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is committed to providing imagery and content that leaves its readers feeling inspired and empowered to love themselves and others just as they are, to embrace and cultivate creativity and kindness in their everyday lives, and feeling just plain happy!



hello! W e l c o m e to Happy Magazine! A place where we celebrate and encourage kindness, creativity, and love. Some people have asked about the title and mistakenly think we have created a howto magazine on happiness. Nope. We aren’t happiness gurus or think-positive only people. Frankly, we’re as real as you can get. The Happy in Happy Magazine states the way we’re feeling when we are in the creative process, when we are spreading or receiving kindness, and when we are engaging in meaningful relationships. Our main objective is to celebrate those things because they make us feel happy. And to explore how other people experience the

same things in their lives. We don’t plan on writing a r t i c l e s discussing the latest scientific findings on what will increase your happiness level. Instead, we hope to share personal stories that inspire you, make you think, and make you smile. You'll notice this first issue is heavy on writing by us and about us. But don't worry, this isn't going to be "The Stefanie & Amber Show" every issue. Creating Happy Magazine has been, and continues to be, a learning process for us and we look forward to working and growing with many of you as we continue to develope this happy little place.

be m A & Stefanie





find us here Happy Magazine is a quartlery online magazine that explores and celebrates kindness, creativity, and love. Copyright is reserved. Reposting in whole or in part on other sites or in publications without permission is prohibited. All rights to photographs and illustrations belong to their respective creatorts/owners.



contributors CURTSY THOMPSON lives at the beach with her hunky husband Bob. She enjoys being an awesome granny, shopping, riding motorcycles and will make you laugh so hard you just might pee your pants.

GENEVIEVE HUNSAKER is 13 and the oldest of three children. She loves listening to music, photography, reading, eating cookie dough, watching movies, reading, playing the guitar and...reading.

KEVIN HARRIS is an artist and graphic designer who dreams of living in New York City and being on Broadway. For now he resides in Seattle where he enjoys eating lots of Ben & Jerry's ice cream and going on walks around the city.

SCOUT COMFORT is the oldest and only girl in a family of five kids. She's 14 and says, "I enjoy photography and added onto that list of enjoyable things would be tennis, boating, camping, biking, traveling, theatre, and music."



contents 8














the playlist LISTEN HERE



be inspired by... WONDER This heartwarming story follows Auggie Pullman, a 10-year old boy with severe facial deformities, and his family as they navigate his first year in public school. You'll cry and rejoice with the Pullmans as they, along with the school community, learn about kindness, empathy, compassion and acceptance.

ABOUT TIME Not your typical rom-com or time travel movie, About Time is the story of Tim and how he learns to cherish the ordinary moments of life after his dad reveals to him that the men in their family have the ability to go back in time. It’s a film full of humor and tender moments that will fill you with warm fuzzies. more info here



THE LEGO MOVIE A movie that celebrates creativity, the power of ideas, and believing in yourself is right up our alley! Surprisingly entertaining for both kids and adults, The Lego Movie will leave you feeling excited about creating and singing “Everything is Awesome� for days. more info here

HAPPY STORIES This collection of stories from happy people in all different circumstances and walks of life will definitely leave you feeling inspired and uplifted. Learn how they decided to choose happiness and what helps them continue to do so each day.

OLIVE US Olive Us hopes to inspire positive interactions bewteen family members through a series of charming videos (many set in France), featuring the Blair family's (of DesignMom fame) six children. Check out some of our favorites, "Betty in Paris" and "Stacking Wood".



Llife... A E

documenting R


You see, we’re always looking to the future. We’re always putting this off until an imagined more perfect time with an imagined more perfect image of ourselves. That is, until we are confronted with our mortality. When you lose someone you love, you immediately start combing the old photo books and boxes of unsorted photographs for an image, a memory, something tangible to hold onto. It seems like an almost universal ritual.


have never enjoyed having my picture taken. When I see photos of myself I’m always shocked. I didn’t know that’s what I looked like. Perhaps it’s the cult of youth and beauty; I’m not getting any younger and by western beauty standards I’m a bit of a failure. When I’ve talked to other women about it, they say the same thing. “Oh, I hate my nose”, “I’m too fat for pictures”, “I’ll take family pictures after I lose 20lbs”, etc. And we all avoid the camera by either hiding behind it or hiding as much as possible in the background.

A few years ago, I stopped hiding from pictures and began taking regular selfies. I know that some people are down on the selfie. They say it’s a sign of a narcissistic generation. For little old narcissistic me, selfies are a way to record a moment of time for a bit of nostalgia later. Most of my selfies include members of my family or close friends. Some of these pictures are fantastic. I can’t believe how great my eyes look, or my hair looks particularly frizz-free and tamed. Some of selfies look absolutely ridiculous. My double chin, big nose, and laugh lines would frighten Pennywise the Clown. And I keep them because this how I look and I want my family to remember me just as I was.




to see her laughing with me, hugging me, or eating cookies with me. So, I decided that no matter how I feel about what I look like in photos I would be in them and make sure there were a lot.


ot long after my mom died I came to the realization that there weren’t a whole lot of photos of her as an adult, as my mother, and even fewer of her and I together. I don’t blame my mom for not wanting photos taken of her all the time or for not thinking of documenting our everyday life. My childhood and through my young adult life was a completely different time, a time of film cameras. A time off buying film and then paying and waiting for developing and printing. Documenting everyday moments or taking selfies wasn’t something done like it is today with the ease of our phones and digital cameras. Plus, I understand being totally disappointed by what you see when faced with photos of yourself and feeling uncomfortable in front of the camera. But still, I wish there were more images of her and I always will. Having photographs to look at makes memories more real to me, more alive. I have lots of wonderful memories, but feel like I would remember even more if I had images to look at. I want

