10 Things Leslie Lehr Cannot Live Without
Author of A Boob’s Life: How America’s Obsession Shaped Me… And You
Written by Amelia Jeffers
Leslie Lehr never planned to be a writer. The Upper Arlington grad recalls the library at Windermere Elementary, where her love of books began, followed by weekly trips to Tremont Library in middle and upper school. Occasionally, when she had something to say, she dared to submit poems and personal essays to her school publications, but never considered that someone could make a living by writing. Instead, she pursued a career in film, writing a little between projects until she became a mother and had plenty about which to vent. Staying home with her baby, Lehr gave herself a year to “write a book or go back to the (movie) biz and never see her awake.” The results of her effort scored a national prize, and career number two was officially launched.
Lehr had six books under her belt when she tackled a project no one wants: a cancer diagnosis. “The treatment was so horrible that I didn’t want to talk about it, let alone keep a journal or post on social media,” she recalls. Instead, she decided to write one essay, aim for the sky, and be done with it. When the New York Times published it in their Modern Love column, the piece went viral, and the book that would become lucky number seven was born. A Boob’s Life: How America’s Obsession Shaped Me… and You has been heralded as a must read by People Magazine, Glamour, Good Morning America, and Katie Couric. Entertainment Tonight included it on their list of books by “trailblazing women… changing the world” where Lehr saw her work promoted alongside works by Michelle Obama and Glennon Doyle; and Salma Hayek has chosen to adapt it into a comedy series for her first project with HBO. Lehr agreed to be interviewed by SL in honor of her hometown and just in time for Women’s History Month. For more information about her life and work, visit leslielehr.com.
10 Things Leslie Cannot Live Without:
My library card. I read so many books that I can’t buy them all, so my library card is like Willie Wonka’s golden ticket.
Chocolate sprinkles. I got hooked at Friendly’s on Henderson Road. Now I keep a bottle in my pantry because they make everything more fun.
The ocean. Looking at the ocean helps me believe in a higher power. I love that there is an entire world beneath the water that has zero to do with me. Seeing dolphins on my morning walk feels like a blessing, and finding sand dollars when the tide is super low is magical.
A pretty bra. Research for A Boob’s Life revealed that most women have ten bras, including T-shirt bras, strapless, halter, and at least one fun color - as well varying sizes. I’m afraid to count mine, though I’ve mostly worn sport bras since the pandemic. I have a lacy black one that is so elegant it can only be called a brassiere. It’s so beautiful that I rarely wear it, but just seeing it in my drawer makes me feel the power of being a woman.
Old friends. I started hearing from old high school friends out of the blue after I got breast cancer. Their care and concern kept me going and reminded me that every moment I spent growing up in Columbus had mattered - and that we have a community of good hearts in Ohio.
The serenity prayer. Life can be really complicated and painful. This prayer puts it in perspective for me, helping me remember to work on the things I can, and let go of the rest.
Sparkly things. From the shimmer on the ocean to the sparkles of a diamond, I am a sucker for anything sparkly. I just think they’re pretty.
Modern medicine. I literally cannot live without it. Without a mammogram and a new drug that had just been approved by the FDA the year before I got sick, I’d be dead. I know for sure that science saves lives.
Gratitude. After a few months of making a daily gratitude list, you begin to view the world from a more positive perspective. Some days, my list includes important things like my family, friends, #metoo and #timesup; on others, it’s as simple as a flower or toilet paper. Every day, I’m grateful - and it adds up.
Writing. Writing gives me a voice, the ability to put a pin in the map and say “Here I am. What I think matters.” When others can relate to my work and say “yes, we’re here, too,” it really makes me feel like we’re all in this together.