Sunday, June 5, 2016

Girls Just Want to Have Fun by Alison Henderson

I used to be a very serious person. For many years I was an executive in a serious business, drove a serious, and wore serious business clothes. Even my writing was serious. In my first two books,Harvest of Dreams and A Man Like That, my characters faced serious problems and dealt with them in serious ways.

A little over three years ago all that changed.

It started even before the disintegration of my old career. It might have been brought on by my father’s final illness and the realization that life is too short to be wasted on meaningless, unsatisfying pursuits.  Perhaps it was the natural culmination of an overload of serious life events. Or maybe just the arrival of wisdom that comes with age. For whatever reason, I began to chafe under the constraints of my serious life. I wanted to find ways to have fun.

I know this will surprise some of you, but I did not choose to take up heavy drinking, wild parties, and cabana boys. I wanted to express my sense of whimsy, not end up on Middle Aged Women Gone Wild.Instead, I started buying fun socks.

Sitting in my father’s hospital room with my mother and sister, I was surprised when I showed them my cheetah socks and my mother said she was glad to see them because she’d thought I’d become very stuffy. Now I never thought of myself as stuffy—reserved maybe, but not stuffy. I always knew that inside I was still fun. It’s a bit disconcerting to hear a pronouncement like that from one’s own parent. Her comment increased my determination to liberate my whimsical self. I bought more socks with monkeys, cats, and chipmunks. My brother even bought me a pair featuring Van Gogh’s Starry Night as a retirement present.  Here are a few of my favorite designs:


And it didn’t stop there. When we decided to move to Carmel, I knew I didn’t want to bring my ten-year-old car. The new me needed a new car. It had to be small, economical, and above all—fun.  Well, a car can’t get much more fun than my little red Fiat 500.

As soon as we moved into our new house two years ago, I began to indulge my whimsy by creating fairy gardens. So far I've made two, one for me and one for my garden club silent auction. I had so much fun I'm now trying to come up with excuses to make more. Anybody want a fairy garden?

Not surprisingly, even my writing has changed. Starting with my western novella, The Treasure of Como Bluff, my voice became snappy and funny with barely a hint of angst. Unwritten Rules features a cantankerous Chinese grandmother and a neighbor who leaves pennies in the freezer, and my current WIP, Boiling Point, includes a robotic sous chef named GRAMPA (Great Robotic American Meal Preparation Assistant). Naturally mayhem ensues, and I love it.

I believe it's important to keep growing and changing, even as we age, so we might as well have fun while we do it!

Alison 


29 comments:

Liz Flaherty said...

Good for you, Alison!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Can I ever identify. For many years I too was a serious executive. A persona that was continually at odds with my creative self. Although I don't recall being called stuffy, and by a parent no less. Yikes! i was fortunate to escape with my sanity intact, gave away all my business suits and went on to enjoy life so much more. Congratulations on doing the same. Love the fairy gardens! BTW

Alicia Dean said...

Ha, love this! I think I'm somewhat of a mixture of fun and serious. My writing is serious, but my life is often kind of goofy. :) Love the sock story. What a cute, whimsical passion. And, the car...adorable. My daughter recently bought a Fiat 500, and they ARE fun. I might get one myself soon. Enjoyed the post!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Great transformation story, Alison. How has OG handled the new you? I've told you my convertible knocks ten years off my age, so I'm in favor of fun cars. Colorful, but comfortable clothing...oh, yes...including underwear. My friend says a pair of Hanky Pankys is a must...still on my to do list. The boat kept me young, and now that we've sold it, travel (with girlfriend golf trips) makes me feel adventurous. Isn't it great that you can exercise your new freedom in writing novels? We are so lucky to have that outlet!

Leah St. James said...

How fun! I fear I might be seen as stuffy myself. I think I need to take a hint from some of your changes!

Jannine Gallant said...

I love those Hot Sox. I used to have quite a few pairs, but I they all grew holes from over wear and I'm down to one pair left. I actually had those tan cat ones! I think I need to buy some more. Good for you for embracing your inner fun side!

Alison Henderson said...

Thanks, Liz. Sometimes we have to fight back!

Alison Henderson said...

Margo, it was no fun hearing "stuffy" from my mom. Fortunately, I knew she was wrong. She's never understood me very well. LOL

Alison Henderson said...

I love my fun socks, and my collection keeps growing. Last Christmas I got a fabulous lime green pair with gangsta tree sloths!

Alison Henderson said...

Rolynn, the change was overdue. So many of us only express our true selves when either too young or too old to care what others think.

Alison Henderson said...

Leah, often our work requires us to show only our serious sides. It's a huge relief to be able to let it all out!

Alison Henderson said...

Jannine, when you come to Carmel I'll have to take you to the Sock Shop, the source of all these treasures. You won't believe some of the designs they have!

Brenda Whiteside said...

I like the fun you!! You go.

Alison Henderson said...

Brenda, I try!

andreadowning.com said...

I think we should all reinvent ourselves through our lives. My brother has asked me whether I'm the same girl who grew up with him and our parents--I went from London Mum to part-time cowgirl (or so I wish). Love the socks--I have a few of those in my closet--but the fairy garden might stump me. Roll on, Alison!

Alison Henderson said...

I'm a firm believer in reinvention too, Andi. But fairy gardens require watering every couple of days--probably too difficult since you split your time between Wyoming and NYC.

Diane Burton said...

I'm so glad I've only known the fun you, Alison. You & I moved about the same time. Like you, I love my new location and feel like I've lightened up. Love those socks. I'm going to have to find some fun ones, too. Love your new car, too. Enjoy your new self.

Beth Trissel said...

This is inspiring, Alison. I love your socks and have admired your fairy houses on FB. I didn't realize there was a time when you weren't fun. Although, I admit, I've secretly wondered if you're an editor, so there is that professional veneer. High five on discovering more whimsy to life than you thought. We should all do the same.

Amanda Uhl said...

Cute post. You sure seem fun to me! Love the fairy gardens, socks and car!

Jeannie Hall said...

Love it, Alison! Fun keeps you young! Awesome!

Alison Henderson said...

Diane, I hope you would have liked the old me too, although I am much more fun now. LOL

Alison Henderson said...

Beth, I've always tried to be professional, when appropriate, but I certainly enjoy indulging my sense of whimsy now.

Alison Henderson said...

Thanks, Amanda! Since I retired from the day job, I've had no trouble finding ways to inject fun into life.

Alison Henderson said...

Jeannie, I intend to keep it up as long as I can!

Robena Grant said...

Loved the post, Alison. I've always been a bit reserved, but writing romance has helped me to take myself less seriously. I now enjoy posting about my most embarrassing life moments. Ha ha. Ten years ago I'd have crawled off to a corner in shame.
Good for you on lightening up and having fun. Life is definitely too short to do anything else. Enjoy the socks!

Alison Henderson said...

Robena, I wonder if taking oneself less seriously is also a sign of aging. After a few decades of life experience, it's easier to sort what's truly important from what's not.

Ashantay said...

What a fun post! I'm off to score some new, brightly goofy socks for myself!

Alison Henderson said...

Go for it, Ashantay. Fun socks can perk up your whole day!

Damion said...

You are absolutely right, nothing is a s fun as a little red car, especially a Fiat. I recently bought one and it was the best buying decision I ever made. The car is just a fun little package of joy rolling down the highway each day. I love the color of your new car too, real head turner for sure.