Elizabeth Busey–Advice for Finding Beauty In Your Backyard

I’d like to welcome Elizabeth Busey to the blog. Thanks for being with us. Can you tell us what you do with your time?
I am an artist, specifically a printmaker. I studied government in college and got a master’s degree in public administration, but when I was caring for my two children at home, I discovered art. After my younger child was in first grade, I began taking classes at Indiana University, and now have a printing press in my basement. I have been making prints now for about ten years, and of course trying to find homes for some of them.

How old are you, and where do you live?
I JUST turned fifty, and I live in Bloomington, Indiana.

Where can we find you on the internet?
You can see my artwork and read my blog at elizabethbusey.com

I love your blog, and spent way too much time playing around it. What would your favorite meal be?
Pacific Coast salmon, freshly caught and smoked over an alder wood fire.
(We try to create this in the Midwest with flash frozen salmon from the Farmer’s Market, but it really tastes best when prepared in the Pacific Northwest.) Complete with cranberry relish and some sort of fancy green salad.

Thanks, and sounds great. Pet peeve?
When businesses, especially airlines or utility companies, say things like “We apologize for any inconvenience.” I’m pretty sure if they need to use the word apologize, people are already being inconvenienced. The use of “any inconvenience” implies that if I was just a little less sensitive or a little more flexible, then everything would be grand.

Favorite move?
“Four Weddings and a Funeral.” I actually purchased it on my Amazon account, so I can watch it anytime I am having a rough day. The first part always makes me laugh until I am crying, and then the funeral scene makes me cry all over again.

Tell us about your family? Any pets?
I have been married to my husband Tom for twenty-eight years. He was a fix-up date to my first sorority formal when I was a freshman. (Yes, I had to ask him…) We have two children, Hannah, 22 and Owen, 20. They are both college students at Indiana University, but for the sake of their development and our sanity, have apartments close to campus. We do see them from time to time when they raid the fridge for leftovers. We have two grey and white female cats from the animal shelter. They are great companions for me when I work at home in my studio and have learned not to jump up on the table with the ink (for the most part.)

One thing many people don’t know you can do?
I can create ventriloquist style bird calls. This was a very useful talent in elementary school, when I could torture substitute teachers. No one in my classes ever gave me away.

That’s funny. Tell us some interesting things about yourself that aren’t already covered?
My first job – the summer after I graduated from high school – was to work for the United States Park Service in their Youth Conservation Corps. We were responsible for the park land on the Virginia side of the C&O Canal. I had to arrive at work at 7:30 every morning in jeans, a polyester shirt, hiking boots and a hard hat – which made for very hot working conditions. I learned how to clear & build trails, pick up trash, and work with young people with varying emotional and intellectual abilities. It taught me persistence and patience, and gave me an appreciation for people who work outside doing manual labor.

Thank you much. In the “Advice for Everyone” section of the blog interview, I was inspired by some of the material on your own blog. Can you share with my readers how to find beauty in your own backyard?

If you were to ask people to give you an example of something beautiful, you might get some common answers. Morning Glory Pool in Yellowstone National Park might be mentioned, or perhaps Leonardo da Vinci’s painting Mona Lisa. Facebook and Instagram feeds are filled with famous or exotic examples of beauty, but actually beauty is something that anyone can experience anywhere.

Finding beauty is a spiritual or intentional practice. What makes experiencing beauty difficult in the everyday is the speed at which we lead our lives. Our need to multi-task and our fascination with all things media-related keep our brains from slowing down and becoming aware of what is truly all around us.

Humans are inherently visual creatures, so much of what we think of as beautiful comes from what we see. Practice looking with new eyes at your surroundings. Observe the patterning of bare branches against a moody sky. Or the patina of cracking paint on an old barn. Or maybe the soft, leathery folds of skin around an older person’s eyes.

