creativity takes courage {a lot of it!}

adventures, finding beauty, the meaning behind By May 10, 2016 29 Comments

Do you know that feeling—when you can feel the shame creeping up your neck and into your cheeks? When you wish the ground would swallow you up? I know that feeling well.

Years ago, when I was beginning to make jewelry, I sent a couple samples to one of my favorite local boutiques. The shop was located near the beach and carried high end clothing, vintage décor and handmade jewelry. I followed up with a phone call and we scheduled a time to meet. The thought of having my handmade creations in her store was exhilarating. It was exciting and humbling. It was also terrifying.

I carefully chose some of my favorite creations–lots of necklaces and a few earrings. Each was piece was placed in an individual box and all of the boxes were gathered into a structured bag. On the day of our meeting, I loaded up my creations, found a parking space near the boutique and walked with trembling steps through the boutique door.

early designs lisa leonard{early designs from 2008/2009}

Deep breath.

The owner smiled and welcomed me to her shop. We chatted about the beautiful weather outside and a new label she was carrying in her store. As we talked, I began to lay out each necklace side by side. As I laid out the handmade pieces, I felt like I was laying out my soul, baring some of my most vulnerable hopes and dreams.

She turned her attention from the conversation to the handmade jewelry in front of her. With the precision of a surgeon and the strong opinions of an experienced buyer, she began to separate the necklaces into two categories. She went through each piece and decided whether or not it suited her taste. I could feel her words cut through me.

Yes.
No.
No
Yes.
No.
Yes.

With each ‘no’ my heart sunk a little lower and I wished the ground would swallow me up. With each ‘yes’ my hopes boosted slightly. I felt like a ping pong ball–she liked it, she hated it, she liked it, she hated it.

After a few very short minutes that felt like an eternity she counted the ‘yes’ necklaces, pulled out her checkbook and paid me for the pieces. I thanked her, packed up the reject necklaces, walked outside and got in my car. I drove down the street and pulled into a quiet parking spot. Then, like every strong and capable entrepreneur, I burst into tears. I felt humiliated. I felt rejected. I felt stupid. Who did I think I was making handmade jewelry? I was a failure.

But I could hear a little voice reminding me that this shop, a shop I loved, was carrying some of my handmade designs. Sure, she didn’t like every piece, but she liked some of them. She was carrying my designs. It was a success, not a failure. And even if she hadn’t bought one single necklace, that didn’t mean I was a failure either. It only meant the jewelry wasn’t her taste.

I was beginning to understand creativity requires courage. Sharing my creations with the world was a way of baring my soul. The jewelry was part of me. In a very real way, it was an expression of my heart.

Creativity is like hopping across a rocky stream, jumping from one stone to the next. Watching someone else do it is easy.  But as I took my first leap, my foot landed on a slightly unstable stone. Should I jump to the next stone or turn back? I could see the next stone, so I jumped. In order to get across the stream, I had to jump one stone at a time—sometimes changing course. I had to be brave.

Each step takes me further on my journey. Each step provides new opportunities, new insights, and new challenges. With each leap I am learning new ways of thinking that had never crossed my mind before. With each leap I am getting braver.

But how how do we find courage to leave the shore? How do we find the bravery to jump from one stone to the next?  I’ve found a few simple but profound strategies that work for me.

  1. I believe I am worthy and loved no matter what. My value isn’t determined by a successful jewelry business. I am enough. If I fail, I will still be loved. I will still be precious. I am surrounded by family and friends who treasure me just because I am ME. Even when I land on a shaky stone, I have a solid foundation. This gives me courage—so much courage!
  2. I separate my art from my soul–at least a bit. The work of my hands is a reflection of me, but it’s not ME. When someone doesn’t like my jewelry, that doesn’t mean they are rejecting me. It simply means they don’t like my jewelry. And that’s okay. But in the rare circumstance where they are rejecting me? Well, I go back to number one—I am worthy and loved no matter what.
  3. Failure is one of the best ways to learn. It’s impossible to succeed all of the time. If I’m able to look at a failure head on, knowing it doesn’t define me, I can learn from it, change a few things and forge ahead. Failure can be my friend.

