Friday, July 26, 2013

real talk with rach: small towns 101

Mariah soaking up a little country life.  
because who doesn't love a 1976 ford pickup with a topper that has a scenic painting on the back window of a bear in the woods?   
^Insert red face from embarrassment for not posting in forever and a light year^


      Earlier this week one of my roommates from college visited the fam bam and I in Windom.  Yes, the lovely Mariah came down from the cities to the visit the big W.  At first I was flattered, obviously, because one of my seriously amazing roommates wanted to come visit me over her valuable summer vacation.  Then I got nervous.  And a little anxious and apprehensive. Suburban girl meets small town USA.  Sounds like a reality television show gone horribly wrong.  I knew right from the get-go that it would either be a love-it or hate-it kind of relationship.  And as the director of first impressions here at the Friesen/Wilson corner of Windom, I really wanted to make it a great one.  After working my way through the initial total-embarrassment of where I’m from, “I’m outta here” stage, I now embrace it and dare I say, even brag about it.  God forbid she get here and hate it and everything I’ve built it up to be is one gigantic fallacy. 

            Much to my pleasure, as soon as Mariah got here, all apprehension fled my being.  I just needed to show her what life’s like around here.  And that I did.  From long walks, to antique stores, to auctions, to many a DIY projects, to church softball, to the lake, to eateries and homemade cold pressed coffee, Mariah got a little taste of the heart of Windom.  And guess what?  I was dang proud.  Proud of our community, the intentionality and the astounding heartfelt nature of the way in which we live.  Safe to say, it was a hit.     

            During my initial weeks at college, squeaky freshman not much unlike myself asked each and every person they met where they were from.  It was the question that came right after your name.  It was unavoidable.  When I answered with “Windom,” most stared at me.  Hardcore.  Like awkward staring.  “It’s okay, most don’t know where that it,” I’d reassuringly whisper.  During one of the more uncomfortable conversations, one individual told me how much it must have “sucked” growing up in a small town, to which I took offense and seriously questioned their “high class” city-life upbringing.  I mean, who says that?  Try to muster up an ounce of people skills, for the love of God. 
          Anyway, her comment really got this whole idea rolling around in my head.  And you know what I concluded two years later?  That individual was wrong and so are so many others.  Real talk: small towns are one of the best kept secrets.      
      There’s this undeniable stereotype that those who live in small towns have “failed” and “can’t make it anywhere else.”  That we’re all uneducated, lower middle class, toothless wonders, who drive beat up pickup trucks and lack social skills & etiquitte.  And to that, the stereotype to which I used to cling so tightly to, I now laugh.  Laugh at my ignorance & my foolishness.  Yes, we have those people, but cities do as well.  It’s just harder to cover it up here, because there’s nowhere to hide.   Small towns have educated individuals, wealthy individuals, individuals who travel, individuals who drive nice cars (and pay for them & their houses in cash) and dare I say, like the arts too!  Individuals who are making an effort to cast aside stereotypes to live intentionally in a small community in which they thrive.  It is an inherent human desire to be needed, and around here, everyone has a place, and that in and of itself is a lovely idea. And you know what?  I like my 1976 Ford pickup that gets eleven miles to the gallon.  ‘Merica

            I know it depends on the person, but for me, the more I’m active in city life, the more I crave the outdoors, and space, and intimate conversations, and coffee dates held at home instead of at Starbucks (gaspwho  has ever heard of such a thing?) Please don’t misunderstand me, I adore city life.  The art, music, food, entertainment add so much to my life during the school year.  But, come summer (and vacations), I’m more than ready for the open highway and some green fields. I’m so much more creative when I have space—creative with my resources, time, relationships, skills, and dreams.  Space to think and grow and create and investigate and learn.  Oh, and can we talk about the quiet?  My God, how I miss peace and quiet during the school year.  To truly experience the sounds of nature is a truly breath-taking thing.  And it stimulates me and gives me just the environment I need to think about things and see things in an entirely new light.  Small towns in general have so much to offer the world, yet so many are too blind to see it.  I was once too.  But when you choose to see it, oh-my, what a beautiful thing it is.  And if you let it, it will change you. 

            Now hold up here, I was (am) not referring to just Windom throughout this post, but to small towns in general.  This also does not mean that I’m signing my life away, promising to reside in a small town, one small town, for the rest of my life.  It is my desire to explore and grow and never cease to change and challenge myself. And I am over-the-moon excited to go to New York City for four months next spring for an internship of a lifetime.  I plan to take in the experience in in its entirety and embrace city life and I trust I will learn multitudes about myself, and what I want out of this life.  And I hope to live in other cities too someday if the opportunity presents itself, but there will always be a special place in my heart for small towns. 

            For now, these are my thoughts.  Take it or leave it.  Thanks again for visiting, Mariah.  And happy Friday to you all!  Your listening ears inspire me every day. 


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Okoboji's Big "O" Show

     You may have (probably have) heard me talk about Okoboji's Big "O" Show.  It's one of my highlights each and every summer.  As core-group vendors, my mom and i have an absolute hoot preparing for and participating in such a cool event with such creative people.  This summer, i was privileged enough to get to mini-interview some of the other core-group vendors of the show.  To come will be a few posts on these artists... 

But first.... 

     The woman behind the madness of Okoboji's Big "O" Show,  Beth Bright has been putting her creativity into action for as long as she can remember.  What once began as a small bizarre, eight years later, Okoboji's Big "O"Show has blossomed into a much anticipated annual event for Okoboji and surrounding area.  A far cry from your traditional flea market, this sale is coined for its artisan flare and extensive personality.  Vendors (and there have been up to thirty-two at one sale) are hand selected to ensure quality.  From custom-made furniture, to antiques, to repurposed and refinished goods, to vintage attire, and jewelry, vendors alike display their vision by giving consumers a practical look at the wondrous potential of the recycled.  

