hello summer! {yay!}

hello monday By June 13, 2016 2 Comments

Hello Summer! I don’t know when Summer officially begins, but school got out on Thursday last week and that’s official enough for us! Hooray!

It’s a brand new week. How about some hellos?

hello summer lisa leonard-01

Hello sleeping in.

Hello watching Dan TDM on youtube. Do your kids watch him? Matthias is a fan.

Hello walking the dogs. We have a Costco right down the street—sometimes we walk the pups to Costco and get a hot dog while we’re there. Yum.

Hello Zootopia. It just came out on Blue Ray and we’ve watched it twice.

Hello David taking my hand and showing me what he wants. Usually it’s to cuddle or to eat, but lately he’s been wanting to walk outside. I love it!

Hello date night. Steve and I want to try someplace new.

Hello strawberries and sunscreen.

Hello swimming and BBQs.

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

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these hands

finding love, jewelry By June 7, 2016 17 Comments

My hands are imperfect. Sometimes I’ve felt self-conscious of my hands. They have freckles from years of being outside. My nails are short and need new polish. My hands are nothing special, except my hands represent something very special.

These hands were made to hold you.

They wipe the tears.

And these are the hands folded in prayer next to yours, asking for safety and wisdom.

these hands always together ring lisa leonard2{customer photos above by Michelle Madigan Herman and Ashley Fink via Facebook}

They turn the pages of your favorite book.

And these are the hands that will turn the pages of that book as we read it over and over.

They tuck the blankets tight.

And these are the hands that softly rub your back night after night.

They pack your favorite lunches.

These are the hands that hold fast while we cross the street.

these hands always together ring lisa leonard3

They comb your hair.

These hands have folded your laundry and helped button your shirts.

They change countless diapers.

And when you have your own children, these hands will gladly change their diapers too.

these hands always together ring lisa leonard4{customer photo above by Chloe Vaquez-Wheeler via Facebook}

They clapped with joy when you took your first steps.

And these are the hands that will clap for joy with every accomplishment—no matter how big or small.

These hands are how I express my love for you.

These hands are an extension of my heart.

And this is the ring, that slips on the finger of my mama hand. This ring reminds me we are always together.

Together—whether physically or just in our hearts, is the best place to be.

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hello silliness

hello monday By June 6, 2016 3 Comments

Hello friends. We had a much needed mellow weekend at home with lots of cuddling, coffee, laziness, cleaning and running a few errands. Steve was away on a business trip, so we kept things very simple.

The three of us were trying to get a photo of us with the pups–all laying on the floor–but Louis and Beasley refused to cooperate. I guess they weren’t in the mood for a selfie. It was so funny we were all cracking up. This wasn’t the picture we intended to take but I love that we captured this silly moment.

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

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Hello last week of school! We are ready for summer.

Hello teacher gifts. We have the most amazing teachers and aides this year. How can we possible express our gratitude? We’ll just have to do the best we can.

Hello planning our family gathering. Most of my siblings, their kiddos, the grandparents and some aunts and uncles are coming to our neck of the woods this summer. We’re planning meals and fun activities to make fun memories.

Hello sleepy. I’m not sure why but lately I feel like I’m lacking energy. I probably need to cut back on sugar and/or get more sleep.

Hello reading this new book. I love all things Austen.

Hello IEP for David. We are having a difficult time reaching a decision for David’s placement next year. I hope our meeting this week goes well. I’m sure all you special needs moms and dad can relate to how stressful this can be.

Hello sunshine, strawberries, late sunsets and sleeping in. We love summer. Bring it on!

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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comparison vs. compassion

finding love By June 3, 2016 25 Comments

David received an award last night in front of his entire 8th grade class. While we waited in the audience for his name to be called, he wiggled and squirmed. He didn’t want to sit with me. Instead he kept trying to get up and walk away or drop to the ground. I could feel eyes on me but I tried to focus on David, his needs and helping him get ready for his moment.

To keep the ceremony from going long, the principal encouraged us to clap once, loudly and in unison, for each name called. So in recognition of each student the crowd gave a loud, singular CLAP that echoed through the auditorium. Then we listened as the student was praised for their achievement, citizenship or perfect attendance.

