Change is so hard

adventures, an everyday moment, be brave By August 3, 2018 6 Comments

You know that icky, scared feeling when you try something new? What seemed like a great idea a couple days ago now feels like a completely awful idea. I’ve been having that feeling fairly regularly over the last few years Steve and I walked through a marriage crisis a couple years ago and it was one of the darkest, scariest times of my life. I was desperately unhappy and I knew I needed to make big changes–for me, for my life. We both needed to change and grow. And thankfully, we’ve both been working hard to do just that.

One of the biggest changes I have been making is, instead of trying to please other people and make them happy, I am simply trying to be ME. Simple, but not easy. Being me means saying what I really think, asking for what I need without apology and feeling my feelings {instead of trying to take care of everyone else’s feelings and ignoring my own}.

Steve and I at the Castle Ruins

The other day we were in the beautiful town of Helmsley, England, shopping and eating and relaxing. We walked up the hill to see the Castle ruins–which were breathtaking. We got a glimpse of the ruins outside the wall and it seemed like we were all winding down–ready to get in the cars and drive back to our Airbnb–but I really wanted to go inside and get a closer look at the ruins. I didn’t want to make a fuss or inconvenience our whole group and I almost didn’t say anything. But I reminded myself I’m trying to show up, say what I think and want without apology. It may seem like a small thing, but for someone who has lived a lot of life trying to please other people, it’s scary and stretching. I spoke up and it was no big deal. Everyone was on board for getting a closer look at the ruins. Steve someone how got tickets for just a few pounds and we ventured inside. It was beautiful, MAGICAL, so fun. I’m so glad I said what I wanted.

Helmsley Castle Ruins

Speaking up and asking for what I want is a change that has been HARD but so necessary. I gave a small example but there have been much bigger, scarier moments where I have said really hard, honest things and you know what, it’s been better. Better for me, better for Steve, better for my marriage, better for my soul. It’s so important. Best of all, it’s working. I am changing. I am more ME. I am happier and more relaxed. I wrote a poem about change and I wonder if you’ll relate to it?

All four of us at Helmsley Castle Ruins

Change


Change

A stiff shoe

To be broken in

New

Different

Uncomfortable

Aware of each step

Left, Right, Left

Awkward

Blisters

Maybe this was a bad idea

The old way

Before the change

Wasn’t so bad

My old shoes were fine

They were comfortable

But worn out

Too small

The soles were worn smooth

And slippery

No tread or traction

To keep me stable

To move me forward

Change

I can see ahead

These new shoes will take me there

I wear them a bit each day

I practice a new way

With each awkward step

I am changing

Slowly the shoes soften

My blisters heal

My feet adjust

The shoes become part of me

What was new

Begins to feel normal

To feel right

Right, Left, Right

Little by little

The old shoes are behind me

The old way is behind me

My new shoes fit well

My new way is working

Moving forward

Braver with each step

Stretched and Grown

Changed

Stepping away from what is safe and known is scary but necessary. Making change is brave. Be ME without apology is how I love myself and others–it’s how I encourage my family to be who they are without apology. Being honest, being real is loving and brave. It’s brave love. There is so more of my journey of brave love in my new book {so crazy, exciting}. More details on the book here.

Are you making any changes that scare you right now?

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big big announcement!

be brave By August 3, 2018 1 Comment

I’ve been working on a huge project and I can FINALLY share it with you.

I wrote a BOOK!

I kinda feel like I’m lying—it seems impossible, but it’s true! A real, live book!

{this is my author pic for the back of the book, by Heather Gray}

For so long I told myself I wasn’t a writer. Maybe I loved writing so much I was scared to admit how much it meant to me? Slowly I began to realize how much meaning I found through writing.

You know what else I’ve found?

Connection with YOU. In brave, vulnerable moments I’ve shared real life with you and you’ve encouraged me and shared your story, too. Through my blog and social media we’ve built a community filled with hope and love. It’s truly amazing and beautiful.

My book is called Brave Love. Wanna hear more? Wanna see the COVER? Click here!

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hello England!

adventures, hello monday, Leonards take England By July 30, 2018 1 Comment

Hello friends! We are in England and having SO MUCH FUN! This is our fifth or sixth trip to England and I think we’ve figured out a few things to make the trips easier. It’s still crazy and exhausting but we’ve hit a stride and I feel myself relaxing and leaning into vacation mode. Maybe I’ll do a big blog post about how I organize things for our trips and how we meet David’s needs while we travel. It’s a lot of work but it’s worth it. We get to see new places and new things! So much beauty. How about some hellos for a new week?

