Time to Speak my Truth

Hello. I’m Kimberly.  

Hello. I’m Kimberly.  

 “... what I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have. And I'm especially proud and inspired by all the women who have felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories."  

Like millions of people, I was watching the Golden Globes a few weeks ago when Oprah stood up and put into words the things so many of us have been feeling. We all have a a super power and it’s our truth. I’ve sat down so many times to start speaking my truth. And then, I’m too scared to say anything.

So, here’s the deal: I suffer from mental illness. It sounds so ugly when you say that.  Those two words — mental illness — sound so yucky, so dirty. But they’re just words. And saying I have mental illness is no different than saying I have diabetes or cancer. 

The one thing I want to do more, than anything in this world, is to help someone else who has a mental illness ... by sharing my story. But doubt and fear creep in and I think I’m not “good enough” to help someone else or  my story doesn’t matter on the larger picture. Except that’s true. The  real truth is this: I not only live, but I thrive all while having a mental illness. I have a fucking good life. I have a job that I’m good at. I have an art practice that brings me peace, joy and healing. I have a wonderful family. I’m raising smart, independent and brave children. I’m rocking my world and I do that without much thought to my illness. That’s because I’ve found success in my treatment plans, success in my medications, success with coping, success in dealing with my issues .... I have figured out how to be so much more than my illness. But for some crazy ass reason, I let myself believe that because I’m not Oprah or Brené Brown — both of whom look up to and have a great deal of respect for — then speaking my truth isn’t worthwhile or helpful. 

Starting today that’s over. This is the year I speak my truth. This is the year I use my voice and my talents to help advocate for those with mental illness. There are people out there that don’t have the same resources I have ... and haven’t been able to get healthy and a manage their mental illnesses. That’s beyond fucked up. Every single persons n deserves to live with dignity. No one should suffer and not get the help they need. And I have an obligation to help others who have mental illness because I have the support and tools I need to live a meaningful and healthy life. This is the year I put my voice + money into action and make a difference  

Mental illness is not pretty. It’s not easy. It’s not fun. But it’s all around us. And I for one could do more to end the stigma surrounding it. This is the year. 

#UNRULY365 ... my creative challenge for 2018

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In 2017 I painted every, single day. I started the year out thinking there was no way I could follow through on my commitment to creating every day. As the days and weeks progressed and I didn't miss a day, I felt the most empowered I have in years. It was a powerful reminder that I can do anything I put my mind to.

This isn't a new revelation. I've always known this, but somewhere along the way, I forgot. I lost faith in myself and though creating something each day was originally about just creating, it turned into a daily reminder that I can commit to myself and make things happen. I can do hard things. I can make sacrifices for the things I want. Yes, I painted every day, but it was so much more than that. It was completely transformative. I couldn’t have told you a year ago, but this was by far one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for myself. I'm not the same person who started this 365 days ago. I’m braver. I’m stronger. I believe in myself in a way I didn’t a year ago. I’m bolder. I’m more open. And I’m a better artist.

So, it's no surprise that as 2017 ended, I felt a little sad. I was grieving the end of my Year of Creative Habits and I knew I wanted to do extend my daily creative practice beyond 2017. But, I didn't want to do exactly the same things. 

As I was coming up with ideas for 2018, I kept coming back to the idea that I wanted (needed) something that stretched me in a way I haven't been stretched yet. I wanted to see tremendous growth at the end of 2018. This is what I came up with: #UNRULY365.

What is #UNRULY365? For starters, it's about being UNRULY. For so long, I have been paralyzed by rules and doing what other people tell me is okay or right. No more. I'm going to do what I want to do. Fuck rules. Fuck what everyone else is doing. Fuck the establishment. I am an artist. What I create has value. I don't need other people to tell me I'm worthy or my work is meaningful. I am and it is. I'm creating something every single day and I'm listing it to be sold. I'm going to stretch myself, put myself out there and actively sell work. 

Here are the specifics of what I'll be doing for #UNRULY365:

  • One piece of art each day of 2018
  • Each piece will be 11x17
  • Each piece will be listed on my website and Instagram to be sold. 
  • They will be listed the day after creation.
  • Each piece will sell for $100.
  • Each piece will ship for free.
  • At the end of each month, I'll donate 10 percent of my sales to This is My Brave, an organization that is working to end the stigma surrounding mental health issues through storytelling.
  • Finally, I'll be writing on daily on this blog about how the healing power of my art practice, how my art has saved me. 

