Blogging With Allison

, Before You Kick the Homeless
ENCOURAGEMENT

Go Buy Yourself a Shovel

, Before You Kick the Homeless
It may be time to start digging up the real you!

Y’all, I am literally testing something new tonight, so bear with me as we learn together! It may or may not work, but here is my intention by way of a disclaimer: there will hopefully be an affiliate link in this blog post to some really cool lounge/pajama pants! Now I don’t expect that I will normally dump my business on you like that, but since I have no clue what I am doing, I figured an announcement would be in order this time in case I mess it up pretty bad. Technology sometimes mystifies me. I think sometimes that my three year old grandbaby can do more with it than I can.

Okay, also, I’m not sure that a blog post is the best place to put one of these, but like I said, I’m just learning, and Amazon gives you a limited time to do that before they jerk the rug out from under you. So I’m trying to hurry and get some of my education in pretty fast! By the way, I checked out the lounge pants, and if you’d like to pop over to buy me some, they really are a great price and I want some! I will take medium…They look super comfy! But let’s get back to the age thing.

Save 20.0% on select products from CYZ Collection with promo code 20LOUNGEPANT, through 2/20 while supplies last., Before You Kick the Homeless

It does not matter how old you are. If God has given you a vision for your life and the gifts and talents to pursue that vision then you don’t really have the right to throw that in His face and say, “I’m afraid, so I’m just going to bury this over here until You come back.” We aren’t “fine” accepting a mediocre life just because it’s easier than stepping out of our comfort zone to do more. We aren’t “okay” if we are making excuses or creating chaos to avoid taking charge of our own lives and doing something about the situations we find ourselves miserable in. We surely aren’t living our best life if we are living one that someone else has created for us!

, Before You Kick the Homeless
I am not too old to live out my dreams!

I’m at the age where it would be easy and also expected to look back at my life and say, “Oh well, I could’ve been more,” or “I could have done this or that but that ship has sailed now.” Well, it HASN’T sailed for me! I still have dreams, and I still have the belief that I can make those dreams come true. I don’t have to be stuck in someone else’s definition of what my life should be. I know what God has put on MY heart, and that is to pursue a ME that is better than the ME I used to be, so that’s what I am going to do.

My dream doesn’t diminish anyone else. In fact, the Bible says that no one lights a lamp to place it under a basket, but puts it on a stand so that it lights up the whole house (Matthew 5:15). The thing that light diminishes is darkness.

If you are doing what God has called you to do, it may scare some people. They may think that you don’t need them anymore, the closer you get to your goals, or they may realize that in order to remain a part of your life they will have to step up their own game! Maybe that person who is discouraging you has been accepting the lies that society and culture has been throwing at them since they were old enough to catch.

It isn’t your job to try to convince anybody to get on board with your dreams and plans. They don’t have to be. Your job is to use what God has gifted you with, to do what He wants you to do and to live the life that He intended you to live. If you have forgotten your vision or if you have buried your dreams, go buy yourself a shovel and start digging. It’s not too late.

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, Before You Kick the Homeless
ENCOURAGEMENT

A Place Downtown

January 2019 came really fast! Tiff and I started Willow Dreams Design in April 2018. MoodyOops has been around for several years, but not as an official business, so what we decided to do at the time was to operate MoodyOops under the umbrella of the Willow Dreams LLC and open a brick and mortar where we could sell both our art and design work.

It has been such a joy and a blessing to be able to serve our customers in a place we love! We designed the shop the way we wanted it—used our signature colors. I threw one of my famous brick walls up (y’all, I’m going to show you how to do that pretty soon), and we opened for business. Meanwhile, we posted pictures on Facebook, and a few on the website and that’s when we started to get educated.

, Before You Kick the Homeless

The first thing that we found out is that our location sucks. Well, that’s not a very diplomatic way of putting it, but it does. We are far enough out of town that nobody wants to venture out. Plus, we are down a hill and in front of another business that is wildly popular. Secondly, we found out that we didn’t really need the location. We do the majority of our sales by posting photos online and then arranging to deliver or ship the items. Sure, we get some traffic in the store, but most of our money is made through orders and other ways.

