Love Letter to Brooklyn

Today I was near Fulton Mall and wanted to share a few photos with you.  That place is in the heart of downtown Brooklyn, and it’s hopping with people out workin’ hard to do their thing & get noticed.  I have a big heart for anyone out trying to accomplish something.

For the first time I saw “Love Letter to Brooklyn“, a street art installation by renowned graffiti artist, Stephen Powers (formerly known by his tag name, ESPO).  He has written poetry all over the vintage garage at Macy’s.  I loved it.

Stephen used to be a graffiti artist on the street, but now gets paid for his art work.  I think so many people living in New York are hoping for that very thing – – they want to get paid for what they love to do & they’re working their butts off to make it happen.  Even I came to Brooklyn (a small town girl from Mesa, AZ) with no job and no money & have tried to make something of myself here.   


    Above photos by Abbie Fentress Swanson/WNYC

Not long after seeing the graffiti, I ran into these super nice guys out following their dreams….

 This guy put together this CD and was selling them.  He had the biggest smile ever when I told him I liked hip hop.  I asked if I could take a photo and he was as proud as could be.

    This guy was selling “Louis Vuitton” belts out of his bag.  I told him I didn’t need a belt but wanted to know where I could get a gold grill.  He smiled big and pointed me to this store window.  I wonder how many guys are hoping they are getting gold & diamonds for Valentine’s Day…  🙂

What big dreams have you had in your life?  Have you accomplished them?  Does it feel as good as you planned?  (And if you haven’t accomplished them yet, do you still long to do them?)

P.S.  On another note…..Shake Shack (one of NY’s beloved burger/shake joints) has arrived to Fulton Mall.  It is the biggest Shake Shack I’ve seen…..and the place was PACKED.  

And I think these colored belts may have some potential in my wardrobe.  

Get The About Love Experience


  1. Janine February 2, 2012 at 8:55 am - Reply

    What am i doing awake at this terrible hour? My baby has been sick all week and just when we thought it was over, she woke up at 2am gagging. I'm waiting for my husband as he rocks her to sleep again. You make me wish I lived in new York. Can you send me some of those colorful belts? Haha. I posted your story on my blog today. Thanks for participating.

  2. Sara February 2, 2012 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    Colorful belts are my favorite, Mara! I'm heading out this weekend to do some outlet shopping and I plan on picking up a few new ones!

  3. Natalie February 2, 2012 at 4:40 pm - Reply

    Brooklyn is absolutely one of my most favorite places! I have spent so much time there (My dad works a block south of the Shake Shack! – and yes, the line is ALWAYS out the door…) and it is so full of vibrancy and liveliness. I loved walking around Fulton St.

    And on the topic of trying to make it big, it is inspiring to think that you don't have to be in NYC to live your dreams. Just start small wherever you are and take it step by step.

  4. Anonymous February 2, 2012 at 5:14 pm - Reply

    I want to live in New York so bad, and always have I am a city girl at heart but so many have only negative things to say about it…. What is is really like to live there? Are people really not friendly and is it as hard of a place to raise a family as people think? If I were following my dreams utterly to my core I'd be living in New York…or should I say what I think "New York" is like in my head (because I have not yet had a chance to even visit), is it really as magical of a place as I am imagining?

    • mara February 2, 2012 at 5:40 pm - Reply

      New York is both full of magic and pain all at the same time. But I think that's a combination that makes people bond with this place & have a deep love for it. I think it's like parenting – – it's hard, hard work…but the magical moments (the people, diversity, culture, food, experiences,events, parks, scenery) make it all worth it. So — living here is a physically demanding lifestyle…you walk to/from grocery stores, you carry kids up and down stairs, you walk through the elements whether it is rain, blazing sun + humidity, or a blizzard. Many, many things are not convenient (laundry,dishes,shopping,trash,transportation,parking). The hours in the day just evaporate as things take much longer to do here. And space is always an issue. AND, of course, everything costs SO much here! BUT, there are lots of job opportunities, the parks are amazing, the arts & cultural/musical events are off the charts, the people are GREAT! (If people seem unfriendly, I think it's just cause they're in a hurry.) The food is off the charts and the creativity happening all around you is really inspiring & exciting. A few families I know have stuck it out here. But I must say, most end up leaving after child #2 or #3. (Unless they have a full brownstone w/ parking and a backyard 🙂 But some come here for just a year or two – and still leave with an incredible love for New York.

  5. Creole Wisdom February 2, 2012 at 5:23 pm - Reply

    Love it and love that you like grills, too. What is it about them? They are great. Anyway, love that you take photos of random people. I'm always too scared to ask (and I take photos for a living.) Time to not be scared. If you can do it in Brooklyn I think I can do it in Minnesota 🙂

    • mara February 2, 2012 at 5:44 pm - Reply

      Yes! Ask people! Yesterday was really the first time I had done that…I actually took many more photos of people…and they were all really happy I had asked. I think it helps to give them a compliment and just say – "I love what you're doing" or "Dang, you look so good, can I take a photo?" They'll love it.

  6. Dominique February 2, 2012 at 7:00 pm - Reply

    I'm trying hard to imagine what you're going to do with a gold grill. Great photos. Love the street art, especially, "I was nurtured here." That describes Brooklyn perfectly for me.

  7. Diana Amy February 2, 2012 at 10:40 pm - Reply

    Okay, two very important (not really) things: have you checked out ? They're murals done mostly in Philly, I believe, and they warm my heart to the very core. Very similar to the ESPO stuff, but all about love rather than loving a place.

    Also, Danny Meyer of Shake Shack/Union Square Hospitality Group went to my high school, represent! …I have this horrible compulsion to tell everyone that every chance I get.

  8. christina February 3, 2012 at 4:49 am - Reply

    Oh dreams, how I wrestle with thee. My "big" dream is to be a stay-at-home mom. I'm still learning to be able to say that without feeling a twinge of shame. It can be painful to want what I want – at least at my age, and in my neck of the woods. In my community, there is a definite expectation for twentysomethings to pursue creative and/or entrepreneurial endeavors. In another life, I'd love to start a clothing company for dogs (devoted solely to outfitting BIG dogs!) or to open a funky homesteading school. But I'm giving up my more industrious dreams in order to pave the way for my more simple dream of becoming a stay-at-home mom (e.g., socking away the money I earn from my ordinary job for my future kids rather than using it to launch a business.) I've gone through quite the internal struggle over the past 5 years, trying to make peace with the fact that I'm never going to be an "it" girl – especially as I watch those around me make great strides in their exciting professions. But slowly – slooooowly – I am becoming a little more sure, and a little less apologetic of my choice . . . even if it looks like I'm not accomplishing much from the outside.

  9. Lizzi February 3, 2012 at 9:56 pm - Reply

    I love that you took pictures of those guys. I'm always trying to take pictures of strangers and my family always teases me that I should get a job for TMZ. Lame! In fact once I dreamed about taking a bunch of pictures of strangers and framing each one individually and covering a wall in my house with them. Maybe it's because I come from a family that's so big, at the end of the day you only have energy to just watch each other, and so you learn a lot about watching people 🙂

    OR, I'm just a creeper.

  10. Taylor February 4, 2012 at 12:40 am - Reply

    Oh how I wish I was in Brooklyn right now. I'll just pretend I am by looking at your lovely blog.

  11. Princess Pookie February 4, 2012 at 4:01 am - Reply

    O-M-Gosh…those gold teeth just made my day. Just might have to pick myself up a set!
    Happy Weekend!

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