Oh, hey. Welcome to Tudo Bem.

I’m Ash and “tudo bem” means it’s all right (among other things) in Portuguese. I’m a writer, designer and illustrator, and visual storytelling is my practice. I dabble in tattoos and animation, and once a year I publish a hefty zine about art, life and the in-betweens called Loose Ideas.

Many of us are reinventing (glamorous word) ourselves with what little remains after the last two years. I am one of these people. Most of what I’d built up before February 2020 is long gone, but most of what I had I don’t miss. After a few years of preparation (and hiatus), “Home” is now several thousand miles and an ocean away, along with every good day and bad job I ever had. I’m at the very beginning of the Great Rebuild, in every sense of the phrase. Financially? Hard yes. Emotionally? Big time. Physically? I haven’t decided if I emerged from lockdown older and hotter than I was, but I did toss 95% of my belongings to move, so I'll go with a dry mhm.

This Great Rebuild is exciting, in the way that it’s exciting to reach the top of a big hill on a warm day. It’s actually exhausting (spoiler alert!), and there are some pretty intense moments of heavy self-doubt. It also feels endless–because it is–as in this is it; this is the rest of my life. If I had a bucket list, this big boy was on it. I worked a ton, saved up my money and took a massive leap, and now I’m forever an outsider. Turns out being a loner and being lonely are different. Who knew? (I did.) 

Now it’s all about the milestones. Sometimes a milestone is buying a frying pan. Sometimes it’s a perfect exchange in Portuguese with the cashier at the grocery store, or havin’ a few good days in a row. Once in a while it’s a situation that uncovers the profound emotional scarring that developed from my decade (+) in the service industry (iykyk), forcing me to reckon with the fact that I am still learning. Identifying toxic people + environments before they do damage is like rolling a cig in the wind. Establishing an internal monologue that’s loving, patient and kind isn’t as easy as I’d assumed. Optimism…is new and weird, but I like it. As grueling as the call to recognize my own follies can be, I accept them, morning page on through it and document the outcome. I see the challenge to expand as proof that I am ever growing and moving forward, even when I cannot detect it.

I offer Tudo Bem to anyone in a similar place in their own lives. If the last few years of your life were a trash fire of intense introspection, DIY therapy and a 600% increase in screen time, you’re in the right place. If you didn’t buy a house, a second car, have a kid and make record profits from your Sprinter Van in 2020, stay a while. When life blindsides ya with unemployment and a bunch of empty grocery stores, you don’t return to the person you were before. You pull the puddle you’ve become up off the floor, give yourself whatever pep talk works, and you accept the indefinite trek uphill into the unknown. That light at the end of the tunnel? The bulb’s burnt out. Let’s go fix it.

This newsletter is a free-for-all available to anyone inclined to travel alongside and see what we can learn from starting over. Moments from the Great Rebuild here at the end of Europe (Portugal, if you haven’t figured that out yet) are a given, so if nothing else, tune in for the variety show. The Pursuit of Contentment and the Anxiety Forcefield are two big space-takers in my mind, and they’ll take a bit of space here as well. Those few specifics aside, there will be no rules here, and I won’t promise a theme or limit of what’s to come. Tudo Bem is a place to share what fills the well, what might inspire, and what seems to guide me (and hopefully you) a little further up the hill.

Welcome to the bottom. See you in a bit.

–Ash