, Before You Kick the Homeless

Sooo, all of this got us thinking. I am already working on the webpage, where our art and design will eventually all be uploaded and customers will be able to purchase directly from there. Easy peasy. I’m writing a book that will hopefully be ready in a few months. I have the blog, where I keep in touch with our customers and I love it the most! We are publishing the greeting cards which can be displayed along with our art at festivals and other events (and we can’t even attend those now because we have to maintain a presence at the shop). Our design work has NEVER been sold out of the shop anyway, and we are primarily a Graphic Design business. The website is also not set up yet for the design part of the business, so I have a lot of work to do.

 I absolutely love the shop!! It makes me feel happy and blessed just to walk in! Also, I absolutely fell in love with talking to my customers and helping y’all in person. I have always enjoyed merchandising and remerchandising the place! Tiff says I change it every day (I really do it, too).

But—I think I have gotten away from my vision. What happens when you don’t write your goals down in the very beginning is that things can get cloudy and you can forget what you are aiming for.

I want a place downtown—in the old part of town—the grassroots division, and I have settled for something else. Have you ever done that? Have you ever snatched the first opportunity instead of waiting for the RIGHT opportunity? Our goal in the beginning of this thing was to promote local artists and crafters while also using our own gifts and talents, but for us to stay afloat in our location, we had to bring in merchandise and other gimmicky things that detract from our original mission. That’s not good enough for us.

We are artists! We are designers. We are crafters and builders. We are for a way of life that is all but lost in the busy traffic flow and the hustle and bustle of “today.”

I reject that it HAS to be that way! I believe that we CAN blend the new with the old and keep tradition along with innovation. I want to walk barefoot down the street and drink a malt while snapping photos with my new iPhone. And, I want YOU to be comfortable at our shop—and be okay with who you are. I want you to not only remember where you came from but I want the stories! I need to hear them. Tell me how YOU walked down the railroad track, picked peas, fished with your Daddy, drew your first cartoon character, read your first poem in church, and got baptized in the cold lake.

, Before You Kick the Homeless

I don’t want us to lose our history as we forge our path in this world. I want a place downtown! It doesn’t have to be this town, but it can be. We can’t have that without some sacrifice—it’s going to cost us more than what we have. Because of this, we have decided to close our shop temporarily. We are NOT going out of business. We are getting a better plan together, saving money, rejecting the things that don’t fit, and looking for our place downtown. We will be online as usual. The shop will be moved to a “virtual” store—I think you will really love what we have in mind! Of course, I will keep you updated here! This will not be an immediate thing–we are looking at the end of February or March, when our lease runs out. Obviously, we won’t start moving anything without extending some MASSIVE savings to our customers!

Please continue to support our art and help us to change our inventory to the things we believe in, hand-crafted, artist-inspired, REAL treasures that you can’t buy just anywhere.

, Before You Kick the Homeless
ENCOURAGEMENT

A World Without Color

I mentioned in one of my previous posts that I was writing a book. My book is sort of a humorous look at life growing up in the South but with some serious undertones as my main character tries to work out some realities like sadness, trauma, and death. I wrote a character into the book that I hadn’t intended to be there–because something that I learned recently touched my soul on a deep and heart-wrenching level and I believe that there was more than one story that needed to be told.

I’m going to insert a small section of my book here, like I did before, because I think the book says it like it needs to be said. You have to read it in a Southern country way, or it won’t be right, and I think it’s best to do it out loud so that when the hard stuff hits, you won’t feel like you are alone. Y’all bear with me as my brain will take me places that you probably never intended to go–but see if you can imagine what it must have been like to be this little boy.

–“My friend Tommy came to school with striped legs again. I could tell they had been bleeding, and this ain’t the first time either. I don’t know why he always wears blue shorts with stars on them though, because he kind of looks like we should be sayin’ the Pledge of Allegiance to him instead of to the flag, with as many stripes as he’s got!

