Telling Tales: Wit & Wisdom

During the past three years, I’ve learned so many things about my dad. But two stand out the most.

One, it is essential to find humor in dark situations.

Two, nothing, AND I MEAN NOTHING, is more important than regular bowel movements. Besides talking about those bowel movements.

So it’s 6:45 Thursday morning. Coffee is ready, the Western Channel is playing “Gunsmoke” loud enough to shake my mother’s urn and Ralph is stalling.

This disease has taken him a bit further down the rabbit hole making changes to his routine upsetting. But today’s appointment at an area specialty center is essential. This evaluation will help determine if it’s safe for him to continue driving.

“Now why do I have to go to this appointment? I know how to drive! I drive all the time. In fact, the last time I took a driver’s test, they told me I never had to take it again. I was THAT good. I have a routine. This is screwing up my whole day. And I couldn’t sleep last night after you told me about this! I haven’t gone to the bathroom yet. And if I don’t have a BM — that’s a bowel movement, Becky — in the morning, I’ll get constipated.”

“I know what a BM is. Let’s not talk about that now,” I countered. “You have to go. They just have to make sure your reflexes are still sharp. And the insurance company needs to make sure it’s still safe for you to drive.”

“What insurance? I go there all the time. They love me. In fact, they said I have the best driving record of anyone. They said I can drive as long as I want. NO. QUESTIONS. ASKED!”

“This isn’t up to the insurance company dad. We need to make sure you are good to continue driving. You won’t have to take the test for another year.”

“What the hell do you mean? I have to take it again next year?! Let me call them. They aren’t going to jack me around and mess up my BM routine just because they need something to do. I’ll tell them. I don’t mind at all.”

“You have to go, Dad.”

“Why? My reflexes are great. They are just trying to squeeze money out of me. The jokes on them! I don’t have any money, dammit!”

“It’s because of your neuropathy, dad.”

“My what? I don’t have that. I don’t have any opathys!”

It’s now 7:20. Dad still hasn’t taken a shower or had a… whatever. If we leave right now, we’d still be late. I call and get the OK that we can be 30 minutes late. I’m sure they’ve dealt with situations like this. So now I have one hour and 10 minutes to make this happen.

Dad starts another stall tactic.

“Did I show the pictures Mikey sent?” Mikey being my big brother.

“No, I didn’t. I’ll look at them while you get ready to go. Hurry, Dad, we have to leave. Laura just texted and said she’s stuck in traffic.”

“Why would I care if she’s in traffic? Did you tell her what you’re making me do?”

“She’s meeting us there, so she’s well aware of the appointment.”

He finally retreats to his bathroom to get ready.

At 8:10 AM, he’s ready. I called the office again to tell them we would be later than 8:30. That’s when I get the news that we will have to reschedule his appointment.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! My sister and I have to go through this again in 14 days. We scheduled this appointment for three o’clock in the afternoon. This will make it easier for all of us. My sister and I will be able to work a half day before taking him, and dad won’t have to worry about his BMs getting off track.

When I tell dad that we’ve missed the appointment, he’s as happy as a clam. When I phone my sister and tell her we’ve missed it, she is pissed. She was on the elevator at the hospital where Dad’s appointment is scheduled.

“You tell him that I sat in traffic for an hour and 15 minutes to get to his appointment!”

So I did.

“Hold on. Dad, Laura said to tell you she sat in traffic for over an hour trying to get to your appointment. This has really upset her day.”

He takes the phone from me.

“Laura, hi honey, it’s Dad. You know when I go to Nashville, I take Lebanon Road. It’s stupid to take the interstate during rush hour. Don’t do that again. Love you, honey. Here’s your sister again.”

We’ve scheduled a new appointment, and to be safe until then we’re replacing fruits, vegetables and fiber of any kind with cheese and milk.

Comments? Email becky@wilsonlivingmagazine.com.