How's that for ambitious, bold and UNRULY? When I told my daughter my plan, she said: "But won't that stress you out?" Yes, it might. But it will also force me to stretch myself and make hard choices about how I want to spend my time. There were plenty of times in 2017 when I felt stressed out by the pressure of painting daily. But I also felt empowered when I figured out how to make it work.

Am I nervous or scared? Hell yes! I'm scared people will laugh at me. I'm scared no one will buy my art. I'm scared I've overcommitted. I'm all kinds of scared. But if I don't leap now, when will I? And I need this. I need to stretch myself and grow. 

Here's to an UNRULY 2018. 

Kalil Family Christmas Letter ...

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Christmas cards this year? Nope. I don’t have time for that. I can barely keep my kids in clean underwear. Priorities people, priorities.

If I had sent holiday cards then I would have bragged about Mike. He passed a series of super hard tests and is now an Enrolled Agent. He would tell you EAs are the only federally licensed tax practitioners. In accountant world this is a big, big deal (or so I’m told). He also ran his first half marathon (I ran it with him and managed to only fall down once). He took a road trip with his BFF Arnold following the Blues Trail from New Orleans to Memphis. He also took another solo trip to Costa Rica, which is fast becoming one of his favorite places.

Shelby (13) got braces and was beyond thrilled about it. She said she really, really needed them. I didn’t think so. But my parents never got me braces and I still hold a slight grudge that my sister got braces and I didn’t (totally serious). Shelby also went on a trip to Costa Rica with Girl Scouts. She planted trees, went kayaking, hiked to a waterfall … and was only homesick for the first 24 hours. Shelby started her last year of middle school and is counting the days until high school. She’s become obsessed with manga, all things green tea and astrology. She continues to do aerial dance and had a solo in Zuzi’s Winter Solstice show.

Cooper (8) said the most important thing that happened to him was that he got to go to THE New York. Coop is in 3rd grade and loves school. He hates math, but loves technology, science and PE. This year Cooper discovered audiobooks and devoured every, single Goosebumps book. HE graduated from a twin, race-car bed to a full-sized bed he can keep for years (he says forever, since he plans on living with us forever). He’s still the sweetest, kindest kid in the world.  

I painted every, single day this year. And even had a couple of paintings in some group gallery shows. I went to Hawaii with my girlfriends (magical). The kids and I spent a few weeks in Idaho at my Dad’s ranch and convinced him and my stepmom to move to Tucson (if you need a house in Southeastern Idaho, I know a place). My dad taught me to use a jigsaw and Mike surprised me with my very own jigsaw. I read almost 100 books this year and even though I surpassed my goal of 60, I’m a little bummed I didn’t make it to 100. I’ve settled into my job at Gannett and have been blessed with the world’s best coworkers.

In 2017 we added to our family with the arrival of the the cutest Dachshund in the world, Lincoln “The Braveheart” Kalil. This takes out four-legged family members to three (we have our Golden Retriever Bella and kitty Pixel). Lincoln is my dog, though I share him with Cooper at bedtime because he likes to sleep with Coop. He hangs out with me all day (I work from home) and is my wingman when I run errands or pick up the kids. I’ve wanted a Dachshund since I was a kid, and Lincoln has fulfilled all my Doxie dreams.

Maybe the biggest news for our whole family would be our move across town. We bought a new house in northwest Tucson and plan on staying there forever. We have a pool now and live close enough to Shelby’s high school she can take the bus (woo hoo, less work for mom’s taxi service). We can walk to Whole Foods and Starbucks. It’s pretty much our dream neighborhood.

Twenty-seventeen was a pretty great year (minus Mike’s ponytail phase).As we head into the new year, we wish for more laughter, more connection and more adventure for our family and yours.  
 

Start Where You Are

Start Close In

Start close in, don’t take the second step or the third, start with the first thing close in, the step you don’t want to take.

Start with the ground you know, the pale ground beneath your feet, your own way of starting the conversation.

Start with your own question, give up on other people’s questions, don’t let them smother something simple.

To find another’s voice, follow your own voice, wait until that voice becomes a private ear listening to another.

