Leigh Patterson created Moon Lists as a way to reflect, observe, and connect with her inner self. Now, Moon Lists are available to all in the form of a bound volume and a recently launched digital workbook. We spoke with Leigh about the inspiration behind this project and the importance of making time for deep and unexpected modes of thinking.
I was raised in the Texas Hill Country, between San Antonio and Austin. In college, I was part of a small liberal arts honors program. It was structured around students creating and guiding their own creative pursuits, and to design a degree around that. Choose your own adventure, college edition. My focuses were creative writing, archival science, art, journalism, and creative direction. And while that seems like maybe a parent’s cliched nightmare-ish combo, today my work for Moon Lists and also for my studio LUCCA (aka my “real” job) touches on all these things.
The concept for Moon Lists was sparked by a random detail in a tiny regional magazine: a mention from photographer Sam Abell about a monthly question-asking, self-reflection ritual he shared with his wife. I am a nosy person and wanted to know more—so I tracked down his information, sent him an email, and much to my delight he replied (over a year later!) with a generous glimpse into the questions on his own personal Moon Lists, which were a set of questions they used to guide conversations and stay anchored in time and place every month. I requested permission to reinvent the concept using new questions and a different format, and he kindly obliged.
From there, the project kind of took a life of its own. I realized the evolving sets of monthly prompts could be templates to be shared and exchanged with others. This interactive form has only been amplified during quarantine, where days have felt at once emotionally loaded and exceptionally rote. Having some sort of self-preserving activity that isn’t working or looking at the news or scrolling on your phone, feels necessary to extract the differences between days.
All parts of my work influence each other. With Moon Lists, I strive to strike a balance between asking questions that can prompt deeper or unexpected thinking without feeling overly self-serious, embarrassingly earnest (or like I’m advocating for narcissism disguised as self-care). It has helped me crystalize that the most obvious path is usually not the best one, and to hold that same standard of critical thinking across all projects and clients I collaborate with.
I’ve kept some form of a journal for most of my life, but its format has evolved (the most current iteration of the digital Moon Lists is probably the closest to how it looks now, a combination of observations, lists, personal inventories). I have never been great at reflection in broad strokes; I prefer to stick to the granular.
I have not worked in an office in over five years, so the biggest change brought on by the presence of COVID-19 is just the quantity of time spent at home. Typically, I travel often and my days are quite varied, so this has felt like an extreme version of the thing previously known as normal life. I’m strict with my working schedule but not insane—I work best in the morning so I front-load my day with any tasks that require deep concentration. Mid-day is for phone calls, research, or loose ideation or brainstorming. I also usually drink an obscene amount of sparkling water, cold brew, and matcha on repeat all day long.
The structure of the workbooks is loose. Months are undated, and there are different types of activities to do each week in whatever order appeals to you. Skip around, you do you! There is no wrong way to do it, but I do think it becomes meaningful to separate the Moon List-ing from other to-do lists or notebooks you might use to structure a workday or task list. I personally use a favorite pen, set aside a time to do it each month, and literally schedule it into my day like I would an appointment. Sounds rigid but that’s how I roll, baby.
I have not felt very inspired at all since quarantine went down. It’s only within the last month or so I’ve remmebered I am a human being with limits. I was working like a crazed zombie. The thing about a slump is that often you don’t realize you’re in it until you’re on the way out.
Some things I’ve been doing lately are so boring it makes me feel gross to even write them, but since you asked: Walks! Taking random nights to stay in a hotel or take a mini road trip. I love podcasts and conversations, so just participating in dialogue is very inspiring to me. I find a lot of delight in esoteric, strange things and absurd humor—spending a day gossiping with my friends, going down internet wormholes of my making, reading fiction, shooting the shit on the porch with my husband. Inspiration is everywhere - when I feel alive emotionally that’s when I can readily receive it.