Telling Tales: Doing What We Can

So this morning, much to the chagrin of my 14-year-old son, I was making chocolate protein balls — basically water, chocolate protein powder and almond butter. (No licking the bowl at our house anymore!)

The conversation went something like this:

Neill – (with a look of horror) “What are you making?”

Me – “Protein balls.” (also with a look of horror)

Neill – “Why? You’ve made it this far.”

Me – “Made it this far? What does that mean?”

Neill – “I mean you’ve lived this far already. Why start eating like this now?”

Why indeed?

The good thing about my chocolate balls is that when I put these babies in the fridge, no one, and I mean no one, steals one. (Yeah me!)

Hey, at least I’m trying.

Not the best motto to live by, but not the worst either.

I take my vitamins when I remember.

Go to kickboxing if I can fit it in between work and a ballgame.

Eat hummus and veggies at the office, so long as I don’t forget to pack my lunch.

And contemplate giving up soda, white bread and processed food at least three times each week.

Recently, a group of my 40-something friends has been on a serious health kick. Exercising together, eating super healthy, encouraging each other in a group called “Lean 13”.

The ladies group has their own messaging app and all day long are texting and encouraging each other with recipes, workout meet-ups and motivational memes.

Some days, I watch intently as my phone blows up with their messages and then I force myself to go work out with them. Other days, I turn off the group notifications because I’m sure they can somehow see me making a doughnut run while sipping on my full-fat caramel mocha latte.

This morning I turned the girls back on.

I took my vitamins, ran at the park and then made my protein balls. And being it’s a good day. I’m also contemplating not cracking open that cold sprite in the fridge.

Tomorrow, I may not be as good. And that’s OK. Because the next day I might be again.

As my wise 14-year-old said, I’ve made it this far. And I’m going to try my best to make it a little farther.

Telling Tales: No More Leftovers

It’s no secret to my friends, family and anyone wandering the cleaning aisle of the local grocery that I don’t enjoy cleaning. I enjoy cooking, eating, reading, reading about eating and cooking and so on. I do not enjoy cleaning. It’s a necessary evil that can’t be avoided. While cleaning, the only time I stop complaining is when I’m gagging while cleaning my boys’ bathroom. (I will never understand how a man can be trained to hit a target at 1,000 yards away but hitting the space inside a toilet eludes him?)

It’s the time it takes to clean that bugs me most. When I go at it, I go at it with both barrels. (Just like when I doubled down on the freshmen 15 in college.) Everything gets cleaned and organized — even the toothpaste cap and pantry. There are times when someone “pops” over without notice or I agree to host a jewelry/cooking tool/clothing party when I must rush the cleaning process. This is what I call giving my home the “illusion of clean.” Don’t open a door, you might get hurt.

My youngest child is very much like his dad. Major Type A personality. He knows where his shoes are and probably yours. His room is always clean. He’s the child that’s with me when I lose my car keys, can’t find a pen or run out of gas (don’t ask!). When he shows me that my keys are hanging in the front door lock or points to a pen stuck behind my ear, there’s always a note of sarcasm in his gestures and a look in his eyes that say, “When I’m old enough, I’m putting you in a home.”

With three teenagers, we are always rushing. That being said, there are times when cleaning the refrigerator out gets overlooked… many, many times. So a few days ago, I decided it was time. Mostly, because I had run out of plastic storage containers and it was either buy more or clean out the fridge.

If it were a crime to purchase produce, take it home and let it sit in the back of the fridge until it changes colors and shrivels to half its normal size; I’d be serving a life sentence in prison.

After spending two hours throwing away, washing out and swearing that this will be the last time I ever wait this long to clean it out, the task was complete. It’s amazing how much brighter that interior light is when there’s not so much stuff crammed in. I don’t mean to brag, but it looked brand new.

A few minutes later, I heard my boys bound down the stairs most likely heading to the kitchen to get a snack. When the pantry door shut I knew the fridge was next on their quest for sustenance. Suddenly I heard my youngest scream out in a terrified voice, “WE’VE BEEN ROBBED! WE’VE BEEN ROBBED!” My husband and I ran into the kitchen where he was standing in front of the open fridge with a very confused look on his face.

