Artist and business owner Suzy Toronto, known for her “Wild Wacky Women” designs sold in gift shops around the world, describes herself as a “free spirit.” In a recent interview with Growing Bolder, she walked around her beachside art studio in a long, flowing dress in bare feet and lots of sparkly silver jewelry. That lined up well with what most people’s idea of a free spirit looked like. Toronto defines it differently.
“Being a free spirit doesn’t mean you’re wild and crazy and bouncing off the walls, and it doesn’t mean you have no direction or focus,” she explained. “It means you know exactly who you are and what you stand for.”
Toronto maintained that once she knew who she was, it afforded her the ultimate freedom to be herself. She took that freedom and created an empire of collectible products designed to inspire, encourage, and make people laugh (check them out at suzytoronto.com).
“When you know where your boundaries are, it allows you to have amazing freedom,” she said. “You don’t have to fit the norm anymore. You can be unapologetically who you are.”
Being Suzy means making plenty of mistakes.
“I start over three or four times,” she said. “That is all part of my process. Sometimes I need to see what I don’t want in order to figure out exactly what I do want!”
Often the term “free spirit” was associated with someone who just wandered aimlessly with no goals or motivation. But Toronto disagrees.
“It means everything you do, every decision you make, is consistent with your goals,” she said. “I always asked myself, ‘Does this fit my personal truth? Does doing this, going in this direction, creating this product, writing this story, fit into my personal truth?’”
Once she defined herself, it was easy to make decisions. There was no gray area at all.
It was the day her oldest granddaughter took Toronto to school for show-and-tell that Toronto first realized she didn’t walk the same path as everyone else. Her granddaughter introduced Toronto to the class by saying, “This is my Grandma Suzy. I have another grandma who is a regular grandma, but this is my Grandma Suzy.”
After that experience, Toronto wrote one of her famous quotes: “Pretending to be a normal person day after day is exhausting.”
Now Toronto revels in not being normal. She embraced the “free spirit” inside of her.