Chapter 1 - Magical Realism

Magical Realism - “a style of writing, films, art, etc. that mostly represents life as it really is but with some events or features that are magical or supernatural.”


The account that follows is real. I’ll be the first to say that this is an implausible story; the characters are strange, the timing is too perfect, the coincidences are striking, and it has a slightly supernatural air to it. To put it simply, the past year has felt a lot like magical realism. Time has slowed yet sped up. I’ve learned so much, yet I feel like I know less. What were once banal moments of day-to-day life are now steeped in intrigue. Doors I didn’t know existed are being thrown open in front of me and the vision of a rascally Cheshire Cat is feverishly waving me through. Let’s begin.

Fourteen months ago, I found myself living in a mistake, which happens to all of us. One error leads to another until you find yourself living a reality that, all in all, feels like one big mistake. 

I left Kansas City, a place I had grown into an adult and artist over 10 years and moved across the country. If you asked me then why I did it, I’d have probably said something like “I'm ready to take my art to a new place and live somewhere beautiful!” Looking back on it now, I know I moved because I was running away from my problems and thought a new beautiful new place would ‘fix’ all the kinks in my life. Anyway, it was a mistake.

This mistake cost me lots of time, effort, money, and emotional capital - this level of investment is what makes a mistake look like something that you can't go back on. I now know this line of thinking has a name, the sunk cost fallacy. The phenomenon whereby a person is unwilling to abandon a strategy or course of action because they have heavily invested in it, even when it is obvious that abandonment would be more beneficial, is known as the sunk cost fallacy.

Understanding where time and energy are best spent is a critical component of navigating this world, particularly as an entrepreneur. The knowledge of discerning when and where those resources should be spent are sometimes only realized by looking at where we’ve already been. Sometimes you realize that the place where you spent all your resources was never something you should have done to begin with, and cutting that off is very, very hard.

Fortunately, I was able to take advantage of an opportunity that would free me from my bad circumstances and give me more time to consider my future goals. Lucky for me, I seized the opportunity, which in retrospect, I realistically may have not taken, had I not endured this hardship.

What is the one thing that can remove you from your current situation and give you time to reflect? Travel! I could devote the rest of this story in its entirety to going over how good travel is for you and it wouldn’t be enough. There is no dollar amount you can put on the value of exposing yourself to people, places and ways of life that are different from your own. Seeing other parts of the world firsthand - walking, smelling, tasting, and hearing the foreign, will do beautiful things to your imagination and worldview.

I chose to travel to Cremona, Italy for a ten-day artist residency with nine other talented artists from around the world. Looking back, I had no idea, the impact this decision would have on my future.

The artist residency was my first time traveling abroad, so on top of this super exciting opportunity, there was the added electricity of doing something new for the first time. Almost immediately into my journey, magical realism struck. While delayed on the tarmac in Munich (on the way to Milan), the person seated next to me turned out to be an extraordinary jewelry designer also on her way to Milan! We chatted the whole trip and on arrival she took me under her wing, introduced me to her favorite gelato shop and helped me find my train!

We need tiny spressy cups in USA!

After checking into my room, I decided to meet up with Genevieve, one of the other residents, for dinner. Genevieve is the sweetest ball of Australian energy, and we’ve since become good friends – which has subsequently led to more European adventures together! How’s this for magical realism? Upon our first meeting – I pulled out my phone at dinner (which has this odd, but beautiful hand-made case-

The artist who made my phone case, Bailey Hikawa (check them out!), was the reason I found out about the residency and applied. Turns out, Genevieve also found out about the residency from the maker of my phone case. So there we are at dinner in Milan, with this bizarre art talisman sitting between us on the table, that drew us both together in that particular moment in time from across the planet!

During dinner I found out that my dearest college friend who I hadn’t seen in years was in Milan for the next 12 hours. We made plans to link up the following morning where we had the sweetest reunion and talked about him working through his breakup. This again played into magical realism - because as I helped him work through his breakup, I knew that I too was preparing to work through my own. My conversation with him turned out to be a powerful tool for me in the future. I sent my friend on his way and had such hope for my future, having started this adventure with nothing but good vibes and positivity. The rest of the day I spent having my mind blown at the Triennale museum and sipping Aperol Spritz with Genevieve and Mike, another resident.

The next day we arrived at the Milano Centrale train station and were joined by another resident, Jules. Coming from America, where public transportation is generally lacking, the Milano Centrale really moved me. The fact that such a beautiful thing could be devoted to the quality transportation of ordinary people opened my eyes to the way things could and should be. I was so moved in fact, that a grate pressed into the floor of the station inspired one of my pieces in my last collection called Milano Centrale Earrings.

We embarked from that fairy tale train station, and I was officially on my way to the residency.

Immediately on arrival in Cremona we were greeted by the organizer of the residency, Alex. Each of us received a huge warm hug from him, the sort you'd give to a long-lost family member. Being treated like that on my arrival set the tone for the rest of the residency. This was a big learning moment for me in my life - I learned how positivity, warmth, generosity, curiosity, and kindness could make even the traveling TO THE ADVENTURE, an amazing adventure in and of itself. I was going to learn a whole lot more in the days to come.