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October 2021

Yo, Bro - Look at That Mural Lindsay and Hayley’s Colorful Creations Fido Fetch a Flight

Afghan Rescue

Local Eats: Yo Pablo


Several years ago, while driving from California back home to Oklahoma, I stopped for the night in Albuquerque. In the morning I proceeded to drive back toward California - it took me over an hour to realize my mistake. Yeah, I’ve made some good mistakes, some blunders, some missteps, and screw-ups. Here are a few of my favorites. • I once ordered a Ceasar salad with ranch dressing. My date was not impressed. • Way back in the ‘00s, I hired a programmer that had previously stabbed someone. Note to self: Background checks. • On my honeymoon in Maui I waited in line for over an hour at the wrong rental car company. Not a great way to start the “memory of a lifetime” trip. Alison married me anyway. • I once switched shopping carts with someone - when I say “switched,” I mean I thought theirs was mine. I didn’t realize it until I checked out.

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Features 8

Afghan Rescue

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Local Eats: Yo Pablo

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My Two Beautiful Boys

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Fido Fetch a Flight

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Yo, Bro - Look at That Mural

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20 Years of Art in Edmond

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Signs of Hope

Business

And this just in: In our last issue, I incorrectly titled the designer of the tiny houses for Pivot OKC as an Architect. Brent Gibson is the Owner/Lead Designer at Brent Gibson Classic Home Design.

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Local Medicare Advisors

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Valley Hope Addiction Treatment and Recovery

Columns 7

In Other Words With Dave

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Louise Tucker Jones

Dave Miller Publisher & Back40 Design President Cover Photography by Marshall Hawkins

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Edmond Outlook is a publication of Back40 Design, Inc.

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© 2021 Back40 Design, Inc.

PUBLISHER Dave Miller l EDITOR Jennay Wangen l ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Angie Clemens Byers l GRAPHIC DESIGN Adrian Townsend, Anne Richardson PHOTOGRAPHY Marshall Hawkins www.sundancephotographyokc.com l DISTRIBUTION Edmond Outlook is delivered FREE by direct-mail to 50,000 Edmond area homes. Articles and advertisements in the Outlook do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the magazine or Back40 Design. Back40 Design does not assume responsibility for statements made by advertisers or editorial contributors. The acceptance of advertising by the Outlook does not constitute endorsement of the products, services or information. We do not knowingly present any product or service that is fraudulent or misleading in nature. The Outlook assumes no responsibility for unsolicited materials.


FEATURELOOK By Mustafa Kujo

Afghan Rescue

David & Meagan Owens 8

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“Thank you my brother, my sister! My family is safe in the airport…God bless you, you are angels!” When David and Meagan Owens heard these words from Afghan Interpreter, Fahim, they finally breathed deeply after weeks of sleepless nights. After graduating from Edmond North in 2001, David enlisted in the Marines and immediately deployed to Iraq. In 2007 he left the military and began working as a civilian contractor at the US Embassy in Kabul. That’s where he met Fahim. “We worked together and like anywhere else, there’s dudes you know you’re going to get along with and dudes you don’t. Fahim really helped me understand Afghanistan and how to navigate the culture.” After working multiple contractor jobs in Afghanistan, David returned to Edmond and began working as a home builder, finding time to marry Meagan, who he had courted from overseas. “We would FaceTime in the morning and FaceTime at night while he was there, and sometimes he would tell me, ‘You won’t hear from me for three days’…I was glad to have him back home.” says Meagan. Both David and Meagan kept in touch with Fahim over Facebook, exchanging holiday greetings and checking on each other’s families. “But then, when things heated up over there in mid-August, Fahim asked me to help get him and his family out of Afghanistan.” remembers David. That’s when David and Megan led an international rescue effort from their living room in Edmond. “I contacted some Marine buddies and we all started sharing information on the security situation in Kabul, specifically at the airport and how to get our Afghan interpreters through the Taliban checkpoints and gates into the airport.” The couple dove into social media networks, public and private, to learn as much as they could about real-time events halfway around the globe. “David can talk and so he did most of the networking to find who had good information. I’m more a behind-the-scenes organizer and so I vetted all these people to see who we could actually trust.” beams Meagan. Fearing Fahim may be captured with official documents as he traveled, David encouraged him to take photos of IDs, birth, and marriage certificates, to text them all here, and destroy all the originals. “We uploaded every bit of documentation he had into the cloud and whenever some agency needed info, we had it right there ready to go.” says Meagan. David coordinated directly with an Afghan commander to get Fahim and his family out of their home and into a safe house. The next challenge was getting them through a gate into the airport. “The situation was changing so fast. A gate may be open one minute and closed the next. Until they were in the airport, they could have been picked up or killed by the Taliban any minute. I was talking to Fahim telling him where to go when.” Finally, after a long wait, the Owens heard the words that their friend and his family were safe. Fahim, his wife, and four children are currently on a military base in New Jersey awaiting processing and relocation. “I would love to have Fahim nearby. The mayor of Duncan has offered to house them and get him a job. I can’t think of a better family to have here.” says David, relieved. To learn more, go to Facebook.com/owensbucket.


