Classic Post: How I Spent My 24th Birthday by Shawn Allison
Posted on November 30th, 2016 @ 11:25 pm

This post is missing some of the entry, but I have reposted the important parts. From December 9, 2002:

Okay, as I was writing the topic for this piece, I felt I was back in school again writing an essay. And as with some essays, you place a by-line on it. I just had to do it.

Plus one more thing before I start the super long (you have been warned!) entry you are about to get: I want to thank everyone for the birthday wishes in my blog and the real birthday cards I got. magsmile Now to breakdown tonight and do my Christmas and Thank You cards. I’ve got quite a few to do. magsmile

As I stated before I left, this trip this past weekend was to Alabama to visit the Ave Maria Grotto and Helen Keller Birthplace. The Grotto is in Cullman, AL and the birthplace, known as Ivy Green, is in Tuscumbia, AL. Also, we stayed the night in Florence, AL at the Wood Avenue Inn.

Friday night, my mother and I spent time traveling to our starting point of Augusta, GA. My mother’s friend Nancy lives there. Going along with us was Nancy’s friend, Patsy. As everyone joked to me this weekend, I spent time with three menopausal women and survived it. Really, it was no problem for me. After all, this was really a trip to celebrate Nancy’s birthday, and I was the tagalong since it was actually my birthday. So, we got to Nancy’s home and crashed for the night. Before I crashed, Nancy gave me a birthday gift of some nice Avon jewelry. It was a silver bracelet in one box. The other box had a matching clip-on earrings and necklace set. Both are beautiful. I’ve yet to take the necklace off.

The next morning, the four of us packed the car and ate at the Waffle House at 7 AM before leaving town. Nice cozy breakfast we had. Then it was time to head to the I-20 and go on our way to Alabama. I slept half the way to Atlanta from Augusta so I didn’t get to see much of the growth this corridor has has. Atlanta via I-20 is not as bad as I-75. Usually, we come into Atlanta from that road and I fear driving it. I don’t think I would have had a problem driving I-20. It was about late in the 9 AM hour when we went through Atlanta and then the Alabama border isn’t that far. Birmingham, here we come.

The trip to Birmingham wasn’t bad, either. In Alabama, they require trucks to stay in the left lanes of the Interstates. I was dumbfounded by this since in Georgia, trucks are required to be in the right lanes of the Interstates. Just confuse me, why don’t you! maglol My mother was still driving at this point. She did all the driving this day. She probably would have let me drive but I don’t like her car I didn’t feel I could do it. And on this section of the trip, I spotted from the Interstate, the Talladega Superspeedway, which I laughed about. I’ve never been to a NASCAR event, but I’ve seen two of the racetracks now, being the second is Daytona every time I travel to Orlando. Finally, around noon, we get into the Birmingham area and go through it.

We made a restroom break at McDonald’s/gas station in Warrior, AL. My mother got me some rabbit figurines there. magsmile That’s one thing if I ever get married, my husband will have to deal with a room in a rabbit motif. maglol We got back on the road and finally got to Cullman around 1 PM. We stopped at Cracker Barrel and had lunch. And shopped. This was a shopping weekend. My mother got a few Beanie Babies items. Two ornaments and a Beanie cat that had a date special to her as its birthday.

Finally, around two, we got to the Ave Maria Grotto. It was interesting. It felt like my party spent more time in the gift shop instead of the actual Grotto. But, it was cool. The Grotto is nothing more than the art work of a Brother Joseph that made miniatures of famous sites and building, using photos as the source, with the miniatures made of cement, rocks, marbles, broken glass, and other items he found or donated to him, place outside to view. My mother was the person that really wanted to see this. And they shopped. Nancy ended up getting me another gift here. magsmile She saw in the gift shop a rabbit figurine made out of real Alabama clay and thought of me. I didn’t even know there was one in the gift shop. While they did the shopping, I went outside and sat in the peaceful, cool Alabama air, meditating.

