Dream Smarter Podcast Ep12 - My Story


Dream Smarter Podcast Ep12 – My Story

Below are the show notes/summary for this episode. Please listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify for the full show! Xo, Alex



Hey guys, it has been a minute since I made a podcast. And let me just tell you, this is a part of the business. So, I might as well just explain myself for a second here. I’ve been busy. The word busy is such a dirty word to me. I was using it for so long to make excuses, but let’s get real. These are all excuses because, really, if you wanted to make time for something you would, and if I really wanted to make time for this podcast, I would have. But it did take a back burner to some other really fun, exciting things that I was doing. And to be honest, for the past few weeks, I’ve been going through a few little mental health things. I’ve had insomnia, which has led to like shit, tons of anxiety, or vice versa.

I think everyone’s going through a hard time right now with COVID and Black Lives Matter. Every time I look at my phone, I feel like something else is coming to light. I think that it’s simultaneously a beautiful thing, and also just a very hard thing for all of us to process right now. So, if you’re feeling the same way, don’t get hard on yourself.

I love doing the podcast. And I love that you guys love the podcast, but there come times and weeks and months where you just have to do you. And if something isn’t feeling good, or if something isn’t feeling like you need to put it as a priority, then you don’t. And that’s one thing that I’ve learned throughout business is you look at all these other businesses, and you think you need to do business like them as if business is like a thing that you let everyone follows. That’s not true at all. Being consistent in your content is good, but I’m not going to be consistent if I’m not feeling, you know what I’m saying?

Every day that passes, I realize how important life is outside of business and my mental health. And if I’m not happy, I can’t run my business the proper way. So, I’m sorry that you guys missed out on some weeks there, and I hope to stay more consistent in the future and get on some sort of a schedule that feels good, and that feels routine for me. But anyway, I just wanted to come on here today and keep this chill.

I don’t want to bombard you with a bunch of information today. So today I’m going to talk about my story. And this is something that I talked a little bit about in the first episode, but I’ve been getting lots of DMS and lots of just requests for me to do an entire episode on my story. And I personally love hearing other people’s stories. So, I thought, why the hell not right?

So I’m going to start by explaining a little bit about what I was like as a kid and a child because I think it’s hilarious actually, to look back now and see who I was and what I liked and the things that I was drawn to and pair them with what I’m doing today. So, if you’re ever feeling like, “Oh shit, I don’t know what my path is,” look back to your childhood because I didn’t notice these parallels until recently. It just is astonishing to me. So, when I was a little girl, first of all, I was not into like Barbies or any of that. I was a tomboy. I liked playing with the guys. I would play football during recess. I would play tag.

I really, really enjoyed just doing things. I didn’t like that girly Barbie lifestyle. I also was very obsessed with arts and crafts, which definitely obviously plays a role in my life now. When I was a kid, I remember all of my gifts that I would ever get from anyone, my parents, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, my friends, and I would always ask for arts and crafts.

I asked for arts and crafts for every single one of my gifts. And I also loved business, which is funny because I look back now and I’m like, wow, you’re ridiculous. So, it started out from me trading Pokémon cards. And then I remember my grandma was good at making dessert. I basically asked her if I could start a business where we would make these 8 x 10 pans of rice crispy bars and all of these like big dessert bars.

And I would sell those 8 x 10 pans, full of bars to people, and buy them. And of course, they bought them because I was a little kid and they felt bad and who doesn’t like a good treat? I just looked back at that, and I’m like, wow, funny how it all works out. And even on Halloween, after we would come home, me and my siblings and my friends would sit down, and we would trade our candy and make sure that we got all of our favorite candies.

I grew up in a big city, a small city in Minnesota called Oakdale. That was about 10 or 15 minutes from the twin cities. And we had a basement, and it wasn’t a finished basement, but my parents had a bar down there, and it was all cement. It was like our play area, but it was like a weird unfinished basement type of situation. And I remember my parents got desks and I don’t know like where his desks came from, or if I asked for a desk or what, but I would be the teacher, and I would force my siblings to be my students. This is so funny now because now I’m teaching design to people. So, it’s all of these little parallels that just really match up.

I just remember my friends were not like me. And I remember all my girlfriends wanting to play Barbies and me not wanting to do that. I was like, no, I don’t want to play. It was the most boring thing ever to me. So, then I got into video games on the computer. There was a computer game that was like Barbie as a movie star. And you would make scenes almost like the Sims. So, you would make scenes, and I remember I would plan her outfits, and I would plan out the scene and what it looked like and how people interacted. And that was amazing. I loved the Sims. When I was even younger, I loved the magic school bus, had a video game online that I played all the time. That was all about stars and moons.

Speaking of stars and moons, when we were growing up in Oakdale, I have two younger siblings, and we all had to share a bedroom because the house was only a two-bedroom house. So that’s the reason why my parents moved, and they ended up actually building. So, I was there while my parents were building. My dad was the general contractor. We built this house in Wisconsin. I remember just being so excited about my room because I got to design my own room. It was bright yellow with suns and stars and moons all over the walls. Then I had my mom put stars all over the ceiling, like the glow in the dark stars.

I, of course, was obsessed, which is just also hilarious to me. And it just makes me feel very authentic in what I’m doing now. So, if you ever feel like you’re not on your authentic path, I would look to your childhood because to me, I always look back and I’m like, damn, how did I not know this was going to happen?

I was playing video games on my dad’s computer all throughout this time. I found Photoshop on his computer. I talk about this actually on another podcast, but I had Myspace, and at first, it was just for my friends and me. Then I started getting into the themes where you could code your background or add your music. So, I would design these graphics, and I call them signs, which was a profile picture basically. So, I would even take pictures of myself like influencer style pictures. I was 14 years old. I did not tell my parents. But I would pose myself, and I would cut myself out, and in Photoshop, I’d put like little designs around me and stuff like that.

And I ended up doing it for other people too online. So, I’d make them signs, and I would make them themes for their Myspace. And it was so much fun for me. I found so much joy in it. And it’s just a funny parallel now because now I’m doing website design and branding, which is just totally tied back to that. But I didn’t actually tell anyone like it was my own little secret. I didn’t tell my friends. I didn’t tell my parents. It was a complete secret. And I remember they were like, what the hell are you doing on the computer? I’m like, I’m just playing games! Just kidding. I’m talking to random people on the internet.

I just felt like I lived in this bubble that nobody else understood. In high school, I was always really good at school. It was something that came really easy for me in high school. I never had to study. I took a lot of English classes. I was actually really good at math in high school. That changed when we went to college, and it got exceptionally harder. My high school was small. We had 8,000 people in our city, and our class size was about two 50.

I had a friend group, but I was never truly a part of that friend group. It was just kind of this elite group of girls that were all in sports, and I was friends with them, but I was never felt like I was considered a part of the group actually. And I think part of that was because I was also friends with a lot of other people. I was friends with people who did drugs, but they didn’t do drugs around me. I was friends with everyone. Like I never judged anyone for who they are. I never looked at anybody differently than I looked at myself in that way. So, I felt like because of that, I never really belonged anywhere. And everyone hated me when I moved because I was this cute girl and all the boys that I was cute, so it was just stressful.

I just kind of felt left out a lot of times, which is fine. I was popular, but I never really felt like I belonged anywhere. And I never really felt like anybody understood me fully. So, I went to the University of Minnesota, and I lived in the twin cities, and I went for communications. I made my friends, and I had great college friends. I currently am not friends with most of them, to be honest with you. But at the time, they were great friends, and I always had like an open-door policy wherever I lived. I would leave my key under the mat and let my friends know they can always come over.

I’ve always considered myself a generous person. And I think that’s why I stress overvaluing on my services, and my trainings and stuff that I offer because I like being generous. And I like generous people. If everyone in the world were just a bit more generous, then we wouldn’t have to stress about ourselves as much.

I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to do something in art, but I had no idea. I really wanted to make money. People ask why didn’t you become a graphic designer right from the start? And the reason why I didn’t was that I had always been told that people who are graphic design don’t make money. And I knew that I was smart enough to make money. I was like, Oh, those people must not be smart enough, which is completely untrue and totally something that society had placed on the term graphic designer.

