Author Archives: Leeland

It builds character

You must experience hardship in order to grow.

Since I have suffered I am being developed into something better than my former version of me.
I have been single for one month now. There is a kind of freedom I am finding. It was not a fun decision to become single but it was my decision, and I have remained firm in the belief that it was the right one. I have decided that I do not have time for anything less than the best, and I used up my amount of ‘best’ with him. It still left a scar. All the same, trees cannot stand and grow without wind and I needed wind. Water that does not move stagnates and I was beginning to.

Let old things die.

It is very strange not to be someone’s girlfriend right now. But more than anything I am me. I advised a friend on this- I am free. I should like to be free for the rest of my life. Freedom does not mean alone always, freedom means I am free to choose. I will have to be very sure about something to stay with it ‘for the sake of it’.
If you are not prepared to walk away from something, that something will always have more control over you than you do. By calling bluffs and challenging everything, you retain control of your own life by expecting it to continuously meet higher standards.

I am the one thing in life I can (even somewhat) control.

Everything else is throwing yourself in the closest approximate direction and hoping for the best. Just like flying is throwing yourself at the ground and missing, success is throwing yourself at failure and missing.

I read a book by my grandfather that spoke of ‘a high tolerance for failure’ and stated that ‘anything worth doing is worth doing poorly until you can learn to do it well’. I adopt this mentality in my art now, learning to go with complete over perfect. This is the mentality I teach with my piano students. Start slow, start badly. The more you do it, the better you get.

I will never be satisfied with ‘good enough’, I seek to constantly improve and build higher. Each stage of life is a stepping stone to the next.


There is a podcast I have been following called the Minimalists. They invented a game called the 30-Day Minimalism Challenge and it challenges you for 30 days to get rid of 1 more item each day.
This means that on day 1, you get rid of 1 item. Day 2, 2 items, and so on and so forth. The main idea is to de-clutter your house but also to make you realize how many things you truly own. 30 days is not the maximum. It can go further if you want, though I have to wonder at what point do you run out of items? Day 84? Day 62?
So I challenge any of you who read my blog to join me. I plan to start on the first of the new year and see what I can reduce out of my house. 31 days, 496 items. Are you up for the challenge?


Find more details here:


I cannot be unique if people do not know i am unique.
As long as I can recall I have been colorful, out there, full of confidence. I always have wanted to define and improve myself and be the best version there is possible to be.
Adding a touch (an unhealthy splash) of competitiveness to me means that not only must I be creative, I have to be the MOST creative. I have to express and know myself to the highest degree.
Over the past few years I have been customizing my body. I love the concept of personalizing your body, making it truly unique in the world. I have 4 tattoos, 8 piercings, and have played with coloring and styling my hair and adding jewelry and fun clothing.
Listen, I know that there is a point where selfies become vanity but I love the fact that we can document everything in our lives. I am trying to log my life through pictures on my phone. I adopted a cat and have been trying to log weekly updates of her life. She is now 24 weeks old and i cannot believe 24 weeks has passed.
I am fascinated with the concept of logging myself. Recording my existence. Having the most accurate count of myself.
The point of this is that I have recently changed jobs. My job for the past year and a half has allowed me complete freedom in hair and piercings. I have started getting my nails done and its been amazing because I do not have good nails.
But now I cannot have these things. I’m not allowed unnatural hair colors, nail covering or color of any kind, and no facial piercings. Thus I dyed my hair again. I went from bright purple to black and brown, which is the color I’ve had my entire life. And it hurts. I feel like by dying my hair I sacrificed my individuality and lost my ‘real’ identity. The concept I’ve been mulling over these few days is whether I am less unique or self-expressive if others do not know I am unique. The phrase is ‘express yourself’ but the question is to whom?
This also makes me think that if I lose an obvious degree, I must make up for it in some less visible way but one that has the same weight to it. By this I mean that I feel I can measure how well my self is expressed.
Converse shoes worn ironically. Hair dyed bright purple. Clever outfit. Tasteful piercings, but be sure you do not get any worn out or cliche ones. Jewelry. Bold makeup.
Is it all worth it if I know I will be better in the end? That of course must be decided by you. The pain point comes where the discomfort of doing or not doing something outweighs the value. The temporary pain I feel from not having colored hair or a ring in my lip does not outweigh the fact that I am able to pursue an education, which should take me to a point where I regain the things of which I am deprived. It is not the worst option. By going through with it, I gain.
How do you feel you are unique? What do you hold close and value as a definition of yourself? What would hurt to lose? What facets of yourself would make you feel as though you were not yourself if they left?
What are you willing to sacrifice? What do you hope to gain by doing so?

Be Excellent

I have started a new policy in my sketchbook that has held for the last few months. If I start a page, it has to end up with a finished work. This sketchbook has drawings I frown at. That I am not happy with. Pages pasted over with new paper. And lots of finished stuff. It is my best so far.

People ask me why I didn’t go to art school. I tell them I couldn’t afford it.
They ask me why I’m not an artist.
But I am an artist.
I make art.
They watch me bent over my little red book scribbling away and ask why I don’t make a living out of this. You’re so good! You should sell these!
I wish it were that simple.
Growing up, I drew constantly. I drew characters from books, imagination, TV, and everything else. I drew because I did not have another way to pass the time. I drew because I could not help but draw. My mother does not call herself artistic. She does not think the way I do. But she supported me. I had pencils, watercolor, sketch books, pens, and reference books. She offered critique when I developed enough to need it. And I got better and better.
Then I stopped.
Sometime around when I graduated, I got a job, discovered the internet and all the ways you can waste time, and finally made friends. I drew less and less, watching TV, hanging out, or working. Or sleeping. I slept a lot in those days.
I didn’t reliably create for multiple years, and I paid for that in lost skill.
Now I am forced to decide what I value. I am not willing to spend the rest of my life being mediocre at something. I want to be excellent.
I try to draw something almost every day. I try to allow myself to make mistake, to make bad work. If i keep creating, slowly my worst stuff will begin to look better and better. I set myself challenges in drawing new items or learning a new medium.
I grew up being told i was talented. I grew up being told i was smart. For a long time it was not hard to be the best.
Don’t take that too arrogantly.
For a long time, I liked being the best and it wasn’t hard, I wasn’t challenged. Things made sense too me. I expected things to stay that way. They didn’t. There reaching a point where I stood still, and I watched people who had been working for a long time suddenly get a pay off and they rose above me. They deserved it! I was being lazy and arrogant.
Now I am trying to buckle down, to work. To earn. To be excellent. Right now I am not remarkable, but I will be. I have to be.