Hello English cousins! We are thrilled to get to adventure around York with our dear cousins. The kids are having a blast and the adults might be having even more fun!

Hello food. Oh my gosh we have had so much delicious food–like this burger from House of Trembling Madness in York. It is one of the best burgers I’ve ever had!

Hello St. Mary’s Abbey ruins. So beautiful. I love ruins–something about the beauty left behind, creating a backdrop for everyday life. It moves me.

Hello silliness and taking our time. Our mornings have been slow with lots of coffee and relaxing. Then we venture out to see the sites and get food. Evenings are for relaxing as well. It feels like we’ve struck a good balance. Lindsey is along helping with David and she makes everything more fun. I’m thankful for her.

Hello flower baskets BURSTING with color. That’s the York Minster in the background.

Hello gelato and river views.

Yay! Hello cousins. It makes my heart so happy that these kids are growing up together even though they live on opposite sides of the world.

Hello Whip Ma Whop Ma Gate. Just an awesome, random street name!

Hello comfortable walking shoes. So important!

Hello sleeping like a rock at night!

Hello blue skies and rain and sunshine and wind and experiencing all kind of weather in a single day.

Hello taking pictures and having so much fun being creative.

Hello Instagram. I’ve been posting lots of pics and stories on my feed. Make sure to follow our adventures every day on Instagram.

Hello reading this book. She led a fascinating life! Definitely a tell-all book and a bit edgy but so fun.

Hello continuing to work on the finishing touches of THE BOOK. {It’s all written but we’re beginning to talk about layout and marketing}. So exciting and crazy and I am overflowing with gratitude for this opportunity! Have you pre-ordered a copy yet?

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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*NEW* handcrafted nativity set!

christmas By July 20, 2018 2 Comments

Friends, I have been working on this project for over a YEAR and I finally get to share it with you. I’ve created a hand-crafted nativity set with adorable pewter figures and animals. There are very limited quantities. Read on for more!

A couple years ago I created a hand molded  nativity set for all my nieces and nephews and we sold them in the shop as well. They were a huge hit! After that season I started working on another set–this time with more detail and story. These projects take so long but the end result is worth it. There are 11 figures along with the stable. You can purchase the whole set or just parts.

How sweet is this little shepard with his sheep and donkey?

Mary and Joseph look over baby Jesus. Growing up, my mom always set out our nativity around Christmas time–but she didn’t place baby Jesus in the manger until after we went to bed Christmas Eve. For weeks we waited for the manger to be filled and when we woke up Christmas morning, there was baby Jesus in the manger. It gave deep meaning to our Christmas celebration.

I wrote a poem for the nativity and it is hand-stamped on a pewter plaque and placed on the back of the stable. The poem reads:

Babe in a manger
Star in the Sky

Wisemen from Far
Angels on High

The birth of a King
Humble and low

The whole earth rejoices
Redemption to know

A Savior is born
There is hope for us all

We are covered in love
Each one, great and small

This nativity represents HOPE and so much love. This set is meant to be touched and talked about. I hope it brings families together around the birth of our Savior.

The poem is also hand-stamped on this sweet ornament with a star dangling from the bottom.

Get all the details on the nativity and ornaments here! Hurry there are very limited quantities. Also, get 25% off PLUS a FREE necklace during our Black Friday in July sale. Click here for more!

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Tea at Bettys in York, England

adventures, family, Leonards take England By July 20, 2018 4 Comments

I did a lot of ‘research’ on Pinterest before our trip to York, England. One thing that kept coming up again and again was tea and scones at Betty’s in the center of the city. There is often a line that goes outside the door and wraps around the building. To avoid the line, I made a reservation for an afternoon tea. The kids weren’t super into it but I had so much fun! I think it’s great for them to experience all kinds of things–not just kid stuff.  David was very mellow and cuddly which worked out fine. The staff was so kind and really tried to find some things he could eat. In the end they brought him some soft cakes and apple juice. So fun! Champagne for the adults. ❤

Matthias brought his drawing supplies and stayed busy during the tea. He tried many of the sandwiches and cakes. I think he would have preferred a burger or chicken nuggets but hopefully someday he’ll thank us for the experience.

