A short story about truth

The other day I found myself idly trying to recall when exactly a particular event in my youth occurred or how it turned out. I was wishing my mom were here to just ask, when I suddenly remembered that I possessed numerous journals spanning from the age of 15 to my late 30s and picking up again in recent years. The answer is no doubt in one of them, along with a million other moments.

In those journals I catalogued my thoughts and emotions (sooo many emotions!) for decades. Additionally, I wrote poetry in my tender years; penned and designed greeting cards; was hired to write a local newspaper column after submitting a quickly created essay; saw my byline on countless articles for the same paper; wrote relevant industry content for dozens of clients; AND completed an unpublished, novel-length vampire love story along with a diverse smattering of other fiction.

In short, I am a writer.

So why do I still experience that momentary pause when I’m asked what I do? Why does it feel less pretentious to answer I’m a graphic designer or content creator, than simply a writer – which actually generates most of my income? Although I admit to sometimes feeling like a fraud upon reading the sublime words of my favorite authors and poets, I know many of them also started out writing in journals, for newspapers, and even ad agencies. And I’m reminded that I was an artist before I landed the job that first put that title on a business card; I was an advocate for the arts before I opened a brick-and-mortar gallery; and I was a writer long before somebody paid me to be one.

I am not a pretender.

I am not a hack.

Hell, I’m not even an amateur.

I’m a journalist. I’m a poet. I’m an essayist. I’m an artist. I’m a creator. And even when I am so full of words that they spill on to the page in the shape of tears, I know I mustn’t staunch the flow.

Because I am a writer.

…What truths are you afraid to speak out loud?

Pull up a chair and let’s talk about beginnings. 🪑

There are more than 30 million small businesses in the US. While many of them suffered this past year and more, I expect we’ll see a whole bunch of entrepreneurs enter the market as a direct result of unplanned job changes and/or a big shift in priorities, which is kind of exciting.

If you’re one of those who felt the stirring of a new business idea or if the quarantine sparked a desire to take things to the next level, you’re not alone. (Even a global pandemic should have a silver lining.) What’s next? You can get a $5 cookie-cutter logo and “borrow” some generic copy from a similar website to get your ideas off the ground. Or you can treat your dream with the respect it deserves. ✨

There’s a time to conform and there’s a time to stand out from the crowd. NOW is your time to raise your dreams from the ashes of 2020-21 and show the world what you can do. I’d love to help with YOUR new beginnings.

Catching my own butterflies

Is anyone else dreaming wildly, and more vividly than usual during this pandemic? With my barely recognizable sleep cycle and Defcon-5-level of worries and what-ifs, it’s even more noticeable for me these past few months. Some dreams are noteworthy, but mostly I’m just exhausted all day.

I’ve always had pretty good recall of many nightly adventures, especially the crazy ones. And while I seldom write them down or try to analyze the deeper meaning, there are those that hit me on the head in the morning letting me KNOW there’s a message in there I can’t ignore.

I recently stumbled upon a page in one of my countless notebooks describing one such dream that took place when I was in the process of starting my business. I had completely forgotten about it so I was pleased I had the awareness to write it down at the time. It went like this:

I was discussing a potential job with a woman who seemed to work for Apple. She was enthusiastically explaining how much money I would make – millions! – and what a huge asset I would be to the company.

She said, “you’ll be responsible for catching my butterflies and making them pretty!”

As a designer and a writer, I’m used to being given concepts or words and then asked to ‘make them pretty’ so I was understandably excited and confident. However, I had misunderstood what she was expecting of me: I was to help organize her brilliance but not in a creative capacity – as a personal assistant to her and the team. In spite of the promised riches, I declined the offer because I knew I could do so much more.

I recall waking up and feeling good that my subconscious knew what was best for me as I embarked on my new venture. I’ve had many jobs over the years that were fulfilling and educational, but I was ultimately working on someone else’s dream – not mine.

It was time to catch my own butterflies.

Bottoms Up!

As we enter our 384th week in the global pandemic of 2020, certain things have become the norm:

  • Calculating on my fingers the last time I showered, then factoring in the 6-foot buffer before venturing out in public.
  • Practicing “eye smiling” in the mirror with my mask on so I don’t make other shoppers uncomfortable while waiting for my turn in the vodka aisle.
  • Obsessing over The Numbers every day and pretending they will magically change things back to the way they were pre-March.

Meanwhile, I was listening to a favorite book for an online book club – and hoping to spark my creative embers. It was Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, and truly, she could read tax codes and I’d be soothed and reassured of a positive outcome to all of this… *gestures at the world*

Two items she touches on in Big Magic are the basis of my little story today.

The first time I read it I was captivated by Liz’s mining of literary gold as a bartender. I myself have often mentally bookmarked someone’s interesting story or snippet of conversation for future exploration. The day after my mom died I woke up drained and sad, but I announced to anyone who would listen that I would now go be a bartender as well, in order to invigorate my writing career.

