where dreams and reality meet

be brave, hope By January 17, 2017 17 Comments

I had no idea joy, pain, exhaustion and sheer delight waited for us. I had no idea this tiny baby growing inside me had a genetic disorder. I had no idea he would break my heart, turn my world upside down and then slowly help me heal and grow into a person who loves more deeply.


I remember holding the positive pregnancy test in my hand. I was sitting in the bathroom of our small apartment near Los Angeles. We had been married for three years and we had been trying to start a family for the last six months. I felt like the wind was knocked out of me as the HUGENESS of the moment filled the room. I stared at the pregnancy test in disbelief.

“We are going to have a baby.” I thought. “Oh my goodness, there is already a baby growing inside me.”

We had boarded an unstoppable train headed toward an unknown destination. We wanted to start a family and we were trying to get pregnant, but when I saw the positive test I was terrified. I had been dreaming of this day since I was a little girl. When it arrived I was surprised to find myself so afraid.
My life was about to change in massive ways.

I was about to fall in love with a little boy who would forever change my heart.



The unknown is scary and I was looking into a vast world of unknowns.
The intersection where dreams and reality meet is perhaps the most terrifying place to be.
I stood on the edge of the known, looking into the unknown, with shaking legs.
Looking back, I could see where I had been.
Looking around me, I could see where I was.
But looking forward I could see nothing.
I took a step forward.
It was one of the most important steps of my life. David has brought beauty and joy to our family and changed us in amazing ways. He continues to grow and thrive and show us what it looks like to live with joy.

A couple years later I stood at another crossroads.
David was a baby, I was teaching part-time in our local school district and stringing beads into necklaces in the evening. A little dream started to grow inside my heart. What if I could turn this creative hobby into a little business? Friends loved my handmade jewelry and my coworkers were asking if they could purchase my necklaces and bracelets. I decided to make it official and get a business license.
As I got into my car to make my way towards City Hall, I felt sick to my stomach with nervousness.

“Surely they do not give business licenses to people like me. They are going to laugh me out of the building.” I thought. “They will know I am a fraud as soon as I step through the door.”

My heart was pounding and I felt my face go red as I asked the receptionist for a business license application. My hands shook as I searched for a pen in my purse and began filling it out line by line.

I had no idea incredible opportunities and long sleepless nights waited for me. I had no idea my little business would grow and change. I had no idea two years later I would quit my job to focus on making jewelry. I had no idea some day my husband and I would have a team of amazing individuals helping us with marketing, customer service and manufacturing.

The intersection where dreams and reality meet is perhaps the most terrifying place to be.
I stood on the edge of the known, looking into the unknown, with a shaking hands and a red face.
I took a step forward.

No matter how difficult, wonderful or mundane our circumstances, they are known—there is comfort in what is known. But the what lies ahead is unknown and the unknown can be deeply unsettling. We do not know what the future holds and deep down we know, we do not control the future.
We feel fear.
But we do not face fear alone.
We have a powerful force behind us.

Hope.

With hope at our back we take a step into the unknown.
At the intersection of dreams and reality, it is natural to feel fear.
Fear does not make us weak.
Fear makes us human.
When we move through fear toward what is true and right and beautiful, it makes us brave.
With each timid step the future becomes the present and the present becomes the past.
All that is required in any moment, is one step.
We take that step with hope at our back.

Have you found yourself at the intersection where dreams and reality meet?

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hello thirteen!

hello monday, matthias By January 16, 2017 3 Comments

Impossible but TRUE! Matthias turned thirteen years old yesterday. I am so proud of him. Matthias is insightful, kind, artistic, hard working, passionate, articulate and full of opinions. He keeps us on our toes! He adds balance and silliness to our family. Matthias we love you so very, very much! Happy birthday bud.

Here’s pics from Matthias’ 9th Ninjago birthday.
When Matthias turned eight we had an art party.
And way back when Matthias turned three and we had a Thomas the Train party.

Matthias is saying hello to thirteen. How about some hellos for a new week?

Hello celebrating at Harry Potter World, Universal Studios. Pics to share soon.

Hello feeling surprised how grown up Matthias is at thirteen! I love it.

Hello one week into Whole30 but bending the rules slightly for a few bites of cupcake.

Hello trying new recipes and eating lots of delicious food.

Hello DISHES. Oh my gosh, so many dishes. I guess that’s what happens when we cook more.

Hello missing diary. I love creamy coffee and cereal with milk. Comfort foods.

Hello feeling sad lately. I’m not sure exactly why–it’s hard to pinpoint. I’m trying to find a balance between feeling my feelings and not completely unraveling. I think it might be partly Whole30 detox and partly just stuff of life.

Hello walking and resting and downtime. These things are good for my soul.

Hello lots and lots of rain and sunshine in between. We are so grateful for the rain.

Hello brand new week with beauty to be found. What are you saying hello to this week?

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Whoa! iPhone 7+ portrait mode

inspiration, photography By January 12, 2017 7 Comments

I recently got a new iPhone 7+ and I am LOVING the new portrait setting inside the camera. I believe only the 7+ has this setting. I’ve also heard it’s in beta form right now, so it will likely be even better in the future.

