a hope design

Archive for June, 2011|Monthly archive page

Congratulating the frame maker…

In Life is Random on June 29, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Say you were an artist. You painted the most beautiful oil painting in your career. You worked for months on this creation. Every stroke lovingly placed and every color revealing the emotion of your intent.

This wonderful painting must be shown to the world. But first, you must have it framed. You find a reputable framing shop. The framer, a knowledgeable and talented person, offers the perfect foil for your masterpiece. It doesn’t detract from the beauty of your painting…it enhances it. Fine craftmanship for your work of art. Your baby. Your creation. The source of pride and ownership.

An art show! That is the next step! Show the world this lovely work of art.

A dealer has offered to host the art show. You wait patiently for the night of the gallery opening with your lovingly created work of art.

On the night of the opening, you show up at the gallery dressed in your best cocktail attire, ready to hear what everyone has to say about your masterpiece. What!?! The door is locked? You cannot come in? But that is your painting there on the wall!

Who is that person standing beside it? The framer? Yes, he is skilled, but… Why aren’t you there? You imagined this work of art and brought it to life! Why is everyone shaking the framer’s hand? Why is he getting the congratulations? Yes, he made it look presentable to the public, but you were the creative force behind the painting.

The outrage! The frustration!

This is the story that plays out in my head every time I pick up a newspaper or a magazine covering the opening of a new building, primarily those that MY employers had a hand in designing. Why is it that the architect is rarely mentioned in the articles? I ask that, and the answer I get is “It is always like that. They mention the construction company, not the architect.”

I have had the opportunity to see what goes on behind the scenes in an architecture firm for three years now. I see the preliminary sketches changing day by day to become the final photographs taken once the job has been built. It is an exciting process. Did you know that a lot of the design comes from Intern Architects? They cannot legally call themselves architects, but they are the creative force behind many designs. They work under the tutelage of a Registered Architect. They have a Bachelor’s of Architecture, a five year degree, I believe. (I will correct that later if I am wrong.) After graduation, they must work in the field for three to four years and pass a series of tests before being able to stamp documents as a fully registered architect. Well, they must pass all the tests then pay their membership dues to AIA to get a stamp. Getting the stamp isn’t the final say. One rarely uses that stamp when it first arrives. Senior architects stamp the plans, those who have many years’ experience.

Architects are artists. They choose the palette from stone, brick, mortar, wood. They design the artwork that lives and breathes as we dwell and work within it. It is functional artwork, an even more difficult breed of art to create.

Next time you read an article about a ribbon cutting or pass by a newly finished building, consider the artist behind that design. You are looking at his painting, her sculpture. Let’s give them a little credit.

I write this for my Intern Architect friends with whom I work. They are a talented group of people. I hope to see more and more their creations around the State of Mississippi in my lifetime.

To Erin, Lacie, Greg, Ralph, Anderson, Ben, Brad and Adam.

 

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My Life in Music

In Life is Random on June 22, 2011 at 6:15 pm

I am posting this for my Daddy. I know he likes this paper I wrote Summer 2009 as a part of my Communications studies at Mississippi State University. Hope you enjoy as well!

I was born on May 24, 1974 to David and Sherrie Bowman. They brought me home to the little yellow house on Highway 18 in Johns, Mississippi. My dad was, and still is today, a drummer. I’ve heard the story many times of his playing on television while in high school. He played the drums and sang Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay on Teen Tempos hosted by Judy Moon Denson. Wayne Moore was on lead guitar, and Gary Robinson was on bass guitar. After I was born, Daddy played regularly at the VFW for extra cash. Money was always tight for my family, and my dad loved his music. My favorite song that he sang at the VFW was Long, Tall Texan. I had the enjoyment of listening to my dad play recently with a few other older gentlemen. Daddy, as always, played the drums, and there was a steel guitar, a 6 string bass and a lead guitar. I am looking forward to an invitation to his next gig with the younger band he sometimes sits in with. There I’ll get to hear some of my Lynrd Skynrd and Eric Clapton favorites.

