Leanne is kind of Serious

When Everyone is at “The Next Step”

dandelion

 

Fun fact; I love dandelions. Have you ever noticed that they have three stages of life? They start yellow, bold and bright. Kids pick them and make their parents “bouquets”. In wild fields, their bright yellow disposition adds beauty and light to an otherwise overgrown mess. Soon, they move to the white, fluffy stage. Soft, open, and fun to play with, the dandelion has grown to a mature flower. In the end of their life phase, they spread their seeds so they continue living even when they are long gone. I have always associated their stages with the sun, moon and stars. 

Yellow Sun, White Moon, Stars wide among us. 

Their stages of life are reminiscent of our stages of life as humans. We start young, wild, vibrant and free, soon turn into soft, open, mature people, and eventually, spread our seeds. In the blink of an eye, it felt like everyone was at the “spread our seeds” phase of life, and I can’t keep up. 

My instagram feed has turned into pregnancy announcements, newborn photos, and couples with their kids. All of the blogs I used to follow are now mommy blogs. At one point this morning I thought to myself “is there any blog for the married person who might not want kids?” 

Before we married, Mark and I discussed kids, a lot. To me, it was an important topic that I continually drove home. First and foremost, I knew that even though we were marrying young, I did not even want to think about children until I was at least 31. Even then, it’s just a discussion. I also felt strongly about having only one child, a conversation we joked about often. “Okay baby, we’ll start with one.”  There is also no guarantee that we’ll be able to have children. We tend to have this idyllic mindset that having a baby is a natural occurrence. Knowing many people in my life who had the opposite experience, I have always leaned towards the pessimistic side of this conversation. (And, while there are many “I’s” in this paragraph, please note that this was a “we” topic through and through. I am writing from my perspective.)

“Will you still love me and want me even if I can’t make you a dad?”

“Of course I will. We’ll adopt, we’ll look into other options, or, we’ll get some more dogs.”

As our world progresses, it is more and more clear that women are choosing to take this route. And, guess what? It’s perfectly okay. YES! It’s perfectly OKAY for a woman to choose not to have children. Oh, and a woman is still a woman even if they cannot have children. The truth is, having children is a choice, and, it’s a conversation couples should have, revisit it, and have again and again. 

It’s been wild to see people I went to high school as mom’s. Or, the girl you were crazy with in college suddenly a mom to two adorable children. Watching as the world around me transitions into the next step of their life isn’t the worse thing. I mean, they are producing some wildly adorable children. 

As of last week, we do not know if we are going to have children. Being a teacher, Mark sees the entitlement growing among parents and children. His fear is how we would ever counteract society. “Could we raise a child with our values or would it be influenced by society?” I guess we won’t know unless the time comes. However, for now, we are happy as just us three. 

 

ariel levy

September Book Suggestion- Part 1

 

While I know it’s only September 6th, this month I have a goal of reading at least two books. It seems like a small, easily achievable goal, right? Unfortunately, this thing called “adulting” is so time-consuming that it’s hard to allocate time to do things other than complain about how hard it is to adult. 

I spent most of my summer reading essays; the shortness of each “chapter” made reading seem entirely achievable and not some crazy, unabashed goal. 

While browsing Amazon the other day, I came across a memoir titled “The Rules Do Not Apply”.  There was something about the cover, the way the “box” doesn’t exactly fit the bold text, that was alluring, so I ordered it and gave it a try. 

Holy shit, this book did not disappoint. Ariel Levy weaves you into the tapestry of her story the way an old yiddish woman tells you the story of her early days while knitting another blanket for the cold winter. Her words are not repetitive, her feelings are human, and yet, told to the reader like a true reporter. 

One of my favorite aspects was how she described her journey with pregnancy. While most women complain about the aches, pains, annoyance of carrying a human, Ariel made it seem like it was superhuman. Like it was the most beautiful gift ever given to another human. The way she talks about her son in the womb with such joy and pleasure, it changed my perspective of pregnancy in so many ways. (and, no I am not looking to get pregnant any time soon. We do not have baby fever, we did not convert a bedroom to a nursery, we use protection, we do not want to be parents right now. Capeesh? good.)

Unnerving, inspiring, enlightening. It was so human, and so easy to read. You will go through every emotion with Ariel through this book and you will finish it before the weekend ends. 

 

What are some of the books you’re reading? 

 

 

The First Day

 

It’s the first day back to school for a lot of people today, including Mark, who after 3 months, is getting back into the groove of his life.

The house is still. I am writing to you from my antique desk; a desk passed down from me from my great grandfather. It’s old, tired wood still maintains its dignity, while the surface has marks from its’ past. I imagine my own grandpa sitting at this desk; going over his bills while his 5 young daughters ran around his house. I imagine each of my aunts and mom sitting at this desk, doing their homework, quickly, so they could take their dog “for a walk around the block”. A ruse they used to meet their boyfriends. As I sit here, it’s almost as if I can feel the history of the small chips; a timeless piece that somehow, gives me peace.

Emmett’s soft breathing echoes in the office as a car drives by the front of the house. Admittedly, the street can be noisy at times, but, no noisier than my upstairs neighbors who, I swear to you, definitely used their apartment to practice bowling.

After a month of living in this home, it does finally feel like I’m beginning to get my routine back. Something I felt I lost over this summer. From entering a contract, to not knowing if we would get a mortgage, to moving quickly because our lease was almost up, it felt like we, as a family, were never quite settled. We felt nomadic, in a sense. Never quite knowing where would land until the day we finally closed.

It was during those 12 weeks of angst and anxiety that it took us to close that we spent time envisioning what this house would be like. At night, we would sit on our couch in our tiny apartment and talk about all the stuff we would finally be able to use; our stainless steel pots, for example, that we used Sunday to cook family dinner. We looked at furniture, beds, and talked about our ideas. In my head, I knew what I wanted each room to look like. The office a warm blue that felt like it was giving me a hug as I worked. As I peak around, that warm blue we finally settled on is doing just that. I imagined the living room to be warm, inviting with straight lines and pieces to give it a softness. A neutral palette that we can change as we change. For the last 4 weeks, we have made our vision a reality; or, at least, we are getting to that reality.

Now, with Mark back at work, it feels only right that I, too, get back to work. In the past 4 weeks, along with moving, I have been hard at work building my photography portfolio, again. Having spent so much time over the last few months attempting to figure out what I was missing, a random text from a stranger, who was recommended to me by a friend, helped clear everything for me. There are too many times in this world where others see our talents before we do. It’s unclear why we are our own harshest critics; standing in front of our life mirror nitpicking every aspect of everything we do. Perhaps we should all spend more time looking at our reflection in other people’s eyes.

Revisiting this blog today, for the first time in 4 weeks, had an interesting affect. Re-reading my musings, I was proud of the words I spewed, however, looking at the pages gave me a different feeling. A feeling of trying too much. It was as if I had been running on this hamster wheel trying, and trying, to move forward, and I just stopped and realized this wasn’t the way.

I have always been envious of those who know their path; They have this resolute feeling in them that this is what they will do, this is who they’ll be, they’ll make a nice living for themselves, and that is that.

My feeling is much different. From a young age, I carried a journal around writing everything down. An observer of the world around me. A young woman with feelings, thoughts, ideas, and a pen- just looking to share my perspective of the world. Soon, I stole my brother’s Kodak camera’s and just took pictures of everything, much to my mother’s chagrin. I can still here the echo of her voice saying “Leanne! These cameras are not cheap!” when I am behind the lens, a memory that makes me giggle when I think of how much my own camera costs. The amount of shoeboxes my mom has of my random pictures of Matt’s room when it wasn’t clean (evidence I would use when my own room wasn’t clean), or of our dog, Buddy, digging a hole in the backyard, is plentiful.

While I used my Kodaks as evidence against my own incrimination, I never realized that they served a greater purpose; evidence to my future self that taking pictures is sort of what I do.

In January, I had my palm read, as well as, my natal chart.  Since January, I have used this reading as a map to decide what exactly is “next”. To clarify, I am not unhappy where I am, but, my goal has always been to have something of my own, and if we forget what our goals are, we may never get there.

There were two poignant points that I cannot seem to forget. One, that I am an observer. I watch people when they think I’m not, and if I see a shred of evidence that they follow the same ethos as me, I wrap them in my bubble and do anything I can to support them. But, I do this in a quiet way where people do not realize that I am watching, observing, analyzing, because I am “warm” and “welcoming” to just about everyone. The second, is twofold; I have two destinies that always align and eventually will deviate from one another, and, that later in my life my job or world will be something creative.

After the first text from a stranger, I received 3 more.

“I saw so & so’s family pictures and she said you did them! Can we please book a shoot?!”

“I saw so & so’s engagement pictures. My daughter want’s to be a model- can we book a shoot?”

“So & so recommended you to us. Would you be willing to shoot our wedding in Minnesota? We love your work!” 

A week later, I was in a meeting at work where I was told I would officially (after 2 years of begging for it) have Sunday’s off. “A perfect day to book photoshoots” the thought crept through my head.

This isn’t to say I’m quitting my full time job and only doing photography. But, it is to say that while I sit here, on the first day back to school, it feels like my first day off the hamster wheel. I can finally stretch, rest for a minute to recover from burning myself out, and embark on the path that has been right in front of me for over 20 years.