Studios, LLC


       MR BRAY

A boutique design & animation shop that dissolves the line between studio and agency.

Full Plate, Empty Stomach

Perhaps I'm alone, though I'm hard pressed to think otherwise I believe being busy is a nasty badge of pride in my American culture. Looking or acting busy is almost to the point of psychosis these days. As if busyness is a catch all phrase to excuse for failing relationships, lack of personal time or just general unhealthy or unhappiness. So I'd like to ask you a question - is your plate full but your stomach empty? Currently mine is.

I have blanket excuses; like trying to move the needle at my company, project deadlines, responsibilities,etc... However much of it comes down to just bad habits for me. I'd rather a bit more sleep, or a convienent fast meal, or just another episode of my favorite tv show, or I've just got to much to do to meditate, journal, pray or get out of the house. Ultimately if I'm being honest I'm being lazy by saying I'm busy. Busy is a frame of mind - sure some days can just feel like they're filled with endless tasks. Yet for me the more work I have on my plate often the happier I am. Not because I love being busy but because I love being productive. And I've also discovered being productive is meditative. Working at a routine to clear your distractions or balance your life is amazingly cathartic!  I know I'm using sort of a nebulous phrase here. Yet perhaps what I'm saying resonates with you? Or perhaps this is just a stream of consciousness post. Either way I choose today to not allow my full plate let my stomach go empty.


thanks for listening, 



Tonight Katie and I had an evening in date night. Even though it's only Tuesday it has already felt like a long week. Sometimes life is like that you're having a rough week and could use a bit of an escape. I made us dinner and we watched a sorta scary movie, being so close to Halloween and all. We watched a horror comedy called "Cooties" starring Elijah Wood & Rain Wilson. The film turned out to be a good time, though I don't normally enjoy zombie-esque movies.

Several years ago I read a really interesting article from one of my favorite directors Guillermo Del Toro - it was on the subject of Horror movies. Apparently according to reasearch in times of high anxiety scary movies increase significantly in popularity. There is something about a safe outlet for the worst possible scenario that alleviates problems or feelings of being overwhelmed.


While if you're just reading this post you might need more convincing so please look into it - from my point of view it makes a lot of sense. Films allow us to vicariously experience all sorts of emotional releases. I'm no one to shy away from a romantic comedy for example I saw "Crazy Rich Asians" on a whim by myself. I know that might sound odd, my wife had a book group at our house so I randomly picked a film to see. I loved it so much I ended up taking Katie to see it again - all said I saw the film three times in the theaters. To me a good romantic comedy is all about characters and fantastic settings. I love having the emotional arch's that they so powerfully depend on. Take Pride and Prejudice (Kiera Knightly one) while a romantic drama, the film is a masterpiece! You fall in love with the characters as you peek inside there fascinating and sincere lives. There's something so raw and vulnerable about a good romance film that other genres have to squeeze in or undermine. The point is be that horror or romance to me a good movie can be as cathartic as a session with your therapist, as insightful as a zen meditation or meaningful as mindfulness journal entry. Releasing anxieties and confusion with helps us with connecting with others or universal experiences. To me the narrative is a sacred task driven by the intend to be shared by others. I know kinda preachy or poetic. Yet if you're reading this you're actively interested in trying to connect with me, if even in a subtle way. So let's enjoy this time here of this blue marble and release our anxiousness or unrest through a good or not so good shared story. 


Take care! 


Busy Is Not A Personality

Journal challenge canceled. Just journaling.

The greatest purpose for me to create this journal challenge was for self discovery. There's no gun to my head or doomsday clock ⏰ forcing me to march on relentlessly. So I have to confess I wasn't taking my own advice and focusing on the now. The present is what matters most. 

This morning Katie and I went to one of our favorite coffee shops for breakfast. Going out to breakfast is one of the best highlights of our weekends. We can't always go out but it's the conversations we have at this time, uninterrupted by work and normal routines, that are so refreshing. Even though Katie and I have been married for over 11years, best friends and often are lucky enough to have lunch a couple times during the work week we still have so much to catch-up on the weekends. She told me about this "type A" personality test she took and how apparently people who have Type A are drastically prone to health risks. She said she scored about 50% on several answers but it was the answers she scored that troubled her. They were sorta the worry wart related control freak impulses that I think we can all relate to. The conversation was immensely sobering. I'm no spring chicken but neither am I in any sort of race with my peers to check over more boxes in my life. And that's when Katie quoted  a fun meme to me that said "Busy Is Not  A Personality"!

