My Creative Life: Jennifer Louden

Have you met Jen Louden? She’s the best-selling author of six books, a teacher, retreat leader and all-round powerhouse of kindness and honesty. Jen beams such wonderful energy into the world and you only have to watch one of her videos to know she does everything with integrity and care (which is why i love her so). Last year I signed up for her fantastic Teach Now* class and I’ll be doing it again this month – as my path as a teacher grows and expands, learning from Jen and Michelle was exactly what I needed — highly recommended!

So with that said, please welcome the luminous Jen Louden to the stand…

SC: Did you always know you’d teach and write? How did this path begin for you, Jen?

JL: If you ask my family, they would say I’ve been telling people what to do since I started talking – maybe before. I’m fairly insufferable.

I’m passionate about helping and I’m over-the-moon passionate about creating. Besides love, it’s what makes life worth living for me.

So I always knew I would create but not how or what. It’s been difficult – and most days still is – to find the right form. I was drawn to art, photography and film-making as a kid but truly, I sucked, even though I made it through USC film school. That is where I discovered writing, and from there, teaching. So that’s where I play these days!

Could you describe a typical day?

Snuggle with the sweetheart. Snuggle with sweetheart and the little doodle dogs.

Drink some healthy stuff (E3Live and kefir) then off to my studio for asana and meditation and chanting – 5 days a week, not usually on the weekends, like to be a goof off then.  

Then quick email check in because there are often little emergencies to deal with. Black tea with stevia, more water, and work until I take Lilly, my 16 year old, to school. I use that as a break to get off the computer and into creative work when I get back – but sometimes, okay, often, I cheat and have to peel myself off Twitter and email an hour later.  I spend the day writing, teaching, creating content for my Savor & Serve Cafe, banging my head up against the wall, telling people about my work, and not getting out in the world enough.

Exercise happens somewhere in there most days – I suffer immediately if I don’t move my body. I’m usually cooked by 4 and need a long break, then do email again in the evening after dinner.

Evenings are mostly about helping with homework and reading!

How do you prepare yourself before leading a retreat? I imagine they must take a lot out of you!

What takes a lot out of me is trying to be someone I’m not. Truly, when I can settle in to being utterly myself and not think I’m supposed to be wise or know it all, I have a blast.  

I’m about to lead a new retreat at Kripalu, Stepping into the Shero’s Journey, and that is going to require some real digging and research. I always always start with me on the couch in the studio with my journal. What do I know that I want to share? What stories do I have?

Then I start thinking about who do I want to interview? What books do I want to revisit?

Then I start writing bits down on post it notes and looking for a flow. I think in modules – so I might teach Conditions of Enoughness (lecture) then an exercise (so people can get it) then a way to “dump their baskets” or share what they’ve learned. I also consider different learning styles – it’s so easy as a teacher to fall into teaching the way you like to learn and forget there are other learning styles, like visual learners or auditory or kinesthetic.

I also spend time in meditation blessing the women who are coming and asking what they need, and then I’m sure to rest rest rest the day before~

I’m so inspired by your new Savor & Serve Experiment! Could you share with us what inspired this new direction?

Longing. Longing to make a more direct difference. Longing to face into the fact our planet is in deep shit and we all need to find our way to help. Longing to know my life matters. Longing to be fully engaged in what I’m doing. Longing to say to the women who have followed me for years, “Self-care is essential but so is world care. We must do both. We can do both!”  But since I have no idea how to do both, especially the save the world part, I made it an experiment.  

What one thing could we do right now to savor our lives more?

Stop trying to change anything about this very moment. Stop judging anything about this very moment. Stop thinking that you will do this when you are done with whatever you are thinking you will do next.  Do it now. (I just did.)

Second thing to do – breath directly into your heart. Right now. Feel the longing to be intimate with yourself and life.  Feel how overwhelming and tender that longing is and rest there. Even for 2 seconds.

What and who inspires you? Please share some hot links :)

You do! You are so talented and full of beauty. I took Unravelling just to watch your videos. My daughter (she’s 16) inspires me – she’s doesn’t bend to peer pressure. Amazing.  Desiree Adaway is a new friend who inspires me.  Jody Williams who won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work on banning land mines blows me away. Pema Chodron because she’s like me but way smarter and more enlightened.  My friend Elizabeth Lesser in this TED talk “Take the Other to Lunch.” My sweetheart Bob who works hard for the planet everyday.

