A Girl Named Leney

THE JOURNAL

To Walk In Beauty

One of my pursuits in living here in New Mexico has entailed learning more about the Diné (Navajo) culture.
I came across this blessing today which from my understanding is often traditionally sung during the process of weaving, in reference to Spider Woman, who is said to have first woven the universe and taught the Diné to spread the “Beauty Way” by creating beauty in their own life and thus encompassing the balance of mind, body and soul.

It is also a part of the story that when Spider Woman discovered her abilities and after showing Spider Man, he created tools for her with which to weave out of the Juniper tree (read more here).

A fact that seems even more meaningful to me due to my own fascination and interest in Juniper trees.

(I don’t fully know why this feels meaningful exactly, other than the fact that I always take note when more than one interest seems to intersect with another…)

The more I learn about this beautiful culture, the more I feel it has to teach us in so many ways.
I thought I would share the blessing here with you today— I got chills reading it and cannot imagine how beautiful it must be in it’s original native tongue.


The Beauty Way

Today I will walk out, today everything unnecessary will leave me, 
I will be as I was before, I will have a cool breeze over my body. 
I will have a light body, I will be happy forever, 
nothing will hinder me. 
I walk with beauty before me. I walk with beauty behind me. 
I walk with beauty below me. I walk with beauty above me. 
I walk with beauty around me. My words will be beautiful. 

In beauty all day long may I walk. 
Through the returning seasons, may I walk. 
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk. 
With dew about my feet, may I walk. 

With beauty before me may I walk. 
With beauty behind me may I walk. 
With beauty below me may I walk. 
With beauty above me may I walk. 
With beauty all around me may I walk. 

In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk. 
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk. 
My words will be beautiful.


The Rewilded Bookclub
www.agirlnamedleney.com

I shared on Instagram last week that I was reading Women Who Run With The Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. A book that I’d had in the trunk of my car for three months and was eagerly waiting for the right moment to start.
It generated so much interest and wonderful conversation that I decided to start a virtual bookclub!

The #RewildedBookclub can now be found on Facebook in a private group (join below!) or followed through that hashtag on instagram.

It is one of my inherent qualities that as long as I make time to at least both read and write in a day, I feel pretty good about the day as a whole. Although despite this belief, they are almost always the things I place on the back burner when I feel stressed or overwhelmed.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
However, these two habits are both such important parts of who I am and part of how I process and engage with the world in a way that feels meaningful to me.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Balancing screen time with these things is hard. Which is of course the irony of sharing this... because it’s taking me away from this very book that’s presently in my lap...
But I am so excited to have a group of women to encourage and remind me to make it a priority in my day-to-day.

If you’d like to join, follow the link below! I foresee this being a whole thing and I have a whole stack of other books in the trunk of my car to share in the coming months…. ;)

 
The Rewilded Book Club
Closed group · 36 members
Join Group
This is a bookclub for women to come together and have conversations centered around themes of living a more engaged and mindful life. Challenging the...
 
Goodnight House

i feel at home within the stillness of a house at night

i rarely waver in the dark or quiet spaces of a slightly unknown place

for there is a lightness there

it is inside these spaces that i find my place

amongst tired floors and resting furniture

it is me and the small-slow creeping things

(unsure as i am if the dark impressions of motion are on the floor or inside of my mind—there is even comfort to be found in that too)

the creaks and groans are the tones of hidden hellos specific to these walls

the things heard are of my own creation or that of the inherent nature of the frame i’m inside of

it is on and under these sloped sleeping lines that i am able to recenter and remember my sense of self that is now and at once a mirrored home: the inner home of me

Across The Sky

The days begin with the slow saturation of the suns rays kissing and caressing the landscape gently awake, like you would your lover who’s still asleep next to you, deep under the warm darkness of sleep.

The sun always arises before the land. 

Dutiful in its routine. 

In the way that you too are always the first to awake before the form in bed next to you. 

A morning person. 


I wonder if the sun ever gets weary in its lonely trek across the sky, day after day, fated to a pre-planned path of journeying. Only able to have temporary, though distant relationship with the land and the things upon it. 

Too far to ever have much of a chance to get to know the moving things down below, though it’s impression in turn upon them is lasting.


But, I suppose it does have the moon, if only for a brief moment, to play for a time with at dusk on some days. When both the moon and the sun are parallel in the sky from one another. 

The moon is in fact the only one who knows a little of what it’s like to be the sun. 

More so than any earthbound thing. 


Two celestial friends. 

Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?
www.agirlnamedleney.com
www.agirlnamedleney.com

Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?
//
Portraits of Heath Herring in Silver City, New Mexico


See more on
Instagram || Twitter || Facebook

To Live Again

I am sitting cross legged on the earthen floor, thick patterned blankets between me and the dirt. It is dark inside the dome, which is made of 16 willow saplings tied together with cloth and string and covered in worn blankets and I am centered on the doorway, a square of piercing light that frames the fire a half dozen yards away where the fire keepers are excavating the lava stones, Grandfather, from the molten embers. 


“Mitakuye Oyasin,”


I am inside of a sweat lodge, the ceremony, Inipi which means “To Live Again” is to purify and place ourselves in a position of openness to send prayers for ourselves and those we love who are suffering.


“Nothing will hurt you here”


The drums beat and I feel one with the sound. My head is the drum. 
My body is heating up, thawing out from the cold of the Winter I’ve been living in for over a month.


“Pray hard”


It isn’t until the third round that I find the heat unbearable. 

It hits me in a wave then. 

I have never felt this type of heat before, it engulfs my body and seizes my lungs, making it difficult to breathe. I place the towel over my head, and the experience of having my breath from inside of my body feel cooler than the air outside is jarring.

The steam emanating from the pit in the middle of the dome which holds 14 new lava rocks from the fire outside. And the Mimi, sacred water of life, has been poured afresh, extinguishing their rolling red sparks. 


This is the Lakota way.


The door opens and the fresh air takes a while to reach me but when it does it feels life giving. 
The chanupa is passed towards me and I carefully take the bowl in my left hand and the lighter in my right. The tip is wet.

The fourth round starts and I feel as though my skin is on fire.
I work to suppress the panic that starts to arise in my body. 
Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

“You are under our protection now. 
Now you are family.”

There Isn't A Shortcut
Photo by Siobhan Watts of Bless The Weather

Photo by Siobhan Watts of Bless The Weather

I’ve been getting a lot of messages lately asking how I lead such a ‘different’ life.

How did I take the leap of faith to do ______?

How did I overcome fear or indecision?

How did I come to lead a life doing what I want to do?

How did I figure it all out?


And while I feel pressed to say that I absolutely do not have it all figured out and that you cannot compare your beginning to someone else’s middle... truth be told: I’ve always been asked this question.

Because I have always lead a different life.



I think to some degree it does come more naturally to me than most to live counterculture.
I must admit that I strive to be different to an unhealthy degree at times. But there are a lot of circumstantial things that have contributed to my counter perspective of how to live.

For example:

I didn’t go to college. 

I started my own business at 18.

I’ve lived and traveled alone much of my adult life.

I live minimally and slowly.

I don’t own or watch a TV.

I have never been in debt.

I refuse to use dating apps.

98% of my clothing is vintage/thrifted/secondhand/handmade.

I sold 50% of my belongings to live on the road for an undetermined amount of time with no real destination and no real specific reason.


Essentially, I go against the grain in regards to a lot of societal norms.


Hopefully I don’t have to state that if you do the opposite of any of these things I don’t think you’re doing it wrong or think less of you…. but if I do have to state it… well... I just did.

Everyone has a different path by which they choose to reach their goals and their desired way of life. I am not saying my way is the way, but because I am continually asked “how I do it” I thought laying out some of my personal history would help answer that question.

But in thinking more in depth about it, I do have some specific beliefs that I realize are major components in my lifestyle that contribute to me being able to live so differently more often than not.


  1. I refuse to let fear dictate my life.
    As soon as I’m scared of something I realize that it’s most often an indication of wanting to avoid a kind of vulnerability. However, it is within vulnerability that I grow so I try to embrace those opportunities vs. running away from them. 

  2. I purposefully put myself in new situations and environments.
    Especially alone. Because that is where I will grow, learn the most, and meet new people.

  3. I am always looking for new things to try.
    Because trying new things creates a resiliency when you inevitably fail at half of them. And having a constant stream of change in your life can help stimulate ideas and an open perspective which leads to paths you otherwise would never have been exposed to.

  4. I read. A lot.
    I don’t keep up with the news to be honest, but I read books voraciously as well as articles and other things of interest that come across my path. I think that having a constant source of things to read helps too in the widening of your openness to the world, and in turn, it’s openness to you.
     

  5. When I feel drawn to something, I go after it.
    I’ve learned to trust my intuition and recognize that most of those feelings are for good reasons that rarely lead me astray. 

  6. I see mistakes as stepping stones to the next right thing and live without a regret mindset.  


But most of all guys: There isn’t a shortcut. 


You just have to decide at some point to live the life that you want to live. 


