Welcome to Moment Catchers
Hello! My name is Candace, and I'm a sketch artist with a passion for helping you connect with the world through art. Pull out your sketchbook and watercolors and find your favorite view — I'm glad you're here!

“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness.”

— Jon Kabat-Zinn

Calm sleep story

I’ll never forget where I was the first time I learned about the meditation app called Calm. Last November, I returned to the U.S. from Uruguay for my brother’s wedding in Kansas. After the festivities were over, I spent a week house-sitting and dog-sitting for dear friends in Pacifica, California, whose beautiful home overlooks the ocean their city’s name evokes. And it was while I was in Pacifica that my sister told me she’d spent her own flight back from the wedding listening to “Sleep Stories” on the Calm app.

“You should check Calm out,” she said over the phone. “I think you’d like it.”

Before downloading Calm, I’d never made a serious practice of meditation — usually, I tried to pursue greater presence and mindfulness through sketching. But I was intrigued by the sound of Calm and decided to check it out. Immediately, I loved how simple it was; that in addition to an ever-growing collection of Sleep Stories, there’s also a new 10-minute “Daily Calm” guided meditation every day. For me, it made the idea of a regular meditation ritual much more real and accessible.

I still remember sitting cross-legged on the floor of my friends’ home in Pacifica as I listened to my first Daily Calm. While my friends’ curious dog Ender sniffed and poked around me, trying desperately to figure out why I was sitting motionless in the middle of the living room and not playing with him, I kept my gaze fixed on the ocean rolling beyond the wide windows.

I felt my breath rise and fall, I listened to the slowing rhythm of my heart — and I wondered why it had taken me this long to give meditation a try.

A gorgeous stretch of California coastline just south of Pacifica, where I first discovered Calm.

*   *   *

In the months that followed my time in Pacifica and my return to Uruguay, Calm slowly became a part of my beloved daily rhythms — rituals like reading, journaling, starting the day with a cup of tea or coffee, and now, listening to the Daily Calm.

I just wanted to share all of that as context for what I’m excited to share with you next today: Because about six months after I started using Calm, I was amazed to see an email arrive in my inbox one night with the subject line, “Calm.com.”

The sender? One of the two co-founders and co-CEOs of Calm himself, Michael Acton Smith.

As it turned out, Michael had read a story of mine in the latest Lonely Planet travel anthology (which, perfectly enough enough, I remember sharing with you in another giveaway post during that same homestay in Pacifica last November). Furthermore, he was reaching out to see if I’d be interested in writing for Calm. As you might imagine, my heart did the very opposite of what it usually does when I’m meditating — it raced, as my head spun with the serendipity and connection of it all.

“Candace,” my boyfriend José said to me with a smile, after I finished reading Michael’s email, “I think you need to go use Calm now to calm down.”

In particular, Michael was asking if I’d be interested in writing Sleep Stories — a part of Calm that features soothing, evocative tales designed to help people drift off to sleep…just like the bedtime stories from our childhood, but for grown-ups. Every Sleep Story features beautiful, descriptive language; a hushed, gentle rhythm in its narration style; and, most importantly, no tension or gripping plot that’ll keep listeners hanging on to hear the ending, instead of letting go and falling asleep.

There are both fiction and non-fiction Sleep Stories, but Michael thought I might like to write travel-inspired non-fiction tales for Calm, as well as illustrate the image that would be featured with the story in the app. It also just so happened that the very next morning after his email arrived, I had a flight booked to Chile. While I spent the next few days sketching Valparaíso and getting to know the country, I also spent time drawing up a list of potential story ideas for Calm.

Right when I least expected it, a fascinating new project had presented itself, for a company I already felt personally invested in. I truly couldn’t believe it.

*   *   *

As you might have seen me share on social media over the past few weeks, I spent much of July working on a set of three Sleep Stories for Calm — about journeys I’ve taken to French Polynesia, Japan, and Peru. I’m honored and thrilled to have had the opportunity to not only write the stories and illustrate the featured images that will be used in the app, but I even got to hit the recording studio and narrate two of the stories myself…the first of which is now officially live in the app!

The story is called “The Black Pearls of Tahiti,” and is about the three weeks I once spent as a volunteer on a black pearl farm in the South Pacific. Although more than seven years have passed since my time there, the experience has always stayed with me.

