Alive in New Mexico

Alive in New Mexico

I took a trip at the end of September/beginning of October to New Mexico with my sister. Road tripping out to the southwest is something I have wanted to do for a while. For over a year it has been steadily streaming through my brain, “get to New Mexico”. I don’t know where this started or why but the seed was implanted. That seed had another little seed inside it and it said “get to New Mexico and see Georgia O’Keeffe’s home and studio in Abiquiu.”

Over the last year, these seeds had grown into a big fucking tree. Strong, it dominated my thoughts regularly. No matter what I did it was on my mind. I want to road trip to New Mexico and see Georgia O’Keeffe’s home/studio in Abiquiu. That looped perpetually but I kept it to myself. Why? Who knows it all seems silly in retrospect, now having been there. Who wouldn’t want to road trip to New Mexico???

Finally, this past July I said it out loud to my sister to see if she might be interested. She was interested in way most people are interested in vague plans for the future. “Sure, that could be fun” aka whatever, maybe, ask me when you’re serious, probably not going to happen.

What I’ve learned about manifestation is that when you want something enough, think about it enough, a path will show itself, and an opportunity will present itself. Two weeks later my sister tells me her college friend just invited her to a Mumford & Sons concert in Albuquerque where her parents have a condo. Opportunity. To which I respond, “Yes, we’re going! Wait, can I invite myself? Can I please crash this?! And can we please see Georgia O’Keeffe?!!!” And just like that we went to New Mexico.

Not without me becoming a stressed out monster trying to plan as I learned New Mexico is a big place and not all the things I want to do were close to each other. But we did it! My sister and I rented a Nissan Versa or as we lovingly called it the tin box, which barely survived the hurricane rain from Sedona to Santa Fe. Once we had our car, our flight home, places to sleep, Georgia’s tour locked, I could relax and fly by the seat of my pants.

It was just my sister and I for the first 3 days on the road from Palm Springs to Sedona to Santa Fe. We were together exploring new places neither of us had been before. We had the no plan, plan for activities and basically just yelped or asked someone to recommend places to go and see. Those first 3 days with her is one of those amazing memories I’ll tuck away and keep close to me always. She is the best person to adventure with and I can’t wait to keep exploring with her.

The last 4 days of our week long adventure were jam-packed days of doing and seeing really cool shit. We went to the White Sands, the Balloon Fiesta and ended with a Mumford & Sons concert where I basically wanted to cry with joy, happiness and exhaustion. 

I fell unabashedly in love with New Mexico, especially Santa Fe where I realized I had needed to get to for some time. Like an old friend I didn’t know I missed until I saw them. Waking up and spending the morning walking through downtown Santa Fe was like finding a piece of myself I didn’t realize I was missing. I am aware a lot of people have this same feeling in Santa Fe or New Mexico in general. There is definitely an energy oozing out there that calls to the soul. I didn’t want to leave. I still don’t want to leave.

I am starting to believe/understand that parts of ourselves are scattered in unexpected places that we are meant to find and return back to ourselves, like missing puzzle pieces. It helps us to keep growing, keep us ourselves and keep us looking.  I was so blown away by this feeling in New Mexico, in Santa Fe, and in Abiquiu in Georgia’s home. It was a lesson in reminding me that even without reasoning I know and trust where I need to go. It was a reminder of my intuition, my gut feelings, whatever you want to call it, never leads me astray. Maybe I need to stop asking for a reason when I feel called to go somewhere or do something. I need to learn to say okay, I trust you. I was reminded I work best when I listen to and act on what I feel is right for myself. The way I feel is my compass, my language in this life. I know in this society we praise being logical or rational but I don’t operate there most days. I don’t trust only logic and rational. I trust the way I feel to lead me to logic and rational. I trust the voice that says get to New Mexico.