Have I told you how much I LOVE scones with clotted cream and jam?!

Lindsey is with us to help out with David and it’s been wonderful having her along.

Very serious faces for a very serious afternoon tea.

More Earl Gray please! With a little milk and one sugar. Have you ever done a proper tea? {To clarify, the tea was proper but we definitely didn’t have all our etiquette down. Oh well, we had fun!}

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Hello New Wheels!

celebrate the every day, david, hello monday By July 1, 2018 5 Comments

Hello friends! Big news–David got new wheels–his first wheelchair. We’ve been using a BOB stroller for the last couple years and it’s been great, but David has grown a lot and he needed something bigger.

How about some hellos for a new week?

Hello feeling grateful for David’s new wheelchair. It’s going to be wonderful for traveling. We’re going to England in a few weeks and it will be helpful with the airport and bigger excursions.

Hello feeling frustrated. I wish David could walk more {or maybe I should say cooperate more?} It’s a pain to have to lug the wheelchair around. Also we’re still fighting with insurance to get them to help us pay for it.

Hello content. David seems to love his new wheelchair {which is also an adapted stroller}

Hello new ice cream shop On Higuera in San Luis Obispo. I highly recommend the Peanut Butter Nutella. YUM!

Hello to this sweet guy. I love him. ❤

Hello pineapple for David and Matthias. They both loved it.

Hello monster behind David who keeps sneaking up on him. David loved it.

Hello reading this book. I just started it and I’m hoping it’s not too sad.

Hello watching this show. I live with boys {and I love it}.

Hello announcement. Did you hear?

Hello brand new week with beauty to be found. I’m on the lookout! Join me? What are you saying hello to this week?

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ikat and pearls, ventura california

boutiques i love By June 19, 2018 No Comments

Have you heard of Ikat and Pearls boutique in Ventura? It’s ADORABLE! Check out these pics…

How amazing is this artwork?
{and that sweet plate?!}

It’s located next to Lure Restaurant in downtown Ventura {such a good restaurant too!}

She makes gorgeous jewelry.

How incredible is this bench? I envision it in a bathroom stacked with towels or near a couch with a few books.

This cross body with fringe. Love!

Gorgeous hanging planters or votive holders.

These glasses are amazing!

Spunky pots.

Carved stone hearts.

So much love, texture and light!

These basket pendants lamps are perfect!

And pedestal pots? Yes please!

Love the sculptural shape of this vase.

There’s Deborah! Isn’t she awesome?!

So much light and beauty–go check out this incredible boutique. It’s one of my faves. Also–they just opened a new gallery store a couple doors down.

The address is 28 S California St, Ventura, next to Lure Restaurant. Follow them on Instagram here. You won’t be sorry! ❤

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Right Here and Now

be brave, poems By June 14, 2018 47 Comments

Do you ever feel like everyone else seems to have it figured out? Sometimes I look at Instagram and have this overwhelming feeling that I’m screwing it all up. I wonder, “How do all these moms have so much energy?” Half the time I want to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head. Comparing my life to others makes me feel small and less than. The other night I woke up at 2am and this poem came to mind. So I got up and grabbed a pen and paper and wrote it down. {Then the next morning I refined it because, you know, I was half asleep when I wrote it!}. I hope it encourages you like it encourages me. Sending you a giant hug and reminding you it’s all good. All of it.

You Are Right Where You’re Meant To Be

Every step forward
Every step back
Each giant leap
The occasional trip and fall
Have landed you here
Nothing is wasted
Everything is useful
Each victory makes you stronger
Mistakes are your teacher
This is your path
You didn’t miss it
Or mess it up
You’re not behind
You’re not ahead
You’re right on time
The what ifs
The possibilities
The regrets
The forks in the road
Are all part of your path
They shape your unique journey
The right turns
The wrong turns
The u turns
Have all brought you here
To this beautiful place
This exact spot
You’re not lost
You’re not off track
It’s okay
All is well
Look around
Breathe deeply
Soak up this moment
And the incredible truth
You’re in the right place
You did it
You made it
You arrived
You’re ready
To take the next step
Believing it will lead you
To the next right place
Don’t worry
Even if it’s the wrong place
It will be the right place
You don’t have to be perfect
Or have it all figured out
Lean into the adventure
One step at a time
With boldness
And trembling knees
With faith
Giving love to yourself and others
Knowing this is your journey
You’re right where you’re meant to be
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hello san buenaventura state beach

an everyday moment, hello monday By June 11, 2018 2 Comments

Hello friends

David is officially on summer break this morning, and Matthias is finishing up his last few days of 8th grade. It’s really hitting me that after this week I have two HIGH SCHOOLERS. So crazy and exciting. My heart can hardly process the information. Watching my boys grow up is surreal. I love it and I hate it. But mostly I’m awestruck and grateful.

