Monthly Archives: May 2013


“She who does not find grace in herself dies slowly.”
-Pablo Neruda


What if we just decided to believe that we’re not doing life wrong?


my heroes


In 2006, our lives intersected with a woman named Maya. She was a stranger to us, but we met her in an incredibly vulnerable moment, and that tends to connect people in a way that is transcendent.

Steve was sent by the Navy to be with her right after she was notified that her husband, Marc, had been killed in Ramadie. He was the first SEAL killed in Iraq. I see now that part of the shock of this loss then and even still today is because these men—the men in his platoon and task unit—were believed to be indestructible. Hero-gods. Then Marc was lost. Then others.

Steve escorted Maya back to San Diego and sat beside her at Marc’s funeral and memorial service. I sat a few rows back at both services, trying to breathe. Feeling like there weren’t enough words in the world to assuage one second of this loss.

Huge pictures of this gorgeous young man. Uniforms everywhere. Bagpipes. A 25 year old widow.

In the last almost-7 years since we met Maya, we’ve seen her now and then. We saw her recently at a building dedication at the SEAL complex where a huge facility has been named in Marc’s honor. She was radiant and gracious, as always.

Every year, since 2006, on this day in May, I think of Maya. I think of the extraordinary courage required to endure the grief she has endured.

Loss is not nameless and faceless. Loss is the most personal and intimate of human experiences.

If you’ve watched someone mourn or if you have mourned a grief this primal, then you know.

Today, our country honors those who have raised their hand and gone forward for the fight. We honor those who believe the cause is worth the cost. We honor those who have given, ultimately.

But I, quietly in my heart, honor those who have walked the worn path of grief. Those who have endured the loss in the most personal way. Those who sent off their person and didn’t get them back. I honor the ones left to pick up the pieces. The ones who are still here, remembering.

The Scriptures say that those who mourn are blessed because they will be comforted. God, be near the brokenhearted.

Today, I remember the mourners. They are my heroes.


if it’s a car-door-to-the-calf kind of morning …

I was driving Luke and Lane to preschool with Elle along for the ride. About 11 seconds after we pulled out of the driveway, Lane announced that she wanted a doll to take with her to school. No doll in the car. I determined that we were already on our way and that she would have to play with the dolls in her classroom.

Commence Lane losing. Her. Mind. Bashing the seat in front of her with both heels. High pitched screams that would make you think one of her arms spontaneously detached.

I ripped the steering wheel over and stopped the car on the steepest hill between our house and their school. I stomped the e-brake, threw my door open, and flew out my door, preparing to give Lane some godly wisdom about her choices. The incline of the street brought my door screaming back and the corner caught me right in the back of the calf. Like a gun shot. Mom down.

Bent over in the middle of the street, trying to catch my breath, sweating, spewing unsavory sentiments, I felt practically rabid.

I limped around and opened her door, breathless, and commenced a conversation with Lane between my pained panting. Trying to get words out while I groaned.

By this point, Lane was perfectly calm and looking at me like how I imagine she will look at me when she’s 15. (Geesh, Mom, you are so lame.) Which, in fact, I was. Rendered lame by that {expletive of your choice} door.

All three of my kids looked at me as if I was the one who had lost my mind. Even Elle had taken her fingers out of her mouth at was staring at me aghast.

And then Luke says what everyone is already thinking: “Mommy, you’re kind of scary.”

Forgoing the lecture, I closed their door, limped back to my side of the car and waited by my door for a minute. Breathing. Breathing. Breathing. In these situations, that’s just about all a person can do.

Then I climbed back in the car, released the brake and kept on driving. Because, after all, we still had to get to preschool.

If your day today is feeling like this in any way—like you’re only a few hours in and you’ve already taken a car door corner to the calf—just know that you’re not alone.

Let’s all take a few moments and B.R.E.A.T.H.E.



your brave and beguiling soul within


I heard Maya Angelou read her work at San Diego State University at least 10 years ago. We were seated impossibly far away from the stage in that enormous gym, and the sound was unfortunate. What shot through all the din of straining and squinting was a six foot tall African American woman—then well into her seventies—who was dangerously and beguilingly aware of her own magic.

Though we couldn’t see it from where we were sitting, you were just sure she had a twinkle in her eye. In fact, you could hear that twinkle in her voice, in the way she danced through lines with her meter and with her hips.

She was captivating.

Since that day, I have loved her and found such inspiration in her story, her writing, and her way of being—which is smooth and scandalous.

Her newest memoir, Mom & Me & Mom just released, and I decided on a hard copy—instead of reading it on my kindle—because I wanted to feel it, feel her, be able to underline with a pencil all the juiciest lines for you.

I was so engrossed in the book that I took my kids to McDonalds during the lunch rush so we would have to wait in the drive-thru line and I could read while we waited, children securely fastened to their seats.

Which reminds me . . . sometimes you’ve got to steal time for the things you love, the things that fill you up, your soul’s deepest inspiration. The universe isn’t going to hand you the time. You have to concoct a way you can safely and legally and ethically (i.e. don’t steal the time from your boss when you’re getting paid to be working) steal a bit of time to fill up. McDonalds drive thru it is!

Angelou concludes her prologue with this:

“Love heals. Heals and liberates. I use the word love, not meaning sentimentality, but a condition so strong that it may be that which holds the stars in their heavenly positions and that which causes the blood to flow orderly in our veins. This book has been written to examine some of the ways love heals and helps a person climb impossible heights and rise from immeasurable depths” (x).

