CREATVE HEROES: Alicia Searcy

22 05 2017

Alicia Searcy is a fashion and style blogger. I met her at a blogging conference in her hometown of Nashville a few years ago. Her spirit and purple hair made her stand out in the crowd. Her creative voice and passion inspire me. I am thrilled to add her story to Creative Heroes.

Alicia

Wabi-sabi is a Japanese concept that embraces transience and imperfection. When creating art and an imperfection appears, the idea is to use it to make the art more distinctive. Alicia Searcy’s life embodies that concept. As we strive to live a creative life, we all face obstacles. Instead of being defeated by the obstacles in her life, Alicia has embraced her authenticity and is transforming the world.

Alicia was born with choreoathetotic cerebral palsy, which gives her mobility issues. Additionally she had to fight her way out of an isolated childhood. She overcame an eating disorder and is a suicide survivor.

Alicia survived the isolation by having a vivid, imaginative, rich, interior life. Alicia embraced her creative side, got a degree in Journalism, found love and married. She believes everyone is creative; that you just have to envision what you want and then have the drive to make it happen.

Alicia makes it happen. In her wheelchair, she has rolled over the obstacles life had put in her path. She owns the woman she is and the disability she has. Her CP means her movements are jerky. Because of CP, it takes her longer to do things. She is determined to do the things she wants to do and her CP makes her do it differently. It takes creativity to figure out how to do it. Her restless, creative spirit also means once she masters something, she moves on to the next project. She’s been an artist, a writer, and is now a fashion and style blogger with an impressive following.

She was frustrated that she was often invisible to people who assumed that she had mental disabilities because she was physically handicapped. She observed that when she paid attention to her appearance, people’s reaction to her changed. She is no longer invisible.

She and her hometown of Nashville were hit with a devastating flood in 2010 and she lost all the contents of her home. Again, she turned an obstacle into a creative turning point. When she rebuilt her fashion wardrobe, she bought new clothes with intension.

She started a blog with a tongue-in-cheek name, Spashionisita. She loved the colors, the textures, the design, and the creative vision of fashion designers. “Our clothes tell the world who we are that day.” There were no models that looked like her. Despite this, she loved fashion, even though her movements were awkward and she was in a wheelchair. She realized that other disabled people often paid little attention to their clothes and became an advocate for the disabled and those with different body types. She knew that when people are proud of their appearance, they start to feel differently about themselves. And that pride makes the once invisible, finally and truly seen.

Alicia Searcy wheelchair

With her creative wheels turning, Alicia created Nashville’s Fashion Week’s first Fashion is for Every Body fashion show this past year. The show included models of different ages, different shapes, sizes and abilities. The models were wearing designs by the area’s hottest designers and vintage boutiques. The concept was such a success that Alicia turned it into the Fashion is for Every Body non-profit whose mission is to eliminate the stigma surrounding people with non-sample size bodies in the Nashville fashion industry by serving as a platform for body-positivity, inclusion, and self-esteem while demonstrating their strong ties to fashion and design.

Alicia knows, “no matter what your circumstances, being creative nurtures your soul.” Childhood isolation taught her deep empathy and a passion to help those that society doesn’t see. A literal flood washed away all her possessions and made her start over. She rebuilt her life with conscious intent. The invisibility of being a disabled, middle-aged woman gave her a unique point of view that no one else in the image-driven fashion industry had. Her cerebral palsy makes her take a creative approach to living her life.

Alicia’s creative spirit saved and transformed her. It allowed her to roll over huge obstacles in her life. Her creative spirit is a shining beacon that illuminates not only those around her, but illuminates her entire community. She is the spirit of wabi-sabi. She took transience and imperfection, and turned her life into a work of art. She is a Creative Hero.

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Up North in Nashville

27 10 2014

Some may find it odd that I consider Nashville up north, but when you live in swampy south Louisiana; most of the country is up north.

My buddy from high school had moved up to Nashville about a year ago and she was home visiting family, which is often referred to as your Momma and dem in this deepest part of the south. I rode back with her and another carload of girlfriends followed us up for a long girlfriend weekend. We declared it a make-up free trip; southern women often have issues about going out in public without their “face on”.

I over packed for cold weather. In Louisiana our seasons are crawfish and football and Tennessee actually has trees that turn beautiful shades of yellow and gold and red this time of year. As we toured the countryside and saw the fences made of stone, big red barns in the distance, and markers of civil war battles. It was easy to imagine the ghosts of those soldiers in those old rolling hills as we traveled through the landscape. Reminders of that war are still around us southerners in many different ways.

Maybe because we like history in the South, Nashville decided to build a Parthenon.

The nashville parthenon

It reminded me of a trip I took with my family to Greece and saw the real thing. The colorful scarf in the bottom corner of the photo is of my mom’s head. She wore scarfs to keep her wig from blowing off. Why my mom wore a wig and why Nashville built a Parthenon is still a mystery to me.

Parthenon Connie

This phallic symbol is next to Nashville’s Parthenon. The sign says it’s the founder of Nashville. This made all of us girls giggle with naughty thoughts and this was before we had our first drink of the day.

nashville founder

After this excursion it was time for bloody mary’s and salads. We said grace before taking our first sip. I think this may be a southern thing too. I never saw the ladies of Sex and the City say grace before they drank their cocktails.

bloody mary's67309_699615150153928_3526089292984419246_n

We headed downtown to listen to music. We ended up in Tootsie’s Purple Orchid and listened to a band that was auditioning. I’m guessing 2:00 in the afternoon is not the best time slot. They were OK and it kinda made me think I was in the TV show Nashville. We sang along to Bobbie Mcgee with the line, “busted flat in Baton Rouge.”

band

I got this tea towel as a gift. My buddy said it reminded her of me. I love that fact that as southern women, we know what a tea towel is.

tea towel

 We had just driven to the small village of Leiper’s Fork not too far from Nashville when we received news that one of the girl’s father-in-law had passed away. I was there to see friends of mine and I was going to stay the night with them. The girlfriends rallied around their friend and immediately started the drive back to Baton Rouge. That’s how I ended up on the side of the road with my feet propped on my luggage drinking a beer waiting for a ride. My bag was pretty heavy. We had all traveled up with bottles of wine because that’s what polite southern women do when they visit friends. Is this not universal?

bag and a beer

I was immediately befriended by another bunch of southern women on a girl’s weekend. I asked what college they went to because it was a football Saturday. I really don’t care about football, but conversation was much easier for us because none of us had gone to Alabama (another southern thing).

new friends
My friends that now live in Leiper’s Fork have embraced the country lifestyle. They knew everyone and their two boys are polite and always said yes ma’am or no sir. They called me Miss Connie; these terms of respect are still very much a part of southern life.

The following day I got a message that said my flight was slightly delayed. I told my friend to go ahead and take me to the airport. I could not eat anymore or drink anymore and I had nothing left to say. It was time to head back home to my deep south.

I was telling my sweetie about my southern observations and he pointed out that everyone I was with was from south Louisiana and so I couldn’t make these generalizations about the entire south.

Well bless my heart, I guess I’ll just have to go back and check it out again.

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