You're not alone. I get asked this a lot. I'm happy to share the answer.
Waldo, my Personal Guide
It's funny how life happens sometimes. So coincidental that you cannot believe it's a coincidence anymore. Yet so strange, you swear it's magic.
Waldo started as a joke.
The stories complex. So I'll do my best to wrap it all together.
In October 2013, on Halloween I got a job cocktailing at a local bar. Yes ON Halloween, my first day. I was living in Las Vegas at the time. It was a rule to dress up, even with short notice. I was the only non-overly-sexed out waitress, it was hilarious. Especially when I was popping up in the background of everyone's pictures. Best photobombs ever. Imagine that… a sexy kitty, a sexy nurse, a sexy pilot, all posing to show off their Halloween best. Then BAM... a Waldo in the background posed like I’m running! HA! (I live for dumb shit. Conan O'brien is my hero.)
Then my sister gets married March, 2014. I recently joined Facebook (I'm not a big fan of spending my time on social media). A friend from grade school lived near the area my sister's wedding was to take place. (Keep in mind, our family is in Hawaii, husbands family is from the East Coast, I'm in Vegas, wedding is in a small town in southern Colorado... so all this is super random).
Going alone, I made a stretch. "Wanna be my plus one? I'll be busy most of the time, but when it's over we can grind (eat food in Hawaiian pidgen)?" We hadn't seen each other in 20 years. This is when my all time best friend would *poof* appear outta nowhere & from my past.
We instantly bonded. So much so she slept over. We ended up having a 12 year old sleepover (we were 35 at the time) IN the bar. Here's me & Brooke 'fake sleeping'. I dunno. I don't have answers for you.
In September 2014, I had a ticket booked for New Zealand. (long story of how that occurred... maybe one day on my newsletter, Taste.Every.Morsel). My new boyfriend couldn't come & I couldn’t change my ticket. Trying to be sweet I said he'd be there in spirit. Trying to be sassy he said, “What are you gonna do? Walk around with a Where's Waldo doll or something.?” (In reference to that I was packing my Waldo scarf & beanie because I lacked winter clothes) So without telling him, I ordered this Waldo doll, and did exactly that.
2 weeks. Me, an RV, & Waldo. Most people thought I had a mental problem and was really attached to the doll. Which made it that much more funny to me. I took photos with him everywhere. It actually became a huge part of my trip. I went deep into it too. In fact, he now joins me on most of my travels. Hey, if you're gonna go... go bold... go ALL the way. Haha.
Waldo introduced my to a ton of people. People I wouldn't have normal talked to. Especially with it being my first time traveling alone and my first time leaving the country as an adult. I was able to tell strangers my dreams about this website. It's not so scary when you know you'll never see them again. What I got in return was a heck load of encouragement. OMG, now I HAVE to do this. People actually want this site up. So other people can have encouragement. There must be a need here.
I thought I needed to redo my portfolio. I have a BA in Fine Arts from the University of Hawaii, Manoa. But it's been, oh 15 or so years since I've done anything with my degree (like many of you). Brooke needed a poster. She was a board member for her kids band. We both got excited and I made the 3rd Annual Bayberry Jam poster for June 2015.
Before the wedding, Brooke wrote a positive & educational kids book, "Brinley Discovers Santa". After the wedding, she got a surprise. She got published, but with the stipulation she needed it designed. Or she needed to pay for one of their designers. She asked me to illustrate it for her. Not really knowing what I was doing, I said yes. Not really knowing what she was doing, she trusted me. We had 30 days or she would lose her publisher.
It was one of the most overwhelming & satisfying things I've ever done. I couldn't have done it without the encouragement and belief from Brooke. I've never been good with Illustrator. I like to touch my art. It was the most 'flow' I've ever experienced. I contribute that a lot to being picky about who I was working with. It needed to be a relationship, not a client. Or I would burn out like I have many times before.
Brooke Smith published her first book. And I created the illustrations & laid out my first book (now I have no excuse to let out my little secret... Ickabob the Goldfish). She's also a major motivator that this website even happened. All she’s ever done is encourage me.
You would never guess… we eventually realized, holy shit, she was Waldo for Halloween in 2013.
Needless to say, Waldo has a lot of pull with me. He is my guide. My spirit animal if you must.
I love this story. It always makes me smile. How a simple genuine gesture on my part (for a laugh) turned into a huge cornucopia of gifts given to me. That's why I share him with you. I hope Waldo also puts you in a joyous state of mind. I hope Waldo is a part of your encouragement. I hope Waldo continues to be a gift. I hope he makes you smile too.
So yes, that's a Waldo. Yes, he has purpose. Yes, you'll be seeing more of him. As long as you stick around. And I hope you do!
Ps. Brooke’s written more wonderful & thoughtful books since then. Please check her out at bucketofwonders.com! Thanks.