Today I’m chatting with Rina Rose, a visual storyteller from just outside Philadelphia who has a passion for creating spaces – metaphorical, digital and physical. Rina’s lifelong romance with aesthetics stemmed from her first memory of her grandmother’s altar space: the smoky scent of jasmine incense, the humming rhythm of chanting, and the gleaming gold buddhas arranged in symmetry. As a creative sensitive woman she reads the ambient details of her environment as the foreground of her experience, and she strives to translate the same essence in her photographs and her work as a brand & website designer.

Before Rina could speak a word, she drew and scribbled her own imaginary language. Her life was filled with folk tales, old world cooking, and beauty from her grandmother, a storyteller and mystic, and her grandfather, an artist and gardener. Her deepest joy came from sketching ball gowns, creating backdrops with blankets, and transforming her sister’s face with makeup from her mother’s work as a Shiseido beauty consultant. Rina’s idyllic childhood was soon confronted with the harsh realities of the adult world, and slowly and steadily, she started to hide as she blended into external roles.

Creativity was deeply intrinsic to Rina’s identity that quitting art in middle school was the biggest heartbreak of her life. It wasn’t until her early 20s that she returned to her art. She sought the conventional world for her “thing,” like her hair was on fire, which led her to experiment with 35+ jobs and 7 major changes. Feeling like a complete failure as a social chameleon, she threw herself into blogging and branding to create a space for her authentic expression, a world where she and her art could exist wholeheartedly.

The journey led her somewhere she wasn’t expecting. It was a soul search for meaning. As she healed and came into wholeness, she saw the world anew, found the through-line woven in her work, and intimately captured her life through photography. She became a minimalist in the process and traveled across continents as a digital nomad.

Today, she works from home in a small town outside of Philadelphia as a brand stylist & website designer for creative sensitive women and lover brands. She’s also enrolled in an in-depth psychic training with the intention to help creative women become more fully expressed. When Rina’s not working, she’s hand-lettering, arranging still life sets, and taking her inner child on artist dates. She’s obsessed with perfume and Old Hollywood.

Enjoy our ramble through the fairytale The Ugly Duckling as well as Rina’s relationship with her body and creativity.

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Things we chatted about in this episode:

  • the fairytale The Ugly Duckling
  • On being called that as a child
  • feeling misplaced growing up
  • being a child of immigrants in the USA
  • now, as an adult, having the story feel really relevant in a different way
  • the story of a wanderer
  • finding oneself in different scenarios, shapeshifting into roles, fitting other people’s needs
  • going into the wilderness, being lonely but more comfort in who she is
  • finally seeing her reflection, finding her swan family
  • how the swan will probably always feel different because of her experiences
  • on being a thrill seeker in her 20s – chasing and seeking and looking to find a place to fit in
  • all the wanderings became raw material – just sitting with the material and being intentional about creativity
  • how working online and being self-employed working from home can feel like the wilderness – it’s an untethered wild sort of space – sometimes lonely but also freeing and comforting to stand alone
  • when setting out on your own kindness shows up – many kindness on the internet
  • relationship with creativity
  • on how sometimes procrastination can work in your favour
  • on being multi-passionate in her creativity
  • photography, writing, client work – they’re all different relationships with creativity
  • creativity feeds her in a way she needs to be nourished
  • sitting with the question of how all the pieces fit together
  • on having an existential crisis (10 years ago) and the stuckness of that place brought about her photography practice – which is about finding the little moments of daily beauty and appreciating what is
  • photography for Rina is about seeing ‘little accidents’
  • on having to slow down, stop being a workaholic, transitioning into a different lifestyle and seeing the world differently – photography became that embodiment
  • how writing became a world where she could be all of herself, and share all of herself and her process
  • client work is where she creates spaces for them and their audiences
  • how being angry was a guidepost to knowing she was out of integrity with herself
  • did a blogging project: 365 days to transformation – grew an audience unexpectedly, and into a community for the last 10 years, all online
  • how being online is getting wild and polarizing – seeking out private online communities more these days
  • relationship with body
  • On telling her body she loves it so much
  • how that’s a newish thing – really cherishes her body
  • it’s how she moves through the world, how she processes, connects, has it as a vessel for her creativity, the way she receives information as a highly sensitive person
  • how learning her traits deeper and doing a psychic training connecting her more deeply to her body – how all of that helps with loving and mothering and parenting herself
  • how being more in right relationship with herself means she can respect her body and it’s needs better
  • embracing how being soft is not a weakness, connecting with a softer gentler part of herself
  • on owning your own Ugly Duckling story and standing fierce in who you are