~ Architecture ~ Design ~ Art + Photography ~ TV + Film ~ Muse ~

1973                Born February 3, 1973. Adopted 14 hours later by children of grandparent’s dear church friends. So I was watched as I grew up by BOTH my families. (And here, I thought I wasn’t wanted. A year after I found out otherwise, at 41, I’m working on that.)

1980s              I’m tall and awkward for my age. My legs are “thick” and people call me “tree trunks”.
                        I tend to steal my dad’s real samurai swords and wear them around the house while patrolling for “spies”. I eventually dabble in aikido, iaido, kendo, and judo.

Figure out that I am adopted. Or, what that really means. My teacher asks us to write about our families. I make up a story and say I am French and my real name is Christianne. This puts me on the path to becoming a storyteller. And realizing nothing is real. 

My grandfather leaves (and coincidentally?), I start wearing black all the time. People start asking me if I am in mourning. I become “agitated” and am started on diets to try and control my size 12 weight. I never get below that again. 

Start correspondence college classes at UT Tyler in 9th grade.

1989-1990      Go to military school because I am bored and want to fly. My grades improve. I am elevated to leadership despite being a pain in leadership’s tail.

                        Find out that there is no how no way I am going to get to fly Radar Intercept Officer in F-14s for the US Navy. I am devastated. I don’t know what to do with my life. I graduate high school early.

1991-1993       Attend University of North Texas studying business and psychology. I join a sorority and do student government. I basically get kicked out of my sorority because I stand up for sisters who decide to "be together" and am then assaulted by a disturbed pledge sister.

I fall in love with what I want to do.

1993-1995      Texas A&M Bachelors of Environmental Design. When I graduate, I start my first preservation consulting company, which I run throughout grad school.

1996-1998      Grad School. Europe. On what starts as a two week graduation celebratory vacay with mom, I end up getting 5 fellowships that allowed me to stay for the better part of a year. I finish my Master’s in Architecture working on the first ever digital documentation of a Gothic Cathedral and then doing my thesis on the Italian architect Andrea Palladio’s Villa Emo. 

My best guy friend in the school gave me an Athenian owl from Greece. Athena and her owl have made their totemic presence in my life ever since.

1998                First job in an architecture firm in Charlottesville, Virginia. David Puckett teaches me in 2 1/2 years more about architecture and great design that everything I have learned before or since.

I study with the Sufis and get to read an unpublished text about how they make architecture. It changes me.

1999                New Year’s Eve at the bottom of the ball as it drops in NYC. Epic. 

I get to work on the National Museum of the American Indian, whose architects can’t get all the drawings done in time, so they call us in to help. This is my favorite project I have done because it demanded more of me than I thought I had to give. I found out I was wrong.

2001                I leave my job to work for a renown architect in church design. He asks us to study religious architecture of our own faith. I become a lay minister and perform my first wedding for friends.

I develop a deep and abiding passion for sacred space and what it means to create it.

2002                Elevated to leadership in AIA and win some awards. But my job doesn’t work out so well. In the clasp of a failing marriage, and challenges with my eyesight (and attitude), I can’t hold it together well enough to contribute. If I hadn’t quit, I would’ve gotten let go.

Decide to move to Colorado to be near my BFF Jason and try and get it together while I try and figure out how to be a blind architect. 

Start studying shamanism and the rest of the religions I am curious about at Boulder’s Naropa Institute, at Shambhala Mountain Center, with a Peruvian shaman, a Mayan shaman from Guatamala, and others.

Become a Nia White Belt.

Dance in full costume with a cool shamanic rock band named Kan’nal every chance I can. I accept that embracing the multiple aspects of my personality is much more fun than having just the one.

I found out Spirit and Dance are part of who I am.

2003                Finally divorced and moved to Cheyenne Wyoming. I learn a lot but don’t love the job. My bosses are amazing so I don’t want to leave. 

I get struck by lightning while driving to work from Longmont to Cheyenne. My jeep’s electrical system and my seat heater have to be replaced. The gauges never work 100% correctly again. Neither do I.

I find out I'm electric.

