Wednesday, December 28, 2011

moving forward. forward moving.

As of 6 days ago, I am officially unemployed. I mean, technically, I still have health insurance until the end of the year and one more pay check coming my way, but nevertheless! I am without a job.

I hung around LA's 75 degree weather for Christmas. Sure, I could have gone home (as my mom often reminds me, "You always have a place to come home to, Leah"), but it's important for me to figure out what to do next on my own. And nothing says independence quite like spending a major holiday 3,000 miles away from your family, right? Anyway, I have been vegging/figuring out what's next for the last few days. Doing a lot of this: (pondering, thinking, being near palm trees, etc)

And, it's been lovely. I've been alone, but haven't been lonely. I've eaten alone in crowded places and haven't minded. And I think tomorrow, I might go to a movie by myself. The introvert that I am is thriving. I've never had so much energy. I'm overjoyed and want to tell everyone about it! Buuuut not really because, duh, being that outgoing would make me nervous and anxious and tired...

This time of respite has been restful and peaceful and healing in many ways, as I've wrapped up a very intense and powerful chapter of my life thus far. A dream accomplished.

Time to move on, figure out other things that make me tick and bring me joy. I need adventure. I need isolation in a non-threatening sort of way. I need to get my hands dirty. I need to get back to nature and to a place where I can't plug in my straightener or hair dryer.

It's out there, I can feel it on my finger tips. I'm on the cusp of something challenging, but great. Mmhm, I'll let you know when I find it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sometimes knit happens.

I done went and got my knitting needles and knitted myself an ol' infinity scarf! It's fall time, y'all. Time to drink hot tea, watch movies, and knit on the weekends. I am well aware that I am wearing a tank top with a scarf. It's California, we do that sort of weird stuff here.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

It's been a good weekend. I've worked on some headbands, I hung up some pictures I'd been meaning to hang, did some laundry, met with my therapist, watched some Parks and Rec, went grocery shopping, bought my niece some cute, thrifted threads. And to top off the weekend, I went for a bike ride this afternoon just before dusk.

It felt wonderful. It was just me and the power of my body pushing me forward with each movement. I become aware of my legs and their toil and strength. As the sun was setting, it felt like fall, even though I was sweating. The air was cool and the sky told me there may have been rainfall earlier.

As I biked through the neighborhoods, I looked towards the sky and saw a rainbow. It was amazing and enthralling.

I couldn't stop grinning from ear to ear. I had to tell someone. I passed a woman who had just parked her car and was walking across the street, talking on the phone. I pointed at the rainbow and told her to not to miss it. As I peddled away, I heard her exclaim to the person she was talking to on the phone.

As I kept biking, I periodically saw people come out of their houses and look up towards the sky. Some took pictures, but some just stood and stared.

Soon the rainbow was stretched and bowed across the entire sky. And soon after, it wasn't alone. Another one appeared above it.

It was awe-inspiring and calming.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sabbatical Minded

A brief update of things worthy to note about my life:

1. I've started going to therapy. I've done only a couple of sessions, my third is tomorrow, and I'm still learning how to "do therapy." But I like it. It's weekly, it's helpful, and sometimes I refer to my therapist as a counselor because that sounds less like oh-my-gosh-Leah-is-manic-but-I-never-knew. It's nice to be heard.

2. I created an online dating profile. Yeah. It's true. How else am I gonna meet people out here? I've gone on one date and he was nice, but zero sparks and I haven't talked to him since. We had a really awkward hug/hand shake goodbye.

3. The Nomads are in town and I have thus begun my last tour here at LiNK. It's a bittersweet feeling and these 'mads are really awesome. Couldn't have asked for a better group. We are navigating together the weirdness of putting a group of strangers together, but it ain't fun without some bumps.

4. I don't know what I'm doing post-LiNK, and I'm okay with that. All suggestions are welcome.

5. I can't make myself clean up the pile of clothes on my bedroom floor. I know I need to, but I just can't find the will to do it.

6. I have had a sore throat for the past two days and hate that feeling more than most bad feelings.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I'm starting my 2nd week back in LA and I can't stop thinking about the lovely times I shared with my family at our cabin in Goshen. I could easily spend another month there. Mmmm.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Who's the cutest girl with the cutest little belly?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

I've only been home for 1 week and for 6 days, I've been missing LA. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, huh?

