A Girl Named Leney


Baby Hank

and have you ever felt for anything, such wild love? —Mary Oliver

from the moment i knew of this little ones being (which involved a sonogram in a little country restaurant parking lot and lots of happy tears) i was filled with anticipation and joy.
i've told multiple people, in all manner of abject wonder, how disarming and incredible it is to have so much love for such a little being who isn't even your own blood relative. for such is the experience i have when it comes to loving this small person. if i love this baby this much, how in the world am i going to feel about my own hopefully-one-day child?
i hold the hope of one day finding out. 

some of you may remember the photos i posted of Maddie when she was pregnant and how they are still some of my favorite photos i've ever taken. created in a time when i wasn't feeling very fulfilled with my photography and when i felt somewhat lifeless in creating much of anything at all. and yet, in the documentation of this little life, i've found so much fulfillment.
Maddie often says her life would go undocumented if it weren't for me (i took photos of her all through high school-college for every occassion imaginable, then photos of her and her husband Taylor when they were dating, engaged, when they were married and even when they lived out in California for a bit) which might be true. but i surely wouldn't have nearly as full of a life without knowing her. she has remained my true blue friend for over a decade now and, often embarrassingly so, knows the most about me of all of my friends. if you have someone in your life you've known that long and have felt that sort of bond with, you know perhaps the kind of love i am speaking of. there is truly nothing i wouldn't bend over backwards to do for her and, now, her family as well. for, even though it took me a little while to warm up to him, i truly love her husband Taylor and am so thankful for his friendship as well. they are both some of the most genuine and real people i know. unapologetically so. which is my favorite kind of person. someone who is just unfalteringly and completely themselves. Maddie has always been that way, from day one, and i'm glad she met her match in Taylor in that way.

it feels somewhat raw to share such personal and intimate feelings about people i love so very deeply on such a public space, and yet, such is the day and age we live in nowwhere such things seem normal and trivialized. however, while i do tend to keep more things private and personal these days, i've honestly found so much value and encouragement within my own space and in others, by sharing such things vs. keeping them pent up inside. i think it's a beautiful thing to be able to share stories so readily. to encourage others and spread light through them. and so, here is a little piece of one of mine. 

meet Hank. 

August Showers and New York Flowers

i had the exceptionally wonderful opportunity to travel to New York City at the end of last month to photograph some special projects with my friend Casey Godlove, Plantshed and WeWork

(what? you got paid to travel to New York to take photos of flowers and plants?? i know... i can hardly believe it myself. talk about a dream job. #thetravelingphotographer)

i try to make it to New York at least once a year, and not having been able to go yet this year, Casey's job proposal came at the perfect time. 
oh how i'd been missing New York.
it was a very needed breath of fresh inspiration and creativity and, as always, working with fellow artists is always such a life giving experience for me. especially when we work so well together. 
more photos from the dreamy WeWork spaces coming soon, but i did want to share these incredible arrangements that Casey put together for an event at the Gracie Mansion!

can i just frame one of these images so that i can forever have these flowers in my home and pretend they're real? 
i feel like that's a good idea.
because hot damn i just want to stare at these beauties all day...


To Keep Trying

i have been away from this space for quite some time.
it wasn't intentional, at first.
but with each passing day, week, and then proceeding month(s), it felt harder and harder to be back here.
i am in a place of transition.
i've said that to a lot of people lately. 
but i don't really feel that it aptly reflects my true state. a transition implies that you know where you are going, you have a direction you are headed, something you are working towards, you are moving from this to that.
which is not quite the case for me. not really.
i wouldn't go as far as to say that i've felt lost. but, in a sense, i have been closer to that than not. 
i have tried new things, i have been in a state of movement, i have been searching, but i keep arriving at what feel like dead ends. 
i am close to something, i don't know what yet, but by sheer will and refusal of stagnation i am moving towards figuring it out. 

no, i am not sure what i want, and i don't really know how to find it exactly. other than just to continue to keep pursuing new things and not give up (if you have other advice, feel free to send it my way). 
i've been somewhat silent about this because admitting it out loud scares me. it scares the hell out of me. to say that i don't know what i want. that i don't know where i want to be. and that i don't know where i want to go. but i think what scares me more isn't not figuring it out, but not trying anymore to figure it out. 

