How do you tell a story about something that has enchanted you so wildly, that life feels altered after it? It’s a tall order, an intimidating tale to tell, but it’s my story of Gracie Klumpp, the illustrator who told our story through an illustrated family portrait.
While scrolling through Instagram one day, two weeks ago, I came across Gracie Klumpp‘s beautiful children’s illustrations. A colorful illustration mentioned a new series Gracie was working on about the little things that make people happy. Something about it caught my attention. Drinking the Whole Bottle is partly a metaphor for life, a figurative way to remind us to savor every drop, every moment, even the small ones – especially the small ones – so I was intrigued by the series. She asked people to comment with something that made them happy and that by commenting she might illustrate it. So I did:
“…At sunset when Husband and I are on the beach with a glass of (white) wine and the kids are running free, salt and wind in their hair. Magic. ❤️❤️”
Then last night, while in the kitchen with Husband, magic, indeed, happened. Someone tagged me on Instagram. It was Gracie and Gracie had illustrated my happy moment. I hurriedly clicked the tiny thumbnail, impatient to see what she had created. Gasp. Guys, there was a physical gasp. Seriously. I uncontrollably gasped out loud and it was followed by my heart leaping. Gracie’s illustration was beyond anything I could have expected or hoped for. It was like being given a gift by someone who knew me deeply, by someone who understood the inner workings of my family, my life, my mind – except that I had never met her before.
Her details were precise and I don’t mean the ones I gave her (like the white wine). My daughter’s darker shade of hair was the exact right length and those ringlet curls that I love so much were blowing in the salty air, as messy and perfect as ever. She was leaping with her strong, ballet legs, hands thrown incautiously to the wind, in a way I’ve actually seen her leap before. My son was beaming, joyous to be copying his older sister and marching behind her on some crazy adventure that only they are going on. His hair is lighter, his personality more open to the world. Even the dogs’ personalities are clear. Jersey, my shadow, by my side while Olive explores and runs off cause she’s a ladydog of the world like that. And then there’s Husband and I, on the beach smiling at each other in that way we do when we believe that the universe has been extra kind to us. It’s a look we give each other often and Gracie got it. Somehow, she got it.
…How did she get it?
stalk check out her page I start to understand.
“If you want your kids to grow up to be heroes, you need to surround them with good stories.”
Those are her words, but they could have been mine and I realize why something about her illustrations feel familiar to me. Gracie Klumpp’s website tells the same story through pictures that I would in words. Her stories are of journeys and adventures, of unconditional love and happiness and small moments that mean big things. And she understands this too: that the stories we tell ourselves (and our kids) matter because we are at the center of them. Storytelling is at the heart of everything we are and everything we will become. I get all of that.
I still can’t believe I get to look at this illustration and know it’s ours. Just ours. Our story. Our one-of-a-kind, Gracie Klumpp, outfitted for just our family.
What kind of story would your life tell? Adventure, Romance, Comedy?
“It’s your job to teach them how to be heroes, to love beauty, and dream big.”