the good life

the good life — no. 8

I know. There’s a been a dearth of men offering their ruminations on living a good life. Well, that’s about to change starting right now. And I’ve landed a whopper.

Let me start by issuing this warning: Jon Lo has got a wicked, wicked eye. If you’re the kind of person that likes to follow people who produce consistently compelling images on Instagram, consider adding Jon. Because while every other social media “guru” is busy photographing their nail color, or their shoes, or showing off impossibly perfect corners of their homes, or their dog (guilty as charged…ahem), Jon is quietly taking some of the most perfectly perfect images and posting them in his very nonchalant — but precise — manner.

His images have titles like “Seafoam View” or “Fish Tiles” or “Voyeur View”. Short, poetic, and succinct. I’ve quit commenting on his images, as a matter of fact, because how many variants of “I love this” or “Why didn’t I take this” or “Perfect” can a girl post before she begins to feel really, truly rotten about her own Instagram feed?

The worst part is that — on top of that maddening skill — Jon is a natty dresser. Creative Director of his own thriving design concern. And a truly charming partner with whom one can effortlessly spend an entire evening drinking wine and talking.

Hey, Jon. If I could see all the beauty you see, I’d be happy with the mundane, too.

xo, V.


The preternaturally stylish Jon Lo

The definition of the “good life” is probably different for everyone. However, to me, I think it basically means just being able to live life doing what you love. I guess the hard part is realizing that it’s not necessarily that hard to attain, at least in small increments at a time. The “Good Life” doesn’t  have to mean extreme luxury or wealth. Being able to enjoy the moment- whether you’re having a great brunch with amazing food and friends, shopping at a fantastic store, laying in the sun, or just being able to sleep in on the weekend- are all examples that we can experience of living a pretty “good life”.

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All images by Jonathan Lo/Happy Mundane. 

the good life — no. 7

When I first joined Pinterest, the creative team of which I’m a part followed each other. With them, out of the gate, I had 6 followers. Follower number seven was someone called “imrevolting.” I’m revolting? My first “real” follower is called I’m Revolting? What? And then I went to their Pinterest boards, expecting the worse.

Little did I know that I’m Revolting was actually among the very, very best. The boards expressed an extremely refined, cerebral aesthetic. There were portraits of some of my favorite thinkers and intellectuals. All wrapped up in a slightly subversive, dry wit. There are only a handful of other people on Pinterest with whom I feel such a deep affinity for and with their intellectual formation. Plus, the handle is brilliant.

I stalked I’m Revolting’s blog. Who was this person? Where did they live? What do they do, apart from unearthing the most thoughtful visual treats on Pinterest? I found very, very little. Over the months while both of our social media followings blossomed, I decided that this elusive character was someone I simply had to meet. Ultimately, and I can’t quite remember how, I discovered that I’m Revolting was Suzanne Wu.  And eventually, we did meet, in LA, where she lives. And you know, she’s as outrageously stylish and cerebral in person as she is online. Let’s be honest: anybody who admits “I dress like a pope” is someone you really want to keep close.

There are a few other folks I’ve discovered via Pinterest with whom I feel this sort of instantaneous kinship:  LB PalmerEujin RheeMischa, Michael Stewart, among others. But I’m Revolting — well, she’s kind of special.

Here are some of Su’s thoughts on the good life. (P.S. Su, I don’t think a pope would wear this.)


I just read this interview from 1998 with the poet Mark Strand where he says, “I don’t think it’s human, you know, to be that competent at life,” and I think the trick to a good life is to be okay with that. It’s something of my disquieted heart, that for me there’s nothing much better than trying to make sense of the world, the vast tumult of emotion and experience, and figuring out why certain things grab you and don’t let go, and really facing down the sadness. I think it’s why writing is worth it, and making art is worth it, that you aren’t really describing anything so much as organizing your reasons for feeling so strongly.



