A Girl Named Leney

THE JOURNAL

Posts tagged Personal
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.


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Your Home Is The Road
Somewhere on the road in California during    The Wild + Wonderful American Road Trip   . Shot on 35mm film

Somewhere on the road in California during The Wild + Wonderful American Road Trip. Shot on 35mm film

Putting this next season of my life into words feels nearly impossible.

I have been dreaming of this exact moment for so long, and to have it here, happening, and in process is the most incredulous thing to me. It truly leaves me in awe and in somewhat of a state of disbelief.

Such is the feeling, perhaps, of realized dreams.

I have been on the road for 7 days. Which is the average length of most of my travels.
The longest I’ve ever been away from Virginia, my home state, was during The Wild + Wonderful American Road Trip this past Summer, which was an adventure lasting 59 days through 30 states.

I have travelled extensively throughout my lifetime, visiting 44 of the 50 states in America and 9 other countries besides. I am so fortunate in that, I realize. But it is my life’s passion. I give up and do without a lot of things so that I can go as much as I do.
(You can read a little bit more about that here in this post if you like)

I have been wanting to do something like this for a number of years.


But part of me was always waiting for either a particular place to speak to me more than most, a job to move for, or (most of all I think) a person to do it with.
I thrive on being alone and my solitude is a huge part of me, and has been a significant choice in my life these last few years. But an adventure of this sort felt so daunting alone. Especially financially. Not just relationally.

But I came to the point where I was tired of waiting. I felt like I was waiting for something that would never come. And I realized I could very well be waiting for forever and for a thing that I might never find if I stayed put. There would never be an easy time to leave my family. Never a time that “made sense”.

Despite my extensive travels, I have never lived anywhere other than Virginia. And for some reason it feels important for me to do this. I say for some reason, but I know the reasons. Many of them anyway, and I know there are a great deal more to be yet discovered.
Outside of the extensive explanations and reasons that I could give, what it comes down to is that I needed to do this for myself. I think much of my life I have done things for other people, something I only fault myself for, if there is fault to find in that at all. I have stayed and done things based on the desires and wishes of others for much of my life and I need to learn the safety and freedom both that can be found in boundaries and space.

I do not know what the year will hold for me. Or when I will return to Virginia, though I do know I will return. Indeed much of the next few weeks and even days are a mystery to me.

But I think the chance to place trust in people, and entities outside of myself, and of course learning to trust myself as well in new ways, is a thing I need to do. I want to learn new things, meet new people, and have experiences that will define my story and thought process in ways I am challenged by.
And I want to go to new places.


Because my favorite place to be is somewhere I’ve never been.


I was talking with a friend one evening, one week into The Wild + Wonderful American Road Trip over the Summer (the trip that solidified the possibility for this one and made me feel that this dream really was doable) and I was in a state of elation.

I was expressing this to a friend, telling them about the first few days of being on the road and how it felt. I was lying in a tent next to my sleeping brother and watching the light of the moon kiss the rippling Buffalo River in the Ozark mountains of Arkansas.
A place that I had all but written off as a drive-through state and was the first that captured me wildly and incredibly by surprise. I was head over heels for the greenery of the forests and mountains and it injected a kind of high into my veins that I quickly became addicted to.
The high of being on the road.
How I wanted to just keep going, to never return.
As I was expressing my contentment to my friend, they texted this one small sentence back, and the little blue bubble summed up so simply what I was feeling:


”Why would you? Your home is the road kid.”


That is the feeling that I had nearly every single day of that two month trip.
Of course there were hard times. Of course there were situations that led to frustration and discomfort.
But I did not want to come home.
And I think that’s a testiment to there being something out here that I need to do. Someone, someones, I need to meet. Things I need to experience.

That is how I feel now.
Amidst the exhaustion and the sleep deprivation of this first week, and the harried activities and expensive car repairs… I have a deeper feeling of unshakable joy.


Because I am finally, once again, on the road.


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On The Move
Walden Pond shot in Kodak Gold 35mm film Winter 2017

Walden Pond shot in Kodak Gold 35mm film Winter 2017

It has been a little over a year now since I left and moved away from Richmond.
Granted, only to the bay, which is a second home and place of familiarity in and of itself, but it’s the first time I have ever lived anywhere other than in the city I have called home for my entire life.

