This morning, I learned a little lesson about THINGS.
This comes ironically the day AFTER I snapped a pic of a thick glass bowl full of treasures and trinkets. They were the topic of an article I had just written in Druid City Living, the little paper I love to write for in my “Lake Living” Column.
The things were mostly meaningless without the story behind them, from places known and some I have to admit, unclear. My curious kitten sent the bowl crashing to my desk in a thunderous plunk and a pile of mess just where I was typing.
Until now, it sat on my windowsill between me and the sunshine. I glance at it now and then, remembering the times my babies (now grown) gnawed on a small melodic, silver rattle. It is nestled among feathers gathered from my parakeets and chickens as well as sheddings from gulls and a bluebird. It is accented by dried leaves, bright orange rock fragments from North Carolina, a golf tee and marker from Mountaintop, a small Bible with a magnifying glass tucked in the back cover that I got as a child. Sand dollars, some broken, some glued to a piece of wood. Sticks, mostly in shapes that spoke to me while I meandered a labyrinth with my best friend just before brain cancer sent her to a better place.
The slow motion movement from the bowl and the twice as fast dart of the cat is still engrained in my mind. A reminder that we can contain our things, but life still has a way of breaking our concentration, unleashing what is important.
I yelled at the cat, I screamed out loud. I watched in horror as he scrambled to the floor, then spoke aloud, “What is MY DEAL?”
Somehow, instead of cleaning it up, I ended up in my closet FILLED with trinkets, books and treasures. I sat on the floor. I took out a box I have carried around since I discovered it in the back of my mother’s closet. A glimpse into the life of the uncle I would never know, killed at age 18 in World War Two. Without his death my mother would have never been adopted. I would have never been. I snapped this pic of the box, the pic of, he, his mother and his sister at the time, before my mother was even a thought. The envelope returned to sender with the words “Missing in Action”.
I resolved today that things should either be displayed, shared (as in a museum) for some purpose, or TOSSED. I cringe at the third option. I used to rummage for hours in the upstairs rooms of my grandparent’s abandoned home. They closed it up, left every thing there after Allen died. What remained were things such as this chair, these photo albums, items of someone’s glorious yesterdays, avoided, forgotten.
I scraped up the tiny shards of glass only after snapping a pic of the pile too. I could not deny that there was beauty among that mess as well. This pile of glass reminded me, even on my desk, of tiny grains of Alabama Gulf Coast beach sand where I collected so many of these things.
As I sorted to add them to a “non-breakable” plastic topped box I remembered some of the places I had stopped to snatch these things: a rock in a creek bed in Norcross, Georgia at a horse farm; a butterfly I vowed to wear in my hair if we bought it in Ashville, NC; A crystal ornament I couldn’t pack away at Christmas; a lock of my daughter’s blonde hair tied in mesh; shale looking items and sticks from the beach (because those are more rare there than shells); a paper American flag; a cork from our first anniversary.
We may think things will make us happy. Yes, these did, somehow, but they cannot replace the memories of the moments that go with them.
I culled a few shells. Perfect, hand picked, store bought shells I rescued from our beach house the week before my mother sold it with everything in it. I also took the less perfect ones I would often add to her “decor” collection, remembering the coolness of the water on my feet as I would search for them at the water’s edge. She probably doesn’t remember what catalog she bought those from. But I remember every creak, every uneven tile in the beach house floor when I look at these. I remember the home of my childhood that proceeded the newer version. The sleeping porch, the spiral stair, the wood balconies. The humming of my grandmother, the unusual softness of my grandfather’s fingers as he swirled his cane while rocking in his rocker. All of those memories simply triggered by a large rock my daughter, now 20, painted on a day when it was too cold to go outside when we lived there along the water’s edge in Gulf Shores. (We would also paint hermit crabs and release them in the bay across the street). I am pleased to discover I do draw a limit in my treasure collection.