In our visual search for beauty, technology can sometimes be an aid. Cameras on smartphones allow us to frame something so we can concentrate on it. Suddenly vegetables at the supermarket become a study about color, texture and abundance. Oil on wet pavement becomes a riotous colorful composition.  

You don’t have to focus on your visual system to seek beauty. When I want to listen to music or outdoor sounds, I will often close my eyes to concentrate on experiencing the beauty in sound. Whether it is a bird song, the rhythm of the local train or near silence punctuated by awakening insects, pausing to listen may reward you with a beautiful sound.

Don’t neglect your sense of touch, taste and smell either. Breakfast may afford you with many opportunities to find beauty. The aroma of the oils from your coffee heightens your awareness with rich, complicated notes. The bursting, tangy sweetness from the berries on your cereal or the pungent zing of cinnamon on your oatmeal are transcendent experiences worth celebrating, even if they are part of your daily routine. The silky smoothness of your shy cat’s fur is a reward for your hands. How often do you get to touch something beautiful?

Beauty can be created by artists, but anyone can find beauty at any time. The trick is to slow down, heighten your senses and notice things. Rainy winter days can be bleak and gloomy, but there are still raindrops clinging to dark branches that reflect the light. Beauty is yours, even in your own backyard.

Elizabeth, thank you very much, and thanks for being with us today. Take care and God bless.

Dori Colborn–Advice for Visitors to Hannibal

What is your name?
Dori Colborn. I usually introduce myself as “Dori, like the fish on Finding Nemo”… kids love it and usually remember my name!

What do you do for a living?
I am the Payroll Accountant and HR Benefits Coordinator at Hannibal-LaGrange University, a Southern Baptist University located in “America’s Hometown” (aka Mark Twain’s hometown) in Hannibal, Missouri.

How old are you?
Twenty-three, although my birthday is on Thursday!

That would make you twenty-four when this publishes. Happy belated birthday! Where do you live?
I live in Hannibal. I moved here for college in 2012. I fell in love with the town (especially Calvary Baptist Church and HLGU!). Plus, I met and fell in love with my husband here. So, I thought it would be a good idea to stay. 😉

Do you have a website or a blog or a Twitter account or anything where people can learn more about you?
Sorry, but I do not. I am not your average tech savvy mid-twenty year old. Haha. I am really good with Microsoft office and all that stuff, but when it comes to social media, I just stick with Facebook.

The most interesting place you’ve visited?
Oh, how I love to travel and see new places! I cannot leave out perhaps the most meaningful trip of my life, my trip to Germany to meet my grandmother’s side of our family. The summer of 2010, my grandmother, mom, and myself went on a trip to Germany where I met many of my aunts, uncles, and cousins. It was one of the most magnificent things to see my grandma in her element. She was so excited to show my mom and me places from her childhood and share some of the memories that she had growing up. It was so awesome to see her interacting with her siblings and speaking German nonstop. She would sometimes stop mid conversation to translate for my mom and me. I don’t know how she can switch from one language to another so quickly! Germany is such a beautiful country where the people are so eager to express their joy for their freedom. One thing I found interesting was how much pride the people took in caring for their homes. All of the apartment buildings were painted a bright and happy color. There were gardens on almost all of the rooftops and yards of the buildings, and the streets were always swept. There was no litter anywhere and the people were so friendly and hospitable – I could see why my grandmother takes so much pride in her home and being hospitable. My favorite part of that trip, aside from meeting my family and seeing how much joy the trip brought to my grandma, was to see her childhood home. One day we went to the apartment building where she grew up. We stood outside for a long time, I don’t remember who suggested it, but we thought that maybe we could go see if the owner was home, and he was! The current resident welcomed three strange ladies into his home so we could see the actual apartment where my grandma grew up as a child! I will never forget that. My grandmother is such an inspiration to me. She had so much faith in God, that she trusted Him with her entire life and entire future by coming to America.

