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Seven Years of Telling My Story. Seven Years of Leah’s Thoughts.

December 21, 2016

Seven years ago today — on December 21, 2009 — I published my first blog post and Leah’s Thoughts was born. Many call this day the blog-o-versary. I like to think of it as the day I began writing my own story.

In many ways, I’ve devoted my life to telling stories. When I was in elementary school, I wrote creative stories. In the third grade, my teacher said I wrote the best three-page story about a girl who didn’t like Christmas. In middle school, I wrote and published my own newsletter that I sent to pen pals and people across the country.

In high school, I discovered journalism and knew I was meant to writer stories professionally. I joined the school newspaper and loved every minute I spent in that class from my sophomore to senior year.

I was a journalism major at San Diego State University, and found myself writing for The Daily Aztec newspaper. And when I graduated, I started work at a publicity assistant at KPBS where I worked helped tell stories for the San Diego public TV/radio station. From there I went on and did several other jobs, all having a writing component attached to them — whether it was writing about San Diego State in hopes of recruiting prospective students or ghostwriting speeches for the university presidents. Writing never left my blood.

But in late 2009, something changed. I started to realize there was a story I was not telling — my own. I’ve been writing for others for so long, I wanted to share my own experiences as a mother to a 2-year-old daughter, not knowing what the heck I was doing as a parent.

So I started writing. I wrote about how I hated to sunscreen Sophie to go to the park (that feeling has since passed). I wrote about my love of bookstores, my decision to only have one child, all of Sophie’s first days of school, and my struggles with motherhood.

I wrote about the loss of my beloved dog and cat, leaving my secure full-time, state job to start my own freelance writing business and be my own boss, moving my life across the country, and so much more.

In the past seven years, I’ve published 524 blog posts. So many stories, feelings, rants, thoughts, recipes, book reviews … I chronicled it all here on my blog.

The world of blogging has changed considerably since I started this site seven years ago (my commentary on that subject is a post I’m saving for another day). So many bloggers talk about getting their pageviews and readers to the “perfect” number, or playing chicken with social media followers to get the attention of brands and PR reps. Many want to get paid for sponsored content. And I’ve read bloggers who go on-again-off-again with wanting to quit blogging (to which I always think, “I want to quit the gym!”).

Writing my blog has always been — and will always be — about telling my story. I have never cared about pageviews and statistics. I care about the words and stories I tell, and that they are honest, real truth.

I don’t write what society wants to read. I write for myself to have a chronicle of where life has taken me. And I’m still humbled and grateful to the people who read my words. I may not write as much as I used to, but as long as I have words to write and things to say, I’ll keep writing them here on my blog.

I know some of you have been reading here since the beginning. And to those of you, thank you! And to new readers and people who have joined me along the way, I am thankful you stop by from time to time.

Here’s to the past seven years … and to the future, whatever stories are told.

Monday Musings ~ December 12

December 12, 2016

Happy Monday! How are you this second Monday in December? It snowed in Terre Haute last week. Not a huge amount like other parts of the country is getting, but enough to cover the ground and to see snowflakes. It was pretty exciting considering we’ve never lived in snow before. Everything looks so pretty right now — very wintery and festive. The Sycamore Farm barn below is down the street from our house. I love seeing how beautiful it looks each day.

barn-photo

1. How do you all handle listening to music when you’re on-the-go? Here’s my problem: I have music that I’ve purchased that are either on CDs or living in my iTunes music library. I did have a ton of that music downloaded to my iPhone, but it was taking up too much space. So I bought an iPod Shuffle for myself to transfer some of that music.

I also have songs saved to playlists on Spotify that I listen to when driving, running and walking. That’s only available via an Internet connection, so you must use data. I upgraded to Premium to download the songs, but turns out they can’t be downloaded to an iPod Shuffle. But I can play them offline on my iPhone (from the app); however I have to — wait for it — download them first. So I’m back to square one with music taking up room on my phone. I beginning to think it was easier when we all paid for music and made mix tapes.

2. Speaking of music, American Songwriter released its list of the top 50 albums of 2016. I’m not quite as up to speed on music as I once was and am not familiar with most of these picks. But I was glad to see one of my favorite bands, Dawes, make the list. I’m excited to see them in Indianapolis next year!

3. If you’re a book lover like I am, you’ll enjoy this article in which 25 authors talk about the best books they’ve ever received. I love that Charlotte’s Web made the list. It’s still one that inspires me most. And speaking of books, The New York Times picks the best book covers of 2016. Do you agree?

4. I found this article fascinating about why people never smiled in old photographs. Interestingly, when I got my Indiana driver’s license earlier this year, they directly me NOT to smile for the photograph. Apparently showing teeth distorts the facial recognition feature that is now used with identification cards. I wasn’t prepared for that, so let’s just say my photo makes me look like I’m posing in the 1800s rather than today.

5. Here’s some humor to end this post. The other day, I was doing some online research to write an article about amazing kids who are doing great things. I come across an article entitled “19 Kids Who Will Grow Up to Change the World.” I click on it thinking I may get some fodder for my article. It was NOT what I expected, but holy cow, was it hilarious. I laughed so hard I cried.

What’s going on in your life? What are you thinking about on this December Monday?

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Forming Friendships and Baking Cookies

December 6, 2016

cookies

Making new friends is never an easy task. At least it’s never been for me.

I’m not talking about building relationships and getting to know others. I’m talking about finding people who truly “get” me, and whom I can really trust.

For most of my life, I’ve played my cards close to my chest. It takes time for me to get to know people and understand what makes them tick. Part of this is my introvert nature. But part of it is also my personality and tendency to “go it alone, ” or navigate what life hands me by myself. It’s easy for me to be alone. It’s harder work to be outgoing and open myself up to deeper relationships with people.

Last week, I received a text from Heather, a friend I met just briefly at one of the first Terre Haute community events we attended (just two weeks after moving to town). After that initial meeting, Heather and I started following each other on Instagram and later Facebook, and I found we had a lot in common. In her text last week, she wrote, “Are you free Saturday night, can you bake 100 cookies and do you want to meet some fun women?”

I was touched at Heather’s thoughtfulness and was excited at the prospect of hanging out with her and other nice people. Throw that in with my love for all-things holiday baking and cookie exchanges, and I was in!

So I took to the kitchen and baked 100 white chocolate, cherry and macadamia nut chunk cookies. And off we went to her friend’s holiday party where — as she promised — I  met some very nice people, enjoyed great conversation, and walked away with a tray full of delicious cookies!

Making new friends is an intimidating process for me, especially at 41-years-old, in a new town, and so many close friendships have already been formed. That was one of the hardest parts of moving from San Diego — leaving my wonderful tribe of friends I worked long and hard to build.

But I’m starting to find people here in Terre Haute that I have more in common with than not, and so many of them have been extremely welcoming to me. Sometimes it takes something as small as cookies to be the lead in to spending time with a new friend. And for that, this introvert heart is grateful.

If you’re now in the mood for cookies or want to bake something to show a friend some appreciation, here’s my full list of holiday cookies for your baking enjoyment.

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Monday Musings ~ November 28

November 28, 2016

Welcome to the one and only Monday Musings for November. The month got away from me. And for the majority of the month, the only articles being circulated were post-election fodder, which I really didn’t feel like sharing. So here we are on the last Monday of November. Let’s start with this photo of cranberry sauce coffee cake, shall we?

leftover-cranberry-bread

1. Every year I always make my Cranberry Zinfandel Sauce for Thanksgiving. I made it again this year, but forgot nobody else would eat it or take home the leftovers (my mom always kept quite a bit of it). So I had all of this leftover cranberry sauce and no idea what to do with it. That is until I found this recipe for Leftover Cranberry Sauce Greek Yogurt Coffee Cake from one of my favorite bloggers. I made two minor adjustments from the recipe. First, I used sour cream because I didn’t have Greek yogurt at home. And second, I used a loaf pan because my bundt pan is missing. While my coffee cake does not look as beautiful as Jessica’s cake, it was SO delicious.

2. I had some much-needed relaxation time over this past week, and used much of it to catch up on television. I’m almost done with season three of “The Fall,” which is better than I expected. I’m caught up on “Rectify,” a show that was a bit slow the first few seasons, but I’m really liking this final season. Bryan and I are watching “Chance” on Hulu. It’s interesting and I enjoy seeing Dr. House again, but I feel like it’s starting to derail and needs to wrap up pronto. I started “Code Black” on CBS after watching the fascinating documentary of the same name on Netflix. And finally, “This is Us” continues to get better week after week. What are you watching right now?

3. Speaking of television, when I was a kid, I was obsessed with “Little House on the Prairie.” I even had a bonnet that I wore a few (dozen) times. I loved this article of behind-the-scenes secrets from the television series. Did you know the Ingalls family was eating Dinty Moore every time Ma served stew?

4. Another great article I found is how a street photographer recreated his photo images 30+ years later. Apparently he tracked down all these individuals he photographed to recreate the exact photo now. It’s amazing how some people look the same, while others are completely different. Definitely worth a read!

5. Finally, do you keep lists? For example, task lists, movies to see, book to read, etc? I’m a big list-maker. I have work task lists, personal tasks, grocery lists, lists of meals for the month, book to read, television shows to watch, lists of blog post ideas, and probably many others. So of course I found myself nodding in agreement at this article that suggests 26 types of lists everyone should be making. I like some of her suggestions, including places to visit in your town, professional accomplishments and favorite quotes.

What’s going on in your life? What are you thinking about on this last Monday of November?

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A Little Bit of Thankfulness

November 22, 2016

thankful

This Thursday is Thanksgiving. The holiday crept up on me this year. I’m sure all the craziness and distraction of recent weeks played a part in that. But I’m excited Thursday is almost here and I’m busy planning my dinner menu.

This will be the first time in 41 years I’ve celebrated Thanksgiving without my parents and sisters surrounding me. It will be strange and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit sad. But I’m also so grateful I get to enjoy this holiday with Bryan, Sophie, our fur kids, delicious food, a warm home and cold weather. And with all that, it’s hard not to be thankful.

My friends, Megan and Wendy, posted a fun thankful tag video the other day, and it inspired me to answer the questions too. It’s a fun exercise and helps focus on happy things. And with that, here is a bit of thankfulness!

1. What color are you thankful for? Black

2. What does your spouse do that you’re thankful for? I’m thankful for his support of my entrepreneurial life. He has never once discouraged me from the work I’m doing, and for that I am grateful.

3. What does your kid do that you’re thankful for? I’m thankful for her creative, kind and resilient spirit.

4. What recent good news are your thankful for? I don’t know if I’ve received any personal good news, per se. But I’ll go with “Homeland” season six returns in January and the new trailer was just released.

5. What beauty product are you thankful for? Concealer. And my Origins lipstick.

6. What social media platform are you thankful for? Instagram. I typically love Facebook, but I’ve grown so tired of everyone’s hateful posts that it’s hard to be on that platform right now.

7. What cleaning product are you thankful for? The vacuum

8. What are you thankful for from the last person who texted you? The last person who texted me was Wendy and we discussed the season premier of “The Affair.” I’m thankful for our friendship and cross-country text exchanges.

9. What candy are you thankful for? Since it’s almost the holidays, I love those Brach’s Christmas peppermint taffies with the red stripes on the edges and green tree on the inside.

10. What app are you thankful for? The camera app.

11. What are you looking forward to that you are thankful for? Celebrating winter and the holidays in our new home in Indiana and (hopefully) experiencing snow for the first time.

What are you thankful for? Play along and use the Thanksgiving thankful tag for some gratitude this week.

Happy Thanksgiving! I’m thankful for all of you who continue to read my little blog and have followed me on my journey.

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