Which brings me back to the lesson of things. None of these were elaborate gifts, jewels or shiny treasures. Even the rattle is coated in black. They are mere triggers for the memories that I hold dear.
I could toss them. But for now, I’ll just move them to a safer place. After all, the article I wrote just before this one was all about USING your treasures, making them a part of your every day life.
Looks like I’ll just have to keep the cat out of the china closet, because if I have it, I’m gonna start using it and quit saving it for that someday that might just never come.
Have a blessed, wonderful happymess ~memory making life!
Yes, I get it all the time. Wait? Are you that Realtor? That Artist?
“No, I don’t think so,” a fellow acquaintance told someone recently,” she writes for that newspaper.”
I was once told, “If you don’t pick ONE thing you are never going to be successful.”
I see that person now has actually drifted from that one profession into a few of the ones they said I “dabbled” in.
I believe that we are ALL created differently. I get it that many do NOT understand the many faces I wear. It is the way I have lived my whole life, involved to the core, even as a young mom although that span involved fewer “career-like” activities and were more activities such as juggling babies, Jr. League, book clubs, smocking groups and volunteer boards while working.
Over the years I have watched my interests develop and deepen. I now feel that if I didn’t do them all, I would be cutting off a part of me.
They say (we can get away with that as gospel here in the South~ “they” are all powerful) if you are frustrated late in your career, take your mind and heart back to those days, just about age 5-10 (before the world influenced your desires, curiosities and interests) and THAT my friend is who you have always wanted to be.
For me as a child, I loved lining my little sister and friends up on the sofa with worksheets I created and playing teacher. (We also served food through the kitchen window on roller skates so hey, I guess you would say that is my back up plan!)
I loved singing in front of a fat red tape recorder with five black buttons, knowing I sounded nothing like Olivia Newton John but belting her songs anyway, my sister sneaking up to make fun of me. My dad taught me to wire a four component stereo when I was nine. That has served me well as electronics are more cool to me than diamonds. (and to ride motocross before my toes could touch the ground on a Honda 50).
I loved the Sears catalog, dog eared pages marking lime green shag, bean bags and paint colors for me to decorate the play house with. (I resorted to a wooden fort with no walls with access from the trampoline below).
I loved painting, my first class probably in second grade and I still remember the foreground exercise we did. My huge brown, barren tree hanging from a cliff in the front left corner with cotton fields in the background.
I loved writing. I have journals from each and every moment of my life (yes Mendy, you can have those and burn as you see fit). Honesty (at least from my perspective) has always been my downfall. Perhaps some editing and censor would have done me well all these years.
In college I took Real Estate Investing. I majored in Interior Design at BAMA (remember the playhouse decorating? Sometimes the interests stick) and did commercial design for banking and medical clients for ten years. Bama’s was one of the few to be FIDER accredited. I am a state licensed and registered Interior Designers in the State (#250) Finding this coming in handy as I work on specializing in handicap accessible properties in the Tuscaloosa Area as well as in Staging Homes for Sale.
I got my Real Estate license over twenty years ago, motivated by men at the hunting camp discussing a land deal. The words still ring in my memory, “these girls grandparent died and they have no clue what it is worth. I think we can make some money on this one.” That day I vowed to know more than the vultures of the world, hoping to never become those young girls who probably lost that family farm on the outskirts of town. Today I LOVE helping people find a home. I can see the possibilities as they discuss their dreams. We talk about design tweaks here and there that could fulfill them. This month, the small town, traditional company I started here with, transgressed into a new national office. I was offered an opportunity to be a part of Lake Homes Realty, specializing in Lake Homes, particularly Lake Tuscaloosa.
And so, enough reminiscing. I have been quite busy this summer and have a few projects under the belt. Thought I would share them on this, my “almost 50th year of life”- But NOT YET! I’m a Taurus (go figure you say) so I can still say I am barely 49.
Here I introduce the babies I have created with my many faces.