What is the message you want to share with the world? (in other words, what do you consider to be your life’s work?)

Be kind to yourself and share that kindness with the world – and – it really is possible to be whole and at peace – yes, really, and thus it really is possible to change the world.

What are you working on next?

Besides my Savor & Serve Experiment, this month I’m leading Teach Now again with Michele Lisenbury Christensen. It’s all about how to teach with more ease and joy, and it’s also about finding your voice and your power, and sharing it. It’s about changing the world through sharing what you love – and doing that in a way that brings you alive. It includes 6 recorded classes, 5 live integration calls, work sheets, homework, videos, guided meditations, and something like 28+ master teacher interviews with people like Sharon Salzburg, Parker Palmer, Mark Nepo, Cheri Huber, Meg Wheatley, Elizabeth Lesser – really great stuff.

The program starts March 24th with a free class on where you are on the teacher’s path, how to give yourself the full permission you need to teach, and lots more. It’s not a sales spiel, it’s the actual first class.  The people who took it last time – 120 – loved it and many had been teaching for years, and some had never taught.  And people actually used the materials, and did the work – love that!

You’re having a dinner party and can invite six famous people from the past or present – who would you choose and why?

Buddha – I want transmission!
Jesus – what do you think of Christianity?
Hildegard of Bingen – so what’s it like to be so creative?
Homer – how the heck did you remember those epics?
Cleopatra – teach me some strategy, baby.
Okay, weird but I’d be happy at that party.  But then again, I’m happy at most any party, especially one with you, Susannah. Thanks for inviting me to yours!

* * * * *

Isn’t she awesome? Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us today, Jen!

* I’m an affiliate for Teach Now as I loved it so much and want to help spread the word, so if you want to learn more about sharing what you know, sign up and try the first class! :)

My Creative Life: Susan Piver

I had the incredible good fortune to meet Susan Piver last year while I was visiting the States, and in the short time we had together I completely fell in love with her — she was warm, gracious and just lovely. At the time I didn’t realise I was sitting with a New York Times bestselling author who’d appeared on the Oprah show, so while i babbled on excitedly about meeting my agent and editor the next day, Susan listened and asked questions and shared my excitement. Beautifully humble and full of smiles, it’s so clear that the wisdom she shares in her books is the way she lives her life. Such an inspiration.

So without further ado, please welcome Susan Piver to the stand!

SC: Did you always know you’d write and teach? How did this path begin for you?

SP: No, I never had any idea I’d write and teach although as a child, all I wanted to do was read and write. I wrote stories about outer space and created reports on self-assigned topics. I would open the photography book “The Family of Man” and write a story about whatever photo caught my eye. I used to open the Encyclopedia and condense long articles into shorter pieces. When I was 10 years old, I began reading my parents’ child psychology books. I thought they were useless (ah, the arrogance of youth) and took it upon myself to write one from a child’s perspective. At the time, this made complete sense. So rather than paying attention in class, I observed my classmates covertly and made notes about their behaviour and the motivation that may have inspired it. I am not even kidding.

I held writers in such high esteem that by the time I got around to considering career options, it never occurred to me that I or anyone I would ever know could aspire to something this great. So I forgot about my love of words and became a bartender. I forgot about the joy of reaching into space for the means to describe a particular emotional state. I forgot that when I was 14, I begged my parents to let me take a year away from school to write. I literally forgot this; my mother reminded me about it a few years ago.

At some point, I made a career in the music business and lived in New York CIty. When I was thinking of getting married (over 10 years ago now), I went to the bookstore to find something that could explain how this could possibly make any sense. Get married?! Why would I do this to someone I liked? All the books I found were about dresses, so I went home and started writing down questions like, “Will we keep our money in the same bank account?” and “What will your kid call me?” Basic stuff. Someone said that it would make a good book and because I lived in NYC and worked in the entertainment biz, I knew an agent. I asked him what he thought. “Maybe,” he said. Long story short, it became a book and by complete accident I got on the Oprah show, it became a NY Times best seller and, lo, I was a writer.

How did you find your way to Buddhism?

Since my child psychology reading days, I continued to read widely, searching for anything that could explain what the hell was going on. One day I was reading a book called “The Heart of the Buddha” by Tibetan meditation master Chogyam Trungpa who said that the only possible spiritual path was your personal experience. Each of us had to have faith in our own minds, hearts, and wisdom–and nothing outside of ourselves. Holy crap, I thought. This is how I already think. I must be a Buddhist! I didn’t know that’s what it was called.

