Stripped: I'm Too Much
Paige Geffen_Object & Us_Stripped_Too Much

I have felt that I'm “too much" my entire life.  I'm too intense.  Too passionate.  Too compassionate.  Too sensitive.  I wrote a sentence for my piece in Jane Magazine issue five that may best describe this:  

“I concealed my intensity in order to exist within a culture that champions aloofness.”

While I no longer want to conceal this part of myself because it is paramount to my being, de-conditioning does not happen overnight.  I often feel misunderstood because I find deep connections in relationships and situations where others seem to feel less so.   I've never been able to be "cultured" enough to be conditioned in this way.   Or perhaps I’m just not drinking the cool-aid.  I am not cool enough to hold back.  I simply cannot be tamed. 

I have been gaslighted many times in my life for having the audacity to use the word “connection" - dare I say it!  That word does not mean that I want you to be my best friend or life partner.  A connection can last a lifetime, yet it can also last for just an hour.  Even a strong connection does not denote an associated relationship status to go along with it.  I personally think everyone else needs to get off the cool-aid and cool off with their projections, which most likely point to a fear of intimacy.  However, it's not my business what other people fear or don't fear and how they act or don't act.  

Beyond this, I also sometimes feel like I’m “too much" for myself.  I have so many feelings that I don't even know what to do with them.  Oftentimes, I feel like "I'm STILL having to feel this?!  When will it go away?”  Yet, I know the answer isn't to suppress those feelings.  When I do so, they come up over and over again in different situations, entangled with the same messages, which equate to the same feelings (simply different packaging).  It comes down to this:  I'm afraid of my own power, so I dim it.  Perhaps I do so in order to make others more comfortable, but beneath that, there's fear of truly showing up as my deepest, fullest self.  Because what will that bring?

I recently experienced a situation where I edited/modified my truth in order for it to be “appropriate” within the context of the situation.  Had I stated my truth with some more heart and left room for a bit of messiness, rather than with proper and structured wording, perhaps I wouldn't have grappled with feeling disappointed in myself afterwards.  Everything is a lesson.  This exact experience lead me to truly feeling into this “too much-ness.”  It came to the surface during a conversation with a dear friend, which guided me to getting to the simple truth of the situation and of myself. What we don't accept, we repress.    Acceptance is about receiving - receiving awareness, receiving presence, receiving truth.  When I don’t share my truth, I shut myself off from receiving.  And I am afraid of just that - truly receiving.  

The deepest work we do doesn’t always come from healing sessions or intentionally trying to make shifts.  It often comes from the situations and relationships that show up in our lives, and if we pay attention, we can learn and grow tremendously.  When something feels “off,” or when you are not happy with how you may have handled a situation or responded to someone, if you get in touch with your feelings and emotions and let them come to the surface, deeper truths can be revealed.  The truth is simple.  It doesn’t require editing or explanation.  It just is, and it is powerful.  

We can look to our objects to help us to sit with ourselves.  They are the invitations to pause, to quiet the mind, and to get into the physical.  Simply touching an object while breathing into the body can bring enough awareness to access a wealth of internal wisdom.  I'm now working on receiving.  From others yes, but from my objects as well.  My practices right now revolve around receiving my feelings and emotions, so that I can allow them to surface.  The more I sit with my "too much-ness,” the less I feel that I’m too much, or not enough.  I'm not only allowing my feelings to express themselves, but I'm also separating them from my being, in order to set myself free. 

Mused: Sweet Summer Solstice
Mused_Summer Solstice

Today is summer solstice (in the northern hemisphere) - the longest day of the year.  It's officially summer.  Kapha season is over, and we may be ready for beaches, barbecues, and fun in the sun.  Well, maybe not.  I have been feeling incredibly inward lately.  Perhaps because I miss the ocean while living landlocked in the desert, which is a new experience for me.  Or perhaps it’s because we are entering Cancer season, and I'm feeling like I need a crab shell right now.  Regardless, it has been a whirlwind of a time with many shifts and a bit of chaos.  Finding comfort is a year-round task, not reserved just for cold months.  Yet in the summer, we generally want to transform comfort into ease.  Fluidity.  Movement.  Effortlessness.  Life does not always give this to us; however, we can use our objects and surroundings intentionally, in order to pause and practice presence (with ease).  Here are some objects to practice with, as well as a playlist for fluidity and perhaps some fun.  I've included a suggested practice in the first featured item of this round-up, and you can browse the Holiday Self-Care Guide for more rituals ideas here.