Looking back, I can’t believe how far I’ve come. I never expected my little hobby jewelry business to blossom into something bigger. I never expected to have a team of talented, brilliant people work alongside me to make it flourish. I never expected to connect with women like you–amazing women who have a beautiful heart and a deep love for others. I can look back with gratitude and look forward with hope. Where will the next stone take me?

current designs lisa leonard{some of my best sellers from the shop}

Have you jumped from the shore onto a stone? How how you found the courage to share your creativity with the world? I would love to hear your story!

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hello mcway falls, big sur

adventures, san luis obispo By April 4, 2016 4 Comments

We braved the windy roads to explore Big Sur. It’s about 2 hours north of us–and we’ve never ventured that far up
Highway 1. Wow! The views were gorgeous. We did a short hike to McWay Falls. The drive home was long and were tired and grumpy. But we did it!

It’s Monday–how about some hellos?mcway falls big sur lisa leonard-02Hello waterfall. This was the first time the boys had seen one in real life!
mcway falls big sur lisa leonard-01Hello boys. They love their dad!

mcway falls big sur lisa leonard-03 Hello holding pinkies with Matthias. He’s such a tender heart. I love my stacking rings that keep him close even we’re not holding pinkies.

mcway falls big sur lisa leonard-04Hello beautiful painting. Wait, that’s real life?! Impossible!

mcway falls big sur lisa leonard-07 Hello unassuming, yellow flowers.

mcway falls big sur lisa leonard-08 Hello sticker art. Creativity amidst the natural beauty?

mcway falls big sur lisa leonard-09 Hello walking well. David’s foot is feeling much better–so thankful!

mcway falls big sur lisa leonard-10 Hello eyes with yellow and green. Love his eyes.

mcway falls big sur lisa leonard-11 Hello superheros on their way to make the world better. Or maybe heading to the restrooms near the ranger station.

mcway falls big sur lisa leonard-12 Hello helpful sign that leads to somewhere breath-taking.

mcway falls big sur lisa leonard-13 Hello sweetie in the backpack. He is seriously getting to big for the backpack. I don’t know how we’ll hike when he outgrows it!

mcway falls big sur lisa leonard-14Hello sunshine on my face. I tried to soak up as much as I could and let it fill my soul.

mcway falls big sur lisa leonard-06Hello water so clear and green it’s unreal.

Hello backyard changes. We took down the boys’ play structure since they don’t use it anymore. Feels kind of sad to see it go but nice to have more space. The end of an era and the beginning of something new.

Hello pups who seem extra clingy/cuddly lately. I think it might be because the kitchen is torn apart while we get new countertops?

Hello Zootopia. We loved it! Absolutely adorable.

Hello back to our routine. It was so nice to have some downtime over spring break. But it’s back to school today!

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

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celebrating Matthias {twelve!}

adventures, matthias By January 15, 2016 2 Comments

Today is Matthias’ official birthday. Earlier this week we celebrated at Disneyland with his cousins, Torie and Lexie. We’re pretty much all about Star Wars right now. So fun! Matthias is twelve–I keep trying to make myself believe it. It’s cliche but the time goes so quickly!

Matthias, you are such a blessing to our family. You make us better. You teach us to see the world creatively. You help us understand David. You’re an old soul with keen insights beyond your years. I adore you!

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Happy birthday, Matthias! We have so many reasons to celebrate you–and your birthday is a perfect opportunity! I can’t wait to have new adventures with you this year. And may the force be with you.

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Hello Christmas in England

adventures, Leonards take England By December 28, 2015 1 Comment

Hello friends! We are in England with family celebrating Christmas and New Year’s. It’s been relaxing, exhausting and mostly wonderful. We’ve been splitting our time between relaxing and exploring. David had a hard time kicking the jet lag and was waking up at 4am every morning. That makes for a very long day!