so i am going to keep trying.

and i'm going to write again, because i haven't all summer. and that is one of those things that i do know i want, and that i feel like me when i'm doing it.

and i'm going to post on here again. because it feels good to.

so while i don't know a lot of things, i do know those things, and after having moved and fought through a lot in private over the last few months, i'm ready to come back to sharing things again. because my tendency towards solitude, in this at least, isn't going to help me figure things out i don't think. i need to be putting things out there, sharing, giving, having conversations and reveling in others company, which is what doing this and being in this space has always brought me. 
again, i don't know where i'm going yet exactly, or what the outcome will be, but i know that i want to keep trying to get there. or, more so, to learn to enjoy the journey again maybe.
since we never really arrive.
so here's to that.
and if you're in a similar space, i hope this encourages you to keep trying too.  

event | slow living

good morning friends!

i am posting a series of videos in my instagram story this morning (which you won't be able to see online, you'll have to go into the app!) so be sure to go watch those, you can find me @agirlnamedleney!

i made them to talk more about my heart behind this event i am hosting with The Village Magazine and Jacqueline of BoldHeartMama on July 29th here in my home city, Richmond, Virginia.

please go watch the videos (they only last for 24 hours!) and get yourself a ticket to come to this event! it's going to be so much fun and i cannot wait to meet you and have some good conversations about these important ideas and share with you some of my story in how these practices have changed my own life for the better!

you can purchase your ticket here as well as read an interview i did with The Village here.

if you have any questions about the event don't hesitate to direct message me on instagram or shoot me an email

The Middle

well, this is the middle.
the in-between and un-done.
i know you get uncomfortable here.
but it's necessary.
for you can't get to the end without going through a middle to get there.
this isn't the only middle you'll ever be in, and there isn't only one end you're headed for.
the ground isn't all hard here.
there's some soft places too.
go barefoot while you walk through it, so you can feel it all.
it's okay to feel it all.
there will be many middles.
as there will be many beginnings.
and many ends.
keep seeing them through.

Event | Slow Living With The Village Magazine

i am so very excited to announce that i will be cohosting a slow living event with friends from The Village Magazine on July 29th here in my hometown of Richmond, VA and you are all invited! 

what is slow living and what will we be doing at this event?

(well, for an initial introduction into what slow living means to me you should head to this page on my site.)

The Art of Slow Living.
it’s a phrase that’s becoming more mainstream, hashtagged and popular these days, but what does it really mean?
what does it look like to #liveslow?

for me?
it’s a lifestyle.
it’s a lens through which you can choose to view everything that surrounds you.
how you perform tasks, the mindset you hold, how you prioritize your life.
it’s the idea that allows you to embody mindfulness and intentionality in everything that you do.
two practices that are becoming increasingly important in the fast paced, motion driven world we live in.

it’s been a journey that i set out on a few years ago and has since changed my life in more ways than i can account for or quantify. 

i would so very much love to meet you and have an opportunity to connect and talk and become real-life friends!
check out the links below to learn how you can come be a part of this fun evening. there will be delicious homemade cocktails, a farm to table dinner, photos by the lovely Anna and a night of community and new-friend making.
i hope to see you there!

go read the interview i did with them to read more thoughts on slow living over on their blog here.

go reserve your seat for the event here.

and be sure to follow The Village and myself on instagram to keep up with any updates between now and then! and checkout #gatherthevillage to see some photos from their past events.