Admittedly, photographs are more important to me than most people I know and I’m sure someday my kids and grandkids will joke or roll their eyes about how many photos I took and how many selfies are included. But I also know that someday my children will yearn for photographs of our life together. To see me happy with them and having fun, to see me living life and laughing and to remember how much I loved taking them to a particular frozen yogurt place or to see The Nutcracker every December, to remember evening walks to the park and Sunday dinners at grandma’s house. Not caring that I could have stood to lose 20 pounds. I am the one who documents these things for my family and it’s a role I gladly accept. Selfies allow me to finally include myself in the images. My husband will not think of snapping a shot of me laughing with the kids or he and I sitting together at the park while the kids play. But I will. And thanks to my phone and “the selfie” I can.



ive yourself permission to embrace the selfie! There isn’t anything wrong with liking the way you look in a photo. There is absolutely nothing untoward about wanting to capture that moment that your hair looked spectacular. You are the sole proprietor of your being and you get market and document yourself as you see fit. When you take a selfie, you are in control. You can document the best angles or the most ridiculous faces. The choice is yours. Be comfortable in your own skin and show the word that you exist! We believe documenting real


life is important because we all matter. We want to celebrate the many ways there are to document family, traditions, and meaningful relationships. We especially want to encourage the documentation of you. Your hobbies, your goals, you with your family. As Happy Magazine continues to grow we look forward to seeing all the ways people document themselves, their lives, and the lives of their families in this regular feature. Now get out there and make some magic! J



DOCUMENT yo'self!



i left my heart in...





ver since I was a child I have been head over heels in love with the ocean. Its swelling waves and dark depths have always ignited my imagination. So much so that I thought seriously about studying to be a marine biologist. I never did become a biologist of any sort but my love of the ocean and the coast, and Cannon Beach in particular, has only grown. In truth, I would like to visit the coast more often than I do but it has, at least, become a ritual for me. In fact, last year we packed up the family and drove to Cannon Beach after I got off work at 6PM. We slept in the car and then spent the remainder of the day lounging, eating, playing, and napping under an umbrella, only to drive home again at sunset. We endured 11 hours total in the car just to spend 8 hours at the beach. I’ve been to Cannon Beach more times than I can count. As a child I thought I might find pirate treasure like the Goonies and I can remember earnestly searching the horizon for a glimpse of the mermaids I thought lived beneath the waves. Although I know they aren’t real, I still feel that same magic when I see the beach for the first time and I find myself casually scanning the horizon anyway. As a teenager I was sure I would find the love of my life wandering the beach or in town in one of the dusty, old used book shops. I did meet a guy once in Seaside who asked me out but I knew right away he wasn’t the love of my life because he was wearing socks with sandals. My soul mate would never commit such a fashion faux pas. And then I actually met the love of my life, not on the beach, or even near the local river, but at a 7-11 of all places. We married and then honeymooned on the beach. Now, we take the kids there. We beachcomb, eat fresh salt water taffy and crab cakes and we make plans for the next visit. No one ever complains about going to the beach again. We have to go back. We’ve left a little piece of our hearts there.



THINGS TO SEE & DO IN CANNON BEACH 01 Bruce’s Candy Kitchen – Eat fresh salt water taffy. Dental work be damned!


Rock – Explore the tide pools and then scream “Goonies Never Die!” No one will bat an eye.



03 Ecola State Park – Surf and/or reenact

the beach scene from that one Twilight movie. Whatever moves you.


Sand Castle competition – This usually happens in mid-late June. The artistic creations are incredible. I have only been once but it left an impression

05 Sea Ranch Stables Horseback Rides – This is on my bucket list. Frankly, I’m afraid of horses but I feel this deep-seated desire to ride a horse along the beach with my hair flowing freely behind me. Maybe I can get my husband to wear a pirate shirt and we can recreate the cover of a romance novel. J



e believe travel is good for the soul and love to explore new destinations. But some places will always have a special place in our hearts. Is there somewhere you've left your heart? A neighborhood, town, or city? A state or country? Your hometown or favorite vacation destination? Wherever it is we want to hear about it! Contact us at to share the place that calls to your heart.










STEFANIE: Growing up, I never considered myself a particularly creative person. I didn’t write, or paint or draw and never had a desire to take any art classes in school. My grandmother loved crafts and created things out of old egg cartons or milk jugs and little dolls with hollyhock flowers. My mother was an amazing seamstress who loved sewing clothes for my Barbie dolls, of all things! My father and his parents were stained glass artists. My brother and sister are amazingly gifted at drawing and pretty much any other artistic endeavor they decide to try, while my other sister is a seriously talented crafter who can finish two projects in the time it takes me to decide on what color I’m going to use. With all those creative juices overflowing in my family there was no way I didn’t get any, but it took me a long time to realize where that creativity was in me. During my first year of college my communications classes became pure drudgery. I had always loved photography and even took a class in high school, but somehow I didn’t see it as a viable major. Still, I couldn’t help but feel a pull toward doing something creative instead. When I finally could no longer ignore it, I took the plunge and became an art major. In my art classes I felt so alive and full of energy. I suddenly LOVED college! From that point on I completely embraced the title of a “Creative Person”. My creative interests and strengths weren’t in the traditional areas of the arts (music, painting, writing, etc.) but I learned to embrace them. I realized that all the time I spent in middle school cutting up magazines and creating collages of my favorite bands was a creative skill and that creating images was something that fulfilled me. I could no longer go through life without creating . Over the years I have scrapbooked, decorated our home and started a portrait photography business. However, I soon realized that what I got the most excited about was actually designing things for my business like logos, my website and blog. While I really loved working with families and capturing images for them it just wasn’t cutting it creatively for me anymore. I knew I wanted to start learning more about graphic design, but the thought of designing for someone else was not appealing. I struggled for about two years to find what would give me that creative buzz again. And then one morning I literally woke up with the most awesome idea. Create a magazine! I could incorporate design and photography and do it all on my own terms. Perfect! But then I remembered I would also need content. It didn’t take me long to figure out who to ask. With a friendship as old and strong as ours, I knew Amber would be the perfect collaborator.