BUT it's been lovely to be back in this amazing state of mine. And be with family and friends and have a good ol' time.

I haven't been taking enough pictures, but hopefully I will change that soon.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Coming Home

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness, OH MY GOODNESS.

In 4 days, I will be on a plane to that humid, summery, southern, Blue Ridge state of mine and I couldn't be more ecstatic. I can't wait to turn my brain off and just soak in the beauty of my family and friends. Know what I mean?

I'm excited to talk with those golden folks that loved and nurtured me through some of those crazy college years (and by crazy I mean angsty and moody, not party-hardy all night long).

Mary, Emilies, Leah, and others will definitely be a part of the mix. Maybe Val, maybe Maggie? Maybe Seth, maybe Ernie? But the for-sures will suffice as they listen to me whine and dream and try to make goals for myself. I hope I'll also be able to be mentally available to listen to their hopes and dreams for their own lives and families.

And oh, my family. Gosh, I go on and on and on and on and... you get the picture... about them. But they are such good people.

My brother and I will be going on a canoeing/camping trip for 3 nights on the New River. I'm planning on making it to the Bluegrass state to see my sister and maybe spend some one on one time with my favorite niece.

And we'll ALL be spending a lovely week together at our rustic cabin in the woods.

The best part is I will have time. Lots and lots of time to squeeze all of these adventures in, all the while leaving me some time to sleep in and watch the Cosby Show at 11AM.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Me is We


This guy came to our 2nd Semi Annual LiNK Talent Show last night - he's a friend of one of the interns. And he recently sold his truck to make these t-shirts that have the above logo (sort-of) on it. To spread the thought of the collective, the destruction of "I," and the sickness that lies behind "me, me, me."

And I think that sums up the thoughts that have been circulating in my brain as of late. Competition. War. Attention. Spotlights. Look-at-me-attitudes.

Me needs to be we. We need to highlight each other, give the glory to others, raise each others names up for honor and praise. Not ourselves.

Sometimes I wonder why I have so much love for my family. Why I feel so connected to them and often have deep desires to be with them and talk to them. And I think it's because I feel alive and supported when I'm with them. And it's weird because I know that's not the norm. And because of that I feel weird and kind of infant-like when I think about moving home come December. We is the Garrard family.

As I was riding to work today, some high school memories came flooding back. Of when my parents would pick me up from school in our old, yet well kept vans/cars which always had a squealing, loose belt or a muffler that was broken. And I laughed for the solid 15 minute drive to work. Tears streaming down my face, remember how huffy I got at those moments of utter embarrassment.

As embarrassed and mortified as I was growing up, my parents are freaking awesome. They drove me to school and picked me up every day because I was new to town and the bus freaked little 14 year old me out.

And I got a letter from my mom today telling me that she was thinking of me, telling me how proud I should be of what I am doing.

I'm really looking forward to my time at home. Immersing myself in the people who taught me to say what I mean and mean what I say. To be as intentional as possible with my words because words have power to hurt or uplift. To strive to live my life with integrity and truth. To seek construction and not destruction.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

I'm also really ready to be home for a while.

Space needed.
One of my favorite things about Tumblr is exploring the #Prose.

Contrary to advice from past friends, I've always thought matters of the heart are silly for me to be concerned with. However, it's utterly impossible to ignore the twinge of pain in my physical heart muscle and the heaviness that lies on my shoulders when it comes to the matters of the heart that do exist.

And as I explore #Prose, I wade into the sorrows and romantic confessions and missed opportunities and sadness that is a universal and natural obsession by people. The majority of these strangers' writings are about love and loss. They give advice to speak up about your heart's desires and they lament with the pain that comes with breakups and the passing of affection.

With that said, all that is left to say is, BLARGH.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

I'm tumblin' and rollin' all over the place! Follow me and watch what I post - pssst it's the things that make my heart sing.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

If only love could really be this easy and uncomplicated, huh? Can I get an 'amen?'

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Sound of Silence

I like silence.

Is it because I'm constantly thinking and have too much happening in my own brain to care what other people have to say? Is it because I don't have anything interesting to say, or really anything to say at all? Am I a fan of silence because it makes people feel awkward?

Some of my favorite relationships are with those that enjoy to just be. To just sit and enjoy the silence. To sit and watch the waves and just soak life in. Side by side.

I appreciate the silence and find it to, often, say more than words can.