Anyway, I was gettin’ pretty tired of seeing those legs looking like that, so I asked Tommy, ‘What are you doin’ to get in so much trouble all the time?’ Tommy told me, ‘My Daddy gets mad at me because I don’t know my colors.” Well, we sure are old enough to know our colors by now, so I said, ‘Well, good grief, Tommy, I can teach you your colors!’, and so every day for a week we stayed an extra ten minutes on the front steps of the schoolhouse, and I tried everything I knew to teach him how to tell the difference between green and red! That’s how long it took me to figure out that Tommy will never know the difference between those two colors and even a few more, because they all look the same to him. I wish his Daddy could just see through Tommy’s eyes one time and in more ways than just that one, because I can tell how scared he is to go home every day, and I also wish I could think of some way to get Tommy out of there for good, before he gets big and scarred up and mean to everybody else, because he ain’t ever gonna know his colors.

Tommy don’t deserve to be hurt for the way God made him. I don’t know if I could stand to live in a world without colors, and especially if I got beat on by my Daddy every day. My own Daddy never has laid a hand on me in anything but love, but my big brother sure does get his butt whipped a lot. He ain’t never been left striped though, and I doubt he ever will be, and it ain’t got nothin’ to do with whether or not he sees red and green.”–

So that’s the part that I wrote into my book, and I did it because my heart just cracked when I found out that someone I love was punished as a child for being color blind. First of all, I can’t imagine not being able to see the wonderful world as it is–in its radiant glory, designed by God Himself, the Master of all Artists, but secondly to punish a child for what he can’t help and doesn’t even understand…but it gets worse. The Tommy of my story didn’t realize that he was color blind until he was around 20 years old. All those years of being called stupid and mistreated for it, and he had no reason to believe that it wasn’t true.

Let’s try to see the world through the eyes of others–even if you don’t agree with them all the time. Sometimes there are tragic reasons for their scars, and when you know that, forgiveness, grace, and understanding are easier to find.

, Before You Kick the Homeless
BUSINESS OWNER, ENTRE SUCCESS

What’s Your Side Hustle?

Things Are Different Now.

The world is changing, and the way that we do business is changing with it! The things that used to get you through life don’t work anymore. The good old Internet has caused a dramatic shift in the mindset of entrepreneurs. While it was once the norm to have one job, lots of people now have a job and a side hustle.

Women, especially, have taken on the task of creating businesses with an eye toward the future. One of the main reasons for this is the uncertainty of the economy. Another is the long term sustainability of retirement programs and social security.

I Get That You Want to Contribute.

But Do You Have the Support You Need?

These goals, no matter how much we believe in them, aren’t always met with acceptance and support from those closest to us. People who have vowed to stand beside us through thick and thin sometimes have trouble looking down the road. They don’t always see the myriad of possibilities and potential benefits of personal business ownership. Instead, they feel an overwhelming sense of impending threat. There isn’t always a clear answer for why this happens. It seems that rational decision making flies out the window, and it becomes a struggle for power and control instead.

Instead of embracing the reality of mutual benefit, sometimes a significant other can pull so hard on the other end of the rope that you are either forced to let go of the rope, or be dragged into chaos, control, and confusion. That cannot be the way that God intended relationships to be.

A situation like this is made even more impossible when the initial response was positivity! Later, that pseudo support suddenly morphs into a hostility which makes the person and relationship completely unrecognizable. It can be a sad postscript to a relationship that was troubled from the start but showed great promise.

I Have Something to Ask You.

So this reality leads me to ask the questions: What’s your side hustle?

And if you have a side hustle, which most of us do, does your spouse support you? In what ways are you supported or not supported? Is it worth pursuing? In other words, is the benefit worth the cost?

What are your long-term goals? Your reason for starting the business? What’s your WHY? How would you feel about someone who tried to steal your dreams? If God starts something, does man have the right to stop it?

Asking for a friend….😂

, Before You Kick the Homeless
MOTIVATIONAL, RECOVERY

BAH HUMBUG, CHRISTMAS IS A HUMBUG

I’m better now. I put up a tree every year. This year, I sang some Christmas songs without crying. I want to feel Christmas in my heart again. It’s still hard, and I know it always will be.

People who haven’t buried a child don’t understand, and I’m hoping you never will. Mikey loved Christmas. I loved Mikey. It’s really that simple. You can’t replace a lost child with other children, grandchildren, alcohol, drugs, work, distraction, church, ministry, or anything. It is okay to feel how you feel.