From that moment on, auspicious coincidence after coincidence arose to guide me to the path I’m still on as part of the Shambhala Buddhist lineage.

Could you describe a typical day?

I get up quite early–5 or 5:30am. I spend from 6-8am doing my practice, which involves meditation, journaling, and some study, i.e. reading from a dharma book. These hours are precious to me. Then I try to go to the gym, which is only 2 minutes from my house, so I have no excuses. However, I find many. In any case. My ideal is to write until 12 or 1 and then spend the rest of the day doing administrative stuff around the business of being a writer. Then my husband comes home and we have dinner around 8 or 9pm and hang out.

Or not. Some days, I just can’t make any kind of schedule stick. I spend a fair amount of time in a state of semi-collapse: uncertain, confused, unable to figure out how what I thought was a good idea yesterday could have any possible meaning today. So I don’t want to make it sound like I’ve got it all figured out or anything. I do NOT.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a meditation practice?

To learn it from a qualified teacher, meaning someone who is connected to a lineage that is older than, say, two thousand five hundred years. No new age nonsense. Go for time-tested wisdom.

The second piece of advice is to set up something really, really doable: like, I’m going to meditate for 10 minutes a day, M-F, for a month. Then I’ll reassess. We get into trouble when we say things like I’m going to meditate every day forever and ever.

The third piece of advice is to recognize that no one can figure this out but you. Don’t take anyone’s word for anything. Bring what you have learned into your experience and whatever is corroborated by it, keep, What isn’t, discard. I didn’t say this first, by the way. Shakyamuni Buddha did. About his own teachings. You’ve got to love that.

How do you personally define happiness?

Being alive.

My favourite book of yours is How Not to Be Afraid of Your Own Life – how did you learn not to be afraid of yours, Susan?

I’m so glad you liked it. I have not learned how not to be afraid, unfortunately. But I have learned how not to be afraid of fear. I learned this through the sitting practice of meditation and watching emotion after emotion arise, abide, and then dissolve. So now, off the cushion so to speak, I can have faith that whatever is terrifying me on any given day is just as lacking in substance as any other thought and so I can open myself to actually experiencing it, rather than running from it.

When we’re feeling scared or lonely, what one thing could we do to support ourselves?

Give your love away. Find someone or something to love, whether by expressing your feelings to a friend, donating money or time to something that inspires you, or even by simply thinking kind thoughts about a person or situation. Giving from your heart is the secret, money-back guarantee for healing from fear or loneliness.

What and who inspires you – could you share some links with us?

Sakyong Mipham
Pema Chodron
Seth Godin
Bob Dylan
The Enneagram
The Sartorialist
Tashi Mannox
Gesar of Ling
These guys (my husband and stepson)

What are you working on next?

I’m going to begin sending out a daily (M-F) email, beginning on Tibetan Buddhist New Year, March 5. I’m writing and writing so I’ll have enough 500-1000 word blog posts (on life, love, leadership, and creativity from a Buddhist point of view) to make sure I can meet that commitment. If anyone wants to sign up, they can!

You’re having a dinner party and can invite six famous people from the past or present – who would you choose and why?

Gesar of Ling: to explain the pith instructions for becoming a spiritual warrior
Sakyong Mipham: my teacher, so he could explain what Gesar just said
Bruce Springsteen: because I think he is completely excellent and brilliant
My girlfriends Emily and Lila Kate: cause girl power is always appropriate
Duncan, my husband: so we can pillow talk this thing for the rest of our lives

* * * * *

Thank you so much for sharing your words with us today, Susan! Your description of your working day is one i’m going to carry with me – I can relate to the semi-collapse! :)

My Creative Life: Kris Carr

So excited to share my next Creative Life interviewee with you all today! Kris Carr is a best-selling author, film-maker, dynamic public speaker and all round inspiration. She was diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer in 2003, and with experimental treatments as her only option, Kris set out to find her own way back to wellness, chronicling her journey in the TLC documentary, Crazy Sexy Cancer. This week sees the release of her third book, Crazy Sexy Diet, a “kick-ass nutrition and lifestyle game plan for wellness warriors seeking optimal health and vitality.” Yes please, I would like some of that in my life!

Ladies & gentlemen, please welcome the fabulous, Ms Kris Carr…

SC: You are an author, film-maker, motivational speaker and nutritional & lifestyle guru … how do you fit it all in? What does a typical day look like?