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FOODLOOK

Michelle Robertson and Nam Phan

Yo Pablo

Tacos & Tequila By Laura Beam Every day at Yo Pablo is ‘Taco Tuesday’ because everything on this inventive menu is something to celebrate! Think fresh, handmade ingredients, unique sauces and meticulous preparation. These are next level tacos. And they’re the reason this lively spot is the hot new go-to for family meals or hanging out with friends. Opening the first metro location in October 2020, Yo Pablo opened at 33rd & Boulevard in Edmond in May 2021 and recently debuted its Norman campus corner location. Now with five restaurants and one soon to open on Covell in Edmond, Yo Pablo has quickly become a fan favorite for taco lovers to get their fix. Fresh is Best Classically French-trained chef, Nam Phan, is the inspiration behind the carefully crafted menu. “We make tacos with a twist and everything is made from scratch. Hand-picked produce, thorough prep and a detailed cooking process create amazing tacos and ensure each restaurant location executes the menu flawlessly,” he says. General Manager Michelle Robertson adds, “There’s nothing canned in our building and the fish and shrimp are flown in every Friday just for Yo Pablo!”

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Tacos with a Twist Chef Nam brings magic to the menu with hits like the best-selling Quesabirria Taco. Hailing from an old Jalisco, Mexican way of braising meat, the Birria beef is heaped onto two lightly charred white corn tortillas, stuffed with cheese, onions and cilantro, and served with a house consommé for dipping. Layers of flavor make this a sensational eat! Another popular item is the Carne Asada--a soft taco with tender Asada beef, roasted cactus, Cotija Cheese and chile chimichurri. The Chicken Tinga Taco is loaded with flavorful shredded chicken, black bean corn salsa, delicious avocado crema, cheese and cilantro. The Sweet Chile Shrimp Taco, Blackened Salmon Taco and Roasted Cauliflower Taco are other craveable menu highlights. Get in the Spirit The chips, queso and salsa are an attraction all their own. All are made in house and you know it the minute you dip that first ultra-light tortilla chip in the creamy queso. Yo Pablo’s drinks are homemade with fresh lime juice and 100% agave, with no added sugars in their margaritas. They feature over 50 tequilas, 10 different mescals and over 100 different spirits. Guests love to enjoy their favorite drinks on the spacious patio with comfy sectionals and three TVs, each with their own sound system. Each month Yo Pablo features a specialty taco like Korean Beef Bulgogi or Fried Chicken. Check out the exciting specialty taco for October. It will be a showstopper! Yo Pablo is located at 3325 S. Boulevard in Edmond. For other locations, hours, to-go orders, delivery or catering, visit yo-pablo.com.


