I have decided to adopt 4 words to focus on throughout this year. I have heard and read about other people choosing a word for the year, and being the indecisive person that I am, I couldn’t just decide on one.

Breaking up the year into 3 month quarters, I decided on courage, focus, flourish, and joy. With courage being the first to bat.

courage (1)

courage – noun; the ability to do something that frightens one; strength in the face of pain or grief.

I chose courage first for several reasons. One, I joined the Hogwarts Running Club and was sorted into Gryffindor. If you are familiar with the magical series that defined my childhood, you will know that Gryffindor House is defined by its courage and loyalty. That seemed fitting. Two, I have been straddling the line of fear and courage for most of my life. I have bursts where I am so courageous and so daring, but then I immediately recoil in embarrassment, insecurity, and/or doubt. I want to stop doing that. Three, I want to be unapologetic in who I am, and I need courage to truly find out who that person is. I kind of know her, but she’s been a bit of a wallflower for a while.

The trouble with this Word of the Year project is that I am not one for follow through. I am easily distracted (by things shiny and dull), and my usual course of action on anything is as follows:

  1. Have an idea/Decide to adopt an idea
  2. Become extremely excited and motivated by idea
  3. Attempt something that has to do with idea
  4. Succeed/Fail (usually I deem it a failure if things don’t go exactly as I imagine)
  5. Lose focus and abandon idea

This is why it is January 8 and I’m just getting around to writing about it. I’ve been mulling around this idea in my head, and I’m really excited about it (refer to step  1 & 2). I think it will ultimately help me live intentionally (hello, buzz word) and force me to really come to terms with who I am and what my aspirations are. However, I am exhausted just thinking about it!

As a millennial, I think society expects me to be flaky and easily swayed. I tend to live up to that expectation when things aren’t easy. I compare myself to Instagram photos, and I easily succumb to the temptation of Netflix and my couch. I whine about not getting my way instead of brainstorming ways to be better. I tend to turn to Target to find joy, and I become extremely moody when I have spent too much time alone. It is my hope that these four words will set the tone for my days, weeks, and months of 2016. Everyday won’t be courageous, focused, flourishing, or joyful, but I hope that I will at least think to reset my mindset by remembering my words of the year.

Rise up, take courage, and do it. -Ezra 10:4


she believed she could…

My last post was about the medal holder I made with my dad over Thanksgiving, and it turns out he spent a little more time  in the garage (or should I call it Santa’s workshop) after I left! 

He made this race bib holder to go along with my medals. How incredibly thoughtful, right?! Though I had to ask how he got so good at painting letters in the short time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I won’t give away his secret though. 

So if you love a runner, here’s a tip: make them something that enables them to show off their hard earned bibs and medals! 😉

medal chasing.

When I first started running, I spent tons of time researching it (as with anything that I do). By researching, I mean I read tons of blog posts, bought a few Runner’s World magazines, asked my experienced running friends questions, and all but memorized dozens of Race Day Dos & Don’ts lists. Early on in my reading, I came across a blog post or a pin on Pinterest that said something to the effect of only racing for the bling (medals). I rolled my eyes and thought, “Oh my gosh – how materialistic. I would never sign up for a race just because of the medal!” Fast forward a year and here I am writing a blog post about my medal holder.

I looked around on Etsy and saw some ideas that I liked, but nothing that really matched what I was looking for. In true Leah fashion of putting the cart before the horse, I ran out to Hobby Lobby and purchased four drawer pulls/knobs because they were on sale. Then I pitched the idea to my dad.

Thankfully, he was just as excited as I was and trekked out to my grandpa’s old packing barn and found a piece of wood that needed a little TLC then it would fit my needs. So while I was home for Thanksgiving, Dad and I spent some time in the garage sanding and cleaning up this piece of wood. Next up, we had to drill the holes for my knobs. I learned my lesson in spacing knobs when I helped make a valance to hold curtains a year or so ago, so this time I was golden. I tend to forget you need to measure for one extra section so your holes line up correctly. Sometimes math is hard for me.


Once we got all the woodworking done (and the garage swept up and some Christmas wreaths hung), we had to venture to the store to find a clear coat and stencils for my numbers. Apparently, I thought I would be an expert at painting numbers on there because I’ve taken one calligraphy class. Yeah….not so much. Hobby Lobby came to the rescue, yet again, and I found stencils that were a good size for my project.

IMG_1476(Thanks, Dad!)

