adventure is calling!

adventures, the meaning behind By September 8, 2016 11 Comments
Despite my good intentions, our flight to Paris a couple months ago had some stress–one incident in particular. Somehow, as I grabbed David’s baby food to throw it away, the sweet potatoes slipped out of my hand and went flying through the air. The box of orange mush landed in the aisle and the contents sprayed everyone nearby. I looked at the man across the aisle from me and he had sweet potatoes on his face, neck and shirt. I quickly grabbed some wet wipes while profusely apologizing. The woman in the seat behind him stood up and screamed, “WHAT WAS THAT?!” Oh my gosh, the shame fell over me like a heavy blanket. Five or six people hopped up out of their seats–each with orange flecks of sweet potatoes sprinkled across their clothes and seats.

“I’m so sorry,” I said, “It was sweet potatoes. I accidentally dropped my son’s food.” I continued apologizing as I handed out wet wipes to everyone around us.

Packing our bags a couple days earlier, I told myself, “Don’t think of it as a vacation. This is an adventure.” I was nervous but excited. I had visions of us beside the Eiffel Tower and eating macaroons, but I also had fears about the long plane ride and potentially sleepless nights. Traveling is challenging, but traveling with a kid who has special needs is even more so. When we travel our routine goes out the window–and it’s our routine that enables us to give David’s his meds throughout the day, keep him on a good schedule and plan for downtime. But France was calling! How could we say no? As I saw the sweet potatoes fly through the air in slow motion, I was pretty sure we should have stayed home.

I took a deep breath and reminded myself (in my most soothing inner voice) “This is an adventure. It’s okay if it’s imperfect. Adventure means things will get messy. It’s practically a requirement, right?” We arrived in Paris jet lagged and grumpy and I wondered if all this struggle was worth it.

But standing beside the Eiffel Tower I knew we had made the right decision. This adventure held magic.
When we ordered chocolate croissants at breakfast I let contentment wash over me. I soaked up a quiet minute during our crazy adventure.
We snapped a picture walking above the Seine River as misty raindrops landed on our happy faces. Adventure called and we listened.
Standing in front of Van Gogh’s self portrait I felt my heart soar with gratitude. Adventure had led us here.
Watching David and Matthias explore the cobblestone streets of France reminded me how adventure changes how we see ourselves and the world.


Of course we need routine; it’s how things get done. We need a schedule and a clock. We need school and work because it’s how we expand our minds. It’s how we accomplish tasks.

But we also need to break from routine. We need to throw the schedule out the window. We need to build a fort in the living room and not clean it up. We need to order pizza on a school night and leave dirty dishes in the sink. We plan a spur of the moment getaway. When we break from the routine we set off on an adventure.

Routine keeps us stable, adventure makes us flexible.
Routine makes us strong, adventure makes us brave.
Routine gives us discipline, adventure gives us boldness.
Routine depends on logic, adventure depends on imagination.
Routine makes the most of everyday. Adventure makes the most of life.

grow-roots-sprout-wingsToday I’m slipping on my cuff as a reminder that routine helps us grows roots and adventure helps us sprouts wings. We need both.

Routine helps us get up when the alarm goes off and lace up our running shoes. Routine enables us to keep the fridge full of groceries and the car full of gas. Routine provides a perfect environment for homework and home cooked meals.

Adventure on the other hand lets us make a new friend or try a new hobby. Adventure encourages us to climb a little higher and sing a little louder. Adventure gives us the freedom to fall in love, have another baby, start a new business and travel abroad. Nothing big and important happens without adventure.

And at the end of the day adventure reassures us, saying, “Don’t worry if you fail. It was just an adventure after all.”

It took us a few weeks to recover after our adventure in France. I was ready to get back into our regular routine and catch up on missed sleep. Routine is a good thing, but I know it won’t be long before adventure calls again. And I know we’ll take the risk, with the assurance we can always fall back into the comfort of routine.