But regardless, I knew I wanted to make money to me. I heard that you can’t make money if you’re a graphic designer. So, what am I going to do? So, I go to school, and I was terrible at public speaking. I was nervous all the time. I felt like a complete outsider because there’s like cliques of groups of beautiful, beautiful girls. And I went through kind of a shitty breakup too in college. So that was college.

So, I had all these random jobs. I worked full time going to school because my parents could not afford to pay for my rent. So, I was going to school a crazy amount. I was taking crazy credits, but then I was working 40 hours a week. So, my life was a little boring. And maybe that’s why I felt a little left out because I was working all the time. But I had a job at Buffalo Exchange where I was a buyer. And if you don’t know about Buffalo exchange, it’s like resell clothing. So, I was in retail, and then I was a bridal consultant to help women find their wedding dresses. So that was fun. But that only lasted a year because let me tell you, it’s not actually that fun. And then I finally found this marketing director job at this pool company in Minneapolis, and it sounded like a great gig. And I walk in, and there’s all these dudes, and I’m like the only girl besides the owner’s wife, and the owner was super, super traditional and not my style at all.

I definitely value the time that I was there, but it taught me a lot about what I don’t want to do. He was super, super into print, and sending out postcards, and I was always like, we need to redo the website and all of these things. And basically, he had resellers of the pool equipment, and I would create websites for these people. And of course, I was making like 45,000 a year, I think. But at the time, I was creating these websites for people during the day for like no money. But it was fun. And I enjoyed it. And that’s where I first got the chance to explore that side of me.

And in my free time, I would go to Pinterest, and I would find quotes that I liked. And then, I would recreate them using tutorials that I found online and hang them up on my desk as desk art. And they were hideous. I looked back, and I’m like, those are ugly AF, but that’s what happens when you’re just starting out. I was playing with fonts and all these different things and colors. And that’s where it really intrigued me.

I sat literally upstairs by myself, downstairs was just all the guys. Anytime I would come down, they would always just like banter and kind of throw like funny comments towards me, which to this day, aren’t very funny. But at the time, I was laughing and hoping to get along and hoping that everybody likes me because I just wanted everyone to like me. And I definitely think a lot of what happened was inappropriate looking back. Larry was a hard-ass as well. Like he was a hothead, and you needed to be a very special person to deal with him and his anger and just like the way that he was in general as a person. So that gave me a lot of like toughness as well. And it also made me realize how I don’t want to be as a leader. And I want to be caring and giving and loving. And I understand there are places of like toughness where you need to like set your boundaries and tell your employees like, Hey, you need to step up here or whatever, but there’s a way of going about it.

Back to Jeffrey. So, he comes upstairs, sits down next to me at my desk, and starts talking to me, and he’s like, well, what do you want to do? He’s like, I know you’re not going to be here forever. You’re too talented to do this. Have you ever considered doing advertising? And I was like, what the fuck is that? Like, I thought it was all marketing. I didn’t look at like commercials and ads and stuff as anything that I could possibly do. I thought that was just like very high, high people doing those things. Like how cool is that? Like, I can never do that. Right. That’s not even an opportunity for me. I just never even thought about it coming from a small town. And Jeffrey basically was like, and you would be such a cool, great art director.

And I was like, what the fuck is an art director? And so, he explained it to me. And then he told me about Miami Ad School, which was an advertising school. And I started looking it up, and I found that you could go, and you could get your graduate degree. So, Miami Ad School itself is just like an art school. You come out with a portfolio degree, but you can do it in conjunction with FIU, which is Florida International University down in Miami. So, like how cool, right? I’m a small town, Wisconsin girl. I’m like moving to Miami. It sounds crazy, but it sounds fucking awesome at the same time. And I want my life to be exciting. I’ve always been somebody who jumps at excitement and adventure.

