hello DIY mid century planter

DIY, hello monday By September 12, 2016 4 Comments

Hello friends!

I have been eyeing the gorgeous mid century planters at West Elm for a few weeks. Aren’t they amazing? Friday when I was at the thrift store I saw this yellow pot and thought the shaped looked a lot like the planter I’ve had my eye on. I felt inspired to I started looking around for some kind of a stand–and came across the black tea light holder. The bowl and the tea light holder were each $1.70–so I decided to give it a shot! scroll down for details.

It’s Monday–a brand new week with beauty to be found. How about some hellos?
diy-mid-century-planter-lisa-leonard-05Hello inspiration. I love it when things jump out at me and make my heart happy.

diy-mid-century-planter-lisa-leonard-03Hello finding treasures at a thrift shop. It’s kind of the best feeling!

diy-mid-century-planter-lisa-leonard-04Hello oil based sharpies that are much easier to use than paint!

diy-mid-century-planter-lisa-leonard-02Hello using command strips to hold the pot and the tea light holder together.

Hello bright happy pot in our entry way. I still love the West Elm version, but while I save my pennies this one is fun!

Hello snake plant. It’s one of my favorites and so easy to care for.

Hello Toto! We saw them in concert last night with friends and it was amazing!

Hello tired. Can we have one more weekend day?

Hello hiking with a friend today–time to soak up the sun and share our hearts.

Hello listening to this podcast and loving it!

Hello thinking and writing. My head is spinning lately with ideas.

Hello busy week. Ready or not, here we go!

Where are you saying hello to this week?


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?


The risk of being me

finding love, marriage, the meaning behind By September 6, 2016 29 Comments

I was unhappy. Steve was unhappy. I began to feel afraid. We were unhappy so I must be doing something wrong. I was certain I could do better and try harder. I’m a pleaser. I want to make others happy—sometimes to a fault. I want to make my husband happy, my kids happy, my friends happy, heck I even want to make the cashier at the grocery store happy. I’ve long believed if I could make others happy, they would love me.

Steve and I fell in love. Initially we were just friends, hanging out in groups with other friends.  But as we spent time together I saw his integrity, insight and compassion. Once I saw his heart, I fell hard. I knew he was a good man. We dated for a few months, had a short engagement and said our marriage vows with confidence. I was determined to be the best wife I could be. I believed with all my heart, I would make him happy and he would love me.


We’ve walked through some of the most difficult things two people can face; losing a job, depression and having a child with a severe disability. Through these storms our friendship has been a strong foundation. Inevitably though, when two flawed people spend an extended amount of time together, conflict happens. Things get rocky. And for us, things began to get very rocky.

We weren’t connecting. I was unhappy. He was unhappy. My fear was paralyzing me. I believed if Steve was unhappy he would stop loving me. I believed if Steve was unhappy it was my fault. I believed I could control his moods and emotions. I was certain I could do better and try harder. I kept a mental list of the ways I could please him. I put his needs before mine and tried to think of my own needs less. I tried to control our marriage, avoiding conflict at any cost. The more I tried to please him, the more I lost myself. Steve didn’t want a wife who lived to please him, he wanted the strong, confident woman he married. My fear of losing his love was putting walls between us. The harder I tried to make him happy the more frustrated and discouraged I became. I falsely believed if I focused more on him and less on myself I could heal our marriage.

I went from unhappiness to exhaustion and desperate sadness. No matter how hard I tried, nothing changed. I was reaching a breaking point, so I decided to risk it all and tell Steve how desperate I felt. He had no idea I was so deeply unhappy.  I’d been trying to save our marriage on my own—and I was losing myself in the process. We met with a therapist and both shared honestly and openly. She helped {and continues to help} us work through our blind spots. We began listening to each other more. I began to say what I wanted instead of trying to please him all the time. I started taking better care of myself and cutting things out of my schedule. I stopped trying to be everything to everyone and began to focus on being me—even if it meant rejection. I needed to be me, not knowing if Steve would love that person.

And something miraculous happened. It wasn’t easy or magical but it was truly amazing. Together, with tears and humility we began breaking down walls. Together we grew closer. Together we shared more, we listened more. Together we stopped casting judgement and being defensive. We set aside our fear of losing each other and began choosing to stay together.

I believe there are cycles within a marriage; we give all we have but love still breaks down. In the breakdown both partners have a choice: go through the pain and fear of reconnecting or continue to pull away. If in our brokenness we can be humble and honest, a new love begins where the old love left off. Love is risky. Showing up is risky. But a healthy marriage consists of two people, each showing up and being their truest self. Two people who adore each other despite their flaws and imperfections.

the risk of being me lisa leonard aodred ring

Slowly but surely I’m learning I can’t make someone else happy. I’m working daily to overcome false beliefs that I can control another person’s moods and feelings. I can only control my own emotions and my own actions. Caring for my own heart enables me to love better.  An ignored heart loves incompletely, a nurtured heart loves deeply. I want to be in a marriage where instead of avoiding conflict, we engage honestly, work hard, daily choosing to be together. When love breaks down, we begin again. I’m still a recovering people pleaser but I’m growing. I’m learning to feel my feelings and stop managing other people’s feelings. I’m beginning to understand love isn’t based on emotions or changing circumstances. Love isn’t one sided. Love thrives when two people choose kindness, patience and forgiveness.

