centerpiece for Thanksgiving

One day my children’s children’s children will tell stories about me.

I can’t wait.


I’ll be perched on a rocking chair with glasses and a gray messy bun still wearing yoga pants and red lipstick…..

….listening to every word.

This one will say this and that one will say that and they’ll laugh and giggle and roll their eyes and wonder if the stories are true.  They’ll talk about the time I brought the roast to garden club and the day I wore Lee Press On Nails and how I almost cried in a newspaper publisher’s office.

But the story they’ll tell over and over again?

Is the one where I was so close to amazing.


This last week I spoke at a women’s conference called Becoming and brought the twins along to help.

It was held in one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited called Lake Junaluska, North Carolina.  I taught a DIY class on how to make signs out of old wood and how to make a burlap banner and I spoke at two different sessions about 25 unique and creative projects to make for your home.

The class went well and the first session was fine and then it was time to teach the very last class of the conference.

I was worried.

It was the last session on the last day.  You know.  The one that no one ever goes to because they are packing up their things and leaving and telling their friends they’ll see them next year.  On the elevator ride up I told the twins not to expect much and explained sessions at conferences and that we probably wouldn’t have that many people and they could probably start packing up during the class.

And then we opened the door.

limes thanksgiving centerpiece

It was standing room only.

What?  Seriously?  I couldn’t believe it.  I had to blink twice just to make sure.  I danced around the room and told the audience they were amazing and I was so happy and that I couldn’t wait to talk about 25 creative projects for their home.

And somewhere along the line all that standing room went to my head.

Katie bar the door.

I told story after story and twirled around and chased rabbits and held up projects and danced with some of them and laughed with the audience….

….and talked and talked and talked like I never had before.

It was one of the most amazing moments of my life.

colorful centerpiece

It sped by in a blur and suddenly the session was finished and I was shaking hands at the door.

The conference was over.

I floated out of the classroom on cloud nine and told the twins I was going to get the car and pull around to the back so we could load everything up to start driving back to Kentucky.

Now the building where the conference was held was at the top of a very high hill and my car was parked at the bottom.  To reach the parking lot below there were two ways down.  You had your choice of a paved driveway or a steep grassy hill.

go your own way plate thanksgiving

Normally I took the driveway, but today?

Today I was floating.

Today I was incredible.

Today I was amazing.

So I went all Robert Frost and took the path not taken.

thanksgiving cutting board

Confidently, I took a deep breath of clean Lake Junaluska air and started down the hill.

Acres of green grass stretched out before me.

The sky above was blue and full of fluffy white clouds.

The day was so full of promise.

Smiling, I waved to the conference attendees standing on the porch for the closing reception as I continued my trek down the hill.

thanksgiving table

Emboldened I went faster until I was almost skipping, my confidence singing with each step.


Until my feet slid out from underneath me on the wet grass and without warning I landed on my rear and slid the rest of the way down the hill leaving a trail of mud behind me.

Finally I came to a stop next to the parking lot.  I sat still for just a moment kind of trying to look like I meant to do it.

Maybe no one noticed.

Maybe they would think I thought it was a faster way to the car.

Maybe I could quietly climb into the driver’s door without anyone seeing the giant mud spot on the back of my dress.

And then I heard the applause from the balcony.


One day they’ll tell the story about that long ago day when two paths diverged and I took the one less traveled.

And it made all the difference. 🙂

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    1. Image for Ellenann Ellenann

      I too, just hit the 69 mark. (NOT pretty!) This tale set me giggling like none other! No offense, but I know I would have done the same thing. Many times I've found myself on my bottom when I shouldn't have been. Keep writing...your style is fabulous.

      1. Image for Charley Charley

        Me too on the almost 69 mark. Just celebrated my 50 year HS reunion & will celebrate my 49th wedding anniversary next week. The internet is my window on the world!

  1. Image for Terri Terri

    Oh my word!!!!!!!!!!!!! I busted out laughing before I even got to the end of your "Story"... I KNEW WHAT WAS COMING!!!! lololololololololol.... Seriously??? Could it happen to ANYONE else???? I am in stitches even now!!!!! You have made my morning with your "Story-telling" , "Laughter doeth good, like a medicine"( even though it really did happen... and I really do hope you were ok? ) :) .... ???????? ... and BTW.... We have stayed in that area many .. many times over the years , when we head to the Smokies for a little vaca!! Lake Junaluska ... Maggie Valley.... Waynesville ... alllll beautiful !!!!!!

