Mami: An Ode to Motherhood by Louis Holstein

It has become a passion of mine to document my family (see Tuesday or my recent Inspiration post). I don’t trust my memory to share the little moments with me, so I stop time and zoom in on who we are. About a month ago the talented Melissa Blythe came a photographed our family in our current season of anticipation. Ashley is due with our second child on September 1st. As Melissa did her thing, I was able to observe Ashley with Alana, mother with daughter, adult with child. Their interactions were so specific. They don’t behave this way with anyone else, their relationship is sacred. These observations inspired Mami.

I’ve known Ashley for a little over 10 years now. I’ve watched her become my wife over the last 6 1/2 years, and more recently watched her become a mother. It’s fascinating how in one little moment, a mother is born. Through the blood, sweat, and tears, Ashley birthed Alana into this world but that delivery was just the beginning. Now more than ever I realize that in motherhood there is joy and pain, laughter and tears, beauty and brokenness. It is everything at once. Motherhood is a miracle. This is a vignette dedicated to that miracle. With Alana 4 months shy of 3 years old and a second one still forming in her womb, this is Ashley, the mother. She is strong, patient and kind. She is beautiful, soft and bold. She is Mami.

Inspiration - August 2019 by Louis Holstein

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Today I wanted to highlight some of the biggest sources of inspiration for me as of late. I have often said to stay off the internet and television if you want to be inspired. “Go visit a museum if you want to be truly impacted,” I’ve shouted. But the lack of ability to venture to a museum recently has left me with the internet and television. I still think it’s important to get out into the world to be inspired, but for this moment in time the internet works too.


Woah. This video by Joan Bosch has really transformed what a home-movie is and could be. You better believe I will be intentional about capturing video footage during our upcoming trip to Ohio.


I’m not a fan of New Orleans jazz music. Delta Blues is also not my thing. Sue me. So, to know one’s surprise, when it was announced that Hadestown was coming to Broadway (I had heard of the production before and knew the genre of music it was - Jazz/Delta Blues) I was less than enthused. Over time, however, I would hear bits and pieces of the score and started to get interested. After 8 Tony wins, including Best Musical, and a show-stopping performance, I was very interested. The full soundtrack was released last month, and let me tell you: I’m here for it. What a sweeping score and heartfelt story! I’ve been entranced and inspired ever since. Check out some highlights below.


Ashley Holstein Photography will always be one of my biggest sources of inspirations. I’m sure you are thinking, “yeah, yeah, it’s your wife- you’re required to say that,” but honestly, even if she wasn’t my wife, I would still be inspired by the way she captures people. She captures them as they really are. She knows how to wait for a moment before taking the image. She is patient until she gets what she is looking for. I’ve been helping her blog some recent shoots and below are some of my favorite images that I’ve had the privilege to help curate.


I was recently told about this film by a friend and was skeptical (this seems to be a recurrence for me). He pitched it as one of the greatest films of all time- a title I never give to any film (or piece of art for that matter). I didn’t listen to my initial skepticism and watched it. 8 1/2. This little 1963 Italian film is a genuine work of art from the first frame to the last. I was absolutely blown away by the timelessness of the entire thing. There were moments that I can say I have never witnessed on film before, and it’s 2019! Every film connoisseur should see this film. It slid right into my personal top films of all time.


This website is the greatest color schemes generator I’ve ever used. Not only is it fast and efficient, but it even provides already set pallets if needed. I like to play around on here not only to pass time, but also to get my brain going.

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What’s been inspiriting you lately? Let me know in the comments below!

Does Hollywood Have a Creative Problem? by Louis Holstein

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Time and time again I hear that Hollywood has no creative ideas and everything is nothing more than an adaptation of a book, or stage play, a sequel, a re-imagining, or a remake. When you look at the staggering amount of films being produced within the categories previously listed, it can certainly seem that the simple answer to the question of if Hollywood has a creative problem, it’s a resounding, “yes.” While I know I can’t be the only one with Super-hero fatigue and sequel sickness, I have recently began to look at the question more closely.

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In 2018 the top five grossing films were, Black Panther (based not the Marvel Comic of the same name), Avengers Infinity War (also based on a Marvel Comic), Incredibles 2 (the sequel to 2004’s smash-hit), Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (the sequel to 2015’s Jurassic World, which was a relaunch of the already 3-film-deep franchise), and Deadpool 2 (the sequel to 2016’s hit, also based on a Marvel Comic). Every one of the films match the categories I listed at the beginning of this post. Interesting. What is more interesting is that it is not until number 14 of the top grossing list until we get to an original film, and that is Bohemian Rhapsody, which tells the story of Queen- not exactly that original. So then it is really number 15 on the list with A Quiet Place that we get a truly original story on film. We won’t see another original story until number 33’s Rampage (shutters), and 38’s Smallfoot. Out of the 100 top grossing films, there were 42 with original stories, and that is including true stories, without those there were only 35.

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Okay, we have the data, but what is interesting is that a ton of great cinema was released last year. Won’t You Be My Neighbor, Eighth Grade, and Roma were all great entries into American cinema, have you seen them? What about Bad Times at the El Royale, Cold War, or Game Night. None of these films cracked the top 100 grossing films of last year (aside from Game Night at number 43, and technically Cold War is a foreign film, but Amazon distributed it here in the states).

