Act 2: You're On!

How a Family's Creative Collaboration created "Forever Home" with Cathy Stenquist & Erica Leigh

March 28, 2022 Kate, Rhonda & Linda Season 1 Episode 38
Act 2: You're On!
How a Family's Creative Collaboration created "Forever Home" with Cathy Stenquist & Erica Leigh
Show Notes Transcript

Have you ever had a great idea for an invention, a business or creation? Maybe you know that you and your friend or a family member have just what it takes to make it happen, but you're not sure what the next step might be? In one of A2YO’s most heartwarming interviews, our charming mother/daughter duo share what's possible when they use their unique skills and talents to team up together and turn a dream into a reality.

Cathy Stenquist and Erica Leigh are the creators of the new picture book Forever Home.  Cathy is an award winning writer and recently published her debut picture book Forever Home, a lovely tale of two orphaned kittens, rescued by a shelter and their journey to find their forever family. Cathy was delighted to work closely with her daughter, Erica Leigh, who illustrated Forever Home.

Erica Leigh is a full time artist and musician living in Massachusetts. Her current focus is on children's book illustration and vocal recording work. However, her homegrown business dabbles in a wide variety of other projects like mural painting, graphic design, custom portraiture, commercial songwriting, and performance. She has a degree in songwriting and voice from Berklee College in Boston, but considers herself primarily self taught in art.

Tune in and you will find out how to follow Erica and Cathy and learn more about their creations. We dare you not to fall in love with this dynamic and darling duo.

Highlights include:

“It was such a big project, I think neither of us knew quite how big it was going to be when we started. And that's kind of the beauty of creative projects. Because if you knew how hard it was going to be, you might never start. But we did. And then - once you're in it, you don't want to quit.”

“Honestly, I would not be where I am without that kind of continued support. So I would say look around you, because you may be surprised who is there waiting and wants to support you and believes in you.”

“I wasn't afraid of failure. And I think that's one thing I've learned is that failure sometimes people think is a four letter word and a bad word.”

“Instead of asking "what if" about all the potential failure that might happen, and catastrophizing, the scenario that might lay ahead of you ask, what if in a positive way, for example, what if I take that chance?”

“Sometimes your evolution as a creative person can feel like destruction, like the way that a seed has to kind of break open or the way that a caterpillar has to cocoon up and then come out as a butterfly. Sometimes it can be painful, it can feel like you have no idea what's going to happen when life comes your way. And things get challenging…. You might be that seed, that caterpillar. Be willing to embrace that new identity, that new self that you never imagined….”
Find out more about our guests:

Cathy Stenquist website:  https://www.cathystenquist.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CathyStenquist
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cathystenquist/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cathy.stenquist/

Erica Leigh Website:  https://www.ericaleigh.com/
                                                https://www.ericaleighart.com/
Instagram: 
@ericaleighmusic
@ericaleighart
 

Support the show
Rhonda: Welcome to Act 2:

You're ON!. Join Us Weekly at our studio roundtable as Rhonda

Kate:

Kate

Linda:

and Linda invites spectacular guests to weigh in on staying sexy, vibrant and healthy.

Rhonda:

Launch your next great act with authenticity and purpose.

Kate:

Summon your courage superstar and step into the limelight. So grab a coffee

Linda:

or a martini,

Kate:

and let's set the stage for a grand entrance. It's Act Two.

All:

You're on.

Rhonda:

Greetings, friends. I am Rhonda Garvin Conaway, and I'm joined by my co host

Kate:

Hello, Kate Leavey

Linda:

I'm Linda Tighe, and we are also joined by our very talented producer, Cathy Carswell

Rhonda:

Friends, very excited about today's episode. Here's my

question for you:

