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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hello feeling very loved.

hello monday By May 9, 2016 1 Comment

I had such a restful, fun weekend. I feel spoiled and loved by my boys! It’s a brand new week–how about some hellos?

IMG_1594 Hello pet pig on a leash. So cute, kind of random and very fun!

IMG_1611 Hello kisses and hugs and lots of cuddles this weekend. Pretty much perfect.

IMG_1618Hello colorful basket I found at an adorable antique store.

Hello lots of meetings this week. Some creative, some administrative.

Hello trying to tidy the house. We are mid project splitting the boys into two rooms and everything is a disaster!

Hello Captain America Civil War. We’re kind of obsessed over here.

Hello laundry and dishes. Always.

Hello coffee. I may need an extra cup today!

Hello brand new week with beauty to be found. It’s Monday, what are you saying hello to this week?

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diy cacti photo holder

decorating, DIY, pinterest By May 3, 2016 1 Comment

As you know I LOVE succulents. And I love a DIY. So today is a happy day! This project combines the two–awesome. It’s spring–the sun is shining and things are green. We thought it would be fun to bring some of that green inside and give our desks a bit of a color in a creative way! I saw this on Pinterest and thought it was adorable!  So we decided to create something similar. 

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You’ll need: small terra-cotta pots, pebbles, small sized stones, shades of green paint, white paint, paint for the pots {whatever color you like!}, paintbrush, and photos.

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Using a few items found around the house, we were able to put something together!

We used this awesome Instax printer that prints fun polaroid photos from a smartphone! (Found here) Such a great idea! If you don’t have an Instax printer, get some photos printed at Costco or put a fun postcard in your arrangement.

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Simply add a little mess, a little paint, a little creativity! Smaller sized stones worked best for these min terra-cotta pots. Different shades of green make these little cacti more lifelike while still being whimsical!

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After letting them dry for a little while, we painted some little details in white paint, they don’t have to be realistic, that’s half the fun! We also found some smaller pebbles to fill the pots with, rather than using dirt, these also help for later when placing the photos!

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When everything’s all dry, simply assemble your little cacti! Have fun with trying different combinations of your ‘cacti’ and images! The fun thing is you can always add new images, or change the placement!

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Such a fun and easy little DIY, but I love the splash of color it gives to my desk! This is a great little gift idea as well, especially with Mothers Day around the corner! And wouldn’t these make a perfect place setting when hosting a dinner?

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Get the kids involved with simple little DIY. The whole project (excluding drying time) only took about 20-30mins!

Have fun!

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hello half marathon

hello monday By May 2, 2016 2 Comments

Steve ran his first half marathon yesterday–and he rocked it! We met him at the finish line with big smiles and proud hearts. He finished the race in 1 hour 42 min. Awesome! It’s Monday–how about some hellos for a new week?

Hello family! We’ve been traveling a lot lately–mostly tag teaming. it’s so good to be together.

IMG_1523Hello sweaty kiss. He earned it!

Hello happy. David loved Steve’s medal that is also a cowbell. So fun.

Hello running buddy. We’re thankful for dear friends.

Hello getting back into my routine this week after traveling last week.

Hello clean laundry waiting to be folded.

Hello boys who need haircuts, dogs who need baths, mama who needs a nap.

Hello sniffly David. He’s got energy but he has been needing his inhalers a couple times a day.

Hello slowly working on getting the boys into their own rooms. It’s such a big project!

Hello Captain America Civil War. Matthias can’t wait to see it!

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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these are not skinny jeans

what I'm wearing By April 27, 2016 8 Comments

I’ve gone out on a limb. It’s not a big thing–but sometimes small things can feel like a big change. Every pair of jeans in my closet is skinny jeans–well, I do have one pair of boyfriend jeans that are straight leg. But basically, I wear skinny jeans. I’ve been seeing more flare jeans around and I kind of like the look–I took a risk and purchased this pair from Madewell. It’s been fun to try something new. It feels good to break out of my comfort zone!

these are not skinny jeans! lisa leonard-01 These jeans are the first thing I’ve every purchased from Madewell. But I’m sure they won’t be the last–what an awesome store.

these are not skinny jeans! lisa leonard-02 This pair is high rise and flare. I love high rise.

these are not skinny jeans! lisa leonard-03 And have you seen the new long lineage necklace? Oh my gosh I love it! I’m wearing a 16″ chain. We’ll set a stone for each of your loves.

these are not skinny jeans! lisa leonard-04 And I’ve got a few bracelets on–the gemstone cuff, crossbar bracelet and birthstone bangle. Love.

these are not skinny jeans! lisa leonard-05 The pups were being so good! Aren’t they sweet? Louis and Beasley support my adventure to try out flare jeans.

these are not skinny jeans! lisa leonard-06

And of course a few rings stacked on keeps my boys close all day.