KC: Oh child! I get up earrrly, like around 6:00 a.m. The first hour or so is for me to fart around with my spiritual practice and stretch, then it’s juice time and to the office by 8:30 a.m. I break at lunch or at 5:00 p.m. to work out and try to end my day by 6:30 – 7:00 p.m., so I can make a healthy dinner. Because I work from home, I usually nibble on veggies or hummus or green smoothies and some fruit, and then I have a hefty salad and vegan delights at night. I do travel a lot. But I love what I do, so it’s all worth it, even when it’s crazy (and not so sexy).

Have you always been creative, even as a child?

Yes! I had lots of imaginary friends and adventures in the woods. Forts still ROCK and so do Underoos!

I imagine that you’ve faced a LOT of your demons on your path to wellness… how did you/ do you navigate the lows on the journey?

I ask myself whether what I’m experiencing is a fact or a feeling. Then I take a deep breath and drop into the now. Most of our fears aren’t facts, they’re wacked out feelings that spiral out of control. Meditation, visualization, journaling and long walks with my dog all help me to parent myself with love and compassion.

What are you working on at the moment?

Right now I’m on the eve of my book tour for Crazy Sexy Diet. Get this, when my first book came out there was no such thing as Twitter, and Facebook was just for college students! Wow, that made me sound really old. It’s a whole new social media world now, and it’s super exciting to watch my book fly… hopefully to the best-seller list!

If food feeds and heals your body … what nourishes your soul, Kris?

My dog Lola and my husband and my privacy. I really love being with people, but I really, really love being alone with Kris. If I don’t give myself time to think and dream and talk in the mirror, then I get lonely and blue. I need me.

What three things could I do this week to improve my health?

Make green juice! Sweat your ass off! Laugh till your belly hurts!

What books/music/blogs etc do you love?

Um, besides yours? Blogs: White Hot Truth. Danielle LaPorte is a Priestess. Books: I love tween novels. It’s my guilty pleasure. My assistant got me hooked on The Hunger Games recently. OMG! I need light shit too because I read so many science-y books and deep spiritual dives; a girl’s gotta fantasize. Music: Grace Potter, Corinne Bailey Ray, Levon Helm, Ray LaMontagne and anything with a pedal steel.

Could you share your favourite smoothie recipe with us?

Kris Carr’s Green Smoothie

Makes enough for 2 people. You can adjust the recipe accordingly. My taste buds are different than yours so don’t be afraid to play!

-1 avocado
-1-2 pieces of low glycemic fruit: we love green apple, pear, berries & cantaloupe
-1 cucumber
-A bit of kale or romaine or spinach
-Coconut water (or purified water)
-Stevia to taste

*You can also add a sprinkle of cinnamon and some cacao.
*You can also use coconut meat or almond butter or nut milk in place of avocado

What is the message you want to share with the world? (in other words, what do you consider to be your life’s work?)

Prevention is super hot and sexy! Don’t wait ‘til you’re on the ropes to take care of your health, spiritual wealth and happiness. Trust me! I learned the hard way through a really scary cancer diagnosis. You don’t have to. :)

You’re having a dinner party and can invite six famous people from the past or present – who would you choose and why?

Michelle Obama because we should garden together. MLK because I do yoga to his speeches, and he makes me want to try harder and love broader. Stella McCartney because we’re both vegan, and she really should give me some hot schwag. Janis Joplin because she connects me to my inner growl, and I’d like to do a shot of Southern Comfort with her (with a green juice back). My grandma because she never got to see me fall in love with the kitchen, and I want to thank her for loving me so much. Oprah because the first time I met her I had an out of body experience and remember nothing. Yoda because sometimes my light saber jams. Wait, that’s seven!

* * * * *

“I really love being with people, but I really, really love being alone with Kris. If I don’t give myself time to think and dream and talk in the mirror, then I get lonely and blue. I need me.” <— this last bit made me punch my fist in the air and shout YEAH! Kris, you truly are an inspiration and I can’t wait for my copy of Crazy Sexy Diet to arrive! Thank you for doing the work you do x

[photo of Kris by Allison Smith]

My Creative Life: Meredith Tucker

I’ve always been fascinated by the art of perfumery and was so excited to discover Meredith Tucker on the Etsy homepage last year. I hadn’t realised perfume sellers existed on the site and within ten minutes of entering her store, Sweet Anthem, I was choosing the notes for my bespoke perfume – a dream come true! I’ve been gifting myself with treats from Meredith’s shop ever since, and if you’re a perfume nut like me, you’ll love her elegant and complex scents – as I type this I’m wearing my current favourites, Catherine and Anton… to. die. for!