I’m 24 and like I’ve doing since my 20th birthday, wondered about my life. What its purpose? That type of thought. I don’t know if I thought God would answer me at the Grotto. But then, I realized how my life is compared to others and that I am lucky. I’ll land back on my feet in regards to my job. I’m in school and will one day get a degree. In what, I’ll figure out later. maglol And as for love, I’m not going to rush it. It will happen when it happens. I just have to remember what John Mayer says at the beginning of a live version of “Love Song For No One.” So in a way, I guess God did answer me.

So, as we left the Grotto to head to Florence, Nancy gave me the rabbit. Florence is about 2 hours away from Cullman but it’s on the other side of the Tennessee River from Tuscumbia. Nancy got us a couple of rooms at the beautiful Wood Avenue Inn. My mother and I shared a room and Nancy had a room with Patsy. I had one of the best nights of sleep there. The bed was nice and cozy, and soft. I didn’t want to leave the bed. But we had to so we could visit Ivy Green.

Now, for those that have never been to this part of the country, it’s an interesting place for a Geography buff like me. magsmile Florence is in Lauderdale County, north of the Tennessee River. Across the river, is Colbert County, home of the towns of Tuscumbia, Sheffield, and Muscles Shoals. They call the area the Shoals area. All four towns/cities are on top of each other. You don’t know which town you’re in unless you know what side of the river you are on and if there is a sign near you telling you where you are. We killed time at a Rite-Aid and McDonald’s in Sheffield. At the Rite-Aid, you looked down the street and could see into Tuscumbia. maglol

Nancy was working on postcards to send her friends and remarked how people she grew up with lived in Decatur, AL. We drove by Decatur on our way from the Grotto to Inn the night before. My mother found this out and made Nancy call her friends to let them know she was in Alabama and maybe they would like to get together at Ivy Green to see Nancy. Well, they where thrilled about this and drove to the Rite-Aid to meet us. So, our party grew by two more ladies to visit Ivy Green.

Ivy Green is small but it was, for lack of another word, interesting and educational. However, we all felt our tour guide was annoyed by us. She didn’t show us the kitchen building, the side cottage, and the carriage house outside the home on the grounds. She didn’t go upstairs to tell us about the history of the rooms there. Someone suggested she may have been ill, which could have been true. Yet, we just didn’t like the tour. She never said anything about Helen attending Radcliffe! That was probably the sticking point for me. But, we did see and learn a bit more about Helen Keller. And, we saw the famous pump! magsmile

So, after the Ivy Green tour, either Nancy or her friends suggested we head to Decatur and have coffee with them. My mother agreed to it, knowing seeing these life long friends of Nancy meant something to her. Nancy joined her friends and Patsy stayed with us to get rest on the way to Decatur. Two things I observed on this trip. One, the side of the road was littered. It wasn’t your paper cups and hamburger wrappers you usually see. The litter was cotton. Cotton plants were all over the side of the road, with cotton in them. It was a site and my mother joked about stopping and taking some cotton. And in Town Creek, I believe or just outside of it, we saw a swarm of birds in a field. It may have been a quarter acre of birds there. My mother remarked it was a scene from The Birds.

It was nearing dark when we got to Decatur. While at Jimmy Nell’s home (Jimmy Nell being the mother friend of Nancy’s), all the “adults” sat talking and listening to my mother and Jimmy Nell playing piano. I did sit and talk for a bit but I saw a globe and road atlas in the home and spent most of the time there looking at them. My quark, yes, but I do enjoy staring at a map and just seeing the layout of a state and spotting cities and towns I’ve heard of before and remembering where they are. We also had a Pizza Hut dinner while in Decatur. One pizza was sausage and pepperoni for me and the other pizza was Hawaiian pizza. I told them I wouldn’t have minded if they got both pizzas in Hawaiian.

