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May 19, 2023

I was recently thinking about the 90s flick starring Gwyneth Paltrow called "Sliding Doors." It’s a great portrayal of just how quickly a person’s life can change in the matter of moments simply by choosing one path or action instead of another.

I believe that the universe helps to guide us in the right direction when we are open to it. Call it divine intervention or being in the flow…I don’t think anything is random, but rather quietly planned somehow long before it actualizes. That makes life feel so magical at times!

I’ve also been thinking a lot about Miglia and how she has essentially become what I would consider, a community builder. Yes, my dog has played an influential role in building the community that currently surrounds me!

Just months after leaving California, the TSA started really restricting pet travel on planes. We were in the midst of the pandemic and I had just lost Kam and then Gram within a couple of months of each other. It was a really rough time for me. Having Miglia by my side was not only comforting, but felt almost essential for my mental health and I don’t know what I would have done without her.

As I settled into New Jersey after being in San Francisco for nearly 20 years, I thought a lot about how overwhelming it felt to be starting over in a new place. Even though I had grown up here on the Jersey Shore, I left when I was 18 and seeking adventure in new places and spaces. Then, after living in SF where I was used to a very culturally diverse and vastly accepting community, I really wanted to meet new people and find a similar community. I wasn’t even sure that was possible to find here, but I did!

Long story short, I kinda always thought I would end up in Asbury, which in a way it kind of has that San Francisco vibe. Lots of creatives, musicians, designers, artists. Lots of people from larger cities have moved here for a slower pace of life. That was certainly what I was after as I started this next chapter and coming Full Circle back to Jersey.

Back to Miglia being the community builder…

Miglia and I are sort of attached at the hip. Nine out of ten times you see me walking down the street, Miglia will be with me. I bring her everywhere – she comes with me to work, she runs errands with me, we eat our meals together, she goes to the beach with me…she’s with me all the time.

Like most dog owners, I’ve quickly learned that having her by my side immediately helps me meet more people. She’s an ice breaker...a hot conversation topic. Often people just start talking to me because they want to learn more about her! I think a lot about how different my life would be if she wasn’t in it.

A couple of fun stories to share:

The first involves Kitty and Mat who you’ve virtually met via my Hand Project Campaign. I was on dog beach one afternoon and this woman yelled, “Colleen?”. I looked up and saw this woman who, quite honestly, didn’t look that familiar. She ran up and said “oh my god, this is gonna sound crazy but I follow you on Instagram!” I was instantly blushing and she yells, “no wait, there’s more. My husband and I met you at Dwell on Design years ago and I own a bunch of your pieces.” A few moments later, her husband Mat walks up and I had a flashback of the three of us chatting in Los Angeles in 2012. Mat says, I’m on your mailing list and I saw you were moving to Asbury Park…”

Turns out, Kitty bought some of my square rings and other pieces and I’m honored to say that she and Mat had been following me for years. Our worlds somehow collided that day – just because I brought Miglia to the beach. They also happened to live in my soon-to-be neighborhood and how amazing it’s been that we all became fast and very solid friends. Kitty and Matt’s dog, Penny, is now Miglia’s best friend, too!

The second story also involves Miglia – and dog beach. I bring her there everyday and she always B-lines for this couple, Ciara and Joe, and of course, their dog Pablo. We would always chat since Miglia acted as though they were long lost friends. I eventually learned that Ciara was the owner of this beautiful bag line called Brinn. It was fun talking shop with her on the beach as I sipped my morning coffee. One day I asked if she knew of any local photographers…and Ciara said, “oh yes, I also do photography.” I looked at her website and hired her shortly thereafter.

It’s like Miglia was subconsciously whispering in my ear, “hey mom, I want to introduce you to your new Asbury Park photographer.” Through Ciara, I was introduced to all these local people that I featured in the first Hand Project. Ciara used to work at Pascal and Sabine and is well-connected throughout town. I’ve had the honor of mentoring Ciara and working with her on multiple shoots since our fateful meeting. She and Joe (and Pablo) are now dear friends of mine (and Miglia).

These are just two of the many introductions, connections and friendships that I can in part thank my dog for. Granted, I’m not going to give her all the credit (sorry, Migs), but she is like the building block that has allowed me to create this new and beautiful community that surrounds me. Now it feels like I’ve lived here my entire life and never left.

Miglia sleeps next to me at night and lays by my feet while I work. She is my protector. I know it’s so cliche to say that dogs are human’s best friends, but it’s really true. I’ve never felt more connected with a living creature in all of my life. I’m very grateful for Miglia and the work that she does.

When you come to Asbury Park to an Open Studio, you’ll definitely get to meet the woman herself. She’s gorgeous and wears CMD colors proudly (and naturally). I think she’ll be one of my most treasured gifts of my entire lifetime.

Leave Miglia a little hello in the comments!
Colleen (+ Miglia)

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