i am alive, the origin story.

the story of my latest children's book.

as it were, ever since Animal ABCs entered the world in November of 2020, i knew there was no way i would let a project that had been so fun be the one & done.

so i created a Google Doc and when i felt inspired i would put all sorts of ideas & words for my next book into it...

and it grew. and it grew. and before i knew it, spring of 2022 had sprung and the Doc was still growing.

but it was no longer in an inspiring & exciting way. i was basically weaving cobwebs.

whenever it felt like a good time to pull the trigger on an idea, some shiny penny or panic button would arise - a custom project request, a website malfunction, you name it.

despite my own book blocks, every evening around 7:30 olin & i would crawl into bed for first story, one of my favorite parts of the day!

jammies on, teeth brushed, and all that's left to do is snuggle and enjoy a good story.

this particular evening, i believe i eagerly encouraged Olin to please select something new because he chose, The World Needs Your Voice by Peter H. Reynolds.

we were steadily flipping through the sweet story when he put his little hand down preventing me from turning the page.

the page of which read,

and wherein starts my Favorite part of storytime - the conversations that are prompted, the likes of which us parents might not otherwise think to drum up....

mommy, what is alive?

i wish this was the part of the story were i could tell you i had some beautiful answer that Olin drank up before falling to sleep with a pleasant smile on his face.

instead, i think it went more like...

alive is when you aren't dead.

mommy, what is dead?

dead is when you are no longer on earth.

like in the olden days?...,

and the hole i was digging continued deeper.

it's not that i didn't want olin to understand that our physical bodies do indeed give out at a certain point, or sometimes sadly & suddenly. it's that my answers were not grasping the entirety of my beliefs around the subject. and also that i was tired, ha.

i suppose i shouldn't feel such shame that i couldn't immediately put my knowings to words because when i later googled alive, the first entry was

1.(of a person, animal, or plant) living, not dead.

anyway, there we were. discussing that people have died forever and it's a given that we will all make this physcial transition at some point.

as our minds became more tired our conversation slowly petered out and we were able to finish the story,

a story of which just so happened to end with the message,

signs from the universe, i'm telling ya. ha

the next day, after i had got through the chaos of mornings with small humans i was driving back from their school when the question popped into my head,

mommy, what is alive?

i promptly pushed it aside to whatever important tasks i had on my plate for the day.

around noon, however, the question resurfaced, what is alive?

i took a breath, pushed back my bench and went out the door for a walk & talk. i dialed my 102 year-old grandma, June, and asked her.

her response?

alive is when you're writing on the sidewalk with chalk.

of course. the next day these recent conversations were still swirling inside me. so, to-do lists aside, i went to the back patio, popped open my laptop, and began to write.

and guess what?

after years of heming&hawing on what topic to possibly pick, am i alive? came out one word at a time within a span of twenty minutes.

and with that, i closed my laptop and giddily set off to create my very first illustration,

i do love to jump in puddles, dance around without my clothes,

and from there, the visual story took form, one scrap of recycled magazine a time.

and a time it was! i wish i had documented how many outfit changes this little bear had, ha.

all in all, the actual process took about six months. and if you include the breaks for the Coconut Grove Arts Festival and moving out of the country, it was in my heart for around a year.

and now that i am through it?

what can i say except that i am SO thrilled to get to share it with you & the littles of your life!

i hope this colorful story prompts more conversations on the magic & mystery of life.

conversations that uplift & inspire us to live without fear & worry. conversations that assure us of of our inherent worth. conversations that encourage us to pour into our unique joys.

we all have what we need and more, here and now, alive and beyond.

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