Fancy a footloose road trip but life keeps getting in the way? No problem, you can live vicariously through the adventures of this month’s A Simple Path guest, Leney Breeden. A photographer, artist and writer Leney is a free spirit and has lots to teach us about resisting the urge to over-plan or keep a tight grip on life. You may have come across Leney’s stunning images on Instagram, or read her gorgeous slow living blog A Girl Named Leney. Now’s your chance to learn more about what drives her, what she would say to her younger self, and much, much more.
Read on for some much-needed inspiration on going with life’s flow. Thanks so much for joining us, Leney!
Can you tell us what you do and how you came to be doing it?
I am an artist and a writer. My life is a full representation and interpretation of my art and passions, which are tied together by a number of specific pursuits. Namely in being a traveling photographer and having an online vintage shop named Folkling. Overall I’m passionate about slow, sustainable and intentional living and have that common thread throughout nearly all of what I do.
I never went to college and started my business about nine years ago now, which was at the time primarily photography (the wedding/fashion/portraiture variety) and a knitwear business through Etsy. I have since retired my Etsy business and my photography has evolved to encompass more of a documentary story-telling aspect of portraiture, as well as plants (one of my passions) and the spaces I come across during my travels. Being on the go and seeing new places and meeting new people fuels me, and much of my life and art revolves around that.
If you had one piece of advice or wisdom to pass on to your younger self, what would it be?
Listen to your intuition and discernment more. Trust that inner voice.
What is it about slow living and the simple life that you find appealing?
The invitation and choice to be more engaged and present in your life so that you can both live it more fully and well, and also have more genuine and authentic relationships with the people in your life. My life as a whole is somewhat unconventional and my desire to be different can be challenging for some people. However, this call to action, to live counter to the pace that is most prevalent in our society, is a kind of rebellion worth getting behind.
The message I hear most often in my conversations with others is an overarching desire to do things other than what they are presently doing. And while I think we could all most definitely embrace gratitude and an appreciation for the things we have more than focusing on the things we do not have, I think there is something telling about this narrative of dissatisfaction. People are realizing that having/doing more is not the answer to contentment. It is in space and simplicity that we can identify what our true passions and callings are, which can then lead to a more fulfilling life.
How can we counter the pulls of content-sharing and curating images of our lives with the need for being in the moment?
I have a hard time with that one myself. Although one thing for me has been to establish boundaries within my work life versus my personal life. My work life is more of my public and “curated” image and it’s this I feel pressure to share more of, rather than my personal life. When I am with my friends and family, I try to be fully present and with them. I also don’t share much about my intimate relationships online. Because those relationships are such a large part of my day-to-day life I find there are more natural lines drawn with what to share with a wider audience online and when to just be present in the moment.
But I also have found that the mentality of needing to share things now or never is often a lie. There is nothing wrong with posting about something after the fact. I actually rarely share in the moment. I am infamous for my latergrams and am hardly ever where my social media currently says that I am! It’s also good to analyze and identify the reasons behind why you feel the pressure and need to curate or share in specific moments. For example, if it’s out of a fear-based reasoning, think twice before posting. Content shared out of an insecure or fearful mindset is not going to resonate as much with others, nor be beneficial to your life in the long run.
Who inspires you?
My parents. They are an essential source of encouragement and inspiration for me and have always had my back 100% during my varying ventures and pursuits over the years (most of which have been a little unconventional, so they are definitely rock stars for their stoic support)! I wouldn’t be able to live the life that I do without their belief in and acceptance of me.
What are your essential homeware items/ things you couldn’t do without?
I have actually been pursuing a life less attached to my possessions and am constantly analyzing my relationship to my stuff. I went on a two month road trip this summer and one of the lessons I learned on the road was how little I truly needed in order to be happy. I even learned to do without the most basic essentials at various points. However, the most precious things I own are my journals, family photographs, letters, and my adventure hat!
What would you like to be doing in 10 years’ time?
I have always had a hard time answering this type of question. Although I’m a huge goal setter and avid dreamer, I am not one to have a ten year plan, or even a five year plan (or even… a one year plan??). I learned a long time ago that so much of the time, when I have an idea of what I think my life will look like in the upcoming years, something drastically changes or goes awry. I’ve just learned to be adaptable and have more fluid goals and ambitions.
I suppose if I had to come up with something though it would be along the lines of what I am doing now! But just more consistently and with a more intentional focus.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever done?
The first thing that comes to mind is the road trip I embarked on this summer, during which my brother and I drove over 13,000 miles in my Subaru Outback through 30 states in 59 days (40-something of which we camped)! It was a trip that changed my life and one that I’m still processing. It is fueling a lot of my current projects. Additionally, other than some iPhone photos, I shot the trip exclusively in film (34 rolls to be exact), and that was also a wild but fun concept for me to embrace as an artist. Though, admittedly, a scary one too as I primarily make my living with digital photography. But it stretched and challenged me in a lot of ways that I am still identifying even now a few months after the fact.
If you want to see some of the trip you can check out the hashtag #