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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Embrace the Flaw

5 07 2016

Wabi-sabi is a Japanese concept that embraces transience and imperfection.

The Shakers are known for their simple, classic furniture style. They believed that one should not aspire to the perfection of God. In their simple woodcraft they include a flaw, thereby keeping the work as humble as their faith.

The Navajos weave an imperfection into their blankets. It is their belief that the “flaw” makes the blanket more beautiful.

Yet our society tells us to strive for perfection, that anything less is failure. Striving for perfection, however, can sometimes paralyze us. Things rarely go as we plan them. I say embrace your creative flaws. Understand them and own them. Exercise your creative muscle. It’s how we respond to the twists and turns of life that gives our life it’s quality. It’s our creative muscle that can lift us up during turbulent times. That same muscle can help us, even power us through creative blocks.

It’s important to know and understand your own unique creative process. Understanding your process means you can consciously change it up. In Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, “Big Magic”, she writes of getting dressed up for your creativity as you would for a lover. Change it up, get out of your bathrobe, let yourself feel your beauty and take your creativity into your arms like a lover.

Embrace the Flaw
Children are naturally creative. They haven’t learned the woulds and shoulds of striving for perfection. They live life with simple creative joy. One of the favorite projects from my daughter’s childhood was her taking advantage of a “broken” project. She was making a plaster of her handprint when the caste broke in half. Instead of seeing it as a broken hand, she turned it into a face. Of the many art projects from her youth, it is one that I kept and is still on display.

Jade hand face

Exercising the Creative Muscle

Before mirror

Mardi grasI saw a cracked mirror on the side of the road in a trash pile on the way to work. As I drove past it I thought that it would look great in my garden. I have a long weathered fence that dominates the small garden and the mirror was very large. It had a gold ornate frame. It looked like it could have been in a House of Ill Repute. Gaudy and shiny things draw me in and amuse me. It’s like catching worthless beads at Mardi Gras, I don’t want one single strand, I want to wear a hundred strands of colorful beads, only during the parade. It’s transient and imperfect. It’s not classic and timeless. I know this about myself and embrace it.

I drove two blocks past the cracked mirror and turned around and went back to get it. It was dirty and weathered and so big it barely fit into my car. My creative wheels started turning. Before long I knew I wanted to embrace the crack, the obvious flaw. I bounced ideas around with a friend. By the time I got the mirror home after my workday, I knew I would etch a vine along the crack. Since it was going outside I needed to put caulk on the edge where backing meets the frame and to put waterproof paint on the back.

After mirror

So with the help of my sweetie, it’s now hanging in our garden. It’s my interpretation of wabi-sabi. Perfectly imperfect. I know it’s transient—it’s living in the hot, humid Louisiana weather. I don’t know if I’ll have it for a season or for years. But for the present, it hangs outside my bedroom window and expands my small sliver of a garden. It gives me joy every time I look at it.

Night mirror

Embrace the New Direction
Embrace your imperfections, your flaws, your creative blocks. Ray Strother said in a Creative Hero blog post, “Creativity is the spark of God.” When your project or your life turns in an unexpected direction, embrace the change. Know there is divine inspiration when the creative spirit takes you in a new direction.

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