I am a bit of a dreamer. I create stories and possibilities and alternate realities in my head all day long. I have always been this way. I can remember the vivid worlds I’ve been creating since I was 4. At first they were mimics of what I saw and heard around me. Several of them involved me as Wonder Woman and David Cassidy of the Partridge Family as my husband. We would fly around in my invisible plane, saving the world and making things better through justice and the power of music. My daydreams slowly evolved into epic space dramas influenced heavily by BattleStar Galactica and Star Wars. I was always Han Solo. Princess Leia was too uptight for me. Around this time, books became important to me and my worlds were filled with magical creatures like Hobbits and unicorns. In middle school and high school, I struggled. I felt alone, afraid, and abandoned. I looked forward to crawling into bed and continuing my ongoing sagas in my head until sleep took me. At this point, the plays conducted in my head were survival stories. I would concoct the darkest, most troubling characters, put them through hell, and then weep at their ultimate fate. Hey, it was art and it was tragically beautiful at the time. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that a teacher actually read something I wrote and was “shocked by the complexity” and shared it with my permission with another teacher. My homework from that day forward was to write. Just simply write. There was no pressure to finish anything all I had to do was show progress on any piece I put my pen to. It was the best class ever. I wrote personal, true, gut wrenching stories. I wrote fairy tales and cautionary tales, and I even tried my hand at a dystopian fantasy. It was utter crap but the freedom I had to explore let years of unshared fantasy, fiction, and tragedy burst from my skull like a shotgun blast. I bloodied notebook after notebook. When the semester was over, I felt like I had survived a painful yet illuminating coming of age ritual. I was a woman now. I was a writer. I’ve written a great deal since then. I’ve written blogs, short stories, articles, and full-on novels. I’ve even had some serious recognition. That’s not why I write though. No, I write because the dam was breached and I can’t hold my stories in. I write because I have to, I want to, and I can. Stefanie’s passion for art, photography, and design led her to the online magazine idea. With a 30 plus year friendship and the knowledge that neither of us is happy unless we are creating, she asked me to join her in this endeavor. I answered with my usual eloquence, “Hell yes”!



Happy Magazine was born! We met as soon as possible and began brainstorming ideas. Would it be bimonthly or seasonal? What would the mission statement be? The title? Who in the world could we find to contribute to this project and how would we explain it?


contribute to our project. It was all coming together. We may need creative fulfillment but we also have families, a full time job, and lots of other resposibities. So, of course, life liked to butt in a bit and make sure we worked as hard as possible to get our deadlines met.

It was so fun and energizing to work together and come up with ideas!

Over the last few months, we gathered stories, took pictures, designed, We agreed we wanted to create redesigned, wrote and rewrote. We something we would love to read learned that interviewing is hard ourselves. We wanted to explore and and that laptops with Windows 8 are encourage living an authentic and infuriating. Stefanie got to experience joyful life. We wanted to write about the joy of learning Adobe InDesign stories of self acceptance, culitivating under a tight deadline and Amber creativity and celebrating everyday learned that when you save something life. We filled notebooks with ideas. We in the cloud, you better make sure you made lists of people we would like to actually finished the saving process interview or who we thought would be before you delete the file from your great contributors. computer. Ultimately, we agreed that this project, this magazine, would exist because we wanted it to. We needed to be fulfilled creatively. We had to create art. Seems simple enough right?

One delivery pizza, a batch of homemade blueberry muffins, and several long editing and designing sessions later, Happy Magazine finally came into being.

We got down to work. Stefanie found a site where we could post the magazine for free and we both began pinning ideas for stories and layouts like crazy. We contacted (really awesome) people who agreed to be interviewed and to

There is a framed quote in Stefanie’s office, “We have a strategic plan. It’s called doing things.” And that is how we made it happen.



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My husband is always

After partaking in a

getting things wrong,

completely legal substance

whether it is song lyrics,

in the states of Washington

slogans, etc. When he

and Colorado, I found myself

moved to the US from

relaxing while searching

the UK about eleven

through Pinterest. I found

years ago, he met me

this pin board of tattoos and

right away. During one of our first conversations, he mentioned a French drink he had run across in a supermarket here that

as I began scrolling through them I was astonished at how great this board was! I mean, all these tattoos were

came in funny colors called

tattoos that I too would love.

Gatorade. What made me

After scrolling to the bottom

laugh so hysterically was

of the board I decided it

his pronunciation of this

would be a great idea to

so called "French drink" -

follow this amazing person

"Gah-toe-rahd". It has been

with such great taste. That’s

called that in our family

when I scrolled the top and

ever since. -Autumn

found out I was perusing my own tattoo pin board.... -Annonymos





summertime school, family vacations and reunions, road trips and swimming lessons. It all means the kids are spending a lot more time together. While it may seem like they are always at each other's throats there is hope that they will someday become best friends or that they all ready are. These touching and inspiring stories of sibling relationships show just how important having brothers and sisters can be.