Being in New Mexico at Georgia O’Keeffe’s beautiful compound I was reminded of that, not just my own inner voice as my guide through life but the way I was blocking myself from expressing it. When experiencing another artist’s home as I did, I realized that I was still trying to speak the collective language instead of my own. This woman lived her life exactly as she wanted to. She was deeply artistic, deeply feeling and saw the world in her way and shared that unapologetically. She knew she saw things differently, did things differently and she trusted that her language was right for her. It was so beautiful, impactful that it forced me to realize I had been neglecting that within my own self.


She had these piles and piles of rocks everywhere. Displayed as jewels and effortlessly together in all places small and large on her compound. I had forgotten how I use to do the same, collect rocks like jewels. As a little girl, I use to collect rocks like it was my job. My family would go on regular family trips to Lake Havasu where I would go out searching for rocks any chance I could. We would dock the boat and I would go on an expedition to find rocks while melting in the summer sun.  Not just any rocks, rocks that spoke to me, that were unique or special. I did this all the time. I loved doing this. I never wanted to do water sports or jump off cliffs. I wanted to find beautiful rocks. Of course this was baffling to my family. Especially my parents, who like most people, did not really enjoy carting around rock collections in the 115-degree heat. I’m not sure where or when but I stop doing this. Stopped searching the beaches for jewels.

Seeing Georgia O’Keeffe’s massive collection brought me back to that, wondering why I stopped collecting? She was an adult and did this? I love this. Why? Why? Why? I stopped because somewhere along the lines I thought it was silly or maybe annoying, weird and grew out of it. I stopped because I stopped. Maybe I thought like most childhood things you have to grow up and let it go. It also, gets tiring trying to explain something you can’t really explain.

I am looking at Georgia O’Keeffe’s rocks and I am looking at myself. Shit, I forgot and there I am. I don’t have to explain myself anymore. I don’t have to hide away my quirks anymore. She didn’t do that why would I? In that moment I felt close to a part of myself I had tucked away neatly in a corner. There I was. Right there this piece of myself that I spent 14 hours in a car to feel was right here with me all along, just tucked away.

What else have I been tucking neatly away? That is what experiences do right? Break you open more to yourself. That’s what I think, what I felt. We go places to find ourselves, to experience ourselves in the world around us. We find ourselves again and again, in the most unexpected places, picking up another piece to our puzzle. Reminding us of whom we are. The little girl who loved rocks seeing another woman who also loves rocks.

This home of an artist and woman I’ve always greatly admired and loved, lifted up the starved creative person within myself. I realized I have everything I need to be the person I really want to be, the person I already am. Stop trying to find someone else. Just be you all flawed, weird and neurotic. Do it your way.

Sometimes you have to see others do it well before you think you can do it. I felt like I had a boost for the first time in a while. I had a piece of myself returned to me and felt alive, close to my authentic* self.

The most profound things are so simple. I always think aha moments will be loud like the endless stream of “get to New Mexico” but the real ones are simple. A pile of rocks and there I am. 

I’m tired of hiding or being afraid of what people might think. It robs me every time of what I really love. I love beauty, I love being a woman, I love helping women and I love sharing women’s stories. But I can only do that if I start being honest about my own beauty, my own womanhood, helping myself and sharing my own story too.

So with that I am back on the site. I took a break in the summer and now into fall because I was unsure about what I was saying, what I wanted here. I was afraid to put all of me here. But I want to make this a space of honesty for not just myself but all women. There are some new ideas and ways of doing I will be trying out and I hope you like them. I hope you will tell me when you do and gently when you don’t. I hope it becomes a space you find puzzle pieces of yourself.

My delightful editor Kristen Fogle will be contributing to site as well with her own commentary and interviews. She is one of the best people I know with a great voice for the female perspective. I hope you enjoy her as much as I do.

Mostly, I’m excited to be back here collecting rocks. Thank you for reading. More to come.

“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life-and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I’ve wanted to do”- Georgia O’Keeffe

 Xx Janelle

*the word authentic is used a lot these days which can elicits eye-rolling but it hits the nail on the head




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