  2. Image for Nancy @ slightly Coastal Nancy @ slightly Coastal

    Oh my goodness! I just knew that was coming. It for sure be the story told the most...because it is a good one. Someday I'll tell you my epic falling too, is a good one. Your story is even better than the time my high school best friend and I were waving to some cute boys in the car next to us stopped at a red light when we started moving through the light and rear ended the car in front of us. I remember the cute boys throwing their heads back laughing uncontrollably as my friend and I looked at each other in disbelief. Plus, we were skipping school our senior year. Oh my. Have a great day!

  3. Image for Deby Deby

    Hilarious! Love this! You're incredible and such a joy. Receiving your posts is the highlight of my day! Many thanks.

  4. Image for sandy sandy

    You have no idea how much I needed to smile today. Even better, I laughed and laughed....because we have all been there...but you write it so well. Thank you for your wonderful blog.

  5. Image for Karen Keeffe Karen Keeffe

    From another soon to be 69 year old... OK, so you didn't win Olympic gold for your tumbling routine, but the applause showed how much you are loved by your audience. We've all fallen in one way or another, sometimes gracefully, other times not so much. Welcome to the club! I tried to comment on your post about the grammar rules but my comment never went through. Here it is: You write from your heart and not from the dictionary and the rule book. We appreciate you just the way you are!

  6. Image for Beverly Beverly

    Oh, girl. I am so glad you had such an amazing experience at this conference. Just think of the mud slide as getting "grounded" for your drive home. The Tales of KariAnne are always uplifting.

  7. Image for Brenda Brenda

    What a wonderful story! So needed some laughter while I am at the car dealership waiting to find out what the leak is all about and the price it is going to co$t me for a repair bill that may force this retired gal to start job hunting again!

  8. Image for NormaJean NormaJean

    I'm so glad you are able to laugh at yourself! So many take themselves too seriously. Because you have this "gift", you brought smiles to a lot of hearts this morning. Hope the mud didn't ruin your dress and glad all that was damaged was a bit of pride.

  9. Image for Angela Mathias Angela Mathias

    Oh dear! That is exactly what would happen to me. Hahahahahaha At least you slid and didn't role. Sliding looks more intentional than rolling. hehehehehe

  10. Image for Sharon H Sharon H

    Miz karianne...."grace under pressure".... That's you in a nutshell! I always love to read what's happening today in the life and times of Mrs. Thistlewood. And yes, I too knew what was coming...."wait for it....wait for it...." BOOYAH! You never disappoint. But those wonderfully anticipated offspring will surely tell their most favorite story of much you love, and how much you are loved in return. Not to mention how many times your picture appears in the know, listed under awesome; amazing; awe-inspiring; smiling; red hair; red lipstick; creative; curious; wonderful; Godfearing; and so many, many more......but certainly the two most memorable would be dignified and graceful. Yup, I can hear those stories now!

  11. Image for Linda Miller Linda Miller

    You crack me UP! LOL Hope your bum is okay! You're going to have to write another book. The tales...they keep on coming! Have a fabulous day dear! (You need to make a sign and place it in your home with the quote "Don't anyone make you lose your sparkle".) But probably already have done that.

  12. Image for Mari Mari

    Kari Anne! OMG I was laughing out loud in my office great share! Congrats on standing room and so happy to hear you took a chance on different road. It will be a great story to tell indeed :)xo

  13. Image for Liz Liz

    OMG I pissed my pants laughing so hard! you are such a joy and it brightened my day on this rainy, humid Toronto weather.

  14. Image for Laura Laura

    I almost spit out my Poptart! And then I had to read it to my oldest child because he wanted to know why I was laughing! Love you and your stories and your pictures and your blog!