The very best memories I have of my childhood involve my dad singing to me. Just a few of the songs were the afore mentioned Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay as well as Me and Bobby McGee, Help Me Make it Through the Night and Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain that were sung as lullabies to help me go to sleep. When we walked to milk the cow, plant the garden or spray the plum tree, Daddy sang Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. George Jones was a favorite as well. He Stopped Loving Her Today was one of my favorite supper-cooking serenades. Daddy always sang around the house, I sing while working, and my sweet daughter Syd sings whenever she pleases. It is a good family heritage. There is a song for every situation, a song for every feeling, a song for every day.

I never knew the actual meanings or topics of these songs until I was an adult. To my young ears, they were sweet melodies and my Daddy’s voice talking about hair ribbons, blue eyes, harmonicas and flip-flops, all things to which I could relate. These songs hold a special meaning to me. Now that I have become an adult and experienced love and heartache, they mean even more. I can’t hear Margaritaville without remembering walking to milk the cow with my dad when his flip flop “blew” and we had to head back home for a new pair. The relief that he did not cut his heel still infuses my mind. I am still looking for my Bobby McGee to make feeling good easy.

1974 was a really good year for music. Many of my favorites were born the same year I was. The most requested songs in 1974 include a lot of my favorites. Who doesn’t like Carl Douglas’ Kung Fu Fighting? That song is a cult classic. My son of 15 years who wasn’t born until 1993 even likes that song. I cannot help but smile when I listen to Stevie Wonder’s Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing. Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynrd tops the list of most requested songs in 1974. This song played a vital part in my senior trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama at the age of 17. Going to the Flora-Bama bar and staying past dark to hang out with the 21-year-olds, dancing on the tables to Sweet Home Alabama was about as wild as this little country girl got in high school.

I consider myself to be a light-hearted, joyful person. Is it superstition to feel that the songs being listened to the year I was born helped in any way to make me who I am? Barry White singing Can’t Get Enough of Your Love Babe and Rufus with the timeless Tell Me Something Good had to be a blessed omen over me. These are two of the many songs I reach for to turn a bad day around. There is nothing like a little funk to get one out of a funk, and no woman can resist the soothing voice of Mr. White.

If you fast forward to my pre-teen years, there is not a lot of material to use to describe my life. My mother became very religious at that time, and my dad had to pack up the Eagles, Queen, Rod Stewart and the sound track to Saturday Night Fever. We were not allowed to listen to any secular music for several years. Later in my life, I found out Daddy just took the albums to work with him and stored them in his desk drawer. I still remember sorting through the album case at home to look at the double album Saturday Night Fever and ogle the photos of John Travolta in his white suite. I’m not sure what the title of the Rod Stewart album was, but he was wearing hot pink lycra on the cover. I now have Saturday Night Fever soundtrack as well as the Best of Queen on CD. Rod Stewart’s cover of Have I Told You Lately played a big role in my first wedding. Unfortunately, the best crooned love songs cannot save a marriage that is destined to die.

My college years were spent catching up to music I had lost in my pre-teens and teen years. I found a love for Eric Clapton with Layla which I thought could just have easily have been titled Lana, the nickname my family gave me. When I hear that song today, I can perfectly envision my dorm room in Woolfolk Hall. Always longing for affection and assurance of my worth, I was positive that Clapton sang Wonderful Tonight just to me. In fact, he sings every song on the Complete Clapton CD set just to me these days. There is one thing you need to know about me, “I have a rock and roll heart,” and I am wonderful…today and tonight. Have I gotten to the place where I can believe that? If not, I’ll keep listening to Eric croon until I believe it whole-heartedly.

While at Delta State University, surprising even myself, I gained affection for the Red Hot Chili Peppers that still holds to this very day. A greatest hits purchase is on my list of things to do soon. For now, I relish every time Jack FM 94.7 plays Under the Bridge, Give it Away or Love Roller Coaster. These are the words that come to mind when I think of my year at Delta State, 1992-1993 – Lollapalooza regret. I wish I had been there. My year at Delta State was freedom and success. It was happiness at entering the world of independence.