Start right now take a small step you can call your own don’t follow someone else’s heroics, be humble and focused, start close in, don’t mistake that other for your own.

Start close in, don’t take the second step or the third, start with the first thing close in, the step you don’t want to take.

~David Whyte, River Flow: New and Selected Poems

I'll be 43 in Wednesday. Seems like at this age I'd have a lot figured out, right? So it's mind blowing to me how much I've learned about myself and life this last year.

I embarked on a Year of Creative Habits at the very end 2016. I was sitting in my dad's basement in Idaho and looking for something to pass the time during a really nasty snow storm (I hate the cold and snow). So I picked up some watercolors and started to play. I didn't have expectations about what would happen, but I did know I was creatively bored, stuck and uninspired. I was struggling to find my artistic voice — I thought I knew what it was, but midway through 2016 I found myself trying too hard to be like everyone else and really hating any art I created. Being stuck is a horrible feeling, but it propelled me commit to a year of creating daily.

When I started, I thought it was going to be hard. I thought I was going to hate it. I thought I'd give up a few months in. But I didn't. I loved the project. I loved creating every day. I loved the challenge of fitting in creative time into my already busy schedule. I loved exploring and creating with different tools and mediums. I looked forward to my art time each day and it had become an key part of my routine.

I'm in my 11th month now (holy shit, 11 months is a really long time to stick with a daily challenge!!) and had my greatest epiphany yet. So much of what had me stuck was I was scared to start. It was all too overwhelming. Gathering materials, thinking about what I might paint, over analyzing each stroke and hoping for an amazing masterpiece. I didn't start because I didn't know what the end would be. The uncertainly was paralyzing.

But having started for more than 300 days straight I now understand that any task, any goal, any leap ..: simply has to be started. And the best place to start is with what you know or where you are.

"Start close in" the poem says. What is close to you or your heart? What do you know? What do you love? Start there. Don't think about the second or third step, just start.

If you're waiting for the perfect circumstances to start, I promise you they will never come and you'll still be waiting. Just start.

If you're waiting to learn more and be more, then you'll be waiting forever. I stalled when it came to creating art because I thought I needed more training. I thought I needed more classes. I thought I needed to go to art school. But guess what? I didn't. The practice of creating every, single day has been my best teacher. Had I not started, I wouldn't have grown and developed as an artist. It was the starting that made it happen. Not the knowing or the training, but a simple step forward.

Honestly, I wish I would have understood this years ago. Starting without know what the end result might me, but being willing to just try and figuring things out along the way is the way to go. It takes the angst out of makes moving forward and growing. It's just a step. It's not the whole story. It's not the end result. It's just a step.

Start close in, don’t take the second step or the third, start with the first thing close in, the step you don’t want to take.

{Art} Daddy-Daughter Crafting Project

I spent a few weeks in July up in Idaho at my Dad's ranch. When we're up there, we don't do a lot. We pretty much just hangout and relax. But I did along some painting supplies so I could keep up with my Year of Creative Habits (I'm creating — mostly painting — every, single day of 2017). I asked my dad to help me salvage some of the old wood I saw around his barns so I could use them as canvases for my desert-themed paintings.

While we were gathering wood, my dad suggested we take a jigsaw and cut out some cacti from the reclaimed wood. That suggestion turned into days of daddy-daughter crafting. I'd sketched out a simple cactus on a piece of wood, then he'd cut it out with his jig saw, and then I'd sand and the paint it.

Sketch. Cut. Sand. Paint. Repeat.

At some point, my dad suggested we mount the cacti onto a piece of wood , so the backing sort of framed the cactus. So that's why we did. I did a light wash of color on a rectangle of wood and then he showed me how to use wood glue and clamps to secure the cactus to the board.

Paint. Glue. Clamp. Dry. Repeat.

The final result was this really cool, three dimensional wall art made completely from reclaimed wood we found on the ranch. And the coolest part? It wasn't my idea. It was all my dad my dad who is almost 70 came up with an idea, walked me through it and together we made something lovely.

When I was growing up, my dad wasn't creative. At least not that I know of. He was a Los Angles Police Officer. He was pragmatic. He was disciplined. He was a little rough (and gruff). But given a chance, a willingness — on both our part — to try and explore, something super cool and very creative flowed out of him.