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FEATURELOOK

My Two Beautiful Boys By Amy Dee Stephens

Drug overdose. It’s every parent’s fear, and now that Denise Roberts has lived through it twice, she’s on a mission to raise awareness. “Because if you find out your child has cancer, there’s support. If you find out your kid’s addicted to drugs, nothing happens. Silence. There was no support. Family members pull away. No casseroles brought to the house,” Denise said. “I didn’t know what to do. I tried so hard, but I lost them.” Denise never saw it coming when drug addiction invaded her teenagers’ lives. “I gave birth to two beautiful boys, Matthew and Dillan, both born on July 17th, four years apart. Their stepdad, Tom, was their ‘every day’ dad, and we were almost that perfect family. We did sports together, we went to church, the boys were in private school. We were extremely involved parents, and then my husband died tragically young from a heart attack in 2008-and my boys just went into a downward spiral.” It was at Tom’s funeral that Denise discovered Dillan had a major drug problem, because he kept disappearing into the bathroom. He was shooting himself up with heroin. “So, shortly after burying my husband, I took my son to a nine-month inpatient rehab center. He wanted help, and he was successful in rehab, but he didn’t get the support he needed back in the real world.” Dillan seemed to be overcoming, then he would surprise Denise by saying, “Mom, I need to go back to rehab.” She can never forget the moment when he admitted to pawning items from the garage to support his habit. “He said, ‘I’m not bad, I’m sick.’ That resonated.”

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It wasn’t until after he overdosed and died December 30, 2010, that Denise read his journals. “He described the pain of detoxing, as if every bone in his body was breaking,” Denise said. “He would write prayers, asking God to heal him from his demons. It was heartbreaking, and I finally understood why he couldn’t ‘just quit’ like I’d asked.” Then came the next shock. In response to Tom and Dillan’s deaths, her older son, Matthew, became a drug user to escape his depression. “Mental health issues combined with self-medication—it’s a serious medical condition,” Denise said. Things got worse when Matthew was caught driving with drug paraphernalia in another state. Although it was a minor charge, he was sentenced to probation in a little town in Arizona, with the court refusing to transfer the case to his home in Nevada. With no family support, and unable to see his son and fiancé, he overdosed on February 3, 2016. “He was out there all by himself. He wasn’t a murder suspect—why couldn’t he go home? And now he’s dead, and it was so unnecessary.” Denise now lives in Edmond, having left the place in Nevada where her whole family is buried. She is now an Oklahoma administrator for a national online support group, Team Sharing, Inc. that provides support to parents who have lost children to substance use disorder. The group is striving to bring attention to drug addiction in hopes of replacing its negative stigma with awareness and resources. Denise is working with state representatives to write a future bill proclaiming August 31 as a day to lower flags for overdose awareness day. “Drug addiction needs to be talked about. This is when children need the most unconditional love; when they Denise Roberts are most unlovable. I was left alone, trying to find help for my children and fighting with insurance. But I couldn’t heal my children, so I accept that they are heaIed by my God. Spreading awareness is the only way I know to help find resolution,” Denise said. “I wish my boys were here, but this is my life’s journey and theirs, and maybe we can make it better for other people.” Visit www.teamsharinginc.org to learn more.


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FEATURELOOK

Fetch Fido a Flight By Kelly Vaughn When Vikki Smith moved to Oklahoma, she couldn’t help but notice quite a few stray dogs wandering about. She quickly learned that many area shelters were overcrowded. Even with local rescue programs addressing the issue, there still wasn’t the capacity to offset the number of strays taken in, many of which could end up euthanized. Vikki knew she had to do something to help these animals. When discussing the issue with her family, many of whom live in Oregon, Vikki learned that the shelters there needed adoptable pets. It was not uncommon for families to visit virtually vacant shelters and leave empty handed because there simply were not enough animals available to adopt. Enter a match made in heaven. Forever Families Vikki started Fetch Fido a Flight by fundraising enough money to charter a plane to Oregon, delivering hundreds of animals to vacant shelters, and connecting these animals with their forever families. The organization hopes to fundraise enough money to sponsor one flight a month, sending several hundred animals on the journey of their lifetime. That is no small feat for when you add up flight fees, supplies, and return shipping fees for the kennels each flight costs nearly 14