SOPHIA sophia AND & olivia OLIVIA

A No matter what happens, you have a friend B



ophia and Olivia are the oldest of three children and as twins people would correctly assume that they have a very close relationship. But more importantly, they have grown into very distinct individuals while still maintaining the close bond that some twins share. Their growth as individuals was always very important to their parents. Their mother, Amber, says, “When the girls were born I knew instantly that everyone would want to compare them. I would be asked, 'Who’s the bossy one?', 'Which one is the quiet one?', and so on. It’s sort of funny how everyone assumes twin stereotypes are a natural fact. My answers to those questions have been and always will be the same, and that is to explain that although they are twins, and they may look the same to everyone else, they are spectacularly individual. And so, with that thought, we have parented with the intent to honor their twin bond without forcing any 'twinness' on them. We rarely dressed them identically as babies and instead, dressed them similar or not alike at all.” This is something Sophia and Olivia appreciate. Sophia tells Amber, “I would have killed you in your sleep. I’m serious!” and says she doesn’t want to dress alike “because I am my own person. Although we have dressed alike... once... last winter... for one day.” Olivia adds, “Other twins dressing the same is weird and I hope they read this article and realize that.” Matching was never their thing, but Sophia


and Olivia did go through a phase of wanting to look similar. Amber recalls, “As they got older, they made the choice. At first they dressed a lot alike and they always had the same haircuts. They used this to their advantage as well. From Kindergarten up through at least the 4th grade, they traded places at least once a year in each grade. At the end of the year, I would ask the teachers if they had noticed. They always seemed astonished! They had assumed the girls to be a black and white parity and that they couldn’t pull that off under their noses. They made the same mistake everyone has been making since their birth. They forgot that twins are actually individual people. Of course, it wasn’t just the teachers either. Their younger brother used to refer to them as the 'good one' and the 'evil one' as well, based solely on who would play with him of course.” Being allowed to work out how much they wanted to look alike for themselves and having the freedom to be different from each other has paid off. Amber says, “Now that they are older, they have different interests, opinions, and even hairstyles. They are used to being compared and they brush it off because they are quite secure in their individuality. Now, the most annoying question they are asked is, 'When in your birthday?' and then the questioner looks to the other and says, 'And when is yours?' Both girls answer with an arched eyebrow and a somewhat sarcasticastonished, 'Seriously?' And switching places in school has become a thing of the past. “Why try if you know you can’t? We look different now. I have longer hair,” Sophia states.


Their individuality also shows in the way they deal with struggles and how they support one another during hard times. While Olivia says, “I just listen to her. If she locks herself in the bathroom, I get a stick and open it.” Sophia knows not to push Olivia. “I leave her alone. If she’s crying, she’ll come to me.” The sisters both agree that they know each other better than anyone else and that the best thing about being a twin is having a built in friend. Sophia says it’s easy to tell what Olivia is thinking and that, “No matter what, you always have a friend.” They also recognize some downsides to being twins. Sophia says, “She’s (Olivia) annoying and I don’t get alone time.” While Olivia says the worst part is, “The fact that I have to share a room! I’m going to make a blanket wall this summer.” When asked about the hardest thing they go through together right now they both agreed that cleaning their room ranked at the top. Despite having such strong individual personalities they have enjoyed being on the dance and softball teams together at school and typically hang out with the same friends. And even though sharing a room can be torture for them, they are usually very comfortable being close. Amber says, “As their mother, I can show you photo after photo that I have taken while walking behind them, of them holding hands. Even now, as teenagers, they still constantly lean in to one another, or drape legs over each other. I distinctly remember telling my siblings I would beat them within an inch of their lives if I so much as felt their breath on me. Twins are just different.” When asked what advice they would give other twins, Sophia says while laughing, “Eat more so they can’t wear the same clothes.” While Olivia responds with her own laughter and, “You’re dumb! You could just buy a bigger size in the same thing!”




lori & spencer A I say this all the time, but everybody should have a big sister. It should be required. People who don’t have one should have one assigned. B





ori and Spencer are fourth and fifth in a close knit family of five children. Lori recalls getting along well with all of her siblings. “All five kids in my family were only 6 1/2 years apart (from oldest to youngest), so we kind of all shared friends. I remember doing audio tape recorded aerobics (to the sweet sounds of 80s pop legends Hall & Oates) in the front room with my older sister and her friends, being driven to games and places by siblings and enjoying each others friends. So that helped us all be friends.” Spencer says, “It was so nice to have four remarkably kind people showing me the ropes and setting a good example.” He attributes the closeness of his siblings to his parents. “People don’t believe me when I say this, but I honestly don’t remember ever fighting growing up. I can’t remember even a single moment when Lori and I weren’t getting along. It’s still true today. We were lucky to have a mom and dad who loved having good feelings in the house and worked hard to have our house be a place where people could feel good about themselves.” Being the two youngest helped Lori and Spencer develop a strong relationship with each other. Lori says, “We were in high school for one year together and Spencer would come and eat lunch with me and my friends each day. The girls and boys who were my friends liked him as much (or more than!) me, so we all had a good time together. He and I were the last two kids at home and so we talked a lot and encouraged and supported each other. He has always been easy going and fun to be around so it wasn't hard to include him and want to hang around each other.” Spencer says, “I was a freshman in high school when Lori was a senior, so we were especially close. She always let me eat lunch with her and her friends, which seemed like the coolest thing in the world. “ Living in different states makes it difficult for Lori and Spencer to see each other often, but they talk on the phone all the time and visit as much as possible. Spencer says, “We try to call each other and catch up on the phone as often as possible. It would be nice to live closer to each other, but we stay close even with the distance. We don’t get to see each other nearly