A Vessel

the vessel of me— i often think of my body in this way. 
as a container. 
as something that is capable of holding and harboring and keeping but also having the ability to be empty and having things poured out of it. 
namely thoughts, actions, emotions.
but i also just love the word vessel— as it’s another name for a ship. 
which my #daughterofasailor heart loves of course.
i think too of percentages. 
how much am i holding within me now that is good? 
how much is bad? 
do i recognize all of the bad within me and -if so- why am i still holding onto it?
can i be so defined, so traced out and compartmentalized and dually pure and un-pure to know without question the differences of each? 
i fear i am more volatile-capricious-mercurial than that.
i fear that i am often transparently so. 
i fear that my container is likely made of glass, and therefor able to be seen through into it’s contents easily and is left bare and awaiting judgement accordingly. 
vulnerable to cracks and shattering.
but opposingly i don’t think i would like to be made of stone.  
i wouldn’t want such coldness and impenetrable hardness to be my make-up.
i want to be softer than that. 
warmer than that.
what then is a good material to be made of?
mere flesh and bone?
is it wrong to see those things as paltry?
for, perhaps they are enough. 
perhaps the container of me is made so for that very reason, and trying to assimilate to another form would be to dishonor the one i’ve been given.

Level Ground

i ran. 
and i ran and ran and ran. 
the driving feeling that manifested physically beat inside me repeatedly until i acted on it. 
i constantly wanted to run away. 
the feeling i had, which i interpreted as a need, was constant. 
and yet even when i acted on it, even when i did run in some form or another, arriving never eased the command. 
it didn’t let up.
“you still need to run” something inside of me would say. 
“you have to escape”
“you don’t belong here”

wandering flushes a glory that fades with arrival.
and arrive i did. 
over and over. 
i sought, i found, i repeated. 
nothing was easing the restlessness and sadness inside of me.

until one day i couldn’t run anymore. 
i changed my avoidance tactics and found a new form of escape.
i checked out.

it was fall. 
i remember because the leaves on the ground around me were brown. prickly. scratching through my clothes to get to my skin. 
a sensation i probably recall mostly in retrospect as at the time i was determined to feel as little as possible— if nothing at all. 
nothingness was the goal.
“Leney…. Leney talk to me...”
they were always there during these episodes. 
they were the one person i felt safe enough to do this with. 
the only person i told the majority of what it was i was going through and as such, in my mind, they’d been deemed safe. 
but perhaps the reason for my catatonia episodes around them wasn’t simply because they were the one who knew the most. 
perhaps i was testing them. 
seeing if they could handle the darkness that was fighting to envelop me. 
seeing if they would try to save me. 
if they could save me. 
i wanted to be saved. 
but it wasn’t until they gave up trying that i realized no one could be my savior. 
no one except for the one who already was, is, and has been all along.

i haven’t had that feeling in almost three years now.
a realization that came to me only recently. 
it’s been so long since i ran -ran to runaway- that i’d almost forgotten i used to feel so.

i wrote the above in November.
it’s part of a story i’ve been wanting to share, wanting to tell more people about.
but i’ve held that desire with hesitation and caution. 
not sure if it was the right time. 
not sure if there would be negative feedback from sharing something that once was such a huge part of me.
for it was several years ago now.
but now, i’ve been feeling the darkness of that time inching back towards the middle of me. 
no longer on the outskirts, no longer outside of the lines and realm of my person. 
it’s inching in, recoloring the lines and make-up of me.
but i am fighting it.

i crave intimacy and vulnerability from like-minded souls. 
from their art, voices, time spent and day-to-day lives: however that translates.
but i realized that i cannot ask of others what i am not willing to give myself.

when thinking back on that time i realize i didn’t feel close to people because i didn’t feel close to myself.
i was joyless because i had a misplaced sense of joy. 
i attempted to put it into things and people unable to hold it in the first place— ill equipped to carry, to nurture, to be the base and grounding of me.
but i recognize now that the ground that is able to hold me is the one that i came from. 
the one that was made by The Creator of all ground.
and that grounding, that saving that i so fervently sought, could only come from Him. 