Awhile back when I used to run my podcast Go Forth & Nerd 🤓 I had a friend on that worked at Adobe Software. He was a funny guy that loved bread and cheese to a degree that humbled the average foodies. Thibalt said his bread and cheese obession was largely influenced by his native French heritage - which if that's true I need to visit France 🇫🇷 someday soon! Anyways Thibault told me about a fun startup he tried working on years back called "Slow Bread". It was a daily freshly baked, slowly made bread service that would be delivered to you door. Sounds amazing right?! I asked why slow bread and he told me that good bread takes time. It needs love and crumb, nothing that most store bought bread has. And as a lover of food and good conversation I made the connection powerfully this morning that I needed to slow down. Not because I don't have fun things I'd like to work on, post about and ideas and thoughts to share. Just that slowness helps with quality of time and life and that busy for busy sake is just treading water. So for me that means canceling this 30 day journaling challenge. If I write once a week or month a day or year it needs to be from the right place and serve me. Sure this might not resonate with you. However it does for me. Life is too short to fret over little things and to paraphrase Thibault life is too short to make crummy bread.


thanks for reading, 




30 day journal challenge - day 5ish

You ever have brain fog? 🧠  That most accurately describes my yesterday. I'm sure everyone can relate to feeling like maybe their train of thought is getting derailed. I'm a firm believer that your mind is like a muscle - you use it or lose it. Yet sometimes we allow ourselves to overlook a good mental workout. What feels like an eternity ago do you remember those classic "Brain Age Games" on the Nintendo DS Lite? There was this adorable Asian man that would pop up and ask you silly yet challenging questions. Each day you would take a series of quizzes and the end results will tell you how old your mind was. It was a lot of novel fun. Yet if you were like me after a while let's be honest it got kinda boring. So goes for a lot of routines, or maybe it's just me? I like a little more improvisation in life then perhaps the average bear. Which is a somewhat a poor excuse to miss an on time journal entry. However, part of this whole challenge is self discovery so there's going to be different results each day - and just a bit of stream of consciousness. So let's give ourselves a pass on being absent minded here and again. Some days our brains need to chill out. Last thought on being thoughtless - I've personally discovered that when I'm stressed or taking on anxieties my mind has more trouble with clarity. Another daily reminder that self care starts up stairs.



What's Up Doc?

30 day journal challenge - day 4

Today we took my fluffy gray cutie, my cat to the vet. His name is Doc and he has F.I.V. (kind of like kitty aids). He's typically a pretty healthy guy but it's been almost two years since we've taken him to the veterinarian for his checkup. What I didn't realize was how anxious it was going to make me. Sure my cat dislikes being placed in his carrier but I think I was far more distraught than he was. The whole time I was pacing, had trouble thinking straight. Kept feeling guilty about work but I knew there was nothing to do while I was at the vet and then in the meantime my poor anxious kitty was dealing with all this unknown. Now if you're a pet owner you're aware of this nervousness. We take on our pets problems just like they take on ours. When I'm stressed my cat knows it and he's physically amped up. However the whole time I was blinded by this fretting I didn't really appreciate the good in front of me. Which leads me to Broga!... 

What's "Broga"? Broga is a silly word my good friend Mike and I made up when we decided we wanted to start going to yoga together. Us being bros we crammed Bro & yoga together. Tonight we took our first Broga class. And it was fantastic! Now I'm not a complete stranger but I'm desperately new to yoga proper. I'm aware of a few poses and I've been an avid meditator for some time. But like all things that you learn on your own or from a academic perspective there is just something not quite the same as when you're learning it from practiced hands. 

