“Arrow’s Adventure” is not where Arrow’s story starts. His history can actually go back to when I first moved to Knoxville…which I’m realizing now is crazily over four years ago!
I came to be in Knoxville through a job opportunity at Shangri-La Therapeutic Academy of Riding (STAR). STAR is a therapeutic horseback riding program in Lenoir City…more to come on that in later posts. Since I did not yet have a permanent place to stay I lived in the apartment above the office for a month without cable or internet. I can’t remember if I ever brought up that the internet wasn’t working upstairs, but can totally see myself just not wanting to say anything about it since I was new and scared to say anything that might come across as a complaint. I attempted to get a library card but without a Knoxville address I was out of luck. The bottom line is I played a lot of Solitaire and Mahjong Titans for a while.
One of my jobs was to help with our Minis in Motion program. STAR has two miniature donkeys and a miniature pony whose main jobs are to go and visit nursing homes. They can also host school programs, and one of the volunteers, who is a German Shepherd trainer, had worked with them on standing and keeping their noses in books when kids read. It turns out clicker training works just as well for minis as it does for dogs.
As I was learning the ropes with these little guys and practicing having them read, I thought it would be cool if they had some books of their own with themselves as the main characters. Writing replaced Solitaire (thankfully!) and I put together a couple stories…one focusing on heroes, based on STAR’s veterans program, and another about the importance of reading.
I thought it would be awesome to make them into actual books but stalled and didn’t really know where to start. The stories took a place to the side, I moved and got a library card, and life went on.
Arrow came into play when I was trying to come up with a gift for my friend Crissy. She and her husband were pursuing a dream of opening a gym (if you’re in Knoxville check out South Landing Crossfit!). Crissy is a dreamer, and she’s the one who first told me to always move forward.
I’m big into making gifts as opposed to buying them, so when I was trying to figure out what to do for her I remembered the stories I had written. Instead of keeping the minis as the main characters I created Arrow. For Crissy, arrows symbolize movement and a call to movement. Her story was called “Arrow’s Dream”. In it, Arrow is pursuing a dream of winning a race. This is also the first story where I created the artwork. All the illustrations and writing I tried to tie into Crissy’s life…so for example the race was held at South Landing Fair. Her dogs, new home, wedding getaway car and a few other things all had an illustration fit in somehow.
The story was tailored to her, but it carried a message for everyone. It ends with Arrow about to start his race after just learning how his pursuit of his dream is where the real victory is. I wanted her gift to be a reminder about the importance of dreaming itself, regardless of the result. By simply moving forward towards dreams you impact others.
“Arrow’s Adventure” is proof of that impact. The mantra of ‘always move forward’ has become ingrained in me and is what this newest story is all about. Hopefully as I move toward my dream I will impact some people as well.
Always Move Forward.
Always Move Forward Photo Credit @southlandingcrossfit