The books focuses entirely on her complicated and evolving relationship with her mother, and it is, in fact, a tribute to how love can be the hand that pulls us up, time and time again.

I have given this book 92 out of 5 stars. In it’s pages I found a beautiful story, but more. I also found a warrior woman—Maya Angelou—who has inspired me for so many years. Reading Maya, I also find myself again and the parts of me I want to protect and nourish. I find the parts of me I don’t want to let shame or fear or any other kind of bullying silence.

So whether or not you read the book, please take the following with you: Steal some time to love on that warrior inside you, that brave and beguiling soul within that needs nourishment and inspiration and lots and lots of breathing room.

I love you and I believe in you today!



to all the mothers out there …


Earlier this week, I asked Luke and Lane:

“Hey guys, what’s something cool Daddy has taught you how to do?”

And without hesitation, they rattled off a list of extreme amazingness:


“Pull ups”

“Plant a garden”

“Rock climb”

“Build a climbing wall”

“Start a campfire”

“Speak French”

“Eat bacon”

“Wow. That’s so cool.” I say. “Daddy has taught us so much! We have such a great Daddy.”

And then I lob the obvious follow up question: “So what are some cool things that Mommy has taught you how to do?”

“Well . . .”

“Hmm . . ”

“Umm . . ”


I guess I should be thankful they didn’t say things like:

“How to scream”

“How to burn dinner”

“How to turn on the TV”

To have received Steve in God’s lottery of fathers is to have totally lucked out. He’s got so many fascinating experiences and interesting skills. Adventure guide, pirate, and Renaissance man. Who needs Disneyland when you have Steve Tankersley as your father? I know all this is true, AND YET . . .

I’m not going to lie, I was just the tiniest bit crestfallen.

All the time. All the investment. All the thinking through and planning ahead and decision making on their behalf. All the little moments when they’re on my mind or in my lap. All the intangibles. And they couldn’t think of one thing? Not one thing?

These moments cause you to question what it’s all worth, what you’re doing with your days anyway, what the sacrifice and investment amount to. Cue the swirling, toxic, crazy-brained thinking that takes me down down down. AND THEN . . .

A very small miracle.

Later that same day, we were headed home after a long afternoon at the park. Luke, staring out his window, said in a quiet voice, “Mom, look. It’s the last light of day.” And Lane said, “Yeah, mom. Isn’t the sky beautiful.” Elle sucked her two fingers, with great skill, like she always does.

To all the mothers out there who can’t always keep up with the latest anything on pinterest . . .

To all the mothers out there who sauté onions and garlic in the pan (so the house smells like dinner) while you’ve got dino-nuggets in the oven . . .

To all the mothers out there who ate something off the floor today because your kid dropped it and you were ravenous . . .

To all the mothers out there who skipped your shower, yet again . . .

To all the mothers out there who are home . . .

To all the mothers out there who are at work . . .

To all the mothers out there who nurture creativity, observation, beauty-scouting . . .

To all the mothers out there who are, at every turn, trying to reinforce your child’s unique perspective on the world . . .

To all the mothers out there who are tempted to think your kids aren’t listening or watching or caring . . .

To all the mothers out there who spend your days, your nights, your very lives imparting the intangibles to your kids . . .

To all the mothers out there who point out the sky, the last light of day, the little moments unfolding around your kids throughout the day . . .


Happy Mother’s Day.


feeding your senses

A few photos for you to enjoy . . .

IMG_2102Last weekend I facilitated a found art workshop at a conference at my church. It’s been well over two years since I led one of these workshops, and it all felt like coming home in the most tender way. I was so overwhelmed by the participation and enthusiasm. So many who clearly needed and enjoyed the time and space to reflect and create. Something every single one of us needs! We made found journals and/or chipboard collages, and it was perfection. I’m not sure when I’ll be hosting another found art workshop, but I’ll be sure to let you know here when it’s happening. And if you find yourself in the San Diego area, I would triple LOVE to see you there!


One of the great joys of our new house is this tiny little loft space. You have to take a treacherously small winding staircase up to it, which is why my children have named it “Tangled’s Tower.” We decided to do a little mini-facelift on this space. I posted this picture to Instragram (@lmtankersley) and my wildly talented friend Wanida suggested we stop the paint sample madness and just go with “quietude” from Sherwin Williams. Well, we should all be listening to Wanida because the color turned out magical. I’ll post the “after” at some point. It’s become an inspiring little space for me to escape to or send the kids up to and even housed my dear friend Jamie last week while she was in for a visit. Life-giving to tackle a project that we actually finished. Also life-giving to have a room — albeit microscopic — in my house painted aqua. Yesssssssss.


Can I tell you how much I missed butter lettuce in Bahrain? Just not really known for its produce in general, Bahrain was a constant exercise in creative cooking. Now, back in the States, I am overwhelmed by the produce. In fact, one of the things that still chokes me up (even though we’ve been back now 2 1/2 months) is seeing citrus hanging off of trees. It’s like the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. And so it is with this gorgeous head of butter lettuce. I put it in my turquoise colander and took a picture because it was so so so pretty. Not to mention one of my very favorite color combinations.

It strikes me, as I’m uploading these images, that they are all three — each in their own way — a celebration of color, texture, the senses. Being alive. Being creative.

What is something that’s currently speaking to your senses?

Have a wonderful weekend, precious friends.

Love upon love, Leeana