Carrie Allen – Carnivals, Cars and Chili

We are inherently social beings.  Our lives are shaped by our ability to cooperate and coexist with those around us. The power of community is our greatest saving grace in the face of meaninglessness and destruction. I have no words for the horrific events that took place in Las Vegas this week. My heart aches for the victims and their families.  With this post, I want to focus on communities and events that bring us together. For society to renew, individuals must constantly focus on self-renewal.

Self-renewal requires you to cultivate your capacity for renewal by doing new and different things. We can too easily become complacent with our lives and settle into a rigid structure of sameness.

As we mature we progressively narrow the scope and variety of our lives. Of all the interests we might pursue, we settle on a few. Of all the people with whom we might associate, we select a small number. We become caught in a web of fixed relationships. We develop set ways of doing things.

Doing new things shakes us out of our apathy. This is why when you travel you regain an attentiveness that heightens every experience. Use your weekends to explore and engage and try new things…even if you feel like staying home.  Push yourself.  It’s worth it. In the warmer months seek out things like carnivals, antique car shows and, yes, chili cook offs.

This summer my kids pushed me to go to the En Ka Street Fair in Winchester, MA.  I was at first resistant but I am so glad we went. There was something thrilling in being one amongst the crowd, everyone just relaxing and having fun.

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Traveling carnivals are fun to explore and are a good example of temporal experiences set up to bring people together.  The Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 was the catalyst for traveling carnivals, rides, food (maybe not fried dough back then…), games of chance, thrills and more.

Every May in Sandpoint, ID there is a Lost in 50’s Car Show and Street Party.  This past May was their 32nd annual event, which is impressive in and of itself.  Krister, my love, attended and took these luscious photos. The downtown streets were lined with beautiful vintage cars, musical acts, street dances and more.

People bring their antique cars from far and wide, even Canada, to participate.  You can feel the sense of pride in sharing their restorations, which sparks many conversations.

In June, stretched out across City Beach in Sandpoint, ID with a back drop of blue skies, big mountains and boats on Lake Pend Oreille, cooks from across the region set up their tents and chili with the hope of taking home the top prizes for their recipes and a chance to compete for the World Chili Cookoff in Nevada. (Who knew there was such a thing?) The community comes together for tasty chili while enjoying the camaraderie and competition.

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I have a robust commitment to hope.  Happiness is not something we find.  It’s something we make. We need each other. Friendship and love dissolve misunderstanding, force fresh perspectives, alter judgements and break down barriers.  Explore, try new things, connect with people. Be open to loving and being loved.  Magic is something you make.

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Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love. Read more about her inspiration here. 

Carrie Allen – Friendship and book love

What started as a mother-daughter book club when our daughters were in the third grade has turned into a deep friendship for the girls but also for the moms, enduring different classes and even moves to new towns and schools. We decided from the beginning it would be only six girls with their six mamas and we would stick to that with no new additions.  Each month whoever hosts picks a book and invites everyone over –  sometimes for tea, lunch, or dinner, or as you’ll see here an end of school year celebration, birthday and trip to the beach, complete with a lively book discussion of course.

Over the years what was initially simply a book club has become a forum for growing up.  We discuss books and their themes, however as each month passes and years slip into new years, we are all growing older together and discussing life issues – both girls and moms.  The world and growing up can sometimes be confusing but having a safe place to really talk about your ideas, thoughts or even a favorite song or cookie for that matter makes life fun.

My daughter was turning 12 when it was her turn to host this past June so she asked if we could roll it into a birthday celebration.  Never one to shy away from a party I said of course; however, an afternoon book club turned into a 24-hour extravaganza complete with an overnight slumber party, a trip to Crane Beach where the girls relaxed, soaked up the sun, took a dip in the very cold water, and built a pyramid. After our picnic lunch the girls took a break to come up with creative company ideas and pitch tv commercials for their new products. Simply amazing.

In addition to the wonder of lasting and deepening friendships, the passion for reading new books has stood the test of time.  Sometimes we miss a month or several, but we know we always have our book club, each other, and a new story to dive into.

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