I am a Mormon, wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, graphic designer, cowgirl, photography and videography enthusiast, dancer, health-nut, seamstress, teacher, and day-dreamer.
I make mistakes, I get back up, I love, I am inspired, I am taught, I am cautious, I am hopeful, I am instructed, I am overwhelmed, and I am dedicated. I fear riding in elevators, phirannas, cave exploring, spicy food and regret. I love my family, my husband’s strong hands, a worn-in pair of jeans, sunsets on the beach, the calm at the end of the day on a ranch, hot-fudge brownie sundays, acoustic guitar, learning new skills, and the thrill of achievement.
I have six kiddos that are the love of my life. I always knew I wanted to have have a large family. I am one of six kids and my husband is the oldest of seven kids. I have three girls and three boys and I love them to pieces.
My Faith & Our Family Mission
I was born and raised in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have a testimony that Jesus Christ atoned for my sins, that I have a Father in Heaven who loves me, and that the Holy Ghost can be my constant companion as I live worthy of his influence.
In November of 2012, my family was called to serve in the San Tan Branch on the Gila River Indian Community. It has brought similar experiences and blessings to serving a mission, but from home and as a family. I have the privilege of teaching Gospel Doctrine to a mixed audience of Native Americans and other members of our stake. We have our lesson in the chapel and when we gather together to discuss the principles of the Gospel, it becomes a holy place. My experience teaching in the Branch will always be a treasured time I will hold dear to my heart. This is partially why I am writing this blog—to share the epiphanies and spiritual insights I receive as I’m teaching about the Gospel of Jesus Christ that might be of benefit to others.
My Professional Path
While at BYU, I hoped to someday be a Mother and own a business I could run from home so I straddled the design program and the communications department by taking classes in graphic design and marketing/copywriting. At the time, the two departments did not collaborate much so I earned my bachelor of Visual Arts emphasizing in graphic design and created my own ‘unofficial’ minor in marketing/copywriting. Through my achievements in the communications department, I was elected president of the BYU Advertising Federation, division of the American Advertising Federation (aka Ad Club). I left my mark on the communications department as the first design student to be elected to the position, and by founding the first BYU advertising competition called The Young Awards in 1997. I invited the top advertising creative professionals from Salt Lake City to judge student advertising submissions from both graphic design and communications students while providing invaluable exposure for future employment.
I met my husband, Gabe Bonilla, in our BYU singles ward in the spring of 1996. I was working as the advertising art director for the Daily Universe (the BYU newspaper) and a lead waitress at The Brick Oven. After Gabe and I were engaged, Gabe was hired as a graphic designer at The Daily Universe. This was the beginning of our joint professional career; still in force 18 years later.
Gabe and I graduated from the same department in the same ceremony, but with different degrees in April of 1998. As Southern California natives, we moved back to Orange County, California. Gabe worked as a graphic designer at a design firm and I worked as an art director at an advertising agency. A few months later we started our family and I began freelancing from home. After a couple years, I had more work than I could handle so Gabe quit his full-time job and we have been working together as Bonilla Design & Advertising from a home studio ever since in addition to the newly formed Ethos Productions. We currently live in Chandler, Arizona with our six children.
Buss Carson Family Western Show
I have a unique family heritage in the western entertainment industry. I was born and raised in North Hollywood, California and grew up performing in the Carson Family Western Show. The show began in the early 1930’s with my Grandfather, Buss Carson, who was a peer to some of the great cowboys like Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. At that time, the Carson Stuntcapade, which consisted of roman riding, trick riding & roping, liberty drill, and dog acts, toured the United States, Mexico, and Canada performing at large fairs and rodeos. Buss Carson also had the honor of riding in the Pasadena Rose Parade on his beautiful Bohlin sterling silver saddle for 35 consecutive years.
My Father, Merrill Carson, decided to continue the family business and transformed the show into an after-school fundraising extravaganza for elementary schools around Southern California. I started singing in the show at the age of 3. A few years later I began performing with my four sisters and one brother doing trick-roping, can-can, clogging, singing, and a dog act with poodles and dalmations. At the age of 15, I took over the main horse act with my beautiful palomino stallion, Majestic (great-grandson of Roy Rogers’ horse Trigger). The ‘high school’ act showcased various stunts and tricks set to music.
Ambassador of Western Heritage and the Equestrian Way of Life
Since moving to Chandler, Arizona, I became a member of the Cowgirls Historical Foundation—a non-profit organization made up of women of accomplishment in various equestrian backgrounds. Our group performs at rodeos, has ridden in the Tournament of Roses for the last six years, is featured in western fashion shows, conducts television and radio interviews, helps raise money for returning soldiers, and participates in Phoenix celebrity charity events.
I joined the group about one year after my Dad passed away. Celebrating my family heritage by performing with the CHF Cowgirls became a sort of therapy for me to cope with losing my Dad.
If you are interested in reading of the nitty & gritty of my family in addition to my gospel insights and personal faith-promoting experiences, then simply fill out the submission form below and you will get a short email every time I post. I’m hoping to post once a week.