Have you ever had a great idea for an invention, a business or creation and you know that you and your friend or a family member has just what it takes to make it happen, but you're not sure what the next step might be? In today's show, our featured guests share what's possible when we use our unique skills and talents to team up together and make a dream a reality. Cathy Stenquist and Erica Leigh are the creators of the new picture book Forever Home and before we hear from them, let me share a bit more about their backgrounds. Cathy Stenquist has worn many hats in her life retail sales seamstress day care provider, bakery manager, labeling designer, Director of Religious Education, receptionist and cake decorator to name a few. Her current reinvention and passion is being an author and poet Cathy has been recognized and awarded for her writing, and had the chance to work with well known author and illustrator Peter H. Reynolds, who called her a magical wordsmith Cathy recently published her debut picture book Forever Home a heartwarming story of two orphaned kittens. rescued by a shelter and their journey to find their forever family. Cathy was delighted to work closely with her daughter, Erica Leigh, who illustrated Forever Home now let's meet Erica. Erica Leigh is a full time artist and musician living in Massachusetts. Her current focus is on children's book illustration and vocal recording work. However, her homegrown business dabbles in a wide variety of other projects like mural painting, graphic design, custom portraiture, commercial songwriting, and performance. She has a degree in songwriting and voice from Berklee College in Boston, but considers herself primarily self taught in art. And at the end of our podcast, you'll find out how to follow Erica and Cathy and learn more about their creations, I suspect you will want to because who wouldn't want to be a big fan of these two? So with that said, we welcome you to our show, Cathy and Erica. Hello.

Cathy Stenquist:

Hello. Good morning.

Erica Leigh:

Hi, guys. Thanks for having us.

Cathy Stenquist:

Yes, thank you for having us.

Rhonda:

We are thrilled to have you and I'm holding in my hand Forever Home. Congratulations on this creation - it is something special.

Cathy Stenquist:

Thank you so much.

Rhonda:

So let's talk about how this all came to be. You had an idea. And now there's a book - tell us a little bit more about what was entailed in making this a reality?

Cathy Stenquist:

Well, this Forever Home actually started out as a entry into Vivian Kirk Fields's 50 precious words writing contest. I had been writing for a number of years. I had been studying the craft of picture book writing. And when I saw this, I was like, how hard can that be to do a full story with an Arc and everything in 50 words. So I gave it a try. I was really pleased with how it turned out. It was fun. It did win an honor. In her contest. It sat in my drawer for a while and then one day I pulled it out and thought you know, I think if I expand on this, this could actually be a picture book. So for the next few years, I worked on expanding it from three stanzas to a full 32 Page picture. But in the meantime, I was writing many other stories submitting them to traditional publishers, not getting any bites on some of my stories that I was submitting and I was getting a little discouraged. Meanwhile, my daughter Erica had started her illustrating career and I was commiserating with her one day and I said, I just I just don't know where I'm supposed to go with this. I'm still supposed to be doing this. I'm not having any luck. I was really discouraged. And Erica said, "Mom, I'm an illustrator. Let's take one story, one out of the many that you've written, and let's make a picture book." And I hadn't even thought of it - and I was like why not. So we looked through. And this story really touched both our hearts because it's actually the true story of our two cats, Camille and Angel who were rescued from a barn in Framingham by Bay Path Humane Society in Hopkinton. And they were brought there and Erica and I adopted them back in 2001. They lived a long life, a long and happy life for about 17 years, we really felt like telling their story is a way that we could give back to Bay Path and to maybe raise some money for them, but also to begin the conversation with families and children about the importance of shelters like Bay Path as community helpers. I think it's important kids know that community helpers that are in their neighborhood. I think that's a really important thing to know. And to also consider visiting shelters when they wanted to adopt a family pet instead of shopping. So that's kind of in a nutshell how it came to be.

Kate:

And did you say that you have those 50 words? And would you mind reading them to us?

Linda:

I would love to hear them. I can't even imagine writing a book in 50 words, so fascinating.

Cathy Stenquist:

Well, her challenge is to write a 50 word story that introduces characters, has a little tension and then resolves, which is tricky, but I called it even though it's named Forever Home right now - It was called Two Plus Two at that time. So this is it: Two little runaways cornered in a barn, rescued by a shelter, keeping them from harm. Too little children, visiting again, browse the cages slowly looking for a friend. Four little green eyes look down to see four blue, thought they came for just one friend now going home with two. (Sounds of awe.)

Rhonda:

It's amazing what you were able to accomplish with 50 words that weight moving to live.

Cathy Stenquist:

Thank you. Thank you

Rhonda:

A miracle, isn't it? Yeah.