So anyway, I did my research decided I wanted to go. I told my parents, my mom basically was like, you should just get a job here, and then they’ll pay for your grad school and blah, blah, blah. And I was like, no, fuck that. I’m not waiting for that. She was like, okay, cool. Like I trust you then. And my parents know I’m hardheaded in what I know I need to do. And that’s always been something that’s instilled inside of me. I make my own decisions. Nobody makes decisions for me, and I will do something if I feel really strongly about it. So, I felt really strongly about it. I decided to do it, moved down to Miami, got a place, went to Miami ad school.

We basically had at Miami Ad School a ton of different art classes. So, my experience is a little different from that of most people who go to Miami Ad School because I was doing FIU as well. So, half of my classes were art classes, and then the other half were science-based statistics classes where we would learn research. The art classes were great, and they were fun. And I loved it. My favorite parts were pitching, where I would make a presentation with my team. And then we would go up on the stage, and we would have our microphones, and we would pitch. And I felt so powerful, and coming up with ideas was something that I never knew existed. And it was so exciting for me because that’s where I really learned to be innovative in my concepts, which I take to this day. Obviously, innovation is something that’s really important to me in my business. And it’s something that I teach, and everyone knows that I feel really strongly about it. So that was a place that really taught me how to be innovative and how to be different and how to come up with new ideas and fun ideas, what an insight is, what a problem solution is, and how to target everything to your target market.

So, I learned a lot in ad school, but it wasn’t necessarily how to do this in Adobe or how did you know how to do this in keynote or what have you. So, I had to take it upon myself to learn all of these programs and to learn how to do branding and how to do website design and all of the things. Before I graduated from Miami Ad School in Miami, I took a summer, went to Tokyo, and lived in Tokyo for three months working at Ogilvy, which was so amazing. It was amazing, but it was also very stressful for me.

So, the friends that I met there were incredible. I went by myself. I was the only American, and I had never traveled out of the country before. So, this was a big leap for me. I remember when I got the internship because you applied for these internships, and you got accepted, and they would choose like three students out of like, 60 people who. So, I was chosen, and I felt amazing, and people would ask me how excited are you for this? And I’d be like, Ooh, you know, I’m excited. And then there was this huge rumor that went around of people saying that I didn’t want to go.

And I was like, you guys, it’s not that I don’t want to go. I’m just terrified. I’ve never been out of the country before, besides Mexico, to like some fucking all-inclusive resort. I don’t know what this is going to be like. I don’t speak any Japanese. I’m also going there with all these people who know each other because I was the only American, but the other group of people who were going there was two Germans, and then they were three Brazilians, and they all knew each other. So, like the Brazilians, two of them were dating. The other one was their best friend. And then the Germans were best friends. So, I’m like, great. What if these people hate me? Think I’m a dumb American don’t want to be my friend. And then I’m left out for three months living in this random city. I don’t know. I just had all these things cross my mind.

So, I go and flying there was such, honestly, an incredible experience because I remember getting there and feeling calm. Like I was like, Whoa, this is not what I expected. Everyone there is so, so, so nice. I have never felt safer in my life than I did in Tokyo. Even walking the streets at 3:00 AM, I felt so safe. It was such a beautiful experience. And I was completely myself, and I became best friends with everyone. It was so much fun. I look back at Tokyo, and I remember the times that I had with my friends, and we would leave the office late at night, and we’d go to a Seven 11 and buy a bottle of wine and open it up and drink it from the bottle on the curb. And then we’d go across the street and get some potstickers and some beers. And it was just like bliss.

So, the agency life there was a little different. It was interesting because we were actually split up. There were six of us, and if you guys don’t know agency culture and how it works, generally you have an art director who does the visuals, and then you have a copywriter who does the words, right? So, they focus on words. Our director does visuals. They’re a pair, and they work together to create concepts and bring them to life.

So that’s normal. But instead, they decided to split us up into two groups of three. And on the other team, there were two art directors and one copywriter. And on my team, I was the only art director, and there were two copywriters. So, I basically had to do double the work as the art director, which is a fucking lot of work for one person. And the creative director there was a hard ass. Like he did not like me. And that was new for me because I’m a suck-up and a people pleaser. So, it means a lot to me that people like me. And that was kind of the first time where I was like, oh my God, this guy like really doesn’t like me. He just really doesn’t like me. And it kind of made my experience a little hard, but I did my best.

