I’m so excited to introduce the lovely Kimothy Joy to Series FEMME where I interview women who personally inspire me as a young college student. Joy is a mother, an artist, and the author of “That’s What She Said” a series of words and illustrations of women who inspire her. She’s a fierce advocate for feminism for all women, no exclusions and you can see that reflected in her art. Kimothy’s work has even been featured in The Huffington Post, Refinery29, Gucci, The Honest Co. and more. I’m so thankful she agreed to answer a few of my questions so without further or do, let us begin!
In any way you want, describe what you do.
I think my response to this question might change daily but here we go. If you asked who I am, I would reply, “I am.” I heard that from Oprah recently and it has stuck. So often, we try to explain ourselves to the world and end up limiting our thinking around who we are and what we do. And if we’re constantly growing and expanding which is my goal - this answer should keep changing. So I am carrying that with me, “I am.” It also reminds me of one of my favorite authors, Sylvia Plath, who said; “I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am. I am. I am.” Therefore, if I am describing what I do...it would be… I create, I make, I play, I am curious, I love and listen deeply, I think, I make space to be alone with my thoughts as often as I can, I am constantly seeking out the voice of my true inner being. I am a creative being and this is reflected in everything I do. I am so proud to be a woman, especially in this day and age and I feel called to use watercolor and other mediums to create messages of hope, solidarity, and empowerment for women. But I know that my daily task is to stay clear and open-hearted in order to hear these messages so that they can pour through me onto the paper.
What’s one thing you do, or try to do every single day for your mental health?
I wake up and drink hot lemon water in the morning before my coffee. It feels cleansing and purifying. I also just started meditating daily. I noticed that all the people I look up to and read about who have a really elevated way of thinking - have one thing in common. They meditate daily and are diligent about it. I get that this is the way to clear your mind and turn off your ego-brain and immediately connect with your heart and inner being. And when I’m in this clear state, that’s when I have all my best creative ideas and ah-ha moments! So the formula is simple...find 10-15 minutes daily to get quiet and breathe deep. I also visualize my dream life unfolding and how it would feel, smell, sound as if it’s already happened. I’ve done this again and again with my goals and oftentimes - it becomes reality! What’s not so simple is actually remembering to meditate or rather, remembering the importance of it when I feel like I don’t have any time.
What inspires or drives you to create?
It’s always been innately who I am. But I also believe that all human beings are creators - we just all create differently using a variety of methods. Even if you’re a scientist or mathematician or teacher - we’re all always creating, building, evolving.
The thing that I get most excited about when I get a surge of energy to paint or write or brainstorm on an idea is the limitless potential. I love the excitement and the unknown of an idea. You never know what that little doodle or sticky note will transform into one day. I love to create for the pure enjoyment and thrill of creating. I think that’s where the magic is. Forget the outcome or where you think it will take you - just focus on the idea unraveling and unfolding. Get lost in it. Give it room to expand and show up in a bigger way that you never could have planned for anyway.
What’s one thing you could say to your younger self?
Wash your face before you go to bed. Drink water. Wear sunscreen. Stay in when you don’t feel like going out. Find a daily practice that calms your mind and brings you peace. Painting, running, yoga, reading, cooking, whatever you want. Get used to knowing what makes you feel good and fulfilled. So many things can happen outside of your control in this crazy world...I wish I would have practiced staying grounded and centered earlier on. Then I might have had some handrails when my mom passed away from breast cancer, when I went through a divorce, when I changed jobs, etc. In general, date yourself. Make time to get to know yourself and fall in love. :) Then you won’t rely on everyone else to make you feel good. You’ll be able to do it all on your own.
Oh wait - I have to add one more major thing! Learn how to interrupt your thoughts and quickly pivot before you start feeling horrible! Notice your thinking patterns that make you feel bad or make you feel hateful towards others...this is so important. Then practice interrupting that thought and selecting a new one or new topic that makes you feel good! You can become a master of this and avoid feeling major jealousy, self-hatred, envy, worry, etc.