Brittany Bogan is a Los Angeles based artist.  I recently came across her work and felt immediately captivated by her use of color, texture, and shape.  You can find more of her work here.

Observe a work of art.  Whether it’s a piece you own hanging in your home, or a work pictured in a book, sit with it for 20 minutes.  Set the timer.  Allow yourself to be in an awareness state, which means that you will be observing what comes up without judgement.  This is a neutral practice.  Journal after the experience.  I suggest doing this once a week with the same work for one month, so that you can track the evolution of your experience.  

I first tried on Nu Swim four years ago at one of my staple Los Angeles stores, Passenger.  It was my favorite and most-worn suit until it unfortunately went missing in Palm Springs on my way to NM in the fall.  After originating in California, Nu Swim is now based in New York and manufactured sustainably in the USA.  Their pieces are made with regenerated synthetics, mixed with natural materials "that can be worn as an uncomplicated second skin."  Their fabrics are incredibly comfortable, durable, and truly feel like second skin.  I’ve been loving the new color-ways, and this specific suit gives that pop of liveliness I’ve been feeling I need right now. Wear it to the beach/pool/river, or under your favorite pair of slouchy denim.

Winden is a jewelry and accessories company by my dear friend, Becca.  I own the barrette shown above (that’s actually me pictured in it), and I wear it on the regular.  It's the perfect small accessory for summer to keep hair off of the face when dealing with the heat.  Winden is based here in Santa Fe, and every piece of jewelry is made my hand using recycled materials.  The barrettes are made in France using plant-based plastic.  Becca is a true artist and not only designs the pieces herself, but also works with her hands using metal and stone to create the original designs.  I often find her working in her studio when I go to visit her at home.  She is meticulous as they come, and I respect and honor her process.  Browse more items here.

I came across Lady White Co. while shopping in County Ltd. in Silver Lake.  I got to know one of the founders, Taylor, a bit because I frequented the store.  I love to support businesses owned by people who are not only passionate about what they do, but who also live by the lifestyle they are prescribing.  The brand started off as a t-shirt company, and has since expanded into sportswear.  I own one of their tees and hope to acquire some more pieces.  The sweatpants shown above are made of 100% cotton fleece and perfect for chilly summer nights here in Santa Fe.  The thermal is also 100% cotton and milled in Los Angeles.  It's rare to find basics made in interesting silhouettes, and this is something I value, as my wardrobe is made of transitional basics.  All of their pieces can easily be unisex.

Klur is a female, black-owned “botanically based collection of high-performance skincare and multi-purpose self-care products.” The founder, Lesley, who also happens to be a dear friend of mine, formulated the line based on her clients.  She's been a working esthetician for 10 years and has a wealth of knowledge on every ingredient in her line.   Klur is not only an ethical and sustainable company, but also an inclusive one.  All products are unisex and made for all people of all ages.  Here is an excerpt from their site:  "we believe that sustainability not only means addressing the long-term impact on our ecosystem but that we must also make products that meet the demands of everyday life."  I love this.  There is no point in accumulating and accumulating products that aren’t meant for everyday use.  Klur is a highly active, yet simple approach to clean beauty.  I use the Gentle Matter cleanser and Symmetry Fluid every single day.  The Skin Soil pictured above is the perfect addition to a summer skin routine, in order to remove excess residue from sweat.  I hope to incorporate this gentle exfoliator as well as the Brilliant Light serum into my routine soon.

I love a good summer knit.  There may be no better feeling than drying off after a dip in the ocean or a pool as the sun is setting and pulling a knit over your swimsuit.  Ply Knits “is a series of gentle, essential knitwear made by Carolyn Yim at her family's third-generation factory.”  Carolyn uses mostly recycled or deadstock yarn to make Ply’s beautiful pieces.  The simplicity and attention to detail in each piece is enviable.  The Eastern T-Shirt, shown above, comes in a few different color combinations.  Browse more here.

Shaina Mote is one of my absolute favorite fashion brands.  This female-owned and designed company creates the most effortlessly elegant pieces that feel current yet timeless.  I gasped when I saw this sheer top on my Instagram feed, as the introduction to the Air Collection, made of deadstock silk organza and satins.  Shaina Mote is a sustainable brand and all pieces are designed and made in Los Angeles.  They “are dedicated to fair, American made production," and “have centered [their] ethos and practices around supporting the local economy and nurturing the trades and skills found within domestic garment manufacturing."  Enough said (or rather, written).