  15. Image for Linda J Linda J

    You know I loved the story! Who wouldn't. Now for the real reason I want to comment today. This is not meant to be anything but one person's opinion. However, I know in my heart it is shared by all your fans and followers. Take me seriously. Write a book. A book of stories (you could use the last year of posts for goodness sake) and share these daily life anecdotes with the world. KariAnne, you are so, so gifted. Don't waste it. You could entertain the world, not just a tiny portion. In the hopes that it will give me credibility for being so bold, I will be 72 in a few weeks! Yep, I will! My grandchildren and great grandchildren (SEVEN of them!) tell those stories about me now! It's great. It's like hearing your life through the eyes of another person and you get to see their perspective of those moments in time. Often, it's nothing like you thought! lol Write the book KariAnne. Share your wonderful sense of humor, your lust for life and your fantastic family with everyone! OK, that's it! PS I can't wait to laugh again tomorrow!

  16. Image for Jen Jen

    You are hilarious! Totally saw that one coming! Lol!!! But oh how I wish I would have known you were going to be in Nc so close to me!!!! My family lives close to Nashville so every time you are there I think "I need to plan a. Family visit around when Kari Anne is gonna be speaking somewhere" lol! But to know you were close to my town and I missed it!! I need your calendar so I will know your speaking engagements and can plan accordingly lol! I love your stories, your projects, your blog, would love to meet you in person and give you a hug!

  17. Image for Cyndee Phelps Cyndee Phelps

    I LOVE your style! I never leave your post without a smile on my face and thoughts of how rich my life is. Thank you for all you do to enrich everyone's life. GOD bless you and yours.

  18. Image for Bonnie Schulte Bonnie Schulte

    I just read Linda's comment above, writing about the stories our grandchildren tell. I don't feel my age, 77, and I still wear blue eye shadow, lipstick tho, is pink. But, anyway, I enjoy antique shopping, and I was talking about attending an antique show, with my grandson overhearing me, while I said, I don't mind if I don't buy anything at the antique show, I really enjoy looking at the antiques. My grandson popped up and said, Grandma, you could just look in the mirror. (He is still alive) grin...

  19. Image for Kayden Kayden

    Great story! I mean, of course, if you weren't hurt, great story. Yes, they will tell this. Great grandmother lives life with gusto. Also a great visual!

  20. Image for Jeanne Jeanne

    You just made my just made my whole day...and it's only 9:30(!) Oh yes they will tell that glad the girls were there to experience it first hand...and of course, glad you're not hurt. :)

  21. Image for Mary Mary

    Love this! I too had to stop and share your story with my daughter! So funny, so real. You make a smile on this 54 yr old moms face everyday, thank you!

  22. Image for maureen mawby maureen mawby

    I can see this happening in my mind's eye! Your grandkids will LOVE you! I love the table centerpiece. You are so talented!

  23. Image for Rosalie McCreary Rosalie McCreary

    You made my day Karianne! Fortunately I didn't have a mouth full of coffee! I see you in my minds eye sliding down the hill! Wasn't it exhilarating???????!!!!!!! I think I would have had a great big smile and a great laugh burst from my belly!!!!! I hope you weren't injured. The path less taken is often to most interesting! Enjoy the journey!

  24. Image for Diva Kreszl Diva Kreszl

    What a wonderful story! Love the inspiration and material you have provided your children for future stories, they owe you a debt of gratitude !!! Thanks for sharing the laughter today!

  25. Image for Ellen Ellen

    KariAnnne- You are the best storyteller ever! Generations of Thistles will be able to read this blog and the "BOOK" and retell your many tales through the ages to come for the never ending enjoyment of all. You have added so much joy and laughter through your posts and I can't thank-you enough. YOU will never, ever be forgotten!

  26. Image for Kathy Kathy

    You have SUCH a way of writing! Through every word, I am there! I love finding a new post in my email inbox! Today's is especially fun! How I wish I could have been at that conference to glean from all of your fabulous talent!!! Please do WRITE A BOOK!!! I'll be first in line to buy it! Well, maybe in line behind hundreds who beat me there!!! Keep on writing and sharing!!! You're my fav!!!!!

  27. Image for Patricia Potter Patricia Potter

    Oh Karianne, What a great way to show us North Carolinians how to come down a hill...!!!! Love, Love, Love!!! I would have done the same thing. Now you must include this story in your book. I get so excited thinking about it and so looking forward to reading it!!! If anyone can get me to smile and laugh it is you Girlfriend. Hugs. Patricia (NC Coast) Lake Junaluska is about 6 to 7 hours from me.