Walking away from our yoga class I was struck that all the anxieties of today were my fault. I had held onto all these unknowns and things outside of my control and for what? To feel anxious?! So as tonigh winded down I sat here on my couch looking over at my furry little angel fast asleep with not a care in the world and I felt immensely blessed. Doc's ok and I'm ok. We had survived the day and if there's a tomorrow we'll just take it just like the Broga, one breathe, one strength and one poses at a time.




Aching For Bacon 🥓

30 day journal challenge - day 3

Today I made a culinary mistake. I ate corn dogs for lunch. Don't get me wrong I love a good corn dog but often or not they're made with pork. Why does this matter well I discovered I have an awful allergy to swine. Ok sure that's a little usual however a lot of people deliberately don't eat pork products and they live perfectly normal lives. Which is very true, if you're kosher or halal you avoid pork. The problem is I'm not and even more so for most of my life I was a downright bacon addict! I absolutely loved the stuff! I even went so far as to purchase special seasoning salt that flavored my non pork foods to taste like pork. It was delicious! 

However, throughout much of my life I suffered from debilitating stomach aches and had IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). I had many an emergency 🚨 racing to find a toilet .🚽   Why am I telling you this grossly personal story? Well this is a public journal challenge so that's one reason. The other reason is everyone will throughout the day have to use the restroom. Plain and simple! We're no better or different than eachother. 

Now back to my pork allergy. I realized when I cut pork products from my diet my debilitating stomach cramps and bathroom emergency quickly disappeared. So today when I was acting a fool and not thinking of what mystery meat 🥩 was inside lunch I was dealing with instant karma. I could lie to myself but when you've got an allergy you're body isn't buying it. I'm not sure how all those devout Muslims and Orthodox Jews can resist the temptation. Perhaps they've never or seldom try pork. But it's a difficult thing to say no too even when it causes me pain. I guess my addiction is food.

Nonetheless, I'm reminded even while clinging to my stomach in knots that just as it's important for myself to act and be aware of my mental and emotional concerns I can't act outside my own body's limitations.  


Thanks for following along and take care.



​Peaches & Jams

30 day journal challenge - day 2

Recently I've caught the musical bug. I'm kinda obsessed to be honest. It comes in waves here and again but there was a time when music was very much my life. As the urge to grab my guitar and play a random tune takes hold; it's easy to look back at how when you're first starting out there is so much work to make a song sound just right. The funny thing is I have a better ear for music decades later but my mind for lyrics are just awful. I can easily pick up a track in less than the time its through the first chorus but it's a really struggle to remember words to the tune, unless it's super catchy.

All this brings me back to when I was fourteen years old and I learned how to play the guitar. It started one evening when I was hanging out with my Grandpa Neil and he pulled out this old classical guitar from the closet. Sitting there I was eating my grandma's peach jam straight from the jar as my Grandpa 👴 strummed this sick Mexican guitar style lick. "Malagueña" - it was mesmerizing! My Grandpa finished a total of twenty to thirty seconds of this beautiful riff then handed me the guitar and went off to bed. I couldn't sleep 💤, I needed to hear this music again. So I drilled down and played this guitar all night long until I had figured out this track. Even though I just had the one hearing I wasn't satisfied until I could play it perfectly. The next morning my Grandpa saw me seated in the same place he had left me - this time I was now playing "Malagueña" and I had finished the jar of my grandma's peach jam. He smiled as he walked up to me and said I could have his guitar, I had earned it. Less than a few weeks later I had started my first band. A Christian band - we were a duo, (possibly an embarrassing story for next time) another acoustic guitar player and we called ourselves "Pre-Resurrection", which looking back makes no sense. My musical journey started over night and it became part of my identity for a very long time. But music is funny that way. It can change you and inspire you. You can enjoy it while you're happy or sad, feeling stressed or angry. Music can be like a magnifying glass or a mirror - amplify or reflecting you. So while I'm taking this journal challenge I'm looking forward to the music I'll be making even if it's scratching away at an old tune I can't get out of my head. And its these ups and downs of life that can always use a good tune to help along the way. So thank you for being apart of my journey and for reading this bard's tales.