Then I went home and painted to my heart’s content. After the paint was dry, Dad assisted me with installing the knobs and cutting off the excess on the back so it would lay flat against the wall.

Then the hard part came…hanging it up on my wall by myself. I was actually quite terrified it would fall off in the middle of the night. Actually…I’m still kind of scared of that. But it’s still hanging up there! (Fingers crossed that it hasn’t fallen when I get home from Christmas vacation).


Not too shabby, right? That’s what about $20 in supplies, 70ish miles, and quality time with your dad will get you. 🙂



I never thought I would ever be considered a runner. I will leave it at that because I’m sure the five people reading this know all about how I started running, how I hated running, how I found running buddies, and how I now wake up at an ungodly hour to pound the pavement. In fact, I calculated it all up this morning and I’ve run 632.6 miles this year. I’m not going to hit my goal of 1,000 miles this year, but that was lofty to begin with. 632.6 miles…that’s about as far as Disney is away from my apartment. Crazy, right?!

Anyway, yesterday I got home from work and run club to find a box sitting on the counter waiting for me. I was confused for a moment because I’ve had this vow to not online shop (that and the things I “accidentally” bought online this week aren’t due for another couple of days…). So what was in the box, you ask? This bad boy…errr….girl:


The Danville Half-Marathon was my second half-marathon, and the first of three I had signed up for during October, November, and December. I did not have high expectations and had to be reminded by my mom many times that I was running my own race and it didn’t matter what other people were doing. That seems to be the constant battle of mine – I’m too competitive with others and not competitive enough with myself.

It was a really chilly October morning and I was one of two people I saw running with a camelbak on. I was nervous. And scared.  “Would I finish?” “Can I actually run 13.1 miles still?” “What if that race in February was just a fluke?” “I’m not cut out for this.” It’s amazing how much you can doubt yourself before the gun goes off.

Then the gun went off…or rather the guy leading the show yelled, “GO!” and off we went. People passed me. My hands were cold. My earbuds didn’t want to sit in my ears right. I was annoyed I didn’t have anyone to talk to. Then I remembered that I enjoy running and noticed that I enjoyed running through my hometown. I started trying to find the silver lining.

When I got to the first water station, I ran on by because I had my trusty CamelBak. At this point, I was almost 3 miles in and feeling good. By mile 6, I grabbed a GU but still didn’t slow down. At mile 8, I realized I had been running the whole thing with no walk breaks and I would be incredibly mad at myself if I stopped running to walk for a bit with 5 miles left to go.

Long story short, I ran all 13.1 miles to a personal record of 2:11:56 and placed 3rd in my age division. I took 25 minutes off my original half-marathon time from February, and I was seriously in awe of what you can do when you set your mind to it. Oh, and when you’re hydrated. 🙂

mark your calendars.

I like quirky things. That fact coupled with working in higher education has led me to have a deep-rooted love of calendars based on an academic year. I design academic planners for our students, I pause at Target every single back to school season to see what colors are popular on planners each year, and I drool over great planner layouts on instagram and etsy. When A Beautiful Mess posted about their academic planners for 2015-2016, I was all over it. In fact, I tagged my friend, Carly, in the post or texted her (all forms of communication blur together over time) and she said she was already looking at them.


This planner is up to snuff. I am in love with it. I carry it around like I would a book for class. It’s quirky, colorful, and it’s providing a way to keep track of all the things I do (for work and for play). Plus, it comes with emoji stickers. EMOJI STICKERS.

Anyway, there’s no real point to this post. I just wanted to share something with the world, and why not my #busy planner.


running real talk.

Y’all, someone needs to come take my credit card and running shoes away from me. I just signed up for my second half-marathon in less than a week. I’m starting to think I enjoy the thrill of hitting “Register” and typing in my info more than I actually enjoy running. Anyway, I managed to get signed up for the 2016 Disney Princess Half-Marathon last week despite the runDisney website crashing and being cumbersome. That means Abbydean and I will be getting our mulligan to run this race as sisters (and maybe Cruella DeVil and Lucky).  It’s so hard to believe that it has been a year since I began my running journey. In that year, I have racked up over 500 miles on these little legs of mine. Is the human body incredible or what?!



In those 500 miles, I have run in 7 races, picked up a regular running partner in the mornings, and joined a running club that meets 3 times a week. Who knew running could be so social?! But back to the taking my credit card and running shoes thing…

What started as a “Hey, let’s run this half-marathon on my 25th birthday” novelty has turned into a “Hey, let’s run 5 half-marathons while being 25!” So here’s what I have coming up.