July 25, 2004 
                        My BFF Jason dies summiting his last 14er in Colorado the day before his 30th birthday. I was about to leave to head down to Denver to spend the weekend with him when my boss called me in to tell me he was missing. I still have not recovered.

I found out that some loves DO last forever.

2004-5            Learn to snowboard. My Lakota BF gives me an “Indian name” because I take sick falls and still…

"Gets up Smiling"

2006                Move to Vail, Colorado to work for one of the foremost mountain architects in the US. We don’t work on anything less than $7million - AMAZING! He invests a TON in us. I snowboard 50-70 days a year. I have a dream life, of sorts. However...

I discover that money does not buy happiness.

2007                Got my first real camera, a prescription for going blind that was supposed to help me remember the world. I start taking photos. Eventually, I get pretty good at it.

I started my own firm in October. Right before the economic collapse.

We survive. I needed the 6 year long dose of humble pie called “starting my own business” that afforded me the opportunity to realize that I wasn’t succeeding at doing what I really wanted to be doing…

Helping Everybody Shine!

The lady checking me out at the library comments “You’ve checked out nearly 400 books in 3 years.” I laugh/snort loud enough for everyone to hear. 

                        As with my inspiration for this post, Danielle LaPorte, I share with her the evolutionary moment when I moved to Taos, New Mexico, and learned how to “worship the night sky” (and everything else nature made). 

People asked me why I left and I say:

I lost my mind

but on good days, I quickly follow that up with:
but I found my heart.

Start writing professionally about Architecture and Travel for real people.  

I design and host the Taos Mountain Music Festival backstage for two years. I design spaces for, then take care of: Matisyahu; Orgone; Gov’t Mule; Shemekia Copeland; Mia Borders; Ozomatli; Railroad Earth; Leftover Salmon; Donna the Buffalo; Yonder Mountain String Band; Radio La Chusma; Jackie Greene Duo; Afroman; Dangermuffin; Langhorne Slim; Shannon McNally and Hot Sauce; and Ryan McGarvey.

My most religious New Mexico experience came at Chaco Canyon where I connect with inspiring artist Jake Allee, and I watch my life change before my eyes.

2011                 I give my first TEDx talk at TEDxABQ.

I learn making a difference can be a worldwide phenomenon.

                        I get talked about in 4 books about architecture, leadership, and women's empowerment.

After 22 years of not, I start painting again.

                        I fall in love with fashion and jewelry design.

I do another TEDx talk, and two Pecha Kucha talks...

Get asked to morph my TEDxABQ talk into a university sustainable design video class. Not knowing video, I take some classes. From there, I work for Nat Geo, then Seth MacFarlane for a week. (I couldn’t hack that one.) However, from all that…

2014                Get my own tv series and my first documentary started.
                        Meet Barbara Felix while filming at Acoma Pueblo's Sky City Cultural Center.

I morph the firm from a traditional architecture practice to a hybrid profit design / non-profit education model so I can help more people find a space they love to be in.

Starting writing my first and second books simultaneously.
Finished the first one.

I end up at the exact place Jason died exactly 10 years to the day BY ACCIDENT, when a friend invites me up for a spontaneous visit to Crestone. I had NO idea it was THAT day or THAT place. Until it comes out at dinner than "lots of people have died on that mountain."

2015                First book comes out. So does first one star review, much later. Ouch.

 I find out that you write for YOUR audience, not everyone.
First documentary finished. Emergence: Sky City Cultural Center
Start Architecture for EveryBody (A4E), a non-profit architecture school for communites in New Mexico.
Start working with Barbara Felix to rebrand her firm.

2016                I'm declared one of 30 New Mexican "Women of Influence" by ABQ Business First Magazine and an "Emerging Social Sector Leader" by Santa Fe Community Foundation.
Emergence: Sky City Cultural Center documentary enters film fest circuit. Premiers in Toronto, opens the indian Pueblo Cultural Center’s film fest.
I'm invited to the White House for the first time, for #SXSL.

Partner with AIA-ABQ and UNM-Taos for A4E's new marketing push so we can get the series done.