What a way to be.
Our teachers are everywhere, if we know how to listen for their wisdom.
On July 4th, 2017 — Independence Day in the USA — I was communing with nature on Thirteenth Lake in The Adirondacks, trying absurdly to in one day heal all the weariness wrought by 13 years of New York City living, by the unnatural rhythm of a digital life, and by the client projects to which I was giving all my artistic energy, saving none as sacred for my own renewal. I was deeply tired and felt separated from myself: I could no longer remember what my own footprint felt like, what song was uniquely mine, what sort of breeze I blew.
The day was exquisite, inspiring, and affirming — a balm for which my soul had been screaming. As dusk fell, I began packing up to leave the lake and return to my campsite. I swept up the blanket on which I’d been sitting: underneath, right in the center, was a small but perfectly complete snakeskin, recently shed. I hadn't even seen it when laying out my picnic that morning.
Immediately, I knew what it wanted me to learn: to begin again, to shed my skin and find the snake within. My best-laid plans slithered away that day, and life has been an adventure towards bliss ever since.
Asymmetric, bumpy: my ride through life wobbles. But it moves, it works. It renews itself (strange ouroboros wheels)... this wheel is surreal. And it continues turning.
— Barbara Mor, excerpt from The Great Cosmic Mother, October 1990
This morning, if it all was gone, funny little thing, it wouldn’t phase me none
Might feel like I just got home. See, I always had a taste for traveling alone
— Tift Merritt, Traveling Alone, 2012
Pablo Picasso once said, “Without great solitude no serious work is possible.” In February 2018, after 6 months of traveling alone, experimenting with making art in Mexico and finding in that process a depth of joy I never thought possible, I knew I had to cash in all my chips and fully commit to the adventure. I sold off most of my clothes, packed up what few things truly inspired me, and began to make the move to Oaxaca, all by myself — leaving a great love, good friends, and a certain version of success behind. They will find me in this new place if they are meant to; in the meantime, I’m satisfied just to find myself.
I live here now.
She shines in all her aspects.
Ming and Aztec pottery traditions syncretize with animal spirits, circling in a circling cosmos. A totem of gratitude.
"You must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame: how could you become new, if you had not first become ashes?"
— Friedrich Nietzsche, philosopher
Inside this new love, die.
Your way begins on the other side.
Become the sky.
Take an axe to the prison wall.
Walk out like someone suddenly born into color.
Do it now.
You're covered with thick cloud.
Slide out the side. Die,
and be quiet. Quietness is the surest sign
that you have died.
Your old life was a frantic running
The speechless full moon
comes out now.
— Quietness, by Rumi, 13th century Sufi mystic poet
Springtime on the border of the Carolinas, at the prettiest celebration of the divine feminine these eyes have ever seen. Fields full of fairies in floral frocks fêted Laura Vinroot Poole, the leading arbiter of southern style, on the 20th anniversary of Capitol, her seminal store. The sun glowed rosé and all the spirits were smiling.
This is a song for the spirits that travel lightly through life.
The Fountain of the Jugs in Mexico City's Parque San Martín features the Nahuatl-language storyteller and model Luz Jiménez — the Marianne of Mexico — archetype of indigenous beauty and favorite subject of artists Diego Rivera and Edward Weston.
I love to visit this statue, for in it I see so many of the things that I adore about this country: the persistent veneration of the goddess as giver of life, the abundance of art in everyday life, and the special sort of syncretismo that allows native pride and pre-hispanic pagan customs to thrive alongside conquistador-era splendor and the adoption of Catholicism. Try as the invaders did, not everything could be erased; this is a land where ancient wisdom lives on.
I drank at every vine. The last was like the first. I came upon no wine So wonderful as thirst.
Bodies suffer hunger so that they know when it is time to eat. Souls also starve, so we remember that they too require replenishment.
A man born blind can easily deny the magnificence of a vast landscape
He can easily deny all the wonders that he cannot touch, smell, taste or hear
But one day the wind will show its kindness and remove the tiny patches that cover your eyes
And you will see god more clearly than you have ever seen yourself
— Meister Eckhart, 13th century
You can throw yourself flat on the ground, stretched out upon Mother Earth, with the certain conviction that you are one with her and she with you. You are as firmly established, as invulnerable as she, indeed a thousand times firmer and more invulnerable. As surely as she will engulf you tomorrow, so surely will she bring you forth anew to a new striving and suffering. And not merely 'some day': now, today, every day she is bringing you forth, not once but thousands upon thousands of times, just as every day she engulfs you a thousand times over. For eternally and always there is only now, one and the same now; the present is the only thing that has no end.
— Erwin Schrödinger, biophysicist
My soul, charming flitting guest and partner of my clay
Wither wilt thou fly away
Pallid, rigid, naked
Never to play again, never to play?
Favored among the many wisdoms this goddess taught me were the reminders that wearing color is about bringing light to your face, that it is possible to transform an entire city with style and a smile, and that you are most exotic when you are most yourself.
gown by Peter Pilotto
It is easy to see the beginnings of things, and harder to see the ends. I can remember now, with a clarity that makes the nerves in the back of my neck constrict, when New York began for me, but I cannot lay my finger upon the moment it ended, can never cut through the ambiguities and second starts and broken resolves to the exact place on the page where the heroine is no longer as optimistic as she once was.