We got to work with some amazing, amazing clients, just really incredible projects that I’m blessed to have been able to work on. And it was fun, and it was exciting. But to me, after that, I was kind of like, okay, that was cool. I love to travel, but you know, the ad life, like I was like, okay, yeah, I still want to do this, but I didn’t have the fire inside of me that I had had before. So, then I come back to finish up my schooling.

I actually came here to LA in Culver City and worked as an art director intern. I had a boyfriend at the time, and I didn’t do shit when I lived here for the first time. I was here for three months, and I would go to work, I would go to trader Joe’s after work, grab a bottle of wine and some potstickers and I would come home and like a salad for lunch. The next day I would come home, make some potstickers. It was like a routine. I’d drink a whole bottle of Rose in my room, literally a whole bottle every single night. It was the same wine that I drink every single night.

So, I would come home, and I would talk to my boyfriend while drinking the bottle of wine. I worked on my thesis, tried to get my portfolio together, and looked back, and I think I was very depressed. Like, of course, I was depressed. But you know, a lot of times it’s hard for you to know exactly at the moment and to see it when it’s not something that I didn’t really understand what depression and anxiety were. And I’ve actually had anxiety my whole life.

I was really depressed when I was in LA. During the day, it didn’t help because, at the agency, I never felt respected or like a part of the group. All of the interns had been working together for like three months before I got there. So, I was a newbie, and nobody liked me. It was like everyone else was very hipster and whatever. And cool. And I was just not cool.

I was like too girly or something or too outspoken. I would speak up in meetings. Like we would have meetings with the creative directors and even like the owner. And I would say my ideas out loud, and people would look at me, and I’d be like, “I don’t fucking care if I’m an intern, I want to tell you my ideas, and maybe this will spiral into something great.” And I just felt like nobody took me seriously. And some days, the interns had to sit at the front desk and manage the phones. Are you effing kidding me? I was sitting there like I have a graduate degree, and I’m managing phones. And our clients weren’t even that fun.

So, after that was done, I was like, K bye. Like, I’m done here. I’m not doing this anymore. I don’t feel like good here. So, then I moved back to North Carolina in Charlotte because that’s where my boyfriend was living with his parents. So, I moved back there, and I’m looking for jobs, and I’m looking at add jobs, right? So, I’m looking at jobs in LA, because I really wanted to move here. And then I’m looking at Apple, which is Northern California. And I got through a lot of interviews with Apple. I almost got the job, and there were some other ad agencies here in LA that were really great ad agencies that I almost got the job.

And eventually, I was just getting sick of it. And we were like, well, we need to make money. How are we going to do this? His name is Ryan, and we were watching Into the Wild, and we became obsessed with van life and travel and adventure and exploring. And we decided that we wanted to buy a van and do van life. And we just became enthralled with like the van life, community, and the adventure. And if you go online on the internet and you look at van life and all of the Instagram’s, and I swear to you, I watched every single van life YouTube video ever. It just looks so damn cool. And along with that, we were like, well, why don’t we just start our own business?

He was a videographer. I was a designer. And I was like, and I can do branding and website design. I know how to actually do that because I had done it at my job prior. I was also growing up to would design all these blogs. I would create all these blogs, and I never actually like made content for them. So, they went nowhere. But really, I wanted to be an influencer if I look back. So, I created all these blogs, and I knew how to design websites and WordPress. I knew that I could figure it out. I’m just a girl who just figures it out.

And I am confident that I can do it because other people can do it. I always look at other people, and I’m like, if she can do it, I can do it. If he can do it, I can do it. Like it’s motivating for me. Nobody else motivates me more than myself. But when I see somebody else doing something, I’m like, girl, you got this. So, I knew that I could do it. And I was like, great, he’s doing videography, so it’s a very well-rounded company. So, we decided to call it Creatives in a Van. So, we bought this sprinter van. It was actually a Dodge sprinter, but it had Mercedes parts on the inside, which is bullshit because it was very expensive to fix.

