Your Adult Bucket List

The other day, a customer who I’ve known for a few years now asked me a simple question. He said,

“You seem like you want to do more than just this.”

It was Sunday, I was doing my usual bartending shift. A shift I only took because at the time it was a day Mark worked, and I wanted to get to know him better, so I figured “I’ll take it and spend time with him.” Now, it’s the one shift I would love to trade because it currently takes away time together. You know, because he works a normal job, and I do not. However, I can’t trade it because I built a pretty decent Sunday business for myself and have too many regulars.

Ah, I love catch-22s.

Anyway, in that moment, he was right. I do want to do something more than bartend. And, most days I am doing something more than tending bar. (figured I should add a little variety there)

But, if I had inherited a million dollars, or, won the lottery, or, if this blog or Audrey and the Extraordinary Camera found amazing success, would I still be doing what I am currently doing?

Probably not, or, at least not in the same context.

I would buy a beautiful, but relatively tiny, house on a lot of land, and travel. I would write, and start a photography studio. I always dreamed of owning my own restaurant- a small, twenty seater, where I could have my own photography gracing the walls. Where we could have freedom to do different recipes every week. And, while I would check on that restaurant all the time, I wouldn’t be there all the time.

I would travel; not just the world, but, I would spend the most time exploring our own country. Visit all of the states, road trip with the one I love. I would still work, but, I would have the freedom to do more without having to worry about meeting deadlines, or, you know, being able to afford living.

When we are younger, we draw up a bucket list. We dream of who we will be, what we will look like, where we will end up. Then, we grow up and we don’t think of a bucket list again until we retire. Until we realize that we are in the fourth quarter of life.

But, what if we didn’t wait that long between dreams? What if we had an adult bucket list?

Where we keep our dreams right in front of us, and find a way to survive, and follow our dreams?

The millennial dream. That’s what we are searching for. That balance where we can live, but, we can also afford it.

I thought of all of this before answering his question. I allowed him to ramble a little more before he re-visited his question. And, when I was ready, I answered very simply:

“This year alone, I have published a book, I have built a really strong catering business, I have planned a beautiful engagement party, and am planning a beautiful wedding, with only one breakdown. Last week, I crossed a new state off of my bucket list, and was able to see another part of our country, while attending my favorite bands concert. So, while I don’t currently like standing here behind this bar, and while I’m currently thinking about the three cakes I have to order for next weekend, I think I’m exactly where I need to be.” 

I am just a girl snuggling her dog writing on her laptop. A girl so happy to be where she is.

Just a Girl in a Fort

Editors Note: why do I call myself editor? I don’t really ever edit my posts, I just spew my nonsense and hit publish. More than that, we all know it’s me- so, I’m just going to write “Leanne Note” from now on. Yeesh. Anyway, this post was written at 4:38 AM on Saturday. I’m not changing it because it’s honest and real. Enjoy

I’m just a girl sitting in a fort.

