Sunday, November 11, 2012

Goodbye, Again

Again, I'm leaving in more ways than one.  To another adventure, but one that I know.  And off of this blog.  I lost touch with this thing somewhere between the last few transitions and it's probably best that I move on.  I left all my angst and frustrations in therapy, so this thing has little use for me.  Until I have adorable children and then I can compete with the best mommy bloggers out there, cause that's basically all that exist, right?

But, in real life, I'm going back to Hawai'i for the winter.  I know.  What a drag.  On an island for the winter?  Ughhhh, make it stop.

The farm I worked on earlier this year offered me a paid position and I jumped at the chance.  The work is hard and enduring, but it's worth it.  And the winter chub has already started to rear its ugly head, so I'm ready to get back into macadamia nut husking shape. And I'll be back with that incredible family that taught me how to live minimally, yet fully.  Composting toilet, I've missed you only a little.

SO! Anyone that wants to come visit, you have a home with me.  And, yes, I'll let you use the composting toilet.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

You Can't Go Home Again

That's what they say anyway and in a month I'm about to put it to the test.

In the two and a half-ish months I've been in Hawai'i, I've had a lot of time to do some thinking.  After my grandfather passed away, I realized how far away from home I have been for the past 3 years.  Too far.  Sure, everything is just an airplane ride away now, but I'm tired of being away from my family.  My family is my crew.  They have been with me through thick and thin.  They support my every move, challenge me when I need to be challenged, and rejoice in my adventures.  As my grandmothers age and my nieces grow up, I want to be around for weekend visits and lunch dates.  It's time to be home for a while.

In the same breath, I think I've found something I really like.  Farming.  It's such a refreshing and rewarding occupation.  Doing advocacy and human rights work was rewarding, but in a completely different way.  Learning how to organic farm hasn't worn out my emotions or my mental state, but instead my hands ache with pre-arthritis in the mornings and my knees have this weird new pain when I step up.  And at the end of the day we weigh the coffee that we picked or count the bins of macadamia nuts that we sorted and know the work we have done.  It's tangible, it's countable, it's visible. It's a fairly simple life, as we respect the land, farm it, and only take what we need.

So, I'm going to move back to North Carolina.  For how long?  I don't know.  I hope to find a farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains where I can work.  And maybe I'll be able to nestle into a community there as well.

That's the plan anyway.  We'll see what happens.  I still have a month left here in Hawai'i, which includes a week of pure travel around the island.  Things still on my list to do:
  • Get a Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage (that's happening tomorrow!)
  • Go to the green sands beach!
  • Go to the top of Mauna Kea (which is taller than Mt. Everest, except part of it is under the water)
  • Go to Pololu Valley - supposedly compared to the likes of the Garden of Eden
  • Make it to Hilo (the other side of the island)
Lots of time to do them and also lots of time to just hang out, which is lovely.  I'm really gonna miss this place.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


This is Pa, of Lala and Pa.  My dad's father.  As of Tuesday, he isn't with us anymore, but I'm sure he's watching Wheel of Fortune and eating all the chocolate pie he wants in a real comfy lazy boy somewhere.

I was lucky enough to be able to come home for the funeral on Friday and be with most of my family this weekend as we remembered who Pa was, learned new things about him, and supported each other as this man of 92 isn't sitting in his chair anymore. 

He and Lala were married 67 years and she now wears his cross necklace and wedding ring around her neck.  The beauty and strength and grace and peace that I have seen in her over these last few days form a lump in my throat as I think about her.

But Pa's memory will always live on, as my father has traits and characteristics in him that were created, nurtured and molded by Pa.  And every time I look at my toe ring, I will imagine him asking me "Leah, what's that ring on your toe? Are you engaged? Haha, my oh my, I've never seen anything quite like that before."

Thank goodness I never take it off and can think of him often.

Friday, March 23, 2012


I'm alive. I promise.  It's just that I've been a bit too preoccupied with going to bed at 8pm and rising at 630am that I haven't had time to do anything but live in freakin' Hawaii.  My bad :)

My gosh I can't believe I arrive here one month ago.  To the day.  February 23rd.  And wowzah it's been pretty awesome.

Since I last wrote an entry, I have walked on volcanoes, sat on black sand, sipped on lulo, used a chainsaw, met with Pele (goddess of the volcano), gotten a million more freckles, danced my booty off, and laughed until I peed (a couple of times).  It's been wild.  (Why do I keep using that word to describe my experience?)