Outfit details:Flare jeans, Madewell. Tank, Old Navy. Faux leather jacket, Thrifted. Sandals, Ugg {so comfortable!!}. Long Lineage Necklace, My shop. Bracelets, My shop. Rings, My shop.

So tell me what you like to wear–skinny jeans or flare jeans? Or something else?

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hello sand dollar beach

hello monday, san luis obispo By April 25, 2016 3 Comments

I took a walk at Morro Strand also called Sand Dollar Beach. I probably could have collected 1,000 sand dollars–I’m not exaggerating! The weather was rainy and I was the only one on the beach. The tide was low and there were sand dollars everywhere. So magical.

It’s a new week. How about some hellos?hello sand dollar beach lisa leonard-01 Hello sand dollar nestled in the sand, waiting for the next wave to come along.

hello sand dollar beach lisa leonard-02 Hello sandpiper strolling along.

hello sand dollar beach lisa leonard-03 Hello low tide and rocks to climb.

hello sand dollar beach lisa leonard-04 Hello shiny and vibrant shells on a gray, cloudy day.

hello sand dollar beach lisa leonard-05Hello Morro Rock in the distance and treasures waiting to be found.

Hello travel this week. It’s hard to be away from the boys.

Hotel living. It’s nice having someone else make the bed.

Hello walking and hiking. I’ve been doing both of these almost every day lately. It feels so good.

Hello busy busy in the shop filling Mother’s Day orders. {Thank you, I’m grateful!}

Hello reading this book. Life-changing. Have you read it?

Hello new pair of flare jeans. I don’t even know who I am anymore!

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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finding hope in the heartbreak

inspiration, motherhood, stories from our community, the meaning behind By April 21, 2016 4 Comments

When you share your stories with my on Facebook or Instagram, it often stops me right where I am. It’s humbling to create jewelry that holds deep meaning–and when these handmade pieces become part of your story, it fills me. Jen’s story of heartache and hope resonated deeply with me–and you! When she shared on Facebook, many of you responded to her comment and encouraged her. This community is a beautiful place where people can be honest and feel loved. I’m grateful. I reached out to Jen to share more of her story with us. Here’s Jen’s comment from Facebook…

‘2014 was supposed to be a joyous year. In the spring, we thought my mom’s cancer was on the up and up, and my husband and I finally became pregnant. We told my mom early, thinking it would give her final push to really kick cancer’s butt. It turned out that it had a stronger hold on her than anyone knew, and the hospital stays started. We find out at our 3 month ultrasound that the baby has an irreversible birth defect. Everyone fought and prayed for the best. However, angels were made that summer; my mom passed in July, and we lost the baby two weeks later. I didn’t know what to do, that fog was so think. My family and I stuck together and through them and friends, I pulled myself out. There are now sunny days again–we have a beautiful little girl, named after my mom. Her room’s theme is You Are My Sunshine. ‘

It warmed my heart to see the ways you and others in our community responded, encouraged, and shared in the joy and pain. We asked Jen to share a bit more about her journey, and where she finds hope. Read for more…

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How do you experience hope each day?

I experience hope every time I look at my daughter. Rosabella fills me with hope every day — hope for a bright future for her, hope for the best for our family, and the knowing that everything is okay. My mom believed in hope, had given me a bracelet with that word on it.  We always hope for the best outcome possible. Sometimes the best outcome isn’t want we want, but what is best for the person going through the tough time.

When in this journey did you experience a glimmer of hope?

I first experienced a glimmer of hope when we found out we were pregnant. It was right around Mother’s Day 2014. I had wanted to give my mom a grandchild so badly, especially knowing she was sick. We told my mom early, at about 8-9 weeks. I thought that maybe this was the bump she needed to finally get her body back to where she wanted it.  We gave her a bracelet that said Grandma on it.  At first, she thought it was from our cat!  Then she thought about it, and I hadn’t seen her so excited in a long time!

What are some of the ways you feel supported by friends and family?