And so, Ryan’s dad was a wealthy man, and he cared. He was like really, really, really nervous. My parents were like, Woo, this is so cool. I wish we could have done this when we were your age. But his family was not like that. They were like, why are you doing this? You’re going to put Alex in the dog and danger. We had a dog together. Well, it was his dog, but I dated him for a few years. So, it became my dog too. She’s named Mojo. If you ever see the black dog in the old pictures that I post.

So, Ryan’s dad was like Alex, and Mojo is going to be unsafe. Why would you put them in this position? Blah, blah, blah. And as just a kind gesture, basically, it was easier for him to let us do this if he took the van in and got everything in it fixed. So, we literally spent $10,000 getting everything fixed in that damn van to make sure that it wouldn’t break down. When we drove across the country, Ryan was shooting documentaries on fighters, so we needed to drive to Oklahoma. So, we’re driving this van up to my parents’ house because that’s where we’re going to convert it because my parents have all the tools. They have the space we were living in Wisconsin, not like the middle of Charlotte. Right? So, we drive it up, and this is our first road trip, there’s nothing in the van. We literally brought an air mattress. So, we drove it up and no joke, about four hours away from my parents’ house, the van breaks down. We blew a rod in the engine. And if you don’t know anything about cars, that means the car is fucked. Like completely fucked. Like it’s gone like the engines done. So, we’re talking to Mercedes, and a new engine is $16,000, and we had just put $10,000 into it. So, we’re like, Hmm, we need to get this checked out.

So, we go and get it checked out. We do a test. Basically, we find out that the rod was blown because the engine prior to getting work done, they did a test on it before they did any of that 10-grand work to it prior to getting it done. We got this report back saying our engine was brand new. It was beautiful. And that’s why we bought the vehicle in the first place we had. We had that done prior to even buying the vehicle. So, we were like the engine’s great, everything else, like whatever we could fix. So, come to find out the engine blew a rod because they dropped something in the oil when they were doing an oil change. So, we fought with Mercedes for three months. Finally, they bought us a brand-new engine for the van for free. Thank goodness.

So then by the time we got the new engine in the van, we only had like two weeks to convert this thing. And it was November. It was snowing in Wisconsin. I remember on my birthday; we were in the back of the van putting on the flooring into the van, and it was hell. I remember standing there and just being like, this is the worst thing ever. We built this whole van out by ourselves, but it didn’t have any electricity. We were literally living out of a Yeti cooler. We would have to go to a store and buy ice for this thing to have groceries. If we didn’t get ice, all of our groceries or go would go bad. And that happened so many times.

I would just sit and cry because we were poor. I mean, first of all, the reason why we decided to live in the van was because of the adventure. But also because there were very little liabilities. An asset is something that makes you money. A liability is something that takes money away. So, when you’re living in like an apartment like that’s a liability, right? Because it’s not making you money. So, in the van, we had very, very few liabilities and lots of room for assets. Also, we could travel. It was fun.

It’s very different than what you think it is. So, we do the whole van life thing. We get this thing converted. We go down to Oklahoma, and we start doing van life, and it was crazy. It was crazy. It was hard. It was really hard. You look at van life, and it’s nothing, nothing like what you imagined it would be when you’re looking at these pictures. You even think like, Oh, it’s going to be difficult. It’s going to be difficult, but you don’t even realize how difficult it’s going to be until you’re actually doing it. It’s like all the little things in life, like finding a bathroom, you know, figuring out like groceries, figuring out where to shower or getting toilet paper, throwing away your trash, all of those things take up so much of your day. And it’s so it’s just hard.

You guys, it was really hard, but there were moments where I was like, which is fucking amazing. Like when we would go to national parks and do hikes, and I’m such an outdoorsy person, we would spend a lot of time on BLM land, which is like free public land. We would find the most amazing spots where nobody else was. I got to see some beautiful things. I can’t deny that it did spark a lot of creativity in me and my work. And it was just a really different experience for me as a business owner. Something that I really struggled with, though, was my relationship. So, Ryan and I obviously are not together anymore. And I loved him very much, but Ryan has a lot of issues, as everybody does. And he dealt with like a very hard childhood, which stemmed into a lot of emotional pain and trauma that he never dealt with in his life.

