I’m Not a Writer

thoughts By December 20, 2016 14 Comments


I’ve written over 2,000 posts on my blog. But I’m not writer.

I’ve been writing for (in)courage for years alongside amazing women—many of who have published books. But I always felt a little out of place because I’m not a writer.

I love to read, I cherish deep conversations with a trusted friend, I connect with others when I share my heart through written words, but I’m not a writer.

I’ve told myself for a long time, “I don’t care about writing. Writing is part of what I do, but I’m not a writer.”

The thought of writing a book felt overwhelming. How would I even begin such a massive project? So instead I’ve shared my heart through photos and short blog posts and heartfelt paragraphs.

And I’ve been fine with that. Mostly.

For the last year I’ve been working with an executive coach and it’s been life changing. I wanted to know how to make my business better. I hoped to focus my time and energy on things I’m passionate about and remove distractions from my life. I wanted to uncover my life purpose.

He started by having me complete a couple inventories to understand my values and strengths. What emerged, to my surprise, is word; both written and spoken, is very important to me.

“That’s strange”, I thought, “because I’m not a writer.”

Or am I?

I love written words. I love story telling. I’m passionate about being honest and vulnerable. This community has been a place where I connect and grow. We’ve journeyed together, sometimes in person, but most often through written words.

“What if I am a writer?” I thought.

I felt a spark of hope in my heart and a turning in my stomach. The thought both thrilled and terrified me.

What if deep down I want to write but I’ve been afraid to admit it to myself? What if I’m not pursuing the thing I’m most passionate about because I’m scared?

“I want to write.” I allowed the words to move through my brain and settle on my shoulders.

“I want to ask my heart what it wants to say and share it with others. I want to connect on a heart level through written words.”

I’ve told myself so many negative messages over the years.

For years I told myself I wasn’t a good dancer, but I learned to dance. In fact, my husband and I fell in love during swing dance classes.

I told myself I wasn’t athletic, but as an adult I’ve learned to love hiking and my body is strong.

I’ve told myself I wasn’t good at parallel parking but I think I’ve finally mastered it.

What if my negative messages are simply away to assuage my fears?

Oh my gosh, what if I’m a writer?

I’ve begun making space for quiet. I’ve begun setting aside time to write. As soon as I slowed down to do these things words started coming and coming fast. So I put them down on paper—even though I was scared. When I went back and read over my words I knew, yes, this is what my heart wanted to say. I published my thoughts, my feelings, my heart on my blog even though I had a lump in my throat.

And you read my words and encouraged me. You left comments to share your own story, your own heart. Thank you.

As I’m making time for quiet and making space for writing, I can feel this what I’m meant to do. I’m growing and learning as I write. I’m beginning to dip my toes into deeper waters, wondering if I could write a book some day.

I’m learning what it looks like to live with honesty and bravery.

I’m finding courage even in my fear.

I’m beginning to believe I’m a writer.

What if the thing you fear most is what truly matters most to your heart?

Is there a negative message you’ve been telling yourself?  Share the first thing that comes to mind. Let’s dream big together!

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hello david, hello family

hello monday By December 19, 2016 6 Comments


When David was born we talked about having him be part of our family–instead of having our family revolve around him. While we’ve worked to try and make this happen, it’s an imperfect journey. We want Matthias to feel seen and heard, but often he has to wait while we care for David. He waits in doctor offices. He helps David when he’d rather be reading or playing. Each member of our family is important, but logistically, David requires more care and attention than Matthias. So we flex and bend and accommodate. It’s challenging and beautiful. This is family, right? It stretches and grows our hearts. It makes us better.

It’s Monday, how about some hellos?

Hello Christmas week! It’s here–ready or not!

Hello starting to wrap gifts.

Hello looking forward to time with family.

Hello undecorated tree. We haven’t had time! It up, it has lights but that’s all so far.

Hello messy house–it’s hard to keep up. Oh well!

Hello sniffles. David has another cold. I’m over it!

Hello spontaneous nerf wars. And subsequently finding nerf darts in the funniest places.

Hello trying to find balance and finding it impossible.

Hello embracing real, messy, beautiful life.

It’s Monday! What are you saying hello to this week?

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A simple quiz–am I enough?

worthiness By December 14, 2016 4 Comments

Some days I am plagued with feelings of unworthiness.  Am I good mom? Am I thin enough, smart enough, kind enough? I carry heavy burden of guilt. I’ll have a productive day and feel great, then the next day fail miserably.

