Friday, November 30, 2012

What's it to You?

"To be successful, you must be willing to do the things today others won't do, in order to have the things tomorrow others won't have." -Les Brown

I have been battling a lot lately with the idea of success. We all have a different way of thinking about it and measuring it. Sometimes it can be difficult to really understand what it means to us personally when we are being told that our definition doesn't fit with what others perceive success to be. 

For many of us, we have been raised with the idea that success means making a lot of money and buying a house and a car and having kids. The American Dream essentially, one that has extended beyond the borders of the United States and has filtered into most of the Western World. I know that this is an age old question and that the definition changes with each generation but I somehow feel like we are at a point of transformation in this thinking that is refreshingly unprecedented. And that feels incredibly good to me. 

Recently, I was told that I should, not in so many words, give up on my dream of opening an art and design studio because I haven't yet been successful according to that persons definition of success. I don't think that the comment was meant to hurt me and I understand where this person is coming from, they have seen my struggles and worry that I am hoping for something that will never be. Well it turns out that I disagree. I'm so close to my definition of success I can taste it. And all the struggles that I've had to embark upon along the way are well worth it to me.

My lovely reader Helene first shared this photo with me - it always inspires me! 
Someone who did make their dreams come true recently told me that if I believe in what I am doing then its worth fighting for, even if that means fighting with those who are closest to me. And with this, I happen to agree. My definition of success is dedicating myself and committing myself to what I believe in no matter what others try to say. I have found that it is usually those who are afraid of trying are the ones who will tell you can't but that doesn't mean you have to listen. 

My definition of success is knowing that I tried my best, and gave it my all- the end result is secondary. If I fail according to my own definition of failure, then I will pick myself up and try again. 

Yesterday I received a serendipitous email from an amazing woman I had the privilege of working with last Spring. She sent me a link to an amazing video that I am including here. I hope you will take the time to watch it as it truly filled me up and reassured me of my path. I found the message she included in the email not only too be incredibly profound and enlightening but also made me feel incredibly honored to know that someone else sees me this way: 

     Dear Blake, Tyler, Muna, Laura, Sara, Helen, Brandi, Melanie Scott, Christine, Antonio, Chante, Paola, Leila, Nathan    and Sarah, 

My super great friend, Beth, from New Orleans sent me this video ... She said it reminded her of our conversations and what we are both seeing in the next generation of leaders ... after watching it, I couldn't agree with her more ... I wanted to share it with each of you especially after all of our long conversations about living your passion ... your passion to make a difference in the world ... It so filled my heart with joy to have had so much time with each of you who are making big changes in your lives in order to fulfill your purpose ... your Divine calling ... I want you to know that I believe in you and saw this very same quality in each of you during our many discussions ... the "old & false" powers to be are now beginning to fall away in great numbers ... the world is awaking up in masses now ... each of you will be called to step into a leadership role and to serve with a new kind of leadership ... a leadership that serves instead of takes ... in each generation, few will choose the path of true leadership that is why it feels lonely at times ... please know that we are here for you when you need encouragement to keep going and to live into your best self ...  when I was your age that is what I did ... I focussed on serving and in return the universe served and cared for me in a way that I could have never imagined ... you will be successful but not because you were focussed on making money ... that is old thinking and will not work going forward ... it is when you serve that the riches really roll in ... you are ready and I couldn't be happier to know you and to be in full support of each of you ... it is your time to fly and fly high ... the world needs what you have to offer so don't stop now ... make the changes that need to be made and go for it ... I am cheering you on very step of the way!

Also, a special message of thanks to the special light workers of the "older" generation that not only served greatly but are now encouraging and supporting the next generation to grow and be all that they can be during this time of great change ... Many blessings to all of you who are helping to pave the way for our future leaders ... they can't do it without you and we can't do it without them ... beautiful team work!

Here's to our success!  
Many blessings of Love, Light & Joy,

WOW!! Thank you! I am honored and humbled. 

So don't ever give up on your dreams or change your definition of success to fits someone else's mold. 
We all see the world a different way, that's what makes it so beautiful - il mondo è bello perchè è vario What is you personal definition of success? Share it in the comments below! 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Contemporary Florence - An Interview with Christine Dickert

Some of you may remember a few months back I began an interview series focusing on contemporary artists, designers and artisans currently living and working here in Florence. Well, I am now back with more amazing talent and inspiration.

As an artist and designer one of the most important influences for me are other artists and designers. I believe that having a community of like-minded people who share  the same ideas and passions is essential to creativity. Art in its many forms is a language and I am continually fascinated by the message that other artists aim to communicate though their work. 

The ideas of the Renaissance masters was not to continue repeating the same ideas and methods but rather to continue pushing forward and create the new and unexpected and to challenge the perception of what art is.  Contemporary art aims to push the boundaries of these accepted ideas and move away from the past to create the present.  With this in mind,  I will be re-commencing a series of interviews here on my blog to highlight the artists, designers and creative minds of present day Florence.  
Christine's beautiful photo of Ponte Santa Trinita` taken from the Ponte Vecchio
In conjunction with our facebook group Creative People in Florence, I will be conducting a series of interviews with our group members. In the coming months I hope to be able to interview each member who is currently living in Florence as a way of highlighting their wide range of talents. The questions will be exactly the same for each artist/designer and creative person, what is fascinating are the similarities as well as the differences in the answers. 