as much as we’d like, but it’s always a great time when we do.” Some of Lori’s favorite recent memories are of times Spencer has visited for Thanksgiving. “He has come up to our house the last two Thanksgivings. I think it has been a place of rest and relaxation for him. He spends the whole time talking with me and my kidsbuilding them up and encouraging them to do good things. The last time he was here he went shopping so many times! He kept thinking of things that he wanted for the kids or that he thought would make our life easier or just that we would enjoy. He kept heading for the store to get it!” Spencer sees his relationship with Lori as a great blessing in his life and admires her ability to help him out when he needs it most. “I say this all the time, but everybody should have a big sister. It should be required. People who don’t have one should have one assigned. All my earliest memories involve Lori and I can’t remember a time when she hasn’t always been looking out for me. She genuinely cares about everything I’m doing and it means the world to me. She’ll call and share thoughts she’s had while thinking about me and I always feel incredibly blessed afterward. Lori has an incredible gift of sensing the struggles of the people around her. It affects her deeply, and there are few things more powerful than when she is looking for inspiration or guidance.


As she thinks and prays, she’s able to get thoughts and ideas for the people she loves. In my case specifically, she has an uncanny knack for calling when I need it most. Even when we haven’t talked for days or weeks, sometimes she’ll call out of the blue with very specific things that have come to her mind and the words almost always seem delivered straight from heaven. She’s also just a great time. She’s quick to smile and lights up any room. She’s smart, she works hard at anything she does, she’s a great friend, she’s beautiful, she’s athletic, and knows how to make anything a great time for everybody. She’s a great mom to her kids and a great sister. I especially love that she loves a ridiculous story. I love it when something funny has happened and she can’t wait to tell [me].” Lori shares similar feelings about their relationship. “It means so much to me to know I have siblings that really, truly care about me and my family. I know Spencer would help me in anyway possible and we laugh and have fun every time we're together. Spencer


didn't get any of the up-tight genes! He is always peaceful and upbeat. He looks to the future with optimism and energy. He always compliments. Whenever he calls me he asks for the "crazy Porter" happenings since he has called last. I tell him the funny things the kids have done and he laughs and I feel like I shouldn't take life so serious! “ Lori even named her first son after Spencer because she says, “I have always loved Spencer and have had positive feelings about the name from the good times Spencer and I have together and the good person he is. He truly cares about family.” Spencer says, “We’ve been close so long; I can’t remember her ever not being a best friend. In my late 20s, someone pointed out that I even pronounce her name differently when I talk to her. I’ve since realized I still call her by the name I used when I first learned to talk. I pronounce it as it’s written when talking about her in third-person, but I pronounce both consonants with Ws when talking to her. She’ll always be “Whoa-ee” to me.”



seth & savannah


eth and Savannah are the third and fourth children of five. Savannah is still at home and in high school while Seth is on the other side of the country in basic training for the Army National Guard. Their mother says they were and are just like all siblings, fighting at times, but have a special relationship because Savannah has a real respect for Seth and he “just gets her”. Savannah says, “My relationship with my brother is priceless. I'm forever grateful for my best friend in him. He knows me better than I know myself and sees the good in me even if I don't. When we were little I guess we were close but there was a period of time that we weren't. What brought us closer was my first heartbreak. He knew how to make me feel better when no one else did. He took me on a walk and let me cry and then told me exactly what I needed to hear. One thing that contributes to our relationship is that he's always there. I can always trust him to help me. I apologize when I need to and he explains things to me. My brother supports me by reminding me of my strengths when I feel like I'm worthless. I support him by always letting him know I love him no matter what. One thing we do is talk at night. He can't sleep very well at night so, whenever I can't sleep, I can go into his room and talk and reminisce about when we were little and talk about the future.” She attributes her strong relationship in part to the example of her parents and the tragic loss of her younger sister. She says, “We always played together as kids, all of us. We grew up shooting bows and arrows together, playing army together, and eating together. My parents showed us with their siblings that brothers and sisters are some of the closest friends you'll have. One thing my parents even did that was pretty funny is, whenever we fought too much, we'd have to be "buddies" for the rest of the day. We had to hold hands and go wherever the other was. If one had to take out the trash, the other had to go too! I actually remember doing it and it helped, because in order to not have a miserable day we had to work together. My parents




also taught us that families are a sacred gift from God and that we should NEVER take each other for granted. When our little sister died it really made us appreciate our time together more because we never know how long we will get on this earth together.” Some of Savannah’s favorite things about Seth are his sense of humor and how protective he is of her. “My brother is hilarious! He comes up with the craziest most random things! He's so quick at coming up with something funny! Also, he protects me. If anyone is mistreating me he's right there to protect me. [And] He taught me how to shoot a bow and arrow! He's so good he can throw a can into the air and shoot it! “ She tells a story of a time she was walking home from school when a kid started messing with her and tripped her. Seth saw the whole thing as he was passing by in a car on the way to a friend’s house. He made his friend’s mother pull over and stop the car so he and his friend could confront the boy, telling him to leave Savannah alone, bringing him almost to tears.