Getting to write about the pearl farm for Calm was more than just a huge honor — it was a chance to return to one of my very favorite places in the world.

A fun preview of how my first Sleep Story will appear in the Calm app.

*   *   *

How you can listen to “The Black Pearls of Tahiti”

While I was in San Francisco earlier this month, I loved having a chance to visit Calm’s headquarters in the city, meet some of the Calm team, and finally connect with Michael himself, after months of working together via email. Our conversation that morning was a wonderfully wide-ranging one, but at one point during our chat, I asked him if it would be possible to extend a special offer to all of you once my first story was live — and gratefully, Michael confirmed it was indeed a possibility.

If you visit www.calm.com/momentcatchers, you’ll be able to sign up and receive a free month-long trial for a premium Calm membership — which will give you access to their full library of Sleep Stories, including stories from yours truly 🙂

Click here to sign up for your free trial to Calm

Calm founder Michael Acton Smith

One of the highlights from my time in San Francisco: Meeting with Calm co-founder Michael Acton Smith.

*   *   *

And now…for a giveaway!

I’m thrilled and grateful to be able to offer everyone in our Moment Catchers family a free trial for Calm, but I didn’t want to stop there — today, I’m also excited to be giving away a year-long premium Calm membership to one winner at random.

If you would like to enter the giveaway, all you need to do is:

1. Leave a comment below, sharing one of your own daily rhythms that helps you feel more mindful — or if you’d like to start.

2. I’ll choose one winner at random tomorrow, August 29th, at 12noon EST.

3. If you’re reading this from outside the U.S., please don’t hesitate to enter. Digital products make for easy global delivery 🙂

I so hope you all enjoy my first Sleep Story for Calm — it’s a joy to share it with you!

Calm Sleep Story

One last look behind the scenes, as I got to head into a local recording studio in Virginia two weeks ago…enjoy the story, friends!

  • Ohmygosh, I think I’ll have to listen to it tonight—this is so awesome, Candace!!
    I love Calm! I’ve been using the app for about a year and a half, and can only echo that it’s made meditation accessible for me. I look forward to the Daily Calms and feel as though I’m rewiring my mind with each session. I’m so happy for you—what a perfect combo: Candace + Calm! Congratulations!

    Also, I’ll use this space to share some news with you: Just this week I was offered a 3-month AmeriCorps position to serve on ACE Arizona’s Conservation Corps and I accepted! I start August 31 in Flagstaff, AZ, so many changes will be happening in a few short days. I’ve been scrambling around to get all of the gear and paperwork I need, and to arrange travel. We’ll be gone for 8-9 days at a time (camping) working on projects, then have a few days off in Flagstaff before the next project. If we’re put on an out-of-state project we could be gone for 4-6 weeks at a time. So if I’m MIA for a while, that’s what’s up! I arrive this Thursday and we’ll have two days of orientation and then leave for a project, so I might not be around for Moment Catchers this coming weekend—we’ll see how it goes. Regardless, I’ll be thinking of everyone here sketching, and look forward to checking out the roundup whenever I’m back on the internet. 🙂

  • JourneyCount

    Thank you for sharing Candace. I love that you share these amazing connections, to show us not just how serendipitous life can be but how many wonderful opportunities there can be in life if you are open to them. I’ve been considering starting Calm for a while, so this is just the push I need.

    My fiance and I have been travelling South through Vietnam and since we’ve hit the coast we have started our day with a long walk on the beach and a swim in the sea. It’s been glorious. I really want to start journalling and sketching as a morning practice but one step at a time…

  • Hello Candace! Thank you for this story – tales of “serendipity and connection,” like this, remind us how magical the world really is. I don’t practice meditation, but I do have a small way that I remind myself to slow down and pay attention to the world around me. It’s to smell the roses – literally! Wherever I am, if I come within range of a rose bush, I pause to enjoy it – smell it, admire the blossoms, and stand still there for a moment. It’s amazing what effects this has – I find myself looking for roses all the time, and noticing more of my surroundings because of that, and it provides these mini-relaxation moments that come at unexpected times and places. Just a simple little thing, but it gives me a lot of pleasure.