I was thrilled when she agreed to do an interview for the blog, so ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the very fragrant, Meredith Tucker!

SC: So, how does a graphic designer become a perfumer? What was your path into this world?

MT: This is always a tough question for me to answer, as I’m not always sure. :) The easy answer is: I was working my first real job out of college as a designer at Microsoft. I was living in a tiny room in a house in Seattle and had an embarrassing amount of money to burn as a result. I’d say $1000/month went to perfume for awhile. I was buying every fragrance from every brand (I’ve since eBay’d much of it) in order to find my One True Perfume and it was mostly for naught. There are some really intensely lovely things out on the market, but I became obsessed with the hunt to the point that one day, I sat up, and in my DIY mainframe, said, “Surely this can’t be that hard.” (It is, by the way, that hard.) When I moved into the apartment where I am now, I found that I was a block away from an Indian trading company and they carried a small selection of essential oils. I started out with three – black coconut, jasmine, and violet – and now my collection is over 160 raw materials, some 5 years later, and has taken over my entire home. I began experimenting and collecting and amassing bottling equipment and making contacts in the scent world. Finally, some friends encouraged me to just “list stuff on Etsy and see what happens” – that was 2007. Lots has happened, to be vague, and I’m intensely grateful that this is now the only thing I do.  

How do you begin to create a new scent? Do you start with smells, or is it more abstract that that?

It depends, really. A lot of the time, I have an inspiration going in and I try to create a scent that I feel embodies that ideal. Many of my fragrances are based on something – songs, historical figures, fictional characters, people I know – there are hardly any that were just pulled out of thin air because I needed to fill a hole in my line. When I work with lyrics, I try to think about the colors that the lyrics convey – it’s something called synesthesia, where an idea is paired with a color. This works very well with fragrance design as much of it can be synesthetic – jasmine is purple, myrrh is red, vetiver is green, etc. – there’s even a fragrance/flavor color wheel. This resonated with me a great deal coming from a design background. When I work with characters, I do some storyboarding in my brain and try to play out a scene with my fragrance. That’s a bit harder to explain, but it’s a lot of what goes into fragrance composition as well – you have to figure out the story the inspiration tells, moreso than just the setting you picture the wearer in (like in fashion a lot of times). 

Where does inspiration for new fragrances come from, and how do you record it?

Again, it comes from a myriad of things – songs, historical figures, fictional characters, people I know. Anton and Catherine [SC: my faves!], for example, were inspired by Anton Chekov and Catherine the Great – two particular points of inspiration I found on our honeymoon to St. Petersburg, Russia. There’s no secret that there are a handful of Peter Pan and Little House on the Prairie inspired fragrances in my line. Probably the most-used source of inspiration for me is music, though, especially The Velvet Underground (one of my top 10 favorite bands). I don’t necessarily “record” things, but I do try to track it. I don’t have a mood board or anything but I have a database program where I keep my recipes on my computer, and there’s a “source” label. I try to include lyrics in the DB for my own personal reference, though I don’t normally spell out which fragrance is based on what – I feel that may take away from some of the loftiness of wearing a fragrance as a personal trademark.

You now run Sweet Anthem full time – could you share some of the pros and cons of running your own biz?

• Pros: I love being my own boss. I am a total homebody and it’s so nice being home during the day while my husband is at work. I get a lot more done that way – and I don’t have to worry about working after 5 pm when I’ve been working all day. I can quit when I need to and shut things off.  I also love that i’m the only one I have to answer to. While I do tend to seek approval for new scents from fellow local perfumers, I can toss out a project or kick something under the proverbial rug anytime I need to if I’m just not satisfied with it. I can work until it’s right for me.

Cons: I won’t lie – it’s money. I’ve cut back on my personal spending a great deal since leaving Microsoft this spring. I don’t take unemployment because I’m technically self-employed, so when I want to, say, buy a new perfume, I have to make sure it’s something I really need. It’s been a hard lesson to learn as I’m something of a closeted fashionista. I’m not paying myself yet so 100% of my profit margin goes back into the business right now as we’re trying to create a buffer so we can potentially buy a place next year.

Is there a place in the world that smells particularly heavenly to you?

