The standard understanding of this phrase is along the lines of doing whatever the current thing is or where the current takes you, not being oppositional or confrontational, going with whatever comes your way and potentially even traveling the path of least resistance. While I believe there is a time and season for this way of thinking, going with the Flo has taken on a different meaning for me.
Flo or Florence, the 1978 VW transporter, came to me from a couple down in South Carolina. Before them, a girl had her down in Florida and before her, Flo sat in a yard for many years. The journey she alone has taken is something I am so excited to be a part of. The couple I purchased her from used her often for camping trips and she was dearly but needed to be sold to help pay for their downpayment on their construction of their dream home. Here is Dana and her husband Houston ( aren’t they adorable!?).
The bus used to be named Caroline but when I bought her I changed her name to Florence, Flo for short. I wanted a classic name and it was also the name of my great grandmother who was a teacher. I knew that I would use the bus to teach others so it just seemed like the perfect name. She is the physical evidence of so many of my dreams coming true. We used to have a VW bus named Monro but tragically lost him to a fire. Ever since we lost him I wanted another bus but it wasn’t the right time for our family. The theme of my senior thesis in college was called Art Across Borders and was the story of how I traveled to 4 countries in 4 years and did various kinds of creative work and grew a passion for creative outlets for people especially kids. When I decided to make that title the name of my passion project after graduation, I knew that it had to become a mobile project, and knew that I wanted my own VW bus. Adapting the title of my thesis to a business was easy. Not only was art going to cross borders within people’s hearts and minds but I wanted to take a creative outlet across borders within my community, the state, and hopefully the country! When my dreaming turned to planning and my plans became a reality with Flo coming into my life, the phrase “go with the flow” now became “go with the Flo.” This for me now means go with your heart, your gut, your passion, even if that’s against the current. Flo has become a symbol in my life of what rebirth, adventure, dreaming big and working hard looks like. This is why I now have her tattooed on my arm and why I am having “go with the Flo” printed on everything. To remind myself and others that we can do hard things! Peace and love my dear friends and remember to “go with the Flo.”
Yesterday was my 25th birthday! It was a rainy day in New Jersey which made it the perfect reflecting weather. The past 5 years of birthdays have been really incredible and I am so blessed and thankful for all of the adventures each year brings. On my 21st birthday I was called by Art Feeds in Joplin Missouri and was informed that I had been accepted into their internship program for the summer (life changing internship btw). On my 22nd birthday I graduated college with a degree in Fine Art (missing that place and those people!). On my 23rd birthday, Flo was delivered to me from a family in South Carolina and my vision for Art Across Borders started to take shape. On my 24th birthday, Flo was road worthy enough to make a steep trek up to the camp site I rented for my birthday party and we celebrated with food, a fire, amazing cake, and so so much laughter. This year, I had a lovely brunch with my best friend, spent the afternoon looking at art and shopping, resting, dreaming, and had a wonderful dinner prepared by my love.
It’s hard to believe I’ve lived a quarter of a century. So many amazing people are in my life that have helped shape me into who I am today. I’ve traveled far, eaten well, laughed hard, cried, fallen, gotten back up, tried, failed, succeeded, and loved. Three years ago, having graduated college, I embarked on the most daunting adventure yet. Living life post grad. After having every year laid out for you by the measure of what year you were in school, life after 16 consecutive years of schooling is truly uncharted territory. I don’t miss writing paper but I do miss the studio with fellow art majors. I don’t miss finals but I miss the wee hours of the night finishing a project before it was due. Rebuilding a community has been one of the hardest challenges living post grad, but slowly and surely I am meeting more of my tribe in my local community. It’s these introductions, connections, and conversations that truly give me hope that I am where I am supposed to be right now in life. One of the biggest lessons I have learned over these past few years is that life is full of surprises and you have to make the most of every situation. I love working hard and hustling to make my dreams a reality, but I am constantly surprised by situations. Some have been incredibly awful, but even in those times there have been silver linings. Some have been incredible beyond anything I could have planned or dreamed. I have been so blessed with an incredibly supportive family that lets me be their “artist in residence” in our home and am so thankful for technology that helps me keep in touch with all of my people across the globe. Life truly is what you make it and it has taken a village to help me make this beautiful life of mine. Thank you dear friends and family. Cheers to another spin around the sun.