The portrait setting allows you to get a crisp foreground image with a blurred background. It’s so good that I wanted to compare it to the regular camera setting and my Canon 5d.

In the examples below you’ll see the images in this order…

  1. regular camera setting on iPhone 7+
  2. portrait camera setting iPhone 7+
  3. Canon 5d Mark II The first image {regular setting} compared to the second image {portrait setting} show how AMAZING the portrait setting is compared to the regular. Wow! It’s almost as good as the Canon 5d!

    The background but adds depth and interest to the photo, don’t you think?

    It’s hard to tell in the above image because the photo is mostly foreground, but even a bit of background blur i the second photo {portrait setting} makes the photo pop!

    I think the middle photo {portrait setting} looks breathtaking, don’t you? Of course the last one {Canon 5d} is even more magical. But I am impressed with the portrait mode. So cool.

    In the first photo {regular setting} you can see Matthias and the dogs cuddling in the background. I think it makes the image kind of messy looking. The second {portrait setting} the spoons really pop. The third {Canon 5d} has even more background blur.

    This last example of the three photos shows a similar quality between the second {portrait mode} and third {Canon 5d} photos. Pretty amazing, right?

Do you have an iPhone 7+? What do you think of the new portrait mode?

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hello breakfast all day

hello monday By January 9, 2017 2 Comments

Breakfast all day sounds great to me. Coffee+eggs+bacon=YUM! Plus I love eating out. My sister has an adorable cafe in her neighborhood. A perfect morning consists of rolling out of bed, putting on some shoes and walking a few steps to sit down for breakfast.

It’s Monday, how about some hellos?

Hello breakfast. The perfect way to start a good day.


Hello rain and rain and more rain. We have a ‘pineapple express’ moving through California which means rain and more rain.

Hello sneaking the pups out for walks between rain showers.

Hello whole30. Our family is going to give it a try. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Hello feeling thankful coffee is whole30 approved. Except no cream. We’re planning to try bulletproof coffee. Have you tried it?

Hello back to school. The boys were off for two and half weeks. It was awesome but now it’s back to the routine!

Hello new year, fresh start, and a new chance to dream big. What does 2017 hold for us?

Hello Harry Potter Marathon. We’re rematching all the movies and they are so awesome!

Hello new sheets on our bed. I can’t say enough about these amazing sheets. Affordable and sooo soft. I’m in love!

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

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buzz buzz

finding love, worthiness By January 5, 2017 5 Comments


Thoughts like bumblebees fly around my head.
Buzz buzz buzz
So many thoughts

Some thoughts buzz by and I hardly notice them.

Some thoughts are scary.
The scary thoughts buzz and buzz.
I try to run but they chase me.

I stop running and face the scary thoughts.
“Are you true?” I ask them.
The scary thoughts keep pestering me.
“No.” they say.
We are not true.
Their buzzing gets quieter.

Some thoughts are mean.
The mean thoughts sting. Ouch.
I try to run but they chase me.

I stop running and face the mean thoughts.
“Are you true?” I ask them.
The mean thoughts keep pestering me.
“No.” they say.
We are not true.
Their buzzing gets quieter.

Some thoughts are happy.
The happy thoughts are as sweet as honey.
I do not run from them.

I turn and face the happy thoughts.
“Are you true?” I ask them
The happy thoughts keep buzzing.
“Yes.” They say.
We are true.
I take these thoughts into my heart.

I am the keeper of my thoughts.
My thoughts do not keep me.
The happy thoughts make a home inside my heart.
After time they grow and become a deep knowing.

You are unique.
You are amazing.
You are enough.
Just as you are.

Buzz buzz buzz
My heart knows it is loved.

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hello california christmas

christmas, hello monday By December 26, 2016 5 Comments

We had a fun relaxing Christmas day with family. Last year we were in England–the Christmases were so different, each amazing in its own way. Our California Christmas was surprisingly chilly this year–it only got up to about 56*–which for our part of California is cold!

I’ve got lots of pics to share. How about some hellos for a brand new week?
Hello tiny tree. We stayed in an Airbnb and I brought a little tree with us.

Hello berries and blurry boys walking to the car.

Hello love.

Hello pug butts.

Hello pretty table and llama wrapping paper for a tablecloth.

Hello cuddles with grandma.

Hello aunties.

Hello kisses and being silly.

Hello spiderman. We were all so happy he made an appearance!

Hello bright eyes and smiles.

Hello playing a game. Prizes were wrapped under various layers of saran wrap. One person tries to unwrap as fast as they can while the person next to them is trying to roll doubles with two dice. It was so fun!

Hello smooches from auntie

Hello cutie pug.

Hello helping daddy play guitar.

Hello Lucy the dog who’s almost a human.

Hello finally getting the cold I’ve avoided for weeks. It caught up with me.

Hello not sleeping well and feeling extra thankful for good coffee.

Hello wrapping paper and boxes to clean up.

Hello absolutely loving this children’s book.

Hello wondering how long we can leave our Christmas tree up. I love the twinkle lights.

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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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?

hello-very-loved-elf-lisa-leonard-01
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!

hello-very-loved-elf-lisa-leonard-02

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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