on January and where one draws the line


January in south Santa Cruz County is a dream. Storms barrel through, leaving the air smelling like Technicolor. Frogs emerge in their wake, shrieking to one another across standing water. Green grass comes back like a verdant blaze and you barely remember the crackle underfoot of late summer. The beaches are clear, barrel lines of waves populated by locals, and sunsets fire off phosphorescence before dinner. The turn into 2019 has been a solid one.


I absolutely loathe New Year’s, but I made some promises that evening over dinner with friends so there could be some accountability hitched onto them. More music, more art, more ocean. Lunch money is spent on concert tickets, and I rub my hands with glee adding them to the calendar months out. Long hours were spent in the Getty last weekend, surrounded by that mountain of Italian travertine marble as I stared, hollowed out, at the image of Emmett Mann - small hands splayed on the Murray river’s surface, eyes hawk-fierce as he stares into his mother’s camera lens. I fly out of the house by 4:20pm several days a week, skidding to nearby sands to watch the sun extinguish itself on the Pacific. Getting into a rhythm of Her presence is a warm-up; after a few decades of posturing I finally learned to surf this past autumn and I want to be one of those women who tracks the tides and ignores banal responsibilities to paddle out. I’ve got some hang-ups; timidity to be a greenhorn out on the line, (I’ve always, ALWAYS just wanted to be good at things out-right and avoid the suffering that comes with inexperience), and I’m plagued with seasickness from sitting on the board and watching the waves largely pass, (there’s a lot of that in this stage for me), as you bob around on the surface. I’ll figure it out.

Another, less articulated, promise I made was “getting out of my own damn way.” I wasn’t sure what I meant when I said it, and I wasn’t sure if I was entirely ok with the vulnerability of the admittance, either. Still not – both counts. There’s bound to be some explanation in there as to why at 12:03am Jan 1, I was curled on the floor of the shower, sobbing that way you can where you don’t make sounds. Jacob crawling in after me, putting his arms over the shuddering armored curve of my spine. I don’t remember him saying anything, but at one point I came to a full stop, pulled up my head, said evenly “I’m fine.” and got into bed without drying off.

The next day I kept waiting for him to cautiously ask what had happened, what was wrong, was I all right and what could he do? He never did, and at one point as dusk was closing in on the first day of the year – us descending from a climb up on the ridges overlooking Wilder – I was the one that said, “I’m sorry if I frightened you last night, I’m not sure what happened.”


“You didn’t,” he replied, taking my arm and pulling me across Highway 1 in a gap between cars back to where we had parked. “You just hate New Year’s. Always have.” A moment of indignation, then I let it go. This man, still a mystery to me after nearly decade in his company and some serious declarations. He can fix almost anything in the physical world, yet he doesn’t try to fix me. Not because he doesn’t care, but because he trusts that I’ve got this. Got me. As the bulk of my relationships have been with those who believed they knew what was in my best interests, this continues to be a revelation.

I wonder at what it looks like, to get out of your own way? To be able to wake up in the morning and create whatever the fuck you want without boundaries or restrictions? To shake off the conditions we place on love, and love with such tenacity and boundlessness that there was never any question. ESPECIALLY when it came to loving ourselves?


I am extremely skilled when it comes to loving others. Men, women, creatures – especially creatures. I fall in love, over and over again, with the way the light falls, birdsong at dawn, beats of music, passages read, return of the daffodils. Love wells up in me and makes a mess all over the place, all the time. But it has come curiously to my attention as of late that I am not so sure how to articulate love for my Self.  


This hint has hurtled down like a cartoon anvil from a few most trusted teachers, random articles, conversations with relative strangers. Something bigger than me is trying to drop some knowledge, and I am slowly taking my fingers out of my ears and ceasing the loud, distractive humming. 

Do you know how to do it? How to frame it? What does it mean to you?

What have I been missing out on? How rad could life be, if I just got out of my own way and wildly loved myself whether I was a heap on the floor, or making flowers for a six-page editorial in Vanity Fair? (yo, VF – I have relative availability in April, look me up.)

Oh, the utter woe I feel faced with the volume of self-helpery this endeavor could plunge one into! My mild revulsion at the possible directive to “mother my inner little girl”, wail in parlayed grief in a sweat lodge, or take up yoni steaming. I can get down on a lot of weird stuff, but I have limits - yoni steaming is likely one of them.

And yet, as much of a mountain as this question seems to be – I’m so very curious. It is my nature to seek, seek, seek. Make the list, set the goal, raze the page to the next chapter. But this answer is one for which there is no action plan or template to follow. There is no timeline, besides, I suppose, when my own mortality kicks in. I peer at the notion of self-love and it’s a Rothko, a soft blurring. For a moment I see through it, hear the message, before it re-solidifies to a 2-D pane of color.

