A Girl Named Leney

THE JOURNAL

Posts tagged New Mexico
Life On The Road
Image by Heath Herring

It’s been a little over six months since I hit the road in my Subaru, Blue Moon, and headed West.
I thought I would make more time for posts here on the journal, have a proper road log if you will, but clearly the last post having a time stamp of ‘March’ proves otherwise. I’m even silent on Instagram most days.


While I do make time to write at least a little almost every day, I am too engaged with the real world it seems to enter into the virtual one to share with you all as much as I would like.
The validation of life lived outside of screens and not shared with others, aside from whoever you’re presently with, is a thing I admit I wrestle with on occasion. Especially in my profession as a photographer. For what are images to be made for if not to share and tell stories with?


I have a pretty solid line when it comes to my personal life in this way, but I am finding the line moving closer and closer the longer I choose to travel and live in the way that I do. Whether that’s a specific feeling that comes with age or with a learned focus in the value of intimacy— I am still in the process of understanding. Perhaps it is a little of both.


It’s been a very busy year though, and I have been working on a myriad of projects that I hope to share more about soon. Most of what I’ve been working on is still in the process and creation and becoming stages, which is a space I’m not sure I’ve ever spent quite this much time in before.
My turnaround time for projects and ideas is usually a bit quicker, or there’s at least some measure of sharing about the journey of it all along the way, but I am finding that the richer and more rewarding projects deserve more space and time to become what they deserve to be. I am learning to sit with things longer than I am used to being comfortable with and not rushing creation for the sake of producing and proving productivity.


A hard thing for a person whose days often orient around measuring productivity levels and finding contentment most often in checking things off of lists…


All of that being said, living on the road has not looked at all like I imagined. In some ways it’s far better, and others it’s a little more real and raw then my dreamer’s heart initially pictured. But one thing is absolutely certain, which is that it has proved to be one of the greatest and most rewarding seasons of my life thus far and I would not trade it for anything. Even amidst some hardships and working through some situations I never imagined I’d have to work through. It is primarily good and beautiful and full.


My make-up is one that is oriented around searching much of the time.
My insatiable curiosity has given me license and drive to paths I never would have found otherwise. To learn and attempt to understand that which is foreign to me and to find things that fuel the fire for living a different and outside-of-the-box kind of life. That mindset has of course led me to states of motion when I should in fact be inhabiting stillness, and vice versa. But striking that balance is what life is made up of. You swing too far one way only to need to readjust based on what you learned over there and swing back.


My biggest challenge oftentimes is finding contentment in the familiar and being satisfied with where (and I would venture to also say who) I presently am. Finding enough in the now is a constant push for my dream and goal oriented brain. But when I think about it, I wouldn’t want to be wired any other way. Because it is that very searching and seeking that has led me to live the fulfilling life I’ve led thus far. It’s incredibly hard much of the time. Incredibly hard.
In fact I remember one conversation with my Father a number of years ago during a season of feeling stuck and unsure of which direction to go in and frustration at things being as hard as they were. We were standing in my parents driveway and it was nighttime. I was about to drive back to my apartment downtown and return to a way of living I wasn’t satisfied with. I had just spent the better part of an hour voicing my dissatisfaction and my Father looked at me and said “Well babe, you chose to live a different life. The path isn’t going to be easy.”
I found solace in that. Because he was right. I had chosen this. I am fortunate and blessed to have had a choice when I know so many do not.
It is that privilege that I try not to take for granted.
Especially when things are hard. Because for every bad day I have on the road, there are many more incredible ones, and more often still: perfectly-great ones.
And it is within the perfefctly-great that I am learning most of life happens. Not in the extremes. But in the every day. And contentment truly has little to do with outside circumstances and physical place.
It is in fact a thing that’s anchored within.

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.


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

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


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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.”

When The Shadows Sleep

And I am watching now for the time of day when the shadows sleep.
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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.
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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?
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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?
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Where does the secondary world of dark figures retire to? 
Isn’t it a kind of faith to know they will come back?
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Perhaps it is as my Father said: “nothing good ever happens after dark”
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For bodies no longer have mirrored accountability of their actions.
The leaching of apparitions’ measured movements.
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It is a secret world that they go to—the shadows.
Frozen in an invisible realm until the sun rises just-so again.

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.