When David’s name was called we got up and walked toward the stage. The clapping didn’t stop at one clap, instead the applause kept going. My tiny David walked confidently on stage and stood next to his peers who were twice his size.

I could feel my heart beating in my chest.

Compared to his peers he is so small and has so many needs. He can’t speak with words. But, I reminded myself, David speaks volumes with his smile, his heart and his soul.

Compared to his peers he’s way behind. He’s still diapered and spoon fed. But every day David is learning new things things. He is growing and changing.

Compared to his peers he hasn’t accomplished much. But compared to what the doctors predicted at his birth he has moved mountains. He’s a miracle.

chloe and david{David and Chloe, his friend and 8th grade peer}

Comparison.
I do it all the time.
Am I thin enough?
Am I helping my boys reach their full potential?
Is my house clean enough?
Are the meals we eat healthy enough?
I am I generous enough?
Am I stylish enough?

I look around me and compare myself to other moms, other women, other families. I compare my kids to your kids. I compare my house to your house. I compare my good deeds to your good deeds. Sometimes comparison makes me feel good, sometimes it makes me feel like a failure. Comparison comes so naturally it feels like a second skin. But what’s underneath?

Underneath is the nagging question–do I belong?
Am I lovable?
Am I enough?
I feel less than so I try to find a way to prove that I’m enough.
The sad part is, it never works. I’ll never win by comparing myself to others.
If I’m better than you, you lose.
If you’re better than me, I lose.
And all I really want is to connect with you.
All I want is to belong.

All you want is to belong.

What if instead of comparing I focused on compassion?
Compassion for myself. I’m doing the best I can. I am simply me, nothing more, nothing less. It’s enough–in fact, it’s beautiful.

Compassion for you. You are an amazing, unique person. You’re doing the best you can with yourself, your kids, your job. And you know what? You’re doing it wonderfully.

Each of us is remarkable and imperfect.
We are so different in our passions and style we can’t be compared.
We are so similar in our heart of hearts no comparison is necessary.
Comparison is the wall that separates us.

Compassion is the bond that brings us together.

Today when I catch myself comparing, I’ll replace those thoughts with compassion. I am enough and you are enough. Together we are stronger, we shine brighter and we love better.

comparison vs. compassion

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fun and easy jumpsuit

what I'm wearing By June 1, 2016 4 Comments

I ran into Old Navy last week to get some t-shirts for the boys {they are both out-firing everything right now!}. I think Old Navy has cute clothes but in general I find that it doesn’t fit me quite right–so I don’t usually shop for me. But as I passed through the women’s section to get to the boys section, I spotted this adorable jumpsuit. No way. I was sure it wouldn’t fit right but I decided to try it on and guess what? I loved it! The price was reasonable so I decided to give it a try. I wore it to work last week and got several compliments. As I walked down the sidewalk approaching our shop, a man in a truck drove by and yelled out, ‘You look great! And great dogs!’ I’m not even joking! I started cracking up.

So there you have it. A jumpsuit that demands attention. jumpsuit lisa leonard-01 jumpsuit lisa leonard-02 jumpsuit lisa leonard-03 jumpsuit lisa leonard-04 jumpsuit lisa leonard-05 jumpsuit lisa leonard-06

Outfit details: Surprisingly amazing jumpsuit, Old Navy. Some of my favorite sandals, Miz Moos. A denim jacket that gets better with time, Gap. Cross bar necklace with a stone set for each of my loves, My shop. Stacking rings with my boys names, My shop.

It’s June friends! Time to find the perfect jumpsuit and soak up some sunshine. Are you ready for summer?