They are each a part of me and I still have some more to get out there:
I love to learn. This from a workshop with Kellie Newsome.
Face 1: MOM
Lets not forget that. Birthing three little beings is quite the face to wear! So proud of each of them!)
(I’ll know when my brilliant one who is going into marketing finds this post. And YES that was our Tiffen RV in the background…had to retire it after a neighborhood pile in on the way to the ice cream shop in Mt. Brook turned into a “crap what is with the brakes” episode! Just sayin!) We went from Harley Davidson to this so hey, I thought it was a safe decision!
Paintings are now on the new SHOPIFY site and ready for purchase~
Click here to see the paintings waiting to come HOME to YOU!
What can I say? I don’t proclaim to know it all, but I sure have fun with my Friday paint group helping them bust out of their “I can’t do art” shell! It makes me SMILE.
Lover of Christmas. And JESUS as the reason for that holiday.
The book I wrote a few years ago is now on Amazon and Lulu.com as a coloring book. Who knew all these adults color!? Either way, this is the year I was determined to remind everyone that JESUS IS CHRISTmas.
Yes, that WAS our first tree in the new house in Birmingham, stood two stories and took our neighbors help to get it into the doors, after discovering it at the local tree farm in Griswold fashion and dragging it behind a not so short Acadia.
Fan and lover of the Alabama Crimson Tide and all things Southern.
A “younger” BEAR and an attempt at a watercolor shotgun. (Do you KNOW that acrylic and watercolor are TOTAL OPPOSITES? Watercolor you start soft and build up your darks. Acrylic, you put in your DARKS and add in with lighter colors and highlights. TRY it sometime! Really! If you want to stretch your brain! That will do it. Forget hours in front of TV.
I have been blessed with the Lake Living Column at Druid City Living where each month I create another reason to be thankful for looking at Lake Tuscaloosa as home every day.
I take writing seriously and have written cover stories for Southern Beauty Magazine about LeAnn Rimes, Emily Procter the mom of Princess Lea on Star Wars who told the publicist,”She was the most thorough interviewer I have talked to, and funny”. Well everyone REALLY did want to know ALL the juicy details and with a “story like mine (the square for all who know)” I had an IN.
I am a member of SCBWI and love meeting other authors and illustrators. Birmingham has one of the GREATEST chapters so if you are interested in that, by all means come to a conference! I have written and illustrated books and have had illustrations in other books (Birmingham Sketchbook) which I wrote the 2400 word history of Birmingham. What about THAT challenge. That’s a lot of history in a few words!
Did I forget photographer? I never thought of it as a job, but the kids will tell me I have stumbled in holes, held them up from catching the train because I was lingering behind to get a great shot while on a trip. You can find many of those (download, buy on canvas, notecards) in my new
This one is the most important to me to share as it includes hundreds of photos from my travels around the world to the things I discover in the back yard. These are now available for media download, on canvas and prints.
And music? I love to karaoke a good Dixie Chicks tune and have written a few songs in my rebellion phase that are recorded, but I pass the gavel for that to my son who is pursuing a grad degree in music at University of North Texas and the teachers assistant for Pat Coil (keyboardist for Michael McDonald)- who doesn’t love a kid who does Jazz and is trained by a Doobie? Charli is in Nashville and just recorded a song she wrote (is working on an album and was just on a video by the BAND PERRY.
I am seeing a bit of me in Brent. He can live for a day in his studio and not come out. He creates classes online to make it easy for others to learn to play by ear. He has taken my RIGHT BRAIN LEFT BRAIN dance to the next level…responsible, driven, focused. (and reminds me..MOM..FOCUS, but he gets the swirl of different vantage points.
I am a bit creative and flighty but I also love to be organized, thus the Creative Journal and Planner (crazy isn’t it? I am all over the place and like to be focused, goal oriented and organized). I have been working on it since my last name had an M in it. It is finally DONE, less some tweaks.
