A BIRTHDAY ROAD TRIP

In 2007, the movie Into the Wild was released and became an instant favorite of mine. It was the first place I ever saw Salvation Mountain: a giant, colorful, sculpture-like work of folk art in the middle of the desert. I’ve been trying to see it in person ever since, but the timing hasn’t quite worked out. Until now!

We spent my birthday driving out to the mountain, taking in the totally surreal, slightly absurd beauty of it, and then making the trek home. Ruby came too! Despite the awful weather (100 + degrees), we had a very successful outing that resulted in the photos below and a sleepy puppy who snored on my lap the entire drive home.

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Selfie game, strong.

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Obviously there is a lot of religious imagery here, and I’m not a terribly religious person. What I like about Salvation Mountain is the message of love. For Leonard Knight (the man who spent years building the mountain out of adobe clay, straw, and lead free paint) the idea of spreading love and beauty is tied very closely to God, but for me it was more about experiencing the creative spirit of the place, rather than the religious spirit.

Huge thanks to other M for making the trek, putting up with me all weekend, and helping me FINALLY cross this trip off my bucket list!

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY RUBY (YEAR 3)

It honestly feels like we’ve been living as a threesome forever, but the calendar says it’s only been 3 years so I guess we’ll go with that.

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Every year on Ruby’s birthday/adoption day, I take a moment to acknowledge how important animal rescue is to me. It literally changed my life and it changed Ruby’s too. This year especially, we kept hearing the same thing from friends and family:

“She’s a different dog.”

“She’s so calm and happy.”

“She looks really healthy and young.”

I cannot emphasize enough how good it feels to watch her blossom every day. To know that we took in a lost, fearful little dog and helped her make the face below on a daily basis. You can read more about Ruby’s adoption story here and here.

Ruby on Stairs

This was our toughest, most confusing, and most rewarding year yet.

Ruby has always had a little trouble in social situations. She does ok with small dogs, but is usually reactive towards larger dogs and she has a hard time with new people, especially with new people who make direct eye contact. She hates the mailman, and she doesn’t tolerate guests in our house or on our property. She goes straight into defense mode – howls, barks, growls, lunges, you name it. But she has always been sweet, silly, and loving with the two of us. With one exception.

She is EXTREMELY reactive when she falls asleep. If we accidentally brush against the blanket she’s sleeping on, it scares her so much she goes from passed out to full aggressive rage in the blink of an eye. For a long time, we just avoided touching her or being near her if she was resting, but it was difficult because she is so affectionate with us, and we don’t want to deny her affection if she’s asking for it. She WANTS to come sleep next to you, she WANTS to snuggle up under the covers with you.

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This issue has been getting progressively more serious and more stressful over the last couple years. It eventually reached the point where, after coming up to snuggle in bed, she snapped at me while I was still half asleep, started yanking on a mouthful of my hair, and left several scratch marks on my neck and ears. I called my mom sobbing after that morning because I was so afraid that the only solution was going to be to put her down. But something inside me said that wasn’t the answer.

I want to be very clear: 95% of the time, Ruby is exactly like every other sweet, well behaved, playful dog. She loves to go for walks, learn new tricks, and is incredibly smart and expressive. Other people don’t get to see that side of her because she can’t be around them. If friends are at the house we put her in the bedroom to avoid conflict and keep her stress levels down, and she can’t handle being in crowded public spaces like restaurants or parties. It’s really upsetting for me to think about the animated little beagle that I know and love, and to realize that other people don’t know that side of her exists. I want to make sure I’m not portraying her as a monster. She is an absolute delight who has a couple issues to work on, and I love her more than anything in the world.

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We had worked with a trainer during our first year together and contacted her for some advice. She thought we might benefit from seeing an animal behaviorist, and passed along the contact info for the VCA in West Los Angeles.