My husband was my rock during that tough summer. He was there at every doctor’s appointment, and had no problem with me staying for days at a time with my mom when she was home.  He encouraged me to do silly things to keep my mind off of things while my mom slept. Once my mom went into hospice, he came every night with me to see her.  My dad has always been an amazing person, but blew me away during those years.  They were divorced but became her main care taker.  He took her to every appointment, every treatment, and spent nights at her house as well.  He told me everything that happened at those appointments, and we all talked a lot as a family.  I see my father at least once a week now (he does some baby-sitting now and again too), and we do lots of talking and reminiscing.  I have a close group of girlfriends; like all friends we get involved in life and don’t always see each other.  During that time, they were the first to come to my mom’s house and brought food for my dad, my brother, and me.  They were always checking in. I don’t know what I would have done without them. Now we all have kids (well, one has a nephew she adores), and we try to get together at least once a month.

Mom cape

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How would you encourage someone going through the process of grieving the loss of a loved one?

I would say take life one hour at a time.  When you’re ready, take life one day at a time.  There is no amount of time that can totally take that hurt of losing a loved one away, but slowly the hurt does lessen.  No one can tell you that enough time has passed and you should be “over it”.  Only the person grieving knows when they are able to put one foot in front of the other.  What I also found helped was joining a support group.  Members of this group had all experienced a loss, and although not all losses were the same, we all knew that deep feeling of despair and grief.  It started as more of a therapeutic gathering, but now I attend because these people have become my friends. 

What have you learned about yourself this year?

Since Bella was born, I have learned that I am stronger than I thought in many respects.  The late nights, working on my Master’s program, working full time… I do have my moments where I think I cannot do it and I break down. In the end, though, it gets done.  I just think of my mom, and how hard she fought against her illness.  I am nowhere near the hardships she had to endure, and I know she would not want me giving up or breaking down.

Are there any other details or thoughts you would like to share with the community?

I know we’ve all heard this, but do not take anything for granted.  Life is short; a loved one is there one minute, and could be gone the next.  This is something that I keep in mind everyday.  Yes, I am busy and there are things that have to get done (work, classwork).  However, the laundry can wait.  Dinner can be later.  What matters most is my family–making sure I play with Bella as soon as we come home, chasing Chewie around the house for playtime, sitting down and spending time with Jason.  Take time to be with the ones you love.  But also remember to love yourself, too–for you are no good to anyone if you yourself are unhappy.

Bella and Chewie

Buffett concert

 This is so beautiful, Jen. Thank you Jen for sharing your heart! I am so glad the sunburst ring holds deep meaning for you. You are strong and brave. xx

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hello kitchen redo

hello monday By April 18, 2016 3 Comments

For the last few weeks we’ve been under construction–painting cabinets, getting new countertops and some appliances. We’re still waiting on our oven and a hood–but it’s coming together and I’m thrilled with how fresh and bright it looks. We’ve been wanting to freshen the cabinets since we moved into this house 7 years ago–and it’s finally happening. Hooray!
You can see a peek of our old cabinets in this post.

How about some hellos for a brand new Monday?

hello kitchen redo lisa leonard-03 Hello bright and sunny. I can’t get over how much light is reflected off the cabinets now that they’re lighter. I think light is good for the soul.

hello kitchen redo lisa leonard-04 Hello massive sink. I’m actually enjoying doing dishes these days. I love Mrs. Meyer’s–especially the lavender scent. So good.

hello kitchen redo lisa leonard-05 Hello fruit–real and porcelain. We’re trying to snack on fruit, nuts and string cheese when possible.

hello kitchen redo lisa leonard-06 Hello unkillable plant. I love snake plant–they hardly need any water and don’t need a lot of light either.
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Hello fun chairs we found at a local wholesale furniture place we love. They are so comfortable.

Hello making pancakes on our new stove. So much easier than the hot plate we’ve been using the last month or so.

Hello journaling, reading and taking time to nurture my soul.

Hello longer days. The sun is staying up longer and we’ve been getting some evening walks in. I love it!

Hello splitting the boys into two rooms. They’ve shared all their lives. I’m busy organizing and planning. I think it’s going to be great for them–and maybe a little bit of a transition too. pics of the boys room before the split here.

Hello slowing down. I’m trying to rush less and breathe deeper. It feels important.

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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Moments of motherhood

family, motherhood By April 15, 2016 2 Comments

Will you walk down memory lane with me? Looking back through these old photos has my heart melted into a puddle. Have you ever snapped a pic in what seems like a totally normal, mundane moment and then years later look back and think ‘OH MY GOSH I’m so glad I captured that!’ It’s the everyday, mundane moments that make life truly beautiful.