When he saw me he said, “Where’s all the food?” I had the opportunity to tell him the truth. That this is the way a refrigerator is meant to look. But, that would mean I’d probably get that all too familiar look from him. So I did what I had to do.

“Jackson, WE’VE BEEN ROBBED!”

Telling Tales: Losing My Religion

Even though my spiritual upbringing was not ideal, the ritual and ceremony of practicing faith has always appealed to me. But at the same time, it scared the crap out of me. Because, while learning about the world through religion can be a beautiful, hopeful practice, learning about the world through religion, taught by fanatics on either side of any debate, can make one (see: Becky) become somewhat of a skeptic.

Years ago, I’d made up my mind that sleeping in on Sundays and relaxing was the way to go. So we (by this time I was married to my equal when it comes to religious skepticism) went on about our happy little life. We couldn’t be bothered with all that “stuff.”

Then…we had a boy.

Cliché as it sounds, this boy, our firstborn, forced us to see the world in a different way. Suddenly, his mama who had spent her college years and now four years of professional life focused on “reporting the news,” couldn’t watch or listen to anything that mentioned the words, “child,” “abduction,” “gun,” “hostage” or “Y2K” (Don’t judge. It was the 90s). The world didn’t make sense. And the reality of motherhood meant I needed it to make sense NOW. Who else but the Divine could help?

We were in no way qualified to be a spiritual guide to this innocent little being. So we searched. And searched. And searched some more. It was like we were on a town square-sponsored bar crawl. We would try out the menu of Church A and move on to Church B and C. The pressure was on. Soon, our little sprout may want to know more about that tiny little Bible our neighbor sent upon hearing of his birth. The only thing I could offer on it now was its blue jacket coordinated with his nursery wallpaper perfectly.

It’s mostly my fault that it took us so long. Everything would be going smoothly. We’re understanding, we’re belonging, then, BOOM! Someone practicing the same faith we’re considering would tell me all the reasons two people shouldn’t get married. The word “abomination” is mentioned. That signals the end of those visits. I just found it hard to take someone seriously who one minute says, “God loves you no matter what” and the next “But you will seriously burn in a fiery hell of your own making if you do X, Y and Z.” It would leave me feeling like either God has slight chemical imbalance or some of His church leaders might.

Then one day, our little guy started to pray. It’s not what you think. It wasn’t one of those strangely emotional, “PLEASE MAKE MAMA AND DADDY BELIEVE IN YOU, LORD!” prayers. We did believe. It was out of the blue before leaving for preschool. He clasped his chubby little hands together, closed his eyes and said, “Dear God, please bring me the new NFL Fever XBOX game. Amen.” That’s when I explained that he had Santa and God mixed up. He just laughed and said, “You pray like you pray. I pray like I pray. He understands what we mean.”

All this time, I’d been silently judging every move, word, gesture, prayer from those I’d placed on this imaginary pedestal. Yes, they were flawed, and God knows — no pun intended — I am too. Yes, they sometimes interpreted things wrong, but who doesn’t? They even drive in cars with two big, metal Jesus fish on the back bumper and flip off yours truly. In the midst of all those screw ups, they are also trying to be better. They are trying to help those less fortunate. They are trying to spend more time listening instead of talking. They are doing beautiful things.

The way I understand it is, it doesn’t matter which faith you identify with. Having a certain religious or professional pedigree doesn’t guarantee your admittance into whichever “Promised Land” you believe in any more than running everyday makes you an Olympic athlete. Try to do the right thing. And the right thing can be not telling complete strangers how bad your Bible says they are screwing up.

God, His Son and that Ghost character makes complete sense to me now. You could say I never really lost my religion. I just had to find a way for it to make sense to me. And right now I’m on the right track. Not the one to hell…I hope.