(Yes, we currently have a fort in our living room)
Recently, I’ve been residing in this stressful mental prison filled to the brim of “what ifs” and self doubt.
It’s an unfamiliar territory for me that Im just not comfortable with. I had mastered the art of living in the now, or so I thought I had.
But, with the big ole nuptials rapidly approaching, I’m getting caught in a whirlwind of “oh shit” moments. Take this post for example: I’m writing this on my iPhone in notes at 4:38 am due to yet another wedding nightmare.
Granted, there are personal, real world issues that are a big factor in all of this. Things my internet persona shields.  But, they’re not the whole part.
I’ll wake up from one nightmare and the floodgate opens up. the surface, materialist doubts start first:
“What if no one shows?”, “what if I trip?” “What if we didn’t plan this right?”
“What if my dress is wrong.”
Then, the deeper ones steamroll through.
“what if I mess this up?”, “what if I never amount to anything more than who I am now?”
“What if I self sabotage?” 
When Emmett and I moved back to Long Island 3 years ago, every decision I made also impacted him. As silly as that sounds, I couldn’t up and move without making sure it was a dog friendly apartment. I couldn’t spend as frivolously as I’ve been known to do, because I always needed to make sure I could afford his vet bills and food. When I went out, I had to make sure he was with someone. I made the decision to adopt him, I made the decision to keep him when shit hit the fan and I wouldn’t do anything wrong by him. It was the first time in my life where I was solely accountable for someone or something else and it was terrifying.
Now, my decisions impact two living souls. It’s not “my money”. It’s “ours”. My credit score will impact our future mortgage. My career choices will impact Mark, and they will impact Emmett. My motivation to write, to photograph, will impact Mark and it will impact Emmett. While my excuses to hide, be afraid, or just not take a leap of faith worked fine for me, I can’t do that anymore. We are each others anchors. We are keeping our life boat afloat together, and if I stop paddling, if I stop moving, our boat loses momentum. Sure, he could carry us for a while, but, no one can hold that weight for too long. We’re choosing to enter into this partnership. It’s the most beautiful partnership in the world, and one that I know we’ll be great at, because we already are.
But, it doesn’t make it any less frightening to me. It’s not “marrying Mark” that scares me. It’s not even the concept of marriage that causes this. I wouldn’t have said “yes” if any of that held true. It’s the idea that my failures are not my own anymore, which makes me even more terrified to fail. It’s the thought that I could make the wrong decision that starts the locks the mental prisons door. My anxiety swells because I always want to make sure I am doing right for “us”. Not just “me”. I want to be the best Leanne I can be for our live together. It’s a self inflicted pressure that I have never felt before, and, it’s overwhelming.
Then, I just remember that I’m just a girl sitting in a fort. 
I could fail. It’s a very real possibility. But, Mark will be right there. Mark could fail. It’s a very real possibility. But, I will be right there. That’s the beauty of this marriage, or, of any marriage. Life will happen. Life has happened for us. We have been through the gauntlet, and I will never sugarcoat that. But, we were right there. And, that’s the part I have to remember when I begin closing the door to the mental prison. Together, we fly.
Anxiety is caused by the future of unknowns. It’s easy to get lost in and hard to stay the fuck away from. (Oh no, I dropped an F bomb 😱)  I will never be able to know what will happen in the future. And, I will never be able to change anything from my past. I can, however, do better at living in the now. I can take any regrets from my past, and learn to never make that mistake again. As for the future, well, if I learn now to do better at living in the now, anything that comes my way will be far easier to handle.
Every day the sunrises, and the sunsets. Everyday. Which makes everyday a new beginning to try again. And, there’s no better way to try again than with your best friend, life partner, companion by your side.
Your just a person reading my words. I’m just a girl in a fort. Life is going to be okay.

(The photo below was taken at 5:05 AM immediately after I wrote this in my phone. It was the most serene, peaceful, profound moment I had had in a very long time. Everyone should watch the sunrise- after all, they’re harder to catch, require more motivation, than a sunset.)

One Rule: No “W” Word Talk

::wipes dust off keyboard::

::clears cobwebs off blog login in page::

::cough, cough:: Is anyone still here?

I think a lot of people can relate when I say I haven’t had the best handle on balancing everything in my life lately. It’s not even like one thing has consumed me, it’s just that SO many things have happened at once, that it’s been challenging for me to find that comfortable balance on my unicycle while juggling multiple things.

Last week, we went away on an adventurous road trip and it was everything you could possibly imagine it to be. Open roads, endless day dreaming, incredible concerts, and most importantly, a feeling of being disconnected. No, obviously not from social media (sorry snapchat friends- I promise, I’ll stop! ((snapchat: leannejustcant))) but from work and the wedding.

Mostly though, from the wedding. Like I explained to Mark while we aimlessly wandered around Columbus, Ohio “While I really appreciate everyones interest, I’m tired of my identity only being this one day.” That sounds callous, rude, and “I am woman, hear me roar” -I know. I love that people want to celebrate our love! I love our love story, and I’m so lucky to have been gifted this beautiful wedding. It’s a fairytale that every little girl dreams of. But, my dreams encompass more than one day.

In the beginning of 2016, I did not imagine that work would take off the way it has. It’s actually mind boggling, amazing, and wonderful, but, between that and the wedding, a lot of other ambitions have been put on hold. This blog,  Photography school, Promoting Audrey, Audrey’s sequel (which is actually almost done thanks to Mark driving most of the trip!) have to wait. And, that’s my choice, but, it doesn’t make it any less difficult.

Before we left, I really thought I was losing my mind. I was forgetful, and constantly felt anxious.  But, as soon as we left Wednesday morning, a lot of weight immediately was lifted off my shoulders. No Wedding Talk, (very little) Work talk.

There’s something wonderful and carefree about a good road trip. Visiting different cities. Seeing the world through your view finder. Day dreaming about the world around you. Silly conversations, thoughtful conversations, seeing old friends. Dancing, being silly, stopping because you saw a beautiful view that you just had to capture. It is truly the absolute best, and exactly what I needed.

Refreshed, and with a realization that while I feel like I’m constantly missing something, most of the wedding is taken care of already, I finally feel more balanced. It’s not going to be perfect, and, it probably won’t be entirely balanced until after our honeymoon, but, at least we know that I’ll make it to October 9th without a nervous breakdown.

Here’s to surviving the next 88 days! And, to hopefully not waiting so long to post again.