Am I the best I can be?

Do I do enough?

Am I worthy of love?

Do I deserve down time, alone time, time for me?

To answer this question once and for all, I’ve created a  quiz called The Worthiness Inventory’. Ten simple questions will expose the truth. Am I enough?

Grab a piece of paper and pen.

Answer each question with a score of 1, 2 or 3.
1–I need to improve in this area.
2–I am average in this area.
3–I excel in this area.

  1. I serve and love my family with kindness and devotion.
  2. I try to eat healthy and exercise regularly.
  3. I am a learner—constantly reading or listening to podcasts.
  4. I am a good friend. I listen to and care for my friends.
  5. I keep things organized, tidy and generally arrive on time.
  6. I am careful with money—I know where my dollars go and I’m comfortable with what I spend.
  7. I am a spiritual person—I connect with God regularly and spend time in prayer.
  8. I appreciate technology but I’m careful not to let my cell phone or computer distract me from what’s most important.
  9. I have a regular sleep routine and feel rested when I wake in the morning.
  10. I have a heart for those in need and I give to those less fortunate than myself.

Now add up your answers.

Click here to find out your score!

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hello very loved elf

christmas, hello monday By December 12, 2016 5 Comments

My mom bought this handmade elf for me for my first apartment after college. He been very loved. Last Christmas David carried him around quite a bit and at some point he lost an arm–and we never found it. But that hasn’t changed our love for him.

It’s Monday, how about some hellos for a new week?

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Hello watching Hallmark Christmas movies. I can’t get enough!

Hello absolutely precious children’s book. David and I keep reading this one. It’s a beautiful gift for kids.

Hello rain and more rain. We love it!

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Hello feeling unmotivated in the kitchen. What’s your favorite dish to make this time of year?

Hello busy busy in the shop. Customer service is working overtime getting back to every inquiry. I apologize for the wait.

Hello sniffles. We all have them and they seem to hang on!

Hello getting ready to wrap presents. I found pug wrapping paper at World Market!

Hello loving the Christmas lights all over town.

Hello to you! It’s a brand new week with beauty to be found. What are you saying hello to this week?

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my heart can move mountains

choose joy, worthiness By December 6, 2016 18 Comments

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My heart is the truest part of me.

My heart resides in the center of my being

and extends into every part of who I am.

Through my eyes my heart can see the beauty surrounding me.

Through my ears my heart can hear whispers of truth.

Through my mouth my heart can speak words of love.

Through my shoulders my heart can carry unwavering hope.

Through my arms my heart can embrace indescribable peace.

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Through my hands my heart can hold limitless amounts of joy.

Through my feet my heart can journey into the beautiful unknown.

My body is an extension of my heart.

With this body my heart can move mountains.

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hello christmas time

christmas, hello monday By December 5, 2016 10 Comments

These pups are eager to please. I can’t believe how still they sit for photos! We have our house decorated {mostly} for Christmas. I love twinkly lights. So fun! It’s Monday–how about some hellos for a new week?

hello-christmas-time-lisa-leonard-01 Hello Louis and Beasley. We love you!

hello-christmas-time-lisa-leonard-02 Hello getting the house ready for the holidays but finding it impossible to keep clean! Oh well.

hello-christmas-time-lisa-leonard-03Hello head tilt. Such a heart melter.

Hello moving through our Christmas movie list. Two of our favorites are Polar Express and Elf. How about you?

Hello making a gingerbread house this week. It’s a tradition.

Hello busy busy in the shop. We have a sale going AND you can still get it in time for Christmas!

Hello reading this book. It’s by the ladies who started Juicy Couture.

Hello loving this sweater. Isn’t it adorable? I love love the zippered back.

Hello teenage boys. I can’t believe how much my boys are eating. It’s insane! They’re both having a growth spurt.

Hello thinking about starting the show This Is Us. Do you watch it?

Hello meetings this week. Lots of planning to do!

Hello wrapping up my Christmas shopping. I think I’m almost done!

Hello to you! It’s a brand new week with beauty to be found. What are you saying hello to this week?