A Valentine’s Day Regift

Think regifting is limited to December 25th and bad Christmas sweaters? Think again!  Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to regift.  Valentine’s Day is all about giving your heart to someone else.  I am being literal here.  I am taking about becoming an organ donor.

Organ donation is dubbed the gift of life, but I think it’s really a regift.   We are blessed with these original gifts in our bodies.  Take the human liver, for example, it is so amazing, it can regenerate itself even if part of its own tissue dies.  On a side note, let’s all take a collective moment to apologize to our liver for our past transgressions – spring break; college; your best friend’s wedding; cheap beer; you fill in the blank.  My mother was an organ donor and her organs helped save three people.  One recipient now has my mother’s liver; she was a teetotaler to boot so talk about a top of the line regift!

Only around 37 percent of eligible Tennesseans are registered organ donors, well below the national average of around 50 percent.  (FYI, New York state has the fewest donors, coming in at an abysmal 33 percent).  Why are Tennesseans, known for our volunteer spirit, failing to volunteer our hearts?  There’s certainly a lot of “bless your heart” being dished out, but not a lot of actual bestowing of the heart.  On this Valentine’s Day, let us all commit to regifting our hearts (and other organs that aren’t quite as Valentine’s theme related).

Please go to donatelifetn.org to become an organ donor.  It only takes a few minutes to fill out the online form.

 

Telling Tales: The Plague

Neill and I sat transfixed intensely listening to the news correspondent speak. We knew this day would come.

Although my youngest is the spitting image of his father, he definitely carries a double dose of my family’s genes. That means when a crisis hits, be it a weather occurrence, an unprecedented dip in the Dow, or a health epidemic, he and I are the first to react.

My brother and I are the first to admit that we come from a long line of alarmists. Our ability to immediately become transfixed on any sign of possible danger goes centuries back in our DNA structure.

Our spouses scoff and our friends make fun, but to this day, our uncanny ability to sense danger miles ahead, has resulted in four decades without a broken bone, hospital stay or anything more than a cough!

When this new antibiotic resistant bacteria makes its way to Tennessee – few will survive, so as I see it, you are either going to be with me or against me.

As the correspondent explained the details of this dangerous, new bacteria having just reached the U.S., I started making a mental checklist: canned goods, hand sanitizer, face masks, batteries, chocolate, flashlight, bunker.

All very doable except for the bunker, which with every crisis, is always my Achilles heal.

But although we do not have a bunker we do live far out in the country, which is basically a bunker.

“We’ll be ok Neill. We have a creek so you and daddy can fish for food and we will live off the land. We’ll be fine.”

“Live off the land? You don’t even cook!” remarked my eldest who carries only Kane genes. Calm, cool, collected….she can be extremely annoying at times.

Neill and I just turned up the television volume, as we didn’t need any commentary from someone who obviously hadn’t watched the movie “Contagion” as many times as we had.

We continued to watch and listen as the correspondent explained the symptoms of the latest microbe: body aches, chills, fever and vomiting. I tried not to panic.

While I had yet to experience chills, fever and vomiting, I couldn’t deny I was feeling a little achy.

“Madison, go get my i-Pad, I need to google what they mean by body aches.”

“You are not serious. How many people with multi-drug resistant mycobacterium tuberculosis have you come in contact with in Lebanon?”

And while she definitely had a point….my ancestral gene pool had not come this far to be thwarted by rational thinking and common sense.

“And while you’re at it, bring me a pen. Neill and I are staying in tonight to start on our list of …. who is with us or against us!”

– Written By Angel Kane

Wish 86

Van Loo’s Traveling Boutique morphs into a brick and mortar shop to remember

 

Story and photos by Tilly Dillehay

Lindsay Boze

Lindsay Boze is one of those people that other people want to imitate. One of the first things you notice about her is her California good looks, coupled with an innate sense of style and an attitude of sweet and gracious hospitality.

She was also the first person in the middle Tennessee area to successfully get into the truck boutique business.