I am sharing it with you here so you can preview it. It is the ONE week journal and the ONE Month Journal and Planner which promises to have you BALANCE your day and start it with God’s word. *Disclaimer~ I am NOT and never WILL be perfect, but every day I wake up just like you to TRY to do better than yesterday.
Wow, getting it all out there, after many days lying in my bed feeling lost, worthless and tired of trying to push things around that were never seeming to make headway feels surreal.
I don’t know when or where it all happened but it is like the 50 year mark has been testing me.
I feel SO much better now that our BFF’s that we go to see in North Carolina, that I paint with and adore and who work out with Chad are 90 and (70ish). Sorry that is NOT gonna be changing..if I exercise its probably the S thing, running from someone or dancing while about to have a heart attack thinking I am looking sexy on a dance floor somewhere..but NOT spending my time on a treadmill (unless someone has one of those walking computer desks, hey I might be DOWN for that) the kids remind me that it is NOT “up for that”…when did they start changing the rules!?
And after reading Esquire’s One Hundredth issue, I retract my “almost fifty” and say instead (learning that life is all in your attitude and perception)……
I’m actually in my VERY latest forties~
And THAT is what I intend to embrace today!
I also know LOTS of prayer (years of journaling with the same prayer requests) has kept me moving forward.
2016 I am praying is the year for the cocoon to burst into life.
No matter what I am doing, I won’t be doing anything I don’t enjoy, that’s for sure.
Life is too short to live on other people’s definitions and terms.
It’s mine to live the way I choose.
I choose to wear and share all my faces.
Blessings to you in finding who you are and living it to the CORE!
We might just be developing some workshops to help you do that! Hey let me call my support group (you know who you are!) so we can collaborate.
Any other ENTJ’s out there? Come to find out, my husband, son and I are all that…ENTJ. Look it up the odds are crazy for that.
Can’t wait to see what YOU do with whats inside. LET it out. YOU have the ONLY SET OF FINGERPRINTS ON THE ENDS OF THOSE FINGERS…EMBRACE THAT. YOU are here for a reason. YOU are specially made. Let all of the gems you have to offer out. Don’t treat me like a pinterest pin…just know..I have struggled for YEARS with all of this. And even my songs are stupid…but guess what..they are mine..I captured them in a little studio in Foley with a crazy ass person who could put them to vinyl in an hour (otherwise I would have gotten distracted). But they were MY feelings and thoughts. They were songs I had to get out and the time.THAT is what you have to understand. Do it all FOR YOU. NO-one else.
I can’t explain how it is finally blossoming, bursting forth. I am just thankful it is…as I was just on the verge of GIVING IN.
Feeling creative? My creativity journal will help you make BABY steps to discover it…let it out. Message me and I will send you one FREE. We all need to discover who we are and who we were made to be.
This Poll will be up for a week~ Let me know what you think!
I was given the opportunity to write a column (and articles) for a local community paper here in Tuscaloosa called Druid City Living. Watch for it in your mailbox each month. It can be found online at Druidcityliving.com. I share a few of the articles here to quench your thirst. Hoping to have you hooked on all things about the lake and Tuscaloosa (Northport) Lake Living. Allison
There is something magical about nature.
Step out of the car after a long day and get a glimpse of a lake, a stream, or a tree in bloom and watch your cares drop away, at least for that moment.
Here in Tuscaloosa, residents have the opportunity to enjoy year round access to the Black Warrior River, Lake Tuscaloosa and nature at every turn.
I moved to Lake Tuscaloosa from Birmingham in May 2013 after 10 years as a writer, artist and realtor. Birmingham has a couple of great community papers and magazines, some which I have written for. When I saw Druid City Living, I was excited. I begged for a chance to share all I love about living on Lake Tuscaloosa.
