The following is a collaboration with my dear friend @juliemurphydraws, illustrator, children’s book creator, and all around fantastic human being. At the beginning of 2021, Julie made a huge, life-changing move across the United States—and while documenting her trip, (and capturing some brilliant photos as she went), she participated in the TL Super Story Spread, sharing my books with people she met along the way and in the amazing places she visited too.

With a pair of flower sticky-notes between us, yellow and blue for each book Julie shared, I wrote 7 messages of meaning: messages that tie what I hope are mine, Julie’s, the cast of TL’s, and YOUR feelings together… all those who should find a copy. Julie shared in places that felt right to her, writing on each note that these books are to be shared!!!

Below are the original pictures, as well as my captions, and just a FEW of the locations that Julie visited and left books in. To see her fullest journey, check out her side on Instagram!

–OK Tree House

Thanks to the absolute gift that my dear friend and talented illustrator @juliemurphydraws
has given me— (re: a cross-country soujourn for Torus Link Volume 1!!!!) the TL crew has just gotten to travel all across the U.S.!!! Julie has captured many beautiful photos of her cross-country art journey and move (THAT YOU SHOULD TOTALLY GO SEE ON HER CHANNEL), WHILE leaving 7 TL volumes too… and on each volume, we’ve left flower shaped note messages of linking, sharing, and connecting. All in the name of people finding them, and connecting JUST as they are meant to see. Now, I’m sharing the second part of our collaboration together— the TL crew LITERALLY in places that Julie has brought them along… Starting with a composite creation tying the TL story spread itself and Julie’s beautiful heart-map that she has created TO pinpoint her stops, and Hazel and Julie together in one of the spots at the @oktreehouse.

Asheville, North Carolina—-

Amber dancing with Julie’s colors. As Julie began her journey, and was telling me about it on the phone, I was looking out at the colors around my neighborhood, and she was telling me about the colors SHE saw as a fellow artist, noting that as she travelled, colors just began to look DIFFERENT. The browns and greens in Asheville’s grasses and trees and cliffs were unlike the colors in Boston where Julie had left. And that as we were on the phone together, we rejoiced in the fact of just CELEBRATING noticing of color, in the environment itself. So, the first moment of TL traveling with Julie as she spread the story— Amber enjoying those colors too.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art—-

Miguel shining his light, quite literally, as paired with one of the wonderful shots Julie captured at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. This museum, as Julie says, is “really social justice oriented in a very genuine way”, and indeed— what I saw from Julie’s pics taken here was a ton, ton, TON of variety in showing underrepresented communities. As well as just so much rich, warm, bright color. BOTH up Miguel’s alley. In this installment of the story spread, it’s sharing your true light.

This amazing pic of the sculpture at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas that Julie captured was full of so many beautiful blues to me— Ren’s (dare I say watery?) blues. And, Ren equally being prone to taking pics too, found something that drew him as well amongst this captivating piece— a cart of humanity beneath the art of a “dancer” itself. We all have stories that capture us and help us feel as we connect to one another’s stories, and sometimes it can be stories WITHIN stories as well.

Here, I especially, especially connected Sanji to this piece at the Crystal Bridges Museum. For the past few pieces, I noticed ever since Julie and I connected over color, that each piece that drew me for the TL crew had colors that already matched them… including this one, even the green and red for Sanji’s punk-meets-pop attire! And so, as Sanji sings her heart out, flying on her own airwaves along with this magnificent tree sculpture, also reaching for the skies, may YOU feel free to sing your song too.

It’s Zirconia— utilizing her own risky electric powers with the crystals of the titular Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas. To power what? Why, her birdbot of course. This said, pursuing your dreams may often come with a risk, especially if it’s something that’s against the norm, or leaving everything you EVER knew before behind. That Julie took on this collab with me, and GAVE me the chance to share my guys with here amazing sights, is a huge gift… not LEAST as she was taking a HUGE leap for herself in doing this.

Asheville, North Carolina—SO WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT THESE AMAZING TREES, GREENS, AND ARCHES WOULD FIT FOR A PORTAL FOR KAITO????? Well, in this 7th installment between myself and @juliemurphydraws, where she has spread the first volume of TL across the country with her… it just fit. Our own *portals* in life may or may not always lead us to the places we WISH, but to brave enough to enter that door when it comes anyway… to NEVER stop seeking to connect when you can… I feel like that’s a path worth taking. Even if it may be a tough, wild path. And as for this forest in Asheville, NC, as Julie has taken her path to a new location, you can go and read more about it on her insta.

Joshua Tree, California—-In this eighth and final installment in the collab between myself and @juliemurphydraws , completing her journey across the country and spreading TL volume 1 with her, I share Azalea… and just why this pic deeply resonates with me. On the shards of broken pottery in this desert landscape, there are writings, bits and pieces… and a true true wish that I think is SO brave, and so hard to keep. Going deeper into one’s feelings, and not pushing them away out of fear. Sometimes holding onto what is truest to you means keeping what you love and what you know to be true no matter what, as Azalea well knows. But sometimes, it’s equally holding on to what is truly ALIVE in you, your feelings of fear, of pain, of sorrow, of confusion… even when those are truly are very, very hard to be with.
In my experience, these moments can be the most painful, yet can help us understand things we never knew, as we come out on the other side.