Hoo boy!

January felt like a LIFETIME. Just me? Seriously, how can I have been in the New Orleans airport LESS than a month ago? That feels completely insane.

Well, 2024 came with a vengeance. I have felt challenged these past few weeks.

I was just saying to Andrew earlier today that I’m starting to feel like all of my personal battles are made of the same stuff. Just different angles on the same problem.

Maybe that should be obvious? I mean, we’re told that we get ourselves into patterns, right? That’s a thing.

Another thing to note, I have been doing a lot of EMDR in the past two months. So that could definitely be related—kicking up the dustier traumas and swirling them all around with my present-day obstacles.

My family bullshit is feeling white-hot, brand-new. I wish I could just…place this feeling in someone else’s body for a few minutes, just to try to get a clearer look at what the hell it is in the first place. What is the name of this feeling? I want to place it in the body of others I trust, and ask them – what does this feel like to you? Have you experienced this? Because of what? Why? Did it go away? How did you move through it?

It feels like 20 feet of steel cable all knotted up in my chest. And simultaneously completely hollow, somehow? But also claustrophobic. Like you’re breathing through wool.

And that same feeling pops up in some of the more-hierarchical or…institutional? socially-scripted? aspects of my work, in really all sorts of present-day relationships, and often apropos of nothing at 3:00 in the morning…

But then, I’ve also been feeling SO creatively satisfied. Like, I can feel myself actively applying creativity as an antidote to this other unnamable monster. And that has been pretty interesting, too.

Again…hoo boy! January! You rascal!

But seriously, as I am looking back at my notes from Jess, from Alex, from Grace…all I can think about is that fact that six months ago, I interviewed these three incredible people, and ALL of us are talking about this same shit, in one way, or another.

I’m feeling sort of bewildered-and-captivated about it (is there a name for that feeling?).

The notes I took down from the Jess interview are so dense. I think I could write an essay on any of these little bullets.

We talked about a sort of regular (almost reverent? ritual?) practice of looking back at our childhood art/projects/writing, as adults. When she said it, it hit me right in the gut. Talking with someone else who does this made me interrogate myself about it in a new way. I have to assume that Jess would agree, in retrospect, that there’s something about it that honors the inner child.

I was just looking through MY old stuff recently (totally having forgotten this conversation with Jess, of course), and I found a bunch of poems I’d written when I was 9 years old. I had this idea to gift an original poem to EVERY adult member of my extended family (grandparents, aunts, uncles…both sides) for Christmas. And I fucking did it! I have all of these little poems from that same period of time. Three full pages of these little poems. They are so darling. All different structures, so free.

Anyway, it’s almost like…there needs to be an adult who values this creative work. My family didn’t, and doesn’t, but I look back on it to check in with my little self, and remember how precious I was (am?), and that the adults in my life were nuts not to cherish that. It’s its own form of inner-child care.

Jess, if you read this, will you tell me if that’s what it is for you, too?

We talked about how Jess’s mom [secretly] gathered deer poop while on a summer camping trip, and saved it FOR NEARLY A YEAR to pose as Easter Bunny poop during the next spring. I love that Jess told me this. It’s been floating around in my brain for this past half-year, just making me love creativity so hard.

It makes me think of that saying – when you’re a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. And then – when you’re an artist…everything starts to look like creative material. And that really just is what it is. It’s SO like that. Even feral poops will get you thinking about your current project. Anything. Everything. It’s so satisfying. So exciting.

Creativity is rad.

Jess and I talked about the magic of implanting an emotion in someone through art—handing someone a pastry and watching a new emotion arise, as a result. I recall the first time I realized this power. It was Christmastime, and I was singing at the mall with a little children’s choir I was part of. I had been chosen to perform a solo number, and a saw a complete stranger, a woman, tearing up while listening to me. It was a revelation!

I absolutely agree with Jess. There is a magic here that you simply cannot ignore. If you have the ability to wield it, you absolutely must. And you must do whatever you can to use your powers for good. Considering her present career as a vegan pastry chef, I’d say she’s absolutely nailing it.

Jess and I also share a perverse willingness to vault ourselves head-first into a challenge. We agree that the discomfort itself is a critical piece in the motivation puzzle.

There’s also something deeply true about being so overwhelmed with just facing the challenge, that you haven’t the bandwidth to worry much about validation. As Jess puts it, “not worrying about how those around you are perceiving what you’re doing while you’re doing it – just knowing that you’re doing what you can.” It’s honestly profound.

Jess puts her values front-and-center in her business. She values creativity, she values the individual. She wants for everyone to contribute whatever vibrance they can. She makes room for it. It’s beautiful to hear about, it’s beautiful to see.