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Matthias loved dressing up as a toddler and preschooler. Every day he wore elaborate costumes and pretended to be a superhero or fireman. I loved watching him express himself then and love looking back and seeing how his passion for creativity and expression is still so much the same!

And David {above middle} learned to feed himself spoonfuls of yogurt and we CELEBRATED! Such a big accomplishment. And those sweet baby cheeks melt me.

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I’m somehow with two of the cuddliest kids in the world. They love to hold hands and snuggle up on the couch. They would happily snuggle up in our bed every night if we let them. I believe one can never have too many cuddles.

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Looking back on these pics I can see how much David has changed. He’s filled out–he’s not so skinny any more. He’s much sturdier health wise {thank you Lord!} and has a lot more opinions than he used to have. But oh my goodness, that little sparkle in his eye and his love of life hasn’t changed one bit. I love it!

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Owning our own business has been good and bad–but mostly good. There are nights Steve and I both have to work late, but we also have the ability to take time off when we need or want to. We’ve taken two weeks off to travel to England. When David had heart surgery when he was seven years old, we took a lot of time off to take care of him. We were able to from his hospital room or make calls after he fell asleep. I am thankful so thankful for that flexibility. I don’t take it for granted.

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Oh my gosh those frog rain boots were Matthias’ favorite for a couple years. We went through a few pairs! What is it about kids and boots–there is nothing cuter. Nothing.

Being a family isn’t made up of one huge success or one massive failure. Family is formed over days, months and years. It’s the day in, day out mundane stuff of life that creates a safe place to truly be yourself–and know that you’re loved no matter what. Every kiss, cuddle, tear wiped, lunch packed, homework packet signed and bedtime prayer bonds our hearts together. Being a mom is life giving and heart breaking. It’s so incredibly hard and so amazingly beautiful. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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being shaped and formed and molded

jewelry, motherhood, the meaning behind By April 12, 2016 4 Comments

I don’t know how to make jewelry–or at least there are times I want to give up because it’s hard! Over the years, I’ve learned how to use my tools, but sometimes they still won’t cooperate. When I set out to create a new design, I dream, sketch, metal work, file, hammer, polish—and I can tell you, nine times out of ten, the end result is different that what I imagined when inspiration first came to me.

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I see symbolism here with motherhood. I dreamed about being a mom since I was a little girl. I wrapped my baby doll in a blanket and carried her around the house. I changed pretend diapers and hoped some day I would have my own, very real baby. When I held David in my arms for the first time, everything I imagined fell away. With a disability, he wasn’t what I expected, but he was adorable and precious. He was part of me and also uniquely himself. With Matthias’ birth I was similarly unprepared and facing the unexpected. When each of my boys was placed in my arms we met for the first time. That first day we began the adventure getting to know each other.

With every cuddle, kiss, tear wiped and hand held we are molding our children. With every comforting word and piece of advice shared, we are guiding and training our children. Each child brings his own personality, spunk and curiosity to life. Like metalworking and jewelry design, it’s an imperfect process. The artist and the metal work together. The parent and the child are each growing, changing and being shaped into something lovely.

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There is a beauty to a handmade piece that is forged from metal and shaped into something meaningful. When our pieces are made, sometimes the metal works in our favor, and sometimes it works against us. The process involves fire to soften and shape the metal, but it also requires cool water baths and the gentle brushes to buff and shine. There is push and pull—two forces at work. What results is better because of the struggle. The finished design is a combination of what I bring to the workbench and what the raw materials allow.  Motherhood, like jewelry making, is two forces working together. It’s a process of being shaped and formed and molded—not just the child, but the mother as well.

Each handmade piece of jewelry represents my mother’s heart. It’s the deep significance of a journey walked together. Through highs and lows each of us is changed and deep bonds are formed. This is where love flourishes. This is the meaning behind each piece of jewelry I create.

Stack on a few delicate birthstone rings or wear a handcrafted necklace close to your heart with the knowledge that being a mother is magnificent work—not because mother or child is perfect, but because together we are growing, becoming stronger and more whole.  Together we are better.

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Mother’s Day is just a few short weeks away. There is a perfect gift waiting to be created, just for you or a dear one in your life. Don’t wait—click here to see the pieces I’ve created for you.

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