And that was taken out on me a lot of times because we were together 24 seven living like in 50 feet. So, it was hard. I went through a lot of emotional things. There was a lot of emotional abuse that was happening and even some physical abuse. And at the time like I always was like, I’m a strong woman. I would never let anybody do that to me. And that’s just not the case. And I realized that if you are somebody who’s in a situation like that, know that you’re not alone because you could think you’re as strong as fucking hell. And then all of a sudden, your emotions are aren’t yours anymore. And you know, nothing against him, he he’s dealt with a lot. It’s hard because I don’t really talk about this stuff very often. Because it makes me sad too, you know, for him and for what I went through. But I just remember, there were times when I was like, am I ever going to be happy again?

I don’t know if you guys have heard of hip camp at all, but at the time, it was like a camping version of Airbnb. So, there would be cabins and campsites and all those things. We got hired by them to take pictures because Ryan was a videographer, but he also would take pictures. So, we got hired by them to go and take pictures of properties, and we would get to stay for free, and we would make like $50 a night or something. We were like, we have a place to stay, that’s safe, and there were some cool places. We just take a few pictures. It was perfect for us in van life. It was great. I just remember we were at one of the hip camps, and I was inside cooking, and Ryan was outside, and we had just got done with a fight. And I remember literally staring blankly at a wall, just being like, am I ever going to be happy again? I don’t know. And I didn’t know if I was ever going to get out of that relationship. Like I just felt so stuck.

So fast forward to my dad had gotten cancer like six months prior, and he was going in for surgery, and it was bad. I had visited him before, and he weighed about 90 pounds, and he’s over six feet tall. So, it was very traumatizing for me even to see this. He had gotten chemo and radiation, and a lot was going on, and we really thought he was going to die. So, we came back home for the surgery, and the surgery fell right around Christmas time. So, it was kind of like a perfect time to come home and see family.

One night before my dad’s surgery, we had gone out to bingo about a week before. If you know me, you know how much I love bingo and me, and my mom loved going to bingo together. And we drink at bingo. I was sober because I was the driver. Ryan had gotten really intoxicated, and Ryan intoxicated is when he gets his worst is, he just doesn’t mix well with alcohol. So, he got a bit intoxicated, and then long story short assaulted my mom. I’ve literally never said this publicly. So, it’s hard for me.

A lot of it too has to do with like when I was in their relationship, he would tell me, you’re not allowed to tell people things. He would manipulate me into not telling people things that he had done to me or done in the relationship because it was supposed to be private because our relationship is private. It’s between him and me, not anybody else. So, saying it like gives me anxiety and makes me scared, you know? Because like I don’t even want him to come back and like message me on Instagram now after we haven’t been dating for a while. I just get like scared.

But anyway, we got home, assaulted my mom, and had done shit to me before, but when you see a grown-ass man that you love supposedly, grab your mother and throw her on the ground multiple times. Like, and my mom is my best friend, and she is the kindest, nicest woman ever and treated him like a son because he didn’t have the greatest like family growing up. They had their own issues, and seeing that just fucking broke me. It broke me, and the cops were called, and it was just a very, very bad night. The only thing he remembers is a cop pointing a gun in his face from that night. But he even stood in front of my father, who was 90 pounds right next to the stairs. And I got in between them, and I was like, “get the fuck away from my dad. Like, get away from my dad. Like, are you kidding me?” If he had like taken my dad and done something, my dad would have been dead, And Ryan also knows jujitsu, so that was like another thing. Anyway, it was just like a very stressful. This is stressful to talk about.

It was just a very stressful day, and he ended up going to jail, and we got restraining orders against him. And I never saw him again. And Mojo was at the house. The van was at the house, and eventually, his mom came up and got him from the hotel he was staying at in Hudson, Wisconsin. And after his hearing, I literally took all my stuff out of the van and me, and my mom parked the van down the street because he wasn’t allowed at our house. Like we had a restraining order. So, we parked the van down the street, and I had to put Mojo, my dog in the van.