Partial Lunar Eclipse, Blood Wolf Super Moon, Jan 20, 2019

Partial Lunar Eclipse, Blood Wolf Super Moon, Jan 20, 2019

Yesterday I was hiking with a new friend in the redwoods. This zen, Piscean, philosophical ceramicist has an uncanny way of redirecting conversation so you’re always talking about yourself. I’d start with, “so tell me about your two years in Japan?” and within two-minutes he’s got me searching for the right words to shape my personal definition of attachment, and how that’s tied to my fear of being left. The fuck. Known this dude for the total of about five hours and I’m spilling my freaking guts.

Anyway - by the end of this particular span of time we’re sharing a small meal, and he’s pouring another cup of hot tea that is spookily always within his vicinity. People who drink tea in this consistent manner rattle me. They generally enjoy a better handle on their adrenals, have no problem with lapsed silence amongst company, and sincerely wish good health upon the disgusting hacking-cough sitting across from you on the subway. I had just wound up yet another TMI divulgence; this one centered on a Great Love who once told me I was created exactly for him, and how this was simultaneously the most destructive and insanely hot thing anyone had or has ever said to me. He asked if I had ever believed that anyone was like that; made for me? I was silent a long time, thinking, and finally I looked up.


“Don’t you think that you were made exactly for you?”


Hey! Hi! Damn - sorry about that. I want to pick-up where we left off with a long weekend that deployed the reset button.  

In quasi tradition, Jacob and I sprint out of the city for a backpacking trip after the Valentine's vortex subsides. 2015 was overnight kayaking on Tomales Bay, 2016 was a 20-mile hike-in to Ventana hot springs; with a few tangents.

We got a motherf*ckin van, y'all! Thank you thank you thank you for everyone who ever supported the Big Dreams campaign; you made our down payment dreams come true. Jacob found the bus in Portland and flew up to buy it sight un-seen. This is like a trust fall excercise with my business credit card. After a hostel slumber party, and an involvement at a drag show, (this is not my story to tell, unsurprisingly involves admiration for his hair), the bus carried him back to Oakland. We got another tank of gas, threw the futon in the back and headed to Big Sur.

For years, in our time spent up and down the 1, Jacob has pounded the steering wheel of the compact car with, "If we just had van, we could pull over and camp wherever we'd want!" Well, check that off the bucket list. After watching the sun fizzle out with a bottle of wine and a bag of chips from the most ideal cliffside money could never buy, we wanted to sleep for a few hours before a Night Soak at Esalen. A full moon coming up from the behind the cliffs, we passed a joint and settled in. 

This isn't true, Jacob settled in. I got it into my head that I wanted to honor the moon and this awesome journey, cranking the tiny camp speaker and dancing wildly by the highway until I was a sweaty mess, throwing myself to hide behind the van when a car came. Fairly certain I sprained my ankle on the first 8-count, and convincing myself that it would heal in the baths later on.

At 12:30pm we stumbled a half-mile to Esalen and I had one of the trippiest experiences of my ENTIRE LIFE, which had a lot to do with being naked with 23 strangers. This, paired with the miasmic heat of the spring-fed pools, the Pacific crashing underneath and hemetic light of the moon turning every surface to metal. Hard to articulate, and when we woke up we weren't entirely convinced we didn't dream the whole thing. 

We loaded two-days of bourgie existence into our packs, and headed into the forest.

Aquilegia formosa,  Western red columbine. Reminiscent of eagle talons and tiny spacecraft.

Aquilegia formosa, Western red columbine. Reminiscent of eagle talons and tiny spacecraft.

Clematis ligusticifolia,  Western White Clematis. The peppery leaves and stems were chewed by Native Americans to soothe sore throats and colds.

Clematis ligusticifolia, Western White Clematis. The peppery leaves and stems were chewed by Native Americans to soothe sore throats and colds.

Trillium ovatum,  Pacific wake-robin. Woodland perennials are a new obsession, and remind me of my parent's property which hosts an incredible population of Moccasin Flower ( Cypripedium acaule).

Trillium ovatum, Pacific wake-robin. Woodland perennials are a new obsession, and remind me of my parent's property which hosts an incredible population of Moccasin Flower (Cypripedium acaule).

We walked through damp, shadowed redwoods, up shambling cliffs, through arid, sun-baked passes and through icy-cold creekbeds. We talked about our family, spooked at poison oak, crammed raw seeds into our mouths. Our minds shut-up, and there was a creeping wish we were staying out here longer than we'd planned. As we walked in, dozens of people were packing out. Every person we made room for to pass, we'd hiss and chant to each other "get em out, leave leave, all to ourselves!"

