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Making Change with Jodie Patterson

There’s nothing Jodie Patterson can’t do. The activist, author, former acrobat and mother of five works with an unflinching doggedness, advocating for equality across gender, race, and beyond. While her impact is vast, her efforts touching so many, Jodie maintains the distinct ability to make you feel like you’re the only person in the room. This spring, we had the pleasure of basking in that ineffable warmth firsthand. Join us for an afternoon with Jodie (and puppies) in her Brooklyn apartment, where she shared her thoughts on motivation, mothering, and personal style.

On Motivating Rituals

"The older I get the more I need to focus on recovery. I used to be able to burn the candle at both ends… but not any more. No way. My body at 54 years old is more fragile and the stakes around health are so much higher. So now, if I’m expelling 1 notch of energy, I’m putting 4 notches back in. I’ve learned to counterbalance the stress of life with a few things: first is to sweat. Sounds basic but it works for me. Sometimes it’s a 20 minute run or walk, always a lot of stretching with light ankle and hand weights. I throw in some yoga. I also LOVE silent morning — often I don’t speak before 9am. Just a little head nod here and there. I know that sounds odd for a mom, but I think everyone’s used to it by now."

On First Steps To Making A Difference

"I was raised to always notice injustices and then to do something about them. It’s never too early or too late to be active in change. But of course it’s hard to know how to begin. I always suggest identifying people who know more than you do in a particular area. And then I like shadowing the experts — listening and absorbing the data. Sometimes it takes us being quiet first before making a move. Sometimes the best help is informing yourself. So for example I googled ‘LGBT conferences’ and drew a map of everything happening near me. Then I went to a bunch of meetings and talks and just sat in the back row and listened. I took my time and eventually understood what, how and why I wanted to be involved. I became part of the community instead of trying to ‘fix’ it."

On Personal Style

"My style is a mash-up of masculine and feminine language. Older and younger sensibility. I love Bob Marley & Annie Hall for their self possession and slight left of center approach to clothing (a little too big or too small always works for me). And I also have a thing for ultra-feminine color explosions and patterns and silhouettes that move and flow and decorate the body. I love how Loeffler Randall taps into my romantic side. Wearing Jessie’s white blouse and skirt reminded me of my mom. When I was a child I’d look up at her and think: ‘mama is so beautiful’ Loeffler Randall makes me feel like a beautiful mama. But truthfully, before the clothing and accessories, my skin is what I want to show off. So whatever I’m wearing you will always see arms, shoulders, or legs. And then I pile on gold, lots of it. And I make sure I’m comfortable… (I’m rarely in heels.) And most recently, readers have become part of my style. Ha! Without them I can’t see a thing."

On Designing Her Home

"I’ve always had a very personal design aesthetic. I choose anything that excites me. A circular sectional couch from the 70s. A hot pink rug from Marrakech. Marble and dark wood custom tables upcycled from that time I had a beauty boutique on the Bowery. Books from grandmother Gloria, art from my teens, stools from Ghana, paintings I found on the street, dusted off and framed. If something makes me smile, I hold on to it as if it were an Egon Schiele original. And actually, as random as my style sounds — it works."

On The Surprises Of Motherhood

"Motherhood makes you ok with failure. We fail all the time because it’s impossible to service people exactly how they need. At any given time, someone is always mad at you. And you learn to live with that. As a mom I’ve learned to try things without the need for a specific outcome. Without the need to be perfect.

"What excites me most now about mothering is the idea of building my community of people rather than servicing it. My goal as a mother is no longer to make life cozy for my kids, but rather to build something with them. Mothering is Building."

On Her Perfect Mother's Day

"I’ve never experienced the type of Mother’s Day when people bring me breakfast in bed and then I do nothing for hours. But something I am into is experiencing things with my teens together. I’d like us all to get massages, maybe some acupuncture and then top it off with a vegan dinner. Ha! The idea of creating healthy rituals with my kids is the gift."