Stories of Resilience & Transformation
Arizona based sound meditation teacher on the mystery of the desert.
Q: What is real beauty to you?
A: The sublime experience of the grand and mundane. Nothing is insignificant.
Q: What is your morning routine?
A: With juggling a business, early morning is the only time I get to myself. I try to make it to a 6 AM pilates class and do a quick Wim Hof breathwork meditation session to ground my mornings. I put on Ricari Studios compression suit to help with lymphatic drainage. For skincare, I wash my face with the Metamorph Cleansing Balm, then use a red/amber/pulsating light Nuface device which has given me incredible results with an autoimmune disease related issue I've been experiencing. While working with the redlight, I read my Sonhab emails to plan craft chocolate production for the day. Then I use the Nuface microcurrent device to sculpt my face. I follow that with patting on Taos Blue Day Cream. The smell envelops me, connecting me with the earth.
Q: What is your idea of a healing space?
A: Spending time in nature. I love hiking and camping and bringing the High West Skincare Set with me.
Q: What is a sound bath and how does this create a healing space?
A: Soundbaths are an aural, physical, and mental experience in which you receive the sounds in a meditative state and feel the sound vibrations within your body. Depending on the instruments played, those vibrations can feel quite strong. Sound meditation can be a healing experience as a form of self care, exploration of consciousness, restorative yogic sleep, and to allow for space and time to process and release emotions. Some instruments can provoke a stronger emotional reaction while others can put you in a deep and restorative state of Alpha, Theta, and Delta brainwaves.
Q: How does the desert inspire you?
A: The desert is a place of duality. It is a wild landscape with a thriving ecosystem of plants and animals, but it is also a harsh environment. The monsoon rains and the smell of creosote rejoice as waterfalls form on ancient red rocks. In the Southwest, there are so many hidden beautiful mind bending landscapes, sacred areas. You are rewarded with solitude in otherworldly places if you are willing to venture down remote dirt roads and hike across rugged landscapes. This is what called me to live in the desert.
Q: What do you think about when you imagine the desert?
A: Mystery and vastness
Q: What does resilience mean to you and how do you nurture inner fortitude?
A: The biggest trauma in my adult life radically changed my perception of myself, my voice, and my own power. I had to use my voice as a tool to seek justice and reclaim my power. It was the hardest and most terrifying thing I've ever done but the strength I've gained from speaking out continues to shape me and shows up in my work. Resilience can mean facing your biggest fears - while absolutely terrified and walking directly through the fire to make it to the other side- in a new form, stronger than before. This experience led me to practicing sound healing and starting my bean to bar chocolate business. They started as therapy for my own healing- in physical, mental, and spiritual health. They're now my art and love letter back to the world.
When Kristen travels she take her AYOND routine to-go with High West Skincare Set.
Artist and farmer Maida Branch opens up about her roots in Northern New Mexico.
Inspired by her family and the land from which they came, Maida Branch founded MAIDA in 2017 - an online collective of Indigenous and Indo-hispano artists.
Q: What makes someone or something beautiful?
A: Effortlessness is always so beautiful to me. Maybe because that’s what nature does so perfectly, so stunning in its naked state, always purely itself.
Q: You have an online shop dedicated to indigenous artists that nurtures sustainability on a sociological and environmental level. How important is mixing in vintage items with a modern creation from an artist? What draws you to both types of objects?
A: I’m drawn to pieces that look like they could be from thousands of years ago or made today. Aside from a select few pieces, I’ve designed or co-designed most of what’s sold. Often I think of a lesson or something I’m learning in my life I’m reflective of and how I wish I could wear something that represented that story and carry it in my life in a physical way. I take the steps to create it so I can have it as a totem and so others can too. Designs can also be very functional in their purpose like a series of churro wool blankets I’m working on. They’re inspired by designs from the Martinez Hacienda in Taos, NM. Josh Tafoya and I hand dyed the wool with plants foraged from the land where my partner and I live. A piece inspired by something quite old, for our everyday use today.
Q: What does does resilience mean to you?
A: I describe my project MAIDA as ‘a love story, a coming home story’ this is a reference to actual homecoming that is a response to Pueblo land being taken from us due to Spanish and American colonization and settler population of New Mexico, it’s also an internal reference to displacement and home being within us, wherever we may be. I speak to this from my experience as a Indo-hispano woman whose native heritage is directly related to forced slavery and the intermarrying of Pueblo women to Spanish men. My grandparents grew up farming and harvesting their animals as a means of survival in Dilia, near Anton Chico, New Mexico, once a known genízara community meaning that of mixed native slave descent. I’m two generations removed from living back on the land, my parents grew up in the big city of Santa Fe. The survival of our people and our culture despite all of the forces at odds with our existence is the definition of resilience to me.
Q: In a world that is increasingly experiencing climate anxiety. How important is transparency and what is a sustainable process when creating in terms of people and plant?
A: I’ve been thinking a lot about our obsession as people with our own immortality and our presence on this planet in perpetuity. I feel inspired by the fact that nature knows exactly what to do always, despite our belief that we have some control over it. We often think of ourselves as humans as separate from nature, I hope to compliment what nature already does so perfectly by living more in alignment with its teachings and cycles, and I hope to share this through MAIDA by highlighting humans that culturally already practice ‘sustainability’ and have for millennia. MAIDA work comes directly from the earth and when we’re gone it will be given back to the earth, like adobe houses or clay objects, silver, and wool - they’ll return to where they came from but support and compliment our existence while we’re here.
