One of my earliest memories as a child was my parents, two sisters and I going on a family vacation. We would travel in our full size van, with a cooler loaded with sandwiches and drinks, and drive in a large circle around the southeastern United States. My father would be at the helm of the wheel as my mom was co-pilot. My sister Jill would keep the conversation going talking about her life and adventures of the trip, while my other sister, Joy, would be fighting me for the Rand McNally map that we would use to highlight our precise location and giving directions of our next destination. The cassette player in our brown and tan carpeted van would be playing Conway Twitty, George Jones, Dolly Parton, Johny Cash, Charlie Pride, and other tapes of country singers, while I was in the back listening to Run-D.M.C. and The Fat Boys with my headphones.
My parents would take us, sometimes drag us, to antique stores, with an occasional cemetery thrown in, to round-out what we called the “Gudger Summer Antiquecation.” Our trip usually took us through Birmingham to south Georgia, then Savannah, up to Charleston, then to Salisbury, North Carolina, then through Charlotte, Knoxville, Chattanooga and finally back to Alabama!
Some of those early trips are a few of my favorite childhood memories. While traveling in the van on those antiquing trips, I learned a life lesson from my mother. Nearing the end of each summer vacation, the van fully loaded and by now, a packed UHaul in tow, our excitement level of exploring the next antique store had worn off! Upon each stop my mom would utter two words, simply, but boldly, “GET OUT!” The meaning was clear… get out of the car and let’s go inside. I didn’t realize that those two words would somehow stick with me throughout my life, even when she wasn’t around.
As an adult, I now realize what my mother was doing! She is an adventurer and a curious soul, like myself, and in her mind she was trying to teach us a valuable lesson… “get out” was her way of encouraging us to get out and experience what that particular place had to offer. Each stop to her was an adventure, an opportunity to explore new, unknown and exciting places and things. The hands on experience of exploring the texture, the color, the temperature, even the scale… truly has a lot to do with my design work at Southern Accents today. She was teaching me through these “get out” experiences, without me even knowing.
I believe that an important part of life is making that extra effort to just “get out!” There are too many times that distractions, like technology, keep our head glued to a screen. Whether it is editing pictures, Facebook, text, email, social media, spread sheets… sometimes it is just good to take a step back, put away your phone, tablet and/or games, and just “get out.” Get outside, get outside the normal box of thinking, get out and experience friends, get out and make something with your hands, get out and just breathe! There is a time to work and when you work, work hard. But there are also times to experience a positive new place, activity, friends, company… by choosing to go that extra mile, that most people won’t, a new journey begins for you.
I believe that I inherited my curiosity from my mother. I hope I can instill that curious nature in my boys. Without us knowing, my mother allowed us to have a summer field trip that consisted of a hands-on laboratory at every stop. You never know what you will find unless you “Get Out”. Life is an adventure: experience it!
Written by: Garlan Gudger, Jr.