When ladies of my age group were young girls we were fans of shows like "THAT GIRL" and later, "MARY TYLER MOORE". They were shows about women who had a dream, of going off to the BIG CITY and landing their "dream job". This TOWANDATUDE TUESDAY post is all about a girl who started off in a small town and over time followed her long awaited dream of moving to the BIG CITY. That's New York City !
Meet Naomi Baxter, a young woman in her early thirties. Naomi was born in a small town in Western Pennsylvania. Her Mom always said "she was born ready to drive! A real TOWANDA-Girl !"
When she was fourteen, Naomi's family packed up everything, rented out their home, and moved to the big island of Hawaii. Her parents were following their dream of working for a world wide mercy missions organization. It was something her parents had always meant to do, but life kept getting in the way. Naomi was right on board with her parents, excited to experience a great adventure, and they did just that! She attended (with her siblings) an international co-op school, along with children from several different countries. Naomi traveled to the Philippines and Thailand with her family. I asked her about her thoughts on that era of her life. "I was never 'sheltered' as a child, I feel like I was 'built' for it". Memories of riding on an elephant, eating ethnic foods and spending time in a "Mung" village in the mountains of Thailand, are just a few of the adventures she has. Her family would eventually move to Florida where she finished High School.
At sixteen, Naomi began an apprenticeship under a chef at a local restaurant. Over the years, being a chef has been a base line of employment that allowed her to try her hand at other creative avenues. A talented artist, she worked for a time in mural and faux painting, part of the team that did the walls, at the famous "SLOAN'S ICE CREAM" in downtown West Palm Beach, Florida. Naomi worked at ANTIQUE RESTORATION, where she learned to do things like refinishing furniture and rebuilding crumbling antique fountains.
The travel bug still sat on her shoulder, so in 2006 she traveled to Nevada for an amazing adventure to "BURNING MAN". It's an annual counter-culture festival in the Black Rock Desert which hosts as many as 50,000 attendees each year. She fell in love with it, and the creativity surrounding it. She is part of the group "The Sexy Tramp Camp". (their name is derived from having a trampoline at their camp for attendees to jump on) Each Burning Man visit, her group has a theme, and Naomi has made many of their costumes. Her first costumes were based on the video game "KATAMARI- DAMACY"..another year, the theme was "THE RACCOON PARTY PATROL". You guessed it, she was in full raccoon attire! Meanwhile, after returning home from the festival in 2007, she enrolled in THE CHAPMAN SCHOOL FOR SEAMANSHIP. Naomi was the ONLY female in class that semester. She graduated as the Valedictorian. She has what is called a "100 TON MASTER LICENSE".
In 2009, she traveled back to Burning Man with her gang of friends and did a cross country road trip afterward. When that trip was over, Naomi decided to go for it and follow her dream of living in New York City. On November 9, 2009 she moved to Brooklyn. Once again, falling back on her training, she worked as a personal chef for a time, while painting murals in private homes and working for the OSHKOSH Co. on the side. Naomi got to try her hand at many different things while at OSHKOSH, she says she "...did anything from organizing closets to wallpapering an office with denim!" She most recently began working at THE WORKROOM NYC, as "Shop Operations Manager".
Naomi says she loves life in New York., there is so much to do and see. Her band of BURNING MAN friends are a close knit second family to one another in their "home away from home". She is in love with Coney Island, and two winters ago, she joined THE POLAR BEARS CLUB. They meet up at the beach on Coney Island and go for a winter dips in the ocean ! When she isn't swimming in the frosty surf, you'll find her participating in SANTA CON, an event that takes place each year, where hundreds of folks dressed like Santa descend on the city. Or, THE SWEETS PARADE where you might see her dressed as an OOMPA-LOOMPA !
Whatever she does and wherever she goes, BEAUTY, LAUGHTER, FUN AND A WHOLE LOT OF "TOWANDATUDE" ARE SURE TO FOLLOW !