Mostly any place seaside in the summertime – in particular, I love being in Seattle in the summer. I’ve loved both my summer visits to Russia. I like the salty sea air mixed with the city smells and the greenery. St. Petersburg, particularly, has droves of blooming wisteria trees plus loads of garlicky food carts. I love active kitchens and the smells and sights in gourmet restaurants. More sentimentally, I have a big love for the smells in my hometown bakery. Many fond memories of Saturday morning trips to get fresh doughnuts, pastries, and cookies.

What’s the best way to wear scent?

It depends on the format – I personally prefer alcohol-based sprays, which is not something you’d have heard me say when I first became obsessed with fragrance. I like that they are airy enough to diffuse around you, and different notes come about in alcohol vs. coconut oil. I was sort of anti-alcohol for awhile, but when Blue Marble contracted me to make Eos, a carbon neutral eau de parfum (edp’s are always alcohol-based), I fell in love with spritzing on fragrance vs. dabbing it on your pulse points.
Otherwise, it depends on the fragrance. I’ve found that I’m a big fan of earthy/musky/leather type scents in solid perfume more than gourmand type scents. To me, the feeling that those notes are more tangible than not is pretty exciting. In oil-based perfumes they come out in the ether (as they should) but when they come out closer to the skin it really resonates with me for some reason.

What books/music/blogs etc do you love – could you share some links?

I’ve been too busy for a lot of blogging and reading lately, but, I’ve been loving Mouse Guard, a very adorable comic that is just what it sounds and have been re-reading The Hobbit (I’m a closet Tolkien nerd; yes, I used to know some Elvish) – next on my re-read list is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows before the movie comes out (there is nothing closeted about me being an HP fangirl). I do tend to read a lot of fashion blogs (if you can call browsing for eye candy “reading”) and follow quite a few Tumblrs. I also read ittybiz coaching blogs – Scoutie Girl, Crafting an MBA, Seth Godin’s blog, and I’m sure there are others. I get sick of reading fragrance blogs to be quite honest. Unless it’s Octavian Coifan or Nathan Branch, I tend to stay away from fragrance blogs these days.

Out of all your scents, which is your favourite and why?

If I had to hang my hat on any scent, it might be Sophie. I created Sophie especially for a red carpet promo event last year and felt that it was a truly sophisticated, well-balanced fragrance that embodied an ideal of old-world, vintage Hollywood. Sophie is based on a vaudevillian actress, Sophie Tucker (no relation).  It contains many of my very favorite notes – again, another self-indulgent moment on my end – and yet doesn’t smell like them at all in a way that I find endearing. It isn’t a perfume that has a progression, but more a perfume that is a bouquet of many things, and together they smell like something otherworldly (which in the end is the whole point of perfume). It was my first luminescent fruity/floral and a genre I’ve come to really love working in (even though they were never something I thought I would wear myself until Sophie).

What are you working on next?

I’m gearing up for the holiday season right now. I’m hoping to launch my “Home and Hand” line in time for holiday delivery – soaps, candles, etc – based on 8 of my top fragrances. I have 3 shows this season and that’s all I’m going to do; I did way too many last year and I don’t want to put myself through that this year. Other than that, we’re starting to look for a live/work space – someplace in Seattle where we can hang our hat and sell our fragrances at the same time.

You’re having a dinner party and can invite six famous people from the past or present – who would you choose and why?

• Hunter S. Thompson – one of my favorite authors ever, and I think he has a pretty unique outlook on life
• Lou Reed – one of my favorite musicians, it’s no secret that I’m a sucker for anything Velvet Underground related;
• Stephen Colbert – my favorite non-pundit, every time I see him appear outside of his show realm I respect him even more
• Leo Tolstoy – yes, I read War & Peace. No I didn’t agree with all of it, but I do think his philosophy on life is a nice contrast to Thompson’s (Tolstoy’s more in the “river of life” school of thought, meaning, we’re all just passengers here)
• Annick Goutal – perfumer and creator behind the niche line of the same name, Annick Goutal is one of my favorite modern perfumers for her sensibility and taste; her daughter Camille is also wonderful in her own right. I couldn’t make this list without at least one perfumer
• Matt Damon – I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for some man meat on a occasion, and if I were still 12, his posters would probably be plastered all over my wall. When Tolstoy starts droning and Colbert is dropping acid with Thompson and Reed, I’ll have something pretty to stare at.

* * * * *

Thank you so much for sharing your answers with us today, Meredith! Is there room for one more at the dinner table? :)