My point? Even if you do t think you're artistic or creative, there is a little bit of that in everyone. It just needs to be nurtured and cultivated. Start small. Explore things you find be interesting.

Since making our first piece together, we've made more. My dad was in town visiting a few weeks ago and we worked on a few more pieces. He taught me to use a jigsaw (and now I have my own!). He showed me how important preparation can be to a finished product (think wood putty and a lot of sanding). Most of all, he reminded me that even when you don't think you're artistic or creative, you are. It's just a matter of deciding you are and acting on your ideas.

Edited to add: I should have mentioned the most rewarding part of this project was working with my dad. I'm not sure I remember a time we made something together. As a kid, I did a lot of sewing and cooking with my mom, but not my dad. It's a gift to spend time with my parents as as an adult and discover new and interesting things about them.

{Health} Do The Work

For the last few years I've struggled with my weight, how I feel (physically and emotional) and all the changes that come with growing older.

When I've felt my worst, Mike and I would take steps to live healthier. We joined Weight Watchers. We joined a gym. A little time would pass and then we'd stop going to Weight Watchers. We's stop going to the gym. We canceled our memberships at both.

Then, we got frustrated with our weight and our achy bodies, so we started the cycle again. Join a gym. Join Weight Watchers. Follow the program. Exercise a bit. But when we didn't see results quickly our effort and resolve fizzled out.

Each time we failed to do the work. We took the step to join Weight Watchers and/or the gym, but then we didn't actually do the work that make those programs successful.

Enter in the 6-Week Challenge at Psychosomatic Transformation Center. This summer Mike and I decided it was time to stop talking about getting healthier, fitter and go all in with a pretty strict fitness and nutrition program. The 6-Week Challenges is pretty intense and requires serious commitment. To participate, you pay a program fee ($300 for each of us) that you get back if you achieve your goal, which was 20 pounds for Mike and 6% body fat loss for me. On top of that you agree to workout at their gym at least 5 days a week. We bought $400 worth of supplements and protein power. And we agreed to a strict meal plan (there are about 17 things we can eat).

The basic idea behind the program is simple: if you have skin in the game (for us close to $1000), then you'll be motivated to stick with the plan and do the work. If we hit our goals then we'd get $600 of our investment back. In the past we've paid for other weight loss tools. But the cost was pretty inconsequential, $20 here or $40 there. Forking over a larger amount of money in one sitting was super motivating.

As the weeks have passed (we just finished our 5th week) I've learned the most valuable less that really isn't specific to this program or weight loss: to be successful you have to do the work. That's it. Just do the work.

Stop taking about what you're going to do. Do the work. Stop thinking about how things can be different. Do the work.

As we've moved through this program we keep hearing things like "follow the instructions" and "do the work." By doing both of those things, I'm 14 pounds lighter. By doing the work, my muscles are stronger. By doing the work, my back fat is melting away.

I'm not sure why I needed a reminder of this message, as is one I've heard for years and years? But maybe — for whatever reason — I'm finally ready to really hear it and do the work?

I won't lie. The last five weeks have been hard. I've been cranky, thanks to caffeine withdrawals. I've been sore, thanks to many intense workouts. I've been tired, thanks to 4:30 am wake-up calls. But I also feel stronger, my clothes fit better and my arthritis pain is pretty nonexistent these days. Huge, huge wins for me.

When I started the program, I kept thinking how crazy and restrictive the whole thing was. But as I get closer to the end I'm realizing that my old diet and lifestyle was pretty extreme in the other direction. Even though my doctor told me not to eat gluten, dairy and very little sugar ... I was binging on all of them. I was supposed to limit my caffeine intake and I was drink three or four diet sodas a day. I was a hot mess. This program has me eating six times a day (I'm never hungry). And I'm eating real, unprocessed food (no more sneaking sleeves of Oreos). And we're doing 45-minute workouts five days a week. Nothing super crazy, just doing the work.

So that's it: do the work. Officially, I have another week of this program, but since Mike signed up for 12-weeks (two challenges, back-to-back), I'll doing and eating much of the same things, with a focus on toning up and building muscle.

No matter what it is you want or need at the moment is completely within your reach if you do the work. Don't wait, start now and DO THE WORK.

