Let us give a toast for initiations.
A salute to our stunning debut.
A blessing of perpetual becoming.
And most of all, here’s to showing up.
Thank you for the light you bring to this world, Dear One. Thank you for your faith, your integrity, and your devotion. And thank you for believing in it even when it feels fleeting or far beyond your reach.
I hope you find a spark here and remember the wisdom your beautiful heart holds.
HI, I’M LESLIE RALPH.
THIS IS MY MISSION.
I’m a writer, artist, dreamer, optimist. I’m one of the ones you can’t stop from talking about love. And I’m on a mission to leave the world a little brighter than I found it.
The Backstory… (We all have one.)
By day, I’m a psychologist specializing in self-compassion, mindfulness, and positive psychology. By nights and weekends and heart, a wife and mother. And in all the spaces in between, the dreams and secret wishes, a writer and illustrator.
I used to struggle to define who I was or what I did, like I had to put one label on it or choose what my life was really about. I felt scattered, pulled, and a stranger to myself. Now, I know it’s all my life’s work, and it’s all contributing something to this world.
For years, I wrote a self-help newsletter. It started with the typical “10 Things You Can Learn from Your Cat” blog posts. It was a tiny thing, a little space I allowed to be just for exploration. I had no idea then what it would ignite in me.
It was through writing that I discovered my voice. That voice lay somewhere between self-help and poetry, meditation and storytelling. It surprised me how little it sounded like the person I’d pretended to be for so long.
It was also through writing to help others that I discovered how confined I’d forced myself to become. And how unlimited my true nature was.
Creating self-help material ultimately prepared me to make big changes in my life, to trade in hustle for heart, to trust that it was safe to be me, and to let everything be okay.
Perhaps the biggest change that arose from this work was the realization that I was meant to create something else.
I wanted to write children’s books. And poetry. And make art.
Through trial and error, I’ve learned that loving and nurturing yourself requires intention. Attention. S p a c e. It means loving the part of me that’s scared, even when I’ve lost trust in myself and offering whatever I have to feed the spark in me, even when it feels like I’m so far from where I want to be.
And this is exactly why now I write for children under the name Ivy Junetree. And write poetry. And create art. And I let myself do it slowly.
So, this is me, figuring things out and sharing my work with you in hopes that I might help you figure something out, too.
Because we’re in this together!
Welcome to my tiny corner of the universe. May the work I share here serve you well in your beginnings, endings, and dreamings.
My vision is a world where we’ve befriended life again, in all its wildness. Where we aren’t afraid anymore, aren’t fighting. In this world, we lean on love moment by moment by moment by moment. One by one, we become soft wonderment and so appreciative of the connection we share.
Over the last 15+ years, I’ve immersed myself in all things healing – from positive psychology to vibrational alignment, and everything in between. I’m learning how to read for fun again and to create the things I love.
Here are a few highlights from my professional journey and my heart journey.
- Licensed clinical psychologist specializing in self-compassion, mindfulness, and positive psychology for over a decade.
- Published research in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships and the Child and Youth Care Forum and presentations at the American Psychological Association and Association for Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies.
- Featured writer on Positively Positive and regular contributor to major sites like Tiny Buddha and TUT.
- Author of the 5-star rated There, I Might Find Peace, poetry and meditations for peace, love, and strength, and the guidebook, How to Have Your Back.
- Working for major universities and health centers like the Texas Tech University and Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, Kaiser Permanente, and the University of Arizona.
- Invited to speak at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, the University of Arizona College of Law, and the University of Arizona Healthier Campus Expo on how students can be more resilient and successfully navigate the ups and downs of life.
- Realizing it didn’t “fix” me like I thought it would. Deciding to choose me.
- Purchasing the domain name ivyjunetree.com and releasing my first real books for children, Maeve the Moon and Scoop.
- Closing down everything and starting again. (I deleted the entire newsletter mailing list!)
- Never looking back 🥰
PRAISE (THANK YOU FOR THAT)
Here’s what students and readers are saying:
“Two words: -Simply amazing!!! :D”
“I found this little gem at just the right time in my life. It’s a beautifully written book! It has already moved me to tears several times and I’m not even done with the whole book. Thank you, Leslie, for sharing your light with us all.”
“Leslie Ralph speaks to my soul. Uplifting and gratifying.”
“I am so touched by the reflections and emotions in the author’s book, truly. I can say that I loved ALL of it, but especially the pieces entitled “Before”, “Welcome Home”, “Instructions”, “I’m Ready”, “Bring The Stars Back To Your Eyes”, and “Note to Self”, all for different reasons. I DEEPLY resonated with “Affirmation for the Truth”, and I have several people I could dedicate “1,000 Flames” to immediately. The most telling question of all, perhaps, was the one asked in “True Courage”: “Of all the things in this world there are to fear, why fear your true self?” This is a deeply beautiful and thoughtful work that will resonate with so many.”
“What a treat! I found this book touching and beautiful, lyrical and, at times, my heart actually raced because I thought “yes, me too!! Me too!!”. I loved the simple beauty of not only the words but the drawings. They all brought peace to my soul. My very favorites are: Before, Starting Here, I’m Ready, Affirmation for Truth, Light Feels Like This and 1,000 Flames (oh the imagery with that one!). Thank you. This is truly a gift you’ve created and I hope it touches many, many more people the way it touched me. I’m ready to go back and read it over again and bookmark passages and pages so I can pull them out when I do feel the darkness around me and when I need to remember the light. A beautiful message. Highly recommend…”
“Only someone who has spent time in her own darkness can write with credibility about light. In order for the light to shine brightly, darkness must be present. It is a good little pocket book to carry with you.”
THE PARTS OF ME I REMEMBERED AGAIN
I spent too many years not knowing who I was or what I wanted. I figured I’d find happiness in achievement or size 00 jeans, but it was never there. Through the very practices I share here, I rediscovered the spark in me worth nurturing. So, here’s me when I’m not writing for adults.
I spend most of my creative time writing picture books with my children as Ivy Junetree.
I’m going on my 3rd year of a 365-day photo challenge. That means most days, you’ll find me sneaking up on my husband and kids with a camera.
The clarinet was my first true love. I majored in clarinet performance at Vanderbilt University. Back then, the opera pit was my favorite place to be.
When I was little, I wanted to be a professional figure skater. Debbie Thomas = my hero. (And when I wasn’t pretending to be her, I was practicing my Tiffany, Martika, and Debbie Gibson routines – on roller skates! It was most excellent.)
I guess there’s always been a spark in me. I just had to give myself permission to find it.