To re-launch this series I have exchanged interviews with the fabulous, beautiful and incredibly charming Southern Belle, and newly wed, I might add, Christine Dickert. 

I had the enormous pleasure of working with Christine on the Amerigo & America art show last May and as a result she has become a wonderful friend. One of the things I admire most about Christine is her honesty, kindness and genuinely positive outlook. She always has a smile on her face and simply lights up the room! I hope you enjoy getting to know a little bit about her! You can also check out her blog Ciao Christy!

Tell us a little bit about yourself:  I was born & raised in Atlanta Georgia, then studied Art History & Studio Art at the University of Georgia in Athens. After my semester abroad in Cortona, Italy in 1998 through the art program at UGA, I fell in love with Italy. After my experience studying abroad I knew one day I would move here, it just took a little longer than expected. Fast forward to 2009, I had been working for the same company in Atlanta and was feeling run down, un-motivated and determined to make my dream come true. I packed up 2 suitcases and my cat Abby, and headed to Florence, Italy. 6 weeks after arrival I met my Southern Italian husband for the time first time here in Florence, 8 months later we had our first “official” date, 2 years after that we are happily married.

What type of art/design or other creative process do you use?
I love art history but my passion is photography.

Why did you choose Florence or did Florence choose you?
I chose Florence after many months of pondering if I was going to move to Rome. I read so many wonderful things about the expat community here, so decided I would try Florence first, then once I got my feet on the ground – would eventually move to Rome. I never moved to Rome – but married a Roman instead!

What is your favorite thing/place/sight in the city or all of the above?
Taking long walks along the Arno River at sunset. I love the way the sky & light changes the colors of the buildings and the reflection of the waters. Everyday is different, everyday is special. I believe that the architecture never changes here, but the sky does – and the combination of the two is what makes Florence so beautiful.
A stunning shot of San Frediano by Christine Dickert

Was there a defining moment when you knew that you wanted to be an artist? If so when and what was it?  Growing up, my grandmother and namesake Christine Jones was an oil painter. I remember admiring & and wanting to be like her ever since I can remember.

What or who is your greatest inspiration and why?  People that always see the positive in any situation, and always take the high road. People that no matter the circumstances see the good in others & what they do.  

What is the best thing about being an artist? What is the most difficult part?
The best thing about being an artist is the free expression you have within yourself and how you relate to others. The most difficult part is making a solid living from it.

What message do you hope to convey with your art/creative process?  
I hope that most of my photos convey solitude, peace and comfort.

What is art/design to you? How would you define art?  I believe that art is in everything, it is everywhere around us. We see it, breathe it, live by it. Creativity is unending! When I look out my window at the buildings, the rooftops, the details, it’s all so beautiful – and someone created that. Just like I see things happening and reach for my camera, or how a painter paints on a huge canvas. Something comes from inside you to be creative. 

Do you listen to music when you work? If so who or what?  Absolutely! Usually its sad music though, but I love it and it relaxes me.

If you could go back in time 10 years knowing everything that you know now what would you change and why? Or what would you tell yourself? I would of stopped worrying so much about things that at the end of the day didn’t matter. I would have been more curious, adventurous (earlier) and spontaneous. Living in Italy has taught me how to live for the moment and not take life for granted. 
How have your two cultures affected your work? Interestingly, now when I go back to the United States I see nature, buildings, people, everything around me in a different way. When I grew up there, I just moved through the motions and never noticed all the beautiful details around me. After living in Italy and learning about the culture here, I appreciate so many things more about where I come from. I see beauty in both – but in different ways. Being able to capture that on film is a challenge though, one I continue to work on.  

Who is your favorite artist/designer/writer/performer? My grandmother Christine Jones for her never ending love of art and painting, a true inspiration for me. Photographers Robert Mapplethorpe, Steven Klein and Annie Leibovitz.  Architect Renzo Piano.

What is your favorite movie? Le fille sur le pont (The Girl on a Bridge)

What is your favorite book? I am a novel junkie so too many to name. I loved all the Girl with a Dragon Tattoo series. Lisbeth Salander is my hero.

Describe yourself in five words. Friendly, funny, committed, trustworthy, travel junkie

The Rape of the Sabines - Photo by Christine Dickert
When you’re not being creative what do you do? I practice ashtanga Yoga. I love it. Thankfully discovered this beautiful art form while living in Florence, and it has completely transformed my mind, body & soul. I also travel, a lot. I feel like I never know where I am going to be next week – which is a good thing!

If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be? Southeast Asia. I am churning to visit Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

Is there anything else that you want people to know about you? Always believe in yourself, anything in life is possible. I work hard and stay committed but also realize that God has a bigger plan for each of us, so learning to go with the flow is liberating!


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Girls Night at Soul Kitchen

somebody was having fun with the signage!
Of course it doesn't happens often enough but every once in a while a night out with your girls is absolutely necessary. We're always up for trying out new spots in the city so last night we hit up Soul Kitchen on Via dei Benci for aperitivo. A super chic and lively spot with a great spread. They've got a an extensive cocktail and wine list in a hip and funky atmosphere. The music was good too. A little disco here and there a live John Mayer mix and of course some soul was what they had going on last night. There is also a great little downstairs 'den' to hang out on cold winter nights! We ate, we drank, and we were merry. €7 for a drink and all you can eat buffet starting at 19:00. It was very much needed, we'll definitely be back..       

You can find Soul Kitchen Via dei Benci, 34R in the Santa Croce zona you can also get updates on their Facebook fan page. 

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