What has been hardest on Savannah while Seth is away and not able to communicate with her often, only through written letters, is not being able to share her struggles with him and get advice. As Savannah looks forward to seeing Seth again at the end of June when he finishes his basic training she reflects on some of her favorite memories. “One memory that I'll always love is when we were at our grandmother's house. We were elementary school age and we were in the field behind her house. Him, our other brother, and one of our cousins had made this little fort out of cinder blocks and plywood. The neighbor kids came out and started throwing rocks at us and the boys yelled "we must protect the princesses!!" as they rushed my younger girl cousin and I into the fort. They threw rocks back at the other kids to protect us. It was silly but very sweet. I also enjoy the memories of trying to get up before each other so we could beat each other to the TV on Saturday mornings. We both ended up choosing the same cartoons but the power of the remote was so exciting! Honestly, I have a wonderful family."



A My relationship with my brother is priceless. I'm forever grateful for my best friend in him. He knows me better than I know myself and sees the good in me even if I don't. B



auline and Patty are the only sisters in their family of five children, with one older brother and two younger. Pauline is four years older than Patty and growing up they were not particularly close even though Pauline always felt she had to protect Patty from “the boys” (meaning their brothers). As the little sister, Patty often got on Pauline’s nerves. They both chuckle as they remember a time when Pauline got so mad at Patty she threw a hairbrush at her. It missed Patty, hit the cupboard and broke, causing Pauline to be even more upset with her sister. As they grew up they slowly became closer. When their oldest brother moved out of the house Pauline needed someone to go with to dances at the Grange Hall and recruited Patty to come along on the condition that she act more mature than her actual age. Although they always had fun, Patty would inevitably leave the skirts she wore, which had to be starched and ironed, on the floor after the dance. This, of course, made Pauline mad and she laughs about it now. When Pauline graduated and left home to attend secretarial school Patty would stay with her during spring break. By that time Pauline was happy to have her sister visit and many times she would end up arguing with her roommate over who got to spend more time with Patty. They don’t remember anything in particular


their parents did to encourage a close relationship between themselves, but recall their father always telling Patty “Be like Pauline”, which bothered both sisters. Patty in particular because always felt she had a completely different skill set than Pauline. While Pauline wanted to be a secretary, Patty wanted to go into nursing. She tried to follow her father’s advice, enrolling in secretarial school instead of pursuing nursing, but never got the hang of it. When Pauline became engaged Patty was upset. She did not like Pauline’s finance at first because she felt he was stealing her sister. It didn’t take long for her to warm up to him however, and they bonded over picking out the wedding cake, flowers and a guest book while Pauline had to work. Later, Pauline and her husband became instrumental in encouraging Patty and her husband “to just go ahead and get married”. Through the years they remained close and were lucky enough to have their husbands become good friends with each other. The couples even bought a duplex together and opened the basement so their children could all play in the large space. They recall reroofing the duplex together while their husbands were away at work all day. It was hard and a learning experience, but they both look back on the project with a sense of accomplishment.


Pauline and Patty enjoyed traveling together as couples and agree that their favorite trip was going to the Midwest, documenting family history information for Pauline’s husband and visiting many of his relatives. This passion for family history has led them to an ongoing project documenting graves by photographing them for cemeteries all over the state and surrounding areas. The idea came to them as they discovered and learned about small, old, almost forgotten, cemeteries in agricultural areas where farmland eventually over takes the grave markers causing them to be lost forever. Patty says, “We feel very comfortable in cemeteries.” They recall the first cemetery they photographed was near their hometown. Patty says photographing the graves brought back many memories as they remembered relatives and people from town they knew. They laugh about a time Patty climbed over lilac bushes to get into a cemetery that had no visible entrance and when they were warned to watch out for wild badgers in another. Luckily no badgers showed up even though there large holes all around the cemetery. They have now photographed over 100 cemeteries and Pauline says what drives them to continue, beside a love for genealogy, is the service it provides for others looking to find their own family information. Pauline


pauline & patty is currently working on uploading their images to and says they have received several messages of appreciation and gratitude from people who have no other access to the information the images of gravestones provide. They have been on a bowling league together for almost three years and began wearing matching outfits for fun while bowling. Now they like to do it sometimes even when they’re not bowling for fun and to mix people up. They laugh about how often get asked if they’re twins. Patty says her favorite thing about Pauline is that she is kind while Pauline says, “Patty knows how to do everything.” From fixing a clogged sink to sewing. Pauline says, “Whatever it is, Patty will know how to do it.” They both agree that the hardest thing they have gone through together is the passing of Pauline’s husband. “Patty has been my rock” Pauline says. “I’m now the third wheel with Patty and her husband” The three of them do things together often, and Patty says she couldn’t be more happy to support her sister any way she can.


Patty has been my rock B A






cami & april cami & april


ami and April are each other’s only sibling among a complex group of various step brothers and sisters. Their early childhood was spent in a volatile and often violent household. April says, “As kids, Cami and I were a team. She's three and a half years older than me so we didn't play with the same kids or have the same interests and didn't hang out together, but we had a lot of turmoil at home, most of which I don't remember, and it was just understood that Cami would watch over me. And she always has. Our childhood was, until I was about eight and Cami was eleven, insane. Until we were four and seven there was violence, alcohol, drugs, and a short stint in foster care for Cami. Then, for another few years there was "just" alcohol and mild instances of violence. Needless to say, Cami was the one in charge for a lot of years. I think that caused a lot of anger on her part and rebellion on mine toward someone I regarded as a mother figure more than a sister.” Despite some negative feelings on both sisters’ part growing up, April says, “Not to say we were ever enemies or distant from each other, we just didn't think we had very much in common.” They still have vastly different interests and tastes and agree that there are more “off limits” topics between them than ones in common. Agreeing on things they don’t like, along with humor and sarcasm, adds to the strong bond they formed during their difficult childhood. Cami says, “It’s like bonding over PTSD or something. No one gets your brand of nuts like your siblings.” Music is something else they bond over. April says, “…if there is one thing we do nearly every time we see each other for more than 10 minutes, it will be singing. We may not be great, but we don't completely stink either.”


