Meet Jessica Pahl

Screen Shot 2018-07-23 at 2.44.18 PMOur focus in September is education and the key role creativity plays into being educated and educating others. I’m so excited to share my conversation with Jessica Pahl, a homeschool mom and all-around cool person living a cool lifestyle with her cool family!

For the past two years, the Pahl family has been living in an RV while renovating their forever home. And within this small RV home, Jessica homeschools her two boys and her twin girls. She also is an artist who has been teaching herself watercolors through YouTube videos.

In our interview, Jessica shares her reasons for homeschooling, how to live an intentional lifestyle, and the importance of nature, music, books, and passion in educating her kids.

Set your reminder to return here Saturday September 1 for the whole audio interview!

In the meantime, follow Jessica’s journey through homeschooling and transitioning from RV living into their dream home at @resplendentlife on Instagram.

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September is just around the corner! Our Word for the month is Lifestyle, and the main creative expression featured is Education. We’ll explore how creativity fits into educating ourselves and others, and how learning can be a lifestyle. Here’s what’s on the docket;

Audio interview with Jessica Pahl who lives and homeschools in an RV while renovating her forever home.

Spotlights on a homeschool mom, a public school teacher, and an early childhood educator/childcare director.

Tips from other moms out there on the necessity of “Me-Time”, and ideas on how to fit that into your lifestyle

Creative ideas on weaving learning into your home and lifestyle


SPOTLIGHT: Eric Drazin

Screen Shot 2018-07-21 at 2.25.05 PMAge: 28

Job(s): head writer, director, set director, choreographer, and actor for Riley’s Farm Theatre Company

Info: Riley’s Farm Theatre Company website , Riley’s Farm Theatre Company Facebook 

Eric’s personal email address

For the past 10 years, Eric has gone from being a cast member to being head of the entire Riley’s Farm Theatre Company, a role that includes writing original plays for it, directing the cast and crew, building sets and expanding the stage, choreographing dance sequences, and filling roles of lead and side characters.

When he first hired on, the Company turned out two dinner theatre shows a year; now the Company averages 8 shows a years and more than half of those were written by Eric. The Company now attracts trained actors from all over the county, and several of them have won nominations and awards for their participation.

Cast Table Read

A fan favorite are his original Sherlock Holmes plays in which he plays the leading detective. With 8 original Sherlock scripts under his belt, he has attracted a fan following. Last year’s Sherlock Holmes and the Baffling Affair at the Bagatelle won him nominations for writing and directing from the Inland Theatre League.

He enjoys adapting classic literature to fit the stage. His first project was adapting The Legend of Sleepy Hollow which is an autumn staple. Two years ago he adapted Dracula, which won him awards for Best Director and Best Actor twice by the Inland Theatre League. He has adapted Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, which will possibly preview this fall.

This past summer he directed and acted in Prohibition in which he also choreographed and danced a Charleston routine. (He’s center and his wife Mallory is the flapper girl on the far left)

His latest project was Our Finest Hour, an original WWII drama that he wrote, directed, and starred in. He pushed himself in his capabilities by singing a few 40s tunes and teaching himself how to tap dance.

When it comes to creativity, Eric is courageous, unafraid to try new things, learn new skills, and put it all out there for the public. He strikes a good balance between his artistic visions and his productive work ethic, which always rallies his cast to put their all into their productions. At the heart of all his endeavors is a desire to share wholesome values, inspire an audience, and glorify God through his talents.








The Now

You walk into a theatre, and your interest is piqued at the set pieces intentionally revealed to tease you. A little giddy, you take your seat. The auditorium lights go dark, the stage lights go up, and the mood is set. Maybe an overture starts blasting. The stage is completely revealed and the characters are there, and you’re transported into a story with your imagination filling in the gaps. Live people, who you could run up and grab, are there in front of you.

Multi-tasking is not allowed here. You cannot check your email, or browse Instagram. You cannot skip ahead to the ending. You cannot pause it, go do something else, and finish the show later. And you cannot even snap a photo with a cool filter or record part of it to post on social media.

All you’re allowed to do is sit there in the moment and partake in the story.

There are very few things–in particular entertainment things–that force us to be fully in the moment. Live theatre is one of those. We have no choice but to be fully present in the moment by moment unfolding of creativity. It’s a unique experience that cannot ever be duplicated.

And I’m challenged to bring more of this into my everyday life. I want to slow down and resist the addiction of multi-tasking. I want to be fully present in the moment–the moments of my kids, my husband, my friends, my own creative endeavors. I bet if I channeled more intentional focus into my writing or my art or my daydreaming I would find a deeper satisfaction in the process and product.

Story is constantly unfolding in the everyday moments, and I want to be a part of it.


