Comfort Zone

Comfort Zone: Elise Cahill

by Sabrina Smelko


To Elise Cahill, happiness is something you can create for yourself. More than an emotion, it’s an attitude — one that has gotten her through her fair share of heartaches, and one that continues to be a prevalent theme on her blog. A fun-loving busy bee, Elise has no problem filling her days knowing that, at the end of each day, her big, blue living room couch awaits her along with her husband, Tysen, and their two Australian Shepherds, Albus and Able.

For Elise, the comforts of home provide a gentle balance of safety and inspiration, but more importantly, home is a place where family, friends and pets can come together and bond, despite the fact that many live out of state. Family time is priority one. “There are not enough forms of distraction in the world to make up for all the joy, weirdness, and depth that my friends and family give me,” she explains. “All the hot showers and TV shows in the world can’t replace opportunities to care for people, and to receive care.”

Today, from her bright apartment in Glendale, California, the effervescent and light-hearted Elise is joining us to chat more about everything from McDonald’s and The Hobbit, to blissful ignorance and personal struggles. –Sabrina

Photography by Kate Edwards

Tell us about yourself.

I’m a tall, cool blonde — okay, not that tall… not cool… but a little blonde. I co-run a blog and do all kinds of freelance “this-and-that” including, but not limited to, styling, crafting, and photography. I live in a little apartment in Glendale, CA, which has a killer view of an alley, with my husband Tysen, and two Australian shepherds, Albus and Able. Our favorite activities include sleeping-in on weekends, throwing a ball around for our dogs in the parking lot outside our apartment late at night, playing Cribbage or Mario Kart, and sitting on our back porch for hours with friends, family and neighbors filtering through. Our least favorite activities include vacuuming dog hair, saying goodbye in the morning to go to work, worrying about the future, and missing friends and family who are far away…


What does home and this space mean to you? Describe it.

Home means my friends and family. I could not endure the lame, painful, and tedious aspects of life without them… like… for real. I’m an interesting enough person. I can often entertain myself (tell myself jokes, show myself magic tricks, you know, the usual stuff), but there are not enough forms of distraction in the world to make up for all the joy, weirdness, and depth that my friends and family give me. I would say it’s corny, because it is, but I don’t want to dismiss it. SO IT’S NOT CORNY. It’s just true. The space is the venue for the above mentioned; so I love it, too.


What makes it so comfortable?

The safety and inspiration it offers me. That’s my comfort zone: somewhere safe, but also inspiring. Getting out of my safety zone is really important and great things come of it, but I love going home to my bat cave, too. It’s bright and happy and fresh, but also lived-in, cozy, and warm. That’s why it’s perfect to me.

What makes you uncomfortable? What is your biggest fear?

Being in a McDonald’s, sitting for too long, watching other people fight, or any combination of those three things makes me really uncomfortable.

Biggest fear? Well, gosh, other than everyone in my life suddenly hating me or being stricken with some terrible disease and living alone and in pain for the rest of my life, I would say my biggest fear is Gollum from The Hobbit. My dad would read that book out loud to us as kids, and Gollum single-handedly destroyed my childhood — never slept again.


Have you ever thrown caution to the wind and departed from your comfort zone? What happened as a result?

My version of throwing caution to the wind is like… going on one roller coaster at Disneyland. So, being that the threshold is so low, I throw caution to the wind all the time!

There have been a few big moments in my life where I stepped way out of my comfort zone, but the important comfort zone breaches for me are everyday things. I am constantly trying to push myself creatively, professionally and personally. I have a terrible tendency to say “no” to scary opportunities, so saying “yes” is my new motto. So far, so good.


What would you do if you had a day, a week and a month all to yourself?

Okay, I would spend a day completely nude around the house doing nothing at all. I would spend a week in Zion National Park (probably my favorite place in America), take a camera, sketch pad, and LOTS OF ICE CREAM AND GO CRAZY. And obviously search my soul, blah blah blah. I would spend a month alone actually going crazy because I am a people-person and would start talking to myself way more than usual and it would be bad. But, I guess if that didn’t happen, I would save up and go on a vintage store tour from LA to anywhere in Texas.

What have you learned as an adult that you wish you knew when you were younger?

Nothing. Blissful ignorance is the key to a happy childhood. Maybe I would tell my teenage self to not be such a tight-ass. “Have some fun, teenaged Elise. It won’t kill you.”


How do you unplug, recharge and unwind?

Three very different processes. To unplug, I lay on that blue couch and watch New Girl. To recharge, I grab a friend and go thrifting or go to the zoo! To unwind I take a long, hot shower. These are my tried and true systems for staying sane.

Have you ever experienced burnout? How do you get back on your feet and stay inspired?

One of the most difficult times in my recent history was two years ago. My husband and I had been married for a total of five months, I was a full-time student, working, and I should mention this was in Spokane, WA so it was freezing and dark and cold (all things I despise) when we found out my little sister-in-law was in a terrible car accident and had suffered a stroke and severe head trauma. It was an incredibly overwhelming time. We were so busy figuring out our marriage, our work, our individual personal struggles, and now a major family crisis happening a thousand miles away. We both arrived at “burnout” pretty quickly. However, it bonded us (Tysen and I, as well as his family) together in an amazing way. Simultaneously we were breaking down and being built up. I found that all the hot showers and TV shows in the world can’t replace opportunities to care for people, and to receive care.

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What do you think the world could use less of, and more of?

Less mosquitos, and more domesticated snow leopards. On an unrelated note (asking for a friend), where could one get a domesticated baby snow leopard?

What’s one question you wish you had the answer to?


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