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Author Archives: AllisonM




























This photo has inspired me for a while now. I don’t remember where I saw it but when I ran across what is pretty much my ideal wardrobe/closet I snapped a screen shot and put it in a folder called “style” in my iPad because I am a nerd + I need all kinds of reminders not to complicate life. When I did my spring/summer/switch out the warm stuff for the cool stuff and closet clean out over the weekend, I was surprised at how little time it took. It used to be an all day process to go through everything, decide what to toss and what to keep, and what to tuck away in a storage box under the bed for a special occasion or some supposed fancy dress party that I never received an invitation to. Ugh. Who has the time or the energy? Not I, not anymore. These days, things are looking more and more like that photo. I have a uniform that works, and I like to stick to it. Maybe I’m getting older and am less interested in following trends or trying to keep up with fashion, but I suspect it has to do with finally learning what works and requiring simplicity in my life. I have enough complications — I certainly don’t need any transpiring in my closet.

What works? White shirts, denim, a black trouser be it drapey or leather, my old faithful military pantswell-cut blazers and tees, cashmere sweaters, scarves and ponchos to wrap up in, hats, and a few coats to tie it all together. And, of course, my weakness, a good shoe. Throw in my beloved Alabama Chanin pieces and I’m done.

I don’t necessarily think this post is about my clothes. I think it’s about my evolution from a person who had trouble, for awhile, sticking to the things that she knew worked to one who has finally figured out that putting on a perfect white button-up and a pair of well-fitting jeans is like knowing that running a Les Paul Jr. through a DynaComp and Pro Junior provides sweetness + maximum whomp = no muss no fuss.  It’s classic and always gets the job done better than pretty much any other formula, just like anything when it gets right down to it.

And that’s my thought for the day. To quote James Brown, “It might sound corny but it’s heavy.” For a lover of fashion like me, it certainly is.

Happy Monday, Y’all.


PS – I still have my sartorial fantasies, but I’m no longer hoarding twenty-five caftans and maybe a turban or two in hopes that I’ll be channeling Talitha Getty on a Moroccan rooftop on my next vacation. Now, I only have four or five 🙂 Ta.

Also, thank you Linda V Wright for reminding on me on Instagram how much I do love my white shirts yesterday. And for inspiring me to possibly start monogramming them. Ha!



If my day allows, I like to take a minute to read something that isn’t news, that isn’t a novel, that isn’t the latest non-fiction piece I’m digging into. Call it a devotional or meditation time, but I like to tuck away in the little nook (it’s sort of a closet with no doors) in my apartment that I call The Harmony Room at least once a day to do some thinking, and then some writing about what comes up.

I have all sorts of books in there — lots of philosophy from the likes of Bertrand Russell, some religion — mostly Buddhism (Pema Chodron, Sharon Salzberg) but also Thomas Merton, self-help kinds of things that I either plow through quickly or read one chapter of and put down with a shake of my head plus a mental note to throw in the trash as soon as I can remember to, creative workbooks that are good distractions — y’all know I can’t resist an interesting looking book. But my current Harmony Room favorite is The Wisdom of Sundays,” by Oprah.

Now, I love Oprah. Who doesn’t? And the thing I love most about her is that she tries. She just tries, plain and simple. She tries to make the world better, she tries to pass on good knowledge, she tries to elevate everything she touches. Nowhere is that more plain than in this book she put together from her Super Soul Sunday show. Each page or two holds a snippet of a conversation she had with someone, and I find them not only relatable but inspiring and most of all, thought provoking. This morning’s reading was about pursuit.

The definition of pursuit according to the OED: the action of pursuing.

The definition of pursue according to the OED: follow in order to catch or attack. seek to attain (a goal). proceed along (a path or route). follow or continue with (a course of action). continue to investigate or discuss.

Of what am I in pursuit?

I thought it was a really good question to ask myself. I’m still thinking about it. I don’t know if there’s a simple answer. And maybe, no, not maybe, I’m actually quite sure of this — the value of the question is not in finding the answer. The value of the question is the question itself.

Happy Monday, Y’all.





Studio: The place for the study of an art.

If it hasn’t been scientifically proven that time goes by at twice the normal speed when one is in the studio, then that comes as a surprise to me. It makes no sense that such a thing would be true, but making art often makes no sense. When one is chasing something, the most narrow part of the hourglass is widened somehow — maybe it is required because each grain of sand expands, having come alive with the infusion of electricity that accompanies the recognition of a possibly proper path.




