Feeding My Wanderlust, Finding Inspiration in Unlikely Places, and Catching my Breath in Kent, Ohio.

I struggle with seeing the big picture. While I have all the pieces to the puzzle, I have no idea what it actually looks like. It's like having answers to questions I haven't even considered asking. Grazing and breaking things down on a macro level makes more sense for something like me; so I invite you to slow down and stay awhile. These stories were meant to be consumed in delicate sips, like a cup of hot mulled cider (or coffee, tea, cocoa, etc.) on an early autumn evening while you savor the final moments of daylight. So don't you dare think about skimming this over in-between traffic lights and stop signs on your commute home, either (yeah, I see you).


Part One: Feeding My Wanderlust

For the last roughly 20 years, I've found myself interested in Japanese art, landscapes, architecture and culture. So, here's my manifestation that a trip to Tokyo is happening for me soon. I'm eager to follow the smell of cherry blossoms through Japanese tea gardens, passing by a sea of vibrant and breathtaking colors, and being greeted at the feet of temples by stone guard dogs. I look forward to visiting the iconic Harajuku district, where fashion is encouraged to defy close-minded social norms of minimalist monochromatic clothing choices. Until then, a visit to the Cleveland Zoo's Asian Lantern Festival will have to do and serve as my personal vision board of this dream soon coming true. Where do you want your feet to take you?


Part Two: Finding Inspiration in Unlikely Places

Growing up, little me enjoyed flipping through fashion and beauty magazines like Teen Vogue, Allure, Nylon, and Seventeen. I found myself captivated by the striking editorial photography and cover spreads; even the advertisements for cosmetics and accessories were too iconic not to fall head over heels in love with. Those magazine pages found their way being ripped out and plastered to the walls of my bedroom (whether at home in Youngstown or my dorm at Cleveland State), becoming my own personal wallpaper/a life-size vision board. I have a deep appreciation for fashion, which I think began as a kid attending auctions and visiting antique shops with my mom. I still love watching reruns of Sex And The City, The Hills and America's Next Top Model, soaking up some of the most iconic fashion moments of the early 2000s. Aside from the "obvious" choices, who or what inspires you?


Part Three: Catching My Breath in Kent, Ohio

Over a mug of iced coffee, surrounded by tiny details that begged to be collected in a photograph, I enjoyed the company of a friendly service dog, Reggio, and his owner Angie Haze, who will be releasing a new album this fall and is in need of new portraits. Last Exit Book Store and Coffeehouse had the quirky small-town charm that tugs at my heartstrings, having grown up visiting the quiet seaside town of Southport, NC where my grandparents lived. Local coffee shops aren't hard to come by these days, but I'm the kind of gal who likes a place that feels like a quiet escape though you're never truly alone (ahh, the benefits of life in a college town). After parting ways, I headed to the coolest new space called Bar Lucci which has a modern art gallery feel and the most delicious cocktails. I sipped on cucumber gimlets and hung out with familiar faces before catching SexyPigDivas! and Trash Mountain perform.

A couple weeks later I found myself reuniting with old friends at The Zephyr Pub. While drinking Modern Methods' Swim Trunks, I caught up with Westside Bowl regulars as well as the members of We (formerly We The Creature) and Rebreather before both bands played for an impressive crowd of hipsters, punks, weirdos, and more. Add that to another perk of life in a college town - no matter where you go, you're going to fit in somewhere. I've found college aged kids are exceptionally more inclusive and willing to color outside the lines; and who could blame them? Maybe we could learn a thing or two from them - be bolder, meet new people, visit places you've not yet been, drink fancy cocktails or lattes, read books and ask questions, and just do the dang thing without caring if you look weird. We're all weird and human and imperfect, so to heck with the rules. All bet's are off, embrace chaos.

All photos captured by Mollie Crowe. Copyright © 2022 Little Blackbird Photo LLC. All Rights Reserved.