Podcast Episode #1: "Basking in the Glow of Friendship"
Here is the original article I wrote for the podcast that serves as the transcript for this recording:
Basking in the glow of friendship
by Molly Hahn
Hi there, I'm Molly Hahn, creator of Buddha Doodles, a whimsical web cartoon that I started in 2011 - inspired by my mindfulness practice and journey of healing PTSD. I decided to start an experiment and make a mini-podcast where I discuss the inspiration behind some of my doodles.
A lot of people ask me where I get my ideas from. It’s not easy to answer that question succinctly or give a one size fits all answer. So I hope that by sharing these personal stories behind each doodle will help you to learn a little bit about my creative process and also inspire YOU to seek out those tiny delights that are so easy to miss in our very busy modern life!
This doodle was inspired by a sunset that I enjoyed while standing at my kitchen window here in Denmark sometime last year. I was really struggling at the time emotionally but found some peace in this dramatic romantic palette. There was a soft golden glow swirling with hints and tints of rose and orange that the pigeons danced around in as they frantically pecked the cement in search of dinner!
I could nearly feel the warmth on my cheeks as I prepared my dinner. My darling came into the room was also struck by the beauty outside and said, “You should doodle that!
My thoughts exactly!
I don’t always succeed in capturing the essence of a moment, but I really like how this Buddha Doodles turned out. One of the things I love about Denmark is the dramatic light. A lot of people associate Scandinavia with darkness, but that’s not entirely true, at least for me. Yes, there are a handful of dark months, but even during then, we have brilliant sunny days, It’s a different type of light, something more surreal and transient, than where I’m from in California.
When I want to remember a special moment, I don't take a photo with my camera. Instead, I will sometimes imagine my cartoon characters in the scene I am witnessing. It helps me to take a mental snapshot, store it, and recall it later if I’m unable to doodle it right away. By inserting my imaginary friends into the mental snapshot, it's nearly just as effective as drawing it on the spot AND I don't LOSE the moment by taking out my phone :)
The caption was created by my darling Cephas, who has captioned many doodles since we met in 2017. I love collaborating with him, it's one of my favorite things to do (we’re actually collaborating on a couple of other projects, including some of the cute monster creatures I draw, but more on that later).’
When I look at this doodle now, I can feel what I was going through at the time, doing my best to bask in the glow of beautiful moments while transitioning into an entirely new life. I left everything that was familiar to to take a risk in love and build a new life.
A lot of you have probably wondered what happened - how I ended up in Denmark - why Denmark, what is going on?!??
I moved to Denmark in 2018 and left my California life behind, along with my friends, the familiarity of my culture, and the nature I spent thousands of hours enjoying when I wasn’t in the studio.
I didn’t plan on moving. In fact, the whole thing was traumatic because I had to evacuate the home I was living in during the devastating Thomas Fire in 2017. I actually took one of the last buses out of Santa Barbara to LAX in hopes that I could get on a flight to see my boyfriend. On either side of the highway, flames engulfed the vegetation and I remember the fronds of the palm trees blazing as the bus passed familiar but charred scenery.
I was numb. I packed everything I could into my suitcase. I figured out my plan on my cell phone and managed to book a flight to Copenhagen that was scheduled to leave shortly after my bus arrived.
I’d been single for almost three years before falling in love with Cephas, who I met no more than two months before this terrible fire. We were both in Portugal working as speakers at a conference called THU. The acronym stands for Trojan Horse was Unicorn and it’s actually more of an experience than a traditional conference, some say it’s a mix between burning man and Ted!
THU is where leaders in the animation, digital entertainment, and gaming industry, also known as “Knights” teach master classes to students and professionals already working in the industry. It’s a great way to network, acquire new skills, get creative inspiration, etc...have a good time ;).
Cephas and I had never met before, but I actually saw his face on the website for THU for like 9 months before meeting him, and we were both there to speak about entrepreneurship and intellectual property.
There’s more to unpack there in another episode, like our completely awkward first few interactions. Let’s just say, for now, it was an unexpected match in heaven. Unicorn heaven, that is :)
While I was evacuated, I took my new boyfriend’s invitation to stay in Denmark. Neither of us thought it would be for that long. We were doing long distance and that was ok.
It took almost a month for the fire to be contained and the evacuation zone to be lifted, and I was eager to get home and back to that 90 degree California sunshine. My body was in shock suddenly going from a literal blaze to negative degree weather and snow during the darkest time of the year in Scandinavia.
Just as I was looking into flights, my little town was hit with a terrible mudslide, so my stay got extended.
The silver lining of this is that while it sped some aspects of our relationship up, we fell deeply in love and my extension to stay well…
Today I have a wonderful life here. And this doodle helps to remind me of how precious friendship is. While I am happy here now, I have had to grieve the loss of some aspects of my old life. I am lucky to have experienced some of the most incredible friendships back home in California during different stages of my life. I am just starting to come to peace with the fact that friendships come and go, and that’s ok. I tend to have very deep connections with one find at a time. It takes a special someone to really accept my quirks, obsession with my art and writing career, and my tendency to be terrible at planning ahead of time with social things. This usually results in me having a friend that is similarly quirky, spontaneous, and dedicated to their career, and needs a lot of personal time.
There are a handful of friends who I thought I would spend the rest of my life with - like platonic life buddies - used to imagine growing old together and living near each other, or being pregnant at the same time, moving abroad together and having adventures. I will never forget how one friend cradled me and was so unconditionally loving while I sobbed in her arms and expressed for the first time to any woman about my childhood trauma. I have another friend who was also a business owner and we navigated the confusing waters of the early to late thirties at the same time. This was the same friend who helped me to evacuate during the fire and supported my seemingly crazy decision to say yes to love and go to Denmark.
And then there are K and J, who have been in my life since I was 18. They are like godparents to me, and have been supportive of my career and accepting of my seemingly crazy life choices. They are my family and have been supportive in a way that I didn’t have growing up. And while it was not until my adult life I got to know what that is like, they played a huge role by being some of the main cheerleaders of my cartooning career. I could take the risks I actually wanted to take when I had no biological family to support me.
I am deeply grateful for these relationships, and even though some of them have come and gone, they are forever a piece of love in my heart that I will always bask in the glow of.
Friendships are so precious.