This is not something I have ever explicitly shared on the internet, and something that many people still don’t really know about me, though here and there over the course of the year it has been implied and referenced in varying ways or conveyed in person to various individuals.

But to spell it out, a year ago I packed up my apartment in The Fan and (after many many trips because I stubbornly refused to rent some sort of Uhaul which made the whole process way harder than it needed to be…) moved to the bay.

The move was made for a number of reasons, and I wasn’t really sure how long I’d be there, but it was mostly an initial attempt at listening to a voice I have had echoing in me for several years that I hadn’t fully listened to until that point.

A voice telling me I needed to go.

I have been feeling the tug to move away and go off and do something else for a while, but the various doors I pursued stayed closed and the timing just never seemed right. That, and there wasn’t any one reason to really go other than just the feeling that, for some reason, I needed to.
This was coupled with the fact that it wasn’t easy for me to leave Richmond.
Because despite the fact that I had felt the tug to leave, I’ve yet to find a place that I love as much as this city. I still get teary eyed driving down the cobblestone streets of my old neighborhood and there isn’t a block in the whole city that doesn’t have some sort of memory associated with it.


No matter where I am in the world, and whether or not I ever permanently come back, it will always be my home.

It is, perhaps, a case of not realizing what you have until it’s gone.
But I actually don’t think that was ever really the case. I have had a hard time leaving Richmond because I have always known what I’ve had there. It’s a place I will never not love with every fiber of my being.
But what I eventually came to realize was that, one, just because I didn’t have a practical or subbstantal reason for wanting to leave, it didn’t mean I was running away from something. And, two, it would never be the right time to leave. It would always be comfortable and this place would always be my home. But there was also the realization that the more time went on, the more my motivation for staying was out of fear, and if there is one thing I refuse to allow to influence the choices I make in my life, it’s that.

And so I have been gone for a year.

Living in a small town on the bay where I knew no one but have over the course of the past four seasons, made some of the dearest friends and have had some of the most important revelations and experiences in my life.

Most are simple in nature, but I have found that it is in simplicity that the most clarity comes.

This place on the water has become yet another home for me. It has been my Walden pond of sorts, (something I have written about here) my Thoroughvian experiment to suss out what is most important in my life and to see what I could do without in order to find what it was I needed to hold onto.

Although, all of that being said, I have to admit that I have not spent more than two consecutive weeks there during the entire year. I have still been on the go. Back to Richmond (much more than I thought I would be… turns out an hour and half isn’t really far enough to be away from it for any length of time), New Orleans, Atlanta, New York, The Wild and Wonderful Road Trip (a two month cross country road trip involving 30 states), and then most recently England and Greece.

All of that being said, it was always meant to be temporary, a stepping stone to the next thing.
I feel as though I have been waiting and seeking that next thing with a somewhat exhausting vigilance and searching which has at times led me to not really and truly appreciate where I presently am and the gift that this season has been. And now that I feel it coming to a close, I am wanting to hang onto it, to not let go.

But there is something on the horizon for me. A thing I feel sure about, as scary as it feels too.
But even that is a confirmation.
The fear.
The push it is giving me in the direction it emanates from is sign enough for me that this is the next right thing.


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Slowly Slowly
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.

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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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.  

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

The Dirt of Our Hurt
www.agirlnamedleney.com

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.

www.agirlnamedleney.com

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
newness
struggle
change
let’s-try-this
does-this-work
.
which then causes unnecessary hurt more often then not.
i am trying to be better at just being
just sitting
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.
deep.
muddled.
cold.
hard.
dark.
rock filled.
worm eaten.
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.
BUT
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.

www.agirlnamedleney.com

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)

hurt.
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.
and
pain is not necessarily an indicator of something bad, rather an indicator of growth.
and
it is okay to be here.
and
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.
and
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.

A New Direction
www.agirlnamedleney.com

so i meant to post this the same day i announced the new website being up, but wouldn't you know it i blinked and it's already over a week later...
but then i ended up wanting to share my New Perspective post first anyway. which i'd love for you to read, if you haven't already, to grasp a better understanding of where A Girl Named Leney is heading and what my heart for it is.

but yes friends, superb news. the new website is up! 
i wrote and deleted twice (or maybe three times) the following words, but i truly don't know how else to say that: i could not be more excited to finally share this new direction with you guys! 

today i wanted to go over some notable changes within my business to help you better understand where it is i'm going and what all of these new changes mean! 


