From the deadline-driven world of editing print magazines to becoming an astrologer and co-founding her own online masthead, The Wayward, EMMA VIDGEN has transformed her life to do things differently. We catch up – remotely – with the former Real Living editor to get a snapshot of her life under Lockdown in Sydney and find out how her new boss, seven-month-old daughter Plum, is treating her.
You wear a number of hats Emma. How on earth do you fit it all in?
It’s definitely a juggle! I have a very supportive husband and amazing extended family that help out. I genuinely love working (that’s my Virgo sun and Capricorn ascendant), but nothing compares to Plum time – she’s the best!
Was creating your own magazine something you’d always wanted to do?
I’d always daydreamed about starting my own masthead, but it wasn’t until I went freelance that I had the time and headspace to really make it happen. The Wayward was the brand I was looking for but couldn’t find. I wanted a place with interesting profile pieces, beautiful shoots and original content focused on wellbeing, lifestyle, sustainability and astrology.
How did you make it happen?
I founded The Wayward with a dear friend, Sarah Tarca – also an ex mag editor – who was keen to create something entirely different, too. After working for big brands for more than 15 years we were excited (and slightly terrified) to step out and create something deeply personal.
What’s the philosophy of The Wayward?
“Doing life differently” is our motto. And those three words really sum up what we do and why we do it. I wanted to create a brand that reflected how I felt. I had a desire to slow down and live more consciously – more time, less stress and less debt.
Sarah was on the same page and was on her own journey towards a more conscious life. She had also stepped away from publishing and parted with most of her worldly possessions to pack up and go travelling indefinitely with her partner.
You’re passionate about sustainability and Mindful Fashion. Can you tell us about your Mindful Fashion project?
About 18 months ago we were moving house. I became aware I had a habit of purging then replacing clothes. Around the same time I started studying mindfulness meditation and became interested in bringing a sense of awareness to my everyday life. It dawned on me how wasteful the modern day declutter/shopping-spree cycle is. Decluttering is greenwashed a lot and is portrayed as this almost environmental act – which is crazy when you think about it. Charities pay millions of dollars a year to dispose of clothing they can’t resell. I just saw a UN stat that the equivalent of one garbage truck is sent to landfill or burned every second.
I felt really inspired to take a shopping sabbatical, and not only slow down my fashion consumption, but also slow down and reconnect with the clothes I already owned. It wasn’t about turning away from fashion, but reconnecting with the joy I get from beautiful clothes – the only difference was, I wasn’t buying new clothes to experience that excitement.
What have been some of the surprising things you’ve discovered about not buying any new clothes?
So many things! I realised I rarely shopped because I needed anything. It was almost always an emotional thing. “Treating myself”, either as a reward or a pick me up – or because I was bored. It made me get really clear on my personal style and move away from following seasonal trends. I feel more confident about what my sartorial “voice” is now. I actually think I am more into fashion than I was, except now it’s a much more authentic expression of who I am rather than trying to keep up with what’s in stores.
I also rediscovered so many clothes I had forgotten about. It made me realise if you really look after clothes and treasure them, you can keep wearing and loving them for decades. When you have pieces in your wardrobe that are 20 years old, they take on a life of their own. They are so much more than clothing. They’re a part of your personal history.
Was the coronavirus written in the stars? Could you see it coming?
Astrology is like a cosmic weather forecast. It can tell you when to pack an umbrella, but it’s difficult to predict exactly how the storm will unfold and who will be impacted most profoundly.
Some of the major astrological events of this year echoed pretty huge (grim) historical moments – the AIDS epidemic and World War I & II – had similar astrological signatures. The astrology suggested 2020 would be a bridge between two eras. There were definitely signs we would witness dramatic events on a macro scale that would see a destruction of old establishments and institutions. There was a lot of speculation as to how it would manifest, but I think many of us were hoping it wouldn’t be quite as extreme. That being said, none of it is surprising given what’s going on in the sky.
How has the Covid crisis changed the way you do business?
I was already working from home so there hasn’t been a great deal of change to my day-to-day routine, other than acquiring a co-worker (my husband now also works at home). In terms of business, my content agency has been hit hard, but luckily I’m still working with astrology clients.
It must be tough having a baby under the Lockdown. How have you coped?
Being cooped up has been tough. We used to do big walks everyday, so being stuck inside has been an adjustment. I try to focus on the silver linings: my husband getting to spend more time with Plum, and the opportunity to slow down and not overschedule myself.
I’ve fallen in love with cooking again and have more time for exercise now I’m not trying to wring every last second out of the day to fit in client work. That being said, like everyone, I have good days and bad days!
What tips have you got for mums who may be struggling?
Finding a style of meditation that works for you is my number one tip for helping navigate the uncertainty.
What interesting realisations have you had living under this ‘New Normal’?
We’re hardwired to spend most of our time either worrying about things that have happened in the past or things that may happen in the future. When the world is in crisis that instinct is hyperactive. The greatest gift we have to fight that fight or flight instinct is to get better at being present. Unfortunately, the present is quite uncomfortable. Being confronted with loss, grief, death, disease, debt can make the right now feel unbearable. The uncertainty of it all is overwhelming.
Mindfulness meditation is a powerful tool for helping us make friends with the uncertainty. I’ll be teaching a beginner’s course in mindfulness meditation online in June/July specifically for mothers. You can join the list for updates here.
What are you most looking forward to when things get back to some kind of normal? Are there any things you’d like to keep from this time?
I can’t wait to go back to the movies! I miss the ritual of going to the cinema. I also miss the popcorn. Other things I’d like to keep: a slower pace of life, more flexible working arrangements, exercising outside rather than going to the gym, cooking at home and more regular FaceTime with my mum. We’ve also started an online movie club with friends where we press play on a movie at the same time and then critique it on a WhatsApp group. It’s a lot of fun! I hope it continues post Covid.
Can you give us a sneak peek into the astrology for the rest of 2020?
With regard to the rest of the year, we’re in for more upheaval. Eclipses mid-year (around June 20, July 4) will conclude a storyline that began around July 2018. Mars is a major player in the second half of the year, triggering conflict thanks to some big aspects to Saturn and Pluto, and then major frustration courtesy of a Mars retrograde. We close out the year with Jupiter and Saturn meeting in Aquarius, sparking the beginning of a new (roughly) 200-year cycle, which really has ‘Brave New World’ feelings about it. My advice would be to expect things to be delayed and take longer than usual when you’re planning for the second half of the year. Things will eventually get done, just not as fast as you would like and the frustration will be real.
You can visit The Wayward
Sign up here to register interest in Emma’s online Mindfulness Meditation Course for beginners.