Recently I moved back to Lakeland, the city where I grew up. It has always been a quiet and simple place, with beautiful lakes that reflect the sunset perfectly. After almost 8 years of living in a different city, I am noticing how this place has grown into a hub of unique and charming artistry. Everything is both different and the same and I’ve had the honor to re-explore this place with one of my day one sisters: Gillian.
From Pre-K to post-grad, Gillian has always been someone that I've admired. We shared humble beginnings eating fruit-roll ups and ramen, filming talk shows, dressing up in extravagant costumes (on the regular), learning dances and making music videos, writing dozens of song parodies, and eating Wendys on long road trips. Her ability to go from a choreographer to a lyricist to a director taught me how to tap into my own imagination and push myself outside of my comfort zone (even though I still constantly looked to her to figure out what was cool!)
Now, she’s still explorative and fun as she works as an unbelievable mural artist with the finesse to transform and highlight spaces. Detail and precision are displayed through colorful butterflies, twisting florals, and striking patterns painted on walls and tapestries and canvases. Gillian’s bravery has shown through her openness, her pursuit to develop and hone her skills, and especially in her ability to stand on giant cranes while she paints (seriously, how??!).
Even though her natural talent was clear even from our Kindergarten art class, she’s continued to be welcoming and non-judgmental to the people she’s around. She is genuinely the life of the party and probably one of the easiest people to talk to! Gillian just seems to radiate a joy that touches her family, friends, clients, and even the people that pass by and stop to watch her paint. But it also stands out to me that she really listens. It is cool to hear her retell the stories of the strangers that have stopped to admire her work. It doesn’t really matter who someone is, she just seems to accept them in.
Gillian told me that one of her goals early-on was to combine human-made compositions with God-made, natural designs. Her craft displays this harmony beautifully. But I also think that she inspires the people she meets to find balance through her ability to help others feel seen, important, and connected to deeper parts of themselves. Gillian will always hold a really special place in my heart; I feel honored to have experienced so many defining moments together already. Love you always Bug.