Ventures


ventures are what i am calling the different components and pursuits that make up my business.
these will undoubtedly change and evolve as i too change and evolve as an artist.
(you can read about these on the ventures page here, but i wanted to give a little bit more in depth explanation of each one!)


FOLKLING — i have been a life-long thrifter. my mother took me when i was young and i remember the excitement of finding treasures of varying kinds to give a new home to.
she's truly the one who's taught me the value and beauty in giving things new life
it was also my first introduction to shopping and learning to spend my money wisely.

as i've found and made spaces of my own over the years, one of my favorite things has been curating their vignettes. i love photographing my home and the pieces of it i'm always rearranging. it's something i shied away from for a long time, as my space is something that's very sacred and private to me, but i found so much unexpected joy in sharing it.

in addition to vintage homewares, i have an affinity for vintage clothing.
do i risk sounding like a broken record by saying that they just don't make things like they used to? well, it's true. there was nothing that educated me on this front more than watching this film and reading this book.
again, i grew up thrifting, and so have always had a fairly unique and eclectic wardrobe because of it. however, in my early twenties, i started shying away from secondhand and got caught up in the fast fashion industry and excessively consumed and over-bought, until my closet door and dresser drawers weren't able to close.
it was sometime in 2015 that i finally recognized the problem and started getting back to my roots.

i've been exclusively buying secondhand and handmade clothing for two years now and i feel so proud and accomplished in being able to say that! 

and so, because of my passion for adopting and curating unique things to give them new life, i want to help educate and pass that love onto others.
shopping small, locally, secondhand, sustainably and ethically are all elements of consumption that are incredibly important to me.
for it's not necessarily consumption that's bad, it's how we consume and why.
so i want to encourage others to examine the ways in which they're doing that and give them more options and promptings for an alternative lifestyle.

you can follow Folkling on Instagram and Facebook.
 



SUSTAINABLE KNITWEAR — i've been knitting for about 17 years. i didn't fully understand patterns when i first learned, so i started making up my own and have essentially been designing ever since. i started my etsy shop in 2011 and have had 6 knitwear collections released and sold on that platform, with smaller batches of "unofficial" bodies of work sold on commission and an as-i-made-them basis, before that. if you'd like to take a stroll down memory lane with me those were:

Sartorially Inclined: A Mens Knit Lookbook
Sartorially Inclined: A Ladies Knit Lookbook
On The Road
Gypsy Soul
The Classics Collection
OOAK Knitwear

it's amazing for me to see how far i've come in my work and watching my style and aesthetics change over the years.
similar to Folkling, in 2015 i had a "come to God moment" in regards to how i was living, what i was putting value in, knowing the origins of what i bought, having more of an appreciation for the process of products and making things from scratch.
my knitwear didn't escape these revelations.
i realized that i had no idea how the yarn i used for my pieces was made or where it came from. was it made sustainably? were the animals used in making it raised ethically?
when i started looking into it, the things i found along the lines of factory pollution, harmful chemical usage and animal abuse were troubling. 

as i changed other aspects of my life in regards to how i ate, dressed and shopped, it was bothering me that this aspect of my business wasn't fully aligning with my values as well.
so after two years of studying and learning the art of processing, spinning, and naturally dyeing wool, i'm going full steam ahead with this new kind of knitwear!

from now on, all of my pieces will be made from yarn that i've either: 
1. fully, from start-to-finish, processed and then spun myself from fiber i've sourced from a farm that i've built a relationship with and, when possible, visited myself. 
2. spun myself from roving that's been made and processed by a trusted source. 
3. bought from another like-minded fiber artist locally or during my travels. 
4. recycled.
 

additionally, some pieces will incorporate natural dyeing (something i'm still learning the vast art of!), furthering each pieces story and one-of-a-kind-ness.

i'm really excited to fully pursue this path of creating. it feels really good to have this align fully with who i am as both an individual and an artist.

sustainable knitwear will be available through my Etsy shop as well as the Folkling instagram.
you can watch a video on how i process wool here.
p.s. i don't know how to shear sheep yet, but just know that element of sustainable knitwear is in the works. ;)




THE TRAVELING PHOTOGRAPHER — i've been "the traveling photographer" for some years now, but i want to refocus that aspect of my business in three ways.

but first and foremost i want to be honest with you all in saying that in over eight years of doing photography as a job, six of those full time, i have experienced some burnout.
the rush, stress, and keeping-up-with-the-joneses mentality that is in a significant part of the digital photography industry, has put me through the wringer on more than one occasion.
i want to be true to my heart and the passions i feel that i was given for a reason, and right now the below is how i feel pressed to chase after them.