— Joan Didion, Goodbye To All That, 1967
Why do so many of us forget?
I've traveled the world through its markets — and there's not a one that can compete with the Sunday tianguis of La Langunilla in Mexico City.
I can't tell one from the other
Did I find you, or you find me?
There was a time before we were born
If someone asks, this is where I'll be
— The Talking Heads
In Ice Age humanity, when a girl reached menses she was ceremonially married to the moon — what a beautiful acknowledgement that it is we who belong to the natural world, not she to us.
I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It's clouds' illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all
— Joni Mitchell, 1969
Who was it that said that if someone was truly an artist, they would give up their paints or their instruments altogether, and spend the rest of their days simply marveling at the wonders of nature?
I can certainly see their point.
“We are all filled with a longing for the wild. There are few culturally sanctioned antidotes for this yearning. We were taught to feel shame for such a desire. We grew our hair long and used it to hide our feelings. But the shadow of the Wild Woman still lurks behind us during our days and in our nights. No matter where we are, the shadow that trots behind us is definitely four-footed.”
— Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With The Wolves
Sometimes we destroy ourselves: it took me a long time to understand that this is a positive message.
The first totems I built were mantras — slow, painstaking, repetitive works that allowed me to record the stories I was learning, the ancient wisdom I was remembering.
I did not want to forget again.
On one piece, in hundreds of thousands of tiny clay dots, transformed with homemade paint into concise glyphs, I wrote and rewrote over and over again the same mantra: Explore. Learn. Understand. Create. Express. Transform. Transcend. Protect.
Keep on scrolling, the genius of Pedro Friedeberg — one of Mexico’s greatest living artists — is indefatigable!
January 1, 2018
5 degrees Fahrenheit, Woodstock, NY
Remember to remember to remember.
A recipe for joy.
A boy in my 4th grade told me — on a field trip, in front of the entire class — that the birthmark over my right eye was disgusting and I should shave it off. For well over 20 years I believed him. I covered it up with thick makeup. I looked the other way in pictures. I wished it would disappear.
And then, finally, I realized it is the most magical and special part of my face — a rare human ocellus that only I share with the peacocks and butterflies, a third eye tired of being blinded by concealer.
Open your eyes to your own perfect self. Know you are as splendid as any flower in the field. Choose to stop believing you are anything other than love.
You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy — then you should sit for an hour.
- Zen wisdom
Allow me to introduce you to Laura Vinroot Poole — inspiring leader, visionary tastemaker, exemplary hostess, and founder of Capitol, the Charlotte, North Carolina store she has quite literally turned into the fashion capital of the south.
I had the enormous pleasure of meeting Laura in April, when she teamed up with Farfetch + a caravan of international design collaborators to create a colorful capsule collection — and throw a hoedown for the history books — in honor of the store’s 20th anniversary.
It was unlike any fashion gathering I’d ever seen — because Laura’s warmth and innate southern elegance are absolutely unmatched in the industry. This is a woman who, when hosting a farm party, equips the port-a-loo sinks with heavy cotton, monogrammed paper hand towels — no delight or detail is neglected.
Hers is the kind of grace I thought had been abandoned, but witnessing the adoration of her acolytes — who flew in from all over the world to fête their royal — it’s clear that she is keeping its flame alive by effortlessly inspiring everyone around her to be their best self.
Besides the gentility of its owner, what sets Capitol apart is the most interesting edit of inventory around. Before Laura, southern ladies would travel to New York to do their shopping; these days the opposite seems more plausible. My sister, who lives in Virginia, and I, who live in southern Mexico — both former, longtime New Yorkers — plan to henceforth meet in Charlotte biannually to do all of our shopping. Laura’s selection really is that special.
What impressed me most was how beautiful all of the women in Laura’s orbit — family, friends, employees, clients, collaborators and even newly adoring strangers like me — looked and felt. She gave all of us that. Like Glenda the Good Witch, Laura Vinroot Poole rules over a colorful kingdom of loveliness, imbuing her disciples with sparkly accessories and the courage to go forth with confidence.
I know you need it too.
The best ships are friend ships.
In the posh suburbs of Mexico City lies hidden an enormous serpent — belly so big that 10 apartments sit comfortably inside. Indeed, what may well be the world’s most surreal condo building appears to be designed for an Aztec god, but is instead accessible to mortals like we on Airbnb.
Vintage Oscar de la Renta
Seeking a better understanding of the craft traditions of my new home — and getting the real inside scoop thanks to the adventuresses of Thread Caravan.
The last chapter of my life featured heavily in photo shoots, first class flights, and fashion shows.
But lately I’ve become more accustomed to long days on a dirt floor, sweaty and stained, fetching buckets of water from the well to flush the toilet with no seat (I had to google how to do that) — as happy as can be, wondering how a person can get away with having this much fun.