This Girl Can by Kim Radford | DMA-events Walls for Women

October 2021 Highlights: The Highs + Lows

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What a mix of emotions this past month was. On one hand, we had a great—make that excellent—work month, while on the other, October kicked off with both SVV and my dad in the hospital. But overall, the month kept us busy to say the least and there were plenty of October highlights to celebrate.

Viola mural by Megan Lingerfelt | DMA-events Wall for Women

mural: Magnolia by Megan Lingerfelt in Viola

October had us gone about half the month, all over the state and Alabama for photography projects and mural installs. It was a busy month, a rainy month and a month of adaptability.

Sunflower shoot in Nolensville

And if all my fall photos look like they were taken in summer, that’s because we had 80 degrees all month! Not that I’m complaining. It finally feels like fall today … in November.

The Highs

We completed the North Alabama Mural Trail! This is a project that took us three times longer than expected due to SVV’s illness, but I consider it a huge accomplishment that we managed to wrap this project up a week ago. I’ve been working hard to put together a comprehensive post on how to do the entire 16-county trail in one trip, and I hope to have that live any day now.

North Alabama Mural Trail in Athens

We visited our East Tennessee cousins for a weekend. When Mom was tasked with keeping the kids for a weekend so Kari and Josh could go to the Tennessee-Ole Miss game, we thought it was the perfect excuse to plan a visit to my Uncle Tom’s cabin. They have a couple hundred acres that abut the Little Tennessee River outside of Lenoir City, and the kids were just in love with their new friends and all this space. Thank you for having us, Tommy and Teresa!

Weekend in East Tennessee

Weekend in East Tennessee
Weekend in East Tennessee
Weekend in East Tennessee

I spoke at Rural Tourism Conference in Sweetwater. What a fun three-day event in one of my new favorite Tennessee destinations. I loved getting to meet with so many marketing folks from Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi and explore more of Sweetwater. Plus, how cool that the venue was just two blocks up from the This Girl Can mural we did with Kim Radford in the spring?

Speaker at Rural Tourism Conference

We prepped two massive walls—and added two Walls for Women murals to the trail. Despite SVV feeling less than stellar for the duration of two months, we managed to prep two walls in October: one in Viola, one in Columbia. The Viola mural was finished the beginning of the month by the ineffable Megan Lingerfelt, while our girl Tara Aversa is currently working on the Columbia piece as we speak.

Wall prep in Columbia, Tennessee

I shot one gorgeous wedding. When a lifelong friend from home had her photographer bail the morning of the wedding, I was glad to have no plans that day and be able to swoop in and photograph the ceremony.

Wedding in Clifftops, Tennessee

I also had more than a dozen photo shoots for families, newborns and one Montessori school. The great thing this last year has given me is the gift of time at home to photograph so many people I love (and a lot of people I meet through this blog who hire me to photograph their families).

Fall family photo shoot
Newborn shoot idea
Fall family photo shoot

Fall family photo shoot

Cute school photos
Cute school photos
Cute school photos

Also, how fun that I get to photograph Charlotte’s school photos each season!

Halloweeeeeeen. My favorite holiday of the year to celebrate with my niece and nephew! And if you ever need a creative kid costume in the future, may I suggest a grump T-Rex and a trash panda (raccoon) with a skeleton base? 😉

Cute kids halloween costume
Cute kids halloween costume
Cute kids halloween costume

The Lows

Dad stayed in the hospital for a month. After repeated falls, the first of which resulted in a pretty nasty arm break, Dad was admitted to the hospital, then transferred to long-term care. The official diagnosis is orthostatic hypotension; the layman’s explanation is that this is all likely a result of his stroke nearly six years ago.

Dealing with life after stroke

He spent four weeks in the facilities (luckily, they were local) and came home last week. He’s much better, but we’re making him use a wheelchair when possible to reduce the risk of falling again, and we’ve got home health and sitter services lined up for the coming weeks.

SVV’s experience with medical care has once again been a huge disappointment. After doctor’s appointments and tests galore, the VA admitted him to the Nashville hospital for four days during which they did all sorts of fun scopes and samples and panels, only to tell him … he’s perfectly healthy. Despite the fact that he’s lost a lot of weight and still can’t really consume food—we’re in week nine of him feeling miserable—the VA has essentially dismissed him, continuously gaslit him and said there’s nothing they can do for his chronic pain.

DeSoto Falls in North Alabama

We all know the VA system is broken and a total mess, but I’ve never experienced quite anything as fractured as this before. If anyone out there has had any luck getting the VA to actually address your illness (or that of a family member of spouse) and has tips, please let me know. We’re beyond frustrated at this point and thinking about going back to the marketplace (or paying out of pocket) after this disastrous example of how this country treats our veterans.


November is hopefully going to be one for the books, as our nonprofit board—SVV, Emilie and me—are off to Iceland today! We’re at the airport as I write, and it’s my first time using my passport in two years, which is just bananas. My mom will meet us there on Friday, and I can’t wait to introduce her and SVV to this magical country Em and I so love.

DMA-events, a Tennessee nonprofit dedicated to mural installation and creative placemaking

When I say it took a lot to make this happen with the current state of events (not just in the world, but at home), that’s an understatement. We currently have home health coming a few times a week for PT and speech therapy as well as vitals, baths, all that fun stuff; a sitter on weekdays from 7am to 3pm; my aunt taking the dinner shift; my lovely sister Kari keeping Dad at nights and on weekends. Thank you to every one who made this trip possible!

How was October for you?

  • November 3, 2021

    Oh gosh, what a rough month! And I can’t believe the state of the VA healthcare (I mean, I can). My mom used to volunteer at a local aid ministry and one of her regulars was a woman who was a vet who had been basically abandoned by the VA healthcare system. It was appalling.

    • December 10, 2021

      We finally have had a breakthrough with the VA just in the past couple days, and I hope I’m not jinxing myself as it’s been BAD!

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