Like It or Not — It Inspires Us

 Stay with me, I hope you’ll “like” what I have to say…

Summer is always a special time for families and our summer proved to be quite special and even transformative. 

I spent part of my summer fulfilling my idea of an “American Gypsy Road Trip” with my husband John and teenage daughter Elle. There were no reservations at fancy hotels, in fact, no reservation at all. Just lots of places I wanted my daughter to see, to experience! Those, perhaps, less traveled. Some we’d visited when Elle was very young, but most were a first for at least one of us.

There was the natural beauty of Cumberland Island, Georgia, with wild horses, breathtaking old Oak forests and even Manatees. There was South Carolina, North Carolina, white water rafting in Tennessee and the powerful, if not overwhelming, visit the Legacy Museum and the Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. There was Iowa (where we happened on our first-ever Iowa caucus), lots of beautiful cornfields, vintage shopping and wineries (who knew)! Minneapolis fulfilled fun talks about why Mary Tyler Moore was an early hero of mine. Then there was The Sea Caves of the Apostle Islands off the coast of Wisconsin, jumping off 20 feet high rocks into Lake Superior in Presque Isle along the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, bike rides on Mackinac Island, a return visit to one of my favorite little towns, Harbor Spring, MI, shopping and ice cream in Traverse City, a serendipitous side trip to meet an amazing artist at her studio in Detroit (more about that later). From there we found ourselves at The Toledo Museum of Art – now one of our favorite art museums in the country! Then, onto some great late-night Irish fare in South Bend and a visit to Notre Dame. Our summer road trip ended in Chicago, visiting The Obama Foundation, the breathtaking campus of the University of Chicago, great food and time with relatives.  

Mostly, this road trip was about time together. Time to be unplugged, together. Time to be in the moment, authentic, unscheduled, to enjoy the beauty of our own country, its immensely diverse topography, unique cultures, and sometimes horrific past. It was about reconnecting with what really matters in a world of social media and “influencers”. A world I am increasingly concerned might be losing its ability to see true beauty, a world where everything from art to literature, design to human (aesthetics) is defined and ultimately diluted by what a select few are deciding for all of us. 

We talked, we looked out to every city, every landscape and every community in awe, we laughed, and we cried. We all came back with a renewed sense of energy, a connection to each other and to our place in this crazy world!

I felt inspired while traveling, grounded, I guess. I felt a real need to reflect on what we all do every day – I wondered if we weren’t all becoming sheep, blindly following the “trends” set by “influencers”, “liking”, being “liked”, a world where we can connect with thousands, if not millions of individual human beings on a daily basis and yet, what are we saying to each other? It seems odd, wasteful, unconnected.

I wondered how when we can choose to virtually connect with anyone in the world, ANYONE, 146 million people choose Kim Kardashian and 1.6 million choose 

Dalia Lama!

I’m not sure I have an answer, but I have some ideas, ideas of how I might personally enjoy this connection that social media affords us, this journey. For me, it is about authentically connecting with people. It’s for using any platform we have to shine a little light on what we find beautiful or perhaps provocative, whether that’s art, design, architecture, nature, beauty, literature, etc. – by connecting it to others – knowing the person behind the “post” - isn’t that the point? Isn’t that how we connect?

Our own little artist colony here at benton buckley books, is excited to shift our own social media efforts to include, of course, our own accomplishments and personal moments we love to share but also what inspires us and the “real” people behind that inspiration. These featured inspirations will be posted on our blog and Instagram, where we all seem to be hanging out right now.

There is no schedule, no marketing strategy, no fees associated, just authentic moments, authentic work by real people – that inspires us!

So, look for our little, authentic, “Like It or Not—It Inspires Us” series soon, featuring the aforementioned Detroit artist, Linda Ward who I began following several months ago. There was just something about her, her work had this soothing pallet and yet had an edge. Her portrait series seemed reminiscent of Matisse, even Picasso-like with a modern sensibility and an honest delivery. We can’t wait to share our interview with the artist behind the post, Linda Ward, in the following days! Because, like it or not, it inspires us.