Good memories from their childhood are tied to music, from Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen and Lynard Skynard to Meatloaf and the Beatles, because if music was playing in the house they knew things were safe for the time being. They also agree that a lot of favorite memories involve family road trips. April says, “Oh man, car trips! I was 23 before I got on a plane, so every trip we took was HOURS in a car. Being stuck in the back seat with anyone will make you close - even if it’s close to killing each other.“ Cami fondly recalls a trip from Washington down to Anaheim, California where she challenged April to count all the palm trees, which proved to be much harder than April had anticipated. April says Cami was always a lot more fashionable than her and a favorite memory they share is a time when April decided to borrow Cami’s favorite sweater for school picture day. “Which was so smart," April laughs. "Everyone was going to see me in her sweater when I got the pictures back!” Cami adds the best part of the story is that she had worn the same sweater for her pictures so they had matching school photos that year! While Cami says she loves April’s sense of humor and knowing that she can count on her, April says, “Some of my favorite things about my sister [are] her humor, her love for her kids and our family, her resolve, her laugh, that way we can look at each other across a room and she'll raise her eyebrow (an ability I have always coveted) and we'll both know exactly what the other is thinking. Her willingness to sign three or four of her kids up at a time for different sports (mostly baseball) and her ability to sit through 900 baseball games and practices and plan how to get everyone to everything.“ When April got divorced and decided to go back to school Cami was there to help out, agreeing to watch April’s daughter during the day. As Cami’s and April’s children grew up together their relationship deepened and continues to today. April says, “I think we are closer now than we've ever been. The last few years, we've really started to be able to talk and not be 'little sister/big sister' and just be two adults with a lot of common history. It's been great to get to actually know each other.” J




A No one gets your brand of nuts like your siblings B



coming in the fall 2014 issue


exploring and celebrating the joys of having awesome friends


SUMMER MEMORIES a photo essay by Scout Comfort


s I thought about this photo essay I thought of what reminds me most of my siblings, and that's summer. Summer is the time for dirty faces, popsicles, giggles, creative thoughts, and maybe a nap or two. Some of my fondest memories of summer are as simple as the juice of the otter pops and playing in the backyard. It's the sun kissed skin, squeaky swings and those around me that I remember most. As these little kiddos grow up, their blue tongues and dirty feet just might be some of their fondest memories. Without further ado my siblings (minus one). J








hen I thought about this project I decided I wanted to document the evidence of my brother and sister being around. For the longest time my brother has loved building with legos. When we were younger we would build with them together quite often, so seeing legos always brings my brother to my mind. And ever since we've had a real craft room my sister has spent hours of her day inside it.




a photo essay by GENEVIEVE HUNSAKER

It's filled with many different pictures she's drawn and projects she's completed. Most days when I come downstairs for dinner she comes running out of the craft room and runs back in once we've finished the meal. So, if you ever see legos lying around on our floor or see art supplies spread out all over the art room table, you'll know my siblings have been there. J




pass iton by CURTSY THOMPSON



y southern mama believed it was her duty to tell people what to do. She had quite a reputation and was somewhat notorious for sharing her “isms” with whoever happened to saunter past her. (FYI ‘Bless your heart’ is not a nicety, people - in “southern speak” it means "You're just too ignorant to know any better" ) As a teenager I would roll my eyes when my mother said things to me like, ‘Tomorrow is another day’ in response to a life altering event I had just dramatized for her. Or, the most annoying of all, when my brothers and I would fight she would drawl ‘Be sweet to each other’. In the end I learned that her words were helpful and encouraging words. I have spoken them to my own children and sometimes to friends in crisis. Eighteen years ago, I was forty-seven years old, just relaxing with my sister on her front porch when I spotted a young girl in her early teens, walking up the street smoking a cigarette. Before I even realized what I was doing, I stood up, bolted off the porch, moved towards her and said, "I know you are going to think I'm some old lady telling you what to do, but, in my life I really regret that I started smoking; I hope that someday when you are an old lady, you will remember me and tell some random young girl you see smoking the same thing“. As I turned and walked back toward the porch I heard her say, "Bitch".


Have you ever been tempted to just tap a teenage girl on the shoulder and, as a public service, tell her ‘I can see your underwear’ or ‘That’s way too much eye make-up‘? I was at the mall Christmas shopping once and told a boy ‘Hey, pull your pants up!’ My kids still laugh about the day I got sassy with a gang-banger. Divine intervention has pushed me to do some inexplicable things more than once in my lifetime, and I do believe that it was the source of such a rash attempt to influence a complete stranger - a kid no less- on that day. It made me feel good. Strong and proud of myself. Giving what you feel is good advice will do that.

One the other hand, what in the world was I thinking? What kind of role model am I? I'm a product of the women's empowerment movement of the 60's, but is my life path something I want to encourage young women to pursue? I had successfully quit smoking, but I had also married young, had two children and divorced all by the time I was twenty-one years old. I commuted to a job everyday leaving my small children in daycare 10-12 hours a day to pay my rent and feed us. I cried at night out of exhaustion, fear, and loneliness. I don’t know how I would have responded if some stranger had stepped into my path and told me, ‘Everything will turn out okay. Pass it My sister said “What was up with that?” and on.’ I just shrugged. I admit that young woman’s response still makes me laugh out loud, I turned sixty-five this year. Right before but I also fantasize that she remembered my birthday I remembered the day when my words, quit smoking, and shared my I accosted that young girl and my crazy advice with someone else. The real point behavior. I thought it was because my sister is, I hadn't even realized until that exact had died recently and I was just reminiscing moment how important that act was. In about our adventures together; but as the that split second my spirit recognized that days passed I realized the memory of that of all the decisions I had made, smoking day was one of my favorites and it had lit a was one I regretted and I needed to share fire in me to spread “the word“! that with her.


