My ex-husband is Native American (Seminole, Kiowa, Creek, Cherokee, Mescalero Apache, and Chiricahua Apache, to be exact). My children, obviously, are half Native American. We once lived outside of Tahlequah, Oklahoma, the capital of the Cherokee Nation, where the street signs are in English AND Cherokee and elders still give diapproving looks to the white girl married to the Indian guy. During our marriage, we participated in pow wows and stomp dances. We sprinkled the handful of Seminole words we knew into our household vocabulary to try to keep them alive. We sprinkled special, blessed "Indian salt" for health and fertility blessings. We went to the family medicine man for cleansings and blessings when we felt the need.
Influenced by all this, I chose the snake as my personal "totem animal". Snakes are a symbol of transformation and re-birth. They shed an old, worn skin to reveal the shiny new one underneath (that was, incidentally, there, in some form or another, all along).
This totem image becomes more and more meaningful to me as the years go by because I am a huge believer in the power of transformation. I can see the good in ANYONE. I renovated houses. I stage houses. I reuse treasures from dumpsters and curbside. It's all about seeing the value in someone or something by looking just a little deeper and keeping an eye open to the possibilities.
I guess I have a passion for Before and After photos because they visually capture this phenomenon. So, here's my latest set of them!
Alas, these chairs aren't for 419 S. Taylor (though I wish they were). They're for a curb appeal makeover I'm doing in Fayetteville. But I wanted to show them to you because they dramatically illustrate my fervent believe that almost anything can be transformed!
I staked out Big Lots for a very long time a few summers ago to get these chairs (that came unassembled in boxes) on clearance for $20 each (a phenomenal price). They have sat outside at the cabin ever since -- long enough to get a massive, nearly-terminal case of the uglies!
I've been needing a punch of red for this curb appeal makeover and these chairs kept dancing in my head.
Yesterday I went to the City of Fayetteville's hazardous waste collection center. This is the place where you can drop off old paint and chemicals that shouldn't go into the regular trash and, thereafter, into the landfill. Fayetteville has a wonderful system, a great facility, a staff of extremely pleasant employees, and they take green to another level by offering any of the dropped off paint and chemicals that are usable for FREE! Clearly my kind of place!
So I found a mostly-full gallon of "Fabulous Red" indoor/outdoor latex and, three coats later, the chairs are transformed! They prove that there's hope for even the uglist duckling!
I may never buy paint again!
I'm wishing my daughter Emily still had her ball python, "Stella", because I would certainly have put posed her (the snake, though my daughter is definitely gorgeous and photo-worthy) on the chair for the photo for drama and symbolism purposes! Or maybe ducklings? Or both -- let's mix the metaphors! On second thought, that could get ugly -- dinnertime for snakey! Never mind...