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$20,000. Fetch Fido a Flight is run by 100% volunteers and every penny donated is used to help save animals’ lives. The organization works strictly with verified Oklahoma shelters. Each animal must complete their hold time at the shelter in hopes their owner will claim them. If that doesn’t happen, and a rescue doesn’t pick them up, the shelter can submit a request to FFAF, in hopes they will be selected for a flight to their new home. Each animal must be healthy and non-aggressive to increase “adoptability” at its destination. Most often these passengers are large breed dogs and puppies. However cats and kittens are also frequent fliers. The animals aren’t the only winners here. This valuable program enables shelters to decrease their euthanasia numbers. It is truly a win, win, win situation - for shelters, the animals, and the adopting families. 2485 Oklahoma Animals Kelly Williams of the Muskogee Animal Shelter has worked with Vikki on countless flights. Fetch Fido a Flight has enabled the shelter to save 167 animals, all of which were adopted to new families. Kelly says, “Vicki is very easy to work with and her heart is 100% in it for the animals. She has invested so much of her time and energy into setting up this organization to help Oklahoma animals. We look forward to every flight because we know that if an animal is selected it is 100% safe from euthanasia.” To date, Fetch Fido a Flight has helped save 2485 Oklahoma animals, but Vikki firmly believes the only permanent solution to overcrowded animal shelters is responsible pet ownership. “Please, spay and neuter your pets. That is the only way we can really make a change,” she says. In the meantime, Vikki and her staff will continue their mission to fundraise for flights, and connect as many Oklahoma animals as possible with their new families across the United States. To learn more go to fetchfidoaflight.com.


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FEATURELOOK

Lindsay Zodrow & Hayley Owen

Yo, Bro - Look at That Mural! By Amy Dee Stephens “Yo, bro!” (Wait, that’s two girls?) Lindsay Zodrow and Hayley Owen laugh about the unusual name they picked for their mural art company, Yo Bro. “It’s a statement, because we’re deeply proud to be in this maledominated industry. Our style is super feminine, but we know how to use power tools,” Lindsay said. Yo Bro paintings in downtown Edmond are immediately identifiable for their earth-toned florals in pastel shades of dusty rose and pale mint green. Inspired by wood carvings, Hayley and Lindsay offset their outlines to create depth. One of their early murals was created on the alley wall across from Festival Marketplace, and they recently completed the restaurant “streatery” barriers along Broadway. Although 2020 didn’t seem like an ideal time to start a new business, many places were closed temporarily and wanted to spruce up their space or fill an empty wall at home with a mural. Hayley and Lindsay painted their first mural for a yoga studio in Norman, and have been busy in the metro ever since. The two women met while doing a floral design job, after which Hayley went home and told her husband, “I met this weird girl, and I have a feeling we’re going to collaborate.” Hayley began to teach Lindsay embroidery, and their friendship solidified. They both enjoyed painting, but had vastly different experiences. Hayley had painted houses as a college job, while Lindsay owned a handmade store in Oklahoma City’s Plaza district, called Collected Thread. After 18

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making the heart-wrenching decision to close the store, Lindsay embarked on some independent design work. “I painted a new window design for Cuppies and Joe for their 10-year anniversary present,” Lindsay said. “I loved doing it! By then, Hayley and I were friends, and I realized I didn’t want to own a business by myself again, so we joined artistic forces.” Yo Bro has found Edmond to be especially “hungry for art.” Because each project is unique, each has special memories. They recently painted a Route 66 mural inside the Edmond Historical Museum. Lindsay found it incredibly special, because her grandmother volunteered there before passing away. Hayley was surprised by their reception while painting the streatery barriers. “Lanes were closed off, and we’re sitting in the street painting, expecting people to be annoyed with us—but instead, they were shouting out the windows saying, ‘Thank you, it looks awesome!’” Sharing a business and merging their artistic styles has come with challenges, but their friendship is the root of their successful partnership. Hayley and Lindsay, both moms of young children, creatively squeeze their work week into a three-day schedule to allow them the freedom to still honor their family needs. “We really admire each other’s work. Hayley’s talent as an artist is baffling to me,” Lindsay said. “It’s rare for two women to work together like this, but it’s a gift to have such a deep friendship. We both challenge each other to be better as artists, mothers, wives and Christians.” “We’ve had hard conversations and hurt feelings, but we also respect the heck out of each other,” Hayley said. “I needed this extroverted Lindsay in my life, to pull me out of quietly creating art at home and never showing it to anyone. At any other point in life, this partnership might not have taken off, but we found our niche at the right time.” For more information follow yo.bro.okc on Instagram.