And then, at the very end of the conversation, Jess shares that her mother is pretty similar to mine. And tells me that, at some level, her art is always about her mother.

It brought tears to my eyes when she said it, and it’s fucking me up right now, too. What IS the name of this feeling? It’s just…woven through everything.

But…Jess spends every day of her life making the most beautiful and wholesome desserts I’ve ever seen. What’s more radical than that? This is the warrior I choose.

Alex also talks about working with his depression/anxiety/restlessness to make art. He says, “I need to be getting out the feelings that I’m chasing, regularly. I have to start stepping it out.” If he doesn’t take those steps, he gets wound up, the balance starts to shift in a troublesome way.

It’s a funny thing to learn this about yourself. Unsurprisingly, many of my guests share this sentiment. We learn as children that we feel better when we make art. And we just…never stop making art.

There’s something very whimsical about a child who entertains and sooths themselves this way. As Alex puts it, “I could entertain myself with nothing.” This incredible imagination is more than enough.

What a miraculous joy! I feel the same way.

Even with all that raw material – imagination, angst, whatever it may be – Alex and I agree that there is a particular moment where a young (or any-aged) artist is met with a modality/medium that awakens the artist-self in a new way, that “brings it online.” Like, this is what THIS is for!

I loved hearing Alex talk about discovering and nurturing NEW mediums as an adult who has already committed his life to art. When that primary medium gets wrapped up in…the other thing, anxiety/depression/restlessness, we find new ways to “step out,” to work out, those feelings. New modalities. New projects. New strings to pull on. It’s so beautifully resilient. It’s max creative.

The longer I do this work, the more certain I feel that art is critical. Absolutely essential. But…capitalism plays a nasty trick here, doesn’t it? We find ourselves worrying that art isn’t a worthy pursuit in a world that so obviously needs doctors, teachers, scientific innovators, etc. The world seems to need nearly everyone more. It’s easy to feel infantile, to feel accused of a sort of vanity, or maybe even to feel some guilt, or shame about pursuing beauty, about pursuing art.

But god, it’s just does not ring true. I’ve heard DOZENS of people say that art means more to them, does more for them…

It helps. In myriad, miraculous ways. And the truth is, that beautiful mystery is borne out in science, as well.

I think my personal beliefs are crystalizing in a new way, on these matters. I do believe that everyone (no exceptions) needs to nurture their creativity, and their aesthetic awareness. I’m also beginning to feel that perhaps the social role of the full-time artist sits somewhere between making available a means whereby others can be transported and transformed…and also in the disciplined study of the artistic process—distilling it, fleshing it out, making it a bit more teachable as a mindset (or heartset) that may be applied in any profession, to any walk of life.

I’m increasingly unabashed about the need for art and artists in the global human family. Capitalism can eat a bag of dicks about it.


Oh. I also wanted to say something about Alex’s experience of artistry coming out of him as romance. I just feel this way, too. I’m so glad to have some words for it. Alex, let’s talk more about this, shall we? I want to hear everything you think.

Grace, Grace, Grace. Thank you for bringing your beautiful self to my house to talk about art with me. I loved it.

I’ve been living right inside Grace’s art for YEARS without having a single question in my mind. Ridiculous, honestly (but…again…capitalism). Grace fills my local grocery store (omg capitalism, but I feel different about it in this sentence) with art. It’s FULL OF ART. She provides me, and many of my fellow Lehi, UT residents with immense enrichment. It’s so awesome. Go Harmon’s. Go Grace!

Grace shared lots of things I love. We talked about the false binary of logic-vs-creativity. This sort of left-brain/right-brain-invoking thing where some people claim to be analytical/logical, and therefore just “not a creative person.”

But listen, Grace is right, it’s so dumb to pretend those things are opposite ends of a spectrum.

Of course, it takes SO much creativity to think logically. You have to imagine the holes in your own argument. You have to build all sorts of abstractions. It’s deeply creative.

Actually, I think that’s why there’s such a fine line between artists and philosophers in non-modern times. In the classic sense, philosophers are writers. Storytellers, in many ways. Illuminating truths with a sort of grace-and/or-simplicity that feels a bit mysterious, heightened, somehow beyond-words, or beyond-measure. Art and philosophy seem very porous, this way.

There’s something about like…a global idea of science? academia? licensure? that puts philosophy in a tricky position. And capitalism puts art (and everyone) in a tricky position, as well.

Something about all of that (and certainly other ingredients) makes us treat logic differently. Like it’s something sterile (as opposed to something messy and chaotic, like art). Is if there wasn’t an idea at the root. And as if ideas aren’t often messy and chaotic.