  28. Image for Kathy Kathy

    I, too, knew what was coming. Did you take a bow and wave to the crowd when you got up? Love you writing style and can't wait for that book! Keep on entertaining. XOXO

  29. Image for Marisa Franca @ All Our Way Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    How can we NOT love you?!!!! Anyone who can laugh at herself is my type of person. You are Gen-U-ine! My momma would call you simple and that to her was the epitome of a compliment. It's a person who knows who they are, knows where they are going, and does not put up pretenses. You are an amazing person now, as a nonna you will be over the moon. Have a great day!

  30. Image for Carrie Carrie

    Thank you for sharing your epitomize what I believe in my heart to be true....never be afraid to laugh at yourself.... and the applause from the balcony confirms that, too!!!! :) did the mud stains come out???

  31. Image for Cindy Baugh Cindy Baugh

    So, I was eating while reading this. When you got to the hill part I kinda felt like there was going to be a muddy butt at the end, but still, I wasn't quite prepared for how funny you made it. Now I'm cleaning food off my phone screen....

  32. Image for Teresa Fields Teresa Fields

    Oh my, I'm sitting at Noodles and Company eating a wonderful bowl of pesto cavatappi with chicken and catching up on feedly. About spit out a mouth full reading this! From one KY girl to another - let's keep life fun and real. I was at the conference 2 years ago and really miss not going. Thanks for the post and the laughs. You are such a blessing.

  33. Image for Cindy in Oklahoma Cindy in Oklahoma

    ohmigosh.... too funny! It makes me think about that bleach commercial where the two guys see the grass stains on the pretty girl's white pants as she walks away, turn to each other and say, "He's definitely getting a rose." Oh... and.... next time you tell this, just say you were leaving a "Joy Trail"....ha!

  34. Image for Mary Kay Mary Kay

    This hilarious account of your grand finale, told in your inimitable style, is even more delightful because I can hear your voice in my head. Thank you for bringing a generous enough dose of laughter to Wednesday.

  35. Image for Heather C Heather C

    Girl you are too much, but you make my heart sing with all your madcap (yes madcap) adventures. Its as if I'm doing these things (minus sliding on my bottom to parking lot). My way is way easier, lol

  36. Image for Donna Marie Donna Marie

    I was at Lake Junaluska last weekend taking a guided tour with a cousin, wish I could have seen that scene!!!

  37. Image for Cecilia Cecilia

    Applause is good, right? :o) Oh KariAnne, you are such a story teller and make even a slide down a wet, grassy hill sound like an adventure! I absolutely adore this...but then it wasn't me. hahaha. Thanks for the laugh. You are too much. hugs, Cecilia

  38. Image for Anna Starner Anna Starner

    Since you knew you were in the spotlight I hope you bowed and gave a wave. I knew what was coming but I had to finish THE REST OF THE STORY. Thanks for making me laugh, and feel a tiny bit like less of a klutz. Slipping and sliding down the hill on my bum would be just my style.

  39. Image for Ginger Ginger

    Oh my! I love reading your posts! You are a wonderfully talented storyteller! I've only met you in person once. But, after reading your stories, I feel we are friends in this online world! And, I could see myself joining you sliding down that grassy hill - you know, just so you wouldn't have to be the only one with a dirty dress at the end of the day! And, oh how I'd love to sit in one of your conferences. Sounds fun! Hope to see you next time you're in north Texas!

  40. Image for Leslie Watkins Leslie Watkins

    Oh, my goodness!! That would happen to me!! But I am sure you were memorable-- and of course--you were like that girl who won gold by sliding over the line! And I know your last session was packed and you were amazing!! Just think--you just simply are creating new fabulous stories for you to share and your kids to have!! Love you, sweet friend! You always make my day! And next year...I'm heading back to Becoming...

  41. Image for Stephanie Ray Brown Stephanie Ray Brown

    You should have stood up and did the gymnast pose with arms up in the air for a perfect ten for the slide that made so many giggle and smile as they faced the slippery slopes in their own lives. Hugs sweet lady bug!

  42. Image for Toni Toni

    I was going to post EXACTLY what Stephanie Brown above posted. Hand and arms flown high in the air gymnast pose at the end of a triple, double, quadruple flipping thing! I LOVE people who can laugh at themselves. I have a few of those moments the time I pulled out of the gas station with the hose hanging out of my lie! Thanks for making my day......I'm not alone!