It is my goal in this monthly column to write about unique activities that take place on and around the 177 miles of shoreline and the banks of local rivers and streams. Alabama boasts football, but we are also home to the greatest freshwater biodiversity in the nation. Combine that with mountains and sandy beaches and you have to puff up a bit when realizing this place is pretty spectacular.
For this column, we welcome your stories, big catch photos, and look forward to interviewing those who make the waterfront their home. We will feature activities that take place on the lake.
In my four or so years as a Bama student some years ago I crossed the spillway, but never explored the lake. I grew up near here in West Alabama (Livingston) and married on Lake Tuscaloosa. The intimate cabin at NorthRiver Yacht Club was to be the site before it became an extravaganza suited for the crystal room with 12 bridesmaids and 14 groomsmen. To say it is ironic that I will retire here with my husband of 10 years would be an understatement. I lived on the beach for four years. Before moving here, I lived in Crestline and we had a home on Lake Martin. Residents here may not recognize the unique, quiet, non-fluctuating treasure nestled in our own backyard. I’ll try my best not to share this with those in Birmingham who haven’t realized this is far better and closer than Lake Martin.
In the winter at Lake Martin, the water level drops significantly due to Alabama Power fluctuations. Here, I can barely see a change. Year round, when bizarre warm weather rolls across the cliffs, we could slip out on the water, or at least put our toes in at the dock.
There are dozens of neighborhoods that call the lakeside home and a number of rural areas that keep her shores wild with deer and turkey. Just down the street from me is a parcel of land I dream of with a barn, acreage and water frontage. A stone’s throw from there is a public island ready for anyone to pop a tent and have a campfire and across the road, a quaint planned development with a shared pool and public boat docks. Cliff tops boast million-dollar refuges just beyond this tranquil spot. All of this is surrounded by Northport’s treasured artsy cuisine spots and convenient to grocery stores. It is less than 12 minutes (five miles north) from downtown Tuscaloosa’s great restaurants and shops.
Make it a priority to get outside and soak in nature, whether in the woods or around any water.
Blessings as we head into boating season. I’m looking forward to sharing your memories, both past and those you make this summer.
Every time I look at those words, I think, “Wait! That doesn’t look right!”
It is hard to imagine that I am almost 50 because all those just a bit younger than me I still think of as “in their late twenties”.
Perhaps it is also because my mother still treats me like a child.
Ok, so maybe I act like one, but getting older does not mean you have to start “dying”.
She actually told me I should start dressing and acting my age.
“NEVER!” I say.
I even posted a photo with messy hair~ rebellion still lingering perhaps?
My husband and I are in a transition period of life, at least that is what he is thinking.
Personally I used to thrive on change and transition. We have been married nine years and are moving from our five bedroom city-ish home here in the Tiny Kingdom of Mt. Brook to a more rural, almost retirement-like destination.
It has been a hard one because honestly, this is the longest I have EVER lived in one place since I graduated from college. I lived in Montgomery for eight years but moved four times during those years, with a husband, two babies and a dog.
It was not until my divorce after another move (for my former husband’s career) to the Gulf Coast and two houses there that I moved to this home. I actually vowed I would never move again.
I have been here almost ten years. My daughter grew up here from second grade. She will be a senior. Yes, we are moving her for her senior year. Call me crazy but a “downshift to the country life” is just what she needs. You can’t express entitlement with mosquitos and bass! It is not her fault, it runs through the water~ some of the best in the country, U.S. that is.
When I was her age, I was really in the country- a self-proclaimed redneck. I loved everything about a small town, dirt roads, Hank Williams.
We aren’t going that far back into the woods, Tuscaloosa is a melting pot of small town people, professors, artists from the city, writers, photographers who have been there since I was a baby, students, grandparents, doctors, nurses, all living together in a slower paced existence.
