A Girl Named Leney

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 Hitchin, England in 35mm film

Hitchin, England in 35mm film

My outsides are wrapped up in a vintage Pendleton blanket my Dad found (this thing is so good and warm that if it were anyone else’s I’d steal it in a heartbeat).
It’s well after midnight.
My insides are full of red wine and lemon poppy seed muffins.
I am also filled with the kind of tired happiness that can only be felt on a Sunday evening. With a weekend of motion behind you, and the upcoming week rolling out ahead of you with empty promise.

It snowed unceasingly all day, so much so that I got snowed in at my parents. Not an altogether unpleasant thing. In fact quite a pleasant one. Not only for the fact of there being a thermos of coffee on the counter all day and food to help yourself to, but also the warmth of the familiar presence of each individual in this home of mine.
For even though I no longer live here, it is still one of my homes.

I spend so much time alone it’s nice to be around others, even if they’re just in the vicinity while I do my own thing. I prefer that actually, most of the time. A passive and communal togetherness.

Having internet (a very foreign thing to me as I have lived without it for over a year now) has led to an equally productive and unproductive day as I am now fully caught up with my accounting but conversely have spent an embarrassing amount of time on Etsy favoriting vintage 1970s sheepskin jackets…

But such are the things snow days should be made of.

Puzzle building and fires, late night walks through white powdery streets and laughing over the camaraderie of a day off from the outside world.

Featured | An Interview On Linenbeauty
www.agirlnamedleney.com

I meant to share this much sooner, but with all of my out-of-the-country travels, and still not having a working phone, I am just now getting around to it.
Last month I was featured over on the Linenbeauty blog! You can check out the interview here.
There are so many amazing dialogues over there with inspiring women pursuing slow living and simple paths and I feel so flattered to be amongst them.

In our interview I mention a little bit about The Wild and Wonderful American Road Trip, and the portrait of me is actually the only film photo I’ve shared so far from the 34 rolls of film I shot on the trip. I have chosen not to release any of the images digitally until some of the projects I am working on with them are completed, but there will be an opportunity to see more of them soon!

Thank you all for reading and engaging with me on these ideas and topics. As always, I love talking to you about them, don’t ever hesitate to reach out over instagram or email!

A Different Life

A post shared by Leney (@agirlnamedleney) on


i posted this on Instagram a few weeks ago, but i wanted to share it here on the blog too. so if you’ve already read this post, feel free to scroll on! but i wanted a chance to reach some of you who maybe don't follow me on Instagram but do here. because, i have to tell you, sharing this has led to some of the best conversation and thought provoking dialogue with so many unexpected people. 
i am so continually appreciative of the authentic and genuine people who i get to meet and interact and talk with on the internet (and in real life!). it's why i write what i write and share what i share. to foster more meaningful and mindful connections with people. 
so cheers to all of you for making that possible. 


i lead a different life than most. 
i say this not from a place of thinking how i live is better, or the right way, but wanting to be open and authentic in my voice and so people understand my heart and the passions and ideals within it.

i've had my business for 8 years. 
i never went to college.
i started my photography/Etsy business out of high school and have been doing it ever since. it's evolved into other things over time and i've definitely had seasons of various part time jobs to make ends meet but i am so proud of the fact that in most seasons i can support myself solely with my art and working for myself. that has always been a priority for me and an ambition that was encouraged and instilled in me by my parents. 
what's more than that though is that i strive to live on purpose. 
with intention. 
with choice. 
and that looks a little bit odd and counterculture sometimes. something that i often thrive in, as i like a little TOO much being different than everyone else, but something that i also struggle with as it has isolated me from others at times.

apart from societal placement, there are a lot of things about my life that are at odds with what the norm is:
i live within or below my means.
i've never had debt.
i've never owned a TV.
i've had my computer since 2009.
i don't have internet where i live.
i can count on one hand how many phones i've ever had. 
i've never used dating apps.
if i can walk/bike there in 30 mins i will forgo driving.
i've always driven used cars.
i live alone.
i rent or borrow instead of buy and i don't buy "extra" or "just in case".
i don't buy or use disposables i.e. ziplock bags/plastic wrap/paper towels/napkins.
i carry canvas bags with me in order to refuse paper/plastic ones.
i live without AC and with limited heat.
98% of my clothing is thrifted/vintage/handmade/secondhand.
i repair, recycle or make do without before purchasing something new.
i don't own or use a lot of standard American appliances like an iron or a coffee maker or even a microwave a lot of the time.
i compost.
i recycle.
i try to produce as little trash/waste in all areas of my life.
i buy local or secondhand as often as i can and try to limit purchases to only things i truly need or that will add significant value to my life.
i eat as seasonally, organically, locally and farm-to-table as i can afford and don't buy processed or many packaged foods.
i use all-natural beauty and health products, many of which i make.
being in nature is a priority for me.
i don't belong to a gym, i exercise outside or with things in my home.
i belong to 3 libraries and have read over 17 books already this year.
i introduce myself to people i don't know and i meet eyes, shake hands and repeat names. 
i try to be a good listener and ask questions i would want to be asked.
i try to see people who are used to going unseen and ask peoples names who are used to being nameless.
i recognize love as a choice and try to love others in the unconditional way i have been so loved.