Have you stepped outside of your routine lately?


ocean walk in cambria

adventures, family By August 25, 2016 3 Comments

For my birthday I got to choose our weekend activity. So I asked for lunch and a walk in Cambria. We ate at Moonstone Bar and Grill {excellent burgers!} and then took our time walking. It was simple and beautiful and I loved it!

ocean walk in cambria-01 ocean walk in cambria-02 I’m biased but I think my boys are the cutest.

ocean walk in cambria-03 ocean walk in cambria-04 ocean walk in cambria-05 Leaning in for a kiss.

ocean walk in cambria-06 ocean walk in cambria-07 Sweet pup.

ocean walk in cambria-08 Purple wildflowers and blue ocean.

ocean walk in cambria-09 Matthias took a turn pushing David in the jogger. He ran a bit and took some sharp turns. David loved it!

ocean walk in cambria-10Steve got me these adorable yellow shoes for my birthday.

It was a really good day. I felt loved and celebrated and thankful. I look forward to seeing what my 42nd year holds!


Hello Eiffel, Hello France

adventures, hello monday By July 18, 2016 4 Comments

France is on our minds a lot lately for three reasons; we just returned from France, we are BIG Tour de France fans and because of the recent tragedy in Nice. It’s a beautiful country with lovely people. The people of France are close to my heart.

One of our favorite days in Paris was visiting the Eiffel Tower. It’s such an icon! Seeing it in real life was magical. Traveling with David is challenging–but I’ll save that story for another post. Standing by the Eiffel Tower as a family feels like a huge accomplishment. I remember feeling that same thing when we visited Stonehenge–pics here. We want our boys to see the world–believing that we are connected to everyone. In every country, every culture we find we’re really not so different. In our heart of hearts we are connected by feelings of love, fear and hope. The more we see of the world, the smaller it seems.

It’s a brand new week. I’m starting out with thoughts and prayers for France. How about some hellos?
Hello Eiffel lisa leonard3Hello beautiful Eiffel. You take my breath away!

Hello Eiffel lisa leonard2Hello looking from every angle to get a sense of the bigness and beauty of the Eiffel Tower.

Hello Eiffel lisa leonard 4 Hello kissing and holding hands and being together.

Hello Eiffel lisa leonard 5Hello finally saying yes to one of the vendors and buying a tiny Eiffel Tower to take home.

Hello busy week ahead. Every day this week is full. Somehow I always imagine summer as so laid back–but we end up with a full calendar!

Hello art class for Matthias.

Hello dinner with friends.

Hello coffee. I’m trying to limit myself to one cup a day. I’m savoring every sip.

Hello last week of the Tour de France. We’ll be watching every stage.

Hello all day meetings and lots of planning.

Hello walking and soaking up the sunshine.

Hello France. I’m thinking of you today.

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


creativity takes courage {a lot of it!}

adventures, finding beauty, the meaning behind By May 10, 2016 36 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.


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!


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?


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!

celebrating matthias {twelve!}-02celebrating matthias {twelve!}-09celebrating matthias {twelve!}-07celebrating matthias {twelve!}-04 celebrating matthias {twelve!}-05celebrating matthias {twelve!}-03celebrating matthias {twelve!}-08celebrating matthias {twelve!}-01

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.


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?
Christmas in England1-01Christmas in England1-02 Christmas in England1-03Christmas in England1-09 Christmas in England1-04 Christmas in England1-05 Christmas in England1-06 Christmas in England1-07 Christmas in England1-08
Christmas in England1-10 Christmas in England1-11

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?


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!


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.


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


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!


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


Oh the leaves and this gate at Cambridge. Spectacular.

I loved getting some sister time!


Red building, red leaves.


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.


Matthias spent time drawing and sketching. Of course.


We found a mini kalimba for David at a little boutique. He spotted them right away and I couldn’t resist getting him one!

Twins <3

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!


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


Evening light.


So thankful for our family of four!


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!


Hey, it’s Paul Revere!


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


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


Berries growing on a brick wall.


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


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?


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.


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!***
cousins LL-01-2cousins LL-01-3 cousins LL-01

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?