Women of Charlottesville

Highlighting the unique and diverse amazing women of Charlottesville, VA.

Erin Leaverton

Meet lovely Erin! We crossed paths completely by chance, and when I heard her story, I knew it had to be shared! Erin is an intellectual spitfire–full of passion and so much wisdom! Her deep compassion and desire to see true change in this country/world is inspiring and heartwarming.

Erin and her husband, along with their three small children, gave up almost all of their worldly possessions and traveled the United States in an RV for 14 months–visiting every single state with a purpose they felt called to–“After months of staring at the problem of division [within our country] and finding no clear answer to its root cause, it became clear that the only way to find the answer would be to set out to all 50 states, talk to real Americans, and do something really profound…ask.” You can read/hear more about their story and their findings on their website and podcast Undivided Nation, as well as Erin’s website. Enjoy Erin’s interview!

us: So, Erin, tell us a little bit about yourself . . .

her: Oh wow, where to begin! I’m new to Cville and love living here!

I began a life-long journey of transformation when we met our daughter, Grace, who was diagnosed at birth with Down Syndrome. She came crashing into my life presenting me with a choice to either see her through the world’s eyes or see the world through hers. I had just enough presence of mind to choose the latter . . . and over the past eight years, that decision has changed my life. 

us: What did you have for breakfast this morning?

her: I didn’t have breakfast, I intermittent fast.

us: Does pineapple belong on pizza?

her: No.

us: Do you sleep in your socks?

her: No.

us: What’s your go-to midnight snack?

her: The classic answer is always going to be a chocolate chip cookie. But, because I’m keto right now, I would say a keto cup.

Erin with her sweet family.

us: Mountains or beach?

her: Beach

us: Current favorite song?

her: “Into the Unknown” from Frozen 2.

us: Salty or sweet?

her: Salty

us: Pet peeve?

her: When people forget to flush the toilet. Current life stage!

us: Room entrance song:

her: Oh gosh, that’s tough! Maybe, “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman

us: Favorite place you’ve traveled to?

her: Hawaii

us: What’s your favorite room in your house?

her: My kitchen.

us: Who has been the most influential woman in your life?

her: Right now, I would say Prudence Crandall. Prudence Crandall is a woman who lived in Connecticut in early 1800s. She started the first private learning institution for girls of color. I’ve written about her in my book, and I’m working on a musical about her life. She is one of my newfound heroes. Her writings and the things that she said, were so countercultural for her day. And, they are still so relevant right now and in this moment in America. I also love that Mark Twain became a big and fan and advocate of hers when the state of Connecticut kicked her out.

us: What accomplishment are you most proud of?

her: I would say right now, the accomplishment that I’m most proud of is completing my manuscript. It’s my first book, and it is one of the hardest, most vulnerable things I’ve ever had to do in terms of digging deep in myself, and finishing something I’ve started. I’m not always good at finishing. I’m good at starting, but not always at finishing. So, I’m really proud of myself for that accomplishment–whether it ever sees a book stand or falls into the hands of millions of people. I’m proud of it because it’s like I gave birth to my fourth child. It’s like you look your baby in the eye and think “you’re here because I have pushed really hard.” And, that’s how I feel about my book.

Erin has been writing a book sharing their story.

us: If you could give your younger self a single piece of advice, what would it be?

her: Fear drives and love leads. All decisions, whether large or small, can best be made best when led by love. 

us: Can you tell me about a challenge that you’ve overcome?

her: I had a really hard time getting pregnant. I was diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), which I later found was a result of insulin resistance. So, I’ve been on a long health journey of just getting to know my body and giving my body permission to talk to me, and not shame my body for what it might not be doing well or correctly. And, actually instead, listening to my body and blessing my body and learning to love my body. I would say that is something that I’ve overcome–this idea that I need to beat my body into shape, or hate my body into wellness, as opposed to loving my body. I didn’t grow up in an unhealthy home, but I think that when it came to body image, there were words that were chosen around me in my atmosphere that may not have been helpful for me and understanding health and beauty, as God sees it. And, that’s not no knock against my parents, it’s just, I think we take the tools we have, and we use them. Growing up, at that time in the world, we knew less than we know now about health and wellness. So it’s been a journey. And I feel like it’s been one that I’ve had victory and I really have learned to love my body and listen to it. I’ve been able to overcome polycystic ovarian syndrome through honor rather than forcing change.

“It’s funny how one question can change the course of your whole life. For us, that question came during the 2016 Presidential election. As we discussed our family’s future over dinner one evening, I asked Dave ‘If kids, mortgage and finances were not a factor, what would you wake up and want to do tomorrow?’ Dave responded with an answer that surprised us both: ‘I would want to help bring unity to America.’ “
Erin and Dave doing their podcast: Undivided Nation.

us: Where do you find your inspiration?

her: In the quiet, mundane moments of life. In the moments when I think nothing should be happening. 

us: Any embarrassing or funny nicknames we should know about?

her: Eddie. It’s the Italian way to say my name.

us: Any hidden talents we should know about?

her: Painting. I love to paint and if I ever get a minute, I want to explore that expressive part of me. 

us: What are you most thankful for?

her: My husband and my three little people, hands down. They are the most incredible gifts any human could be given. 

A few images from the Leaverton family’s 14 month journey! Images courtesy of Erin Leaverton.

us: What is your favorite thing about living in Charlottesville?

her: The retail.  Ha! Just kidding . . . 
There are so many things to love about this place, from the size and pace to the 4 full seasons. But for me, the thing I love most about this city is the people we’ve met, who have let me step into their worlds and hearts to carve out a home for myself and our family, not just in the place, but in its story. After 14 months of solid travel, it humbles me and blows me away to see how so many amazing people are willing to let people in and make space to know you.

Thank you Erin, for sharing your story with us!