Last week I met up with my twin sis Chrissie in Ventura. We usually have a long lunch and go to different thrift store–but on this day we didn’t want to shop, we just wanted to talk and catch up and be together. We had a long lunch and then walked on the beach. It was just what my soul needed.

How about some hellos for a new week?

Hello magical gloom that seems to soften everything.

Hello smooth stone worn and weathered by water and time.

Hello finding a heart worn into this rock and feeling like it was meant just for me. Is that possible? Does that God of the Universe give us messages of love? Does he do things just for me? I think he does and that is a truly amazing thought.

Hello sister of my heart. To be known and loved by someone so incredible is humbling and empowering.

Hello making time to make time for the most important things.

Hello natural sculptures left behind for us to find.

Hello phone calls to make and appointments to schedule.

Hello planning summer adventures–some small some big.

Hello Father’s Day this week! We have a couple fun things planned.

Hello debating whether or not to wash my hair {again, how often does it need to be washed?}

Hello waiting our office and being mesmerized by the miracle of a coat of paint!

Hello trying to be less grumpy and more grateful. It’s a work in process.

Hello writing and sketching and creating. So many ideas to capture!

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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for my sweetheart on Father’s Day

family, father's day, steve By June 4, 2018 3 Comments

Father’s Day is right around the corner and I’ve been thinking about what an amazing father Steve is to our boys. I think about it a lot, actually. It’s not perfection that makes him amazing, he’s not perfect and he would quickly admit that. What makes him amazing is his desire to stretch and grow and become who he is made to be. He models for our boys every day what it looks like to bravely step into the things that scare you, instead of running away or living in denial.

To bravely step into what scares him means he has to acknowledge hard things. He looks at a problem from all angles and considers different solutions. He values honesty. He is honest with himself even when it hurts. He’s honest with me even when he’s nervous to tell me something I don’t want to hear. He’s honest with our boys about life, faith, money, friendship and so much more.

I see David’s face light up when Steve comes into the room and throw his arms around his dad for a big hug. Watching Matthias grow into a teenager {practically a man!} I watch Steve engage in deep, honest conversations and I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. Steve loves our boys in a way I cannot. David and Matthias are loved by their dad and it’s a gift they most likely can’t comprehend.

I know few people who crave learning like Steve does. He took up guitar a few years ago and he’s really good! I love hearing him play and sing. While our boys were little he earned a doctoral degree. When our business started to grow he jumped in as CEO and hungrily read every business book he could get his hands on. He asks others for advice and insights and listens to what they say. He wants to grow, it’s who he is.

He makes me stronger. Being married to someone who is constantly learning and growing means I am constantly learning and growing. Steve pushes me to try new things, loosen up, be brave and live life to the fullest. I am willing to take risks because I know he’ll be by my side no matter what. He loves to travel, try new foods, meet new people and gather new information.

He reads to David, has nerf wars with Matthias, whips up high protein pancakes for our family each morning and snuggles on the couch to watch a movie in the evenings. He’s intense and sensitive, a visionary and a do-er. He’s high energy but loves to snuggle. He works hard for our family and drops everything the moment one of us needs him. He doesn’t think he’s got life figured out and he apologizes when he makes a mistake. And he’s got the cutest smile, too.

It has been fun to stand beside him as he launches his own brand Stephen David Leonard. Every design reflects who he is and what is important to him. His shop is full of products he uses every day. If you haven’t seen his new line, you can check it out here.

Men's Jewelry, Accessories & Leather Goods by Stephen David Leonard
Our life together is beautiful, messy, loud, adventurous and far from perfect but we are better together, bound by laughter and tears, I-love-yous and forgiveness. Steve shows us how to live bravely, being willing to make mistakes, take responsibility and move forward.
Happy Father’s Day, sweetheart. We are better because of you.

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