If you have lost a child, don’t be ashamed if you need to take time to grieve—again. It doesn’t matter how long it has been, or whether your child was born when they died, not born yet, a child, teenager, or grown! That’s your baby. Your flesh and blood—the child of your heart. Take your moments, and take your moments with you. Sorrow and joy can live in the same heart. God made us human, yet in His image, which means our hearts have the capacity to carry both sorrow and joy and to do this with LOVE. Instead of letting your pain cripple you, let it strengthen your resolve to forgive greater hurts, show more grace, walk the extra few miles, and speak to others the truth in love.

We are equipped because God has equipped us. We are victorious because He teaches us how to fight. We are safe because we are engraved on the palms of His Hands…one nail at a time. God bless you, and Merry Christmas! Isaiah 49:16 forever.

, Before You Kick the Homeless
ENCOURAGEMENT

How to Not Use Your Past as an Excuse to Fail

Geez. Life is hard and bad things–sometimes REALLY bad things–happen. Like…divorce and poverty and abuse. Oh, and the worst thing–death. Yep, the worst thing is definitely the death of someone that you love more than you love your own life. Trust me–I know.

It’s so easy to fall back on those things as a reason(the word “reason” here is really just a stand-in for the more appropriate word “excuse”) for not only the bad decisions you make but also the positive decisions that you don’t make. It’s super simple to not go forward in your life by saying, “Well, look what happened to me!”, or to justify a bad choice using something like “Why wouldn’t I drink?”

It gets worse even. It’s no problem at all to get other people on board with your plan (or non-plan). Witnesses to the tragedies and hardships that have been your life actually EXPECT you to wind up broken, addicted, dependent, mentally incompetent, homeless, and/or lost. When you can’t come up with an excuse on your own, they will often come up with one for you! “Leave her alone. She deserves to drink after all that has happened to her!” Sound familiar? It may have happened to you or you may have said something like that yourself. Don’t stress over it. We are all guilty of that kind of justification at one point in our lives. I’ve already said that life was hard.

But…what if you rewrite your story? I know you can’t change the beginning. There’s nothing you can do about the way it has played out up to this point. What you can change is the present, and by changing your “present,” you will not be able to keep from impacting your future! Better yet, what if you go ahead and admit that you just can’t do any of this on your own, and hand it over to the one true Higher Power–God? He can write you a new story entirely.

Instead of using your heartbreak and brokenness as an excuse, use it as a REASON to pick up the pieces and rebuild your life with them. Let God create in you a new heart, and then you can fashion a new life from what you have learned in your brokenness. Sure, it won’t be the same life that you thought you would have. It’s time to let go of all your expectations. When you trust God fully with your life, you don’t need your plans (which of course have never succeeded anyway, am I right?). It is time to embrace your different life. Your new and wonderful, beautiful, different life!

I refuse to let my losses define me. I will not let my precious son be an excuse for living an existence of which I am ashamed! I won’t quit trying to better myself. I want to be better than I am–I want to do better–to be MORE than I am right now! It’s because of the hurts from my past that I can now see that pain in others and try to help them through it.

My mess has become my message. Let the same be said of you.

, Before You Kick the Homeless
ART AND DESIGN, BUSINESS OWNER, ENTRE SUCCESS, MOTIVATIONAL

12 THINGS WE CAN DO FOR YOU

Okay, so I’m slowly getting this website together. I realize that I need to get the online shop going, get the design stuff up with the price list, have great product photos, ways to sign up for our freebies, classes, and news, and a whole lot of other things.

Time is a factor. Frankly, I don’t have any. I’m working it out. Mostly I just stay up most of the night and get up early in the morning to start over. There are definitely things in my life that need tending to that I’m not tending to. There are bills to pay and vehicles to clean out and people to go see. I probably should take my head out of my cell phone more often than I do! I need to finish writing my book so I can get it published–because I love it and I know you will love it too.