Being me is risky, but losing myself is even riskier. Brave love is risky and beautiful.


hello entryway refresh

decorating, DIY, hello monday By September 5, 2016 1 Comment

Hello friends! It’s wonderful to begin the week with a holiday. We are taking it slow and enjoying the long weekend.

I’ve been working on refreshing the house a bit–moving things around, cleaning out the clutter and adding a few plants. It feels so good! Our entryway seems to collect things–the jogging stroller, boxes, backpacks and all kinds of things. But right now it’s clean and open. I hope we can keep it that way–but who am I kidding?! It will continue to cycle through messy and clean. It’s a never-ending process.

How about some hellos for a Monday?

hello entryway refresh-01

Hello painted legs. I originally painted them aqua but I didn’t like it at all. This looks much better.

hello entryway refresh-03

Hello air plants and natural light.

hello entryway refresh-04 hello entryway refresh-05

Hello sweet pups who are such good models. And I’m pretty sure Beasley is smiling. They crack me up!

hello entryway refresh-07

Hello holiday. It’s so nice to have an extra day.

Hello favorite new kid’s book. David and I have been reading this one together a lot lately.

Hello writing. I’ve been spending some time writing over the last few weeks. It’s so hard but also therapeutic.

Hello new-to-me Jane Austen story. This movie was so good.

Hello adjusting to middle school, not just Matthias but me as well. Its’s a big transition.

Hello cleaning out my car. And vacuuming!

Hello wanting to try this recipe. I think I’ll use my new instant pot though. Fingers crossed its a good one.

Hello inspired by this amazing woman. I’ve been searching her on Pinterest and she doesn’t disappoint!

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


Growing Grounds

san luis obispo, shops i love, what I'm wearing By September 2, 2016 1 Comment

It’s been a strange week of highs and lows. Nothing big, just trying to get back into the school routine and feeling exhausted. I’ve had lots of meetings this week. Matthias has started to have homework {yuck!}. Seems like by 8pm we’re all ready for bed. In between the busyness there have been many moments of laughter and downtime for cuddling. I don’t want to overlook those sweet moments. I have much to be grateful for!

Just down the street from our office is one of the best plant shops in town. It’s just off the main street, so it’s easy to miss it. Growing Grounds has beautiful plants, reasonably priced and it benefits Transitions Mental Health Association. So important.

With rushed mornings now that the boys are back in school, I’m basically wearing the same thing everyday–whatever is closest and easiest. I’m obsessed with this camisole from WhoWhatWear at Target. It’s perfect for layering. And then jeans and easy boots or sandals. The polka dot scarf was a last minute addition and pulls the outfit together. I am so glad handkerchief scarves are making a comeback. I used to wear them all the time in college. I think they’re so sweet.












Outfit details: Jean, vintage Levis, thrifted. Camisole, Target. sleeveless vest, {similar} Anthropologie. Bag, TJ Maxx. Scarf, Target. Boots, Frye. Jewelry, My shop {love these earrings!}

The weekend is beginning! I’ve got a few fun projects to work on and lots of downtime to relax. What do you have planned?


Honoring the Pain

david, hope, the meaning behind By August 30, 2016 40 Comments

David was four days old and asleep inside his little bed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit {NICU}. An adorable blue plaid baby quilt my sister made was draped over the side and a paper tag with David’s name written in cute, happy lettering was taped to the edge. His weight had dropped since birth a few days earlier and he was down to 3 pounds, 12 ounces. We had been told he had a rare genetic disorder but a million questions loomed in the air. We were in shock. We’d been expecting a healthy baby and everything had gone wrong. Both Steve and I were walking around in a daze. Steve sat near David and I stepped outside the NICU with a folder of bills and the checkbook. Even in crisis, real life demands to be lived. Bills have to be paid. Cars need gas. Clothes have to be washed, dried and folded. Well, maybe they don’t have to be folded. It’s surreal to do normal, everyday tasks while you’re world is crumbling around you. I remember clearly, sitting in the lobby right outside the NICU, opening the folder to pay bills and thinking, “This is so strange. Who cares about the gas bill? My baby was born with two fingers on his left hand.”

As I wrote the first check and tucked inside the envelope, our friends Josh and Maggie walked into the lobby. In the early years of our marriage they were our upstairs neighbors, worked in ministry with us and were some of our closest friends. They spent time with us during hospital stay. They brought groceries and arranged meals. On this afternoon, when our tiny David was only a few days old they sat down with me on the uncomfortable lobby couch and said nothing. They just sat, no words. I set the bills aside, buried my head in my hands and began to sob. The tears came from a bottomless well inside me. As I gave into the grief I wondered if I would ever stop crying. I held the pain in all its unbearable heaviness.  They sat with me, their arms around me and cried with me. They were powerless to change the situation but they stepped inside the darkness with me. I wasn’t alone.