Food on wheels has long been a business concept that we can all recognize. Whether it was the ice-cream man in our neighborhood or a gourmet grilled cheese food truck on Music Row, we’ve been used to seeing people peddle those kinds of wares out of the side of a moving vehicle. But boutique clothing? Well, that’s something that we only saw for the first time in 2012 around these parts. Suddenly, in Smith County, Trousdale, Macon, Wilson, and Sumner, we occasionally encountered a pink traveling boutique called Van Loo’s. Parked in the parking lot of a hospital, a restaurant, or a grocery store, a young lady named Lindsay Boze was selling cute clothing and caring for her first baby.

Now, four years later, that truck has spilled over into a charming brick-and-mortar shop in Carthage called Wish 86. She’s selling the same cute clothing items, along with housewares, jewelry, and some furniture. Her business partner in the new storefront, Lindsey Underwood, is selling adult pieces with a slightly more preppy feel, as well as infant and children’s clothing, some home items, and a whole lot of adorable monogramming.

One wonders exactly how a small town girl from Hartsville progresses through the steps that lead to retail. Before the truck, Lindsay was a 4th grade school teacher who loved her job and had worked since the age of 16.

“I loved it,” she says. “I loved every day of work. But then I had [my son] Van Dallas and I didn’t want to go back to work every day. So I was just laying bed trying to think of what I could do that I loved, to not go back work every day. So it just hit me: ‘I could sell clothes’.

“Because that’s all I collect, my husband makes fun of me; I have no hobbies. But I love to go shopping, try things on, all that.”

She did a little research and found out that Apparel Mart—one of the boutique clothing retailers’ biggest events, in Atlanta—was about to take place two weeks later. So she packed up, along with her mother and infant, and headed to Atlanta. She bought just a few racks’ worth of clothing. It was the style she liked for herself—boho chic, vintage inspired stuff.

Boze started setting up at local schools, in teachers’ lounges. She started doing home parties. Eventually she started setting up at fundraisers and other events.

“So my vehicle was full of floor racks and all these clothes… we knew we needed to do something else, so my husband said, ‘Why don’t we just get a big truck and I’ll help you fix it up, and we’ll fix the inside like a big closet’. And I thought ‘I can do that’. So he actually surprised me with the truck, and went and got it in Alabama. It was an old FedEx truck.”

Her husband, who is in the family business of farming, had a background in auto body repair (his own shop just opened this year, also in Carthage: Hwy 25 Tire). That background, and the buddies he knew from the auto body business, helped him to fix the interior and exterior of the Fed-Ex truck. Soon it looked the way it still looks today—the whole outside a wash of baby pink, with black lettering announcing the name: “Van Loo’s Traveling Boutique.”

When her husband first brought the truck home, ready to use, she sat in the front seat and realized she had no idea how to drive a FedEx truck.

“I sat in it and was like ‘I can’t drive this thing’, so he said ‘Well, you have to! It’s ready!’ So I drove it just down the road as a practice run, and then my first show in it, in Gallatin, was that same day. So Daniel followed me to my first show, scared to death.”

Lindsay had three good years before there were any similar trucks doing what she did. In that time, she built up a following in the all of the towns where she set up shop on regular days. She also started at just the right time to do very well at a burgeoning expo and barn sale scene throughout middle Tennessee.

She might never have made the transition to a storefront, if it weren’t for the fact that, early last year, her work started coming home with her.

“I was actually just looking for an office space to work out of– to go do orders, and social media, and all that. So then I found this building, and I fell in love with it.”

She encountered the building’s owner one day as he was headed into the building himself. Marvin Baker, a Nashville business man (Baker-Gillis Productions), had fallen in love with Carthage himself while scouting music video locations. He’d purchased the store on Carthage square, which had formerly been a well-known furniture store.