Finally, around 6 PM last night, it was dark and we needed to get on the road. I volunteered to drive at this point. Nancy and Patsy couldn’t drive and my mother had done all the other driving. I felt she needed a rest. So, we stopped by the Wal-Mart on the way out of Decatur so Nancy could get yarn. That’s her quark. I drove from Jimmy Nell’s home all the way to the Talladega area. I nearly got into a collision getting back onto I-65 South from a stop at a gas station. My mother’s car has very bad blind spots and the car I could I sideswiped was in a blind spot. Other then that and scaring my mother around some trucks, I think I did well. In the Talladega, passengers needed a potty break, or “tinkle tinkle” as the joke in the car was, so we stopped at a McDonald’s. I handed the car over to my mother to make the rest of the trip. Across a business driveway was a gas station that happened to have a replica of a Sterling Marlin race car. My dad is a NASCAR fan and he happens to like #40. I finished off our film taking photos of this car for my father. I then called him on the phone and he seemed interested in seeing them. magsmile

Except for one last stop in Madison for gas, the trip home was uneventful except for seeing a car turned over on West bound I-20 east of Atlanta. Many cars on that side of the road stopped to help and traffic started to back up. I hold the people in that accident are ok. Once in the Augusta area, we took a shortcut on a new road that starts in Columbia County at I-20 and cuts into Richmond County across the street from Gate #1 at Ft. Gordon. To make it back to Nancy’s as fast as she could, we took that way. The young MP at the gate for some reason, reminded me of Lance Bass of *NSYNC. And then to boot, the three menopausal women were flirting with him. maglol And he was playing back to them!

We got into Nancy’s home around 2:30 and collapsed. Nancy and Patsy had to work today and my mother and I made the trip back home. But all in all, it was a wonderful and memorable trip. I enjoyed it. magsmile And that’s how I spent my 24th birthday! magparty

I do have some photos from the trip between what Patsy had on disc for us and what I scanned from our photos:

Ave Maria Grotto


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“It’s the Most Depressing Time of the Year”
Posted on November 24th, 2016 @ 8:15 pm

I’m writing this one not in a crying bout at the moment.  It will come.

Why am I calling this the most depressing time of the year?  Basically, it’s the time of the year I hit my lowest.  It’s the time around my birthday.  I can’t help but wonder what I haven’t tackled and should have tackled by now.  Using a phrase I was taught in Girl Scouts at age, “Comparisons are odious.” I know I should do it, but I can’t help it. While other people are in awe of me, I am not.  I feel like there are things I’m missing out on.

It’s the time of the year my mother died.   It miss her a lot.  When I get into these bouts, I want to talk to her.  She’s the one I could always depend on. On my way back from Augusta the other day, I was in the car and just started crying as I listed to some music.  I had had a great trip, but had a dream on the trip that just got to me.  I can rationalize the dream on a intellectual level, but on the emotional level, it hit me like a gut punch.

So yes, I give people warnings as to why I am distanced this time of year.  It’s supposed to be a happy one.  And it’s hard to be happy when you’re at your lowest.  And maybe on day, I won’t be alone.  I really think it’s about feeling all alone.

With that being said, I decided to do something this year for someone else.  I decided to create two boxes for Operation Christmas Child. I don’t have a husband, boyfriend, nor kids, but I wanted to give the Christmas miracle to a couple of kids.  I made a box for a boy and a girl, each, about age 10-14.  I decided that would be the best age to get my gift.  I don’t know how often they get boxes, but I know with the Angel Trees here in the States, those kids are always the last to be taken off the tree.

I should chip in for a kid here locally as well.  I will see.

For the OCC kids, I gave each a magic towel, a dish towel, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, some pencils, a pencil sharpener, scissors, a flashlight, a New Testament Bible, a pad of paper, a small Christmas ornament, and some Everlasting Gobstobbers.  For the boy, I gave him Hot Wheels, a pair of wire cutting pliers, a small football, a yo-yo, a Rubik’s Cube, and a few other items I felt a boy would like. For the girl, I gave her a coloring book with crayons, a teddy bear, a necklace, and a coin purse, to name a few. I also sent them a Christmas card with postcards with a little note on each one.