Right now though, I’m just going to go ahead and show you a live video that I made a few weeks ago. It’s awkward because I’m awkward! Don’t let that stop you from watching it. I had a great time with it. I just wanted to tell you a few of the things we can do for you. One more thing not mentioned is transferring photos–particularly onto old wood. I did a couple of those this week and they turned out so good! I can’t show you right now because of Christmas–but I will put them up as soon as I’m able. I will post again soon!

, Before You Kick the Homeless
ENCOURAGEMENT

I Have it All Figured Out

So I figured out life tonight. Well, I figured out a small part of life, and that feels pretty good to me and pretty bad at the same time. It goes something like this:

If people weren’t so dishonest, I wouldn’t be so confused. It seems ridiculous to say it out loud, but go ahead and do it anyway. Now, let me explain. We will even set aside my day job for this, and concentrate on my real life as a person who is trying to be a mom and a wife and a grandmother and an entrepreneur and a writer and an artist and a home repair person and an interior designer and a builder and a jewelry maker and a plumber and an electrician and a housekeeper and a cheerleader and a motivational speaker and a babysitter and a dog-owner and a ministry leader. Well, I realize that the last should have been first….

But look. All of those things require bouts with a computer. Literally ALL of them. Can you imagine how many user names and passwords that entails? I’m sure you can, because surely you wear a few different hats in your own hectic life. Why do I have to remember so many things? Because people are dishonest. They will rob you blind. They will sneak in to steal, kill, and destroy–where have I read that before? Ohhhh…..that book that I don’t read enough because I’m just too busy doing all of that other stuff! Okay, maybe not ALL people, but enough that you have to have multiple passwords and multiple user names with uppercase and lowercase letters and special characters (but only certain ones and you have to figure that out as you go along) and numbers, and they have to be this long but not that long, and I swear that by the time I finally figure most of them out, my stupid password is something I would NEVER say out loud! I try not to curse. 

When I slow down long enough to wish, I think back to a simpler time, when I would stand with my Mama in the kitchen and she would stop what she was doing and just hug me for a really, really, long time. There has been nothing in my life that has ever or could ever replace those moments for me! The absolute purity of a mother’s love for her daughter, and the reciprocated love of a daughter for her mother–in this age of cell phones and computers and user names and passwords and tinnitus and constant pressure and noise, that kind of  beautiful moment seems somehow lost. But it doesn’t have to be. My Mama is literally 12 feet away from me, lying on my couch, probably wondering if I’m ever going to bed tonight.

When I started writing this, I thought I was talking about how complicated life has gotten,  and what dishonest people have taken from me and caused me to have to do. Now that I’ve gotten to the end, I realize all of that has given me a great appreciation for a few minutes of nothing but me and Mama and the best hugs ever. In those days, I didn’t have to be anything but her little girl. I guess to her, I still don’t. 

, Before You Kick the Homeless
ENCOURAGEMENT

Before You Kick the Homeless

Before you kick the homeless, there’s something you should know. It could be you.

I know for sure that I could be homeless. I have made some bad decisions in my life. Yes, I have a job—but I have not always appreciated my job like I should. In fact, I still don’t. Sure, I have a home that I work to pay for, but so does my husband. Could I do it by myself? Maybe. Maybe not.

There have been times in my life when I didn’t know where my next meal was coming from, but God provided for me. There were times when I was afraid that I could not provide for my kids and I made disastrous decisions because of it. In fact, I have gotten married out of fear before. Fear that I couldn’t take care of my babies. I have gone through things that could have left me crazy in a ditch somewhere. Many of the homeless have mental illnesses.I could certainly be among that number.

There are all kinds of reasons that a person lives on the streets. Or in a car. Or in a cardboard box, under an overpass.  What do you think separates you from the homeless on the streets? I can answer that—it’s grace. There are homeless people who are college educated, well-spoken, veterans who served our country with valor, families with children, runaways—all kinds of people who have gone through all kinds of things.

It’s easy to throw judgement from the other side of the street. It’s easy for us to decide what they “should” be doing, or what is best for them.

How about in the spirit of the season we just forget about our attitudes and opinions and remember that we are talking about people. Children, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews,friends, grandfathers, grandmothers, grandchildren…..and God made them just like He made me and you.

That’s all. Kick that around instead.