The Smile Initiative:

I hope you always find a reason to smile. 

What does that truly mean?

It’s more than a mere motto---it's my mission: to bring joy and promote authenticity through the outlets that have brought those things back to me.


[*TW: brief end-of-life talks*] 


Little Sierra, Fresh to the US
Little Sierra, Fresh to the US

As a late-diagnosed autistic and a woman with a chronic illness, I am no stranger to the feeling of hitting rock bottom. I’m not from the US and was bullied a lot when I moved here, so I spent years molding myself into the person I thought people wanted me to be: someone so basic that she couldn’t be bullied. That process involved me denying who I was and what it is that made me, me. Take it from me: one can only handle the weight of self-deceit for so long. There are 4 distinct times where the weight was so heavy that I gave up trying to bear it. There's this quote that I love:

"It’s the truth I’m after, and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance.”
― Marcus Aurelius

 Fast forward through a lot of depressing years later, I’m freeing myself from the shackles that I created, and am letting my inner child be who she always wanted to be. I am fearlessly embodying my expansive energy and allowing myself to take whatever form is most authentic to my being. Each time I thought I'd let my story end, I have managed to come back stronger, wiser, and more aligned with my soul and my passions. What brought me back every time? A smile: a random compliment from a stranger, a sweet word from a new friend, encouragement from a therapist, etc. A simple smile possesses remarkable energy. It serves as a bridge that connects one another, spreading positive energy and fostering a sense of belonging. 

This journey has been HARD. A smile isn't a quick fix: I didn't wake up one day, start smiling, and never stopped. In cheerleading we had a saying, "fake it 'til you make it." I woke up one day and chose to smile no matter what. I decided that if I was going to be alive, I was going to LIVE. The act of smiling can trick the brain into believing that we are happy, triggering a positive feedback loop that can boost our overall mood and resilience in the face of adversity. Everyday I made a conscious effort to smile and show gratitude for something, even if I didn't feel it at the time. The fact that I am alive to experience whatever adversity or struggle was ailing me that day is no match for the fact that I am grateful to still be here to experience it. I showed up for myself everyday because I knew at the end of it all was the joy that I had so desperately longed for as that ridiculed little girl. So, in the grand tapestry of life, do not underestimate the profound influence of a genuine smile—it's a universal language of positivity that can brighten both your day and the days of those around you.


smiles in action
A Smile in Action

Now, I openly share my story and experiences, actively healing through these challenges while letting my story inspire others to do the same. These very adversities have become my greatest strengths, ultimately making my art & story all the more compelling. I paint for my inner child who wasn’t able or allowed to express herself; who was bullied for her appearance, ridiculed for her understanding, and forced to wear a mask for over a decade. Through skepticism and prejudice I persevere, using my art to become a passionate advocate for inclusivity in the arts, and using my voice to promote understanding and acceptance of both Black and neurodivergent individuals. My artwork serves as a powerful form of self-acceptance, allowing me to communicate emotions and thoughts that my words often fail to convey. 

I am blessed to see the world in a unique way, and my art is a bridge that connects my inner world with the outside. Through my boundless creativity, I continue to challenge conventions, break down barriers, and pave the way for a more inclusive and diverse art community. Through my art, I’ve discovered a powerful way to connect with people, creating an inclusive space where differences and authenticity are celebrated. I believe that my story holds the potential to inspire others, shed light on the power of art as a means of self-acceptance, and promote awareness and understanding of autism within our society. I hope my journey inspires others to embrace their differences and pursue their passions. Above all, I hope you always find a reason to smile.


Much love,


↓ Support My Initiative & Share A Smile ↓

The Mission is My Motive
The Mission is My Motive