I love the name of the ceramics studio, Salad Days, because it shares the name of an album title with one of my favorite artists, Mac Demarco.  Salad Days Ceramics are handmade by Lucy Coote in Berhampore, Wellington.  She makes wheel thrown and hand built pieces in her home studio, with a focus on function and tactility, in order to create pieces for everyday use and enjoyment.  All pieces are made from stoneware and earthenware clays.  These jugs are simple and stunning and perfect for cold summer drinks.

F. Miller Skincare is owned by my dear friend, Fran Miller.  Yes, I have a lot of dear friends, and three of them are featured here today.  My friends make cool shit.  This past fall, Fran sent me one of her tie dye tees made from 100% organic Egyptian cotton.  I basically live in it. She uses natural materials to dye them with, such as sandalwood and avocado skins.  Each tee is one of a kind, and I featured the Marfa above.  Also browse her amazing line of skin/beauty care.  

Don’t forget to listen to the playlist here.

Designer Spotlight x Studio Mari
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Studio Mari_Paige Geffen_01

Studio Mari is a Los Angeles based jewelry studio by Mari Beltran.  Each piece is first created by Mari by hand before being cast by local artisans.  Her designs are sculptural, distinctive, and timeless.  I had the honor of photographing some of her pieces (analog and digital).  

The Joan ring came to me at a very pivotal time in my life, and it has become a staple object that reminds me of my own tenacity and individuality.  The description reads:  “this ring is all about the swerve - veering off course to find new adventures.”  When I slide it onto my ring finger, I consciously take-in the act of bravery of diving into the unknown to start anew in New Mexico.  It's only fitting that Mari’s work is inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe.  

The Crescent rings are incredibly versatile, and I love to wear them both together and separately.  They are inspired by the waxing and waning of the moon, and I always feel this in the feminine power they exude.

I am excited to see what Mari continues to create as her studio grows and evolves.

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Stripped: Meeting My Shadow
Paige Geffen_Jane Magazine
Paige Geffen_Jane Magazine_Figs Underwear

I thought that following the voice to come here to New Mexico would potentially relieve me of the seemingly bottomless anguish I was experiencing, but I never expected that it would instead bring me to meet my shadow. There is no denying that darkness lives within all of us, yet the importance lies not in its existence but rather in how we choose to engage with it. I hid from my own darkness for so long. I built walls of black-and-white boundaries around me so that I wouldn’t have to take on the underbelly, for fear of truly meeting myself. I stuffed it deep into corners of my body, only to repress my true appetite for self-exploration and connection. I concealed my intensity in order to exist within a culture that champions aloofness. This torment only grew into an abyss of longing that would eventually lead me to unearth the roots of who I truly am.  I needed the physical space to explore this, to drive into foreign sunsets and foreign lands in order to gain the metaphysical space to allow my innermost fears and desires to reveal themselves.  Now, instead of building walls, I’m tearing them down. I’m allowing myself to meet my shadow with my gaze. To hold it. To honour it. To allow it to breathe and to permeate every part of my being. I’m permitting my life to fall apart and to get messy. I’m permitting myself to fall apart and to get messy. I am more authentic in my unravelling than in my needing to be “good.” And here I lie, naked, stripped, and raw. The dirt is exposed, but it only rots so that I can renew. 

-an excerpt from my piece in Jane Magazine issue five - you can purchase here

A little expansion on this:

Rather than denouncing people and situations because “I deserve better,” I’ve been showing up for these sticky, grey areas.  I’ve been engaging, listening, and learning.  I thought that my standards and morals carried too much integrity to engage with anything that was not in the realm of what I felt was “right” for me.  However, there was nativity in this for me - shadow work I was too afraid to dive into, parts of myself I was too afraid to look at.  We are often taught that if we show up for these types of things than we aren’t leaving room for better things to come through.  For some of us that may be true, but that hasn’t been my path.  My work/learning involves going there. 

I’m allowing myself to break down, to be a fucking mess.  To not have the answers.  To be the least intelligent person in the room.  To not give a shit.   To give too many shits.  To fuck up.  To not do the right thing.  Not because I don’t care for myself, but because I do.  I can trust myself.  I trust that when something is not in alignment or me that I will set a boundary and speak my truth.  But if I don’t allow myself to engage at all, I am missing the opportunity to learn from a situation or another person.  We don’t need to denounce the dark to get to the light, but rather to face it.   

What do you feel you have to write off? What do you feel shameful of? What situations/people have been triggering for you regarding this? I encourage you to explore these questions in your journal. You can use your objects as helpful tools as you do this work. I pause and practice rituals to ground into my body, and to encourage deeper support and release.