Let’s fast forward again to 2000 when after the end of a five year marriage and four years of searching for heightened spirituality, I was introduced secular music once again. Most of my life’s musical search has been trying to catch up with what I missed. I began acquiring Blues music, especially any musicians who had lived in or come from Mississippi. During my times of being single and lonely, I found comfort in B.B. King’s Hummingbird and To Know You is to Love You. B.B. and I shared several candle lit bubble baths and glasses of wine from 2000 and 2001. The thrill was gone, and I was holding onto hope that it could possibly come back.

In February of 2002, my thrill came back in the persona of a radio DJ. He played the Blues in his car on our first date and his knowledge of music was almost as impressive as his CD collection. I was smitten from day one. In our first year of dating, we frequented local Blues clubs, met Howlin’ Wolf’s lead guitarist, Hubert Summerlin and made friends in the local Blues society. Jackie Bell from the 930 Blues Café never hesitated to sing Breakin’ Up for me when I requested it. I had found my second love, but for some reason that song struck a chord with my memories of the four lonely years as a single mom. It is a song about a woman in love with a married man, but it epitomized the deep pain of being very much alone. I still enjoy listening to Ann Peeble’s version of the song, even though the painful loneliness is no longer there. To empathize with the loneliness of another heals the hurt of one’s own loneliness. Is that not the purpose of the Blues, to help heal the hurt of life?

My DJ introduced me to Nikka Costa’s funky beat, and together we discovered Maroon Five, listening to them over and over before they became a hit on the airwaves. When I listen to Nikka Costa today, I think of those days when my eyes were still blinded by love, when my DJ and I rode around listening to our favorites blissfully knowing no other person walked the earth but the two of us. He was the something that made me smile “like an itty, bitty child.” I listened to Nikka over and over during the two months awaiting my divorce finalization. I found that she really knew my DJ when she sang Push & Pull, “Mr. Nothing’s got a lot, He’s got a lot to say. He’s good at being what he’s not, Gives nothing away.” Nikka had a new song out last year, I believe, that may better suit my life and loves, Till I Get to You: “My lover A was absolutely alright. But my lover B would bump my tunes in his ride….” I have 24 more letters to get it right. I think that is a country song in the making.

Today, only three months post separation, the divorce is final, and I find that the ever present break-up song suits my mood. New artist, Chris Daughtry, says it best, “Cause I’m not taking the easy way out, Not wrappin’ this in ribbons, Shouldn’t have to give a reason why. It’s no surprise I won’t be here tomorrow. I can’t believe that I stayed till today. Yeah, you and I will be a tough act to follow, but I know in time we’ll find this was no surprise.” I haven’t taken the easy way out. For some it is easy to stay until there is hate rather than to move on before someone gets hurt. This is what this song says to me today. Will it say the same thing tomorrow? I may not be a rock star, but he is a tool, and like Pink “I’m alright, I’m just fine.”

Today, I listen to these songs that have been a part of my life since before I was born and I marvel at how the meanings change. With each new life experience the songs become richer, more meaningful, full of life and infused with good feelings. For me, even sad songs can bring good feelings. They bring a realization that either I’m no longer in the difficult situation or that someone has been there before me. They make me realize that even life’s hardships must eventually end. There are days when sad songs make me happy. What once was a lullaby now becomes the realization that we, as humans, sometimes need someone to help us make it through the night.

Before I was born, my dad made his memories with music and passed them to me. His joy became my joy, and I thank him for the introduction. The tradition continues. Only moments after my daughter was born, Daddy – Papaw – held her in his arms and gave her the first taste of sweet heartbreak being sung softly and sweetly. His joy became my joy that is being passed on to my children. I thank him for the introduction.

I love you Daddy!

Dear, dear diary…

In Relationships on June 15, 2011 at 6:05 am

Please forgive me as I get all girlie for a moment. I have to share what has been on my mind the last couple of days: men. The never ending quest to figure out the opposite sex.

Ladies, listen for a moment. This is for all my single ladies out there. If there is one thing I’ve learned through two divorces and many attacks of the “in love” bug, it is this: Men are LAZY! I am not just talking about the way they let their socks and underwear drop where they will or “Honey, I’ll do the dishes…two days from now…”

Men will always go the way of least resistance, like water and air. It is just their nature, g-d love them. A man will eat a diet of red-eye gravy and canned biscuits daily if it’s within arm’s reach rather than walk a mile for a porterhouse. Figuratively! What I’m saying, ladies, is that men are lazy in relationships.