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BIZLOOK

Local Medicare Advisors Finding your way through Medicare can be very overwhelming and confusing. A good guide is essential. Local advisors Stephenie Woody and Andy Archer are committed to helping you navigate the options and find the plan that’s right for you.

advisor by a friend. Both women quickly realized there was a great need for their services, and they knew they had found their calling. As local, independent agents, Stephenie and Andy are contracted with all the Medicare carriers available in Oklahoma. Their mission is to help clients choose the best fit. Clients pay nothing for their services. Both agents will meet with clients anywhere in Oklahoma. They’ll visit you in your home or whatever other location you prefer, and they’re also happy to consult via phone, video, text, or e-mail. If you enroll in a policy through them, they will continue to monitor your coverage and advise you of any changes.

Free, Convenient Consultations Andy and Stephenie both grew up in Oklahoma and are passionate about serving our state’s seniors. Andy began her Medicare career after helping her mother enroll, and Stephenie was encouraged to become a Medicare

Enrollment Begins Soon Annual enrollment begins October 15 and ends December 7. If you’re already enrolled, it’s a good idea to review your plan once a year, since the Medicare plans and formularies change annually. If someone is turning 65, enrollment

By Maria Veres

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Andy Archer and Stephenie Woody

should begin three months prior to their birthday month. Andy and Stephenie understand how complicated Medicare can be. Whether you’re enrolling for the first time or reviewing an existing plan, they will work with you to find the coverage that meets your needs. Stephenie and Andy are both accepting new clients. Contact Andy by calling (405) 808-2904. You can reach Stephenie at (405) 830-4966.


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BIZLOOK

Valley Hope Addiction Treatment and Recovery For almost fifty years, Valley Hope has walked alongside Oklahomans recovering from substance addiction. With a strong tradition of compassionate, patient-centered care, they look forward to serving the community for many years to come.

Dana Kerney, Senior Vice President of Business Development. Founded in rural Kansas, Valley Hope has served Oklahoma since 1974, when it opened an inpatient facility in Cushing on the grounds of a historic country estate. It also has a longrunning intensive outpatient program in Oklahoma City. Clients attend three hours per evening, three nights a week, allowing them to keep working. Telehealth options are available for outpatients who can’t come in person. Valley Hope is a nonprofit and works with all major insurance providers, as well as offering many scholarships. “We don’t want finances to ever be a barrier,” says Dana.

Affordable, Accessible Treatment Valley Hope’s goal is to make recovery available to everyone, including people in rural areas and clients with limited funds. “The reason we opened most of our locations is because people in the community expressed a need,” says

A Lifetime of Recovery It takes more than a few weeks of inpatient treatment to reverse years of addiction. With structured outpatient care and a very active alumni program, Valley Hope serves clients far beyond graduation. “Once you’re part of the

By Maria Veres

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Valley Hope in Cushing Valley Hope family, you’re part of it for a lifetime,” says Dana. Valley Hope also works hard to educate the community about substance abuse and resources for recovery. With addictions on the rise, these services are needed now more than ever. “There are millions of people in lifelong recovery,” says Dana. “Hope is available. Recovery is available, and it’s possible.” Valley Hope OKC is located at 2816 NW 58th St #103 in Oklahoma City, 100 S. Jones Avenue in Cushing, and online at valleyhope.org.