Pain demands to be felt. It won’t be rushed. It won’t be pushed away or minimized. There is no set timeline for grief. There is no bible verse or life truth that can lessen pain’s grip. No matter how much we may try to push it away or pretend it isn’t there, it manifests itself. There are no tricks or tips to lessening the agony. Pain is moving through darkness, one tiny step at a time with faith that eventually a ray of light will break through. We honor our pain with tears and time. We honor our pain by acknowledging its heaviness and hurt. We honor it by recognizing loss and the hole it leaves behind.

love and loss rings lisa leonard

We honor pain by allowing it to wash over us like a tidal wave, and in its own time it recedes a bit. That first ray of light breaking through the darkness is fresh air and we breath it in as deeply as we can. We breath in hope. And hope is the balm that soothes the pain. Just as we can’t expedite pain, hope also won’t be rushed. It comes in its own time. It comes as we honor the pain.

When Josh and Maggie cried with me they honored my pain. They honored our tiny baby David and the difficult road ahead of him. They honored broken hearts and lost dreams. They didn’t minimize the journey before us with advice or easy answers. They loved him exactly as he was—a whole soul inside a broken body. And they breathed in deeply with us as the first ray of light broke through the darkness.

Are you honoring the pain of a difficult situation right now? Are you walking with someone through pain?


hello good things

hello monday By August 29, 2016 3 Comments

Lately I’m trying to fill my life {and my soul} with good things. It’s a way of seeing myself and loving myself. Many times as women we care for other people and put ourselves last. It’s often necessary. But it’s also necessary to care for myself. I’m trying to grow in this area.

Sometimes filling my life with good things is simply noticing all the good things around me and being thankful. It’s Monday and a brand new week. How about some hellos?

hello good things-01

Hello bright pink car standing out in the middle of a very gray day in Paris. Love it!

Hello new podcast. Do you love podcasts like I do? I listen to them while I clean the house, fold laundry or take a walk. Smartest Person in the Room with Laura Tremaine is brand new and so good!

Hello second week of school. We made it through the first week. The boys have great teachers and we’re getting used to early mornings again. I love having only one drop off and one pick since they’re at the same school again!

Hello french press. Since I’m talking about good things I have to include coffee. We pulled out our french press over the weekend and wow! it makes such good coffee.

Hello Christmas planning. I don’t know if Christmas is on your radar yet but having a retail business we plan for Christmas all year long. It’s getting close!

Hello new bed for the pups. They have loved sleeping in bed with Matthias but he’s not getting good sleep lately. So we got them a new cozy bed and we’ll try it out this week. I hope the like it.

Hello trying out my new Instant Pot and loving it. Have you heard of it? It’s a pressure cooker and more. Cooks food fast and keeps meat tender. I’ll share more soon!

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


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 trash to treasure

hello monday By August 22, 2016 6 Comments

I worked on a couple projects this weekend. Things that have been on my inspiration list for a while–and I finally got to them! I got this ugly lamp at our local goodwill for $4. And it lived in the flowerbed in our front yard for a couple weeks. {Please tell me I’m not the only one with random projects waiting to be carried out!} I got it out of the car, but it never made it into the house–until this weekend. Woohoo! Well, the pretty part is in the house, the rest is recycling.

It’s Monday, a new week and our first day of school–a big day around here! How about some hellos?DIY repurposed macrame planterHello talking something that is almost literally trash and turning it into something beautiful. I love that!
Easy steps…
1. take apart lamp
2. wash glass portion, toss the rest.
3. place some rocks or terra cotta pieces in the bottom
4. add a succulent and some soil

DIY repurposed macrame planter lisa leonard 2 Hello learning how to macrame. It’s suuuuper easy. I used some twine I had on hand and followed this tutorial.

DIY repurposed macrame planter lisa leonard 3Hello impressed pups. They just LOVE the new macrame planter over their bed!

Hello first day of school! Matthias is in 7th grade and David is in 8th. Hooray!

Hello feeling very loved on my birthday a few days ago. {thank you!}

Hello meetings and more meetings. Now that summer’s over I have some work to do!

Hello sniffles. David has a little cold and I think I’m getting it.

Hello looking for fun movies to watch with Matthias. What are some good movies for kids ages 12-14?

Hello walking the dogs and taking walks alone. So good.

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


adored ring

celebrate the every day By August 18, 2016 37 Comments

I’m turning forty-two years old. It’s feels different than I expected. I’ve changed so much this last year–and I’m ready to welcome this next year with open arms.

I’m learning to listen to my heart even though sometimes she speaks in a quiet whisper.
I’m practicing speaking my mind–even when I make waves.
I’m beginning to understand the importance of self-care (and that I can do it without guilt!)
In big, amazing ways I’m seeing with a fresh perspective that my three boys whom I adore, also adore me. And I’m beginning to believe in a new, deeper way that I am worthy of love and adoration.


At forty-two I’m learning how to simply be me in new and powerful ways. It feels humbling and empowering.

Today, on my birthday, I’m slipping on the adored ring as a reminder that I am loved. The X and the O represent the beautiful, imperfect, enduring love that surrounds me. And that is definitely something to celebrate. Thank you for being an important part of my journey–I’m thankful for this community!