 

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love makes the world go round

finding love By December 3, 2016 7 Comments

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Mother Love is as cozy as a blanket and as fierce as a grizzly.
It sounds like the sweetest lullaby at bedtime.
It feels tender, a heart no longer beating for itself.
It looks fragile, easily torn apart.
But resilient, healing itself to become stronger than before.

Friendship love is sincere and open.
It sounds like long talks and shared secrets.
It feels like cool water on a hot summer’s day.
It looks like a soul stretched and grown over time.
It rests in being accepted just as it is.

Romantic Love is wild and free.
It feels like the wind rushing through the trees.
It sounds like shouts of joy.
It looks like learning to navigate a windy, rocky path.
If it sustains its rough edges are worn away leaving smoothness and strength.

Self Love is a deep breath and a deep knowing.
It sounds like a quiet night sky with sparkling stars.
It feels like a good night’s sleep and a warm cup of coffee.
It looks peaceful, calm and undemanding.
It smiles to itself, confident it was created to be unique and rare.

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Family Love is beautiful and messy.
It feels like the shade of a sturdy tree.
It sounds like laughter and bickering.
It looks like honesty; revealing both sides of the heart–light and dark.
In the place of being known it finds firm ground and safety.

All of this love flows from the same source.
It bends and stretches through every heart connecting each of us.
This connection creates a force so strong it moves the earth.
Love, in its many forms, makes the world go round.

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one open heart

choose joy, finding love By November 29, 2016 103 Comments

I am learning one open heart can change the world.

On a sunny Sunday morning last year, we arrived at church a few minutes early. David slowly climbed the steps, one at a time, while holding my hand. Once inside he pulled away from me, wanting to explore the sanctuary before the service began. I set down my bag and followed closely behind him. I had no idea what was about to happen.

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David lives life inside a body that doesn’t cooperate. Because of his disability, he is very small, has only two fingers on his left hand and is non-verbal. David can’t speak with words but he has much to say. He communicates through gestures, physical touch and heart connection. As he moved around the room he ran his hand over the smooth wood of the church pew, weaving in and out of the narrow space. Then he crossed the aisle and made his way over to a woman sitting by herself. She was in her late thirties, had a kind face and a gentle presence.

We’d never met but that didn’t stop David from approaching her. As he got closer, the woman looked up and smiled at him. Once beside her, David turned around and backed up to her—it’s his way of asking to be held.

“He wants to sit on your lap.” I explained. “He can sit next to you if you prefer.”

“No,” she said, “I’d love to hold him.” She carefully lifted him onto her lap.

He tenderly wrapped his arms around her neck and laid his head against her shoulder.

“Is this okay?” I asked, anxious to be considerate of her space “Would you like me to move him?”

She looked up at me with tears in her eyes.

“My mom was diagnosed with cancer a couple days ago.” she said in a quiet voice. “I just needed a hug so badly. He knew exactly what I needed.”

I bent down beside them and touched her knee softly as she and David embraced. It was a holy moment of connection that soothed a hurting heart.

In that moment he gave her love, changing her world.

So often I rush around, trying to take care of people, trying to serve, trying to be good enough, trying to prove myself.

David doesn’t worry about these things. He is present in the moment. He is fully himself, unconcerned with what others think.

David’s simple act of love brought hope and beauty to this woman’s day.

He saw her and without pause met her exactly where she was.

It wasn’t accidental.

It wasn’t complicated.

It was David’s open heart that created a beautiful connection.

Maybe it’s not only grand, heroic actions that change the world.

Maybe it’s the quiet moments, when, in humility and brokenness we meet each other right where we are.

We offer hope and love.

We are present to witness another person’s pain and offer soothing grace.

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When we stop rushing, stop trying, stop proving, we can be fully present in the moment.

We can be fully ourselves and open our hearts to each other.

David is showing me one open heart can change the world.

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hello heart, hello monday

hello monday By November 28, 2016 3 Comments

I’ve been trying to listen to my heart lately. One thing my heart has been wanting is to watercolor. I don’t really know how but I’m doing it anyway. It’s fun and creative and it feels good. For the watercolor below, I used brush to wet the paper, then watercolored on wet paper. I was mesmerized watching the paint bleed and blur.

It’s Monday, how about some hellos?love-watercolor-lisa-leonard-01

Hello trying something new and not having to have it all figured out.

Hello big sale today–it’s cyber monday! More details in the shop.

Hello rainy weather–it was perfect for a lazy holiday weekend.