Or…maybe we just outsource more of our logic, now. Maybe the process is less familiar, less relatable?

In any case, it seems ridiculous to imagine that ANY rigorous, or innovative thought is not inherently creative.

Maybe “artistry” takes on a slightly different connotation. Maybe that’s what gets us all confused about it?

All I know is, it’s ignorant to treat these things like opposites. Grace is exactly right.

And with that in mind, another thing I loved is that Grace explained to me how, for her, art isn’t the fraught experience it is for me, Jess, and Alex. She’s just always been good at it. She’s always been validated for it. It’s never been wrapped up in that other icky stuff.

It’s an escape, a respite, for a completely different reason. She isn’t all that vulnerable there.

BUT, those icky feelings are around in other parts of her life. And she’s exercising creativity in all sorts of ways to act upon that, but with an entirely different creative expression than is in the visual art, itself.

I think it’s an incredible thing to share. And AGAIN, evidence toward the idea that creativity can be in everything we do. Certainly, it can be in anything we do.

I also think artistry can be in anything we do.

Either way, very cool.

But I think maybe my favorite thing Grace shared with me – especially in the context of really all of that ^^^ – is an idea that comes from her energy healing work/experience.

She calls it “the golden shadow.”

As I understood it, the golden shadow is the beautiful and powerful things within ourselves that we keep hidden because they aren’t permitted in the larger system. Or, even in small systems, we individually, for whatever reason, are not permitted to show or perform these beautiful and powerful things.

In other words, there are penalties for showing up whole.

I feel this so hard, recently. But lately, it almost feels like…I really am trying to show up whole.

And…there certainly are penalties for that. There are definitely penalties for that.

But there’s also a subset of that not-permitted-to-show-up-whole feeling that is more like – me doing my true best to show up whole, but there also absolutely being things that I am withholding. And weirdly, maybe that is what is getting the penalty? Does that make sense?

Like – I’m causing some kind of tension, or just a discomfort in [some] others, partly because I am continuing to withhold something good?

Meanwhile, I’m just feeling like I am giving as much as I humanly can.

But again, I’m definitely still withholding.

I understand why that might be off-putting. It’s incongruous. There’s something suspicious about it.

But. What can I do? Understandably, I’m totally defensive of this beautiful little thing. It’s been threatened all my life.

On the other hand, I really want to stop withholding it. I want so badly for it to be received, to be valued, to belong.

It’s so precious. It’s worthy. It’s more than enough.

And the fact is…I am showing as much as I’ve ever shown. I’m giving more than I’ve ever given Trusting myself and following my joy more than I ever have. And also living more “in my values” than I ever thought was possible. Just being as earnest and ethical as I can humanly be.

And then…when that is rejected…oof. Well, it is hard to want to show up whole.

And of course, that wholeness is bound to be rejected while I’m trying to get myself out of these abusive structures. As Brené Brown would say, I’m in “the briar patch.” Still partly in the briar patch.

So, you know. I’ve had to withhold a little bit in order to just survive this exit. In a paradigmatic tug-of-war, and in any kind of trauma, you need to protect some of those beautiful things.

But lately, I feel like I’m trying to actually show up whole.

It isn’t easy. It takes a lot of practice. I don’t really understand it yet; I’m not sure what’s what. Things don’t always look like what they are to me, and I get confused about reality…

It’s partly the gaslighting. And partly just never having experienced some of these things before. I’m not sure where to categorize them, or how to process it.

I don’t always know what’s me, and what’s old programming.

I know I get it wrong when I bump up against humanity. Pain, ignorance, sexism, tribalism of any kind, jealousy, misunderstanding. Mine, or someone else’s.

I get it wrong when I’m too tired, when I’m sick, when my trauma is extra spiky and jumpy, for whatever reason.

It’s confusing. And I’m not always brave enough to do it. I’m not always alert enough to do it. I don’t always have the bandwidth.

But like all things we practice (and the things we do EMDR about), it seems to be moving a bit. If sometimes in a way that is confounding, and unpredictable. Messy. Chaotic. But, I’m trying to pay attention.

Like I keep saying, I’m doing research. 🧚‍♀️

And, that’s our Deep Dive!

Omg. Wish me luck staying on schedule this year. I’m VERY pleased that this one is reaching you before the first February Artifice episode drops. But…imma wipe my brow about that one. ‘Twas by the skin of my TEETH!

Meanwhile, I have so so so many other things I want to teehhhhhllllll you. Alas, I’m doing all I can.

Here’s your eccentric little piece of it. ✨

With love,


P.S. Did you notice the Easter egg? #lyrics >>>

And here are some of Jess’ pastries. I ate them.

What's the Name of This Feeling?