{Art} I'm a Superhero: Cactus Lady

  Last night Cooper wanted to make a new comic strip, but he was having trouble coming up with a new superhero and a storyline for his comic. After thinking about it for awhile, he came running downstairs and excitedly said: “Mom, I’ve been trying to come up with a new superhero and all along it’s been right here.”

I asked him to explain and he said, “Mom, my new superhero is Cactus Lady. She’s you. Cactus Lady can summon the power of cacti warriors and desert spirits.”

Holy. Shit. This might not seem like a big deal, but it marks a shift in my life and how I see myself. This year, I claimed the title of artist. I started calling myself an artist. I started creating art every, single day. I stopped apologizing for my work not being “good enough” and started loving it and really owning it.

When I made that shift, Cooper saw this and I was elevated to superhero status. Being an artist, being creative, being someone who shows up each and every day to make art … is a hero. Tell me this isn’t the most awesome thing ever? This part of me — my creative, artist soul — is what has saved me from sadness, loneliness, anxiety, and so much more. Art has healed me. And art has made me a superhero.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

{Parenting} Raising Activists 

For as along as I can remember I've been deeply patriotic. As a child, I'd tear up when I heard the national anthem. I was always the loudest kid reciting the pledge of allegiance.

My great-grandparents left Poland in search of a better life and America opened its door and heart to them.

My grandfather bravely fought in World War II. My uncle served multiple tours in Vietnam. And my deep sense of patriotism compelled me enlist in the Army and spend 14 years serving our country.

It was because my Great-Grandparents were brave enough to cross a continent and an ocean, I was born in this amazing land. It was becuase of my grandfather's courage to fight against tyranny and hate, I deeply understand I have to stand up for those who can't stand up for themselves. It was because of my family of origin that I never went hungry. It was because of my service in the army that I was able to go to college.

I tell you this so you understand just how much I love my country. I have been given so much and have worked hard give back to my community and country. As I've gotten older, I've come to understand the great responsibility I have to help others, especially those who haven't been given the same opportunities I have been given.

As a parent, I've made it mission to raise children who also give back; who know the importance of service: and who are activists within their communities. But how do you do that?

1. Talk to you kids.

This might be the most important part of raising activists. Talk to them and make sure they know what's going on in the world and their community. With the rise of social media and easy access to news and ideas, kids know a lot more about what's going on than we give them credit. Talk to them so they understand what they are seeing and hearing. Talk them to make sure they are getting the truth. Talk to them to address their fears and make them feel safe.

2. Teach them to form their own opinions.

During the recent election and the months since then, my kids have come home from school and their activities with ideas and opinions their friends and others have shared with them. When this has happened, I make a point of asking my children what they think of this opinion or idea. I ask them if they agree or disagree. I can't tell you how many times I have said to my children, "Just because your friend believes something doesn't mean you have to believe they same thing." If they do agree with their friend, great. But if they don't, I encourage them to stand up for themselves and stick to their guns when it comes to their beliefs.

3. Expect them to support their ideas with facts. 

During the election there were many times I heard people say something like "Trump is an idiot" or "Hilary is a bitch." In our house, every statement like that has to be supported with facts. If they say they hate Donald Trump, then I ask them "why?" And in the asking, I'm expecting them to support their ideas rather than just making broad, emotional statements.

4. Help them pursue community service.

Having strong opinions is great, but until there is some action behind those ideas they are just words. Help you child actor support their ideals. For my daughter — who is deeply moved by the struggles our local homeless population — that means helping her make bags of necessities to pass out to homeless people we pass throughout our days. Whatever it is they are passionate about, find a way to get them doing something to support that passion. They learn so much in the doing.

{Art} Making Art is Easy, Selling it is Hard

Since I've started a daily art practice, the physical act of making art had become easier for me. I feel more creative. I have more ideas. I'm more willing to try new and different things.

It's been such a huge shift for me. I look forward to my art time and what might spring from it. Sure, there are lots of things I create I don't love. Some of them, I downright hate. But by creating daily, I've stopped making everything — my supplies, the process, the outcomes — so precious. I create for the sake of my love of art and without all the pressure I used to put on myself. If I don't like what I make, then I toss it and start again. And guess what? In the creating and tossing and creating some more, I've created pieces I absolutely love. Not kind of love. But totally, madly love.