Or maybe I just get tired of hearing people talk...

So, maybe everyone should just stop talking and watch this video.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My good friend Adam Moser is an artist and a grad student up in Portland, doing his thing by binding art with community. Before he left Greensboro, he and some friends set up Spare Room, which is their project to start fueling the art community in Greensboro. Check out this video. I hope you leave feeling inspired.

In other news, a fun day of biking and lounging outside has left my forehead and forearms resembling lobsters.

Friday, April 8, 2011


I was sitting in a bar one evening with a friend that I hadn't spoken to in a really long time. Let's just say, our departure from each other wasn't mutual and wasn't clear. So, after a good 6 months, we reconnected because everyone needs resolution.

As we were recounting the people we were when we knew each other he said, "My old self dies when I move on and I'll never be that person again, even if I wish I could."

I disagreed. The old us never dies. Sure we age and we grow, but we will always be a different version of ourselves and the old versions are still a part of us. When you add strawberries to a slice of cheesecake, it's still cheesecake. Yeah?

I think for a lot of us, this can be incredibly scary, especially when we don't want the old us to be around anymore, when we are trying desperately to escape, to redefine, to change. But it can be incredibly positive when we lose touch with our hearts and ambition. To know that the girl with the idealism to change the world and give everyone a fair chance at freedom, health, and equality is still deep within me, is comforting.

The past few weeks, I've been going back through my blog entries to remember the person I was 1, 2, 3 years ago. It's weird to look back and see what was on my mind and what inspired my word vomit all over this blog.

I remember sitting in my Sociology classes having my mind blown. Putting away my notebook, shrugging on my bookbag, leaving my iPod turned off, and walking that 1/2 mile home with only my thoughts spinning in my head. I remember feeling so hopeful that I could indeed adversely change the outcome of the future. I remember feeling so excited for graduation, determined to get out of Greensboro, into the misery of the world and seek reformation.

And now I'm here. Almost 2 years out of school. I'm working for a non-profit that brings hope and sheds light on the very hairy and oppressive life forced upon millions of North Koreans.

I'm doing what I had wanted to do. Pre-graduation-Leah would be proud.

Though, there are a lot of things I miss about my old self. My lack of complacency and my determination to not fall victim to the common wants and needs of 20-something year old women. I was restless, I was eager, I was fascinated with all the possibilities of the future.

But I was feeling those things, resting from the comfort of not-knowing. Of not knowing how much sweat and grease and grim it takes to make a dent in a humanitarian crisis. Of not knowing how deep and historical and intrinsic much of world's problems are. Of not knowing what truly makes my heart sing and my bones stir.

And I'm here, like I said, doing what I wanted to do. My 9- 5 (sometimes more) and social life checks off the list that I had subconsciously made for myself. But my old self is missing. Well, not missing, but dormant.

So, how do I conjure up my old-self? It's still in there, I just know it. How do I regain that sense of invincibility and determination?

Do you all struggle with this? Do you think it is death to the old-self and you just need to make art with whatever you've got now? No turning back? Maybe I have moved on. Maybe it was all naivete and now, the real world has confronted me and I'm backing down.

But with all of my might, I don't want that to be true. I remember those feelings I had in college and, my gosh, they provoked fire. I want it back.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Do you have 13 minutes to spare?

If so, watch this video. If you've ever ridden on the NYC subway, you'll get it. If you're alive and have ever been anywhere with strangers, you'll get it.

Because it's Bill Haverchuck...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I recently saw a film called "I AM." I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the human connection. Anyone who is wondering, what's wrong with the world and what can we do about it?

There are no major revelations discovered or huge first-time pieces of information discovered, but it hit home hard the fact that we are connected. We can try to ignore the fact that our energies affect each other, but the hard cold truth is that they do.

In one part in the film, Tom Shadyac (the guy on the quest) is sitting in front a bowl of yogurt. The yogurt is hooked up to all of these various cords that register the energy in the yogurt. Let's all be clear. Yogurt doesn't have feelings.

So, the scientist would ask Tom questions that would evoke a negative/positive response (like, hey, Tom, have you talked to your agent lately? or hey, Tom have you talked to your lawyer lately?). Tom wouldn't say anything necessarily in response, but the machine registering the energy from the yogurt would move - recognizing a change in the energy.

It was powerful. It was crazy to see how the yogurt picked up the energy that Tom was feeling.