But seriously. I wrote an email to my friend the other day describing the difference I feel.  Yes, I feel self-indulgent.  Living to live and take care of myself and make myself happy.  But I feel happy.  And that is a fairly new feat for me.  Living for the care of others was awesome and rewarding in different ways, but this feeling I have almost consistently is strange and new.  I laugh.  A lot.  More than usual.  Like laughing until I have to sit down and can't speak.

I don't know if it's this island or the people I am with or the work that I am doing which is releasing endorphines everyday into my blood stream, but I like it.  And it's felt really nice to not be worried about things except my task at hand, which can consist of sorting mac nuts or picking coffee or shoveling out a trailer or washing bins or weedwacking or pulping coffee.

I'm starting to think a lot about what the next few months hold for me and I'm not so sure.  Maybe stay here a little longer?  I'll definitely return home for our annual Goshen trip at the end of June, but where I'll be between then and now is unknown to me.  Any ideas?  South Korea has been thrown into the mix.

Life is an adventure and I'm trying not to plan it out too much, but you can't take the Leah out of the mix either. And that ol' Leah, she is a worrier and a planner.

Hawaii is good.  It's great.  I think we are meant to work out for a little while longer.  Aloha!

Sunday, February 26, 2012


It's amazing.  Just like I thought it would be.  It's more jungly and country than I thought and not nearly as overrun with tourists and resorts as I pictured.

I'm learning a lot and have already realized that I know VERY little about most anything having to do with farming, cooking, or being of nature in any way.  So, I'm soaking things in, asking questions, and trying to let my knowledge grow.

It feels like a vacation so far - we harvest coffee beans on Friday for about 5 hours and then a big rainstorm came through so we called it a day.  Tomorrow will begin a full work week, so I'll get the feel for being a bonified farmer a little more this week. Yay! So far it's felt more like a vacation - went to Pu'uhonua O Honaunau (Place of Refuge) on Saturday and did some snorkling.  AMAZING. Wow. Beautiful coral and fish and turtles.  Wow.

And today we went to a Hookena Beach and it had black sand which is hot hot hot.  We brought the snorkle gear and did some more snorkling, but it wasn't quite as beautiful as the day before (can you believe I can say things like that?).  The sun is my frenemy, so I'm trying to embrace it and let it embrace me without it burning my very pale and freckly skin.

The family is incredible.  So kind and warm and they have 3 nutso kids, but they are sweet and bubbly.  But also intensely wild at the same time.  The littlest one has this curly white blonde hair and the best imagination ever.  He's pretty stinkin' cute.

I'll try to get my head out of the clouds and write more things down to share with you all soon!


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Chillin' In The Bu

This weekend I went on a last minute camping trip up to the Malibu (affectionately nicknamed The Bu) with my pals Clay and Amy. It was amazing.  I've spent a little time with C and A since I've been in L.A., but I wish it had been more!  They are by far one of my favorite couples.  You know, one of those couples that are individuals, but sweetly affectionate to each other in intentional, not let's-touch-each-other-all-of-the-time-even-when-we-hang-out-with-our-single-friends. Couples take notes from these fine folks.

So went drove up to La Jolla Canyon and camped the night before and then got up the next morning, Amy made some yummy breakfast burritos, and then we set off for our hike up Point Mugu.

Who knew California could get so cold? Brrrr.

Such a gorgeous view from Point Mugu.

At the top!

We left a little "Suckas, we made it!" kind of note.

Mmm, meadows to run through.

I keep endorsing all of my activities, but, seriously, if you make it to L.A. drive north and camp and do this trail.  It's strenuous enough in some places to make you feel like you got a workout, but easy enough in other places to make it enjoyable. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Marking Time

Breathe, Leah, breathe. This time next week you will be in the airport waiting to board your plane to begin your (ugh) 15ish hour journey to Hawaii.  Even though it ain't the prettiest set up of traveling, you'll still be on your way! And one can never complain when I am traversing across an ocean to a tiny island by way of FLIGHT.

In the meantime, I am trying my darnedest to enjoy the here and now.  Which means that I am trying to do "L.A. things" that I've been meaning to do.  On Monday, Marshall and I hopped on the train and rode it North several stops to the city of Watts.  The historic Watts riots happened here, after the Rodney King shooting, so there is a history of racial tension, as well as poverty.  It's improved since then, but still remains as a predominately non-white, lower income neighborhood.

On our way to our destination, Marshall and I saw this rad staircase and as we stopped to take pictures, we definitely got heckled at by some middle school kids.  I laughed cuz I was skeered.  Kids are so mean!