What’s a good perspective to have if you’re going into an environment where everything is handed to people around you?
Welcome to the mixed bag that is the world! Everyone comes from different backgrounds, families, financial situations, vantage points. I remember getting pretty frustrated while in college noticing that others didn’t have to work while going to school like me. Or their parents were there to write them a check whenever they needed it. Comparing myself to them often robbed me of my joy. Comparison, to anyone besides your former self, will rob you of joy. So don’t do it! Easier said than done. But ultimately, I am accepting and actually very grateful for the chance to learn how to hustle when I was young and build the confidence to know I could find a way to make money regardless of the circumstances.
How do you approach criticism?
Ahh great question. It isn’t always easy. It really depends on what kind. Earlier when I started painting and sharing my work online, I received a lot of criticism for all kinds of things. Especially as my audience on Instagram suddenly grew from 1k to 14k+ overnight. I really wasn’t ready for all the attention - both good and bad! I received comments about my messaging being off, questions about why there wasn’t a specific type of looking woman portrayed, or that my artwork looked too similar to other artists. And not to mention, the other bevy of online trolling that comes with anything feminist or politically-related. At first, it was really heartbreaking. I took every comment SO personal. So I went to therapy to work through it. Turns out, this was part of an ongoing people-pleasing habit for me and for a lot of women. We are taught to be polite and not be too vocal or ruffle feathers. And when we do - we get attacked from every angle. Instead of shrinking during this criticism, I have learned to first perceive if the person actually wants to have a dialogue about it or just be hateful. If there’s something in their critique that can help me be better, help me evolve - I’m open to it. Otherwise, I have stronger boundaries now and don’t spend much time thinking about it. It’s certainly a muscle you develop.
What’s the one thing people should know before people start their own business?
It’s not for everyone! Keep that in mind. Totally go for it if you feel called to do so. But also be open to changing your mind! When you own your own business, it’s exhilarating and also overwhelming. You call the shots. But also, you’re sometimes working over the weekend while everyone is seemingly playing. You’ve got to be okay with that. I love working and am a pretty hyper-productive busy body. I hardly ever watch tv, etc. I love what I do so I (usually) don’t mind having an irregular non-stop schedule. I just make sure to carve out days to go get a massage, take breaks during the day to exercise or walk my dog or play with my daughter - whatever I need to stay energized and calm.
How do you push yourself to take risks, or does it come naturally?
I am naturally a risk-taker. But I actively work on taking bigger risks and conjuring up bigger dreams just to see how far I can take it. I tell myself mantras like, “You can’t get this wrong. Go big or go home. Have no fear.” Of course, having a family and being the main financial support is always to be considered but when I come up with a risky-sounding idea...I take some time to see how I can approach it pragmatically. The greater the risk, the greater the reward! I study women who’ve come before me and are currently rising to the top of their fields for inspiration and motivation. They’re doing it, why can’t I? Why can’t you?
Do you have an anthem? As in, what song makes you feel like the best version of yourself at that moment?
Ahh such a good question. I love Cardi B - “I like It”. In fact, I’m going to play it right now. It’s the ultimate “remember, you are a bad bitch” song. I can’t help but dance and praise myself for how far I’ve come and how much I’ve grown. I think she’s saying, “you didn’t think I could but here I am...look at me now!”.
Who’s one person you greatly admire or look up to?
There are so many! All the women and girls in my book! Okay, but I’ll just pick one for the purpose of answering this question. OPRAH! I think she’s been low-key trying to balance out the toxic stream of media we’re spoon fed on all the major networks. I don’t really watch TV or movies or the news because intuitively, I can tell when they’ve impacted me negatively or are making me feel more fearful. I pay attention to how movies or shows leave me feeling. And Oprah does the same. That’s why she counteracts all of it with carefully considered guests and shows that only convey messages rooted in love and connectedness. I love what she’s done with her media empire and hope that she continues to spread higher conscious messages to the masses. We so need it. Less violence, pettiness, otherness in media. We need to focus on solutions and how we can all personally evolve and build a better future together.