  1. Danville Half – October 17
  2. City of Oaks Half – November 1
  3. Baton Rouge Beach Half – December 5
  4. Disney Princess Half – February 21, 2016

Yes, that is quite ambitious. I know. But I’m not trying to PR every race. I will probably train to PR the Danville half and finish respectably at City of Oaks. I’m running with my pal, Leigh, in Baton Rouge and I have to work that weekend, so that will be easy. Then two whole months to prepare for Disney! So yeah…someone please tell me to stop signing up for races.

ncma summer films 

The North Carolina Museum of Art is one of my favorite places in Raleigh. It’s like walking into a peaceful world in the middle of the hustle and bustle that is the capital city. I’ve been to visit the exhibits, to take photos, and to just wander around the trails for a little exercise. The trail is by far my favorite. You can walk, bike, and run for miles alongside people laying in fields reading and art sculptures scattered along the property. Last night, I discovered something even cooler. They show films outside in the amphitheater on summer evenings. 


feeling kate spade-esque in my play on patterns

Carly and I packed picnic snacks and headed out there last night to see To Kill a Mockingbird. Kudos to the NCMA for seeing an opportunity (like the release of the highly anticipated, highly debated Go Set a Watchman this week) and taking advantage of it. The place was packed – I was glad we got there early and claimed a good spot. The people watching was highly entertaining, and it wasn’t as hot as I thought it would be. And as Carly said, it would be a cool date spot for all ages. For $5, you really can’t find a better deal on a weekend night. 

They’re showing films through the rest of the summer – everything from The Theory of Everything to Big Hero 6 (for the kiddos) to the Sound of Music (maybe I can get my sister down here for that…). I know Carly and I have a date with Chris Pratt in September when they show Guardians of the Galaxy. #swoon 

the martian.

I was minding my own business a few weeks ago when this trailer happened into my life:

Looks pretty interesting, right? I thought so, too. (Plus Matt Damon, hello handsome). After a little investigation, I discovered it is a book by Andy Weir.  Luckily, I happened to put myself on the waiting list at the Wake County Library before it got out of control, and checked it out last weekend.

I was  a little skeptical at first because it was a sci-fi novel about Mars. It had the potential to be incredibly boring, so with that in mind, I took it with me Wednesday morning while I waited for my roommate to have blood work done. I figured, hey, if I was going to sit in a boring doctor’s office, I might as well start on a potentially boring book.

Seven chapters later, I was disappointed I had to put my little sci-fi book away and go to work. It was mesmerizing. It probably helped that the majority of the book was in the form of journal logs from the main character. I couldn’t help but turn the pages with bated breath as I read what was happening on Mars.

I’ll stop while I’m ahead so I don’t give away the ending. I’m terrible about spoiling shows, movies, and books. Needless to say, I can’t wait until November when the movie comes out. Who’s with me?!

Race Recap: Esprit de She

I ran the Esprit de She 5K race in Cary last night, and I desperately tried not to be annoyed at the whole situation. Why was I annoyed? Great question. There are several reasons:

  1. I signed up for this race in January not knowing it was going to be 90+ degrees for the majority of June
  2. I signed up for the 10K race and had it ripped away from me the night before thanks to an email that politely said “Hey – it’s too hot. We’re not letting anyone run more than 3.1”. Well thanks guys…I’m not an adult or anything. I don’t make decisions for myself on a daily basis. *side eye*
  3. I was running alone.

The event was pretty awesome if I’m honest. I wish I had a friend with me because I think I would have enjoyed it more. There were all sorts of vendors set up for before and after the race. There was an emcee on hand and a Bubbly Bar (you got two complimentary glasses of champagne for registering). I’m not really sure how anyone drank after running in that God awful heat, but more power to them.

Distance: 3.1 miles
Time: 32:21
Overall Thoughts: Running alone sucks. I’m so used to chatting the miles away that I seriously couldn’t focus on anything other than my feet pounding the pavement without having someone by my side to talk to. Also, I saw the pictures from crossing the finish line. Dear Lord, I don’t make pretty faces when I run. I also need to invest in some non-cotton tanks to run in. End of story.

This is the last race on my schedule until September, then a half-marathon in November, December & February! That is, unless I can convince my dad to run a July 4th race next weekend. 😉

Happy Running!