers the story of a 10 year-old girl reeling from the sudden and unexpected abandonment from her father. Raymie constructs an elaborate plan to win him back, but it is clear from the start that the plan will not work. In the meantime, she develops an unlikely friendship with two other girls dealing with their own heartbreaks. DiCamillo puts a lot of heart and energy into this story without making it overly tragic. With short chapters and an engaging pace, DiCamillo is able to help us navigate through these characters’ genuine and sometimes messy emotions while keeping us hopeful that they will find some healing.
Topics: Grief, Loss, Friendship, Coming of Age, Family
Jon and I are hard at work in preparation for the launch of our Crowfundr Campaign later this summer. I will be announcing the official date soon.
This story is one we have enjoyed developing, and we are so excited to bring it out into the world!
Here is a new version of our book cover:
I’m loving Jon’s character re-designs! Can you spot which cartoon and children’s book characters inspired this design? Hint: look at the faces and legs/feet.
I’m a big fan of Lo-Fi music, especially when I’m working on anything having to do with writing, editing, or revising.
I’ve recently discovered this station, which plays Lo-Fi versions of alternative/rock music from the 90s.
I can’t work in silence, so instrument music is soothing and gets my creative juices flowing.
What music do you like to listen to while working? I’d love to hear your recommendations!
Also, Jon recently bought us coffee from a local Yemeni Coffee Shop, called Qamaria. It was delicious! I love that it’s a hot spot just a short walk away. Because of Qamaria, I realized that adding a small pinch of spices like the ones pictured below is a game changer for coffee.
I strongly recommend trying this if you’re a coffee drinker.
That’s it for June. I will definitely be reaching out in July with more updates, so stay tuned!
Thank you for reading! If you have any friends who’d like this newsletter, feel free to share this with them. :)
Some updates, musings, and sharing of inspirations.