Expression

Catching Light in the Desert

Whitney Mitchell

Teva Explorer Whitney Mitchell and her best friend retreat to south Texas where they reflected and reset intentions under the wide desert skies. Words and Photos by Whitney Mitchell.

My friend Megan and I have a cosmic connection. What started from a Facebook friend request nearly 14 years ago has morphed into a national park-hiking, cross-state road-tripping, and statement piece-wearing bond. Our rooted friendship is best described as cosmically kismet.

Through Facebook’s older (less shaming) version of birthday reminders, we discovered that we’re both full-blooded Aquarians born on January 22. Our mutual birthday came to be known as “the birthday.”

Flatform Universal Mesh

Whitney’s birthday twin and cosmic sister Megan.

Flatform Universal

Pictured: Flatform Universal Mesh in Dark Olive/Sea Foam and Flatform Universal in Bright White.

In 2015, we took a girl’s trip with a group of friends to Portland, Oregon in celebration of “the birthday.” Through a wild open-eye meditation experience, a hike up Multnomah Falls and daily breakfast spreads, we discovered a similar desire to see the United States. Since that trip to Oregon we’ve hiked in national parks throughout the Southwest, eaten way too many brunches along the Pacific Coast and danced in New England streets—collecting experiences in nearly 12 states and two Mexican beaches, so far.

To celebrate 2020, we flew to El Paso and road tripped down to southwest Texas, stopping in Marfa and Terlingua to set intentions for a new year of life. My spirit is pulled to the desert often—which is wildly opposite from my homes in Staten Island and New Orleans.

Terlingua Texas.

Terlingua, Texas.

I love the Southwest. I love the cool winter desert air. I love how loud the quiet is. I sat alone in Marfa last year for “the birthday” to set goals for 2019 and felt a pull to go back; quickly rallying Megan to join.

Megan is a statement piece queen. She’s a costume designer that sees inspiration everywhere (The Lovebirds is her most recent feature film as a costume designer). I’ve watched her admiration for the unconventional manifest into worn art.

The goal when we travel together is to always feel free. To feel honestly. And to laugh often. In that, there’s always a hike, there’s always food, and there are barely ever any plans.

We rested. We danced to Maze featuring Frankie Beverly. We trekked across Big Bend’s Chimney trail allowing thoughts and conversation to flow in any and every direction.

Flatform Universal

Whitney wears the Flatform Universal in Bright White. 

Hurricane XLT2

During this trip I found myself getting lost in the sky (day and night), while Megan paid special attention to every plant friend we passed. The sky has been a focus of my most recent photos, while Megan sourced inspo for her next line of fashioned pieces. The sky and its plants continue to give.

We marinated in reflection and laid in a windowside cloud, reading and setting intentions for 2020. Recently, a creative friend of mine, illustrator Justin Shiels, developed a Vision Workbook designed to foster continuous interactions with your goals. I brought this with me to super south Texas and it helped center my dizzy Aquarian thoughts.

Flatform Universal

Flatform Universal

Whitney wears the Flatform Universal in Bright White. 

Megan and I are in transitional, yet creative spaces around our independent project work. We were able to offer each other uninterrupted perspective without a buzzing phone or 15 work emails. (But there was a phone DJ; there’s always a DJ.) We were able to think out loud, or alone, and build on ideas that need nurturing.

In reflection, there is honesty and ownership. There’s space to acknowledge individual strength. There was a time that I didn’t believe in the power of words or the forward trajectory manifested by writing them down. After personal and professional relationship traumas and the new wave of 30-something body aches, I wanted to actively change the narrative of my perceived outcomes.

Flatform Universal Mesh

Flatform Universal Mesh

Megan wears the Flatform Universal Mesh in Dark Olive/Sea Foam.

I set goals around my learnings from past experiences—creating an intentioned scenario for me to put what I’ve received into action.

In 2019, I navigated tears of joy and angst that formed themes around how I spend my time, set boundaries, create less waste and care for my body. In 2020, I’m working to spend more moments uncovering new layers of thought and creative expression through activities that prompt less screen time. I’m being clear about my “yeses” and my “nos.” I’m filling my body with things that make it happy––which means a slow transition away from my beloved dairy ice cream, championing sustainable consumer habits that amplify my connection to ‘70s silhouettes, and supporting products that allow the earth to thrive.

Hurricane XLT2

Megan catches the light wearing Hurricane XLT 2 in Canyon to Canyon. 

Terlingua Texas

Spaces like Big Bend and the many other beautiful public lands across the states give more than they receive. My action item for the year is to change that through advocacy and engagement work with communities that look and/or communicate in similar ways to Megan and I.

I feel free often. I feel most free outside. Megan and I have a habit of making up songs of repetitive phrases. The first night we were hanging out watching the sunset we started singing “Catch that light, girlfriend” over and over. A saying that reminded us to find light everywhere. To be intentional about our movements and to trust in our ability to catch the light.

desert retreat

Hurricane XLT2

Shop the latest sandals at Teva.com!