An animal behaviorist is essentially a psychiatrist for pets. They study the behavior of animals and diagnose and treat behavior problems with modification training, lifestyle changes, medication, or a combination. I know, it sounds silly to take your dog to see a psychiatrist and I was feeling a little skeptical in the beginning, but I had also run out of other options.

For those of you who have never been to a behaviorist, let me break down our visit for you:

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At this point, all we felt was relief. We had been concerned about territorial aggression and other scenarios where we just didn’t know what the outcome would be. An anxiety diagnosis was the last thing we were expecting, but it made perfect sense once they explained why. From there, we were given a number of handouts outlining different behavior modification training techniques, and we spent a little time practicing them in the room with the doctors.

They also recommended that Ruby start taking fluoxetine, which is the equivalent of a Prozac type medication. People have lots of different opinions about medicating for mental health, but we decided to give it a try. The doctors explained to us that the medication was really a tool used to supplement the behavior training – it would help Ruby relax and keep her from going to a place of extreme anxiety while we showed her other, better ways to respond to situations that make her uncomfortable. They even said that some dogs start by taking the medication and are eventually weened off it because they don’t need it anymore.

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Before we went to see the behaviorist, I kept a log in my phone of every time we had an “incident” with Ruby. I detailed the time of day, what happened just before and after, and any other details I could think to add. We were averaging 1 to 2 incidents per month. Since leaving the VCA that day, we have had ZERO incidents. IT’S BEEN 9 MONTHS.

Maybe the most important thing we left the VCA with was a better understanding of our own dog. Now, when I see her exhibiting certain behaviors, I know she’s feeling anxious and I have the tools to help her relax. Whether that means asking her to go lie down, focus on me, or just removing her from the situation entirely. I think she can feel that understanding too, she knows we’re making an effort to keep her safe and happy and because of that, she feels more at ease. It’s a circle of good vibes, you guys.

There is a stigma about rescue dogs that I think keeps a lot of people from adopting them. The idea that they’re “damaged goods,” or “have issues.” My response to that is: I have one of those dogs that you’re afraid of. I let her into my home, made a sincere effort to understand her, and have done everything I possibly could to help her succeed. And guess what? She IS succeeding. With a little effort, she is living the same happy, healthy life that your dog is.

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If you have a pet who is exhibiting some of the behaviors I’ve described and want someone to talk to, please get in touch with me (click contact above)! I know how stressful it is and I’d be happy to chat, offer advice, or put you in touch with the trainers and behaviorists we saw. Just please don’t give up on your pet. In all likelihood, this is the moment when they need you the most.

So happy birthday to Ruby, the best part of my day, everyday.

PRINTABLE VACATION ART FOR LOVELY INDEED

Chelsea at Lovely Indeed asked me to help with a really fun project – drawing her dream cruise destination!

She picked Capri and the Amalfi coast, and this is what I came up with:

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Zz05MGE3MGYwMGIzMTdmMDE0MGYyZWNlOTk5MDg3NDUwNg==

(bottom photo by Lovely Indeed)

Where would you go on a dream cruise? See the full post and download this printable vacation art here!

THE MODERN ALPHABET

Authoring a children’s book has been a LONG harbored dream of mine, and I’m ecstatic to share that I can finally say it: I’m an author!

This is exactly the kind of alphabet book I would have been completely obsessed with as a child. I wanted to make something that was visually exciting and would appeal to kids, but that would also provide a bit of a challenge. The words inside are written in both print and script – making this a book that can grow with your child as they learn to read and write. Some of the words are simple (two, or three letters long) while others may be more difficult.

This book is for the future creators, designers, and artists of the world. If you want to infuse your child’s education with a little creative flair, this is the book for you. It would also make a great gift for friends who are expecting, or nieces and nephews if you don’t have kids of your own! No matter what though, it’s only for the coolest babies in the world. So gift accordingly.

