kate&frances is on an exploratory trip.

A trip that with 2.5 days left, has left me inspired, motivated, exhausted (in a good way!), reconnected and even more curious than ever.

I feel like I should be overwhelmed.  But I’m not.  I’m doing just good.  And it’s this quiet calm in the pit of my stomach that grounds me.    And to feed that quiet calm, I know the right ingredients.

Yoga. Water. Connection. Curiosity. Breath.

And these are not in any specific order and yes, I know I missed food off my list, but, it’s almost secondary.

The Harlem Flophouse : my quiet nook in a sometimes overwhelming city.

I found myself a quiet little nook in the heart of Harlem, that at the busiest of times, I can hear the subway in the distance, a dog barking, and the occasional siren (funny, but the police station is only 1.5 blocks away!).

The floor boards squeak in the hallway and I can hear the pipes and the house cat, although I’ve yet to actually see her.

This is where I can breath.

We had rain the other day and it was amazing to just sit and listen and watch the leaves on the tree outside my window turn from a matt green, to a glowing, glistening, luscious green.

This is just one form of water that keeps me going.

From this space, a 9 minute walk gets me to my yoga studio.  5 minutes to the subway station. 5 minutes in the opposite direction, where I can get melt-in-your-mouth ribs.

Sunday morning in Harlem. Wandering after an early morning yoga class.

Yoga. 

Yoga can be in a class, in a clean and spacious studio, but it can also be when I close my eyes on the subway and just be or walking around the block, breathing in all the sights and sounds.

When I was looking for a place to stay in this city, I asked a friend who had recently moved here for recommendations and her question to me was, ‘What do you want to experience?’

And in this city, you can experience so much.  And I wanted to know if this city was for me.  I wanted to live and to just be a local.  I don’t want to be a tourist.

One of the biggest things that I love about this city, is that no one is bothered by my accent.  There is no tilting of the head, and a scrunching of the forehead as they try to decipher what I am saying.  It surprised me at first, as I didn’t need to repeat myself, or find other words that didn’t have such a Kiwi slant to them.  I can talk at my normal speed and not have to slow down.

And when you have a conversation with people, they are genuinely interested.  It makes me feel heard, and seen, and acknowledged.  

And the people themselves. I’ve meet nothing but goodness.  Nothing but friendliness and openness.  I’ve had great conversations with random people in the subway, in bars and stores.  And incredible conversations with friends and family.

This is variations of connection.

I’ve sat and watched skateboarders, of all ages, filming each other and doing the same tricks over and over again to get the perfect shot, the right angle, the correct technique.

Walking through Chelsea and Greenwich.

I walked with the tourists over Brooklyn Bridge in the late Summer sun, as they took their selfies, bought their $1 souvenirs and walked through the bike lane.  (Vancouver cyclists have got nothing on NYC cyclists!)

I’ve walked through stores where I can imagine kate&frances sitting alongside other NYC labels and it makes me happy.  This quiet calm grows.

This is where my curiosity is peaked.

Fashion is not just about what you wear, or how you wear it or what brands you wear.

An incredible indigo dyed vintage Kimono.

Fashion is of course, all of that, but there is something else. Something that is uniquely your own. 

It is your identity in a sea of people.  It is your personal style. 

It is your self expression.

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