At the end, we were one of 4 other sites - each far enough from the other to feel alone. Of the three pools, we stayed in one that positioned us nearly in the treetops, melting into the sulphuric 100degree water until the sun had long dissolved to moonlight again.

We met a woman from Sacramento who had hiked in with her Standard Poodle - a deer-like white q-tip that folded her legs resignedly beside the pool we inhabited. For a short while we were joined by a boy my age who was on hour 63 of quitting a 25 yr old smoking habit. He had hiked out to leave that old identity behind, and had no qualms saying he was trying to not look back, but knowing he would probably fail. I don't know either of their names.

When we clambored down, we forged a stream 40degrees colder than what we'd left. Dressed in every layer we packed, we ate ramen cups and slept by the stream - turning over every hour in the small tent. At 6am, we got back in the pools. No sound besides the push of the water and small animals breaking their fasts. 

Tijuana Panthers

Hmm. Nearly a month under my belt. A belt I have reduced to hemp twine after I had a treatyoself session with a pair of Bryrs. Damn you, black leather combo and the way you make me totter about like a pre-teen geisha-in-training.

This month has been one massive motherf*ckin Shift. I share-vom personal observances such as this and people quip, " Saturn Returns!" I thought I did that at 27? Is this Back to the Future? Don't make me.

JPEG image-5937879CB3F9-1.jpeg

I had a fair predilection November would be a steamroller; I'm grateful for it and was NOT trying to wish my days away. But I was a little hasty for Nov 25. Heading south for Big Sur, MVP and energetic center, tomorrow through Sunday with Jacob's absurdly attractive nuclear family. I'm going to read books! I'm going to drink white wine at 11am! I'm going to hike for hours, maybe even while drinking white wine at 11am!

But what I'm really going to do is start thinking about the six-month plan. One-year, two-years, FIVE. Outlines and opportunities for emotional health are phenomena I am loathe to dismiss.

p.s. working out a new juke with tracks for you to take home.

Sun Airway

A few weeks ago Jill (left), Alethea (right) and I spun out to La Honda for a quick photoshoot that celebrated the immense talent and influence these two women have had on the design world.

I've told this story two-dozen times, but I love telling it because it's how I came to be sitting here and writing you. I found Jill and Alethea as Studio Choo on DesignSponge nearly a decade ago. I should have been writing purchase orders, and they were writing a column called "We Like it Wild." I was working as an assistant producer for an advertising shop in Richmond, VA. I wasn't quite sure what I was doing there, and was quite sure I wasn't very good at what I was doing, anyway.

I read their column like a dehydrated sea sponge; soaking up the washes of colors, coastal California scenery, the female-driven creativity. A Life that I wanted. I firmly decided from ergonomic seat of my polymer-riddled cubicle that I wanted to be a florist, and I wanted to work for Studio Choo. Two problems: 1. I didn't know how to work with flowers 2. I lived on the opposite side of the landmass. Actually three problems - these two women also had no idea who I was, and that I had already pledged my loyalty to them.

There's a number of years and living in-between that could go here - but there's sushi waiting and I gotta pack for Tahoe. Know this. I quit a stable, excellent job. I sold all my pointless sh*t. I left a really beautiful relationship. I broke the lease on my apartment. I told my mom and dad, my best friends and myself that I had no idea what I was going to do when I got there, but I was going. I packed my VW with a yoga mat, some snacks and some homesteading books. I drove across the country and landed in a isolated cabin in the middle of a deep dark dank redwood grove.

I drank a l o t of red wine with pensive Whitman-addled ardor. I smoked cigarettes before noon, drank cardamom coffee and journaled till my my hand turned into a claw. I met the mirror-image of the ambition of my Best Self. I farmed in Santa Cruz, and joined a powerful tribe of women. I moved to Barcelona on an infatuation, and moved back to CA because I needed to write a love letter. 

It took me over eight-weeks before I hit "send," and something close to eight-weeks later, I was hauling buckets of fermenting compost at Studio Choo. I never left. Jill and Alethea became my bosses, mentors and confidantes. They've set me straight, lifted me up and taught me everything I've asked to know. That beautiful embodiment of life and work that had captured me years ago has become my own habit. I'm doing what I love.

Studio Choo is entering a new era, and I'm no longer an integral part of it. If the pattern had stayed the same, I probably never would have left - but we all take the blades to our own cloth one way or another. This is simply the final yard they've smoothed over my shoulders.