10-Find a muse

leucadia photographer

Imagination is something I have always thrived off of. I grew up an only child living on 60 acres in beautiful inland countryside of San Diego. I had waterfalls, big mountains, and animals all around me. But not too many other actual kids to play with. On a typical Saturday I think you would find me barefoot climbing a granite boulder and talking to myself. Maybe once I reached the top laying on my back on the warm rock to absorb the last bit of the day’s heat. Staring off over ‘our land’ and feeling like I lived in a movie where the child was odd, but so content.

I think this is the biggest reason my imagination and mind’s eye became such a key part of who I am. The outdoors was my muse when I was younger, inspiring so many dreams about what I would create when I “became an adult.” So as I started to thankfully come into a place where I was ultra inspired again as I mentioned previously, I came to realize it was because I found serious inspiration to use my ‘really out there’ imagination once again.

I have two main muses in my life that make me to want to take their photo every time I am in their presence right now. One, as shocking to me as it might be to you, it was to me as well, is a country singer. And she is beautiful. I think she is the most unique, intriguing and disarming person I’ve known.  And I just love her so much.

I know right!? Who knew I liked country music ! 😉

leucadia encinitas

The other is Leucadia, California. A neighborhood in Encinitas, San Diego. It sits cliffside over Beacon’s and Grandview beach. It’s home to many beach bike cruising friends, artists, musicians, barefoot sandy surfers, yogis, dog lovers, farmers market shoppers, and some of my favorite mom and pop businesses listed below. I’m surrounded by artists who love to create and enjoy this community as much as I do. And it’s done something for me. It’s magic.

Here are some of my favorites, let me know if I forgot one!

Seaweed and Gravel

Surfy Surfy

Coffee Coffee

Beery Beery (also known as Regal Segal)


Vixen Boutique


French Cafe

Le Papagayo (where everyone knows your name)

Bergamot Yoga

Leucadia Donuts

T.F.R. Gallery

The Farmers Market

Also home to many artists who do epic things like this above …… follow @daniellamanini_art or visit  http://www.daniellamanini.com/

Leucadia’s locally known slogan that is posted up everywhere is “keep Leucadia funky” and I framed my own design and added it to my kitchen last week.  I was trying to  think of how to explain what that means exactly. And as I sit in my home office and look over my neighbors place across the street, I know that they are all about that slogan. An older home nestled in between equally unusual, artsy, million dollar properties. They have an overgrown yard with whimsical flowers and greenery, kinda an English cottage yard meets beach town U.S.A. In the middle of the tall lush green and colors is comfortable patio furniture that they sit at mid day reading in bright sunshine. That makes me aspire to be them even more. They still have Christmas lights and they proudly turn them on every night. And they have some sort of wooden signage that reads, “together let’s change the world.” They keep Leucadia funky. I wanna be like them. And I wanna keep it funky too.

Since this place makes me feel alive and inspires creative freedom, I want to incorporate it into our brand and experience. Shooting on it’s streets, and in it’s local hot spots and better yet on its beaches. I swear everywhere you look this place has an interesting backdrop.

I think that sometimes we think of a muse as a person who emboldens us. And I love that too. But perhaps we can think more outside the box? If we had something that made us feel alive and curious, and then we infused that story and influence into our work and brand… I think it would take us to an entirely new level of art and personal fulfillment.

I’ve felt more inspired than ever lately. And when I looked up the word again it reminded me of that young child I was that felt so very influenced by all the beauty around me on family’s ranch. I also very strongly believe in a creator of this magnificent universe. I’m going to wind up this post with this specific definition that stirred me, since I think I used the word ‘inspired’ like a 100 times in this post.


  • Jenn says:

    Everything about this, yes. Sounds like you have found your whimsical fairyland 🙂

  • Heather Shanahan says:

    Muse… I had one once, long ago now. I have never felt so inspired, motivated, driven, passionate…. just so many things. Completely that artist in the old musical Xanadu. And then I lost my muse and life was a complete 180. I felt so lost and dark and uninspired. My muse and that time period is still difficult for me to think and talk about, so I definitely won’t be posting more of that online. But maybe a story I can share over a tall glass of whiskey on the right night. There’s a song called Bottle of Whiskey by John Corbett that hits it on the head. “It’s gonna take a whole other bottle of whiskey to talk about you”

    It took some time to get out of that funk and I was able to live but had lost that artistic side of me. Life was ok but I didn’t see things that same. No more bright vibrant colors and contrast. A year ago now, I was lucky enough to have 2 amazingly talented people come into my life and they have unknowingly pulled those cobwebs away and put a pen back in my hand. I still don’t have that muse high and haven’t been able to write anything of quality, but I’m seeing that vibrant world of colors again and it feels amazing. I can’t wait for the last piece to click into place again and have all the words and images flow out of me again. So to a crazy artist and a crazy songwriter, thank you.

  • You explained why we bought a house here! We both grew up near by (Village Park and LA Costa) and both wanted a Leucadia address. We love it here!

  • Crystal says:

    You have me wanting to plan a Day Trip to Leucadia with my kids this summer! I’ll be looking back at this post for ideas of where to go. And asking you if you can meet up, of course!

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