Also, I must share about the trips to Virginia that are near and dear to my heart, my family trips to Virginia to see a very special man. Some call him Pastor, Chaplain, or Doctor. Some might even know him as a Knight (which I just found out about on the last trip! – mind blowing!), but I call him “Grandpa Parker”. Every time my family has traveled to see GP, it is like we take a trip back into history. No matter where we go, even if it is just a little shop in a historical part of town, GP knows the story behind it. It is like going on a trip with your own personal historian, actually it’s not “like” that… it IS that! He is so knowledgeable about history and has lived through many events, which makes him the wisest person I know. Not only is he the wisest person I know, he is probably the wittiest person I know. A trip with GP always leaves me with new life lessons and wisdom as well as many fond and funny memories.

Sidebar – If there are any teenagers or twenty somethings reading this – my advice to you would be to put down those devices that you depend on so much for entertainment and go talk to your grandparents or parents. I’m not saying that Netflix or TV is bad, trust me, I watch my fair share of TV. All I’m saying is are you really living life if that is all you are doing? The generations before you have entertaining stories. They have REAL stories, not like from the movies, but real tales. They have LIVED through and seen things that you don’t know about and probably couldn’t even image. Instead of watching a movie or Netflix show about a war, go talk to a veteran who was actually there. Want to watch a romance movie? Ask your parents or grandparents how they fell in love. The same is true for Biblical history. Instead of watching shows about magic, read about REAL miracles that happened in the history of mankind. Did you know that for those who believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is their Savior that He has sent the Holy Spirit to live INSIDE of them? The person and the power that performed those miracles so many years ago, is INSIDE of those who believe today! Now, that is a story that is not only better than anything that you could find on TV, but what makes it so great is that it is true and it is everywhere around you and maybe could be a literal part of YOU and your own story… maybe your story will be something that your children or grandchildren will want to ask you about someday too.

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world”. 1 John 4:4

Thanks much, Dori! Moving on, if you had any spare time, what would you do with it?
In the spare time that I have had recently, I have begun doing art projects. I usually do a painting or drawing of some kind every week. Art is something that I discovered I was good at and loved at a young age. I kind of lost track of that during my college years, but now that I am married and have some more free time, I have rediscovered my passion for art. Thankfully, my husband supports it and encourages me to do it. On any given day, our kitchen table is usually covered in painting supplies rather than cleaned off for a meal! Unfortunately, I am running out of wall space in our house to display things! I have toyed with the idea of selling art, but (1) I’m not sure that I am actually good enough to do that because I am just self-taught and (2) then I would feel pressure to only do art in my spare time and I’m afraid it would become more of a demand instead of an enjoyable hobby.

Thank you much. Can you offer some advice for visitors to Hannibal?
he advice that I would give to visitors in Hannibal is to do everything! The Main Street of Downtown Hannibal offers a lot of historic experiences such as a candy shop, an old time ice cream store, as well as the Mark Twain childhood home, the famous white washed fence, and the Mark Twain Museum. It does help to know why the town is so special, so it is a good idea to read the book “Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain before you visit!

The Mark Twain “must see” attractions are the cave, trolley ride, and the riverboat. The cave is an absolute must see because it is like you are right there going on an adventure with Tom and Becky. The tour guide will take you through the story and the hiding places mentioned in the book. Riverboat is a really cool experience because it is kind of like a dinner show, if you go in the evening, they not only share the adventures of Mark Twain on the river (and share some insights about the Tom Sawyer story), but you also get a nice dinner and a live music performance. If you go downtown during the summer months, you may even see Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher strolling on Main Street. This is one of my favorite things about Hannibal. Every year, 8th grade boys and girls enter a contest to see who will representing Tom and Becky for the town of Hannibal for an entire year. These kids study the material and take on the persona of the book characters. They travel all over the US, and sometimes overseas to make appearances. Mark Twain is famous all over the world. In fact, during the summer months, it is not uncommon to see people from all around the world in small town Hannibal. The small town of historic Hannibal is a great place to come visit!

Dori, thanks for being with us and sharing some of your adventures. May your journey be blessed.