Valerie Sonnenthal, Photo Editor, Sound Healer, Creative Entrepreneur | Silhouette

Valerie Sonnenthal, Photo Editor, Sound Healer, Creative Entrepreneur | Silhouette

After a day with Valerie, I am ready to go out and explore my curiosities. Being that my life is currently changing quite a bit, I’ve forgotten that I’m allowed to be happy without a clear path or extremely evident purpose. Valerie so gracefully enjoys life, and her story filled with fervent growth makes me more excited to be present and happy than any of the inspirational woo-woo I’ve been consuming lately. There’s nothing like a relatable human’s story to get you jazzed about waking up and doing your best work.

Valerie’s house is decorated with alters. Around every corner you’ll find a new collection of memories. Whether it’s pink sand from a trip long ago stored in vintage pill bottles, a card she picked up on a hitchhike in her 20s resting on a high shelf, or a carefully curated piling of glass stones catching the morning light on a random windowsill, these little shrines make for such a sweet sense of serenity. It’s no wonder Valerie is so open to whatever her days bring!

Valerie and I lead very different lives. Me being obsessive about having no little trinkets, being one-track-minded when it comes to career and what I pursue, relying heavily on technology, I could go on and on… I tried really hard though to allow Valerie’s reality to sink in, and I have to say, what a beautiful life she leads. I’m jealous! I’m definitely going to come back to this story for fuel on a down day soon ahead.

 
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QUICKFIRE QS:

Q: Why did you choose to live in your state/city/town?

A: I moved to MV as a single mother with 2 kids and no living relatives in this country and felt it would give them an extended family 

Q: What is your favorite brunch spot nearby?

A: Home- we don't eat out much on MV but favorite breakfast place in season is The Aquinnah Shop

Q: Best cup of coffee in the neighborhood?

A: I stopped drinking coffee this year when I did my Standard Process cleanse though my husband enjoys Chilmark General Store

Q: Is there one morning ritual you can’t live without? 

A: I do Reiki before getting up officially every morning

Q: Where was the last place you traveled to? What’s one not-to-miss activity there?

A: We took my son to Univ. of Rochester and visited the George Eastman House 

Q: Do you prefer traveling by train or car? If in the car, are you a driver, a passenger or a backseat driver?

A: I like driving and train though mostly drive at this point in life. I like the comfort of watching a landscape go by on the train and the unique places trains travel through, but enjoy the freedom a car affords.

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Valerie's journal entry transcribed:

The e-mail Eli sent asked about “success”? Not a word I like to use - it feels too loaded, like something has to be achieved but like “perfection” is not truly possible. I never saw myself as successful per se. I loved what I got to do as a Photo Editor, but hated being indoors in an office, usually windowless, all day. I stayed in NYC because of my family needing help to care first for my stepfather then my grandmother and eventually my own mother. After all the years of putting everyone else first I finally in my later fifties had the opportunity to focus on myself, but first making a few more mistakes on the way, like publishing a magazine with a poet and an actress, but not knowing anything about the business side of things. Everyday I wake up grateful, cliché perhaps, but I focus on nature, my family, the light. At 60 I’m getting to experience an entirely new relationship to listening, the first of our senses to develop in the womb and that is very exciting. When I help one person learn a modality that keeps them out of chronic pain it is wholly rewarding - that is a success, rather that I think “I am successful.” I am calmer than I’ve ever been in my life and look forward to sunrise and sunset, animals grazing at the farm next door, today’s freshly picked tomatoes, walking with my dogs, traveling with my husband. Life for me is the process, it has been so creative and wonderful to explore and offer sound, something that does not take up space when it is done, does not have to be recycled but lingers and is passed on as a tool for calming the nervous system, rebalancing and recalibrating so we can be available for the hard tasks life throws at us.

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BONUS! A sound bath by Valerie recorded just for Silhouette readers...

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Eli Dagostino is a Vanity Fair published visual storyteller. He's the founder and creative director of SILHOUETTE and the creator of Camera Confident.