There is a hint of that here where I live in The Tiny Kingdom, but the authenticity of it all is something this mound-like suburb can’t quite duplicate. Anyone who moved here from a small town knows it in their gut. The city folks who don’t understand why we are so “comfortable in our skin” probably never will, at least until they decide to embrace their mess. In the country, everyone already knows our messes and point them out at a younger age. Maybe that is what makes country folks so grounded. .
I sorta like that I got to taste the life here. I moved here for the schools and to be with my best friend who was dying of a brain tumor. She taught me there was more to life than pretense.
It cracks me up when people tell my husband, “You just don’t give a shit what anyone thinks about you! I am so jealous! You just don’t know what it’s like.”
Compliment or insult, we take it that we are obviously living life on our own terms.
THAT is why I have explored this notion of HAPPYMESS.
There is so much mess in every life. There are NO perfect families, no perfect wives, no perfect husbands, no perfect people. So why do we think we can pretend we are?
Who are we? Does anyone dare anymore to really discover that?
Or should we ask, “Who were we? And how did we become this way?”
“Who is defining me? Who do I want to be?”
Hard questions for LIFE.
Think of Martha Stewart. We all hate her because her crafts are so freaking perfect. We love to hate how mean and how verbal she is about her perfection. We probably cheered when her daughters turned their backs on her. But what did she do? She embraced her mistakes and turned out more laid back about her shortcomings and stronger than ever before! She is more celebrity after her MESS than she was before. And mostly because now we can relate to her!
I have a challenge for all of those who can hang with me.
Dig deeply into your messes and unearth the AUTHENTIC HAPPYMESS that lies just beneath the surface.
Why do we think if we don’t address it that it will go away? I know plenty of people who went through challenging things, who stuck together when others were saying, “How can you take that? Everyone knows.” I commend them for embracing and working through that mess, whatever that means to them.
Every person has a right and a yearning to be happy. We have been trying to be happy since our early days dreaming of birthday parties and holiday gifts and prince charming sweeping us away on our wedding days.
But LIFE has messes.
God has made every person with a unique set of fingerprints. Every person has a purpose. We find that our MESSES are the best places to find our MESSAGE to the world. We can help others through things that have hurt us.
As we will be moving to our new home in less than three weeks there will probably be lapses in the happYmess Series
and more on the HOW DO I DOWNSHIFT FROM A MESS to a happYmess homeLIFE.
I hope you will bookmark or follow along as I provide tools for unearthing YOUR happYmess.
It all begins in the morning for me with
1) a journal
2) a devotional to get me thinking on the right track and
3) a gratitude journal and some good music
4) and the action of free writing for fifteen minutes without lifting my pen.
You will be amazed at how much clutter you wake up with.
If you will let all of the clutter fill three pages of a regular sized notebook page without lifting the pen, just jotting unbridled thoughts until you hit the end of page three you will find not only clutter at first but formations of ideas that are sitting just beneath the surface, perhaps dreams you have pushed out of the way, ideas for things you can do for others.
Set your mind free!
Then as you start your day you will find that by the time you hit the ground running your mind is already on step 2~ problem solving.
Instead of remembering at the red light what you need to do, you have it out there and are brainstorming (usually on auto-pilot) stage two.
You will probably also find yourself venting to your friends LESS because you have already “gotten it out” and some of the things you built up to be so huge, no longer are.
TRY IT, this week!
Stand out there in your bathing suit girlfriend and toss the truth to the wind!
Let your soul set free and embrace your happYmess!
Welcome to Design of the Picture Book! I'm Carter Higgins, and I'm a writer and librarian for kids. I spent a spectacular stint as the Children's Book Editor at <a href="http://www.designmom.com/">Design Mom</a> which I loved! You can find my column <a href="http://www.designmom.com/category/childrens-lit/">here</a>.<br /> I'm a K-6 librarian, a former-ish graphic designer, an SCBWI member, and a huge fan of words and pictures.<br /> Represented by <a href="http://www.rpcontent.com/">Rubin Pfeffer of Rubin Pfeffer Content, LLC</a>.