In Conversation
  • Name
    Leigh Patterson
  • Location
    Austin, Tx
  • Creator of
    The Moon Lists
  1. What inspired the Moon Lists and how has your intention evolved over time?

    Some of my first jobs, in college and just afterward, were working in archives — both for a research institution and later for a dealer of literary archives whose role was assigning context and literal value to the archives of artists and writers to be sold to research libraries. I would always find myself most interested in the “ephemera” category — the artist’s grocery lists; a travel brochure from a trip to the Grand Canyon; ticket stubs, mementos; the random notes or lists seemingly unrelated to one’s creative, canonized output. I am very interested in the order with which other people organize their lives, how someone draws connections.

    The Moon Lists started after I read an interview with National Geographic photographer Sam Abell, who mentioned a ritual he and his wife had developed over the last 20 years or so where they would ask each other a set of questions every month to reflect on the passing of time and recall a recent experience. I wrote to him and asked him if he would share the list with me and if I could also repurpose the idea in interview form. Since then I have sent the questions to different women every month as an interview series, adding in my own questions.

    When Moon Lists first started, I was thinking of the project entirely as an interview series but today I consider the conversations to be a supporting act to a bigger toolkit of questions for others to use and make their own. The prompts connect the conscious and subconscious; they are a template for exchanging stories, questioning ways of being, and reshaping life in more imaginative and nourishing ways.

  2. What is it about the moon? Why is she so mystical and captivating?

    I love thinking about seeing the earth from the moon. If you can see a thing more as a whole you can better understand it or see that it’s beautiful, or necessary, or stupid. But when you’re too close to the dirt you lose the landscape. For me, the moon is a metaphor for vantage. It’s a reminder that we are guided by months and seasons, a system of order and natural rhythm that exist outside of ourselves. A sort of compass for reflection.

Do you have any rituals for remembering?


I try to dedicate time and mental space to nurturing my inner life, the observing mind over the mental chatter and sheer survival mode. When I do, I am better in every way — better equipped to see what is true chaos and what is illusion. 

I’m not shilling Moon Lists as this formula for extracting unnecessary meaning from things that just are what they are. But I don’t want to miss anything. I think there’s a certain, unassuming meaning to be found in just seeing your own experiences with clearer eyes that can make you happier and more creative; able to support and see others with kindness and understanding.

    That said, I am not one to get hung up on cosmic delusion: I get frustrated and bent out of shape all the time and my default mode is to wear myself to the ground with self-imposed, unreasonable pressure and insatiable expectations. I have to regularly set up rituals to extract myself from that way of being.

    My personal rituals are nothing revolutionary: being outside. Having dedicated, focused time with my friends and people I love (and also dedicated and focused time spent alone.) Traveling and putting myself in situations that force me to be a little uncomfortable and see with new eyes. A few physical talismans as reminders of where I’ve been and where I want to go, that remind me there is another layer of life under this one and that’s where I want to be.