Wise Women Wednesday: Leigh Ann Henion

Leigh Ann Henion

It's Wise Women Wednesday, each week I interview a woman that I believe is inspiring, living abundantly and following her passions.  These are all women who live a life of abundance and bring creativity into the world.

Q. Who are you? What is your background?
A. Once, someone referred to me as a "nature evangelist." I'll take it! My enthusiasm for the natural world led to my largest project to date: a memoir about chasing eclipses, migrations, and other natural phenomena around the planet to address my then-faltering sense of wonder. The pilgrimage I share in my book, Phenomenal, was transformational. It wasn't about finding myself or changing who I was; it was about trusting myself to become a deeper version of the person I'd always been. We're all awed by different things, but I think tapping into unique passions can help us each, in our own way, get to the essence of this simple and infinitely complex question: Who are you? The word enthusiasm comes from enthusiasmos. It means "the spirit within." Maybe our cores are identifiable by what we're most moved to share with the world.

Q. What is your work? 
A. I'm a writer. In addition to my memoir, I've written essays and articles for Smithsonian, The Washington Post Magazine, The New York Times, and a variety of other publications. Residents of North Carolina are usually most familiar with the stories I've penned for Our State. I write about the intersection of nature and culture—which means I write about pretty much everything! I also tend to gravitate toward pieces that fall into the travel category. Nature and travel are two of my most enduring loves.

Leigh Ann Henion's Feather Image

Q. What is one project you are excited to be working on right now?
A. I've been full-time freelance for a little over a year now. The rhythm requires that I'm always most excited about what's coming next, and I'm often not sure what it's going to be!

Q.  What is one thing you've done recently that's scared you and took courage, but you're glad you did? 
A. I try to continually do things that scare me. If I'm not a little uncomfortable, it means I'm not growing. Two recent examples would be signing up for a falconry lesson and taking a zero-gravity flight. NASA uses zero-gravity-flying planes to train astronauts. They're popularly known as Vomit Comets. Enough said!

Leigh Ann Henion's Monarch Butterflies

Q. What is the work you most want to be doing and are you doing it?  If not why not what's stopping you?  
A. Every assignment I accept is a mini-pilgrimage. They're not always easy journeys, but it's hard to imagine any work more satisfying.

Q. What would you tell your high school or college self? 
A. The losses and rejections will lead to gains more amazing than you're currently able to imagine. 

Leigh Ann Henion's Butterfly

Q. What's one piece of advice or motto you love and use in your daily life that you would like to share with my sweet readers? 
A. Don't be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth. 
–Rumi

Q. What keeps you creating when you don't feel like it? 
A. Muffling distractions (like social media!) helps me focus on the page. That said, Instagram is a creative outlet unto itself. I used to be hard on myself for spending time on it, but several posts have actually led to freelance assignments. (Find me @leighannhenion!). 

Q. How do you live a life of abundance? 
A. By taking curiosity seriously. Curiosity is an inner compass; it guides us when we let it.

Be Sure to read Leigh Ann's book "Phenomenal" if you haven't already and check out her website: http://www.leighannhenion.com/book.html

Leigh Ann Henion Falconry