Cathy Stenquist:

Thank you so much,

Rhonda:

Cathy do you do a little singing like Erica,

Cathy Stenquist:

I did for a long time, I actually was a cantor at St. Mary's for a while and lead some of the church masses sang in the choir, I haven't done in a while. But definitely there is a thread of music that runs through our family.

Rhonda:

Amazing, amazing.

Kate:

Erica, can I ask you? What were some of the biggest challenges of the Forever Home project? And how did you handle them?

Erica Leigh:

Gosh, it was such a big project, I think neither of us knew quite how big it was going to be when we started. And that's kind of the beauty of creative projects. Because if you knew how hard it was going to be, you might never start. But we did. And then once you're in it, you don't want to quit. So - we wow, we really had quite a good time as mother and daughter. So I gotta say, before I get to the challenges, I just gotta say it was such a good time to work with one of my favorite people on Earth. And, and to be able to share in this passion that we have for creating things and telling a personal story that we both can relate to. But I'll say it was definitely hard at times to first of all, Kickstarter, the whole project - that was a big challenge coming up with a series of prizes for our fans to to donate and receive. Oh, gosh, both of us are very creative. So it's hard sometimes to do the business side of things, working on advertising, it was definitely a lot of a lot of effort. But it paid off in the end. We stuck with it because this was the kind of project that we just knew we wanted to create no matter what even if the fundraising was a failure. And so we just gave it our all. And I think, to be honest, overcoming how tired that made us feel. And being patient when it took longer than we expected was really hard. But I think with all creative projects, you get over that initial honeymoon phase where you're really, really excited. And you get into the real hard work. And that, to me was the biggest challenge. You know, you want it to be fun, like a dream the whole way through. But it's not like Instagram where there's this highlight reel. There's actually a lot of hard work that goes into these things. And I think that's why most people don't publish a picture book because they might write the book, but then they run out of steam. So yeah, I think our biggest challenge was probably getting past that honeymoon phase. And sticking with it even when we were just really tired and life just had a lot of stress going on outside of the book and just really sticking to that project and seeing it through to the very end.

Cathy Stenquist:

One thing I wanted to say I think Erica was being a little shy about this but, honestly, I could not have done this without her doing this project entailed getting myself out of my comfort zone and trying Things I've never tried before - running a Kickstarter creating video images, prizes, running a budget, figuring out how to ship the books to the supporters, ordering packaging, creating a website social media there were it was overwhelming to me and I think Erica went above and beyond with her assistance and supporting me not only as an illustrator, but walking me through and being that cheerleader that's a mom, you can do this, you know, we'll help you sometimes the resources that you need to be successful are closer than you think. As Rhonda kind of said, my three children have been an incredible resource. They're all entrepreneurs, they all have strengths in different areas, and at different times pitched in their wisdom and their help to get me going. And I honestly would not be where I am without that kind of continued support. So I would say look around you, because you may be surprised who's there waiting and wants to support you and believes in you.

Rhonda:

That's invaluable advice. Thank you for saying that.

Linda:

And I think Erica, you've put it this right to like, if you knew how much work it was going to be, you might not even begin. And that is the beauty of making art - the beauty of being an entrepreneur because you never can really anticipate and and it's just so wonderful that you did it together. I just love, love, love and it's really, really lovely book. And so to kind of get into the content of the book, a Forever Home takes the reader through a pet adoption experience and and what made you talk about adoption and what can what would you like to share with our listeners about pet adoption and rescue. And what's important to know,

Cathy Stenquist:

Erica and I decided that we wanted to have another cat - our cat Beardsley had recently passed away. Rhonda may even remember Beardsley from when I lived near her. And when Beardsley passed away, well - really there was an empty hole. So we went to Bay path where we had got a relationship with them. And my husband said, Okay, you can get one cat, just one. That's it. And Erica and I went. It was my birthday. And we found these two little cats curled up in the corner. And when we heard their story that they had been found together, and they had struggled together, you know, that was just much like in the book, we went for one cat and came home with two. And my experience with them was so amazing Bay Path is an incredible, incredible place. The volunteers there are so caring, and compassionate, they have a fostering program where people foster the animals to get them ready behaviorally and socially so that they can be adopted; they rescue animals from all over. They do really great education in the schools, I'm hoping to be able to partner with Michelle at Bay Path and visit some schools with her to talk and partner about that. I think it was just my experience was so good. And I've always been an animal lover. And I really see how many animals are needing a home that are in these shelters. And I just wanted to - in some way, share their story and help them to be able to make a difference in some other animals lives. Matter of fact, when we have our cats, they're buried out in the backyard. And I remember after - I want to cry now, after I went out to the end, got my copy of the book, I remember going out and visiting their grave and just saying, "Okay, ladies, we did it, we did it, and you're going to make a difference. And you're going to help other animals, and I miss you." And I'm just I'm really proud of the book; I'm proud of the quality of the book; I'm proud of the writing, of course, thrilled that Erica, who knew and loved these cats was the one to illustrate it. Because I think that brought a layer of warmth and love to the illustrations that I think someone who didn't know them wouldn't have brought. So it just it did come together. But it was a lot of perseverance and a lot of still believing that I could achieve this. And I'm really glad I persevered. I didn't think it was in reach. But with a lot of hard work and some support and networking, I was able to make it happen.

Rhonda:

I think when you connect with what you really believe in, that it helps you get through, even in those challenging circumstances and those roadblocks and the monotonous components of bringing something into the world. The creative piece has that element of spirit and touches our highest level of energy. But then when we do the other things, sometimes it doesn't feel that way. And we are really challenged by that. But when you speak about your love for your paths, and your belief in this organization, it can be that thing that keeps you going when you're feeling discouraged and what a beautiful description of your journey with that. I think it's a true source of inspiration for our listeners out there.

Cathy Stenquist:

For sure, I think Erica gave Give me a really good phrase that she said his mom, we don't need to wait until we have it all figured out. It doesn't have to be perfect and lined up to take that next step. I think, in my mind, I felt like okay, I have to, I have to do ABCDE before I can do F, but I don't think that's true. I think you just have the, the courage and the take a risk and learn as much as you can. And you can make things happen that you just never believed would happen.

Linda:

Here. Here

Kate:

And that seems one of the virtues of the next generation of artists too. We often use the phrase ready fire aim, because we could spend so much time researching and perfecting and I think you have good idea you do your due diligence. But then to jump in a little bit faster. I think that's one of the things I love about the next generation of artists doing really important things and encouraging artists, whether they be younger or older, just to get into the get into the art. I think that's wonderful. Such a beautiful conversation. It's great.

Rhonda:

I love how Erica, you support your mom. Cathy, I would love you to chat a little bit about your journey of reinvention. Because You've mentioned that we had a personal relationship. I've been privileged to know Cathy for many years, when her family lived across the street from my family. And I've watched Erica grow up from afar. And I was the beneficiary of these incredible cakes that Cathy me. They were works of art. She hummed and sewed my prom dress. And could seem like she there were no bounds of what she could do. Not to mention, she was an extraordinary caregiver for a lot of small humans. So Cathy, you've done all these different things. Talk to us about this eclectic path. And now you are claiming the title as author. Can you share your reflections about about that journey of reinvention?

Cathy Stenquist:

Well, thank you so much, Rhonda, I appreciate that beautiful introduction. Yeah, I started listing down the other day, all the many hats I've worn through the years. And people think they have to go to college, and they have to study subject A, and then they have to do subject A. And that was not my case. I went to school at MassBay for business administration. But I became a mom young and married young. And it was important for me to stay home with my kids. So I think that was the catalyst when I was younger was to figure out what I could do for a career and still have that priority of being home with my kids. So running a daycare where I was caring for my own kids and them was a real advantage. I had a sewing business I could do at night, I decorated cakes at night. I just never seem to have any fear about just trying it. I wasn't afraid of the failure. And I think that's one thing I've learned is that failure sometimes people think is a four letter word and a bad word. It's not it's not the thing that has helped me grow the most is trying things and failing, and getting up and trying again. And by trying again. I learned something from whatever happened. They also say I forget what the code is, is that where preparation meets opportunity. There's some quote like that I can't put my hand on it right now. I think there were many times in my life. A recent one I can tell you, I always wanted to be a published author and really make writing my full time and I took a job at Charles Babbage publishing, in Watertown. I was their editorial administrator. I worked with the editorial and production group, it was wonderful. I was immersed in all things picturebook. I learned from the inside out what it would take to do a picture book. And it was like getting paid to go to school was wonderful. But I had to quit in - I think it was February of 2020. Because my mother was very ill. And she was going into hospice, and I needed to be able to manage her care. She lived in Alabama, and I knew it was going to be a full time job to care for her. And so I did that. I guess what I would say is sometimes you may have a dream and something you want to follow and life gets in the way. But what I did was - which was really my saving grace. I didn't totally give it up. To give myself to being a total caregiver. I decided I was going to take the time to educate myself learn, meet people start building my skill set so that when the time came, I was ready. I would be ready to hit the ground running. And I think that is a great way for your listeners to not feel overwhelmed by the opportunity to change their life is just you can't eat an elephant all in one bite. You have to take little nibbles and if you nibble away at it through a period of time you can get there. One experience I wanted to share was I was a housewife and Holliston. And I was looking for a new opportunity. I knew I wanted to be creative. I didn't want to have to do the work. I just wanted to brainstorm and have the creative brainstorming, I came across an ad one day that someone was looking for a label designer, long story short, I became a label designer or contractor at a major retailer in the area, it was a wonderful job. And I really enjoyed it. And I thought, you know, I'm, I'm good at this, I'm better at this than I thought, when my boss who I was contracted to work before was going to be leaving the job, I thought I could do this. And I applied, I ended up getting the job. So I worked full time at this company for a number of years, and what ended up being in charge of their trademarks, their licenses, and doing so many things. Travel to Hong Kong and London on their dollar, I still pinch myself to think that I was able to do that I ended up eventually leaving the company and moving on to other opportunities. But it's a good example of building your skill set, and keeping your eyes open and looking for opportunities that could be bigger than you could imagine that you could do. I had no background in trademarks, I had no background in accounting. And yet here I am paying the licenses for a multi million dollar company, I think we sometimes underrate ourselves that our cumulative skills that we get in a lifetime can really be a value. So I think if you're if you want to make a change, maybe sit down with a piece of paper and a pencil and make a list of the things that you were passionate about the things you love to do the things you enjoy doing, the things you've dabbled in, and you'll be very surprised at how those skills may fit into something that you just never expected

Linda:

That is really important and incredible advice, advice for any of us to listen to, because you are you're so right about that. And, and the quote, I think preparation meets opportunity is that's the definition of luck, right? So people could look at you and go, Oh, she's so lucky. And oh, she's got this amazing, you know, talented daughter and they came together and they did together so lucky. You create your own luck, right? You create luck by being in the right place and being out there. And, and the two of you together, adopted these two casts, and you did it out of a love for service and for helping others right and helping animals he didn't want to go get an animal somewhere else you wanted to save an animal. So that was the beginning of the of this planting of the seed of this book that came together out of love out of helping out of doing service and your collective talents came together me Erica has got this incredible music and you also I find it in the arts right? You just like you're you tend to be good at a lot of things right? And if you try it. And so it's amazing to me that you as a singer songwriter, let's do this book together. It's really an incredible, incredible combination of what you just said about your collective talents and then coming together for to do that.

Erica Leigh:

Thank you so much.

Kate:

Erica, at the beginning of our conversation, we talked about artists taking on passion projects, and maybe if you knew how much effort it was going to take, you wouldn't have started. But once you're into the process, you just go with it because you love it. But the conversation I'm interested in having is about a social media post that you recently put up regarding exposure bucks. And this is something that I, as an older artist, I feel it's so important. It's so valid. And I wonder if you'll speak to that just a little bit.

Erica Leigh:

Absolutely. I first of all, I'm so flattered that you noticed my post, because we all do it. We all get up on Facebook and have our soapbox moments. But it is something I'm very passionate about. And I had an offer to do a mural at a venue in Boston that I really respect and you said I'm a musician, right? So a place that I'm familiar with as a musician, but I was being offered to do it for free. There was a little bit of a barter to get some free admission to some shows. But it just I had to decline respectfully and it made me think about just in general, how often I get asked to do work for free. And I want to put a little disclaimer, there are some great opportunities to do some work for free. If you are in the beginning of your career. Let's say you're working as an electrician, but you really want to be a mural artist, maybe you don't have a portfolio yet and taking on something for free in your spare time is a great way to build that up so that you can transition. So that is I'm not knocking that. But the whole exposure bucks thing does start to get a little tough Toxic when it becomes this narrative that as a society we have that people who are in the arts aren't really deserving of being paid the same way that for instance, you'd pay a plumber to do a job. You guys might find this scenario familiar. Let's say you're getting married. And, you know, maybe you want a musician that you know, a cousin who plays guitar to play at your wedding, you're like, hey, you know, Joe, I'd love for you to play some music. We love this style. And this style, oh, and could you play the song that we love, we can't pay you, but we are going to feed you and everybody at our wedding is going to hear you. So that's like at least 200 people that might hire you in the future. But what they don't realize what the person who's getting married and hires their poor cousin, Joe, who I just made up, what they don't realize is that Joe not only has years of skills and experience, maybe even an expensive college education like me. And they also have to understand how to work the equipment, schlep all the heavy gear, they have to show up looking professional, they have to know how to work that crowd, a maybe even MC in between their songs, they have to provide this amazing service for you that not just anybody can walk in and do. And I think it's just really hard for people in the arts to express that tangible value of their services to the community that they serve. And so I got up on my soapbox, because I wanted to remind people, businesses, if you want to hire people, and you can't offer them any money, or maybe you have a limited budget, just be upfront about it. Because as long as you're upfront, then that person has an opportunity to say I'm sorry, I can't afford to take on this job right now. If you're not upfront, it can really feel like you're being manipulated into thinking that you're going to have this great opportunity and rarely do the exposure bucks translate into a ton of future business. Sometimes it can, but it's really not an acceptable exchange for payment. And if you're like me, and you're working full time, you need to put food on the table. So exposure bucks just don't pay rent I've tried, but they just don't. So I can definitely, that's my advice for the businesses about being upfront. But my advice for the artists or creators, is maybe come up with a limit for how many pro bono things you'll do per year, maybe it's based on a cost analysis of what your time is worth. Maybe it's based on how many like a cause that you really believe in, and you're just going to do three charity events a year. So set a limit for yourself. And if you get to a point where you're offered an opportunity that you're not crazy about, or doesn't reflect your values, or that you don't have time for you can very respectfully say, gosh, thank you so much for reaching out to me, I, I love what you're doing. And I unfortunately right now, I don't have time in my schedule, and I reached my limit for the number of volunteer events that I can afford to do this year. And then if you have a network, maybe offer to connect them to someone else or send them to there's an emerging Boston Area singer songwriter Facebook group I belong to so if I can't play at your wedding, maybe I'll say hey, you know what, maybe you could put a post up in this community and someone might bite on it. And that way, you're not leaving them empty handed. And nobody's offended. We all understand we all have to make a living. So hopefully those tips are helpful for everyone listening who's in that position where you're in the trenches trying to make a living doing your creative work.

Linda:

Here here, absolutely.

Rhonda:

That was well said,

Linda:

That was well said and all of us who are artists have have confronted that situation and, and felt the same way. So thank you for saying that. And I think yeah, anymore because you just said it more than better than anyone could say it. And I hate to say but it's time in our podcast right now to ask you and you've given us so many of you already. Do you have any other golden nuggets this is you know, something to offer our listeners just when you think it's important as a takeaway for our listeners to take away from our conversation today.

Cathy Stenquist:

Well, first of all, I am so excited to be here and to be able to give a golden nugget in the first place because when I listen to your podcasts I Hey on what that last bit of wonderful golden this is going to be so I hope my suggestions live up to the first thing I would say is my mother gave me some wisdom. That's very helpful. She said, "Cathy, you can do everything you want to do. You just can't do it at the same time." I've taken that to heart I, I mean, as you can see, with all the many varied hats I've worn, I've done many, many of the things that I've always wanted to do. And I have a whole list ahead of me that I understand I can't do them all at the same time and do them well. So just take one thing at a time and enjoy the journey. The second thing I just want to say for a nugget is, instead of asking "what if" about all the potential failure that might happen, and catastrophizing, the scenario that might lay ahead of you ask, what if in a positive way, for example, what if I take that chance? What if I learn a new skill? What are if I meet? What if I meet like minded people along the way that I can network with? I wonder if I find some really cool opportunities? What if something even more wonderful than I can imagine, comes my way? And most of all, what if I succeed? Wouldn't that be amazing? So I, I try and think of that, when I'm doing my writing. I'll write a poem. And I'll say, what if I send this out? I wonder if someone wants it. And sure enough, one of my poems is going to be a really high level anthology coming up. But if I had said, No, I'm just gonna fail. Those are my two nuggets that I think would really be helpful to contemplate as you consider your next act.