Now that making art is coming easier for, I have a new stumbling block: selling and/or exhibiting my art. I don't have any answers or insight on this part yet. I'm at the bottom of this mountain and feeling super nervous about even attempting to climb it.

What I do know is this: I just have to start. I have no idea what I'm doing. I'm sure I'll make mistakes. But if I don't try, then I'll be no closer to figuring it all out, right?

My major goal for the second half of 2017 is to figure out how sell and exhibit my art. Sure, I have an Etsy store, but I want something bigger. And I want to be a part of my local art community.

So ... tell me: what do I need to do to really sell my art and connect with my local art community? How do I find shoes to submit to? Where should I be looking? I've Googled all of this, but I'm still not seeing a clear picture of how a new artist — I say new, rather than young since I'm on the other side of 40 — finds her way in the world of gallery shows and selling her art?

The Unexpected Benefit of a Year of Creative Habits

One-hundred and fifty plus days of my year of creating daily and I'm seriously amazed by the whole process.

If you asked me a year ago if I would or even could create something each and every day for a whole year, I would have rolled my eyes at you. I'm now almost to the midpoint of the year and I've not only stayed current  with the challenge, but im thriving creativity because of the challenge.

The most unexpected benefit of this whole process is my increased mindfulness. I notice so much more. I'm more present in my life. I drive down the street and see all the flowers, cacti and colors. I feel like I'm more alive than I've been in years. I feel more like me. Does that make sense?

I'm so grateful for this bonus benefit. There are lots of things I've tried over the years to be more present, more mindful, but none of these "tries"  — practices — actually stuck. But once I stopped trying so hard and focused my energy on my creative endeavors, I magically (not really, but I'll call it magic because it sounds more exciting) was more present.

What's the lesson? Maybe trying so hard isn't the answer. Maybe the answer is getting lost in something you love — something that fills you up — and you'll find your way to mindfulness.

My Reading + Audiobook Hack

I'm a voracious reader ... always have been. As long as I can remember, I've loved to get lost in a book. As a kid, I was never without a book and that hasn't changed. The last couple of years — with all my travel — I do the majority of my reading via audiobooks. Books take up a lot of space in a suitcase and since I read so fact, I'd have to pack a zillio.  of books for each trip. Lately, a lot of my business travel is in the car from my house to Tucson to my office in Phoenix, which lends itself to more audiobook time.

To get my audiobook fix, I joined Audible many years ago and am a huge fan. But the more I traveled, the more I found myself burning through my Audible credits.  I was buying extra credits pretty much every month and it was getting expensive.

Then I found this article and this one, which both pointed me to some awesome public libraries that have huge digital collections and offer library cards to no residents at super reasonable prices.

I started with getting audiobooks from my own library system (Pima County) and then added a subscription to the Fairfax County Virginia library system. They charge $27 a year for no residents and they have almost 10,000 titles (and are always adding more). So between my local library and the Fairfax libraries I can find just about anything I want.

I use an app called Overdrive and I can add the different libraries I have cards for. That means library audiobooks are on one bookshelf and I don't have to jump through a bunch of hoops to listen to them.

I still use Audible, mostly for new books that the libraries might not have a digital copy of yet or the book has a huge waitlist and I want to read it right now.

This has seriously changed my reading life. And I'm happy to have more ways to read and more books in my life. If you're a digital reader (e-books or audiobooks), you should totally check this out.

Note: I'm not a book snob. To me, any way you consume a book is fine by me. I read physical books. I use a Kindle for eBooks. And I listen to audiobooks. Stories are stories and I think people should fill their lives with them any way they can.

{Art} Exciting News ...

Cacti Art Totes and Painitngs | Kimberly Kalil Designs Guess what? I'm doing a little happy dance ... I'm going to be the featured artist at the May Saguaro Market! I'll be showing off my desert/cacti art totes, pillows, and original paintings. You can read all about it here.

Did I mention I'm excited? The last few months I've spent a lot (most of) my free time creating art and figuring out my style. In the process, I started creating watercolor and India ink paintings of cacti with machine stitching to add some depth and texture. If you asked me a year ago if I'd be painting watercolor cacti every, single day I would have told you you're nuts. But here I am. Until I was doing something consistently — creating art every, single day — I really didn't know what my "thing" was. But this consistent practice of creating has been absolutely crucial to finding my way.

