With a little reluctance, I have made it back to New York. I find New York so exciting, diverse, and full of opportunity, but home for me will always be tucked away in the natural landscapes of the Florida panhandle. When I pulled into the rural farm road that I grew up on, I was greeted by lush trees dripping in spanish moss, white tailed deer, wild turkeys, and a snake weaving its way through the pine straw off our back porch. The land that I consider to be my home is also home to such a multitude of beautiful plants and creatures. I think one of the most special parts of my childhood in Florida was growing up knowing that I had to share my surroundings with the wildlife that also inhabit it.
I didn't waste much time getting down to the coast. I spent the bulk of my visit along the shores or on the water. Again, I was blown away by how much wildlife I encountered-gulls, pelicans, jellyfish, crabs, stingrays, tarpon, sea snails. Despite my appreciation for it growing up, I always realize on my visits home how much I took these interactions with nature for granted while I lived there. I'm lucky now if I cross paths with a squirrel or pigeon outside of my New York apartment.
Being home (and especially on the coast) always ignites so much curiosity and wonder for me. In addition to being inspiring, spending time near the water also has such a meditative and peaceful effect on me. In New York, I'm constantly narrating my own story. My gears are always spinning trying to figure out what my next step is, what I can cross off the to-do list, and what I need to accomplish. In a competitive city, its hard not to constantly be projecting- anticipating the next move. On the coast, I'm reminded that my story is just a small component of a much larger one that is playing out. Instead of multitasking and projecting ahead- I'm able to enjoy "the now". There's a quote- "Wherever you are, be all there". Its a pretty simple statement- but its not as easy as it sounds! I find that when I'm by the water though, I'm always "all there".
I started reading a great book while in Florida. It's called Blue Mind by Wallace Nichols. The book was a must-read for me since it is all about why humans are so drawn to the ocean. Studies show that people are happier when outdoors near the water. History tells us stories of artists and writers who found their muse by the ocean. And as Nichols says in the book about oceanfront property, "people will shell out a lot of green for a little bit of blue". When I lived in Savannah, GA- I was leasing a great apartment just a block away from the river. A few months into my lease, I was asked if I would mind transferring to another unit in the building because a couple wanted to purchase my unit specifically. I couldn't understand why with all of the open units in the building, they would want my already occupied one bedroom apartment. As it turned out, they wanted my apartment specifically because in the small closet attached to the bedroom, there was a window with a partial view of the river. It was the only window in my unit with a view of the water- but the couple wouldn't take any other unit because they were so fixated on having a river view. I still like to imagine them squished in the corner of that closet amongst the hanging clothes peering out the window to the small visible sliver of the Savannah River. The point of that slight tangent is that many people (like myself) feel a sort of magnetic and instinctual pull towards the water. In the book, Blue Mind, Nichols argues that "being near, in, on, or under water can make you happier, healthier, more connected, and better at what you do." He proves his assertion with really amazing neuroscience research into the effects of water on the brain. It's quite fascinating and I would absolutely recommend the book to anyone who enjoys the ocean as much as I do.
My trip back home allowed me to get in touch with my roots and tap into a lot of clarity and inspiration! Seeing the colors, patterns, and textures of my wild Florida home always reminds me why I started making jewelry in the first place: to capture the magic and beauty of this ever-changing scenery (and the state of mind that accompanies it) and turn it into something permanent and precious!
Stay tuned- the jewels are coming!