Since then “don’t smoke” has always been a personal crusade, and is still my go-to advice, but I’ve also realized that surprising unsuspecting women with messages of encouragement and love is even better for everyone.


tears, disappointment and failure. But more importantly, the foundation is built on fun, exploration, laughter, discovery, growth and love. Now, before you go deciding I’m some kind of a “love guru”, I have to admit here that I have yelled some less than ladylike “advice” while driving and just the other day while shopping I was screaming “MOVE” in my head at the fellow shopper blocking the aisle! There was also a recent moment at the local elementary school when I wanted to ask a mom if Stevie Wonder had picked out her outfit… I’m loving and kind maybe 90% of the time. Nobody is perfect, right?

The bad times, the sad moments, the angry making events that have affected me in my life, those funny, laugh-out-loud moments comprise who I am. Turning sixty-five has been completely freeing. I am free, obligated even, to stop teenage girls in the street and tell them ‘don’t smoke‘ but I also want to share with young women who are in the throes of their day-to-day lives that we all build our self-image minute by minute, every day, with the thoughts and emotions Regardless, I believe I give good advice that roll around in our heads and hearts. and my intentions are honorable. I also I share words of encouragement with appreciate it when someone thinks enough of me to offer their advice.

WHAT I'M MOST PROUD TO BE IS A WOMAN myself everyday. ‘Look in the mirror, that’s your only competition’. ’You are officially a little old lady, but you're not just old!‘. And I think, "I am a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a sister, an aunt, a neighbor, and a friend but what I’m most proud to be is a woman." I am a woman with a love for life, and now you know I am also an old lady who talks to herself. In my journey I have unwittingly built a castle filled with the wisdom picked up along the way. It’s been built brick by brick with all of my life experiences including fear, anger,

So here is my best advice, just for you. Be kind to yourself. Seriously! BE KIND TO YOURSELF! Share your energy and kindness with the women you encounter in your day-to-day life. We need each other. It's really important to pay attention. When you are in the grocery store, look up, look around. If you notice a young mother who is struggling with a toddler ask her if you can help or just say ‘I feel your pain sister!’ Tell someone who looks really nice, ‘You look really nice‘. When you see someone with a great haircut? Tell her ‘I love your haircut‘. Share something real, kind and uplifting. Share something loving or funny. Maybe even, ‘Everything will turn out okay. Pass it on.’ j

love, Curtsy








An ode to my 30’s, the best damn years of my life… so far. by AMBER GIDEON


riding my motorcycle daily to work. My 30’s have also taught me the value of exploration. In some ways I think it’s a bit of nostalgia for the magic of childhood. Everything was new. All experiences where the “first” and I was working out who and what I wanted to be when I was older in the relatively safe confines of youth. Today, when I choose to ride a motorcycle, explore a religious philosophy, or even cut my hair, I get a lot of static. Everyone’s got an opinion I looked at my son and said, “I’m 38. I’ll be 39 but at 38, the opinion of others carries very little weight. this year”. y son recently asked me how old I was and I had to do the math, which by the way, is not my best subject. I honestly couldn’t remember my age. When I was young I would count the days until my next birthday, each year signifying some new freedom or opportunity. And then I grew up and realized that nothing would hold me back from my dreams and that my age was simply a way to mark the passage of time.

He looked at me in awe for a moment. He only just recently hit double digits. 38 must sound positively Malthusian! He then ran off to play. I’m still not sure why he needed to know my age but the question got me thinking about that whole passage of time thing. You see, my 30’s have been incredible. They are infinitely better than my 20’s and you couldn’t pay me enough to go back to my high school years. It started with a casual acceptance of my body. I think it was a combination of the utter destruction and mayhem that pregnancy rained down on my body in my 20’s and a realization that no miracle beauty cream erases the velociraptor claw-like stretch marks that I have on my belly. And, until science can make an anti-gravity elixir, wrinkles are fact for us all. It sounds funny to say this, but at the beginning of my 30’s the realization that I wasn’t getting any younger sort of dawned on me and I got my first tattoo. In my mid-30’s I fulfilled a childhood dream and got my passport and did some traveling. In my late 30’s I took my motorcycle endorsement class and began

In fact, my 30’s have taught me to trust my gut. If it feels wrong, don’t do it. Your senses are working together, scanning the perimeter, taking in things you aren’t always fully conscious of, and when your gut says something is up, trust it. Every incredible fail that I experienced in my 30’s was a direct result of me not trusting my gut, myself, to make the right decision. That crappy job I took because I thought it was the right thing to do for my family? Should have trusted my gut. That brief encounter with blue hair dye? Should have trusted my gut. And yet, I seem to learn more quickly from my mistakes and I forgive myself more easily. For example, purple is a much cooler hair color and embracing my grey… well, that was super badass. Call it an early mid-life crisis if you like. I don’t mind. I’m too busy enjoying my days like I never have before. 40’s? Come at me, bro! j



thank you for stopping by and reading our first issue! We look forward to sharing many more stories with you. Here is a little gift from us.

click here

to download this adorable print by Kevin Harris. A little reminder that we have control over our happiness.

Stefanie & Amber



Happy Magazine / Summer 2014  

Hooray! Our premiere issue!

Happy Magazine / Summer 2014  

Hooray! Our premiere issue!