And guess what else? I love it. I look forward to creating something new. I enjoy the challenge of using a medium — watercolor — I know nothing about. I love that the more I create, the more ideas I have. I love all the new things I'm learning about art. It's been such a fun process and it makes me feel more alive. What could top that?

It's been such a fun process and it makes me feel more alive. What could top that? I guess being able to show off some of my favorite creations and meet local folks who are interested in art and our maker scene.

So ... if you're local ... please pop by Saguaro Market, 657 West St. Mary Rd., May 4th to 7th. And if you're not local, check out my Instagram feed to see all the Saguaro Market goodness.

{Memory Keeping} The Magic of Story Worth

StoryWorth | Kimberly Kalil Designs Have you heard of StoryWorth? I hadn't until my sister suggested we gift subscriptions to our Mom and Dad.

Basically, StoryWorth makes it easy for people to share their stories with loved ones. Each week (for a year) they email your storyteller (in this case, my Mom and Dad) a story prompt and they just hit reply and start writing their story. The questions are ones you might not have thought to ask your loved ones or stories they've never shared.  At the end of the year, you get a hardcover book of all these stories. How cool is that? It's magic, that's what it is.

I was with my Dad on Christmas when he opened his StoryWorth email. I explained to him what the whole thing was and he seemed a little underwhelmed by it. He said something like, "Okay. I guess I'll try it. But there are going to be times I just can't do it." He seemed super reticent (to say the least).

But ... then he got his first email and his response blew me away. Then he got his second one question and that response blew me away too. It's 12 weeks into the year and he hasn't missed a week and I look forward to the weekly email that shares his story with me. I have learned things about my Dad and glimpsed a side of him I've never seen in my 42 years of life. His words about his mom were so precious, especially since my Grandma passed away not that long ago and I know how much he misses her. This is magic.

At the same time, my mom has been responding to her questions. Her words are beautiful and the tenderness in which she recalls her memories cracks my heart wide open. This week's story, all about what her more treasured simple pleasures are, brought me to tears. When she wrote about her mother, she painted a picture of my Grandma I'd never seen. This is magic.

At the end of the year, we'll have a book of stories. We'll have a peek into my parents' lives recorded and shared in a way that they'll always live on. This is probably the most precious gift ever ... for him and for us. This is magic.

With each question, my sister and I are asking our Mom and Dad to tell their story. It's incredibly powerful. In the simple asking, I'm learning so much. People want to be heard. People want to share their story. People want to be remembered.

Ask. Ask someone to tell their story. All their stories. Just ask ... I promise it will be magical.

{Art} A Year of Creative Habits

Year of Creative Habits | Kimberly Kalil Designs

“Creativity is contagious, pass it on” – Albert Einstein

I'd pretty much sworn off yearlong challenges ages ago. The pressure is too much for me. The disappointment I feel when I miss a day wasn't worth anything I "might" get from the process. And mostly, I'd get bored with the project after a month or so. So, when I stumbled onto A Year of Creative Habits community, I was surprised that I had any interest in the project.

Basically — if you accept the challenge — you do something (anything) creative each day for a year. But they don't tell you what to do or how to do it ... that's all up to you. It can be as big or as little as you like. Not having strict parameters might be what sold me on the idea. Just about anything could count and it was more about the process and less about the outcome.

I picked watercolors to be my medium because they're portable. I have no real background in watercolors, aside from a few online courses and a couple of short, in-person group classes. What really prompted me what being in Idaho without art supplies in December. At my parents' ranch in Idaho, there is a lot of disconnecting going on. We rest. We walk outside. We talk on the porch. So, after a little bit of time up there, I was a little bored. When we went to town one day, I bought a cheap set of watercolors and a pad of paper. That was all I needed (of course, I've collected more supplies since then, but you really don't need more than that to get started).

A Year of Creative Habits | Kimberly Kalil Designs

In a perfect world, I could pack my encaustic supplies in a tote and take them with me where ever I go, but that's not happening. I travel enough with work and personal fun travel that I need to have something portable if I'm going to do it every day. So far this year, I've painted at home; in a Phoenix hotel room; in a Santa Monica AirBnB; on an airplane ... all sorts of fun places.

