Hi there. My name is Katie & I really appreciate you stopping by for a visit. I hope you’ll take the time to stick around a while, read a few of my posts, and join our community by leaving a comment or two.
Who am I? Well, although I will always consider my hometown to be Bell Buckle, Tennessee, these days I call a yellow house on 30 remote acres with a big pond home. It’s a beautiful, incredibly peaceful place to live, nestled right next to House Mountain. We have lots of wildlife here, including snakes, hawks (which decimated my flock of chickens pretty much immediately after we moved here),coyotes, wild turkeys, and lots of toads, which my two youngest kiddos and their cousins love to catch all summer long.
I live here with my husband Jon, who is an accountant with his small family firm in downtown Sevierville ( a rustic little place at the very foot of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and best known as my hero Dolly’s hometown)
Seven year old G is in second grade. She’s the baby of the family and she loves to dance, jump on the trampoline, and to my great chagrin, play in the mud as much as possible.
C is our head-in-the-clouds fifth grader. She continually has her nose in a book or she’s writing something herself.
E is our sophomore in college. He’s studying business administration and he’s also very involved in his fraternity, not necessarily in that order.
And J, our oldest, graduated college in December of 2017 and has moved to a bright, shiny, big city where she landed a job with a supercool dotcom. She’s loving her new life and we’re so proud of her.
I’m also really close to my extended family including my mother, in-laws, little brother and sister, cousins, and all my amazing nieces and nephews.
Our fifth child, Henry would be 26 this year but he died of a drug overdose at age 18 in 2010. I’ve written a lot about Henry – my guitar playing, writerly, sensitive, empath of a firstborn. Losing him shattered my heart into a million pieces and as you might imagine, losing a child isn’t something you ever get over or get past. Losing my baby boy turned my world upside down and turned me inside out. I have never been the same since Henry died. However, with the help of family, good friends and strangers alike we are working to make Henry’s legacy one that means something, with our philanthropic work through Henry’s Fund which raises money under the auspices of the East Tennessee Foundation to distribute grants to reputable treatment programs addressing the needs of addicted teens and young adults.
Along with my sister Betsy, I am a facilitator of the Knoxville, Tennessee GRASP group which provides support for those who have lost a loved one to addiction or overdose. Aside from my work with Henry’s Fund and GRASP, I am also active in my son’s memory through advocacy in working to see that “Henry’s Law” becomes a reality. In general, I now consider myself an activist working to fight the opiate epidemic that took my child and is killing tens of thousands of other people’s children each year.
In addition to my volunteer work with causes that matter to me, as well as the joy I take in seeing my children pursue what brings them joy, I am also a writer, editor and digital content consultant by trade. My book, Attachment Parenting was published by Simon & Schuster (becoming Atria Books), while my essays have appeared in multiple anthologies, including the Modern Love collection from The New York Times. My essays, interviews and investigative reporting have appeared in The New York Times, Huffington Post, Yahoo Shine, DIsney’s Babble (I wrote weekly at Babble for seven years so there’s a lot there), Slate, Salon, HGTV, WBIR-TV, the Knoxville News Sentinel and a wide variety of other print and online publications. I’m currently working on a new narrative nonfiction proposal and am actively seeking literary representation for that project.
For a number of years before launching Big Good Thing – the blog you now have before you – I blogged under another domain and during that time I was named one of Babble’s top 20 mommybloggers for five consecutive years. In 2012 I was named to the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame for my work in social media, and while I was working as Senior Online Producer at WBIR-TV I was nominated for a regional Emmy and was awarded multiple recognitions by the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists for my producing and writing. In 2012, I was named one of BlogHer’s Voices of the Year for my essays.
As for my digital content consulting, I’ve worked with companies like Scripps Networks Interactive and Disney interactive. If you’re interested in talking with me about my consulting services, just shoot me a message via katieallison5309-at-gmail-dot-com.
So that’s all work-me and family-me, but what about me-me? Well, my passion happens to coincide with my profession: writing. I especially love writing in a digital format that encourages and allows for smart, civil discussion. I’m also a voracious reader, particularly of biographies and narrative nonfiction. I’m an insanely passionate gardener (flowers, not so much with the vegetables) and I’d rather get a gift card to a local nursery than any other gift at all. As of last spring/summer I became rather obsessed with growing roses -particularly really fragrant, English roses.I wouldn’t say I’ve actually gotten the hang of growing roses, which are pretty tricky to get right, but I’m enjoying trying.
In the last few years I’ve also become a totally nerdy bird watcher. I have a bunch of bird feeders just off our back porch and I can spend (really!) hours just sitting on the porch with Jon’s binoculars watching the incredibly wide variety of birds that we have out here at the farm noshing at the feeders. The one bird I’ve yet to reliably lure to my feeders for them are hummingbirds. I think hummingbirds have vetoed me or something.
Since I work from home, I spend a good deal of time just hanging out with Leo, our awesome, 10 year old Great Pyrenees that we’ve had since he was seven weeks old.
We also have Milo, our outdoor cat who is possibly the worst.cat.ever, but we’re stuck with him. And last but not least, G & C have two guinea pigs named Buttermilk and Nutmeg.
Wow, reading back through this makes me sound pretty, damn boring. I read. I write. I garden. I watch birds! I AM A FREAKING BIRD WATCHER! And I like our dog. But the reality is that I’m indeed pretty boring these days. I’m still really struggling with my grief and I’ve faced down some very, very dark places since Henry died. I plan to open up more specifically about my grief-related struggles here on the blog over time in hopes that sharing more openly might help others in the same place.
In general, I’ve become a much quieter, more solitary person since becoming a bereaved parent (no more Bonnaroo in the forseeable future for me), and these super simple family pursuits are what fit me best during this particular phase of my life. I suspect that I’ll move into a new phase at some point, but this is where I am right now.
Things I don’t do but really want to learn to do/do soon: knit, crochet, do yoga at least passably well, travel more with Jon, see more live music again, throw more parties, like I used to do before we lost Henry, find a way to get back into riding horses regularly, replace all my chickens, begin walking 5 miles at least 3-4 times weekly… And the list goes on.
Anyway, thanks for visiting my blog. Feel free to get in touch. Also, be sure to let me know what you think about what I have to say in the comments below each blog post. And please forgive any design or technical glitches that you may be seeing in the site right now. It’s a work in progress. -Katie