What I am getting at, is that I think Hollywood’s “creative rut” is less of a “rut” and more of a response to what people want. People speak with their money. With Black Panther, Avengers, and Incredibles 2 making over $600 million each, it’s safe to say the people have spoken. Hollywood likes one thing: money. If we can support those smaller films, the ones with original stories, I’m certain that more films like them will be made. My top 15 list of must sees in 2019 consists of 12 original stories (I’m including true stories here as original), check them out below:

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  1. The Farewell (Based on true story)

  2. A Hidden Life (Original)

  3. Little Women (Based on a novel)

  4. Harriet (Based on true story)

  5. Queen and Slim (Original)

  6. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Based on true story)

  7. Waves (Original)

  8. Clemency (Original)

  9. Judy (Based on true story)

  10. Lucy in the Sky (Original)

  11. Rocketman (Based on true story)

  12. The Last Black Man in San Fransisco (Original)

  13. The Laundromat (Based on true story)

  14. Cats (Based on musical of same name)

  15. The Goldfinch (Based on book)

Just 3 films on my list are adaptions of other source material (which doesn’t bother me nearly as much as botched sequels, and creatively bankrupt remakes). What I want to encourage you to do is to find those original stories, share the trailers on social media, and go support them! They are out there, we just have to find and support them. When we do, Hollywood will take notice. The creative projects are out there, we just have to get the money to them.

Do you have a favorite original story from last year (2018) or this year already? Let me know in the comments!

* All data from The Numbers

Running Again by Louis Holstein

I started running again. In my training I change the route almost every run, but in my long distance runs I am always required to run over the place where I fell. I don’t need the reminder. The scars on my knees are reminders enough, yet the route reminds me again.

“See the lip in the sidewalk? That’s where you fell. That was where you stopped running for two months and started dealing with what would be your housing crisis. Remember that?”

Early Morning Selfie.

Early Morning Selfie.

June and July 2019 were one for the books. I know I already wrote about it, but as I have begun running again I have realized, sometimes the best thing one can do is just that: start again. I’m sure there will be posts in the future where I discuss in more detail my disappointment with God and his letting me fall, but for now I’m grateful He is allowing me to get up and run again. I was a little over the half-way point in my long distance training when I fell.

My big goal this year was to run a marathon and with wounds on my knees and hands, and the stress at home, I figured it just wasn’t going to happen. When I decided I would start training again, I counted the weeks to see where the training fell in proportion to when the marathon race is. The training fell perfectly within the allotted time: 18 weeks of training, with the race in 19 weeks.

Open up and let your heart live.

Open up and let your heart live.

I’m still not sure why I fell, or why we had to leave our home of 4 and 1/2 years, but this I know: I am training again and we have a new home where new memories will be made (maybe even the birth of second child). In the words of one of my favorite musicals, “all that seemed wrong is now right.” We’re okay. We’re running again.

“So it's
Into the woods
You go again,
You have to
Every now and then.
Into the woods,
No telling when,
Be ready for the journey.”

2nd Quarter of 2019: We Made It! by Louis Holstein

I love words. So it was no surprise when I decided to start highlighting meaningful words on my instagram this year. Every month I would choose three quotes that had spoken to me that month and showcase them. It challenged me to be looking out for rich ideas, and it also allows me to have a backlog of those ideas. June marked the end of the second quarter of 2019 and it’s crazy to think that time has moved so quickly! In order to recognize the end of this season, here are the nine quotes that stood out to me this quarter.

First line: Tish Harrison Warren, Anne Lamott, Sally Rooney

Second Line: Dostoyevsky, Tim Keller, Picasso

Third Line: Steffany Gretzinger, Adrienne Rich, Hugh MacLeod

I Will Sing. by Louis Holstein

“If it is God allowing the fall, then so be it.”

Those were the words that ended my last blog post. I uttered those words in full surrender, although I didn't realize God would still ask for more. I’ll spare you the gory details (you can hear the story over on Casa de Arte Podcast episodes “Where we are (For Now)” and “The Art of Community (Nurturing and Receiving)”) but we went from a house of 4 and 1/2 years to homeless in a matter of days. It’s not to say that we didn’t experience hospitality from our friends and family, but we were still without a home. Our home. We were displaced.

“Bursting”   Have you felt so wounded that you thought you might burst?

“Bursting” Have you felt so wounded that you thought you might burst?

It’s funny, really, because everyone said we wouldn’t be homeless. “Homelessness” was the worst case scenario and surely that wouldn’t happen! “You will have a place to stay,” many people said, offering their extra rooms. It was as if “having a place to stay” was the opposite of homelessness- it’s not. Regardless I was grateful for the sentiment, and for the confidence that was had by them. I didn’t have it. I had a feeling we would be displaced, I just didn’t want to believe it. I felt that God wanted it for us. That’s a tough pill to swallow. God wants my little family to not have a home? Why, God… why?

I’ve written here time and time again about suffering. I think suffering is truly the thing that connects all of us, no one is spared from it. God doesn’t always give the healing, or save the life, or provide the home (on time). God required that my perspective shift. My understanding of suffering and pain, and the role they have in my life needed to change. Steffany Gretzinger once said, “The kindness of God is that He doesn’t measure my pain to yours. He is just a Father who cares about all of it.” I clung to this quote because when I would feel pain, I would downplay it because I knew it “could be worse.” Yet in a way, Gretzinger set me free. She essentially said, “don’t compare your pain to others, God doesn’t.” So I stopped comparing my pain, and just allowed myself to be broken. I was disappointed in God; He had let me down.

“Reaching”   As I reach for Him, He doesn’t numb the pain, but sits with me in it.

“Reaching” As I reach for Him, He doesn’t numb the pain, but sits with me in it.

He let me down in that He didn’t give me what I wanted (or thought I needed): A) to stay were we were living or B) to move somewhere better than where we were living or C) don’t let us be with a home (i.e. homeless). He had other plans. All my plans were thrown out the window when I signed on to temporary housing through an Airbnb. I cried a lot. Ashley cried a lot. Before long Alana would be crying on more than one occasion saying, “let’s go home.” Brokenness abounded.

Then on June 26th, I stumbled across a recently flipped home in Mulberry that was for rent, surely it was too good to be true. As I arrived at the property, checking to see if it was real, I felt God say, “This is the house.” He was quiet and concise. He gave me the opportunity to believe Him, or not. I chose to believe Him.

Ashley and I jumped in faith. We attended a viewing of the home (with 3 other families touring at the same time), put in the application and trusted if it really was meant to be ours, then nothing could stand in the way. Within a day were approved, and as we left to my parents house for the 4th of July festivities, we were notified the home was ours. So now with a signed lease and eyes filled with tears, we can see the promise.

“Staying”   So I will stay here a while, I will not leave because it is painful.

“Staying” So I will stay here a while, I will not leave because it is painful.

It’s strange how it all worked out. I like to have answers for God, and why He does what He does, (sometimes He reveals His reasons) but in this season I don’t have the answers. Not with this test of faith. I don’t know why we went through what we did, and honestly I don’t even know if I passed the test. What I do know, is what I knew before all of this happened: God is good, God is kind, and God is in control. In this midst of my disappointment, these truths don’t change- they can’t change! God is God no matter what I’m facing, no matter how bleak or frustrating or unfair. I told Ashley, “Faith is trusting God in the midst of a letdown.” There are so many little miracles that got us to where we are today. I’m certainly not going to complain about this process, although I do not understand it. As the days go on and we settle in our new rental home, perhaps God will reveal more. Maybe God will show us how we’ve grown. Maybe not. Brooke Ligertwood said it perfectly, “God’s blessing sometimes feels like a wound.” Right now I feel wounded, tired, and broken. As I move forward and trust God again for another day on this earth, I know He holds me close.

I will continue to sing His praises. “Sometimes we sing something because we believe it, because we are sure. Sometimes we sing it until we are sure.” (Steffany Gretzinger)

I will sing until I am sure.

-Louis


This blog is supposed to be about my art musings. HA! The first half of this year hasn’t been what I had planned. So here is to more ArtTalk, more inspiration, and more creating in the days ahead!

Running and Falling by Louis Holstein

“True Vine” [I am called to abide in Him, though sometimes He is hard to follow, or hard to see, yet I will still abide in Him. He will see me through.]  Acrylic and pastels on stretch canvas.

“True Vine” [I am called to abide in Him, though sometimes He is hard to follow, or hard to see, yet I will still abide in Him. He will see me through.]

Acrylic and pastels on stretch canvas.

I fell on my run last week. Skin versus concrete is never a fair match. With a bloody hand and knees, I paused the podcast I was listening to and the runner app I was using and picked myself off the ground. I examined my wounds. I’ve written recently about the past few months journey with the Lord. He has asked us to drink a cup we didn’t want to drink from, and it has been hard. It is interesting how many thoughts rush in when we are wounded. As I got up from my fall I became frustrated. I had run this route too many times to count and I had never tripped and fallen before. So why now?

It is ironic, really, because during that run I was purposely going slower. I wanted to enjoy the process, breathe the oxygen, feel it in my lungs, give attention to my legs, and let go of my anxieties. It was in this calm state that I fell. It was in these rush of thoughts that I realized God allowed me to fall or perhaps caused me to fall. I know when we use the language “fallen” it usually has something to do with sin, but I’m not talking about sin I’m talking about God getting our attention. That’s what makes following God so challenging, He rarely works within our plan or expectations. He is the God who obliterates expectations. 

It could be argued I’m making a freak accident way too spiritual, and maybe I am, but this fall spoke to me. It reminded me that no matter how I think I am doing, God knows me better than I know myself. He knows what I need in order to grow and become more like him. I may think I am being reflective,  but He knows what is going to truly make me reflective. I may think I have surrendered something, but He knows when I have fully surrendered. I may think I have paused, but He knows.

If it is God allowing the fall, so be it.

⁃ Louis