Leah Duncan


Art saved her life—an artist's journey through a difficult childhood to embracing what she
was meant to do all along.

I was six years old when we had career day at my school. You know, the kind where you dress up and tell everyone what you want to be when you grow up. There were doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers, scientists, teachers and even an astronaut. I dressed up as a dancer. Pink leotard, sparkly tutu, pink tights, ballet slippers, hair in a bun, big smile.

Although I'm not a dancer today, I can't help but think that six-year-old me would be proud of who I've become.

Anne Elizabeth & Joaquin Avellán

Newlyweds Joaquin Avellán and Anne Elizabeth share their experience of love, in its purest and most expressive incarnation.

I her own words...

I know what it’s like reading these “See the Shiny Happy Couple” columns. We all do. Especially when we are neither shiny, nor happy, nor a couple. I also know now that there is a way for anyone to be radiantly shiny and peacefully happy. It’s just not the way we all initially want to go because it involves some serious letting go—of our most cherished assumptions about love.

The biggest one is the conviction that somewhere “out there” is The Love that will make us shiny and happy, and that we have to go find it, “get” it and then hold onto it for dear life. Dead end. It’s so the opposite. The love is in us, and we have to just be it. Be shiny and happy. Be love, not “get” it.

Bill Bunch

Executive Director, Save Our Springs Alliance

Enthralled by the beauty of Texas springs, Bill Bunch invites Austinites to protect the paradise just outside our doorstep.

Connecting with the natural world has been at the heart of the Austin experience from before European settlers took up residence on the banks of Barton Springs more than 200 years ago. An important landmark in a region known by native peoples as the “Land of Good Water,” Barton Springs was one in a chain of “fountain springs” emerging from the Edwards Aquifer, which gave birth to Austin and our sister cities. San Pedro and San Antonio Springs gave us San Antonio; Comal Springs, New Braunfels; San Marcos Springs begat San Marcos. The capital was located here in significant part because Barton Springs offered a reliable source of drinking water.

Chris Bilheimer

The Maker’s Mindset—a look inside the process of an acclaimed artist and designer.

David Shiflet

In an old photograph from 1953, I’m five years old and barefoot, one arm slung over a dusty, makeshift fort. Despite the planks of wood jutting out at odd angles and threatening to collapse, there’s a big grin on my face and a feeling of pride that lights up the photograph. Not much has changed since then: I may have traded in wooden forts for beautiful homes across the city, but some 50 years later, I’m still in love with architecture.

Adam Bryan

I relocated to Austin from the west coast on a whim and a motorcycle, and if you asked me why, I wouldn't have an answer. I didn't know anyone living in Austin, and unlike many transplants, I'd neither been to SXSW or ACL nor ever had aspirations to attend UT. During the four years of calling Austin home, I've never seen Barton Springs or jogged around Lady Bird Lake (which I'm certain is not actually a lake but a river). I rarely eat BBQ, and I'm admittedly perplexed by the worship of the breakfast taco. But when asked why I stayed, the words fall sure as dusk—the warm, humid, easy nights.

Jordan Breal

For most of my life, my exercise regimen has consisted of biennial yoga classes, quarterly jogs around the block and monthly resolutions to one day start thinking about possibly joining a gym. Physical exertion beyond the occasional hike up a flight of stairs in four-inch heels has always seemed more time-consuming and sweaty than it’s worth. Besides, I’m fairly active—as a staff writer for Texas Monthly, I travel to every corner of the state, so I’m constantly on the go—and I’ve been blessed with “skinny genes,” which means I can eat a stockyard’s worth of barbecue without it going straight to my haunches. Could my fanny be firmer? Yes, but who has the time?

Shawn Cirkiel

I grew up in a no-man’s land: 30 years ago, most locals wouldn’t have even considered the old farm near Barr Mansion part of Austin. It was the early 80’s and Austin was a different scene. We would come “into town” on weekends and order tacos at Tamale House, visit the original Whole Foods and eat vegetarian chili at Martin Brothers. That wonderful stretch along Airport Boulevard, which many now consider Central Austin, was countryside and my second home. My grandma had her table at the old Bennigan’s, where she drank Irish coffees after work, and my grandpa, always dressed in a freshly pressed suit, was a regular at the Broken Spoke.

Ray Benson

Musician & Co-Owner of The Rattle Inn

By the time you read this, I will be either celebrating or lamenting the passage of my 61st birthday and my 39th year as a resident of Austin, Texas — both significant milestones, for sure! But the one constant in my life, besides change, is my love for music. From an early age, I was blessed with parents who encouraged my siblings and me to study music: at six, I had learned to play the recorder as well as read and write music. At eight, we tried piano, which I wish I played as well today as I did 50 years ago! At nine, I grabbed my sister’s baritone four-string guitar and taught myself the local beer commercial jingle — and that was how my show biz career began!

Will Bryant

Will Bryant's Illustrated Love Story

Syndicate content