A Walk In The Park

30 day journal challenge - day 1 

I live in southwest Portland Oregon. Outside the city proper but not quite the suburbs. One of the things I really love about where I live is how numerous and readily accessible all the parks are around my home. Add that to my love of Fall and Today being a rare treat in October - warm and sunny. So I went for a causal walk.


I have a bit of a routine when I do my walks. Typically I'll bring my normal things like my headphones just in case I decide to listen to some music or an audio book. However, for the past six months while I still drag along my usual tech I discover I have a far more enjoyable walk and feel more refreshed if I opt out of actually listening to my headphones or even checking my email on my phone. What I've discovered is a type of mindful meditative experience where I just focus on my breathing. I know this probably sounds kinda bizarre to some people. Yet if I just focus on my breath and guide my thoughts away from the buzz going on around my head I end my walk feeling balanced, creative and at ease.

There's a phrase in many zen teachings that refers to our busy brains as "the monkey mind". The idea here that we're always mentally bouncing around like a toddler hopped up on candy. I find a strange reassurance that I'm not an original species when it comes to this constant cerebral chatter. I need that inner silence and the more I have it the more I crave it.

Better put the more often I quiet my mind the overall greater my daily calm increases. Sure there's always going to be a new things to stress about or strive for but it's these walks in the park that give me a warm fuzzy relaxation about life.

Life's to short to be angry, anxious or apathetic. I don't want to numb my feelings or overindulge I want to be objective about them. Recognize my feelings like I can recognize a limb and see if it needs attention.

Today while I was walking along I was reminded that nature never stops and when you go even on zen walks you'll encounter people doing all sorts of things. Running, talking to a friend, cycling, walking their dog, playing Pokémon Go, or taking their toddler for a stroll. Most people I encounter aren't even looking for a smile or a friendly hello they're just in their on zone doing their business. It's really no judgement to people being in there own heads about the stuff they do. It was just another pleasant opportunity for me to let go of all the buzzing about inside my brain. There's no perfect way to capture each thought or breath, at least I haven't found it. Yet when I start a walk giving my greatest attention to breathing slowly in through my nose then slowly exhaling out my mouth, sometimes counting to begin to slow my thoughts down, I finish my walks with a profound clarity. So while I'm dedicating these next thirty days to public journal entries I think it's an excellent place to start with some quiet meditation. Thank you so much for being apart of my journey and I'm looking forward to all that we'll encounter ahead.


Blog name change and upcoming 30 day journal challenge!

If you’re like me you struggle sometimes creating new habits. Well it was my intent to really pour more candidly into this “Heart-First” blog. Yet i’m coming up feeling out of ideas. Well sorta. I’m feeling out of ideas that collectively qualify the “Heart-First” title of this blog. So I’m changing the name. Something that better fits myself without losing the intent to connect with people. Additionally while I'm very much a "Heart-First" human I started to reflect on all the great things that the marketing world quickly erodes. 🌎 For example the word "authentic" is hardly used correctly in social media but it's such a wonderful word! We should all be authentic, yet over use and misuse can just ruin words like this. And it is my very real concern that the phrase "heart-first" will lose its meaning if not guarded properly. So I reached into my idea morgue, and am resurrecting a less obvious and hopefully humorous tone from my old blogspot days - blog title “Mad Spiral of Jesse Bray” but so it’s more on brand I’ll call it the “Mad Spiral of Mr. Bray”. The title is obviously a bit tongue and cheek and I want to allow for more zaniness as it arises. Ok so to launch this new project off with some zest I'm starting a 30 journal challenge. I'm an avid journaler, however my journal entries are usually quite private. So buckle up for some possible over sharing and perhaps deeper insights on my goofy brain.


thanks so much for staying along for the ride! 



💙 Heart-First: Vulnerable & Proud 💙

Vulnerable and Proud.jpg



"The wound is the place where the Light enters you." ~ Rumi


I have perhaps a radical idea! Something that's changed my life for the better in all aspects! This idea put into practice is that of being vulnerable and proud of it. Let me explain. I'm no social scientist or psychologist. I'm a student of life and of people. What I've discovered for both myself and others is I have a down right knack for making myself sound far more put together, important, successful, intelligent, the list goes on than I am in reality. Equally I've also discovered that I have a surgical skill in dismantling my self-esteem, confidence and successes better than anyone I've ever known. Why is that? Why are these little gremlins rolling around our heads telling us to embellish the truth? Why is it so easy to be unhappy with both our wins and our losses?