And guess what? I'm loving it. Like seriously loving it. I read somewhere that creativity breeds creativity. The more you create, the more ideas you have. I know that in the past I've struggled with this idea ... I've been worried to try things or create what's in my head in fear that I'd run out of ideas. Totally not the case. I've been flooded with ideas and never seem to be at a loss for something new to try. It's intoxicating and what's propelling me forward (hopefully I'll feel the same way at day 256!).

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If you want to follow along with my Year of Creative Habits, head on over to my Instagram. I'm tagging all my creations with #kimberlyscreativehabit. 

Rise Up: No one gets left behind

Woman's March 2017 | Kimberly Kalil Designs When you was 18, I joined the Army. I was rudderless and needed guidance and structure. One of the first lessons I learned was a simple one: No one gets left behind.  Of all the things I learned during my 14 years in the military, this was by far the most important.

We were a team. My fellow soldiers became my tribe. Everyone had a place. Everyone was equal.

No one gets left behind.

I marched through downtown Tucson on Saturday along with 15,000 members of my community. I vacillated between tears and elation. The tears weren't from sadness, they were tears of pride. I am proud of the community I live in. I'm proud of the inclusive spirit I feel each and every day. I love Tucson. It's full of diversity. It's full of good, hardworking, loving people. I march for them and I march for my daughter. I marched because no one ever gets left behind.

No one gets left behind.

I've been pretty open with my feelings about Donald Trump, but it feels important to say again: it's not okay to marginalize anyone. It doesn't matter if you are white, black, brown, gay, lesbian, immigrant, native born, physically or mentally disabled .... We all have a place at the table. We all deserve dignity. We all belong. Rhetoric or policy in direct conflict to this is unacceptable.

No one gets left behind.

I might seem like an unlikely activist. I'm white. I have a college education. I own a home. I'm part of a thriving community. But that's just it: I have been given much, therefore it's my moral obligation to give back. Not everyone grows up in a family that has food on the table each night and parents who make sure you go to school. Those children — those families  — need us to speak up for them and to help them use their voice.

No one gets left behind.

When I'm sick, I go to the doctor. When I had growths on my ovaries, I had surgery. I have never once worried about whether or not I could pay for such treatment. My life is not more valuable than someone else, so why shouldn't everyone have the same access and opportunity to health care?

No one gets left behind.

In Tucson, I live closer to Mexico than any other US major city. This city — my home — is deeply connected to our neighbors in Mexico. They are good people. They are hardworking. And they, along with other immigrants, deserve our compassion and respect.

No one gets left behind.

I'm a woman. I'm the mother of a daughter. As a woman, we have just as much right to demand equal pay for equal work. I demand to be treated with dignity, and every single woman should be treated with the same dignity and respect we offer to men of this world. I am not a second class citizen, nor is my daughter. We are smart. We are brave. We are talented. And we are human. Woman's rights are human rights. Just because I have a vagina doesn't can you can treat me differently.

No one gets left behind. I will do my part to make sure no one gets left behind. And I will teach my children that anger, hatred, and misogyny are not okay. 

No one gets left behind.

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If you are local, consider going to the YWCA's "10 Actions in the First 100 Kickoff Event. You can find more information about that here. You can also find ideas on how you can help or get involved here.

Girl Scout Cookies 2017

https://youtu.be/OeSDbmQ1A2U Shelby is selling cookies again, to help pay for her Girl Scout service trip to Costa Rica later this year. She's worked so hard the last few years to save for the trip. But I'm not surprised ... when she decides to do something she digs in and goes to work. She's

This is Shelby's fifth cookie season (yikes) and my second as the tro0p cookie manager (double yikes). It's amazing to watch Shelby's growth year to year and to see all the things she learns thanks to Girl Scouts and her cookie business. She's not afraid to stand up in front of 125+ local businesswomen and sell herself (and her cookies). She single-minded when she marches into a local business and asks them to partner with her to get cookies to our military. And when she recorded this video, she is fearless when she asks people to consider donating cookies to feed the homeless, a cause she's taken up herself and does on a regular basis.

I'm so proud of this kid. She's smart. She's strong willed. She's hard working. She's funny. And she's growing into a poised young woman who will no doubt change this world.

If you are interested, you can buy cookies from her here. You can also donate cookies to the troops from that link as well. If you want to get cookies for Shelby to add to care packages for the homeless, you can buy cookies on the site and select "Girl Delivery" and Shelby will add those to her care packages.