Hello catching a nap and not feeling guilty.

Hello feeling so EXCITED to watch Gilmore Girls and so sad when it ended. Love that show–and the new episodes were so good.

Hello dinner with friends. It’s good for the soul.

Hello laundry mountain that I don’t have energy to climb.

Hello Christmas party this week. Hooray for celebrating.

Hello new book I bought but haven’t started yet. I’ve heard good things.

Hello to you! What are you saying hello to this week?

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listen to your heart

choose joy, worthiness By November 22, 2016 7 Comments

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I’ve been making changes in my life over the last few months. Before these changes I wasn’t taking care of me—although I didn’t know that was the problem. I simply knew I felt exhausted and desperate. Once I realized I wasn’t taking care of myself I began rethinking my schedule, my needs, my wants and my life in general. I’d so busy taking care of everybody else, my needs were at the bottom of the list. Sure, I’d get a pedicure every now and then or have lunch with a friend—and I considered these activities to be good self care. And they are good self care, but it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t taking time to listen to my heart.

My schedule was overwhelming with almost no time to slow down or be still. My family and friends’ needs came before my own. To be honest, I wasn’t aware I had needs. Or wants. I thought making everyone else happy was a selfless and beautiful thing. If they’re happy, I’m happy, right? I found out, no, it doesn’t work like that at all. I am a person with needs and wants—just like my husband and my kids and my friends. Those needs and wants matter. After years of not caring for myself I was exhausted. Something had to change. But how? I couldn’t begin to imagine what self-care looked like, let alone how I would fit it into my busy days.

My counselor encouraged me to have quiet time. There was no agenda, just time set aside to be quiet and still. This idea was so completely foreign to me, when she mentioned it, I laughed out loud. Sit and be still? But I pride myself on productivity! If I sit around doing nothing, I’m worthless. Plus, I can give you a list of reasons I don’t have time for quiet–beginning with having a child with a severe disability, owning my own business and on and on. But, I have to admit, there was part of me that was curious. What would happen if I took time to do nothing?

Everywhere I turned the idea was popping up–a friend mentioned taking time for quiet, I read about it in a book, I came across an article on Facebook. So the following day I set my phone to airplane mode, set the timer for 10 minutes and awkwardly sat on the couch doing nothing. I didn’t try to think about anything or not think about anything. I had no agenda—except to sit and simply be. And nothing extraordinary happened. The timer went off, I got up and continued with my day.

The next day I did it again. It felt slightly less awkward the second day. Again I set my phone to airplane mode and set the timer for 10 minutes. Again, I had no agenda. I sat on the couch and let thoughts come or go. I didn’t try to do anything. I just sat still. And nothing extraordinary happened.

On day three I could feel myself craving the quiet time. My heart wanted it. My heart needed it. I set the timer and sat still. When the timer went off, I got up and began to move through my day. Nothing special happened during my ten minutes of quiet, but something unexpected was happening outside of the quiet. I could feel my feelings with greater clarity. My heart was speaking to me and I was making time to listen. I could make sense of my thoughts. I was noticeably less overwhelmed. I was more present. I could make decisions easier. I could say ‘no’ to things I didn’t want to do and ‘yes’ to things I wanted to do. It was like somehow the quiet was helping me work things out. The quiet was helping me to know myself and what I needed. The quiet was making me, more me.

I’ve started working more quiet into my days. I still love listening to podcasts, audiobooks and music, but sometimes when I’m driving or walking I turn everything off and let myself think. I set aside time four or five days a week to sit and be quiet. In a crazy twist, the quiet time away from productivity is actually helping me to be more productive—although that wasn’t and still isn’t my goal.

Productivity is important, but it doesn’t define my value. I am precious and worthy even if I accomplish nothing. I’m valuable simply because I am me.

Instead of keeping busy to avoid the quiet, avoid my thoughts and feelings, I am meeting myself in those moments of quiet. The story of my life is told in small moments that make up a beautiful journey. Some of those moments include quiet reflection.

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I’m listening to my heart.
My heart knows what it wants and needs.
My heart will lead me in the right direction.
My heart will always lead me toward joy.

My heart needs quiet.
The quiet allows me to know myself.
Knowing myself allows me to care for myself.
Caring for myself allows me to be my truest self.
My truest self is who I am created to be.

Do you take time for quiet? Would you be willing to try it?

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