It’s Monday. How about some hellos for a brand new week?
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Hello mild weather. It’s hardly cold at all and we’ve been able to spend lots of time outside. Usually England is freezing this time of year–so we’re very thankful!

Hello cousins! They are all growing up so much. I love that they get to make memories together.

Hello girls day. Sara and I are going to foot massages and some shopping–just us two. Hooray!

Hello eating all of the english chocolate, scones with clotted cream and hot tea we can handle.

Hello taking a break from ‘real life’. It’s good for us.

Hello Cambridge tomorrow. I’ve never been and I can’t wait to take it in.

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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why we’re in love with boston and our family moments to share

adventures, family By November 25, 2015 6 Comments

Last week we took a family trip to Boston with my sisters Susan, Ellen, Chrissie and Chrissie’s family. Matthias chose Massachusetts for his state report last year–so we wanted to visit and see the historical sites. But we also just wanted to travel and do something fun! And we had a great time. The boys have grown a lot since our last adventure–and we’re planning to visit our family in England this Christmas, so is was kind of a warm up trip. We saw a lot, ate great food and had a blast with cousins, aunties and uncle. IMG_1371

We explored Harvard. Cambridge is beautiful–it was a highlight of the trip!

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Since I’ve never seen Boston–I was taken with all the history. It’s so different than California. I think it’s kind of a mash-up between England and San Francisco.

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The trees were gorgeous this time of year. Some had colorful leaves, some were bare. The weather was chilly but manageable.

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The cousins missed their first flight {along with their parents} and they arrived 18 hours late. We were THRILLED when they arrived. The cousins had so much fun together!

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Look at those smiles. David smiled the whole weekend. He was such a trooper!

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Oh the leaves and this gate at Cambridge. Spectacular.
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I loved getting some sister time!

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Red building, red leaves.

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I can’t get enough of that sweet smile. I think David loves to travel. He’s an explorer. He wants to see and touch and experience everything.

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Matthias spent time drawing and sketching. Of course.

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We found a mini kalimba for David at a little boutique. He spotted them right away and I couldn’t resist getting him one!
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Twins <3
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Steve and I explored some fun boutiques on an evening out. It was such a treat to explore Boston for a few hours without kiddos!

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A green bike in front of the boutique Sault. So inspiring.

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Evening light.

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So thankful for our family of four!

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Susan planned the trip and found us a great Air B&B where we all stayed together. Most mornings we made breakfast and we relaxed in the evenings. Perfect!

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Hey, it’s Paul Revere!

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I love the texture of this alley and the peach door at the end.

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David crashed out on the way to the airport and Matthias snuggled up with him. Matthias is faking–but isn’t this the sweetest?!

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Berries growing on a brick wall.

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Here’s our whole gang! Party of ten. We had so much fun!!

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We walked the Freedom Trail on our last day and explored a couple old graveyards. So much history and story and texture.

Have you been to Boston? What are you favorite things to do there?

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embracing change, embracing this moment

adventures, finding beauty By September 24, 2015 3 Comments

It has been such a season of change! In some ways, fall feels more like the ‘new year’ than January 1st. The kids started school and have new teachers. It’s a new rhythm. It’s exciting, disorienting and it’s life–life is full of change. Sometimes I wish things didn’t have to change–but looking back I see the blessings of change. I’m glad these moments have been captured on my blog and instagram. I can look through photos and remember little details. I can see that we’re different today than we were then.

When I’m in a season of change, we like to stop and reflect on where we’ve been, where we’re going and where we want to be. I like to reflect and plan. I like making lists and setting goals.

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 10.36.22 AMThe boys have changed so much since I started blogging 10 years ago. {Check out this post–the boys were so little, I stamped jewelry in my garage, we celebrated David taking 6 steps. Crazy!} Heck, BLOGGING has changed so much since I started blogging ten years ago.

