Before the trip I had put together a scavenger hunt of positivity per Dana’s suggestion. We had to look for both external validation from the media as well as internal validation from ourselves. Here’s some of the things we looked for:
• Find a puppy on the street that loves you no matter what
• Toast to self love with your favorite beverage
• Give a stranger a compliment that has nothing to do with their body
• Find 5 objects that look like hearts.
• Leave something behind in the hotel that didn’t make you feel good over the weekend – either write it down if it was a moment or leave a t-shirt that made you feel chubby behind.
The list set the stage for what would be a seriously awesome journey of self discovery & set us up for success (at least when it came to self-love and expression). Just before Dana came in on her jet plane I met the nicest bartender at Blackbird Ordinary who gave me some suggestions. He had seen me drawing in the bar for about 2 hours… so I guess he gathered I was into art. He suggested that Dana and I go to a neighborhood in North East Miami called “Wynwood“. So, we vowed that after we got our fill of the Miami sun (which I’m not sure Dana ever really did; she humored me)… we’d set off for Wynwood to explore a different less-touristy area of Miami.
The trip to Miami had layers of self expression. Each day, Dana and I looked for ways that the world offered positivity. I looked for a heart everywhere I stepped…. and there were a lot. We saw a Aerie airplane ad fly over us that said “The Real You is Sexy” as we sat on the beach each day. There was self love and body positivity saturated in our environment. And it’s something to be said that when you’re looking for positivity to brighten your day, it’s there if you look for it.
When we finally reached Wynwood – we were on night three. The bars were “whatever” but we made the most of it by keeping positive and giving zero fucks if we looked like crazed lunatics on the dance floor. Dana and I met in San Francisco over 13 years ago so we’re completely comfortable being goofballs around each other & I think that saved us from being down and out during some of the harder parts of our trip. We mocked others in the bar without them knowing it & our personalities are pretty infectious so people were talking to us and being friendly (which was in short supply in Miami, lemme tell you). The evening was at least more fun than South Beach so we vowed to come back to Wynwood the next day and explore some of the boutiques when they were open.
We slept in – again – but found ourselves in Wynwood that next afternoon with no idea what colors, creativity and insane inspiration we were about to encounter. Have you ever been on a beautiful spring hike – where every turn and loop you look at the scenery in awe of your surroundings – or in your favorite store that’s having a massive sale and you can’t help but have a grin on your face the whole time? Dana and I explored Wynwood for over 6 hours. Walking from one colorful color-splashed wall to another. It was hard not to stop and take a photo at every piece of incredible street art. The biggest names in graffiti and progressive public works showed their faces from all over the world. I gasped when I saw a Miss Van piece within Wynwood Walls. I had never seen her work outside of Juxtapose Magazine and I was just in awe of the vibrancy and softness within.
Every so often we’d find some food or coffee to sustain us and keep on truckin’… the COLORS the SHAPES – the endless endless amounts of awesome. My little artistic mind went swirling around and around. I happily went up and down the streets – even ones we had already gone down just to see more of the work that Miami was showcasing in this one neighborhood. I’ve never seen anything like it. With over 200 artists featured, it was the largest selection of FREE public work I’d ever seen & opened my eyes to how little public work San Francisco has in comparison. And, as you can see from my images below – we embraced the color & dove right in!
There’s just no comparing that neighborhood to any other. With all of the craziness we found in Miami – this neighborhood woke up my own internal vibrancy. I’ve always been brutally honest on here so I feel OK sharing some of why I think I got myself into a creative pickle to begin with. I’ve always – always – my whole life – struggled with the thoughts of not being good enough. Whether it’s my crush who clearly isn’t into me and I have to face that truth (not into amazing, creative, loving and awesome people like me ;-)) – or whether I know my artistic ability isn’t as spot-on as I’d like it to be compared to others. I always compare myself & it’s gotten me into a place where I just don’t feel “enough”… even if I know intellectually that it’s not true – there’s a deep sadness that I struggle with sometimes & happily, i’m almost on the other side of all of that.
I’ve been working hard this year to create a balance & keep shining and expressing my own inner self regardless of other people’s likes or dislikes of me or my art. The unabashedly vivid and bold artwork of Miami affirmed so much of what I’ve been working on lately. Artists push and pull the boundaries of each wall and astounded me with their level of talent and expressionistic viewpoints of the world. Political, hilarious, conversation starting – each work of art had something to offer. What I learned is that whether my work is something that speaks to you – it’s my own voice and that is something to celebrate and showcase.
My craft game is on point with new projects just on the horizon & I’ve been exploring ways to inspire myself to burst outta that negative speak that haunts me. The huge realization that not everyone has the same needs, wants, desires or is even attracted to my shimmer & how that doesn’t make me or my artwork less than… my eyes are more open to taking in the positivity and vibrancy of the world around me & my art is going to benefit from this; I just know it.
I appreciate so much my community of people – those who have pushed me through this sadness I felt and the self doubt. Transitioning towards in unapologetic self love is something that so many of us fight through. For now, I’m not spending as much time giving towards those who don’t give back – I concentrate each day on what will illuminate the positivity around me & when all is said and done – I know that this growth and transition will push me towards a more beautiful place.
Dana and I went through some serious stuff on our trip (which may need to be summed up in a whole other blog about resiliency and patience). However, the memories that will stay with me or moments of laughter, moments we both found colorful inspiration & were in awe of talent that we were surrounded by. I’m going to remember the warm rain & the bright sun. I’ll remember feeling pretty in an outfit that showed all my curves. I’ll remember the calmness after a morning meditation & the taste of fresh kiwi juice. Look out for these vivid memories to surface in my artwork this year through colors, lines and simple geometry that celebrates whimsical simplicity and bold symmetry.
I hope this finds you in a place where you feel inspired to explore & push your own personal limits. Travel some – even just to a random city you’ve never been to before. Get yourself out of your comfort zone and give yourself only one rule: BE KIND TO YOURSELF & THOSE AROUND YOU!