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Anneliesse Mckee

Its been an interesting few years to say the least. I realized how critical it is to be able to share this adventure and tell it as truthful, vulnerable, and accurate as possible. I grew up in a family with five sisters. All of which are halves or steps but do not feel like anything except my sisters. I grew up in a household with my two eldest sisters. As things would get passed to me, it then became my responsibility to make them "mine". I will never forget a platform wooden bed frame I was given. I painted it white then painted gold flowers all over it. I would collect buttons and glue them onto my wall (not the best idea looking back) and on the wall directly opposite, I painted a rainbow striped wall. I always loved the idea of someone walking in and being completely confused at where to start. A mixed feeling of a great vintage store and that of a museum. I would collect leaves and set them on fire so that it smelled of the outdoors. A sort of forever organized chaos. My love of what could be accomplished by hand began. Nothing was impossible. As I grew up, around the age of 16 my parents began the divorce process. My mom found her high school sweet heart and years later they rekindled. They are still together today and going to their home and seeing photos of their prom then their wedding warms my heart in a way, no word in the english dictionary could make sense to. My dad and I set out on a mission. He was single, and I chose to stay with him throughout the split. We go tattoos together, scuba dived in the Bahamas, climbed waterfalls in Jamaica. We became best friends. Throughout this time in life, he met a woman. They really had fun together, although it wasn't meant to be forever. Within the beginnings of scuba diving, he had fallen deeply in love with the ocean. Quite quickly he started looking or scuba dive shops in the keys and serendipitously, he found one. *back track for a moment* My mother had moved to Jacksonville, fl and my dad and I were in Lexington, KY. As the time came and it made more and more sense for him to buy this place and follow his dreams, it meant at the ripe age of 17 I had to grow up. We found an apartment for me and off he went to chase his dreams. My mother was following hers and I was beginning to understand who I was. I got a few jobs and got myself through high school. The beauty within this time was learning how to create a home with no money. I would frame old birthday cards with beautiful images, I made a chandelier out of paper chains, I painted a wall home depot orange. I learned to have pride in minimalism as it was not a choice but my only option. 

My sister around this time moved to Asheville, NC with a beautiful boy in a band and they were off to chase the mountains. I had visited a few times and fell in love. She took me to a cupcake shop and I watched a couple dance on cobblestone and as I ate my cupcake, I knew in my heart one day this tiny mountain town would be my home. As I lived in my tiny make shift apartment, I graduated high school and went on to college. I never felt like I knew what to do. Interior design was the only thing that made sense. Making, creating, envisioning something where a blank canvas was..... It called me. Throughout this time, I slowly began to feel like a traveler in my own city. This place I grew up in, no longer felt like home. It felt like a place I hadn't ever been. I was changing. Changing into someone I did not like. My actions, my surroundings, my relationships. It was all toxic and I was so deep in it that I felt trapped but also content. CONTENT! No one should ever feel such. As the toxicity grew and I felt myself becoming a person I never could be proud of, moving made more and more sense. I wish I could tell you I did this on my own and WOMEN POWER. Unfortunately I did not. I moved with a boy. Typical right? More to come on that later. 

As the mountains got closer and all of my belongings, sweet senile pekingese (norman), and life were shifting, there was a settling in my soul that my life was only beginning. It took me a few years and a large personal rock to get me into the place I am now. The boy I moved here with unfortunately struggled in the "being faithful" department. As I read the ads he posted on craigslist looking for women, I called my sister and we packed up my things and I left. I mention this because I feel there is a shame women have, that they don't want to talk about surrounding cheating. It is heart breaking. It is confusing. It is so so hard. But it happens to so many. And in some instances, opens a door to the best parts of life. I slept on my sisters couch for months as I sulked, grieved, and tried to figure out where to go from there. You see, this boy and I were together for almost 7 years. I spent my teen years and some of my 20's trying to live a life that was not meant for me. THIS!!! this is where spoon carving came about. Much like most break ups, there are days you feel so alive and want to run a marathon, sing, and wave your finger pistols around like you just won the lottery. Then there are days that you are snot crying, unable to breath, and can't understand why. The days that are high.... CAPITALIZE ON THOSE! 

I had a day where I asked myself who I wanted to be. What did it look like to be my dream me? What did it look like to actually live my life for myself? It looked like playing the banjo around a fire with friends. It looked like knowing bourbon well and appreciating a neat drink. It looked like wood working and that innate feeling of creating with my hands. It looked like hand written letters to friends and family. It looked like buying myself flowers once a week. It looked like being a good person to the people who were good to me. It looked like smiling to strangers and trying to make them feel better than I did. It looked like learning chess and playing it well. It looked like running and being able to say miles with an s. It looked like meditating. It looked like seeing the sunrise. It looked like learning my own places. It looked like finding the makers, places, and people that inspired me. So that is what I set out to do. I found a banjo teacher who told me he only played by ear which was great because I did not know how to read music. Once a week, we would meet in an area surrounded by apple trees and blackberry bushes and slowly learn to play "landslide" by Stevie Nicks. Shortly after this time, I began running often as well. I got "Bobby fisher teaches chess" and a chess board at a garage sale and slowly taught myself. I was gifted a set of flexcut carving tools and began to learn to carve. I had no prior knowledge of carving but for the first time in my life, I was not scared to ask questions. I went to local hardware stores and lumberyards and asked as many questions as I knew to ask at the time. I would come home, watch a carving video and replicate what I saw. I would cut my hands, tape them up, and continue on. This was such a vital moment for me. It felt as though it was effortless. Of course there were cuts, there still are. But I loved it. I loved it in the way my dad fell in love with the ocean. It completely took over my thoughts. I would wake from dreams and quickly draw a spoon idea. Nothing felt impossible. I realized this is exactly who I was. I was not a dream, I was not a "one day". I was creating my dream life. Not to be a glamorous one, not to be one of popularity or competition with others. I was competing against myself. To be the person I wanted to be for the first time in my life. Every single day I carved. I told strangers it's what I did for a living. I set it up to where if I did not hold myself accountable, I would be mad at myself. I guess you could say it was a "fake it til you make it" moment for me. That is exactly what I did. 



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