Leigh Patterson

Leigh Patterson

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INTERVIEW BY CARIANN BRADLEY • PHOTOS BY CYDNEY COSETTE HOLM • AUGUST 20, 2019

YOU CAN ORDER "THE MOON LISTS" HERE.

INTERVIEW BY CARIANN BRADLEY • PHOTOS BY CYDNEY COSETTE HOLM • AUGUST 20, 2019

YOU CAN ORDER "THE MOON LISTS" HERE.

CARIANN: How did you begin “The Moon Lists” and where did this idea come from?


LEIGH: The Moon Lists started from reading an interview with photographer Sam Abell, a former National Geographic photographer who now lives in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. In the interview, he mentioned a personal project where ”Every full moon, my wife and I construct something we call the Moon List — about 25 questions that have evolved over 10 years or so to reconstruct the past 30 days since the last full moon." I wrote to Abell, requesting to see the questions on his list...and for permission to recreate his idea through the perspectives of different contributors. He kindly obliged. 


Originally I envisioned this project as strictly an interview series, where I would ask different women to respond to prompts based on their last month. I did this for a few years! More recently this has evolved into a book that more broadly explores rituals that can allow for a life experienced more deeply, using deceivingly simple prompts, list-making exercises, and sensorial inventories to invoke conversations, connection, and personal awareness. 


Next…it will evolve into something else (though that hasn’t fully crystallized yet). 


C: Do you do research for your work? If so, what/how do you research?


L: Yes but not because the project demands it but because I am a recreational researcher. I have used this project as an excuse to run down rabbit holes and chase esoteric ideas because they challenge me. My favorite way to research is in public domain archives, or image/information databases that are free to use and share. In college I interned at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, TX, one of the best literary/art archives in the world. After that, my first job out of college was for a literary archivist in New York. Research and piecing hidden worlds together through information thrills me! (I’m kinda boring though.)


C: I’m about a month into my copy, and I also talked to a friend who’s doing the book, too. She pointed this out –– I think that “The Moon Lists” really gives readers a reason to prioritize self-reflection and self-care. What’s some feedback you’ve gotten from readers now that the book is out?


L: That is very nice, thank you! I kind of hate the term “self reflection” because the term seems co-opted by generic mainstream brands hiding under a label of wellness or self-care…because it’s trendy and drives sales. As I mention in the book’s introduction, I deeply value my own Moon Lists moments — whether formally articulated or not — because they pull me out of my reactive routines and force me to investigate facets of myself that are easier to ignore. This to me is “self-care”: the acknowledgement that I am myself, whether or not I think I have the time, whether or not I feel hopeful or lazy or defeated. 

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C: At least in my experience, I feel like we are coming out of generations where self-care equates to selfishness. What do you want people to know about self-care? Or alternatively, what are some tips you have for people who want to focus inward?


L: My tip is to audit what types of experience makes you feel nourished, be it physical or mental…and then do those things. For a long time I thought I needed to meditate but I was always fighting against it. Not for me! Self-care is a means to an end — when I carve out time for the whatever ‘serves me’ (cliche/cringey phrase but I think this term is accurate, especially when these things are private or 100% selfish)…I have more perspective and am able to be a better woman, partner, boss, colleague, friend, daughter, citizen, and all-around human. 


Another tip is that: it isn’t all or nothing. 


Another tip is: be suspicious of marketing. What is often positioned as “self care” is actually just a product that’s spun to be sold in this narrative. Use your brain and assess what you actually need.


C: Your studio, Lucca, has done some incredible work. What’s your favorite project you’ve ever worked on, and what’s something on your bucket list to work on in the future?


L: Thank you. I get bored very quickly so I feel like every recent project is my “favorite.” Don’t make me choose!


In the future I would love to work with any person, brand, or organization working to more deeply and empathically understand humans and their relationships with technology, spaces, consumption, and each other. 


C: What does your creative process look like usually?


L: I love reading as a means of dipping into a creative mode of thinking. Whether it is fiction or nonfiction, I will read with a notebook and jot down notes with ideas that come from what emerges in the writing. I also take a lot of long walks and use it as a way of working through ideas, brainstorming, or sorting through a problem. Other than that I have no process, each case is different.


C: What are some books you think my readers should check out? "The Moon Lists" included, obviously :)


L: My favorite books are James Salter’s Light Years, Renata Adler’s Speedboat, and Anne Truitt’s Day Book. 

A few others I have liked recently are: Jia Tolentino’s Trick Mirror, all the Rachel Cusk novels, and How to Do Nothing by Jenny O’Dell. (Send me your recommendations if you have any! I am always looking/asking anyone I can find…)

C: At least in my experience, I feel like we are coming out of generations where self-care equates to selfishness. What do you want people to know about self-care? Or alternatively, what are some tips you have for people who want to focus inward?


L: My tip is to audit what types of experience makes you feel nourished, be it physical or mental…and then do those things. For a long time I thought I needed to meditate but I was always fighting against it. Not for me! Self-care is a means to an end — when I carve out time for the whatever ‘serves me’ (cliche/cringey phrase but I think this term is accurate, especially when these things are private or 100% selfish)…I have more perspective and am able to be a better woman, partner, boss, colleague, friend, daughter, citizen, and all-around human. 


Another tip is that: it isn’t all or nothing. 


Another tip is: be suspicious of marketing. What is often positioned as “self care” is actually just a product that’s spun to be sold in this narrative. Use your brain and assess what you actually need.


C: Your studio, Lucca, has done some incredible work. What’s your favorite project you’ve ever worked on, and what’s something on your bucket list to work on in the future?


L: Thank you. I get bored very quickly so I feel like every recent project is my “favorite.” Don’t make me choose!


In the future I would love to work with any person, brand, or organization working to more deeply and empathically understand humans and their relationships with technology, spaces, consumption, and each other. 


C: What does your creative process look like usually?


L: I love reading as a means of dipping into a creative mode of thinking. Whether it is fiction or nonfiction, I will read with a notebook and jot down notes with ideas that come from what emerges in the writing. I also take a lot of long walks and use it as a way of working through ideas, brainstorming, or sorting through a problem. Other than that I have no process, each case is different.


C: What are some books you think my readers should check out? "The Moon Lists" included, obviously :)


L: My favorite books are James Salter’s Light Years, Renata Adler’s Speedboat, and Anne Truitt’s Day Book. 

A few others I have liked recently are: Jia Tolentino’s Trick Mirror, all the Rachel Cusk novels, and How to Do Nothing by Jenny O’Dell. (Send me your recommendations if you have any! I am always looking/asking anyone I can find…)

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For advertising opportunities, please write to us at goldie@midnight-woman.com

 

Have you been to Midnight Woman? That's our sister.

Midnight Woman is an online platform that welcomes contributors of all kinds to submit personal experiences anonymously.

We aim to redefine the way we talk about what's happened to us, no matter the subject. l'Odet exists for the named to encourage the nameless.

Midnight Woman is an online platform that welcomes contributors of all kinds to submit personal experiences.

We aim to redefine the way we talk about what's happened to us, no matter the subject. L'Odet exists for the named to encourage the nameless.