There is only one occasion. Life.

the good life — no. 6

photo by dabito of old brand new

when vanessa invited me to be a part of her new series, the good life, i immediately felt a connection. with so many different types of people, i’m sure there are a billion more ways of defining what a good life is. even for myself, entering into my 30′s and looking back, my sense of what the good life is has definitely changed throughout the years. in my teens, it was all about trying to not be an outcast and figuring out my identity, in my 20′s, it was about finding my dreams and going after them full force to get to what i thought was my idea of a good life & now at this present moment, it has changed definitions once again.

to me, the good life is all about the present moments that we encounter. about enjoying the life that we are given each day, each second. the idea that we are able to breathe, to experience love, to enjoy another’s company… to be. what is more wonderful than living? i’ve always been one to plan ahead, to try and see what steps i needed to take to get to where i wanted to be. although that is still a part of who i am, i’m concentrating on life itself lately. coming to an age where i am being introduced to new life and at the same time having to say my goodbyes to others, it has made me think about what it is that i would want reminisce on when it is my turn to bid farewell to this world. the answer that came up? it was to know whole heartedly that i lived a good life. a life filled with happiness, laughter, amazing people and wonderful memories. things that i’ll be able to cherish and to cherish with others long after i have left. things that will allow me to stay connected to the loved ones that i will have to leave behind, but to know that our connection will live on in our spirits.

 i’ve realized for myself that the good life is, to live in the present moment, fully.

The cover of Satsuki's new album, Neko

The cover of Satsuki’s new album, Neko


the good life — no.5

I really admire Sarah Maine. She isn’t just brainy (she went to Wesleyan and then went on to earn a MBA that focused on sustainbility) but she’s a food lover, community builder and she lives what she believes. For starters, she’s a cheesemonger. Could there be a better job title anywhere? Methinks not! On top of that bit of awesomeness, she has a small Etsy concern, The Finest Kind, where Sarah, a talented metalsmith, sells — among other things — absinthe spoons. Yes. Absinthe spoons. And they are lovingly crafted. And that’s when she’s not acting as the force behind the playful food site, Recipe Relay. In short, she’s the bee’s knees.

Without further ado, Sarah’s ruminations on the good life.

Sarah Maine

Sarah Maine

The good life, what is that?  Everyone can agree that the love of friends and family, a comfortable shelter and a full belly are essential ingredients for a good life.  I would argue further that goodness lies in how each of us arranges and connects those elements.  The web we make of thoughts, deeds, words and objects that carries the unique impression of our hand.

My childhood was draped across Southeast Asia, looping around Indonesia, then up to Sri Lanka before traversing oceans and continents to land in Italy, and finally in the US.  I saw many different ways of living, of permuting the elements of people, places and things.  The result is an internal web that is far reaching and not always orderly; the warmth of beauty is snarled with cold longing; happy strings may be kinked with sadness.  Every twist and knot has been worked into being by myself and others, places and things.  My very own hand made life.

Sarah's hand-crafted Christmas ornaments

Sarah’s hand-crafted Christmas ornaments

Absinthe spoone

Absinthe spoon

I currently live in New York City, a super-organism that can seem specifically evolved to spoil your day, your week, your year, or even your life.  In this city, things that make life good can act as amulets, cushioning against rough edges.  Space is precious; light is coveted; beauty and practicality are the mismatched roommates of most New York apartments.  Fashioning a good life here requires an openness and a readiness to relate to people on a level beyond words and interactions, it is necessary to listen to the story of things.

When something new enters my life, I look for a message of care, that warm sticky fact of connection that tells me something of the intentions of the originator or maker.  Conversely, when I do things or make things I hope to tell my own story of beauty and energy and thoughtfulness through design.

Some of Sarah’s images from Instagram:


Stolen mother/daughter moment captured by Sarah

Stolen mother/daughter moment captured by Sarah

Sarah’s beloved cat.

the good life — no. 4

Some people are just born chic. That, I’m afraid, is part of the curse my lovely friend Erin Hiemstra must bear as the doyenne at  She’s preternaturally stylish. You can imagine, of course, that she sprang to mind immediately for a series on the good life.

So, without further ado, “The Good Life” according to my lovely friend, Apartment 34′s Erin Hiemstra. Enjoy.

Erin Hiemstra of (Portrait by Emily Johnston Anderson)

Erin Hiemstra of (Portrait by Emily Johnston Anderson)

I recently read this William Morris quote that epitomizes my definition of the good life:
The ideal home should have nothing in it which we do not know to be useful or feel to be beautiful.



After multiple moves in an under a year and finally settling into our San Francisco loft, I’m reveling in having purged three times over. Now we’re surrounded by only what we need and love, nothing more nothing less. It’s heavenly. Added bonus: when you clear out the excess you suddenly find space, both physical and mental, to enjoy all the other requirements for the good life: wonderful food, good wine and sharing both with friends and family! 


{oh and what I like to call the cherry on top of the good life: a beautiful pair of shoes!}