  • Karla

    Candace! This is perfect! I can’t wait to hear more about this. I have been trying to find something to help take away the memories of a recent tragic event in my life. I lost someone dear to me in April and ever since his death the memories of the circumstances have robbed me of any peace of mind as well as lots of badly needed quality sleep. Lately, I’ve been considering some sort of meditation but just couldn’t sit quiet with just music because my mind would keep wandering to the place I don’t want it to go. Sketching has helped me some but I still seek a solution to the help me calm before bed. Something to put my mind anywhere other than where it usually is and hopefully inspire more pleasant dreams in the process. I’m wondering if listening to soothing stories like this would be the ticket to get into some relaxation state that I am so badly needing. Thank you so much for sharing. I’m anxious to hear more.

  • Amber

    Wow, can’t believe the perfect timing of this offer! I’ve been mulling over starting a daily meditation for a while now, not really sure just how to begin. Sounds like the Calm app could be the perfect way to start! Keeping my fingers crossed. Thanks for sharing the offer.

  • Amazing, definitely going to give it a try. You’re so inspirational 🙂

  • Nancy Bardos

    What a wonderful happening and opportunity for you. And, thanks to you, a beginning of meditation practice for me and others! So looking forward to listening to your recorded story. Thanks for expanding horizons, Candace!

  • Brittany Sears

    As always, your professional and personal journey have me in awe! Congrats, and I cannot wait to hear your story and spend a month with a meditation app. I practice yoga every day (a wonderful way to practice slowing down and connecting with my breath and the moment) but have yet to truly connect with meditation. It always becomes an item to tick off my list, which I think defeats the purpose!! Maybe Calm will help me change that! ☺️

  • Jan McGee

    I can’t wait to start, Candace. You are already such an inspiration for my art path, and now I’m looking forward to adding “Calm” to my meditation practice. My gurus are Depok Chopra and Richard Rohr, and find that my life is so much richer with daily meditation and yoga. Thank you for adding this new step!

  • dmutmansky

    I too have thought about (and tried) meditation. Somehow I have never been able to keep it up. Maybe Calm.com will work for me now.

  • Awesome! Thanks for sharing your story and artwork with us. 🙂 One of my favorite ways to feel mindful is by sitting in a comfy spot in silence or with soft music in the background, and allowing myself to relax and to write whatever comes to me. I’ve used the Calm app many times, and it always helps me unwind and dissolve anxiety.

  • Judy Tomlin

    Wow Candace, congratulations on your project with Calm, I love how your collaboration with this company has evolved – you being interested in Calm, and they in your work! 🙂
    Your post is particularly timely for me, as we start the final week of preparations for our daughter’s wedding on September 2, I know that staying calm and grounded – all of us – will be important.
    I have practiced various forms of meditation during the past 10 years or so, and am still searching for the practice that is best for me, and that I can stick with. One thing that I do try to practice daily, is mindful eating during at least one of my daily meals. This morning I appreciated the fresh Saskatoon berries from my garden on my steel cut oatmeal; the cool flavorful berries were an awesome contrast to the warm oats.
    I look forward to trying Calm’s sleep stories over the next month – thanks for sharing this!

  • I learned from a 92-year old beautiful woman named Cordelia, to start each day with a strong proclamation, “This is the day the Lord has made, let me rejoice and be glad in it.” She told me the minute I open my eyes, take a breath, welcome the day and speak those powerful words. It has worked for her, so I’m giving it a go!

  • Paige Sinkler

    Haha, we knew that story would find its rightful home but could we ever have pictured that it would be a houseboat, on the airwaves?… how wonderfully unpredictable and perfectly apt. 🙂 Really pleased for you Candace. I recently discovered Calm too, and working my way through the Daily Calms several times over. What it does for me is bring to heel the multiple ‘musts’ pulling me off my feet all day long like a dozen dogs on a lead. When I open my eyes they are all sitting quietly at my feet. Calm. And ready to set out again at a walking pace. I would love to explore the silent pool even more deeply if possible – thank you for the opportunity. Lots of love x

  • Julie Reuter

    The daily routine that works for me is walking. I count out sets of 100 steps in my head and I think the repetition of it soothes me.

  • Jenny H

    hi Candace, thank you for sharing this (Calm is new to me). I have occasionally meditate but every day’s hustle and bustle tend to get in the way so i think this app will be a restart for me! (actually, im already feeling the effects as im listening to Calm while typing this.) congratulations again on your new projects- arts in all forms! 🙂 and thank you for sharing and inspiring us! it’s always a pleasure to hear about your progress and new endeavors! 🙂

  • Amanda Thompson

    Fantastic! What an exciting request and adventure that followed. Congratulations and I look forward to listening to your story after work today. Good on you Candace!