I am not going to reveal how many times I’ve made this mistake (hopefully, for the last time), but, if you meet a man who is in a relationship, no matter how horrible he describes his marriage/girlfriend/fiance, don’t ever let yourself think he might want to change the situation. No matter how many times he tells you how wonderful you are (and he better be saying that for you to even be considering it, girl!), he is going to stay with what is comfortable. Even if he mentions those two words “soul” and “mate” together (Yes, I’ve heard that. No, we are not together.), don’t let it sway you. He is going to stay with her. Count on it. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it. Not proud of it. Learn from my mistakes, girlfriends.

Now, I’m not saying these are bad men. They are not. They are wonderful, kind, loving men. Most are men who take their responsibilities seriously. That may be the main reason they are not going to make adjustments to their lives for you. Would you really want a man who would leave his kids for you? What I am saying is this, don’t go there. Live your life putting YOU first, and don’t waste a second on a situation that won’t change. Don’t wait for him! Don’t choose to love him…it is a choice. Love is an emotion that blows like the wind, this way and that, depending on the weather.

Over the past week or so, I’ve been captivated by the idea of making my business prosper. I have treasured each moment of being able to write this blog. I haven’t really wanted a relationship beyond friendship. My friendships and my pastimes have fulfilled me completely. Could it be that I can be happy without belonging to someone? What if a fulfilled life for me is one surrounded by friends and acquaintances but no significant other? Why not focus on me instead of trying to bring someone else into the equation?  I had two chances and blew it already.

What if third time is NOT the charm?

Chief Innovation Officer

In Career Moves on June 13, 2011 at 8:19 pm

I was talking with a client/business partner the other day about what my title in our up-shoot of a company should be. We were texting, really, but isn’t that about the same thing? I have designed the logo, am working on the web site, coming up with a social and online marketing plan and doing a bit of the marketing footwork also. I hope to be writing the script for our upcoming YouTube video and designing our ad for Coffee News this weekend. I am stoked and having the time of my life! Just trying to restrain myself from using too many exclamation points is about to drive me to drink…or ice cream.

I thought Director of Marketing had a nice ring and would look good on my resume. On the other hand, Director of Social Marketing has a forward thinking, in the “now” feel to it. Being a Social Network Marketer is quite the popular thing at the moment. I don’t want to look behind the times. He suggested Vice-President of Marketing. Nice, but a little ostentatious, don’t you think?

Then I was reading Advertising Age this weekend and saw the PERFECT title: Chief Innovation Officer! I love it. It’s a title that Interpublic just made up for Matt Freeman. Actually, the full title is Vice-Chairman, Global Chief Innovation Officer…even more impressive! (Geez, get it right, Ad Age.) I read it and thought, “That is SO me!”

Aside: For those who might complain that I write this blog just to toot my horn, I do. I am writing this for the selfish reasons of finding out what makes me special and brushing up on my writing skills. This is the easiest way to accumulate “published” writing examples for potential employers. They say write about topics on which you are an expert. I’m an expert on me. If you don’t like it, go get your own blog. Thank you.

Alana Hope Bowman

It describes me well, I think. I love brainstorming about everything, not just about a new creative way to get the attention of the public. I enjoy thinking of better ways to do things to improve functionality all the while conserving time and effort. Getting the most done in the least amount of time is my daily goal. I don’t just enjoy having new ideas, I also enjoy figuring out how to incorporate those new ideas into the regular routine. Penelope Trunk says to find something you like to do, that you are good at and that people are willing to pay you to do. Wouldn’t it be great if I could get paid to research, read and come up with better ways to do things? I have a huge stack of books sitting on my kitchen table that I’d love to be given TIME to read…books about marketing, design and technology, not romance novels or mysteries. These are books that I hope will make me better at what I do.