Rhonda:

And how about for Erica, what would you say?

Erica Leigh:

I would say that, as someone who has also, like my creative chameleon mother, had so many different jobs and career tracks over the years, I would say that just to kind of echo what she was saying about failure, that sometimes your evolution as a creative person can feel like destruction, like the way that a seed has to kind of break open or the way that a caterpillar has to cocoon up and then come out as a butterfly. Sometimes it can be painful, it can feel like you have no idea what's going to happen when life comes your way. And things get challenging. But I would say keep that in mind, if you're going through a hard time, if the transition is difficult, you may be that that seed or that caterpillar, and you just have to kind of keep moving forward one little step at a time, be willing to embrace that possible new identity, that new definition of self that you never imagined you could be otherwise I would never have found my way from being a musician. And having those horse blinders on, to illustrating picture books. I mean, I never would have gotten there if I wasn't willing to kind of go through that identity panic, but eventually come to terms with the idea that I am more than this one thing. So good luck to all of you who are listening might be going through that you got this.

Kate:

Yeah, from chaos comes creation. Before we go, let me ask both of you what comes next? What's in the pipeline? What's gonna what's coming next?

Cathy Stenquist:

I'm really excited about what's coming next. For Forever Home, I am busy working to revise my website, I'm developing some teachers' guides and Erica and I will actually be starting some classroom visits with some schools to be able to bring the book to schools and talk about community helpers. And we're very excited about that. And then we hope to expand that together another way to work together. I'm also going to be partnering more with a path to do some education. Of course, I'm writing many new picture books. And I would love to publish again with Erica, I'd love to have her illustrate again. The problem is her queue is getting so long, that I'm gonna have to take a number like at the deli and hope she'll call my number.

Erica Leigh:

I'll call your number mom. And for me, I'm like she just said - I'm illustrating three picture books for independent authors at the same time right now. So I'm keeping busy with that. But I'm trying to squeeze in some time in between those to explore my own storytelling. And what I really dream about is getting published as an author illustrator being able to both author and illustrate my own stories because I love illustrating other people's books but gosh, I just so badly want to take that background I have as a songwriter and put it into some cool picture books for all my cute little nieces and nephew to read. So that's my goal next.

Kate:

We'll look forward to it. Absolutely. Maybe you'll come back and tell us - and we'll do this again. And we'll here are all the exciting new things that have come to fruition

Erica Leigh:

Pressures on - I got to get to work.

Rhonda:

I cannot thank you both enough for being part of our conversation today. Your two extraordinary talents. You're chock full of wisdom, and really just humble graced human beings. It was a pleasure to be in your company. And I think those who are tuning in today will feel quite satisfied by being part of this conversation. Thanks for welcoming us into your brains into your life experiences and into your hearts.

Cathy Stenquist:

Thank you so much. It was our pleasure.

Erica Leigh:

Yeah, thank you.

Linda:

Wisdom filled, amazing conversation. I know that our listeners are going to want to find out more about you both. So Cathy, you can find out about her on her website. cathystenquist.com. It'll be in our show notes. I won't spell it out for you right now cuz I know it's a lot with two of them. And EricaLeighart.com. And it's also Cathy Stenquist across social media and Erica Leigh art across social media, you'll be able to find them, you definitely want to follow them and be able to take in all their great wisdom and wonderful posts that they put on social media as well.

Kate:

And a special thanks to our very talented and skilled producer, Cathy Carswell behind the scenes.

Rhonda:

She makes it happen for us Thanks Cathy. And so it is left for me to say go forth fie brave, live well and do good because it's Act 2

All:

You're ON!.

Kate: Act 2:

You're ON! was brought to you by Act 2: Share Our Stage.

Linda:

You can find us at a2yo.com and also on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Rhonda:

Please listen and subscribe wherever you find your podcast. You can support us using Patreon. Thanks for listening