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Aspiring Shepherdess

Why am I in New Mexico working on a sheep farm?
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Telling you the story of this sweater will help answer that question...
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In 2017 I took a Border Leicester sheep fleece that I’d bought in Vermont, processed it from start to finish into roving at a wool mil l, spun the roving into yarn and then designed and knit this sweater.
(I actually made a video of this process which you can watch here)
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I used to design and knit knitwear collections for a living.
It was part of my two-part business from 2011-2016 (the other part being @agirlnamedleneyphotography
But I started being bothered by the fact that I had no idea where the yarn I used was coming from, how it was made, or how the sheep were treated.
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This led me down the path of learning how to spin yarn in 2015, furthering my education of sustainable fibers which coincidentally went hand-in-hand with my ventures into slow living, which I was also practicing at the time.
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Along with that came the conviction of selling goods and feeding into a consumerist society. Creating products that, while well made and more ethical than something you could buy at Target, weren’t necessarily things people always *needed*.
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Regardless of my heart behind my knitwear, the nature of selling things, especially when you need to pay the bills, is to convince people that what you have is something they need. 
Which doesn’t sit right with me.
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Nevertheless I have a passion for the fiber arts and have since I was 8 years old and my Grandmother placed two knitting needles in my hand.
This avenue of creation is a part of me. 
I’m on a journey to figure out what kind of part and how I can use it and couple it with my beliefs to better the communities I’m apart of and the world I live in.
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Living more simply, sustainably and back-to-the-land are convictions of mine as well. 
I’m not sure if I’m meant to have my own homestead or farm, but I’m out here figuring it out.


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When One Door Closes

So I realized recently that I like taking photos of doors when I travel.
Above is a quick example of a collage I threw together of some of the doors I took photos of when I was in New Mexico a few years ago.
Yea, I said some.
I also apparently did this when I was in England/Scotland last year.
You can see that collage here.

Speaking of New Mexico though, I'm hoping to go through some of those photos to share here on the blog sometime in the upcoming months. 
It still remains one of my favorite places I've visited in the states.
You really are hard pressed to beat the expanse of beauty that is the american west.

What about you?
What have been some of your favorite places to travel?

Ode to Summer
Since today is the last day of Summer I decided to pay a little tribute to it. While Fall is my favorite season, it on occasion runs a tie with Summer (usually when it's the middle of Winter and I'm sick of cold and longing for warm weather again). So Summer, here's to you. You were quite lovely this year. Thanks for some pretty grand times. Hope you're just as nice next year.






























Extra Extra Read All About It

So a lot of good things have been in the works lately, and so I thought I'd share just a few of them with you!

First, I had the opportunity to visit one of my favorite cities this past weekend and it was simply marvelous. More about that soon (complete with an unnecessary amount of photos).

Also, I happened to be reading RVA News yesterday and noticed two of my photos from the most recent street style article are in the newest Capital Style! How neat is that? (Remember the first time?) It's been so cool seeing my work randomly around the internet and even in person on the streets. I've really loved this opportunity of taking pictures for From the Runway to RVA and getting more involved in the fashion world. I've always loved fashion and dressing creatively and uniquely (which you can read more about here), but now I actually have the opportunity to be involved in it with other people and be a part of different photo shoots and other creative aspects involving style and fashion. It's been so much fun. Speaking of which, you'll be seeing a lot more photo shoots and cool articles this upcoming month as we enter into Fall! I'm super excited to be a part of several fun upcoming projects, so keep an eye out for them.

Also I've had so many lovely ladies wanting me to do their senior pictures, which has also been fun. They are, in a sense, models of sorts and so taking their pictures helps me practice. ;)
I have a lot of album updates for the photo page to do though... There have been some very beautiful pictures taken lately.
Which has much more to do with the actual subject being just downright gorgeous rather than the photographer being talented.

And then of course not to mention the Etsy shop should be up and running by the end of the month (fingers crossed).

And on top of that I get to go to Boston for a weekend in October! I've never been to Boston. I'm looking forward to it. To say the least.

Anyway, lots of exciting and interesting things coming up, and with Fall literally just two days away I could not be more excited. All the knitwear I spend all year sporadically making, even in the Summer months, becomes totally justified once the leaves start falling off the trees.

And because I personally don't like blogposts that have big chunks of boring text and nothing pretty to look at (assuming you actually read all of that) here's a photo of some instax polaroids that I took over the Summer in New Mexico.











So what have you got going on this month?