i’m sharing this about myself, i’m sharing this story, not because i want you to perceive me as a troubled artist, a wild and wayward wanderess, a deep and introspective individual or a warrior who’s fought a hard battle, but because i believe i went through what i did for a reason. 
to deepen and strengthen my character and sense of self-sureness: yes
but also because i know there have been so many words voiced, experiences shared, confessions given, and admonishings made from others that have helped me get into-through-and-out of so many hard times in my life.  
and if mine can in any any any way do that for someone else, even on a small scale, than i want to honor myself, my experience and my one Holy God in that.
because i went through such darkness, despair, and inner struggle.
and if you’re there, if you’re in a dark place right now, so much so that you’re having a hard time seeing anything anymore at all, i want you to hang on because there’s still light. 
there’s still a little prick of it shining-glowing-beckoning from the end of the tunnel. 
and you have everything in you already that you need to start working your way towards it. 
you can’t do it alone. 
you need to be okay with asking for help.
but the start? 
the first few steps of making your way in that direction? 
that’s all you.
start walking.
there's level ground just ahead.


And I will lead the blind
    in a way that they do not know,
in paths that they have not known
    I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
    the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I do,
    and I do not forsake them.

—Isaiah 42:16

Every valley shall be lifted up,
    and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,

    and the rough places a plain
—Isaiah 40:4

Teach me to do your will,
    for you are my God!
Let your good Spirit lead me
    on level ground!

 —Psalm 143:10

But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity;
    redeem me, and be gracious to me.
 My foot stands on level ground;
    in the great assembly I will bless the Lord.

 —Psalm 26:11-12


the history carried within things is much more evident within their imperfections.

of objects. of ourselves.
by which i mean:

it is by the worn deck of a boat that you can gauge how many storms it’s weathered.
the lines by a woman’s eyes that tell of how many times she’s smiled because she’s chosen to see the good in life vs. the bad. 
the calluses on a mans hands that showcase how hard he’s worked at his craft.
the chip in a plate that shows how many meals have been loving prepared on it.
the crack in a door that speaks to how many guests your home has greeted and how faithfully it’s overseen your own coming and going day in and day out.
the patches on a pair of jeans that tell the story of the journey and adventures of their wearer. 
the scars on an arm that whispers of a soft and unspoken strength.
the dog eared and underlined pages of a book marking how meaningful it’s contents have been to it’s readers.

the value in not only our own history, but that of the things in our lives, is often overlooked. 
the recognition of it is another of those slow-living practices.
the appreciation for things worn and weathered is scarce.
the idea that the old has more value than the new is not an idea held frequently, or for very long, in our society.
for we are bombarded with needing to refresh-replace-redo-renew-remake daily.
of course there is time for those practices. 
(although there is certainly a privilege that comes with being able to act out such things— to be able to replace something instead of having to make do with what you have.)
but it’s not as necessary or as often needed as our culture would want us to think.
this is definitely one of the main reasons i started Folkling
it’s why all of my clothing is handmade, secondhand or vintage. 
the same goes with most of what i have in my home.

but this idea, this appreciation for things worn, for something visibly showcasing it’s history, it goes beyond our possessions. 
it can also be read on our own bodies.

i recently have found grey hair on my head and this is something i take pride in, odd as that may be. 
i’ve never dyed my hair. 
(disclaimer: in saying this i am not speaking against anyone who does dye their hair. everyone is different. this is just my personal stance.) 
because for me it’s a way of being able to treasure the signs of age.  
it’s a sacred and beautiful thing to be allowed to do so, to be allowed to live, to be allowed to carry on.
for there is a time coming where i will not be. 
i don’t know when that is, but every day i get to still be here and show up and add more to my story is a gift, so why would i want to reverse the telling of it? 
to seem as if i haven’t had as much time and as much story here as i have?
i shouldn’t continually want unrealistic and unnatural change and alteration from my body towards an idea more so of perfection because in fact it is moving more and more in the opposite direction. 
but in that, in the age spots, wrinkles, scars, grey hairs, folds, curves— there is a history. 
a telling-of-me. 
it is my own personal story.
one i should be proud of.
because it is wholly mine.
and this is how i was made, and this is how i am being re-made, as i further my journey and weathering of this life.
we should honor ourselves for that more than we do. 
ourselves, others, and the things around us.
to see imperfections with a different perspective. 
to see the history and story behind them and have those be more beautiful and valuable than perfection.


(thank you to a dear reader, Karen, for prompting me to think about this due to your lovely comment on my last blog post)