SPOTLIGHT: Director Sarah Barthel

IMG_1783Age: 40

Job: Educator & Theatre Director

Contact Info: @lompochighdrama on Instagram and Lompoc High Drama on Facebook

What is your background in theatre and education?

I’ve been teaching at Lompoc High since 2000, and for the first 2 years I taught Math. I’ve been the Theatre Director since 2002 and the Visual & Performing Arts Department Chair since 2017. Since I play the piano, my principal asked me to take on a section of choir as well. For this coming school year I will continue as the Theatre Director, but will also teach a Calculus class and Choir class. 

My grandmother loved music and encouraged me and my cousins to put on little performances for her in her living room. Sometimes we lip-synced, sometimes we created short plays. She would pay us in candy or quarters! My dad is a drummer and throughout my life he played with several different bands. Most of my early musical theatre knowledge comes from sitting on the floor by his drum set during rehearsals or even performances. 

By time I got to college I was ready to be a math teacher. My plan was to teach during the school year and audition for summer stock theatre when I could. But when I saw audition notices go up on campus, I couldn’t stay away from the theatre. After a year of participating in almost every theatre production at my college, the principal director suggested I take some theatre classes and earn a second major since I was doing all the performance work anyway. I graduated summa cum laude in 1999 with a BS in Mathematics and Theatre.

Since 2011 I’ve worked with the Young People’s Project at PCPA, teaching and coordinating alongside workshop leaders, choreographers, and music directors. 

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What do you love most about the theatre?

Theatre allows me both to experience other people’s perspectives and to share mine. I love the cyclical nature of theatre work. There is a structure to the process in which my left-brain self relishes: auditions, rehearsals, technical work, previews, opening and closing. Theatre can celebrate, it can teach, it can reprimand, it can help us look back, and it can honor. Theatre can give a voice to those who often go unheard. It is a place where a family naturally forms and students find a support system beyond their loved ones at home. Theatre gives us a way to express things that we sometimes can’t put into words. 

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How do you nurture creativity in your students?

Whenever possible, I try to give them choice in the activities we do. Usually that means providing some kind of structure within which anything goes. We’ve written sketch comedy skits, we’ve tackled contentless scenes, we’ve played improv games… The beautiful thing about theatre class is that no two are ever alike with so many different personal journeys, experiences, and stories coming into the classroom every year. Above all, I encourage my students to share what they have: they may not be the best singer or the best dancer or the best actress, but they do have things to offer that can open themselves up for their art.

Are there other areas of your life where you exercise creativity?

I play the piano at our church. Though I am much more of a music reader than an improvising musician, I’ve gotten good at fudging transitions to time the music out with whatever is happening in the service. 

I also truly believe that teaching is one of the professions that requires the most creativity. Parenting is similar: how do I get the kids to pick up their Legos AND set the table? Hmm…that requires some creativity! 

SPOTLIGHT: Actress Erin Drazin

FB_IMG_1532289125061Age: soon-to-be 26

Job: Full-time wife and mommy; part time dinner theatre actress with Riley’s Farm Theatre Company

Info: Riley’s Farm Theatre Company  Erin’s Instagram @the.drazins.three

How did you first get into play acting?

My parents raised us on musicals. I was singing Les Miserables and Camelot at age 7. I always loved jumping into a character when I was alone, but I was painfully shy in front of other people. When I was about 14 I became obsessed with all things theatre. I joined a musical theatre class that ended in a big recital, show-casing what we learned. I had a solo from Oklahoma, and I shook through the whole thing! It took me awhile to get over mistakes I’d inevitably make. But over time I cared less and less as my confidence grew.

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How does acting affect your life?

Confidence, for one! I started out “I-want-to-be-invisible-shy”. Theatre helped me let go of a lot of anxiety, and helped me be comfortable in my own skin. Also I believe theatre and acting has aided me in being a mom. I’ve always been very imaginative. As a kid I loved making up new stories to tell and act out with my siblings. Now it’s all the same as a mom, but even better! I get to feed my daughter’s imagination and watch it blossom.


Do Christians have a place in secular theatre?

Theatre is often a very secular and sexualized form of art. There is a delicate balance between only doing church plays for fear of falling astray and totally conforming to this ever changing and demanding art form. I think the answer lies in the individual. Do you know yourself? Are you strong in your faith? Do you have limits and lines you will not cross?


Any advice to someone who is interested in acting?

Get started! Find an outlet to see if it’s something you’re interested in. Community theatre is a great place to start and it’s usually free! For me I obsess about things until I do them. And some of those things have made a beautiful addition to my life.




Feeding the Imagination

I have spent time trying to pinpoint the contributing factors that fed my imagination as a kid. There are a few things that contributed: I was read to a lot as a child, and then read a ton as I got older. I played outside a lot. When I was 12 my family embarked on a 6-month road trip in a fifth-wheel trailer. We explored forests, played in rivers, roamed fields, and even dug for clams in the mud flats.

But I think the real reason I had a healthy imagination that has continued to thrive in adulthood is that I had TIME. Like any good thing, imagination takes time to develop and thrive. As a homeschooled kid, I had time to play with my siblings and friends, time to build forts, time to read, time to write, time to dream. I also had enough years to be a kid and time to graciously grow up. My parents did not rush my childhood. They never put any pressure on me to grow up. I also was not pressured by peers to grow up. And I am so thankful for that.

I believe part of my job as a parent is to protect the childhood of my kids. This goes IMG_1382beyond basic protection of their bodies. It includes their minds and hearts.

One way I protect their childhood is by pacing their exposure to life in a healthy way. For example, we’re very conservative with what our kids watch, what games they play, which books they read and at what age they do all this. We also don’t keep our kids super busy with outside activities. We prioritize down time at home, and time for them to play and think and just be.


IMG_1361When it comes to feeding my kids’ imaginations, I have to do a shout-out to our local kids’ Discovery museums. Through the years it’s been a great place for us all to exercise our imaginations. I love watching my kids whip up gourmet dishes of noodles with grapes and lettuce in the pretend kitchen. Or dig for dinosaur bones in the jungle. Or create works of art with recycled materials in the craft center.

We always leave tuckered out, but also feeling creatively energized.

For more info, check out Santa Maria Discovery Museum and San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum 




SPOTLIGHT: Actress Cassidy Sullivan

Resized_20180721_221025Age: 13

Favorite play/musical: Hamilton, Newsies, and Mama Mia

Productions I’ve Been In: You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (Woodstock’s Friend), Winnie the Pooh (Narrator), Annie (Orphan), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Mrs. Bucket), The Little Mermaid (Flounder), The King and I (Thara/Lady Tiang Understudy)

Favorite Role I’ve Played: Flounder from The Little Mermaid

Cassidy as Flounder in the center

What do you love most about being a part of theatre?

That you get to express yourself in different ways and the cast becomes a big family.


How do you use your imagination in a role?

I use my imagination to develop a character. I imagine how the character would act and talk and react and I make the character my own.

Do you have any future dreams in regards to theatre?

I hope to get better and learn new skills. I dream that someday I would get the lead role in a play. I would like to continue doing theatre at least through high school.

What advice would you give someone who is interested in being a part of theatre?

Try your best to be enthusiastic and don’t give up even if you don’t get the part you want.

Cass as the teacher in The King and I

A Dose of Childhood

In Part 2 of my conversation with theatre Director Mark Booher (posted Wed. Aug. 8) we talked a lot about the importance of imagination. One key point Mark made as to the reason Christians should be in creative fields is that we should steer people to use their imaginations for good.

IMG_0232Mark says, “Things for people’s good and God’s glorification start in the imagination.” He goes on to say how important it is for people (and young people in particular) to have lots of possibilities and imagination. He argues that poverty of life is linked to a poverty of imagination.

As a child, I had a very rich imagination. I started out like most little kids dressing up, playing outside, creating stories, going on adventures with my stuffed animals, etc. This pretend play continued through all my childhood. And as I started to grow into Jr. High and High School, my imagination was not left behind. It stayed with me and found its way into my writing. To this day, my imagination is alive and well even as a grown-up, which is one of the reasons I’m a children’s author.

IMG_0233I was at a writer’s conference when I had an epiphany about being an author. I had heard several authors talk about their rough childhood or some past trauma and how it fueled their writing and gave depth to their stories. I was having doubts that I had anything valuable to write, because I had had a wonderful childhood filled with imagination and magic and whimsy. So my stories usually included these elements.

I was saddened to think about kids who are robbed of their childhood because of abuse, loss, neglect, and the such. The world is full of kids who never get a chance to be kids, who never have their imaginations fostered, who have their childhoods cut short way before they’re ready.

And then it hit me: I could give every kid a bit of childhood. 

With every story I create and every book I write, I can give a child who reads my books IMG_0234imagination and magic and whimsy. There may be a kid who feels lost between divorced parents. Or a kid who worries about his next meal or where he’ll sleep that night. There may be a kid who hides from abuse and shields her younger siblings from it. There are kids who are robbed of their childhood.

But for 18 chapters and 200-something pages, they get a little childhood from me. They enter a story that allows them a moment to be free of worry and to imagine.

Childhood is such a small window of time in the grand scheme of a person’s life. We are grown-ups far longer than we are children. Those few magical years are essential for building imagination. Imagination is essential for life.

And this is why I write for kids.

For more on my books check out my website

Check out Amazon also by clicking HERE