My boys are in 6th grade and middle school. They are full of thoughts and opinions. Their needs are so different than they used to be–but no less important. Steve is CEO of our business that started at our kitchen table. When I wanted to quit, he gave me hugs and pep talks. When I needed a break, he would jump in and help. When I didn’t know what to do next, he took brave steps to make the business stable. Steve has not only supported the business but visioned how to grow it and make it thrive. There would be no Lisa Leonard Designs without him.

We are literally moving our workshop as I type. I’m typing among packed boxes and empty tables. We are scheduling utilities to be turned off in our current space and turned on in our new space. We’ll be downtown in San Luis Obispo–more on that soon. It’s exciting. It’s crazy. It’s kind of hard for me to believe it!

We are partnering with artisans in the Dominican Republic to hand-craft our jewelry. It provides life-changing jobs for these people–which means they will have food, housing and education. I never thought the hobby business that started in our kitchen would touch hearts around the world. I haven’t built this business alone. We have a team of amazing people here in California and in the DR that make this business work. They believe in the heart of Lisa Leonard Designs.

And YOU have supported this little business. You’ve loved me and my family. You’ve prayed for us when David had open heart surgery and you’ve cheered for us in the good and bad. You’ve cried with me on hard days and laughed with me on good days. You’ve shared your own journey with us–the beauty and the pain. I am so thankful for this community. I’m thankful for you.

We are all in this together–and I’m so grateful.

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hello celebration

adventures, family, inspiration By July 27, 2015 3 Comments

Later this week we’ll be up in the mountains celebrating my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. It’s sure be fun with a lot of crazy mixed in. How about some hellos for a new week?

***Hello Monday is where I greet the new week with an open heart and a fresh perspective. It’s a new beginning–and there’s so much to be thankful for! Join me by leaving your own hellos in the comments section or linking up a hello monday post there!***
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Hello cousins and aunties and uncles and grandparents. Hello big family!

Hello mountains, cabin sleeping, and starry nights.

Hello driving winding roads and trying not to get carsick.

Hello swimming and hiking and board games.

Hello making memories.

Hello breathing deep and letting life be imperfect.

Hello celebrating 50 years of marriage. I think you have to be a little bit crazy to be able to stay married that long, don’t you?

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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insanely beautiful views to be found {knapps castle -santa barbara}

adventures, hello monday By July 6, 2015 3 Comments

Hello friends! We returned from a weekend in Santa Barbara where we spent time as a family and celebrated David’s birthday. One of the highlights of our weekend was a hike to Knapp’s Castle. It’s an old estate that burned down 70 years ago. I first heard about these ruins in Santa Barbara Magazine–they did a beautiful photoshoot there–and I was so inspired! {Click here to see the shoot} And, I’ve wanted to see it ever since! So we made the drive {about 15 miles from Santa Barbara} and it was so beautiful! The hike is super easy–not even really a hike. For more info on finding the unmarked trail that leads to the castle, click here. I took lots of pics for you. How about some hellos for a brand new week?

***Hello Monday is where I greet the new week with an open heart and a fresh perspective. It’s a new beginning–and there’s so much to be thankful for! Join me by leaving your own hellos in the comments section or linking up a hello monday post there!***

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Hello driving uphill. Even before the hike started the views were insanely beautiful.

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Hello open to the public. There has been a lot of talk about whether or not the owner will continue to allow people on the land. But for now, it’s accessible. {And you don’t have to climb through the gate, Matthias did that just for fun!}

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Hello archways. I wonder what these looked like 70 years ago?

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Hello amazing views! We could see lakes and mountains for miles.

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Hello high up. Hello touching the sky!

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Hello amplitheater or staircase? Not sure what this was or how it fit into the house?!

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Hello hot sun and no shade. We made sure to drink plenty of water. It was a lot warmer up there than in Santa Barbara.

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Hello family trip. Overall the weekend was exhausting and imperfect. We couldn’t seem to find our rhthym. But we had some sweet moments and some good conversations.

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Hello steps leading to the edge of the mountain.

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Hello holding hands and a cuddle. Love these moments.

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Hello to a pic with the two of us! Yay! Matthias is pretty good with the camera.