I get the word of the day email from dictionary.com. Today’s word was ken, which, turns out, is more than just the name of Barbie’s boyfriend. It’s also a word for knowledge, perception, or cognizance, the range of sight or vision.

It made me think of kin. Kinfolks. Familiarity.

Most of us walk around everyday only having ken of our own very specific worlds — our own needs, wants, and hopes, an understanding of our own individual experience — and hardly ever consider what another’s ken is in a meaningful way. I am guilty.

Why don’t you understand me?

Why are you so confusing?

Why are you making that noise or doing that thing that annoys me so?

It is autism awareness/acceptance month. I could and do write volumes about autism and my experience with it through my son, and am simultaneously rendered illiterate and mute by it. It is a powerful, wild thing. My ken of it is only what I am able to reach through watching John Henry and those he attends school with. He is now 8-years-old and we are over 6 years into his journey as a person with autism and there’s something new to learn about it and him every day. He grows, he changes, and so does his autism. And guess what? So do I. So does everyone. So does the world. He and his disorder is a moving target. I and my countless ones, as well as everyone else’s, are as well.

My son sometimes presents at his most autistic on airplanes. And we’re on airplanes a lot. We’ve been on 5 of them since Friday afternoon. Maybe it’s the frequency of the noises, the lack of oxygen, the crappy air, the cabin pressure — I don’t know — but I think his body tells him what it’s going through isn’t at all natural, because he has a tremendous amount of trouble sitting still, keeping his limbs from moving, not verbalizing almost constantly, and stimming with his hands and fingers. He rocks back and forth, slams his back against the seat, kicks or hits the seat in front of him, sings melodies, makes loud, seemingly non-sensical noises… He does a lot of things that are, I’m sure, annoying, maddening, and confusing to other passengers. I do my best to calm and quiet him. So does H., if he is with us. John Henry sometimes pulls my hair and won’t let go, so I try to remember to wear it up so it’s harder for him to get to. I’ve been bitten and had water thrown on me. I’ve changed more ungodly messy pullups in tiny airplane restrooms than you care to know about (I’ll spare you the details about both of us fitting in to those tiny spaces). I’ve told countless flight attendants what they were in for when we got on the plane in hopes that they might lend a hand if I needed it. They usually have. I resort to gummy bear therapy now and then, doling out one sugary bear at the time so he is distracted but paying attention to our supply and focused on making the sign for “eat” which I require him to make to receive the bear, figuring I’ll pay for it later and I usually do in one form or another. Hardly anyone ever says anything to us about it all except for the odd person who loses her patience and complains about the kicking to which I sympathetically apologize and try to explain away without embarrassing my son. Most people try not to look at us at all, and I try to ignore them too, staying focused on him and trying to keep a complete disaster from occurring, sometimes with embarrassing tears running down my face. I am terrified by what I don’t know about what makes him behave in such a way. Is he in pain and awful distress? He can’t tell me in any way than through how he acts, so I deduct that something is wrong, but what choice do I have but to take him with me if I have to go somewhere? What choice do I have but to have the life I have? I have changed so much… agh, the wormhole. From time to time, someone will stop me/us after we’ve gotten off the plane to tell me I’m doing a good job or about what a sweet spirit they think John Henry has, but mostly, we are utterly alone. We are on our own autism island. It’s lonely, it’s hard, it’s scary, and it’s long.

And sometimes, John Henry is heaven sent, a perfect angel that sits quietly with his headphones on and watches a movie and holds my hand.

None of us are reducible to a pile of traits.

We are all something to understand, we are all puzzles. But having no keys with which to decode someone’s behavior or actions, our ken of each other is far weaker than it seems it could be, and far weaker than it seems we should have the grace to try to reach for. Autism awareness/acceptance isn’t about understanding a list of attributes, oddities, or symptoms, it is, at the end of the day, about just what the words say — having acceptance of each other, showing kindness to each other, and having cognizance and openness toward each other and our idiosyncrasies, things we ought to be extending every month to every person, not just to the ones we’re told to light it up blue for in April of every year. Yes, some of us need a little more understanding, kindness, and openness than others, but are we not all different in some way? Bearing a bit of discomfort sometimes, extending something as simple as a smile or just not looking away and pretending others are invisible and remembering that someone else might have far greater unease than we do helps us reach beyond what we can make sense of and expands our ken. I dare say it expands our kin.


