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.
well, this is the middle.
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?
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.
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.
our priorities aren’t what we say they are, but rather what we do.
just some food for thought that i'm mulling over today.
what do you think?
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.
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.
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.
Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God!
Let your good Spirit lead me
on level ground!
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.
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.
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)
leaving here a small collection of imperfect photos, taken with expired film, that make me happy.
perhaps exactly because of their imperfection.
and perhaps also because of:
walls with faces.
a counter with late-night-suburban-foraged apples.
a dog that follows the yellow brick road and her ornery friend, a crossed eyed cat.
glasses of red wine.
brown booted friends treading on perfectly worn rugs.
music and candles and lights-left-on for those going away and coming back.
and a kindred spirit found in an ethereal soul who i often wish didn't live on the exact opposite coast from my coast.
shot with kodak gold 200 35mm film in Portland Oregon of my beautiful friend Anna's house
the dirt of our hurt.
it’s a phrase that’s been running across the mainframe of my brain on repeat ever since it came to me a week or so ago.
i’ve been sitting with it, knowing i have something i need to process and write involving the ideas around it, but i've been running away from doing so.
distracting myself. thinking of other things. or not thinking at all.
but yesterday i woke up and realized i couldn’t continue on that path.
as familiar and often comforting that path of distraction is.
because i’ve been hurting.
and yesterday i made myself sit in it.
which is hard for me.
by which i mean stillness.
even more so when discomfort is surrounding it.
although i’m not one to shy away from growth, changes, newness or hard things.
in fact i often run all-to-willingly towards them.
sometimes put myself in and on their path unnecessarily because i have a hard time without
which then causes unnecessary hurt more often then not.
i am trying to be better at just being.
just processing one-at-a-time.
whether that’s as small as a new moment or as big as a new day.
each as it comes. each in its appointed time.
for someone who’s as addicted to newness and change as i am, it’s been a hard thing to wrestle with.
but i know it’s a wrestling worth putting my arms on the table and fists in the air for.
so today, this week, this month, however-long-i-need-to, i am embracing the dirt of my hurt.
it’s a place of mess that we often run away from.
left unattended, weeds grow, things become ferrel and wild in the not-good ways.
so much possibility is held in this dirt.
this very place of pain and overgrown vines and past entanglement.
because once freshly dug into, tilled and stirred up, it is the perfect place for planting.
i had posted this on instagram last week, but i wanted to share it here too.
because it's an idea that i think is really important and i honestly needed re-reminding of this week myself, because i've been feeling slumpy.
(i am mostly blaming this insane weather we've been having. it's 77 one day, 25 the next, my body literally cannot handle it and i feel so off and unwell. i just want some consistency)
i’ve somewhat been feeling so off and on for a while now, but have been pushing through it and fighting to feel not so.
i've received much needed words from loved ones in the language of:
do not be so hard on yourself.
pain is not necessarily an indicator of something bad, rather an indicator of growth.
it is okay to be here.
feeling so much all the time is not a bad thing because feelings do have value. but we have to be careful because there is often a discrepancy between our feelings and reality.
out of the hard and dirty and painful and messy parts of our lives come the most beautiful pieces of us.
which i know to be true. because i’ve been there. multiple times. i’ve seen that story played out, been a character in it’s telling, written some of the words to it’s story and read the proceeding chapters.
i’ve been in and out and danced with that theme of redemption many a time.
in the dirt of our hurt, we are given a chance to re-plant, re-sow seeds, and start anew.
and there is so much promise and hope in that.
for without the dirt, there would be no flowers.
evolving is a balancing act.
to both hold contentment (without being stagnant and stale) in one hand and a desire to grow and experience new-ness (without being restless and unappreciative of where you are) in the other is hard for me.
what's also somewhat related are the countering ideas of: if it's meant to be, it will be and if you want it, go get it.
i fight with the balance of these thoughts constantly, but i suppose that's what life is about to some extent.
we are always becoming.
i recently got some film developed from last Fall's trip to the Pacific Northwest.
today i wanted to share this set of photos from a little urban flower farm in Salem Oregon because the colorful faces of these blooms has me excited for Spring (despite the fact that i biked in 30 degree weather this morning... Spring is so close, i know it, i know it).
this inspiring venture is that of the lovely Melody Idol (be sure to follow Melody's beautiful floral adventures on instagram at @wild_and_wayward and visit her website).
despite the cold and rain (we were in the PNW after all...) she gave us such a wonderful tour and talk of her flowery passions and even let us take a few blossoms back with us (much to my flower lovin' friend and i's delight). her last minute and spontaneous hospitality made the trip all the more memorable and extra special.
it's truly the opportunity to meet such beautiful and passionate people in so many varied walks of life that makes traveling such a joy for me.
although truthfully, it didn't help satiate my secret dream to be a florist (then again, isn't that everyone's dream...?)
thanks again Melody, your plant mama ways are still inspiring me over here on the East Coast even months later.
i hope our paths cross again one day.
shot with Kodak 200 35mm film