This isn't just a 21st century phenomena. The Protestant reformer Martin Luther was known for confessing that he enjoyed sleep to his Priest. Saying "Father I've sinned! Last night I slept for 4 hours and I enjoyed it". The priest replied (all paraphrased of course) Martin, buddy calm down it's ok to enjoy sleep! Then on the opposite spectrum when the prolific writer Oscar Wilde came to the United States and asked if he had anything to declare he said "only my genius". Now both Wilde and Luther were well educated and famous in their own lifetime for the work that they did. Why was it that they were so distorted in their own eyes? Sure this might be a heavy question to try and unravel in a less than empirical manner. Yet, my hypothesis is that we as humans struggle with vulnerability. It's as if we just can't accept our limitations and be comfortable with our weaknesses. Now how does this relate to being vulnerable and proud of it, or the radical promise made earlier? Well you see when we're being vulnerable we're being human and be that a business relationship or a colleague or even our closest friends - when we're comfortable with our own warts we can stop pretending and just connect with the people or the task in front of us.

 How does this relate to me? Or rather where's your warts Jesse?! You see I struggled a lot as a student. I'm dyslexic and when I started school my parents were in the throes of a divorce. I was also the middle child so I was very much overlooked. This is where I started to develop anxieties about asking for help. Teachers  would force me to read out loud - and I had a particularly cruel 1st grade teacher that would make fun of me and other students if they stammered. It wasn't until a few years later when I was homeless that reading became my lifeboat. I remember going to the library every single day sometimes twice a day if possible. It was that time when I was homeless as a kid that all those anxieties, limitations and everything that had been a deterrent to learning  were ignored. The library was and is to this day still a sanctuary to me. Now as intriguing as that might sound the question remains how does this relate to others. Here's a simple thing that I do that I believe many people are to afraid to do. I ask a lot of questions. And I mean a lot of questions! Furthermore I'm not bashful about it either! I know I often don't have a great deal of the answers, especially on the fly. And that's ok. While for years I was ashamed to tell people I was homeless as a kid yet it was an education in vulnerability that gave me a grit for learning. I'm not advocating you need to be homeless or libraries need to be your personal sanctuary, though I think everyone should frequent libraries. What I'm saying is for you to be proud of your vulnerabilities, or whatever your socially perceived weaknesses is! We're human - we have flaws and that's ok! We delude ourselves with white and not so white lies. However when our skin becomes our most comfortable attire then we can connect with ourselves and others! And that's what life is all about! Making connections!


Last thing, there is a belief in some native South American cultures that knowledge is considered a key and that you don't just give your keys to strangers. The idea being that some things require a proof of labor or worth in the hearer. Side stepping the dangerous elitism potentials in this idea - sharing a vulnerability with someone or a client is scary but it's a risk that reaps ten fold! Now not everyone is worthy of your vulnerable pearls but that too can be incredibly insightful. If someone doesn't respond well to you being human, say asking a lot of questions, not knowing an answer at the moment, or whatever the quirk, then that's a clear indicator that that person has a bloated sense of self importance. And such people will always struggle connecting with others, their customers or audience. All expressions and efforts can be insights into ourselves and others. And when we are vulnerable we're truly authentic! There's a saying among especially creatives that "they would rather be unsuccessful and true to themselves than successful and have lied to themselves”. I believe that anything worth having is worth working hard for! There is a labor to wisdom that needs to be made. While there's hardly a one size fits all scenarios I truly believe that sharing our vulnerabilities are the closest we have to a skeleton key in connecting with people. So when we're vulnerable and proud of it we set the stage for a radical encounter that's more truthful and sincere than you can ever imagine! We open the doors to connect with people in the deepest and most human way possible by letting the light shine in through our wounds. So let us make real connections with people not just contact and as we challenge ourselves to live "Heart-First"!

Thank you for reading and please do feel free to comment below.  


Live Heart-First!