1. to focus (no pun intended) on primarily, if not exclusively, doing travel related work, because that is where my heart and inspiration are most in sync.
2. i am not a smile-at-the-camera-and-point-and-shoot kind of photographer.
i need you to know this if you want to hire me to work with you. this isn't to say i will never take photos of people smiling at the camera! but the way i document is a little bit different than most.
you can read more about what that means here.
3. i have fallen in love with film over the past few years and am presently undergoing a more intensive pursuit in educating myself on this medium. i have both film and digital on my portfolio page, and you can see some other film work under the film tag on the journal, but until recently this has all been more or less for personal documentation.
i think at it's essence though, it's the "slow living" aspect of film that i've fallen in love with.
i would really love to start branching out into working with film more in my sessions and collaborations with people. so if that's something that appeals to you as well, say so in your inquiry!




TUMBLEHOME — those of you who have been long time followers are familiar at this point with my self identification as The Daughter of A Sailor. 
most often conveyed by way of my hashtag on instagram.
this story became one that a lot of people really loved reading about and were intrigued by. so i decided, along with my father, to share more of our adventures through a separate platform in the way of creating Tumblehome! in addition to sharing our adventures on the water, and our somewhat alternative lifestyle pursuits in the way of living more slowly, intentionally and mindfully, we both really love making things with our hands. after realizing a lot of people loved the things we make, we decided to start offering them to a wider audience.
which also feeds back to my aforementioned desire to surround myself with well-made things and cutting down on the need for over consumption by buying quality vs. quantity.

you can follow Tumblehome on Instagram and Facebook.


all of that being said, i am also pursuing writing more, which isn't officially listed under ventures right now, but that's something i might change.
i've been honored to be a part of several publications in the way of magazines, books and online articles over the past few years and conveying my heart through words has been such an amazing experience and way for me to connect with people. the conversations and various relationships i've had a chance to engage in as a result have been truly life giving at most, and thought provoking at least.

i'm pursuing refining my writing skills and being more consistent with putting out new content that is writing based, whether here on the journal or on instagram (a place i frequently share thoughts and musings).
if you want to learn more about this you can read Writings From A Would Be Beatnik.

in conclusion: all that i am pursuing is fueled by, what i call, the art of slow living.
you can read more about that here, and on posts on the journal under the slow living category

speaking of slow living, i'm starting a newsletter!
i technically have had the newsletter around for a while, but i think i used it... once? twice?
yea. not very much. 
i have some new ideas for it including a bi-weekly email that contains a sort of roundup of various slow living, mindful, and intentional things i've come across around the web and found value in.
what do you think?
it's still an idea in the works, and i haven't sent out the first one yet, but if you think you'd want to at least check it out sign up for it here!


whew!
we made it to the end friends! i know that was a lot all at once.
all of that has been inside of me for so so long, upwards of a year now, and being able to convey it to you now, fully as a whole, feels good.
i hope it all made sense! 

essentially: before now, i was primarily focusing on my knitwear and photography. now i have two new ventures i'm pursuing as well as a little bit of tweaking to my current ones with a few extra strings (or strands of yarn??) in between that tie everything together.

i appreciate you taking the time to read this. 
i've been having some wonderful and thought provoking conversations with you guys lately (over email/instsgram direct messaging especially) and i just want to say how grateful i am for you.
i'm grateful for your insightful comments, your encouragement, your engagement, your positivity, your beautiful minds, all of you.
thank you.
i wouldn't be anywhere close to getting all of this off of the ground if it weren't for you.

if i had the time and ability, i'd knit you all sweaters from 100% leney-processed-and-dyed wool. 
over all, i want to thank you for giving me grace as i pursue these new ventures and navigate their newness and working-out and chase after that every calling dream of living a fulfilling and passionate and purpose filled life using the gifts and abilities i was given.

xo

p.s.
i want to work with similar minded people who align with the values and lifestyle that i am working on pursuing! 
so if you feel like that's you, come say hey (even if it's just because, i love having conversations about all of these things).