I'm holly stavness

After I graduated college and got married to the most patient man alive, we had two kids 17 months apart from each other. In 2014 I decided that I would learn calligraphy and made it my new years’ resolution. I spent hundreds of dollars on tools, paper, and ink until I found what worked for my hand.

My husband would come home from work and I’d run out the door to a local coffee shop with my tool kit and would sit for hours writing one letter at a time. Little did I know that calligraphy would be the biggest gift in the midst of such pain.

All of the what if’s and self doubt would silence as I dipped my ink in the jar and scratched out life giving words that I needed to preach to myself.

My soul would soar in those moments at my kitchen table as my tired body would sit and write for hours.

That same year we felt called to become foster parents and had three kids under the age of three. That year brought waves of emotion I had never dealt with before, and the art of calligraphy was where I found myself night after night pouring out my fears, anxieties, and hurts. 

I would write scripture and truth over and over until it bolstered me for for the next day.

Salvation would happen at my kitchen table, just as it had happened there all my life.

That kitchen table became my sanctuary and a well that would overflow my cup that had been poured out from the day. And over those ten months of that baby boy living with us, something beautiful happened.

Pan and struggle beget beautiful lives. There was a tenderness that was born in me that I had never possessed. A desire to slow down and be present was formed. It provoked something in me to see the beauty in the smallest places and in the mundane tasks that must be done. In a world that wants to be big and bold I saw the beauty of posturing myself low.

And I believe with all my heart, if all I do for the rest of my life is be faithful in the small details I’ve been given, that it would be an excellent life. Because just as simple strokes create beautiful letters, simple moments create beautiful lives. If I can be honest with you, it was so draining. I found myself in the life I had dreamed about only to find that it wasn’t all that I had imagined.

I am a romantic at heart; I often idealize what future moments will feel and look like. Of course I loved my kids, but in those little years I found myself just trying to survive.

Creating was a gift I was given as we painfully, yet beautifully walked our foster son through reunification with his parents. Now it is an honor and a privilege to pass on this beautiful gift of creating.

I currently live in Modesto, California (a small farming community in the Central Valley) where I have a cozy studio downtown, where I host and teach creative classes. I’ve been married to my husband for 10 years and we have three little girls (2 biological and 1 through the most incredible gift of adoption). My life is filled with beautiful art, tons of cuddles and kisses, tantrums and messes, and the most beautiful mundane moments.