Boze begged him to let her come in and look around, although he had no intention of either selling or renting the space. He showed her the bottom floor, which was empty, and the top, which he’d turned into an apartment where friends of his in music would come to get away from the city. The lower level was still much as it had always been, with original tin ceilings and original wood floors. He’d built two partition walls in the main space, and chipped away some of the wall plaster to expose the original bricks. Besides that, the place was just waiting for something to come and fill it.

Eventually, he became convinced to let her rent the space, because he believed that she could create a successful store out of it. With his wife suffering from ALS, he knew he wouldn’t be doing anything else with it in the immediate future.

Lindsey Underwood

All Boze and Underwood had to do was purchase the inventory to fill the new space, add some décor and racks, and then open their doors. The atmosphere was already there.

Now, Boze still takes the truck out on occasion, for special shows. She still loves it. But she also loves running her store, and shares shifts with Lindsey Underwood and one other employee.

“I love to be here,” she says. “I just love to come to work every day.”

Wish 86 is open on Carthage square Tuesday-Friday, 10-6, and Saturday 10-3. Check them out on Facebook or Instagram to see what’s new.

S.P.A.C.E.

By Elizabeth Scruggs, Superior Construction and Design

 

The act of flipping the calendar from December 31 to January 1 has always made me a bit giddy.  Everything feels so

Before

new- like we’ve been given a clean slate and anything is possible!  We all make the usual resolutions, and inevitably one of those is always to get organized.

Statistics show being organized saves time AND money—and who among us doesn’t want more of both??   But even the simple word ORGANIZE strikes fear into many.  It seems daunting and overwhelming…. like another job we have to fit in our already over-packed schedules.  But truthfully, if we set aside a small block of time to invest in ourselves, the benefits would positively affect almost every aspect of our lives.

Often, by the time someone calls me for help with their space, they are so overcome with the state of things- they have no idea where to start.  Such is the case in the photos below.  This client is one of the top women in her field—in the ENTIRE United States—a certifiable rock star in her company.  She is one of the most intelligent and dynamic women I know, and I aspire to be like her.   Yet due to the simple lack of systems in her closet, it had become an overwhelming area to her.

The simple system I use when I’m called in to help a client edit their home is called

After

S.P.A.C.E. It works simply and effectively every single time, and this is how it’s done.  Empty the entire area completely.  Then:

S– sort everything.

P– purge ruthlessly.  If you have not used or worn the item in the last nine months, odds are that you are not going to.

A–  assign everything a home.

C– contain like items together.

E– equalize everything.  When the process is complete, if something new comes into the area, another item leaves.

Here’s another fun fact: we wear 20% of what we own 80% of the time.  Keep that in mind if the area you are editing is your closet, and let go of all items you’ve been hanging onto for whatever reason.

If your physical space is in disarray, your mental space is as well.  As you are working on your space, remember that you are investing in yourself. You are saving yourself time (looking for misplaced items), money (saving yourself from replacing those misplaced items), and stress (associated with both of the above)- and that, my friends, is a wise investment!

Lately Blooming

For artist and designer Melanie Cryar, middle age was just the perfect time to get started

 

 

By Tilly Dillehay

Photos by Morgan Cryar

 

Melanie Cryar was 51 the year she painted her first painting.

After all, four years ago, she’d never picked up a brush.

Several of her children had been interested in visual art, with some of them ending up in creative fields like music or writing. But Melanie herself, though she’s been a lifelong visitor of galleries and fawner over impressionist art exhibits, had never had the gall to imagine herself artistic.

“I’ve always felt drawn to it,” she says. “When I was in college, my favorite classes were interior design and architecture classes where we were exposed to those ideas. The way a house looked, and shapes and colors. I took textile courses, and we worked with fabric. What I don’t understand is why it never occurred to me as a young person to pursue that or explore it. And I think it’s because I had no mentors. I never had a conversation about what I might do or be. Without that, as a young person, you don’t necessarily think ‘Oh, this is possible for me.’