     A junker at heart, Beth refers to her style as "vintage classic" or "cozy casual" (depending on the piece of furniture).  Adopting furniture in need of a little TLC, Beth redesigns, repaints, and repurposes pieces of all sorts for the home.  Within the past few years, Beth moved her shop, Blue Star Collections, from Spencer, Iowa to an old church just off Highway 9 in Superior, Iowa.  She and her husband, Brian, worked a wonder, and this steeple of goodness is open and ready for business and definitely worth the drive.  All year long, Beth prepares for the annual three shows she puts on at her shop (dates available at her website), along with a few to which she and Brian travel. You know those couples that steal all the coolness?  Well, these two take the cake.  And now to add to it all, these two are just in the beginnings of a new project- flipping a 1940s' cottage located right in the heart of Arnolds Park, Iowa (and it's not their first one).  Her courage and creativity inspire us to dream.  

Check Beth out!  Get to know her.  Follow her.  She's a gem.
facebook: Beth Bright 

a few shots from Beth's booth at the "O" show... 

plus a few randoms from other vendors at the Big "O" Show... 

Happy hump day! 

Friday, July 12, 2013

life's happenings.

first  motel stay.  
hey, all!  its been on my list to post for an entire week now and my list just keeps getting longer and longer and longer and stuff continues to get pushed farther and farther down.  with forty hour work weeks and eight credits, i feel as if i don't have time to sleep!  i've been trying to rush through my summer classes in order to enjoy the last bit of summer i have left, but cramming right now isn't my thing.  what. is. life.

anyway, here are a few of my ponderings as of late:

1. i want to read more books.  remember that list i posted?  yeah... where did it go.  life took over. i don't want to read my chemistry textbook anymore. but book books. feed me.

2. i have two of the best jobs in the world.  managing an antique shop and waitressing at an eatery is about as good as it gets.  and for that, i am thankful.

3. life inspires art and art inspires life.

4. people underestimate the benefits of small-town living.  not all who live in a small town have failed, are uneducated, and can't make it elsewhere.  small towns are really quite wonderful when one chooses to see the beauty.

6. my new favorite magazine is magazine 605 out of sioux falls, south dakota.  no, contrary to popular belief, it is not about farming or native americans.  a great up-and-coming magazine for young midwesterners. worth your time.

7.  chemistry sucks.

8. my biggest % tip tonight was from a table of mentally challenged men.  can we talk about this?  the beauty of humanity.  it lights up my day to see the helpers of the mentally challenged bringing them out into public and daily life.  i so love serving you.

9.  although i like to think i'd like to decorate a house (which i know is an ignorant thought), i really just want to live with my parents for the foreseeable future.  i love my bed. and my room. and our home. and the beautiful conversations that take place at 11:30pm.  and mama hugs every time i walk through the door.  today, my mom was waiting at the door, FLAILING HER AMRS YELLING "WELCOME HOME RACHEL"(i'd only been gone for six hours) and gave me the best hug i'd received in a while. what an eccentric, marvelous woman.

10. i just googled "what is twerking?" can we talk about that too?

11.  cappuccino flavored anything has my name written all over it.  not yours.  mine.  (insert chomping noise here)

12. i've been to three fantastic plays/musicals in the last three weeks. ahh, the power of theatre.

13.  my nephew is here for the weekend.  what a wonderful kid.

14. Satan's biggest scam is turning christians against christians.  we need to be wary of that & resist the temptation of getting caught up in doctrine.  a post to come on this in the future.

15.  "you can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches." // Dita Von Teese

also, i decided not to post rachel and i's fourth of july challenge. so, please don't think i'm untrue to my word or am forgetting about my promises.

hope your weekend is off to a great start!  

Friday, July 5, 2013



this fourth was just my cup of tea.  a day of swimming, eating, chatting, and just plain living lakeside all in honor of this great country we're privileged to call home.  Rach and i got all decked out in Americana (even my retro high-waisted swimming suit bottoms were representing America, see?) and had ourselves a ball down in okoboji.  there truly is nothing quite like okoboji, ia on the fourth of july.  hope your day was full of joy, love and respect for all, but especially for our great soldiers, both past and present, who allow us the freedoms we so readily enjoy.  we really are a lucky, blessed people.  
{another post to come soon about rach and i's fourth of july challenge.}

here's to you, America.
the land of the free.  keep on keepin' on.  
we sure do love you. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Edward Sharpe {Part Dos}

Edward Sharpe and the Giving Tree Band
 i forgot to mention that Mari & Andy created a seven hour 90s' music mix to listen to for the ride up and back of which they were pretty proud.  the remix brought about a few flashbacks, a moment or two of headbanging/rapping (caucasionally, of course), and many moments of total shame in the music of my childhood (though it did get me pumped for basilica block party & matchbox 20).  some weird shenanigans, i tell ya.  we also stayed at a motel.  morgan, claire and i's first time.  i've done countless hotels, but never have i ever stayed in an outdoor-entrance motel where real metal keys are used to unlock the doors.  also, smoking rooms?  can we talk about that for a second?  is this the 21st century?  we decided it was relatively comparable to a 1980s' truck stop.  following the concert we sat around and talked about life and ordered pizza at eleven and just had ourselves a dandy old time.  life is good.  good indeed.

happy almost 4th of july!