We moseyed on over to the Watts Towers, which was our final destination, and my final "L.A. thing" to see.  The Watts Towers boils down to being beautiful folk art.  The story goes that a man named Simon Rosia, in 1921, began to build these cement sculptures/towers (ordained with reclaimed materials like glass, tile, bottles, rocks, etc.) in his backyard and continued to work on it for 34 years.

He did it all by hand and after he sold the property to a neighbor and it got lost in the shuffle of property exchange, it finally got into the hands of a preservation council and is now considered a historic site!  Pretty badass, huh?

If you ever come to L.A., GO HERE.  Make sure you take a friend, cuz it's kind of sketch, but GO!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Vitamin D and South Bay Pride

Yesterday, I was outside ALL DAY. It was incredible - first, my pal Marshall and I and others went to the Korean Friendship Bell in San Pedro and took in both this view and some Mexican comfort food.  Some of you might know Marshall - he toured for IC and came through Greensboro with his team and hustled down EmJack at a screening, I think? 

Then we traipsed around the rest of South Bay, driving along the coast, exploring little towns and parks that I had never seen before.  Amazing.  Apparently The OC was filmed at some locations in South Bay.  Who knew?!  We also stopped by Torrance High School where Buffy was filmed, along with She's All That, Beverly Hills 90210, and Not Another Teen Movie

Marshall was Mr. Tourist/photographer for the day, so I don't have many pictures, but I'm sure that he filled up his memory card.  You would have thought he had never been to California before...

A day in the sun was just what I needed to get a boost of energy and not feel so jaded about not doing much during this period of limbo.  I think I'm ready for spectacular views every day.  Hawaii, get here already!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Artsy Fartsy

This weekend I went into L.A. to meet up with my current roommate, Angel.  After making one Spanish speaking friend on the train, being utterly confused and nervously overwhelmed on the bus, and making a big dent in the book I was reading ("Pigs in Heaven" by Barbara Kingsolver), I made it to the L.A. County Museum of Art.  It had some pretty cool exhibits set up and I was able to sneak into a couple of them.

 This is Angel.  She's a walking piece of beautiful art herself.

Those beautiful lights right outside the museum are one of my favorite spots in L.A. 
Iconic and beautiful in both the light and dark. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Oh, You Know, Just Another ADVENTURE!

First, go way back and read this post from January of 2010.

You've read it? Okay, awesome.  So, now you're caught up.  Approximately two years ago, I was at a crossroads in life.  What to do next?  I vividly remember writing that post laying in what was once my bedroom and I only saw two options, so I informed my small, but mighty blog audience about them.  But there was secretly a third option that dropped in my lap at the last minute and that became exactly what I've been doing for the last 2 years.  North Korea focused.  Solid, solid times of activism, growth, introspection, and change for the North Korean people.  And, in completely superficial terms, I think I got to accomplish a little bit of that Zooey that I wanted.  I was able to spruce up my wardrobe, wear skirts and cute thrifted threads on the reg.

Two years later, yet another crossroad.  It's a trend in my life.  If you know me, then you know that.  And now I'm going to accomplish a little bit of Dennis.  That's right, folks.  I am going to WWOOF in Hawaii come the end of this month!  Bucket list. Check.

The short long-ish story: last April I purchased a WWOOF-USA membership on a whim, because it was something I always wanted to do and I hate putting my money to waste, so I knew that if I bought it, I would HAVE to use it.  In the mean time, I'm the biggest poser of a WWOOF spokesperson out there - every time someone talks about traveling, I'm like, OMG have you ever thought of WWOOFing? Gab, gab, gab, and I pretend to know all about it, even though I'd never done it and never met anyone who had.

Then it was December and I was finishing my time with LiNK.  My talks of WWOOFing over the last year was mainly for me - to plant those seeds inside my own head so that I would actually follow up on something that I knew, deep down, I wanted to do.  I initially wanted to go to New Zealand.  Who doesn't?  BUT airfare alone let me know that now is not the time. And I had my handy-dandy WWOOF-USA membership which included Hawaii and I decided that wouldn't be a terrible place to go in the winter time, right?

Mmm, don't you feel warmer just looking at it?

So, at the end of December, I started reaching out to some pals who I thought would be good travel buddies and emailing some farms.  Farmers have emails?  Yes.  I know, ironic.

I would do it in waves.  I would read a farm's profile in my directory, decide if I dug it, then email them.  I emailed my favorites first and then my second favorites the next week and so on and so forth.  Some farms led me on in the meanest online-dating sense of the phrase.  So much hope and so much let down.  That happened a few times and was unfortunate. I wanted to go so bad.