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Hello getting back in the swing of things–including grocery shopping, laundry and getting the house back in order.

Hello haircuts for the boys. Feels like we just got haircuts last week?!

Hello new jeans and shoes. These boys are outgrowing everything!

Hello keeping busy on these summer days. Matthias wants to stay home all day and draw or play video games and David wants to be outside playing. It’s balance keeping them both happy.

Hello tickets to Peter Pan for Friday night. I love that play and I can’t wait to share it with the boys.

Hello working out and working hard and playing too!

Hello brand new week with beauty waiting to be found. Join me?

What are you saying hello to this week? Leave some hellos in the comments or link your own hello monday post there!

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What Will Sunset Be Like In 100 Years?

adventures, family By July 2, 2015 3 Comments

We went camping with friends earlier this week. We’ve done this every year for the last six years. We borrow a tent trailer from our very generous friends and this year we camped at Sunset Beach in Watsonville {near Santa Cruz, CA}. These are the guys Steve graduated from high school with {and their families}. Miraculously, the kids get along great and the wives are some of my closest friends. It’s pretty awesome.

Camping is a mixed bag for us. David is super tricky because he has a hard time sleeping away from home and he wants to wander and explore. Mixing those things in with a campground {lots of people trying to sleep, hot stoves, campfires, and wide open spaces} it means that we have to watch him every second. So camping isn’t relaxing for us, but it’s tons of fun. And even more, David slept like a CHAMP this year. Getting a good night’s sleep makes the days so much easier.

I have lots of pics to share, ready or not!camping sunset beach 2015-01 camping sunset beach 2015-02 camping sunset beach 2015-03 camping sunset beach 2015-04 camping sunset beach 2015-05 camping sunset beach 2015-06 camping sunset beach 2015-07 camping sunset beach 2015-08 camping sunset beach 2015-09 camping sunset beach 2015-10 camping sunset beach 2015-11 camping sunset beach 2015-12 camping sunset beach 2015-13 camping sunset beach 2015-14 camping sunset beach 2015-15 camping sunset beach 2015-16 camping sunset beach 2015-17 camping sunset beach 2015-18 camping sunset beach 2015-19 camping sunset beach 2015-20 camping sunset beach 2015-21 camping sunset beach 2015-22 camping sunset beach 2015-23 camping sunset beach 2015-24 camping sunset beach 2015-25 camping sunset beach 2015-26 camping sunset beach 2015-27 camping sunset beach 2015-28 camping sunset beach 2015-29 camping sunset beach 2015-30 camping sunset beach 2015-31 camping sunset beach 2015-32 camping sunset beach 2015-33 camping sunset beach 2015-34

 

The kids are getting so big! I love watching these kids grow up together and collecting memories they’ll treasure forever. This is the stuff of childhood summers!

Do you like camping? What are your favorite spots? Do you tent camp or use a trailer?

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hello cousins in carpinteria

adventures, hello monday, san luis obispo By June 29, 2015 2 Comments

Hello Monday! We are in the thick of summer fun and business craziness. The two seem to go hand in hand–and we’re doing our best to roll with it. Last week the boys and I met up with my twin sis and her twin daughters to kick off summer with some swimming, good food and hotel silliness. We had so much fun! How about some hellos?

***Hello Monday is where I greet the new week with an open heart and a fresh perspective. It’s a new beginning–and there’s so much to be thankful for! Join me by leaving your own hellos in the comments section or linking up a hello monday post there!

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Hello sunscreen! Sometimes putting on sunscreen feels like a part time job!

Hello swimming and sunshine. David loved the pool–it was nice and warm. And of course the other kids swam for hours.

Hello email and meetings between trips to the beach and the ice cream shop. Sometimes it flows and sometimes I feel pulled and frustrated.

Hello camping. Which means hello dirt and sand and roasting marshmallows.

Hello time with friends. That’s the best part of summer, I think!

Hello s’mores and cinnamon rolls and eating waaay too much sugar.

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

Leave some hellos in the comments or link your own hello monday post there!

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