Q: How has living in the desert shaped your relationship with the world, are there examples of resilience that you can share?
A: My partner and I talk about how people reference the desert as if it’s just one thing. People who move here often say they were ‘called to the desert’, but in many ways New Mexico is so varied it can hardly be just that. If you want the desert Georgia O’Keeffe has popularized you can have that here, but what I think is beautiful about where I’m from is that it’s really uncategorical. Where I live now, I’m surrounded by Ponderosa forest, tall mountains and in the summer green green pastures, in the winter in moments it looks like a village in the Pyrenees, we don’t have the ocean but somehow we’re in rivers and swimming holes all summer.
But perhaps a characteristic that references resiliency that I’m most proud of in being from the desert, is that resiliency is demanded of all things here, its plants, animals, and people. Historically, we have always been self-sustaining and independent, dependent only on the land and its gifts, knowledgeable of how to survive even in the midst of what some would believe as lack. Deciding to come back home years ago and creating MAIDA required me to get really clear about my values, my relationship to place and my ancestors relationship to place one of the most important, that’s become a compass and led me right to where I always wanted to be. It took a lot of figuring out what I didn’t want to discover what I do, coming home feels like resilience to me, and has been the best decision I ever made.
Q: What is your skincare routine?
A: As a little girl I tried to emulate everything my mom did, and watching her wash her face each night, and look so soothed as she put oil of olay on her skin, I’ve always associated the beginning of day and end of day skincare time as important rituals. Since using Ayond I’ve been admiring its simplicity and a really powerful affect. I was drawn to the intention around ingredients and desert botanical focus. Looking to medicines that are directly from ones environment makes most sense to me.
Maida is seen with the Resilience Collection.
Artist and interior designer Carmen Nash takes us to her sacred space where beauty and storytelling meet.
Q: How has resilience played a part in starting your business?
A: I had to learn the entire business of vintage furniture resale and develop an eye for quality vintage without losing the message and aesthetic of what I knew I wanted my brand to be. The most difficult aspect for me was that I couldn't find anyone else doing the exact same thing as me. Initially this made me think I was doing something wrong and that I should switch my curation style to be more on trend. But I was bored with that and it didn't speak to me as a creative. Being resilient enough to push through my insecurities really paid off in creating something signature and unique.
Q: What is your morning routine?
A: Self-care is something that is very important to me but can also be tough to come by. I love combining hot showers with metamorph cleansing balm for a rich and relaxing showering experience. Also, I love to indulge my skin in the rock rose face serum slowly massaging into my skin and breathing in deeply. The best start to my day as a busy entrepreneur and mom.
Q: What does real beauty mean to you?
A: Real beauty for me comes from my faith in God. How I view objects and put them together is only how I articulate the feeling I have in my soul stemming from my relationship with him. When people enjoy the things I style and put together I hope that they feel the deeper meaning behind my art form. Beauty for me was not always felt on the exterior as a woman of a darker complexion. But through my faith and my art I unearthed something deeper and intrinsic which makes me feel more beautiful the more I pursue it.
Q: What do you look for when picking a piece for your store's collection?
A: When I am picking a piece for my store's collection I look to tell its story. Much like dating I'm initially very attracted to the outer appearance of the object. The shape of it, the texture and even the material all play a part in the initial attraction. However, the deeper beauty is really why I buy the object. The way the object speaks to me as an artist plays a significant part in the selection process.
Q: What does a sacred space look like for you?
A: A sacred space for me is a dwelling that I have slowly and lovingly put together. Collecting items that touch my soul and delight me when I wake in the morning and when I lay down in the evening. I love to combine elements of nature like fruit and plants in a space and use aromatic oils to heighten all senses.
Carmen is seen applying Rock Rose Face Serum.
Artist and Photographer, Home Phuangfueang on the power of quietness in Arizona.
Q: Where do you draw inspiration from when designing?
A: Nature and my surroundings. I recently moved to Arizona after living in bigger cities like Bangkok and New York. The quietness is teaching me much about myself and what I would like to create.
Q: What is your daily routine?
A: As young parents and business owners, my wife and I have found it difficult to balance taking care of ourselves. Finding enjoyment in small rituals during my morning shower are very important to my sanity. The relaxing scent of the Amber Elix Oil makes me feel deeply moisturized and ready for a long day. It’s great after shaving. In the evening after my son is asleep I wind down by massaging the creamy Metamorph Cleansing Balm into my skin and let it sit for a few minutes before melting it off with a hot washcloth. I then follow with the Rock Rose Serum which has a most dewy texture, and finally seal in the moisture with the Amber Elix Oil before my head hits the pillow.
Q: What does does resilience mean to you?
A: I am a full time father and trying artist, as well as a foreigner in this country so the need to be resilient is always with me. Resilience means to continue learning, growing and living no matter what because our future depends on it.
Q: How has living in the desert changed your life and how you see things?
A: The forms and smells and the natural design of these open spaces have opened my eyes and mind. I want to work with my hands more, to make shapes and feel natural materials. Growing up in the city I never saw the skyline, now I feel like there is no limit to nature and space.
Q: What role does place/location play in your creative projects?
A: It’s everything for me. I grow and change so much each time I experience a new place and it makes all the difference in my work.
Home is shown using Amber Elix Face Oil.