Well, if you received this email you know I started a business instead.

Another chapter tells the story of a writer who was creatively constipated after a massive failure, so he distracted himself by painting his children’s bicycles with hundreds of stars. And then their friends’ bikes. And before he knew it, his virtual bowels moved and he could return to his own work.

Flash forward two years and that guy’s story felt very relevant with a pandemic sucking the life out of our usual passions. However the internet has also been full of people resurrecting past hobbies, learning new skills, and painting stars in their own way. Long story long, I was likewise inspired to try something creatively different that didn’t necessarily fall under the umbrella of art or writing.

I set up bar at my own house and made drinks.

As my hobby has developed, I’ve since discovered the disarming Quinn Cumming – former child actor, current writer and cocktail purveyor – who is sharing her own quarantine gig for a good cause every week on Zoom. And for that book club I crafted a pretty drink for the group dubbed Big Magic. The recipe is below if you’re so inclined.

You probably won’t find me behind or AT a bar any time soon (Hello! Have you seen The Numbers??!) but it has spawned a fun outlet to help me feel less frustrated and resentful over my inability to complete a novel or two with all this down time. I’ll drink to that!

Let me know what hobbies, skills or diversions you’ve embraced this year. Stay safe and be well. xo

Big Magic recipe

Abstract Notions

Red Dot by Jim Klein

Attend any modern art exhibit and you’re bound to overhear remarks like “my preschooler could do better” and “they want how much for that?”

While even the most educated art lover may have strong negative opinions about a piece that involves seemingly random brush strokes or splotches, there is much more than meets the eye behind the most well-known modern artworks. Indeed, there’s a rich history behind the abstract movement that can shed light on the value of this art form, and maybe enhance your appreciation as well.

Abstraction literally means to take something away from and that was the notion inspiring the artists of the late 19th century. The first signs of the movement can be traced to Impressionism, Post-Impressionism and Cubism, which all flirted with non-representational art. Expressionists like Henri Matisse focused more on color, shapes, and the emotions they evoked. Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali painted real things and people in an unreal manner. The artist most associated with the birth of the abstract movement was Wassily Kandinsky.

The commonality of these artists is that before experimenting with the non-representational, they were accomplished illustrators and painters. They understood perspective and color theory and the golden ratio – a compositional strategy in art. They saw modern art as an emotional response to the fundamental changes in society due to technology, the economy and philosophy.

Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor

Artists throughout the last century continue to be inspired by the early movement of contemporary art – especially with popular and thriving urban centers around the world that are ideal for large, bold statements in paint and sculpture. Jim Klein can be counted as one of the inspired.


Meet Jim Klein

About two years ago, I was exploring the arts district in Scottsdale, soaking up the art, and looking for potential clients, when I entered the J Klein Gallery. It was a small space with vibrant colors and eye-catching canvases juxtaposed with traditional bronze sculptures of the animal world.

Turns out, I moved all the way from Colorado five years earlier to stumble upon a gallery featuring three familial artists from the very region I used to live! The owner, Jim Klein, splits his time between Scottsdale and Northern Colorado and created the space to showcase his own work as well as that of his nephew (Jeffrey Berryman) and cousin (Dan Ostermiller).

To make a long story short (haha, not likely), I ended up working with the gallery on some design projects and eventually came on as a part-time art consultant. This fulfilled a need for all involved and got me out of my pajamas and back into the joy of sharing art with the public.

Trappers Point by Jim Klein

As a former gallery owner, I sought to represent all types of art including abstract and non-traditional. I immediately appreciated Jim’s successful mix of interpretive and figurative imagery, with a broad, kaleidoscope of colors for his palette. His work is inspired by both Colorado and Arizona, flora and fauna, friends and strangers, as well as impulsive journeys through his own curiosity.


Speaking of journey, Jim’s artistic trajectory was not typical. Although he’s always been creative, his entrepreneurship was based in the agricultural industry. Upon retirement, he dipped back into painting and music and found a deeper well from which to draw. You’ll find conspicuous influences of his previous business and current farm life in many of his contemporary landscapes and the occasional cow.

“The subjects of my paintings are very seldom intentional. At a certain point, something takes over the brush, canvas, and paints and I have no control; the art goes where it goes,” explains Jim.

A man after my own heart, Jim relishes the marriage of art and story, often sharing his thought processes and sometimes humorous behind-the-canvas anecdotes. He doesn’t take the art world too seriously, and genuinely loves when his work makes people happy.

He gets it.

Before settling for a famous starry night poster or black & white photography for your own home collection, explore the diversity and delight behind names like Rothko, Pollock, af Klint and Klein. And next time you hear someone profess, “I just don’t get it!” remember that art appreciation doesn’t always require comprehension.

To learn more about Jim and the work at J Klein Gallery, visit here. Contact me for an exclusive 40% discount and free shipping while we’re closed due to the pandemic. [Portions of this post are from an article written by Susan Richards and reprinted with permission by DLP Marketing.]