City Escape Artist: Emily Watson

Meet Emily Watson, our favorite bi-coastal girl. Emily's pursuit of social impact and giving back to her community has led her from Philadelphia and DC to NYC and now, LA. A City Escape Artist, she strives to be wholehearted at work, at home, and wherever she goes. Emily sets an intention across each of these everyday. Learn more about our Golden gal.

on emily's life

Where do you live? Is this your dream city? Why? My husband and I recently moved to LA after 10 years in New York. We both grew up in the Southwest. We find ourselves escaping LA every weekend. We are prioritizing local trips that are “in our backyard” which makes our time living in California so special to have access to such diverse experiences. We recently got back from Sequoia and Yosemite. I’d never been to Yosemite. It was exceptional. I loved every moment of it. 

We just went to Hawaii for the first time which was magical and a true “disconnect” experience. We’ve been spending a lot of time with our families so nearby--that has been the best part of leaving our beloved New York.

What do you do in life? Why? Do you love doing it in… city? I am a founding team member of a charitable investment start-up we launched about 5 years ago. I have loved building something, you get to work on absolutely every part of an organization, but also, as such shape the development of these same parts. I have worked in the public and private sectors and love working at the intersection of both, which is more and more common now. I also work on a few mission-driven ventures on the side.

How did you find your passion in life? I grew up thinking, and talking and working on social justice issues with my family. Learning about what they had done in their youth and what my grandparents and great grandparents had done during the civil rights movement and for womens’ rights. So these passions chose me in many ways, and I am constantly refining and reframing how I can be most impact in my personal and professional life to support this and align with the communities and experts working on these same things.

How did all roads lead to your dream job? A few years ago I made a decision to not be shy about sharing the things I was excited about and interested in learning, and what I didn’t know but wanted to, and that helped open doors and start conversations that has and continues to lead to my dream amalgamation of jobs, as in lots of interesting challenging things at the same time.

How do you feel wildly live every day? I try to not be afraid when I can’t see the path ahead.

What’s a scent that pulls you out of the rat race into a simpler moment? I have such strong olfactory memory, and so soothing scents have changed. The latest and most consistent is palo santo. It used to be sage and palo santo, but when I moved in with my {now} husband, I would burn sage, and he’d run into the room panicked that something was burning in the kitchen - not exactly the peaceful association I had. So sage is out. We both love palo santo, which we regularly burn in our home, and it gives me an immediate sense of peace. I try to burn it every morning. Often I will burn it several times a day while I am working.

on bicoastal emily

East is for… learning, growing, expanding

East Coast escape is… vintage station wagon with falling leaves lining the road, drinking takeaway coffee

When East, I must weave through all of the city streets. I miss walking through neighborhood after neighborhood and discovering hole in the wall places along the walk.

West is for… reflection, family

West Coast escape… VW Westfalia van, driving along the PCH, eating fish tacos

When West, I must drive east for the desert, north for the mountains, west for the sea - all in the same day ideally.

on emily's escape

Sequoia is… humbling, palate cleansing

Smelled like… clean air (I live in LA after all)

In awe of… the natural and diverse beauty of my home state

Trip Takeaway: a renewed appreciation of exploring your home turf.

Land or sea? Land near sea

Grass, earth, or sand? All are tranquil and needed at different times

Mountaintop or feet in the sand? Mountaintop

Rain, wind, snow, or sun? I have a renewed appreciation for the cloudy few weeks that come with California’s June Gloom

Sunrise or sunset? Sunset

Favorite post-escape ritual? Feel grateful for the ability to explore new places, and go home to a city I love

Nature is… my favorite educational platform

What is your great escape? Exploring new places by walking around with my friends and husband

How did you discover it? That’s the best part, you just pick which turn to take and see where it takes you

What are the three things you need in your life? Something new to learn, a comfy bed, a favorite travel partner

Where are you headed next? “Locally”, we are hoping to go to New Mexico and Montana over the summer. We have some bigger trips planned to Medellin, Colombia and Japan later in the year, early next year. Japan is our delayed honeymoon.

Oahu is… Hawaii is heaven on earth, I hope that it’s beauty can be preserved.

Smelled like… saltwater and tiki drinks

In awe of… how incredible and different the entire island was, and how beautiful and warm the people were.

Trip Takeaway: exploring new places with patience and respect allows you to observe and appreciate the perspective of the locals that is unlike any experience you can read about. Also, surfing isn’t for everyone (esp. me!)

on emily's inner dialogue

How does one shift when in a rut? Let me know when someone has figured that out.

What’s the simplest, best advice that snaps you back into it? My dad always says “just half a smile” and it could be his version or sifting the energy or “faking it ‘til you make it” but it always helps me shift. Also, as long as I can remember my mom has lived her life firmly based in the reality of the present while always being so excited about the next stage, she is always excited about getting older, or a vacation being over or beginning. She said “that is a sign of a happy life - you are happy to come back.”

How does each Coastal experience speak to you differently? What a great reminder from each? Depending on the day I prefer different components of each coast. Living in California again has reminded me of the deeply therapeutic effect that nature has on me - since I can enjoy it all the time. I am trying to take advantage of that the best I can. The flip side of that, the first day that feels like spring, the crisp fall air elicits a different sense of gratitude because those sweet shoulder seasons are less predictable these days.

What do you do to maintain that? I am not as consistent as I’d like. I’ve been working on something that is flexible to different schedules I have to maintain, but can still give me that same feeling. However, when I am sleeping well and taking each morning to think and slowly breathe into the day, I can handle anything.

How do you reconnect to it every day? When I stick to having a slow morning, it helps me to maintain that. I work from home so I have started to take walks during the day or sit outside. Enjoying the sunshine for a few minutes everyday helps me maintain that.

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