Happy Monday, y’all.



How is it made? How does it get in? How does it manifest itself in a life?

Magic, or grace, or whatever you want to call the intangibles that make it all not just bearable but exciting will get in the cracks, that’s true. But maybe there’s a bigger chance of it showing itself if we make actual room for it.

I stopped using that productivity planner. I think those things are great. I like figuring out when I have the most energy for a thing and making a schedule for my days based on that information and that leading to the possibility of fitting all of the things, creativity included, in. But please, using it not only made me have to make time in my day to use it, hence another thing to have to do, it also started to make me feel like I was in kindergarten. And I never even went to kindergarten. My Mama thought I was above and beyond it.

Whether she was right or not, I don’t know. But I think she knew I was ready to start busting moves and didn’t need anyone to tell me to do so.

I have never been the sort to let things that need doing go undone. Irresponsibility is not my problem. I grew up hearing, “If you want someone to remember something, tell Allison,” and “She’s the responsible one.” But I am the sort who, if I’m not careful and leave myself unchecked, will leave no room for anything else. I’ve carried the weight of those early projections and I’m no longer satisfied with that saddle (this makes me put on my list that this topic would be good to write about) so I’m trying to shake it off.

Cultivating ideas and digging deep into creative work usually requires some time for dreaming and softness. It hit me that I feel like I need to give myself permission to take that time. As my own harshest and most judgmental critic, I’ve been pointing fingers at myself for not doing enough since I started making to do lists, some time around 11th grade. Oh, have mercy. Screw this productivity, this seeping in of the voices of headset wearing task masters who would urge me to “crush” my goals and “kill” a performance. Why all the violent words? I don’t want to crush anything or anyone and I certainly don’t want to kill the making of art (I’m going to write that down to go over later too). I’m trying to avoid violence in my life at every turn — why such language? I digress…

I need a to do list, for there is indeed a lot to do. But I’m trying to leave more space in between the entries. Even if it’s just time to have a cup of coffee right by myself and not over a meeting or desperate catch up with a friend, even if it’s listening to a record and doing nothing else while the sun is still up, even if it’s taking a walk and appreciating where the inspiration to do anything comes from in the first place, or, horror of horrors, even if it’s taking a nap. If I never leave any space for air, for yes, magic, to get in, then how do I expect it to show itself to me?

This missive, from spiritual idiot headquarters, is sent earnestly.

Happy Monday Y’all,





“I hope they don’t cancel the flight.”

Ha. Of course they cancelled the flight. And of course I had my day planned around it not being cancelled and everything going just as I had planned, down to the hour. Arrival, cab ride, grocery getting, sitter arriving, dinner plans.


And of course all of those things fed into my schedule for tomorrow. Now we can’t get out until late tomorrow afternoon.


There was a time when I’d have come completely unraveled by such a thing. But if there’s anything I’ve learned you can do exactly zero about, it’s weather and air travel. I just wasn’t wise enough to know it’s easier to give in and go with it until, well, maybe today. I would normally grit my teeth through it all and lament having to rearrange my schedule, life, and whatever portion of my brain that deals with these matters.

I told myself at the end of 2017 that I would work on becoming more emotionally healthy and getting my priorities in order instead of making any tangible resolutions for 2018, that my goals to do this thing or that project weren’t as important as learning how to enjoy life along with the doing of life. I don’t know how well it’s going really, but I am actively pursuing working a healthy dose of everything’s gonna be all right into my psyche. I am not wired that way. And I dare say that my myriad anxieties have propelled me into action – necessary and productive action – many times, so I can’t tell you that my list making and worrying hasn’t served me – it’s not all wasted energy and walking around obsessively rubbing my hands together. But I’m trying to get it all in better perspective so that I don’t end up wishing I’d enjoyed my life more when I look up and find my days in short supply (and who knows when that will be). There are already probably more behind me than there are ahead.

After I hung up with the airline, I rescheduled what I needed to reschedule, and thought about all of the ways that leaving tomorrow is really better than leaving today. Because why shouldn’t I do that? I’m grounded here either way, and this day will pass whether I’m fretting about something or not. I’d prefer to not. There’s nothing I can do about planes, but there is something I can do about me.


Happy Monday and happy travels,




Or reprieve, release, interim, delay, pause, respite. Whatever you want to call it, I didn’t notice that I hadn’t done my weekly post until late last Monday. When I did, I didn’t have time to stop and put my hour in — we had plans to go out for dinner. I’d gotten some big (good, work related) news that day and my attention had become a laser toward what exactly to do about it, because even if there is a delightful development, some thought usually must follow in regards to what step(s) to then take. The house was bustling with guests and John Henry was on spring break and it was a somewhat pretty day in Tennessee. A lot of life was happening, and I simply forgot.

I hate not living up to an expectation or obligation, anything I’ve made a commitment to do. Even this, that I’ve only agreed with myself to do, is important to me. What is the saying? We are what we do consistently? I’m a creature of habit like most other creatures, and I find that I constantly need to push myself to elevate those habits, even if in only small ways. In short, I don’t like to let myself up on anything. I guess it goes without saying that such a practice — of holding myself accountable and to a standard — makes me, at times, a task master. I hate that. It’s not that much fun.

So I let it go and promised myself I’d return today. And here I am. But what happened in the interim is that I tried to apply the “just because you let one thing slide doesn’t mean you’re going to be neck deep in dirty dishes and laundry and that you’ll never write another word or produce another thing and you will die sick and poor and unaccomplished,” concept to other areas of my life. Just for a week. I didn’t purposefully work on anything but enjoying my son, enjoying my friends, (really) being present in my home, appreciating the scenery, reading an incredible book, and being grateful about the news mentioned in the first paragraph (I’ll reveal soon, promise) and just how ridiculously good my life is. It felt much nicer than whipping my own ass all the time. Maybe there’s something to this concept of balance, because lo and behold, a song flew out of me on Saturday. I wasn’t even trying, I was just inspired. It was a good lesson for me, because I know there is absolute truth in the idea that if you don’t put in, you can’t take out.

Happy Monday.



I like the turn from warm to cool. Fall, more than spring, makes me think of fresh starts somehow. I suppose it has something to do with my memories of school — how a new notebook and a fresh pencil can make every possibility possible. I love jackets and coats, wool socks and sweaters, curling up in front of a fireplace to read, sew, or watch a movie — I love big pots of soup and chili on the stove. I love to sit with an idea and think a while, with no sun beckoning me out of doors. There is no season so romantic and for some reason, no season that makes me more eager to hunker down and work.

But damn. There comes a time when my skin is parched and dry and too pale for even the likes of pale skin lovers, when all the recipes for heart and soul warming soups are exhausted, when the sweaters have grown limp and tired and need putting away, when I’m tired of dreading going outside because I don’t want the chill to get under my skin and wrap its metallic fingers around my bones, when I’d rather set fire to my parka rather than put it on one more time, when I need some space and air and a breeze instead of close quarters and gusts. There comes a time when I need a sliver of hope that I will see the sun shine again. By this time of the year, I’ve usually all but forgotten that it will ever come out and that I’ll soon be lamenting the hot, sticky, heat.

Then the turn comes. Finally.

This isn’t a post about the weather. Not really. Only one about there being seasons, in some way, to every situation. Micro or macro, they’re there, just as there are temperatures and colors. I am in a cool, grey/blue phase right now, for instance, incubating ideas and trying to take life as slowly as it will allow. Will my pink, orange, and red return as the days grow longer? Tick tock.

Tick tock indeed. I am not unaware of the season of my life. I’d say I’m somewhere in mid-July at the moment and I’m on my way back from vacation. Heat both rises and bears down, asking for permission to take up residence in my belly. I prepare to reach toward it from my head and my toes and to soak up all the inspiration it offers. The turn. There is always the turn.


Happy Monday,




Thinking about numbers for too long can make me dissociate. It’s not that I have a problem with math — I actually like math and the perfection and reliability of numbers — its the infinite that makes me nervous.


When I was a very young girl I started to drift away from myself in my mind from time to time, some sort of defense mechanism, yes, and did so by imagining, involuntarily, that I was lost in space and floating endlessly away from my physical body. Go ahead and have a field day with that one. The reason I mention it to you now is because I was thinking about prime numbers today and the more I thought about them the more nervous I got because there is no end to them, or any numbers really, and not every number can be accounted for, ever, and on and on. I started to feel that lost in space feeling and made myself turn away from the wormhole I was about to enter.


Then I thought that some people are like prime numbers. They aren’t composites and can only be divided by 1 and, of course, their very own self. They are contrary, uneven, known only to their group and don’t work well with others, especially not the rounded off, kind and agreeable numbers. Primes are hardheaded and inflexible. They are staunchly independent and never apologize for standing apart from the crowd. Can you imagine a regal prime number wishing it could shave a little of itself off so it would fit in? I can’t. Primes are beautiful and edgy.


I decided to turn away from that wormhole too. Shoot, it’s only the beginning of the week. But who knows? I am an admitted glutton for punishment. I may return.


Happy Monday.



When the end of December 2017 came too quickly, I decided that one thing I wanted to do in 2018 was write something in this online journal once a week. I told myself I would do it every Monday — it would be a good start to the week or a good end to the weekend, a thing done, a message communicated, and a way to keep my writing muscles flexed if I wasn’t working on anything else.

I quickly decided, after becoming bogged down in post after post and trying to make them perfect, to only give myself 1 hour to complete the process from beginning to end.  That didn’t mean I couldn’t think about what I wanted to write about or how I would do it ahead of time — I make notes about topics that interest me on the regular and often look through them if for no other reason than to keep myself familiar with all of the things that run through my mind, and specifically the things that I feel are interesting or important enough to write down — but the writing process would only take 1 hour. I even set a timer to prevent perfectionism from taking over.

Yesterday’s to do list included, “online journal post,” as it does every Monday. But I didn’t ever get to my hour. I didn’t get my post written.

Mondays can sometimes be ridiculous days. One would think that the life of an artist wouldn’t be so dictated by what day of the week it is, but I suppose we’re somewhat conditioned, like most people are, to think we need to get a lot done, to think we need to get a jump on things or make a fresh start. Truth is, any day can be a ridiculous day.

I had a plan. Last week involved quite a bit of travel and stress for me so I wanted to do something grounding and comforting. I decided to delve into my new favorite cookbook, “How To Eat For How You Feel,” which is based in Ayurvedic principle, so I picked a few recipes yesterday morning and headed to Whole Foods. I normally get my groceries delivered because I can and because it saves me time and hassle, but I actually like picking out my own food and I decided I could devote myself to the whole experience — picking out a recipe, making a list, walking to the grocery store, unpacking my purchases at home, cooking, and then sitting down at the table to sample my efforts. Well, it took hours. I tend to cook a lot when I’m home, but I was reminded why I like the little app on my phone that allows me to skip a few steps on the way to supper, bruised apples or not.

There is so little time.

A text exchange with one person can suck 30 minutes out of the 18 hours or so that I am awake. Then I have only 35 30-minute increments left. Throw in all the emails, travel planning, business doing, laundry folding, bed making, suitcase unpacking, mothering, therapist and school communication, friendship keeping up, relationship maintenance, showering, dressing, hair brushing, moisturizer applying… good lord. The minutes seep out of the day. I look up to see the backsides of hours departing like high-speed trains leaving a station. Trains that will never be seen again. I want to shout, “Come Back!” at them. I want to tell them I didn’t mean to let them go. I want to tell them I’m sorry I squandered them on emoticons and pressing the delete key over and over, I want to tell them I’m sorry I didn’t fill up each one of them with deeper thoughts or at least some that would help me toward peace. I want to apologize for infusing even one of their minutes with anger or sorrow or tears or frustration. Those minutes do not deserve such treatment.

I did make some good use of the day, however. I did learn to make a delicious, warming, grounding vegetable curry and cooked my first mung beans. I didn’t use ready made brown rice to go with it but instead the kind you have to put in the rice cooker. Some things do take time. And sometimes taking time is worth it. The truth is I love to cook, especially for people I care about. I am lucky that I can cook for people I care about. I am lucky I have people to care about and that give that care back to me. But I beat myself up at the end of the day for never getting to this, this thing I told myself that I’d do, this thing that is important to me. So this morning I got up and thought about what I needed to change today to prevent my hours from leaving without having looked them dead in the eye, without them knowing I acknowledged them and gave them all of the meaning I could. And I’m not sure yet. Life isn’t like that. Just because I make a to do list doesn’t mean something unintended isn’t going to come sliding right into the middle of it, taking my focus away from what I’d planned. But I keep whittling away at it, always trying to work toward what matters, carving out spaces for the work that’s important to me and getting rid of what doesn’t serve my priorities. Yesterday I suppose my priority was cooking. It’s a good thing I have leftovers, because voila! My hour is up.

Happy Tuesday,



PS – hourglass courtesy of The School of Life.