California Pt. I: Ojai

At the end of March/beginning of April, I had a work trip that sent me to Los Angeles for two weeks. While there, I had the chance to visit with my best friend, Sarah Comer, and founder of Inspire-Aspire: Be the Career Change.

Sarah strives to live a life of meaning. She left her job in fashion a number of years ago, committed to finding a career that would merge certain passions like philanthropy and female entrepreneurship. She wanted a job that made a difference, in her lives and others, that helped people while helping her. One that was self-rewarding and rooted in happiness and good. Finding this unicorn of a job on the existing job market proved to be fruitless, but, she realized that she didn't need to wait, and wait and wait for it to come to her. She could create the opportunity and her career change. And thus, Inspire-Aspire was born.

Visiting Sarah is always a welcome departure from East Coast life. Beyond the obviously warmer weather, the west coast has this unwavering ability to slow. me. down. In Boston, it's go time, always. In Los Angeles, it's quite the opposite. On top of that, a weekend with Sarah always proves to be a meditative weekend away and a chance to creatively reset.

The past two years (because 2016 sent me out to LA for a week & a half as well) we spent a day in Ojai, California. Ojai is easily the best day trip from Los Angeles that one might embark on.

Ojai, CA is small city northwest of LA. Nestled in a valley in the Topatopa Mountains, it's a hotbed for art galleries, small shops, great food and beautiful outdoor spaces for the public to access, meditate in, explore and just escape reality.

We cruised down Grimes Canyon down into the Ojai valley. The colors were off the wall vibrant. Winter rains made the California landscape come to life in ways that hadn't been seen in many years (see: desert super bloom). I could barely contain my excitement seeing the green, green hills and the bright blue sky. Back home they were getting their last snowfall of the year - this was undoubtedly a welcome site.

Our first stop was the Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts, (but I'll save the details and photos of that visit for the next post). After a couple hours exploring the studio space of Beatrice and the museum that was once her home, we headed downtown. We dined at Hip Vegan, an unassumingly delicious vegan cafe on the far end of town, then made our way to some of our favorite Ojai haunts. Bart's Books, Summer Camp, and Tipple & Ramble all made the trip. In between visits to some of these favorites, Sarah took me to some of her favorite meditation places and spiritual getaways.

Side note: Ojai draws many visitors annually because of the strong positive energy and spirituality felt within the town's limits. There are storied electromagnetic forces that draw visitors to this inland oasis like the millions that flock to the vortexes of Sedona. Perhaps it's the majesty of the mountains and the picturesque views. Or the seemingly perfect year-round weather that put the mind at ease. Regardless, the town's earliest inhabitants, the Chumash Indians, certainly felt the pull of what they believed were the valley’s healing properties. They called their home Ojai, which derives from the Ventureño Chumash word ʼawhaý which means "moon".

We stopped into the Krotona Institute of Theosophy, visiting the gardens and the labyrinth that welcome all visitors. We followed the path that presents a single undivided journey and represents a Cretan pattern. In this type of labyrinth, "no choices are needed other than traveling onward through the winding pattern to an assured goal" (source: Krotona Institute).

As the sun started to set behind the Topatopa Mountains and the valley was painted a golden hue, we set out for Meditation Mount. Meditation Mount, much like it's name presents, is a public mediation space. Open Wednesday - Sunday, 8:00AM until sunset, the property boasts beautiful gardens, an internal Garden of Peace, an auditorium, a reading room and of course, panoramic views of Ojai from it's scenic viewpoint. 

We watched as the sun dipped behind the mountains and the valley darkened as day turned to night. We drove back into town for one last meal and some end-of-day beverages at Chief's Peak at the Ojai Rancho Inn. We decompressed and reminisced about the day's events.

Though we had filled our day with activities, it felt world's away from the hustle and bustle of every day life in Boston. And, as hoped, I left Ojai, and the company of my friend, creatively inspired and reinvigorated with a renewed sense of energy and excitement. Ojai had worked her magic.

New England Ski Resort Digital Pins

I'm very much a winter sports enthusiast, and skiing is one of my favorites. I've been skiing since my early years, when my parents, whom were both ski instructors, decided it was time for my brother and I to gear up with some sticks. From day one, I was hooked. I fell in love with hucking myself down a hill or off the tiniest jump (always sure to pull a spread eagle, regardless of height off the ground), it was liberating!

One of my fondest memories growing up in New England during the winter months, was playing hooky from school with my dad and heading up to Pat's Peak or Ragged for a week-day filled with few tourists and clean turns. That couple with our weekend trips, what seemed like every weekend, made for an active winter.

And from an early age I began a collection of pins from my visits to the area resorts...with hopes of getting one for each mountain, and more. Just about every season they changed or introduced a new pin, some were quite basic, others had flashy details..either way, I loved making my way into the ski shop at the end of the day, and buying myself a $5 pin. It was life.

I still have the pins somewhere, tucked away in a desk at my parents house in New Hampshire..and probably something I'll never throw away.

I'm quite nostalgic. When it comes to design, I sometimes have an affinity towards retro or vintage. I am obsessed with old type, and the art that went into hand-painted and drawn signs. So it comes as no surprise, at least not to me, that I would have the desire to begin a digital "pin" design project for New England's ski resorts. A touch of the old mixed with the new. Here's a start on this, more will come over the next few weeks, months or whenever I find time...

The Maine Way

Oftentimes when I find a lull in my work schedule, I do what most normal people do, such as go for a long run, take a much needed R&R day, or heck, maybe even get my nails done. Yeah right. Since I'm off-par when it comes to what I consider "normal" free-time-filling activities, I'm usually making more work for myself...to me, a "lull" means designing something random, cooking up & photographing a recipe, or doing some much needed t.e.l.l. work.

All things aside, that's what keeps me happy. Over the years, I've become the kind of person who feels unaccomplished if they're not working towards something greater...even if it's just photographing caramel apples in the kitchen...it is for a greater cause. Inevitably I have those days/nights where a lull turns into becoming one with the couch and doing absolutely nothing, but those days don't happen often. In between those occurrences I love to keep busy with whatever random project I'm looking to start (or finish) at the moment.

Enter the "Maine" sweatshirt I just designed. Since our wedding in July, which took place in York, Maine, I've been on a real Maine kick. I love the state, and don't get to spend enough time there. Until I do, I'll design random things to show my love.  Here's a sample of some of the fun I've had with Maine.

The Maine Way Sweatshirt
Coming to an online shop in the near future!

A custom York, ME tote created for our wedding welcome bags,
Maine postcards and Maine-themed custom wrapping paper for bridesmaid gifts.