I am hoping that what I gave in each box is enough to broaden their horizons.  The Bible isn’t so much as to proselytize, but I thought a great way to try to allow the kids to learn English. Many people have learned English from the Bible alone.  I want them to see that the world is theirs for the taking.

So, while I will be suffering depression, I hope my actions to fight it will help others.  And believe it or not, I am looking forward to seeing where the boxes end up.  If a child wants to write me, even better.


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Happy Thanksgiving!
Posted on November 24th, 2016 @ 11:30 am

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

To my fellow Americans, have a safe and bless one!


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What is a Christian?
Posted on November 3rd, 2016 @ 8:59 pm

No really. What is a Christian? For many people, it’s a person that follows the teachings and believes that Jesus is the one true Messiah.

What if there was another definition? Can you be Christian and belong to another religion? What is Christianity isn’t just about talking about Jesus, but acting on the principles of Jesus?

I was raised Catholic, but I don’t adhere to all the Catholic Church wants me to do or what it believes. Some things the Church has done and permitted goes against my beliefs. Some tings I cannot fully sync with what I believe is for the best.

But other denominations have their own problems, too. No one denomination seems perfect. I have enjoyed my time with the Methodist Church, but the need for me to proclaim my faith, publicly, scares me. It might be my anxiety, or it could be they way I was taught that faith is a personal thing. Could be why I haven’t gotten confirmed in the Catholic Church. I guess I could; I have a friend that would help me. I also have several friends that are quite comfortable in professing their faith. I’m not there at saying it out loud.

So with all of that prefaced and outlined. I can say I was disappointed to see that Lifeway was not going to sell Amy Grant’s new Christmas album, Tennessee Christmas, for not being Christian enough. Amy’s manager wrote a great piece about it in the Washington Post.

I have the new Christmas album. There are 2 songs (3 if you have the Target version) that are about Baby Jesus. However, the other songs seem to make the album too secular for Lifeway. That is the reason they aren’t selling it. Four of the songs are secular standards.  One is a remake of “Tennessee Christmas,” a secular song in lyrics, but one my late mother loved because as someone that grew up in Nashville, the sentiment was exactly how she felt when we went “home” for Christmas. The other are new songs.

My mother had a saying that they will know we are Christians by our ways. She taught us it’s not about the talk, but the walk.

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:6-7

Jennifer’s words on “Melancholy Christmas” express my sentiment on that song. No one wants to be alone. Did not Jesus teach us to love one another? Did he not show compassion and understanding to those that were deemed outcasts? I think a song like that, letting others they aren’t alone, is something Jesus would want us to spread. It’s why I strive to do the Mysterious Santa project here in Savannah when I am I healthy to do so. It breaks my heart to do that each year, but I know it means something to those I visit.

24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
Matthew 5:24

And what about the track, “To Be Together?” Isn’t Christmas in our American society to be about being with the ones you love? Again, back to that whole loving experience that Jesus taught. We, as a culture, has designated Christmas as the holiday that we return home, sort of like the Japanese with Obon. It broke my heart when my apartment flooded in 2011 the day before my Christmas vacation and I had to spend most of it moving from one apartment to another instead of coming home to Savannah to be with my family and friends.

4 “[…]‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Revelation 21:4

“December” is a sad song.  And yet I understand the pain so much. I say this as someone that lost her mother in December.  Many us start missing our departed loved ones at the holiday time. Sadly, my last Christmas with my mother was spent fighting with her over getting her to write her own e-mails without my help.

I don’t mean for this blog entry to sound like a slight against Lifeway.  It’s just me trying to explain the Christian attributes I can find in music other than using the words Jesus, God, and Lord.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

I think overall, part of being a Christian is being there for one another and loving one another. This album may not say Jesus or God over and over again, but it still shows love by allowing us to connect to others that have felt the same joys and pains as we have. Being there for one another and just being a shoulder to cry one.  Providing encouragement for another. And with this, it a way, some of my non-Christian friends are Christians after all.


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