Overall, I live with the idea that I would rather make mistakes by doing something than from not doing something.
Perhaps it’s an incorrect viewpoint, but I’ve always felt that action is better than passivity in most cases. Personally, I have a reoccurring theme in my life of passivity leading to seasons of unhealth. So when it comes to doing something vs. not doing it... usually I just do it.

But most of all, I want to put out the reminder that I didn’t just arrive here right off the bat, in this magical looking place, (and again, this feels like one of those things I probably don’t need to say but in case I do…. Instagram is not the whole story guys).
Behind this accomplishment or that goal is years and years of trying different things that did not work out, pursuing what I thought were open doors, only to have them closed in my face, getting my hopes up about opportunities that seemed like the right thing, only to be sent back to the drawing board. Everything in my life has built on top of itself and accumulated over a long period of time to this particular season of rightness. And even now, within this good place, there are imperfect and frustrating things because, well, that’s life.
Have I been handed certain chances? Sure. Have I had some opportunities fall into my lap? Of course. But I have also worked my butt off for a very long time, tried new things after failing old ones, continually gotten back up after being knocked down and not given up on myself or my dreams.

So please, please, remember to not compare your journey to someone else’s. That doesn’t do you, or the person pulled into your comparison, any good at all. But moreover, it doesn’t do your individual dreams any good. They were planted inside exactly you for a reason, so quit looking backwards and trying to figure out how someone else got to where they got to and put your energy into forward thinking and choose action instead of stagnation.



I would love to engage more in conversation about this topic though and hear your thoughts on it, whatever they may be.
Feel free to comment below, send me a DM on instagram, or shoot me an email.
I love having in depth conversations with you all and it’s so many of those conversations that have led to solidifying and expressing these personal beliefs which is something I’m very grateful to you for because it’s helped in my own growth and forward focus.


See more on

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook

When The Shadows Sleep

And I am watching now for the time of day when the shadows sleep.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
When there is still light in the sky but the sun has sunk low enough to put an end to the contrast of miraged skin.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
What is the exact moment in time that your body no longer casts a shadow onto the earth and if that moment had a name what would it be?
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
The point of gradual desaturation before the gloaming sets in is an unnoticed thing to the naked eye. Perhaps permanently so, for how do you measure an intangible disappearance?
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Where does the secondary world of dark figures retire to? 
Isn’t it a kind of faith to know they will come back?
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Perhaps it is as my Father said: “nothing good ever happens after dark”
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
For bodies no longer have mirrored accountability of their actions.
The leaching of apparitions’ measured movements.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
It is a secret world that they go to—the shadows.
Frozen in an invisible realm until the sun rises just-so again.

You Can Do This
www.agirlnamedleney.com

I was talking with a friend recently, and she shared this thought that I wanted to share in turn and expand upon this morning.

Always remember this: do not ever let the thought that you can’t do it creep in. As soon as you give space to that doubt- you will fail.

This resonated deeply with me because I immediately recognized the times in my life when I have in fact allowed those what-ifs and you-can’t-do-this’ creep into my framework and how it’s often caused imminent failure or, at the very least, a very halting and bumpy start.

Belief in yourself and your abilities is very often the needed thing to execute any given project or goal. As nice as it is to have the support and encouragement from others, if you don’t believe in yourself, you are without the real execution you need to accomplish anything.

This year has involved a great number of new ventures for me.
And looking back, to some degree, so has much of my life. By which I mean that I have always gone after the new, the adventurous, the out-of-the-box, the what-have-I-not-tried-yet. But if I am being honest, I cannot claim to have always had the full can-do mindset when tackling those things.

You cannot have just the drive to go forth towards new paths, you have to believe you will get to the thing you are seeking at the end of the road.


Which is the inner mantra that I plan to hold onto through these new transitions and into this upcoming year.
Because, whenever I’ve really thought about it, really, I can do it.

A Day On The Farm

There is something special about being intimately invited into people’s spaces, lives and routines in a way that photographs cannot always capture. 

Though, truth be told, it is that very specific situational aspect of life that I am most often drawn to in my photography work. Capturing the raw and unposed moments that conspire within the framework of the mundane and attempting to convey the interpretation of that perceived beauty. 

Raven is someone I’ve met here in New Mexico who has taught me so much about the caring for a type of animal I, admittedly, have not thought too in depth about aside from eating their eggs for breakfast most days of the week… 

However her love and care for her chickens is evident, even in these images, and is a heartwarming thing to witness. 

(It should be noted that giving her chickens baths is not actually a regular occurrence, but they were preparing for a chicken show in Arizona the next day)

This is just a small vignette of what have become numerous unexpected moments throughout living on a farm in New Mexico.


See more on

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook