the woman i want to be.

There’s a quote by Diane von Furstenberg that goes, “I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but I knew the woman I wanted to become.” I think I stumbled upon that quote right as I was launched into the adult world after undergrad (thanks, Pinterest!). It struck a chord in me, and it’s always been in the back of mind. It doesn’t matter what I do career-wise or hobby-wise, as long as I become the woman I want to be. That woman is a blend of Audrey Hepburn, Kate Spade, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, my mom, and my grandmother to name a few. Someone who oozes joy  but understands there are bad things in life. Someone who sets high goals, but admits there are moments when you have to cut yourself some slack. Someone who walks (and works out) with grace, but knows it’s kind of fun to laugh at yourself when you fall down.

As I’ve been meandering through adulthood, trying to figure out how to cook the perfectly portioned meal for one, how to not be awkward in every day life, and how to pay my bills without complaining, I’ve slowly noticed a change. I feel myself becoming more confident, more joyful, more outgoing. I find myself needing less validation from my peers, and I’m learning how to make efficient decisions and not saying “maybe” when I really mean no.

But I didn’t realize this change was visible. Well, my friends, I think it is. 30LeahWhitt

 

The girl in that picture is exactly who I want to be. This picture was taken at 9:00 p.m. on a Thursday. That day consisted of getting up at 5:00 to go to the gym, working an eight hour day, stressing out about an event that was happening the next day, changing my outfit twice, laughing with my sister, and greeting 5 dozen women to an event that was all about them. But that day felt so full of things that I love to do. I mean, yes, Ashley  (of Story Photographers) is so incredibly talented it’s not even funny, but when she sent me that photo I felt beautiful. She’s taken my picture plenty of times before; family photos, my sister’s wedding, selfies for instagram, and with a boy….but that picture. That picture of me tied to nothing else made me feel whole. I felt like relieved because I finally feel like I match my interior (to paraphrase Elphaba in Wicked).

Every girl goes through an ugly duckling stage – but I have felt like I have had an identity crisis in my looks. First, my hair was too long and crazy and overwhelmed me. Then I learned I had to wear glasses every day, so I went with rimless ones so people wouldn’t immediately notice them. Then I cut all my hair off. Next, I decided to grow my hair out and learn how to use a curling wand. All of these little exterior changes never really made me feel like myself. But I think I have figured it out. My hair is never going to be perfect and I’m always going to feel naked without my glasses. I’m never going to master the smokey eye or remember to put lipstick on after I brush my teeth. But I am always going to remember that happy girls are the prettiest girls and I’m always going to know how to make an Old Navy dress look like Kate Spade. I’m going to know that my heart shines through more than I know, and that my brown eyes will captivate the right person.

So, thank you life (& Ashley), for showing me that sometimes it’s not about living the life society pushes on you. It’s about becoming the person you want to be.

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mizzou

Hello!

I’m coming to you live from a hotel in Kansas City – killing time before I head to the airport and fly back to my beloved east coast. I don’t know why, but I miss being in the same time zone as my friends and family. You would think an hour isn’t a big deal, but it’s thrown me all off. The conference went well. I mingled (against my introvert tendencies) and learned a lot; however, I cannot wait to get back to my office and start my hardcore training for the new job.

Things I learned this week:

1. Always carry a bag with a hashtag on it to a technology conference. It will always be a conversation starter.

ksny

2. Kansas City calls this barbecue. Also, they have this delicious obsession with putting cheese on everything. The runny yellow stuff on the right is cheesy corn. Basically, yellow kernel corn in a soup of velveeta cheese. It was actually delicious, though I couldn’t help seeing the digestive irony in putting cheese and corn together.kcmo

3.  Name badges ruin every outfit. Also, never date pirates. They’re just after the booty.argh

4. “It’s not what you find, it’s what you find out.” – Barry Clifford, pirate treasure finder

find

5. Always do something the kid version of you would be proud of — like visiting the crayola store.

colors

Talk to you guys when I’m east of the Mississippi. xo.

 

reasons why i’ll need therapy

Today was a day of overwhelming activities. The day started at 5:30 when I surprisingly beat my alarm clock at waking up. From there, I stumbled into the shower and out the door on my way to the airport. During this 35 minute drive, I had the thought “Hmm…I miss my old apartment” briefly….but only because it was ten minutes away from the airport. I could have slept longer.

Now for the overwhelming part, I flew alone for the first time…ever. This (and the whole conference I’m at this week) is a reason why I have social anxiety. I think over time my childhood shyness developed into full-fledged awkward adult introvertness. I’m not comfortable in places that I’m not familiar with. I don’t know how to initiate conversation. I can literally feel my skin crawling when I’m in a crowd of people and don’t have my buffer zone (aka my phone). It’s something I desperately need to work on.  Anyway, I made it through security (TSA lady liked my hair – holla!) and located the Starbucks where I had a conversation with a pilot. Okay, it was early in the morning and I was making small talk with another individual. I deserved all the gold stars.

Collage

To add to my success, I made it through the first flight no problem. Then during the stop in St. Louis an older gentleman boarded the plane and sat in my row. There was a seat between us and I smiled and said hi after he got settled in. HE IGNORED ME! Like looked me up and down and then turned his head. Then a lady took the seat between us and he struck up a conversation with her. So the rest of the flight I wondered what was so wrong with me that he couldn’t even say hi.

After deciding to put on my headphones and go about my day without worrying about Mr. Grumpy Gus, I successfully navigated the airport, baggage claim, and catching a taxi to the hotel. Small successes. From there I spent the day curled up in my nice, comfy king size bed writing two papers I put off until today (hence the lack of grammar in this post – sorry guys…those papers got my good writing). Then here comes overwhelming incident #2 – the welcome reception.

Photo Jul 28, 6 30 14 PM

Now I’m attending this conference for work, and I’m attending it alone. Oh, and there are 700+ people registered for it with multiple schools sending entire fleets of people. Needless to say, I was feeling mighty small to begin with. So there was a welcome reception this evening called “Spirit Night” (where you wear your school colors  and all that jazz). Well I had decided before even getting on the plane that I wasn’t going to it. No way – no how was I going into a room full of people I didn’t know for a social function. That has awkward written all over it. After spending all day alone, I convinced myself that in order to meet people, I have to be where the people are. So I pulled on my little work polo, jeans and converse and meandered my way down there. What I saw was terrifying. A darkened ballroom, reminiscent of a high school prom, clusters of people milling about and loud music. Introvert Leah was like, “Oh hells no!” So I turned around and went back upstairs. Social butterfly fail. Finger crossed for tomorrow!

Photo Jul 28, 6 36 18 PM

(Pictures are from the world war I memorial that is right outside of my window – I had to go for a walk after all my awkwardness).

Ye Olde Virginia.

HomeGrown

This past weekend I visited my wonderful sister and her soon-to-be hubs at their new house in Virginia. As sad as I was about her leaving me in North Carolina to fend for myself, I’m so excited for their new place and new town. We spent the weekend unpacking and organizing their new place, watching lots of Big Bang Theory and Friends, and driving all over Lynchburg to take care of errands. My favorite stop was this little produce stand on the side of 29 where we encountered a man who was scared to cut in front of my sister in the squash line because he didn’t know if Alan “was packing”.

Run

I managed to get a run in on Saturday evening and I am so sad this isn’t my everyday view. If anyone tells you Virginia isn’t the prettiest state, punch first and ask questions later.

Anyway, I’m sure I will be back up there soon — I mean we’ve got a wedding to plan! Also, they’re the most adorable couple on the planet, I mean how could I resist?

A&A

Picture courtesy of StoryPhotographers!

 

Creativity is hard work!

collage

Here’s a little something I whipped up for my facebook page while getting some practice in on the software I’ll be using on a day-to-day basis. It’s already miles ahead of the stuff I thought I could do! Happy hump day, y’all!

vanity.

Yesterday, the monsoon season that is bombarding NC this summer stopped long enough for my dear friend, Sarah and I to go the art museum to snap a few photos. She has such a good heart and creative spirit – you can’t help but be inspired when you’re around her. She is incredibly interested in photography, so when she said she was looking for some “models” to help her build her portfolio I jumped at the chance. We wandered around the gardens of the museum and met Dennis, an older gentleman who volunteers and his adorable dog, Teddy.

Photo Jun 30, 8 05 33 PM

If you need photos and you’re in the area, shoot Sarah a message and she’ll hook you up!

wall

I love this shot with the wall! Maybe because you can’t see the goofy faces I make.

converse

Nothing better than a pair of chuck taylors.

sideThis one is by far my favorite, if I say so myself. 🙂

Happy Monday, folks!

Gotta get down on Friday

Good morning! Happy Friday! I cannot believe it’s the last Friday of June. I swear it feels like it just started. Here’s some of my favorite things that I stumbled upon this week:

1. Wednesday I decided I needed white converse to match my outfit, so that was the first thing I did that day. Best decision ever.

Chucks

2. After hanging out with Abby for her belated birthday and picking out her monogram necklace for the reception, I decided I needed a bracelet to match my necklace. Apparently I just wanted to spend money this week.

Photo Jun 28, 8 24 50 AM

3. I have a new found appreciation for coffee (as long as it’s over ice). Lucky for me, they make “brew over ice” k-cups for Keurigs. Hello happiness in a glass:

yum

4. MONSTERS UNIVERSITY! I went to see it on Wednesday. It was wonderful. End of story.

5. Last but not least, this little guy had me laughing for quite some time this week. If I had to flirt and my life depended on it, this is what I would look like:

Photo Jun 26, 10 43 21 PM

And for any of you who are wondering…yes, I am feeling the aftermath of my fall yesterday. Holy soreness, Batman. Where’s the Aleve?

RDU Baton

This past Thursday I had the pleasure of carrying the RDU Baton. What’s the RDU Baton, you ask? It’s an interactive photo relay that passes from person to person in the Triangle. You can read more about it here. To put it simply, I got to log into the RDU Baton instagram account on Thursday and post pictures throughout my day. Here are a few of the photos I posted:

Photo Jun 13, 7 40 41 AM

My first shot of my hydrangeas and new pool view!

Photo Jun 13, 8 51 57 AM

Crossing “ride the camel” off my bucketlist.
Photo Jun 13, 1 18 54 PM

My absolute most favorite view of Raleigh. It still takes my breath away.

Photo Jun 13, 3 31 38 PMSoaking up some vitamin D and enjoying a Cook Out milkshake.

Photo Jun 13, 5 40 07 PMScary little storm that rolled through the area.

It was so much fun finding cool pictures to take and interacting with the followers of the account. If you’re in the area and you’re an instagram addict, I definitely suggest signing up for a turn.

 

 

 

Paint with all the colors of the camel

In the spirit of marking things off my 23 list (hello fried rice!), I recently took a painting class (#16)! Okay, well it was really a wine & design event, but it totally counts. The painting was of my alma mater/workplace/place I spend ALL of my time. More specifically, it was of the most ridiculous thing you could spend $2 million dollars on – a bronze camel statue. It was donated and installed my senior year of college and holy cow that thing is obnoxious. You think I’m kidding – but one day I was walking out of the gym only to look up and see camel balls. Yes, ladies and gents, our $2 mil camel is anatomically correct.

Court

Anyway, there were 11 of us taking this class and our instructor promised it wouldn’t take more than 2 hours to knock it out. Yeah – try 4 hours, buddy. That’s what happens when you mix science nerds, OCD types, and wine. Irregardless, it was a great night of meeting new people, catching up with an old friend, and learning that “follow the directions” painting is not for me.

collage

I’ve recently dubbed my camel painting the Camel Van Gogh as he is missing his ear. I’m sorry but the instructor did not tell me how to draw ears. He is safely hanging out in my office and is currently basking in the glory of “Where’d you get that?!” and “Can you paint me one?!”

Cabinet

The “L” is Silent

This past weekend I went home for my birthday weekend to see my parents and Meme (like I do every year). Saturday night I decided I wanted to cook dinner for the family and quickly polled everyone on what they wanted to eat. We decided on salmon, brown rice and green beans. This is where the epic battle of Leah v. southern roots started. I have such a bad habit of using “country” terminology. I never noticed it until my roommate and suitemates pointed it out in college. I used to say things like “buggy” and “rack” (for a shopping cart and clothes hanger, respectively). And I also used to pronounce “salmon” with the L. In an effort to sound more grown up and more cultured, I made sure everyone who attended dinner pronounced it correctly. Thinking I had won the battle, I was discussing my cooking skills at dinner with a group of friends last night and said I cooked “saLmon and rice”. Fail.

dinner

I laid out the salmon fillets in a baking dish and marinated each fillet with 1 tbsp of soy sauce and 1 tsp of brown sugar. I baked it on 350 for 20 minutes then turned the broiler on for about 5 minutes. It came out flaky and fully cooked. The rice was just your typical boil-in-bag brown rice and the green beans were steamed in the microwave for ten minutes.

Have a great week, friends!