A Girl Named Leney - oughtonhead common / portrait session

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Oh October. Always a wonderful month, don’t you think? Last October especially brought me some very wonderful things, not least a visit from my dear friend Leney. I’ve been friends with Leney for about eight years or so, getting to know her online way back in the day when we were both starting out sharing our loves and work on the internet. We connected at first because both of us were photographers and knitters, as I aspired to do either one as a career and was so inspired by Leney’s work in both fields. Soon after we realised there was far more to our connection, and that our similarities ran deep. We had both been home educated at a young age, lived somewhat unconventionally at different points in our lives which wove into us both a certain way of seeing the world. We shared a love of the same literature, music and art, and found inspiration and wisdom from many of the same sources. We were on our own personal journeys of casting off everything the world told us we should want to be and do, figuring out firstly what we wanted from our lives and secondly how to go about pursuing that. Over the years we have found both inspiration and comfort in each others words, and finally a year ago we were able to meet in person while I was in New Orleans.

I’ve long been inspired by Leney, by her authenticity, her honesty, her humour, her joy and her deep lust for life and all the things that truly make it worth living. She just gets it, as far as I’m concerned, and in a world where so many people are constantly filling their lives with meaningless distractions, she is nothing but fresh air. To live a life that is truly yours, full of all the things that make you happy and make you feel alive is not always as easy and straightforward as it looks. It requires commitment, sacrifice and the daily practice of asking yourself the questions of what you want more of in your life and what you want less of. It’s a pursuit of what makes you happy, and a practice of letting go of what doesn’t. Living with intention, every single day.

Getting to photograph Leney was a dream. She’s beautiful, of course, which helps, and used to being photographed…but more than that she is so unashamedly present in all that she does. It’s something she strives for, and it’s noticeable. There’s no phones, no distractions, nowhere else she’d rather be. She chooses her activities and her company wisely, and you can feel it when she’s with you. She listens, learns, pays attention and feels every moment. Oh boy, that’s rare. The gift of someone’s full attention to you, who you are and what you have to say changes the energy in a room. It stretches out the time you have together, and makes it feel like those hazy days of childhood when you didn’t have to try to be present because by your very nature that’s exactly what you were.

Leney is currently living a life on the road, and is at the moment working on a sheep farm in New Mexico. I encourage you to follow her on Instagram, but more than that to read her blog and to really listen to what she has to say. Don’t be sucked in just by the dreamy photos (because they are dreamy) and the insta-illusion of a perfect and free life. But truly listen to what she says, on how she chooses every day to show up for the life she wants and not the life that anyone sets out for her. We all have our different constraints, but her message is simple…ask yourself what makes you happy. Ask yourself what a life aligned with your values looks like. Make a choice every single day to add a little more of that into your life, stop distracting yourself with things and people that hold no meaning and no joy. You don’t have to quit your job, go on the road and farm sheep to change your life. There are little steps to be taken every day, and all you need to do is look inside and learn how to really see yourself.

I am so blessed to call Leney a friend. She’s truly an inspiration, a wild spirit, a true kind and generous heart and you’ll not be likely to meet too many people like her in your life.