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crochet and clogs

what I'm wearing By May 24, 2016 5 Comments

I found this crocheted cardigan at Anthropologie last year on sale. I haven’t worn it much–but it’s so pretty. It’s a statement piece. To keep it from being too sweet I paired it with casual jeans and slip on easy clogs.
crochet and clogs-04

The swept away necklace is a simple piece but has impact. I have a stone set for each of my loves.
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These jeans are super comfortable. They have a high waist that I love.crochet and clogs-03

Did you know Stitch Fix is carrying shoes now? I love these clogs! The color is neutral and the heel isn’t too high. crochet and clogs2-01

I found this bag at a resale shop downtown. It’s pretty much perfect and it was a steal {my favorite!}
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Outfit details: Cardigan, Anthropologie, similar here. Jeans, Levis. Tank, Old Navy. Clogs, Stitch Fix. Bag, Local resale shop. Warm Embrace Necklace, My shop. Large gemstone cuff, My shop.

Off to meetings today and out on a date tonight. Yay!

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hello painted built in {hello monday!}

decorating, hello monday By May 23, 2016 9 Comments

We’ve been working on refreshing the family room–beginning with painting this built in shelving unit. It brightens the room and unifies the space. You can see before pics here {from three years ago}. Wow, looking at those pics, I can’t believe how much it’s changed. The before is cozy but the after feels fresh and open.

It’s Monday, how about some hellos?

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Hello lots of meetings this week. This week is basically devoted to meetings {with some relaxing and fun mixed in!}

Hello craving coffee. It’s nothing new but lately I just can’t get enough!

Hello feeling thankful for our amazing sitter who helps with the boys. She’s an angel!

Hello looking for a new Netflix series to watch, Any suggestions?

Hello planning summer dinners outside. I’m working on sprucing up our patio. Pics soon!

Hello getting all the ingredients for homemade chocolate chip cookies. Dangerous.

Hello fighting off sniffles–both of the boys have a cold. Bummer.

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

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the man I married

family, father's day By May 17, 2016 9 Comments

In high school I made a list of qualities I wanted in a husband. I wish I still had it! I wanted him to be a surfer and to be handsome and strong. My high school self had a lot to learn about life, love and marriage {heck, I still have a lot to learn!}

I knew even way back then I wanted to marry a kind man, but I didn’t give a lot of thought to marrying a man who would be a good father. Thankfully, even in my youthful ignorance, I married a man who is an amazing dad. I’m thankful every day for the way he loves our boys.

fathers day 2016
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Here’s a current day list of {just a few of} Steve’s amazing qualities…

champion cuddler

lover of learning

musician who fills our home with music

humble enough to admit when he’s wrong

dedicated to lightsaber duels and nerf gun wars

patient while holding hands

expert pancake flipper

intentional to help the boys grow

laughs loudly and easily

bedtime storyteller {with all the different voices}

holds hands tightly

always ready to kiss and hug and listen

world traveler ready for the next adventure

handsome and strong

And hey, he even surfs {rarely, but still!}

Steve, you are the best daddy to our boys. I love you.

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hello windy and cold

hello monday, san luis obispo By May 16, 2016 3 Comments

Phew! We went to Morro Bay to walk and let the pups get some exercise and it was freezing! The wind was blowing like crazy. After a few steps near the shore, I went back to the car to try and find extra clothing for the boys. We put another layer on each of them and managed to stay for a half hour or so. Then we got back into the cozy car. It was fun but way too cold!

How about some hellos for a Monday?

hello windy and cold-01 Hello pups running! They loved the sand.

hello windy and cold-02 Hello backpack for David. I found a puffy vest for him and got much warmer after that.

hello windy and cold-03 Hello cute husband. Love him.

hello windy and cold-04 Hello wearing bowties to the beach. Louis and Beasley were worried they might be overdressed.

hello windy and cold-05 Hello family pic. I set the timer. It’s a little blurry but oh well!

hello windy and cold-09 Hello feet off the ground. Matthias is flying in this pic. So cool!
Hello counting down to summer. We only have 3 1/2 weeks of school left.
Hello not cooking. I can’t seem to get into a rhythm with making meals lately.
Hello sleeping great. David has been sleeping well in his new bedroom. I’m grateful!
Hello introducing The Matrix to Matthias. I love that movie!
Hello shopping for a desk for Matthias’ bedroom.
Hello cleaning house and cleaning out extra stuff.
Hello to YOU! It’s a brand new week. What are you saying hello to this week?

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creativity takes courage {a lot of it!}

adventures, finding beauty, the meaning behind By May 10, 2016 35 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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