Hopefully this is the first of many books to come! It is currently available for purchase through Blurb, Amazon, and BarnesAndNoble.com

MANCHESTER WAVES FLAG CONTEST

Manchester, NH, the city I grew up in (sort of…it’s a long story but my family home has a Manchester mailing address despite actually being located in another town), announced that it would be holding a contest to redesign the city’s flag a few months ago. Naturally, I submitted about 1,000 entries. How cool would it be to say you designed your hometown’s flag!?

Turns out that it paid off, because I received word this week that one (of my 10 billion entries) was selected as a finalist and will be voted on by the people of Manchester in their November election! DO YOU LIVE IN MANCHESTER? YOU BETTER VOTE FOR ME. Just kidding, the other designs are actually pretty great. But consider this: wouldn’t you like to say you know the person who designed the city flag? I thought so.

There are 3 finalists out of 288 total submissions. This one is my entry and you should watch for it on the November ballot:

Finalist in the Competition

It’s got the blue and yellow of the NH state flag and a crown for the city’s nickname (Queen City).

A second submission of mine got an honorable mention:

Honorable Mention

That’s the actual city grid in the background, with another crown (for “Queen City”) that creates an “M” in the middle for Manchester (or Megan!). I probably prefer this one because it’s a little more fun, but I’ll take what I can get!

And, perhaps the most exciting part of all of this, I have now been featured in the local paper: The Union Leader. Read their full story on the contest and don’t forget to VOTE in November!

VENUES IN COLOR

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably already seen some of the photos and videos from the wedding we attended on Friday. I LOVE all weddings, but I’ll admit I was extra excited for this one because I got to contribute in a really fun way.

Our friends Mary and Mike (the newlyweds!) asked me to create 17 custom illustrations to be used as table cards at the reception. They each feature a different music venue in the Los Angeles area where they’ve seen a show together (what a fun idea, right?). When we started working on them, the only direction they gave me was “think strong lines and fun colors! We’d love for you to be creative.”

This is one of my favorite projects to date – it all came together so effortlessly, and I genuinely enjoyed creating every single piece (thanks Mary and Mike!). Now I get to share it with you! I’ll be posting some more images on Instagram over the next couple weeks under the hashtag #VenuesInColor, follow along @roymeister if you’d like to see!

In addition to just showing you what we put together, I’ve also made every print in this series available as a poster in my brand new Society6 shop. You can see and purchase them all right here.

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And here are a few quick photos I snapped at the wedding!

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Which one is your favorite? Have you ever been to a show at any of these venues? Let me know!

And don’t forget to shop them all, here!

WORDS COLLECTION

My new Words Collection is finally here! I’ve been working on this collection for a few weeks, searching for phrases that were fun, different, and that I would want to carry around on the back of my phone. I’ve added a little flair to each phrase by using icon cut-outs so you get a peek of the phone beneath the case! (Wouldn’t that be especially fun if you got a glitter case!?)

The collection has cases for travelers, emoji fanatics, moms, dog lovers, cat lovers, girl bosses, waffle aficionados, and more! See for yourself below, and shop the entire collection right here! Hope you’re as pumped about it as I am!

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NEW GOODIES

I’ve been feeling really inspired lately and uploaded a ton of new phone and laptop cases to my Casetify collection. Some examples below, but there are a lot more in the shop!

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I also had a few of these rose enamel pins left over from the holidays and finally listed them in my Etsy shop! Wouldn’t they make a cute Valentine’s Day gift? These roses will never die. 😉

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To purchase a rose pin (there are only a few left and they won’t be restocked, hurry!) visit my Etsy shop, here.

FIRED UP, READY TO GO

Yesterday, The Atlantic shared a beautifully illustrated video on Facebook about the origins of Barack Obama’s “Fired up, ready to go” chant. This is what I’m thinking about today, and this is the mantra I’ll be adopting for the next four years.

If you’re in need of a little daily reminder to stay vigilant and that your voice matters, watch The Atlantic’s video then download the free desktop background I created below. Click on the image and it will open in a new window. Right click and save the image to your computer.

Fired up, Ready to go

Happy inauguration day.