How did that happen?

We are connected. We feel what each other feels. We hurt when another hurts and we can't explain it. It's why we hate being around people who bum us out and we love being around people who have positive energy. It's why our heart physically hurts when someone else is in pain.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A guarded heart is a happy heart. Right?

I think the "Where will you be in 10 years?" is an interesting question to ask a 23 year old.

There are so many missing variables in my life. I can barely answer the question of where I will be in 1 year. What city will capture my senses? Who will I love? Who will I be confiding in? What will I be fighting for? I'm sure it doesn't help that most of the blogs I follow are about 20 something year old women who are married, having children, and their only worry is what color to paint their dining room...

It's scary to think about all the things that will change my life. All the catalysts that will alter where I will live and who I will be in relationship with. It makes me sentimental to think about leaving all of the beautiful people I have invested in and been invested by over the last year (will be 2 years by the time I leave).

How do I prepare for that time of transition? In the next 8 months, what do I do?

I just live and let life live, right? I just embrace it and live in the moment, soaking up all of the human connection around me, right?
If only I could turn my brain off, along with my fascination and desire to figure out the future.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Life Comes and It Goes.

Sometimes I like to take a small walk down memory lane with a handful of "what ifs" and "what could have beens." I was trying to find the name of a movie that a friendly boy had once recommended to me a little over a year ago. I went through my messages on my social networking site (just guess which one!) to look and started to just reread every message he had sent me.

I looked at the dates of when he sent them and I don't have the guts to figure out how soon after he gave me a ring to tell me he met the girl he is now going to marry, and that, well, it just wouldn't make much sense for us to keep in touch any more.

And then I looked at the last message that popped up when I searched for his name. It was my dearest friend Emily. From the message it looked like I had fallen off the face of the earth and wrote her to tell her my deepest apologies for not keeping in touch. And she wrote me back the sweetest, most loving note full of encouragement.

And then I'm pretty sure I called her a few days later, moments after I received that fateful, disheartening call, to strike up our long lost friendship over our validation of each others' bruised hearts.

It's beauty in the breakdown, you know? What ifs... Though, I rather like how it turned out. I'm single with no prospects in sight, but have a friend that I know I can always count on.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Scott & Seth Avett sing, "Blue Ridge Mountain Blues" (written in 1924 b...

This song is so lovely. I miss you, Blue Ridge. But it's not in a "Woe is me" kind of missing, but just a "Goodness, be still my heart. You are absolutely beautiful in so many ways" kind of way.

Emily G and Mary, remember when the Avett Brothers played on that hot summer's day in downtown Greensboro (for free)? Were the details that Emily and I rode our bikes (Big Blue and Crazy Pete may you both rest in sweet restful peace wherever you are) and met up with Mary? I think fondly of that afternoon often.

Friday, March 4, 2011

It happened!

Senator Boxer repped me and my family in her speech on the Senate floor! You can fast forward to 04:28, and you'll hear her mention Leah from Torrance. That's me. May we hope the system will continue to work and provide for Americans.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


It's been an exhausting weekend. Long story short, one of my teams (the Heartland Team) hit black ice as they were driving through Utah and totaled their van. Miraculously no one got hurt, at all. It's a miracle. My supervisor, Justin, and I drove a new van out to them on Sunday and then continued to drive with them to Denver, just to monitor how they are doing.

Their lives are so incredibly precious and valuable. To describe the overwhelming heaviness on my heart and body all weekend would take forever. They are okay and that's all that matters.

So, these are are a few things that have brought me some silver linings and joy over the last several days.

1. The Nomads. No doubt. Such a beautiful group of altruistic and selfless people.

2. I'm sorry, I am that aunt. She's absolutely beautiful, isn't she? She is totally growing into that hair and noggin.
3. I wrote to my Senator about the cutting of the Title X funding for Planned Parenthood, asking her to stand against it. Someone very close to me was raped in 2002 and as her student health center wrote her off, she turned to Planned Parenthood for help. Without them, she wouldn't have known what to do. So, with her permission, I shared her story with my Senator. I received a response from Senator Boxer's staffer:

Dear Ms. Garrard,

As you know, the House recently passed a federal funding bill that cuts off federal funding for Planned Parenthood and Title X. The Senate will be considering its own funding bill next week and we expect there to be attacks similar attacks on this funding.