The world is quiet. A car whirs by outside every now and then. I can hear wind. The dark is peaceful around us.
He sleeps next to me. Breath in, breath out. Repeating. Now he shifts, turning towards me with a sigh as he rearranges his legs. His eyes open. I lean over to press a kiss to him. He is warm. I feel the difference in my cold nose on his soft, warm cheek. His lips move under mine and he slurs something in sleep as he drifts back down into unconsciousness.
It feels safe here.

New Hobby Gothic

There are the ones that you will tell people about. “You’ll never believe what I’ve been getting into,” you say, gesturing widely. They listen, and slowly, they begin to do it too.
You fill your Facebook wall talking about it.
Glitter begins to appear in corners, and you try to avoid looking at it.

Some of them are handed to you. Someone else tells you about it, or drags you along, or you hear about it 3 times in one week. It is useless to resist.
You smell vaguely of paint at all times. You are not sure why.

There are the ones that appear out of the night. You walk into a store looking for tape, and you walk out $137 lighter and a dazed look in your eye. You begin to read forums.
You mutter things like “water testing” or flex nibs”. People cross the street to avoid you.
Your bank account is crying. You ignore it.

It’s not about you. A poem that doesn’t rhyme.

It’s not about you, I whisper, clenching my toes in the ends of my shoes.
Another person with an opinion I don’t agree with, and this one brought God into it.
You’re threatening us, the way that we live and all we believe, they cry.
I’m not trying to, or I don’t think I am. . . I just want the option to do what I want.

It’s not about you, I mutter, resisting the square of opinions clenched in my fist.
It tells me to share, to say all that I think and to shout down the ones who don’t agree.
The truth is I don’t want men overthrown, or even knocked down.
I want women raised up to be equal, until we don’t walk a parking lot with claws made of keys

It’s not about you, I growl, as a bitchy white boy tells me why stereotypes of him are wrong.
He found an article about how men need to change their behavior
so he made a 20-minute video on why he was the exception and you needed to know it.
It wasn’t aimed at an individual man, and certainly not you, so move on.

It’s not about you, I whimper, as tears slip down my cheeks to the screen in my hand.
Millennials can’t, and here’s more reasons why! Why bother with facts?
When with ease we can draw up a list of cliches and over-used tropes, and call them entitled.
I have to remember that I’m not a target, just one in a million who all want to try.


I was walking down a sidewalk with my father.
College students pass and one of them, a man.
He yells across the street, at a girl he wants to bother.
Where you goin’, baby? Lemme hold your hand.

I make a simple comment. How I’m glad to be accompanied.
My father turns, looks at me, and says it’s strange.
I knew that catcalling could happen, it’s everywhere I read.
It’s just it’s hard to localize, no context in my range.

I shrugged, kept walking, thought a little bit.
It’s something I cannot ignore, a luxury denied.
I have to suspect every man, to think they’d pull this shit.
No matter who it is, I always want to hide.


With the resignation of Ted Cruz and John Kasich from the Republican presidential race, Donald Trump was handed the nomination on a gilded platter.
Never mind that I cannot believe America has happily picked up the gun to shoot itself in the collective foot, but also?? All over my facebook dash, conservatives, mostly older Christians, are posting about how they “choose to fix their eyes on things above” and “God will do with this nation what he will”…..
I disagree with this tactic, because one thing God does not call for is passivity and ignoring of problems.
I don’t think that refusing to vote will help keep the problem of Trump out of the white house. I don’t think it is the right choice to look at the current situation and use the literal end of days as an argument for why it would be less of a problem??? Do you look at your flat tire and not deal with it because, well, maybe tonight, Jesus will return and no one will need tires in Heaven? We are living in this day and age, and given that we have literally no idea when the end of days will be, I believe we should do our damnedest to keep our lives working as best they can.

I’m just a little baffled by this race and the litany of responses that make no sense.
So in response, I will be throwing my brash, 20-something opinions at you and forcing you to accept them as gospel because that’s what every blogger is trying to do. Yeah.


There is an extreme conservative Christian blogger that shows up on my Facebook feed. He labels himself a professional truth-sayer, and seems to take a kind of self-righteous glee in denouncing anything he deems inappropriate or un-Christian. Recently, he published a response to the bathroom bill in Mississippi and North Carolina, full of frustration and hurtful terms. His post echoes the arguments I’ve seen scattered around every conservative page, and is a fairly efficient compilation of them.
Throughout the body of his writing, he is consistent about a few things. The first is that he builds up the transgender population as a group of petulant children and idiots, as if they are incapable of seeing logic or understanding the arguments of another party. In reality, he is being as intolerant and rude as he is accusing transgender people as a group of being.
The second is that he never addresses them in a serious or respectful way. They are labelled as “transgenders” or “so-called transgenders”, quotation marks denoting his scorn. It’s as if he were asked to comment on unicorn rights, and he treats a whole section of the population with as much respect as if they were, in fact, mythical beasts. Continue reading