“My art education kind of started back then, and it was just me going to museums. And I wanted my kids to pursue that, because I thought ‘Maybe they can do this. I’m too old; I can’t, but maybe they can.’”

So she never stood in front of a blank canvas herself… until three years ago.

Melanie draws with granddaughter, Norah

I just had that kind of panic,” she says. “Over a period of seven months, we had three daughters get married and a son enter the navy. Honestly, my heart was just broken. I was in a really dark place. I felt lost and fearful. My children have been my life. ‘What am I gonna do?’ What could I do? So I decided to take an oil class at Cheekwood. I went out and got some paints, and some brushes, and that was what started it.

“It was fun; it was a bunch of mostly older women like me, so I felt really comfortable. The first thing we did was a pumpkin I think. Nothing really memorable. It was just about, ‘Here, figure out where the light is hitting this.’ And he taught us how to mix color, which is really big. That began the study of color for me, which is so important. The big thing was the teacher just really encouraged me—that I could do it. He encouraged me to keep painting, and even offered for me to come paint with him. And that was really the beginning.”

She continued to paint, eventually joining the Chestnut Group, a Nashville ‘plein air’ painting community. Plein air is the outdoor painting of landscapes. The Chestnut Group paints together, puts on art shows that benefit local charities, and provides workshops and support. Melanie spent more time painting outside, and also put together a space in her own home for painting.

But in the midst of all the still life painting she was doing indoors, she credits the outdoor work as being a gateway into abstract art.

“[Plein air] is a lot more fluid, and it’s a lot more subjective,” she says. “It’s really a looser subject for painting. I started learning color and learning light.”

From there, she started to feel freer to experiment, after a few years of painting a lot of flowers, dishes, and vegetables. She started to notice and admire some of the abstract work other people were doing.

“I thought, ‘I need to try that,” she says. “I need to explore every form and style, and see what sticks.’”

The first piece she did was specifically for her living room. It was a huge piece, about 50 inches by 60 inches, done on a canvas soundproofing panel that her husband had made and used in his recording studio. It has a seam running across it where the canvas sheets were sewn together.

“It ate up paint like crazy,” says Melanie, “because it wasn’t finished the way a normal canvas is.”

She’d wanted to do the piece using a specific yellow and aqua color palette that was in her living room pillows. From there, she ended up using a little bit of multimedia, including small shards of broken glass.

The finished piece was so striking that she kept getting comments and requests about it. Could you do that again? Could you do something like that for my master bedroom?

So she started down a new road—the road of abstract art.

Melanie at the Petite Palais in Paris

Then, last year, her children banded together to send her on a trip to Paris with a friend. It was a life-long dream fulfilled, and Melanie says it was also a seminal moment for her art journey. Not only did she do some fundraising to prepare for the trip by selling dozens of paintings online, but the trip itself was a foray into an art world she’d never seen before.

“It was a huge eye-opener in that way,” says Melanie. “I was so moved by the art that I saw and the realization that for this culture, art cannot be separated from their lives. It’s all woven together. The things they chose to paint—scenes of war, and love, and life. The way that history and life and art is all one thing in Paris. And just seeing the sheer genius of their talent and hard work. And how some of them were just completely self-taught.”

Around the time she returned from this trip, she began to dig deeper into her on-again-off-again work in interior design. Now she’s working with maybe two or three clients at a time, overseeing renovations and redecorating as needed, and often providing original art pieces or commissions as well.

She and her husband had purchased and renovated various homes through the years: “I realized during those projects that [design] makes a big difference in a buyer—people were really drawn to beautiful, well-appointed spaces. And I understand that. For me, being in a room that’s beautiful… it’s magic.”

“I want to keep learning and growing and to one day be able to inspire others; maybe teach some classes, and encourage my grandkids to pursue their passions early. At the end of the day, children and grandchildren are my calling and my biggest ‘why’ in life.”

 

 


To find out more about Melanie’s art, visit her website: www.thequietcanvas.com. To contact her about interior design needs, email her at melcryar@gmail.com.