So, finally, after my friend from college, Josh, got on board to come, one of the farms I emailed initially wants us! Josh has got all the labor-skills that farmers want and I've got the ability to write a classy email that causes intrigue.  It's a dynamic duo, of sorts.  At least until we get to the farm and the owners realize that I burn easy and can't carry 10 pounds for more than a few feet.  Kidding (sort of - the daily push ups start now).

What they don't know, won't hurt them, until it's too late!  And I will be leaving in a few weeks to live near Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii for at least a couple of months, volunteering on a farm (in exchange for room and board), living with a seemingly precious family (husband, wife, 3 young kids), learning how to farm organically and living off the grid.

Aloha, my friends!

Single and Ready to Mingle...

with my turkey/cheese/hummus sandwich and butternut squash soup!  And mingle we did.  Or, rather, I scarfed them down in less than 4 minutes. So, tell me, my friends that live thousands of miles away from me (AND those that don't), what did YOU have for lunch?

Is my blog becoming an Instagram for the iPhoneless?  Sigh, I need some more content.  I've been thinking a lot about this silly idea of love and attachment lately, so maybe, juuust maybe, I'll share those thoughts later :)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Home Sweet Home

Thrift stores are my mecca and retail therapy is a very real and healthy way to resolve life. Doctor recommended. So I took the 61 bus down the street to be in my home away from home.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Walk Around the Block

Well, I have upheld my vow for one day. Hoorah! And it was the most perfect day to get outside and walk around my temporary neighborhood. Until I reach my next destination, I'm crashing with my friend in Long Beach and she lives in the best neighborhood - I wish I could have captured all of the sounds and smells of the day. Dishes being washed, kids playing, lunch being cooked, ducks quacking, couples talking, motors running. And I can't complain about the 70 degree weather either. Mmmhmm!

Here are some of my favorites from the day:

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Vow (Hopefully).

No, no, no. Not "The Vow" starring Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum, which ohmygah grab me some gal pals and some/all candies everywhere and let's make a stereotypical "girls night," yeah?

I went to the Annenburg Space for Photography today near Beverly Hills and they had an exhibit called "Digital Darkroom," which was incredibly dope. It magnified modern photographers' use of digital modification to create surreal images that would likely be impossible otherwise. It was amazing. It had an emphasis on 3D images and holy cow, amaziiiiing!

So, this is my vow: To take more pictures. To go on walks everyday and take pictures with my not so glamorous point and shoot in order to capture the world around me so that I won't forget it. And I want to share them on here, not because they are going to be incredible works of art, but so that I can bring you into my daily life.

Here's a picture I took from the summer - it's of the river and valley just beneath our summer cabin in Virginia.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Does the North Star Serve Gelato?

I recently was given a book called "Finding Your Own North Star" by Martha Beck. It's all about evaluating how you make decisions in your life and figuring out the different voices (she refers to them as "selves" - essential vs. social) which help (knowingly and unknowingly) you to make those decisions, so that you can live the life you were made to live. It all falls in line with this theme in my life: wondering what makes me tick.

So there is this part in the book that I just read which is all about establishing what my self perception is and the fallacies within it. She shares this beautiful story about when she was in college, she and some friends would pitch in, rent a studio, hire a model, and draw. Most of the models matched the social ideal - slender, fit, perfectly proportioned. But one day, they got somebody really different...
"She looked well over sixty, with a deeply lined face and a body that was probably fifty pounds heavier than her doctors would have liked. She'd had a few doctors, too, judging from her scars. Shining purple welts from a cesarean section and knee surgery cut deep rifts in the rippled adipose fat of her lower body. Another scar ran across one side of her chest, where her left breast had once been. When she first limped onto the dais to pose, I felt so much pity and unease that I physically flinched. But we were there to draw her, so I picked up a pencil.

And so, as I began to draw this maimed old woman, the most amazing thing happened. Within five minutes she became a person of absolutely wondrous beauty. She didn't look like a supermodel; she didn't have to. Her body, in and of itself, was as beautiful as a piece of polished driftwood, or a wind-carved rock, or a waterfall.

When this perceptual shift happened, I was so surprised that I stopped drawing and simply stared. The model seemed to notice this, and without turning her head, looked straight into my eyes. Then I saw the ghost of a smile flicker across her face, and I realized something else: She knew she was beautiful. She knew it, and she knew that I'd seen it. Maybe that's why she had consented to pose nude in the first place. Knowing that a roomful of artists couldn't draw her without seeing her--I mean really seeing her--she may have decided to give us a gentle education about our perceptions."
Mmm, self perception. Makes you think, doesn't it? How to truly become in tune with what I've got and what I love about myself vs. what people/society deems lovable and acceptable.