Senator Boxer appreciated you writing her on this topic an found your story to be very moving. She would like to ask your permission to mention your story and name on the Senate floor and with the press as an example of how much good federal funding for Planned Parenthood and Title X does.

If you have any questions I can be reached at...



I have hope that the bill will not be passed through the Senate and it's so positive to know that our democratic system does work if we utilize it.

4. Sweet tea. My roommate made me a glass on Saturday and as I Skyped with my sister and niece, my troubles seemed to melt away.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I'm such the skeptic of sincerity. Are people truly genuine and sincere? I'm a cynic and a pessimist disguised as a realist. I call it being realistic, but it's really just being negative.

How do I break? How do I give people the benefit of the doubt without regarding their intentions as tainted and malice?

Remember when my roommate Emjay said "I am a rock. I am an island." and we told her "No! You are not alone. If you are an island, then we are all islands in a little cluster. An arpeggio." But are we really? It's so much easier to be alone and not have to depend on others to exist. Especially when you live in a constant state of questioning others' intentions.

Sigh, I am my father's daughter. Silver linings are hard to find in this book.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bags under my eyes. Grease on my skin. I'm tired.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sard Yales

I think I've found a new obsession. Yard sales.

Who knew they could be so fun? And so cheap?! Yesterday I stopped by two on my way to the ol' Target, and got quite a bit of stuff for $2.50. It was unreal and quite a bit of fun.

I've always had a weak knee and soft spot in my heart for thrifting, but this is a whole new arena that I never knew existed. People selling their once-treasures to others for next to nothing. To rid their closests? To make a buck? To give others a chance for something "new?"

So what did I get for $2.50?
  1. A cute, little, and blue suitcase
  2. Cookie tins
  3. Silver mirror tray
  4. Book of LA Maps from 1996
  5. A knick knack in a shade of my new favorite color
  6. Sunglasses case

Sunday, February 6, 2011

My, My Mind - Apex Manor

Knowing Myself

Sometimes I forget how well I know myself. I forget about the things I need to make me tick, the types of relationships that water my soul, and the weaknesses I bring to any relationship.

Sometimes I forget and I wonder why I'm unhappy, why I'm frustrated and sad. I feel desperate to fit in (I thought this feeling would disappear once I graduated high school) and it's painful when the feeling isn't met. When I feel excluded and uninvited. It draws on my insecurities that derive from 4th grade when I was one of 2 in my class that wasn't invited to Maggie's birthday party - she lived down the street from me.

I'm a loner. I think I always will be. I fade in and out of people's lives because it hurts too much to be rejected, to depend on people for my sanity and feeling of belonging. So if I just become satisfied with being alone, then surely I'll protect myself from those feelings of hurt and betrayal and exclusion. Right?

Wrong. It doesn't work that way. In a TED Talk, J.K. Rowling states that failure creates success. I would go as far to say that failure in relationship creates success. Though my mom is no J.K. Rowling, she once said (I've mentioned this in a blog post before...) that a relationship isn't as strong until someone gets hurt and forgiveness is exchanged. Until then the relationship consists of egg shells. People avoiding the pain, consciously or unconsciously.

It's funny. I preach and preach to my nomads that communication is key, that relationships is key. And I believe it whole heartedly. I love being in community with people... but only to a certain point. To that point where I can back out and no one gets hurt.

But I do know myself enough to know that alone time gives me energy. I can wade through all the bullshit that comes with building relationships, if only I have time alone. That's the positive effect from being excluded....

Monday, January 31, 2011


Do you ever have those days where you just really want there to be someone in your life who will ask you how your day was and really be interested in the answer? Someone who won't forget to ask you?

I have friends here. I have beautiful people in my life, but no one to ask how my day was. No one to listen to me complain about friendships. No one to listen to me venting.

That's the one single problem with my friends all being friends with each other - gossiping/venting can create painful effects. I have been incredibly convicted lately to stop gossiping. It's so hard not to. I literally cannot make myself stop. So let me gossip about my own life's embarrassments.

I was talking to my brother and new sister last night about dating. Will awkwardly asked if I had any other relationships in my life, after asking about work and friends, obviously referring to the boy kind. I laughed and said, not really. I don't know how to date. Then his beautiful wife gave me the guidance I had been lacking for 23 years. (Y'all, this is pretty embarrassing) She said the key is flirting. Eye contact and touching.