  43. Image for Ren Ren

    OH goodness! This is too funny. As a North Carolinian and a Methodist, I'm very familiar with Lake Junaluska. God's country for sure. So glad you enjoyed your visit.

  44. Image for DeMarie DeMarie

    Well, at least you didn't do the big slide with a piece of toilet paper trailing from your undies! Teeheee This 69 yr. young gal always look forward to your posts. I laugh and learn a lot. You're the best.

  45. Image for Kymee Kymee

    I think that my favorite part about you writing a book is that I will finally be able to share your stories with so many that I know would love them. So hard to get someone to read something from your phone I have read them sometimes. BUT... better will be to buy your book and then let others borrow it or buy it as gifts. Well get on it girl I want so many to read today's story LOL You are Kymee

  46. Image for Carol Carol

    Oh my goodness! That is soooooooo funnnnny! And did you say a while back you were writing a book? Be ..ure you include that story!

  47. Image for june june

    OH MY...I am just reading your post today and now I have to try to go to sleep. I can't stop laughing. I can literally just visualize the entire episode. The story I know you will hear over and over in that rocking chair is when they boast about how much EVERYONE LOVED YOU!

  48. Image for Teresa Harral Teresa Harral

    Oh my goodness, I laughed and laughed and than I realized I had done a similar thing on a special special Christmas pageant. 50 little excited children bobbed in the back of the church waiting for their cue to come up to the platform for their much practiced musical. I was so excited for this night too, I had found a beautiful bright red orange skirt with a white top with red orange large poinsettias on the large collars. The program was to start with a slide presentation to the song Hero by Whitney Houston. I gave the cue for the music to start, but forgot to turn on the light on the projector. As I popped up to turn the light on, I tripped over the cord, the projector went off, the lights came on and there I was flat on the floor with my skirt hiked up. It gets worse.....the Pastor flew off the stage to help me get up but he had my arms and I could not stand, the children ...all 50 of them came running down to the front to help. Than I do what I do when totally embarrassed......I started laughing and laughing and crying and laughing.....well let's just say floating on the clouds can let you down rather quickly! Love you kindred sista!!!

  49. Image for Lisa at celebrate creativity Lisa at celebrate creativity

    Karianne, I love that you can shake anything off and turn it into a fun, inspiring post. It's great that your twins can ride along and help out. I'm sure they're learning so much from the experience. Love that printed plate in your last photo too. Happy day!

  50. Image for Jana Jana

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your stories! I know your children's children's children will so fondly remember how special you are to your family and all the friends you have made with your amazing blog! Thank you for being so REAL KariAnne!

  51. Image for Carol Carol

    Too funny! I have to share my story. At college I was walking down the hill to my second class for the day with Maria von Trapp's granddaughter, a beautiful but very private and reserved young lady. It was winter and icy. My feet slipped out from under me and I landed on one knee with my arms outstretched like the perfect Dorothy Hamill landing. I got applause from the students coming out of the building on their way up the hill. Needless to say I was mortified. Over 40 years ago, but I still remember the flush of my cheeks.

  52. Image for kathy kathy

    I can't believe you were so close to me and I somehow missed it!!! I live only 20 minutes from Lake Junaluska. The story was funny. Too bad you didn't think to wave as you were sliding.

  53. Image for Tracey Tracey

    Thanks for sharing this. As a North Carolina girl living in northern Indiana, I smiled at the first mention of Lake Junaluska. We drove through Kentucky on our way to Indiana after a vacation in NC just a few weeks ago. We enjoyed our time in Kentucky, but we did drive many miles of long country roads looking for a Wendy's to get lunch for our sixteen year old daughter. Fortunately we didn't drive out of our way and we did finally find Wendy's when we reached civilization in Lexington.

  54. Image for Suzann Suzann

    I'm feeling overwhelmed today. My house is a wreck, dirty laundry is piled high as the washer and the grand babies are on the way to my house. KariAnne you made it all better. I laughed out loud! I love you girlfriend ❤️

  55. Image for Michele Riggsbee Michele Riggsbee

    Oh sweet friend, I am so sorry! I was at that conference and know how steep that hill was! The stairs too, were treacherous. So glad you are okay! LOVED YOUR CLASS AND YOUR PRESENTATIONS! I am a notorious clutz, but have never received applause for it! Hugs!

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