some of these practices have been a part of my life for years, and some more recently.
i am striving for a more simple and mindful life.
to many my interpretation of that seems radical.
to others it's not radical enough.
neither matters though as my convictions and ideals are not based on the opinions of men. 
many would look at this list and see it as a list of unnecessary deprivation. but to me it's a list of abundance that allows me to live the lifestyle i want to live and have the freedom that i have.
i also wanted to share all of this because i've often been asked how it is that i can afford to travel so much or to buy more "expensive" handmade things. and it's because i have different priorities than what most Americans are societally told is normal and standard to have. much of the time i do without so that i can live in other ways that are more important to me. and because i buy so little, when i do it's quality that will last me a lifetime (or nearer to it than the $19.99 shirt i can get at Target).

and so, again, i share all of this not from a high horse or with the conviction that how i live is better than how you live, but with a heart of wanting to challenge you to examine your life and priorities. do you want to get out of debt? then you are going to have to do without something for a while. do you want to travel more? sell something you own to afford the plane ticket.
i just want us to be awake to the fact that our lives are ours. most of us have the ability to change the things we want changed. it's often just a matter of first recognizing and then living out what we say our priorities are.


if something in what i shared resonated with you, please do not hesitate to reach out! i would love to continue to foster the discussion of what living differently looks like for you. 
i can be reached on Instagram through direct messages or via email!


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Slow Living | Travel Essentials
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i have been on the go a lot over the past few months, and though i've been a traveler for years, i feel like i am just now getting to a point where i have the whole packing just-what-i-need thing down! 
so today i wanted to share a little bit about how i implement my slow living mindset into what i pack when i'm traveling. starting with some of my toiletries, because i noticed that's where i have the most opportunity for setting the tone of my trip and implementing a healthy and intentional mindset.


• for starters, i am a minimalist when it comes to products.
i don't wear a lot of makeup, or use a lot of things on my face, because over the years, i've realized that my skin is much happier with less on it and less done to it. not to say i won't get glammed up every so often because, hello, being a girl is fun, but for the most part i stick with a few basic essentials. especially when traveling, and my face and body are already battling with the grit and grime and lack of rest that traveling can entail. 

• second of all, i try very hard to use natural and organic things on, and in, my body as much as possible. i actually made most of what you see here (which i might share recipes for if there's enough interest!) but if i didn't it was made by someone else with natural ingredients (see full list of items below). it's hard to be 100% about this all of the time of course, as with anything, and i give myself grace because honestly *what you do every day matters more than what you do every so often*. so i try to remember that and when i use l'oréal shampoo at an air bnb, i don't give myself a hard time about it (mostly because i pretty much never pack shampoo because i'm lazy/would rather have the space in my bag for extra books that i always over estimate i'll have the time to read). 

• third of all, i love bringing only what i need when i travel and eliminating excess. this does not come naturally for me, i have to work at it. i am a life long chronic over packer but being on the go so much in recent years has taught me the importance of traveling light so i am working on being better at it! it's definitely become easier with practice. 

• and finally, i love reusing things and being able to eliminate waste. you will notice that most of my products are stored in what are, yes indeed, a small glass ketchup jar, jam jars and repurposed essential oils bottles! i used to use tiny travel sized toiletries bought specifically for traveling but i always felt a little off and i realized it was because i didn't have the things that i was used to and part of my daily routine. so now i bring them, but only just what i need instead of the whole container. 


pictured here:

-a vintage leather shaving case that i keep my makeup in (makeup brushes wrapped in a clean bandana each trip)

-lotion i get from the bulk section at Ellwood Thompson's (though i want to start making my own! anyone have a favorite lotion recipe they want to share?)

-travel clothing spray i made for wrinkled clothes

-jojoba oil for a face moisturizer

-refreshing lavender hair spray i made

-witch hazel i use as a toner or makeup remover (i like this brand)

-coconut oil (which has many uses...)