Who knew?! So simple!

She then asked me if I thought of myself as being sexy. I laughed uncomfortably. That has never been a word to describe myself. And she said, no not like sexual, but just your own kind of sexy. I still said no. But now that I think about it, yes I am sexy. I like sociology and I think learning is incredibly sexy. I think working for a cause you believe in is sexy. I think wavy brown hair is sexy. I think letting the apple of my eye be my niece is super sexy.

So, yes, I am sexy. She said, Leah, you need to have confidence in who you are. You need to find yourself sexy and then others will too.

Sigh, I like me. But I'm not confident others will. Other boys.

Watch out, men. I will be locking eyes with you and touching you. A lot. Gotta make up for a lot of lost time.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

What to do on a Saturday afternoon in Hollywood?

Go to a taping of Wendy Williams' new show, of course! Yesterday two gal pals and me were audience members of "Love Triangle," a new show that will be airing on the Game Show Network in April. That's right. It's a game show to help people figure out their romantic quandaries.

Now, I signed a contract that said if I told anyone what happened, I would have to pay $1,000,000 and I just don't have that kind of money. But I will tell you this. It's going to blow your minds. Just when you thought you knew which guy the girl was gonna choose, SURPRISE!

April 19th. Watch it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


When it's a Tuesday and you live in California, of course you'll have a picnic lunch in a park. With friends.

A few must haves when attending a picnic: "ants on a log," a giant grapefruit-type fruit, PB&Js, blue skies, sunshine, cute friends, and a blanket.

Maybe Tuesday Picnics will become a "thing." Thank you, Lindsay, for all of the goodies!

Hutcheson Ridge

Note: Dr. Robert S. Hutcheson, Jr is my really rad G-pa.

"The U.S. Board on Geographic Names was created in 1890 to maintain uniform geographic place names. New place names can be proposed and after public review may be approved if certain criteria are met. On January 13th a new name was approved for Virginia. Hutcheson Ridge in Rockbridge County commemorates Dr. Robert S. Hutcheson, Jr. (1919-2003), a Lexington native and noted Roanoke physician. The 3,070 foot high, 1.2 mile long ridge is located at the southern end of Little North Mountain, on the north side of Goshen Pass."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

This weekend was a big 'ol bag of fun! My good friend, Lindsay, was back from her short stint in Kansas. She has officially moved out here to attend fashion school at FIDM and I am so glad. We did many fun things this weekend including El Burrito and some good tree-burnin' bonfire festivities.

This next pictures were taken by a very sweet woman named Steph, who befriended us at the bonfire and was so keenly interested in LiNK and my life. Moments like that restore my faith in the connection of humanity.

Oh, and this is what happens to Christmas trees that don't fulfill their Christmas destinies..

I have good people in my life. I'm grateful.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I feel like I write my most readable posts when I'm angsty and confused and frustrated with not knowing. But life is going really well right now. I had better not speak too soon, though.

So let's talk boys. As I'm growing up, meeting new people, meeting new guys, I've started to shed away my "non-negotiables" or those things that I've thought I always really, really wanted in a guy. And I've started to realize what's important. It's not the beard, it's not the style, it's not the perfect jaw structure, but instead it's the heart. It's the brain. It's what he does when he sees someone being made fun of for their race or their sexuality or their gender.

It's how he functions when no one is looking and with what discernment and excitement he approaches each day.

My parents have one of the greatest love stories. My dad showed such patience and my mom was such the indecisive one. So the story goes, they met in grad school, both studying Social Work. I think during their second year, they both had an internship in the same town, which was a 45 minute drive away, so they and a few other classmates carpooled together. During that time, my dad asked my mom out on a date. Mom said yes and they went.

But no sparks flew. Mom told him that she felt they should just be friends. And so they were. For some time after. And dad was okay with that. He let it be.

But eventually, dad asked her on another date. And they went. Mom realized that this man was authentic, genuine, and will forever be by her side, through the dark days and light. He wasn't flashy or the life of the party, though he did have a really sick mustache at the time.

And it's true. He's been here every day. Never has even thought about abandoning our family or even checking out mentally. He's always there to give advice and guidance and take my annoying calls about car stuff at any time. I'm lucky to have a dad like that.

I've had some incredible examples of authentic men in my life. My dad, brother and brother-in-law. Now, to find one more so they can all go on canoe trips together.