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FEATURELOOK

20 Years of Edmond Art By Amy Dee Stephens The secret is out: Edmond is the place to see art! It’s not just local folks walking around taking photos of their favorite pieces, Route 66 travelers are stopping, and out-of-state bus tours are now unloading in the downtown area. Where else can you see 250+ significant art pieces within a matter of blocks? Of course, this incredible boost in culture and tourism was a planned effort that began 20 years ago. In October 2001, the Edmond Visual Arts Commission (EVAC) was formed as a mechanism to help with the purchase, display and maintenance of public art. Three men were largely responsible for EVAC: former mayor, Randel Shadid and councilmen, Steve Knox and David Woods. “We put our heads together, crafted the ordinance, and, frankly, were correct in thinking that this would be a successful partnership between private donors and public funds,” said Randel Shadid. “We now have national recognition, and people are reading about Edmond in Southwest Art, Western Art and Architecture, Fine Art Connoisseur, and Southern Living magazines.” EVAC does not make outright purchases of art. A private citizen or group must fund half or more of the cost before approaching the commission for partnership money. The artwork also must be easily viewable in a public location. From Bronze to Fiberglass One of the first pieces purchased when EVAC began was a bronze, limestone and glass piece by Greg Reiche, placed at 26

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the corner of 15th & Coltrane. The sponsors were longtime art collectors, Bob and Kathy Thomas. “Bob and I were so proud to bring that monument to our community,” Kathy Thomas said. “Bob served eight years on EVAC and was on the commission when he passed away earlier this year. He really enjoyed the variety of art we have in Edmond. Everybody’s bound to find something they like.” The Thomas family was also responsible for acquiring Touch the Clouds by Dave McGary, the large native American bronze at the entrance of the University of Central Oklahoma. Much of Edmond’s sculpture art is made of bronze, but it is not a requirement. Stainless steel, glass, stone and wood are also among the mediums represented, along with a few oil paintings. The oldest piece of public art is the 1939 bison landscape on display inside Edmond City Hall, and perhaps the quirkiest is the fiberglass blue hippo along Broadway. Explosion of Murals In the early 2000s, Dr. Bob Palmer began painting murals that featured historic Edmond scenes, but 2020 saw an explosion of mural art with the Rollin’ Deep Mural Festival. “Frankly, the expansion of our mural program has increased the number of Oklahoma artists represented in the collection,” said Shadid. “We’ve expanded the resume of a lot of young and local artists. It’s a big deal to have a public work on display, especially in a place with Edmond’s reputation.” To celebrate EVAC’s 20th year, a commemoration is planned for October 7th at 6:00pm at the Railyard to thank the donors who have partially funded their favorite pieces for all to see. “We’ve been blessed with great public support. It’s a vibrant program,” said Shadid, “People are coming to see the art, and when they come, they spend money in restaurants and hotels—so that’s good for tourism. Twenty years ago, who’d have thought that Edmond would be an art town?” Visit edmondok.com/142/Edmond-Visual-Arts-Commission to learn more.


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ALOOKBACK

Happy Halloween! By Louise Tucker Jones Halloween has always been a fun time at our house, though I’m not sure how it all started. Maybe it was when I put a cute little costume on my oldest at just two years old and he got homemade treats from neighbors. All I know is that Aaron has always loved Halloween. He and his sister, Paula, enjoyed trick-ortreating while my youngest hated it. Don’t even try to put a mask on Jay’s face! And surprise! This child of a chocoholic mom (that would be me) didn’t even like candy! When Aaron was in middle school, he decided to set up a “mini” haunted house in our home. He drafted his sister and me for help. We chose the hall bath to set up the tour using things we had

