Joshua Tree National Park, CA
“Don’t tell a girl with fire in her veins and hurricane bones what she should and shouldn’t do. In the blink of an eye, she will shatter that ridiculous cage you attempt to build around her beautiful bohemian spirit.” – Melody Lee – Moon Gypsy
I’m a 60’s child although I missed all the fun at Woodstock! Ok, I’ll admit I wasn’t a hippie, a protestor or wearing tie-dye and covered in peace signs, but I’ll always be a Boho girl at heart. This week, I’m taking you back with me to Joshua Tree National Park as the Desert series and the fun in the sun continues! Come on, let’s go!
It was right after New Years. I needed a break, a respite, a recharge, and some space to reflect and allow inspiration to flow through. I’ll always love the beach yet there’s something special that tugs at my heart and soul and pulls me straight to the desert. In a recent post, I opened up about a new direction I’m taking having found both the courage and the inspiration to do so on a trek to Joshua Tree National Park. The “Joshua Tree” is a unique species, found only in the High Mojave Desert. It was given that name by a group of Mormon settlers who crossed the Mojave in the mid-19th century. The tree’s fascinating shape reminded them of a story found in the Bible where Joshua reaches his hands up to the sky in prayer. The desert has a way of becoming a spiritual experience…at least it is for me. It’s where I head when I’m searching for clarity. There’s nothing like the stark, barren, peacefulness and silence of Joshua Tree to create that perfect nature’s vacuum leading to an internal space where inspiration can’t help but flow through.
My photog and I tend to have a “take no prisoners approach” when it comes to photo shoots. Having spent over five decades shying away from the camera, shrinking back in sheer terror when a lens came within 100 yards of me, it’s been a wild journey finding both myself and my confidence through my Midlife reinvention and a bit of modeling. A passion for fashion was in my DNA. Confidence was not! Most of my life was spent getting in my own damn way! I would tell myself every story imaginable as to why I couldn’t be in front of a camera. I was too ugly…too fat…I didn’t know how to smile…I wasn’t photogenic…and on and on the stories went. I certainly didn’t think anyone would care! Who would have believed thousands of women around the world would join me in my mission in the Forever Fierce Revolution? I would have been the first to tell you – no chance…no way…no how! The last few years have been a real baptism of fire, a rebirth on every level, one in which I’m hitting the erase button on the old stories. Remember that old Etch a Sketch when we were growing up? Ok – I’m dating myself! I’m shaking the sand, erasing the old picture and stories, and creating a brand new and empowering one.
They say when you’re feeling fearful of something, don’t run from it…run toward it?! (Does anyone happen to know who “THEY” is by the way???) That’s what I did. I ran full steam out right into the lens of the camera to bare my soul and take my life back. When you’ve spent an entire lifetime beating yourself up and feeling absolutely worthless, what have you got to lose by allowing yourself to be utterly raw and vulnerable? In my experience, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. At 57 years young, the “Middleness” of this stage of life added both power and a bit of urgency to my mission. That’s the beauty of Midlife. That Phoenix isn’t going to wait forever to rise. Truth is, you can’t stop it anyway. When it’s ready, it’s ready! The Phoenix has a way of crumpling those old stories in an instant and burning away what no longer serves you into a pile of ashes.
Back to the desert and why I selected a Boho “Spellbound” Maxi by Free People to star in the show. I’m half introvert and half extrovert by nature. I’m also a combination of Boho Style meets Red Carpet. On this particular foray to Joshua Tree, I brought along a collection of looks that mirrored various aspects of my personality. This maxi was the perfect mix of Boho with just the right touch of femininity in its design with hints of lace and ruffles. I’ve always been partial to shades of blue and this dress was no exception. The v-neck on the front of the dress dips very low. I could have chosen to wear a pretty cami underneath. Instead, I grabbed an oversize vintage turquoise pin found in one of my flea market outings with my daughter. I was raised on sale racks, thrift shops, and layaway. Mixing high low is not only practical, it’s a lot more interesting when it comes to creating your own style. The cowboy boots naturally lent themselves to this look. This particular style from Jeffrey Cambell was an easy choice with its subtle paisley design and soft taupe hue. It’s a style that sold out quickly but I’ve linked a similar pair from the designer. The desert tends to expose you to a variety of conditions, including lots of sunlight, which means bringing along a collection of hats for protection. The navy one has a large brim and is a classic from Rag and Bone. It’s easy to change up the look with a different color hat. The taupe hat is from Michael Stars. These hats are from prior seasons but I’ve linked a few current styles to choose from. The sunnies are classic RayBan style and seemed to fit the vibe. I didn’t need much in the way of accessories. I found this unusual and intricate turquoise cuff bracelet on a clearance sale at one of my favorite online sites, Samantha Wills. Did I mention I love a good sale? The hoop earrings were another major find at 90 percent off during Macy’s Black Friday sale last year. I’m a bit like a good hunting dog trained for the scent of a clearance sale! When one’s close by, I’m likely to sniff it out.
You can’t help but notice one of my favorite weekend totes by Forest Bound. The “Escape” bag is the ideal size for a short getaway. Made of high-quality canvas with a touch of leather detail, it’s one of those travel pieces people always stop and ask me where I’ve found it. I absolutely love experimenting on photo shoots. I bring a carload filled with different looks, accessories and a hand full of props and canvas the area as we drive along. All of a sudden, we’ll come across an ideal location with the perfect light and make our way across the expanse of desert or carefully scale a variety of rocks, desperately trying to avoid the cacti that seem poised to attack at any moment. This particular shoot began at the crack of dawn, just before sunrise. I’m definitely not a morning person but there’s something about a gorgeous sunrise that lures me out of any slumber. The desert can be deceiving. At first light, it was close to 30 degrees! Let’s just say I was “frickin’ freezing” tossing on a fuzzy coat I brought along in between shots. One of my favorite props to tag along on shoots is this bohemian ottoman. It’s not only the perfect prop but the ideal piece of furniture to have on hand at home. My former career was as an interior decorator and casual ottomans like this are not only practical for extra seating, they add a lovely touch to any room decor.
By this time, we’d made our way across miles and miles of desert expanse. You may be surprised to know that it can take 4-6 hours to drive through Joshua Tree if you want to see everything. And…trust me…once you get there, you’ll want to take full advantage of the scenic beauty. From the high desert to the low desert and everything in between, the vistas are out of this world not to mention to transformative and life-changing. I have lots more on the way to share in my desert series and I hope you’ll come along for the ride. If you’re looking for inspiration on a regular basis and some Moxie on your Monday to start your week off right, please subscribe to my newsletter and let’s Master Modern Midlife together. Yes, you and me…I hope. Cheers Beauties. Until next time!