-dry shampoo i made

-mouthwash i made

-an Olo fragrance made primarily from all natural ingredients. this one is Lightening Paw (which i love mostly because the description of it includes "free spirited" and as The Traveling Photographer you know i'm all about that)

-ZuZu Luxe all natural mascara (RVA people you can get it at Ellwood Thompson's). i tried to make my own mascara once. it did not go well. you have to pick your DIY battles. i love this one though and it's honestly my favorite mascara i've ever used and stays on even when crying watching This Is Us.

-vitamin E oil because it's good for your face/highlighting those cheekbones. i have even been using it on my eyelids lately in lieu of eye shadow (i like this brand)

-a wooden comb. wooden combs have all kinds of benefits for the hair as i wrote here. this one was made by my Father aka Tumblehome

-lavender essential oil. i'll usually travel with at least one essential oil because you can use it for basically everything and just smelling it calms me.

-face wash i made

-a bandana. usually what i use to wrap my toothbrush but also has many other uses! i am a bandana junkie. i'm never without one.

-Schmidt's deodorant. i'd been battling the whole natural deodorant thing for a while. it's so hard to find one that works and DIYing this was also a fail for me, but i love this one! thanks to my friend Maddie, @lostandfoundhome, who recommended it.

-a Radius toothbrush that is made from recycled materials and the handle is reusable so you just have to replace the heads! i love the bamboo ones that are out there more, but this one is a little more cost effective and potentially has less packaging waste involved since i can't find the bamboo ones anywhere near me and i prefer finding things in local stores vs. ordering online. mine is made from paper but they also have ones from recycled wood and money.


there you have it!
just a few of my favorite essentials.

how do you implement a slow living mindset when you travel?
do you have any all natural beauty recipes you'd like to share?
i would love to hear your thoughts! comment below, send me an email, or message me on instagram!
these kinds of conversations are my favorite.


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Camping In Ireland

tiny houses, simplicity, intentional living, minimalism -- all types of limitation that bring freedom. all topics that have been on my mind for a while now, but ever pressingly this week.
i loved coming across these photos again, from an adventure in Ireland in 2015 where i had the privilege of staying in this cute camper in the middle of The Burren. the contemplative space that the month of January usually brings with it has had me looking back into various archives and it's been a happy and welcome time of recollection and rediscovery. 

in fact, looking back, i recognize this experience as one of the earlier placed logs on the ever growing fire that is my desire to live more simply and intentionally.

i think this place will forever remain as one of the more cherished and sacred places i've been fortunate enough to experience. 
Ireland felt like a kind of home to me. 
a home i hope i can return to soon.

A Winter Morning
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i reach the end of the shadows and that is when i feel the sun warming my back, reaching me finally, as it had crept higher than the trees.

i feel its heat through the worn wool grey sweater i often wear (admittedly one of the more unflattering pieces in my wardrobe and yet something i've held onto for eight years now. which is a thing i am always fighting—my attachment to material things).

the suns fingers slide down my body, starting at my hair, falling down my back, slipping down my calves and then being kicked off by my heels.

the shush-shush sound of my jeans, my Mothers jeans with various time-worn holes, is the closest sound to me.

next to it the stray rocks my feet kick as they walk, next to that the birds above my head, then the wind playing with the grass and trees, then the distant sound of a truck on an unmarked road and then, further still: a barking dog.

it is these sounds that i've learned to be attentive to, to hear and enjoy and recognize as enough, in lieu of music or words playing into my ears.

it's beautiful to listen to.

the waking-up of the world.

a witnessing of the slow graduation of night into day.

then--a shot of copper.

the fox was one smooth line, as it sped across the road from the cannon of the field. uninterrupted, linear, both in its physique and its destination.

seeing the sun shine on his back as he ran somehow brought more joy than feeling the sun warm my own.

on the left, always on the left, for what is routinely just shy of an hour.

i let my mind wander.

thoughts unrestricted. unkept. unruly.

(words that could also be assigned to my hair)

a sort of inward dialogue with myself.

it's calming, starting my days this way. letting the things my senses bring to my attention pour in and out of me without needing to measure or quantify or justify or dictate or document or list.

to let them.... be.

event | slow living
www.agirlnamedleney.com

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

Event | Slow Living With The Village Magazine
www.agirlnamedleneycom

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.
xo

Level Ground
www.agirlnamedleney.com

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. 
runrunrunrunrunrunrun.
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.
once.
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

Imperfections

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)