I just finished reading Seth Godin’s book Poke the Box. I would quote from it, but I immediately gave it to a friend to read. Basically, Seth says that being an innovator is what companies should look for in their employees. He was not just talking about people with lots of big ideas. He’s talking about the ones who have the ideas and take the steps to get the ideas in motion. See, it’s not enough just to be innovative in thought. You must move that passive innovation of thought into an action. If you never move your ideas into actions, your ideas aren’t worth a lot.

There are so many excellent quotes in that book, one that I can remember off the top of my head, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” Why is it that people can be so afraid of trying a new way or doing a new thing? So what if it doesn’t work like you thought it would. Tweak it! Keep working at it until it succeeds for you or move on to the next innovation. Don’t sit in your ditch doing the same thing the same way. Dictionary.com lists one antonym of innovation as “rut.” If it is broken, and most of the time you know it is, start coming up with ways to do it better.

I like the way Vanilla Ice put it, wearing his lovely tight-rolled pink pants, “If there was a problem Yo, I’ll solve it!”

He might not have been talking about innovation in business…

For those of you who don’t already know…

In Management on June 4, 2011 at 2:14 pm

…I am a nerd. Sad but true.

I was doing my thing this morning, putting conditioner in my hair, washing my face, brushing teeth, etc. You get the picture. What is going through my mind? Business. Management. My idea of what good management is. Sad.

Take, for instance, owners vs. managers. I don’t know a ton of business owners, but in my 37 years, the business owners I have known did not really make good managers. (Yes, I’m serious. This is the shit I think about. A NERD.) I may have read this somewhere, maybe talked with my second ex-husband (hi, Jason!) about it. I am not claiming all these ideas as my own. This is just how I feel about it. (What I am saying here is that it is Saturday morning, and I am not going to take the time to look up references to give credit to those who might have had these ideas first. If we are all cool with that, let’s continue. If not, stop reading now.)

I think sometimes owners have a conflict of interests, so to speak. They have a little too much invested in the situation to make good management choices. There are certain people who are naturally good managers. They are organized in their thought processes, intuitive to human nature and are able to delegate effectively. Owners should find these people, hire them then step back and let them make the business thrive.

I formed many of my ideas about what is good management from Charles Dickens. I grew up reading Dickens. He had a way of teaching empathy for fellow humans. A good manager understands that. She understands that what is important to her is important to those she manages. If you are a manager, and you think it is important to get home to your family a little early on a holiday, most likely your employees will too. If you feel that taking a few hours off to see your child’s kindergarten program is a priority, make sure your employees know they are encouraged to do the same. A Christmas Carol should be required study for every person going into business for themselves. What did Mr. Scrooge learn from his ghostly visitors? Living life is more valuable than gaining wealth. Not that I have anything against gaining wealth, as long as it is not at the expense of a life well lived, yours or your employee’s.

Animal behavior studies should also be included. As the song says, “You and me baby, we ain’t nothin’ but mammals…” (Bloodhound Gang…there, reference and link, ha!) We really are just animals. Much of what drives us and motivates us is psychological. We can easily be manipulated and persuaded to do things. I remember reading an article in The Stockman Grass Farmer about gentle animal management. I can’t remember who wrote it. I worked in the advertising department, so any reading was for my own interest and not part of the job. However, I loved reading that magazine. (Allan Nation is one of those awesome people I am glad I got to hang around with at least for a little while in my 37 years.) This author said that the best way to manage cattle was to lead not drive. When cattle are driven, they become obstinate and nervous and just don’t want to go where you want them to go. They will, however, follow a gentle leader who knows their psyche and responds to them based on that knowledge.

Are we really that much different? Ever heard the saying, “You get more flies with honey”? It is the same concept. If a manager takes time to learn a little human psychology and apply it, I think he will be a more effective manager and really get a lot of outstanding work from the employees. Learn what makes people tic. I bet you get more and better performance that way. I read somewhere that people perform more for praise than a raise. Personally, I would like both in combination, but you get the idea. A feeling of accomplishment is a big time motivator for a good employee. I am assuming you have taken the time to hire good employees. The other kind really have no business being in your company.

Ok, nerd moment over. Time to get ready for my date tonight. I’m thinking Maggie Moos and a nice drive is a good first date. What do you think?

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