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on hand. Peeled grapes would serve for eyeballs and cooked spaghetti for brains. Neighborhood kids were ecstatic when they heard of the event. Aaron played a record on the stereo with chains rattling and scary screams for background sounds as he led the kids through blindfolded. One by one they reluctantly took the dark tour where their hands were suddenly plunged into soggy brains and cold, peeled eyeballs. There were other surprises like walking into fake spider webs, and just as they were being led out of the room, I reached from behind a shower curtain where I hid and grabbed them. Talk about scream! Some jerked off that blindfold and ran out of the room. The kids waiting on the front porch heard the scream and were even more excited. I’m sure you’re thinking my kids had a crazy mom and that’s probably true, but they and their friends remembered that fun Halloween forever. And thankfully, my late husband, Carl, collaborated by

taking Jay, who hadn’t yet learned to like silly, scary stuff, to Sonic for a Coke. Today, Aaron carries on Halloween traditions and decorates his house and yard with every scary thing imaginable. His kids and their friends love it. Sometimes traditions aren’t really planned, they just happen. Either way, they’re a ton of fun in the making. Happy Halloween! ABOUT THE AUTHOR Louise Tucker Jones is an award-winning author, inspirational speaker & founder of Wives With Heavenly Husbands, a support group for widows. LouiseTJ@cox.net or LouiseTuckerJones.com.


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FEATURELOOK

Celia Thomas

By Maria Veres

Signs of Hope A year ago Celia Thomas was unemployed in the middle of a pandemic, turning sixty, and unsure what the future held. Today she’s bringing happiness to her community through her thriving business, Simply Sign It. The journey hasn’t been easy, but overcoming challenges is nothing new for this longtime Edmond resident. A New Beginning Celia has always loved crafting, but she never expected to turn her artistic gifts into a business. Her working life before 2020 was fairly traditional--she’s been a social worker, a fulltime mom, and most recently, a project manager for a large corporation. “Then one morning I woke up and I didn’t have a job anymore,” she says. Her position was eliminated in the fall of 2019 with no warning, leaving her in total shock. “I started the process of putting on my big girl pants and redoing my resume,” she says. She didn’t get many responses, especially after the pandemic took hold. After nine months of knocking on closed doors, Celia began considering other options. Her daughter suggested a yardcard business. Celia loved the idea. She started researching the possibilities, launched the business in September 2020, and was immediately swamped with Halloween orders. “I had about thirty-five,” she says. “It was crazy!” Finding Courage “Going out and starting a business at sixty is scary,” says Celia. She recalls a moment of sheer panic, when she felt overwhelmed by the task she had undertaken. Then she thought back over the many obstacles she had already overcome. She has endured severe migraines, two bouts of breast cancer, life-threatening complications from reconstructive surgery, a midlife divorce, the deaths of her 30

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mother and oldest sister, and diabetes. Her strong faith and the love of her family brought her through each trial. She realized that if she could handle all those other challenges, she could handle starting a business, too. Celia draws strength from the memory of her sister and favorite crafting partner, Judy, who passed away in 2019. Judy loved dragonflies and owned several pieces of art that featured them. In Judy’s honor, Celia includes a dragonfly on each display she creates. “I want to remember her in the work that I do,” she says. Giving Back to the Community As a mom and grandmother of Edmond Public Schools students, Celia has always been an enthusiastic supporter of local schools. The pandemic has made it difficult to volunteer in person, but she continues to give back through Simply Sign It. She will donate 25 percent of a customer’s total purchase price to any school or charity that the customer selects. “It’s important to me that our kids and our grandkids succeed in life and end up adding value to the world,” she says. “If I can help with that by donating funds to the schools, I’m going to do it.” Although Celia loves her new role as a business owner, her job isn’t easy. Setting up yard sign displays involves a huge amount of planning, driving, physical labor, and time. She often works seven days a week, accommodating last-minute requests and creating customized displays. Every bit of that effort pays off when she sees the smiles on her customers’ faces. “Those are memories they’ll have forever,” she says. “I touch people’s lives and make memories for them. I can’t think of anything better to be doing.” Learn more at simplysignitok.com.


1024 W Covell Rd., Edmond, OK 73003

Profile for Outlook Magazine

October 2021  

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