You guys know how much I love Haynes. It’s really hard to leave a dog that you love very much. And Mojo was like my safe haven through everything. I’m not saying Ryan wasn’t loving because abusive people are very loving too. But it’s just the really high highs and really low lows. And it really gets to you as a person. And I felt so defeated. And then, having to take my comfort, AKA mojo, and just having to leave her in the van down the street and walk away and just look back and be like, that is my life. Like I literally walking away from my old life.

I will never, ever forget that. I can see it all right now. It was really hard. It was really hard. And then my dad was having surgery like a few days later. And so, it was like, fuck my life. Like literally fuck my life. It was just a very, very difficult time. So, then we go into my dad has his surgery, and it’s like a 16-hour surgery. And I literally was just like, fuck this. Like I need to create my own business. Prior to when I was with Ryan, I was the one making all the money. So, I was the one getting all the clients, making all the money. He was doing free documentaries and shit. So, I was the one funding our lives. But then, he would yell at me when I would try and work. He would be like, why don’t you want to talk to me? I’m like, I have to work. I have all these client things, and my anxiety, stress, and stress levels were so damn high. And I was like, no, not ever again will I have a partner in my business because I need to do me. I need to be able to do my thing and build this the way that I want to.

So, when I was in the hospital and started my business, it was like a power move. I had decided on the name, and I was like, all right, let’s fucking do this.
I remember that High Moon Studio made me feel powerful in a way that I never had before. That’s why I’m so connected to my business because it means so much more than just a career to me.

That’s why I feel so passionately about helping other people live their dream life and start their own business. I love seeing people succeed. Because I know what it means to me, and so, I know that it can do that for other people too, especially if you’re struggling or if you’re in any sort of position where you don’t feel happy. Because now I’m happy. I finally feel normal, and normal is such a bad word, but I finally feel like I got myself back. Because I didn’t know who I was for a minute there.

It feels good to share this with you because I think a lot of people look at my business and look at me and they’re like, damn, this girl is so successful. She just fell into this, and it’s like, I had to overcome so much, like the first six months of my business, after the fallout of Ryan, I did not leave my house. The only people I talked to were family because I didn’t trust anyone. I did not trust anyone. I was scared. I didn’t know who I was. I was scared people were going to take advantage of me with all the emotions I felt and stuff like that.

Still, to this day, I’m so triggered by people taking advantage of me. So triggered. Because I’m generous as fuck. But the minute I can feel like, okay, this person doesn’t actually appreciate me as a person they’re using me for things like that’s when I’m triggered, and I instantly want out. And that’s when I get out. I see a red flag, and I’m like, peace bitch. Like I don’t even care. I don’t care. I know what my self worth is. I know what I deserve in my life. I know what I deserve in my business. And its good fucking people who do good things and have good hearts. And that’s the only thing that I care about. That’s why I’m just at this point.

I’m so passionate about creating partnerships and finding people that I truly love working with and people that inspire me creatively and just creating art and building a life that is beautiful and not just a beautiful business. You can have this beautiful business like Creatives in a Van, and it can look so gorgeous to the outside world. But inside the home, it was torture. Not all the time, but I wasn’t happy, and I don’t want that anymore. I want to be authentic. I want to be me. I want to show you that you can be whoever you are and do whatever you want and literally build whatever life to you makes you the happiest without anybody else’s fucking judgment because guess what?

They don’t fucking matter. Only the only person that matters is you. And you’re the only person who deserves to create the dream life that you want and everybody’s opinion. Like they can just shut up, honestly. And that’s why I don’t ask people for like advice anymore unless I genuinely want their advice. I don’t ask people questions, I figure it out myself. And then I make my moves myself. And then I tell everybody what I’m doing because I just don’t care anymore. I need inner peace within myself, and I need to be happy with what I do. So, this road has not always been easy, and the struggle of growing a crazy business is so fun and so rewarding. And the challenges that come with it excite me. They really do. So, you guys, I hope you really enjoyed this episode, and I hope that it made you understand me a little better and why I do things and how I got to where I am. It’s not easy, but it’s really fucking worth it.

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