  • Brenda K

    Amazingggg. You attract these opportunities with your passion and intentional living!
    I am currently in a season of rest and renewal…I was so burnt out. This summer I have been starting every day with a 1-2 hour walk in a 200 acre park near our house. I spend time in prayer, but instead of talking, I’ve been focused on listening. Being in nature and hearing God’s voice has been a huge blessing in this season of my life. I can’t wait to check out your stories, and *congratulations*! 🤗

  • LynnK

    Hey, Candace! So happy for you that you won this contract. I must admit that Calm is not new to me. I tried it for awhile, and I enjoyed it, but I never got into the habit of using it. Then I decidedly became cell phone free and opted to go back to a land line. With no more smart phone apps available; no more Facebook on the go; no more emails or text messaging to check up on, I guess you could say that I now
    have more time to be more present in my daily life.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still check-in with some of these social media interactions and apps on my home computer when I am at home, but if I am otherwise engaged, well, I am completely otherwise engaged. Up to now, I have never regretted going sans smartphone. I am thinking should I win, I could still use Calm on my home computer.

  • OOOOOH My head is in all directions at present, I think this is one of the joys of being creative, it is hard to reign in and focus. I find the best way to meditate is to walk along the beach, I need that motion of the waves but since that is a 8-10 min drive down to the beach, it is often easier for me to do my hour long walk along Cremorne Reserve down to the ferry and back. I am definitely going to check this app out tonight Candace, and can’t wait to hear your stories. ❤️🌺🦄

  • Kim

    Congratulations, Candace! What a cool way to tie all these different ways of expressing and connecting together. I have a few daily practices that currently work together to make me more mindful. I start each day with yoga (currently, I practice with Yoga with Kassandra and Fightmaster Yoga on YouTube but I also love Shiva Rea), then meditation (haven’t used Calm yet, though!), and Qoya (a dance practice). Once I’m ready to start work, I usually sit down with tea (of course!) and listen to music that gets me in alignment at a higher emotional frequency. From time to time, I write morning pages or read first thing… but usually reading is part of my mindful “close the day” routine. 🙂

  • Treava

    Congratulations Candace! This is amazing. I really like the Calm app and use it at night to wind down. I haven’t turned it into a habit as of yet, but it is a goal. I am looking so forward to listening to your sleep story! I’m a yoga girl and do a practice almost every morning. If I miss doing it I feel so robbed, almost guilty for not doing my practice. A cup of delicious coffee is a daily ritual. I intend on adding walking (preferably a hike in nature) and sketching to my daily rituals.
    I’m so happy for you Candace!

  • Marisa Feyen

    What an amazing opportunity! I have had a practice for a while and I want to push to get this to be a daily habit. As it is, I only notice it when I start feeling a lot of internal resistance and anxiety that I realize that I need to chill out. I am working toward a point where I can feel more consistent with my practice. I’m excited to give Calm a try! Thank you for your work 🙂

  • Wonderful! Congratulations! 🙂 My own daily rhythm that help me feel more mindful is listening to the fireplace and the smell of the fireplace. It makes me feel very calm! 🙂

  • Carlota

    Hi Candance! I love your stories, and this one in particular came in perfect timing as I have been searching for a meditation app recently! I will definitely give Calm a try! 🙂

  • khari

    Candace, I adore you! I love your stories and feel they are wonderful! My practice is visualization and breathing. However, that does not always work so well for me. As a person with complex regional pain, I often find listening to the radio is a better answer. This is why I think Sleep Stories is really a great option for me. I am going to make this part of my daily practice. Thank you, Candace. Knowing you has been such a blessing!

  • J Wilson

    Hi! This sounds amazing! I relax with art and stitching. Meditation might be really good for me as I’ve had a tremendous amount of stress in the last 2.5 years that makes sleeping difficult. Thanks for this opportunity! Love that you wrote and illustrated the stories too!

  • Dale Wolfe

    You make Calm sound great. I am interested in trying it now.
    Thank you.

  • Sarah Van Der Linden

    Thank you for sharing this, I’m really interested! Before going to bed, I like to think about an idea, or a colour, for a painting. My mind wanders better during the night… 🙂 I hope I’m not too late for the giveaway!