Family Secrets Storytelling Art Book

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Family secrets…we all have them. Within even the healthiest and most stable of families there are a few dark tales or stories that no one talks about.

What about dysfunctional families or those that endure soul wrenching challenges or those riddled with abuse and addiction? The secrets buried within those families go far beyond a few skeletons in the closet. They carry with them deep shame and soul numbing detachment.

I met local artist Steve Head several years ago. You can read about our first encounter here. Standing in a coffee shop in downtown Joplin, studying Steve’s incredibly moving art upon the walls, a long buried piece of my heart shifted and opened. His unique depictions, full of symbolism and old photos, tell powerful stories.

More than imaginative works, these pieces are snapshots from Steve’s life, lived within a large family whose history includes poverty, alcoholism and mental illness. It’s a natural progression, to bring some of Steve’s art together in book form. Rather than strolling through a gallery, one can sit with the book,  which offers narrative to accompany the art pieces…and time to study each work, so that its story can be properly shared.

This is Family Secrets, the Storytelling Art of Steve Head.

Family Secrets Storytelling Art Book

Why Share These Stories?

Steve answers this question at the beginning of this oversized, coffee table style book.

Several family members suffered with mental illnesses and alcoholism. Physical, sexual, mental, emotional and even spiritual abuse threads its way throughout the fabric of his family’s history. Add in poverty and dysfunction, and the enormity of it all took an emotional and spiritual toll on nearly everyone connected to this family.

As a result, Steve carried a huge void in his heart, where love and nurturing should have been. He also carried shame for who he thought he was and for all that happened to him during his childhood. Later in life he learned that redemption and healing can only come when that shame is acknowledged and overcome.

Steve’s art brings the pain and dysfunction into the light, exposing it while boldly proclaiming:

“None of what happened in my family was MY fault. And I don’t need to carry this SHAME any longer.”

By sharing his art work, Steve offers an invitation to others to talk about their own shame and secrets and begin to heal.

Family Secrets Storytelling Art BookSteve’s first mixed media piece, “Coke Dealers”, from Family Secrets the Storytelling Art of Steve Head.

A Visual Tour with Compelling Stories

Family Secrets showcases Steve’s art while sharing the family stories behind each piece. He uses mixed media and collage to create one of a kind works of art.

In “Lost and Found, The Redemption of Mary Louisa McBroom”, we learn the sad story about Steve’s grandmother, who spent ten years in the Central Oklahoma State Hospital, and died there. No one in the family spoke of this woman who lived during the Great Depression and birthed twelve children. However, her 50 year old hospital records provided horrific details about the final decade of her life. Steve created art that moved Mary Louisa from obscurity to being known. Her life has value and meaning, even if we can’t fully comprehend all that she bore.

Family Secrets is full of page after page of beautiful, haunting art…and the stories that inspired each piece. I love knowing the process behind the works. Studying each work of art I can interpret some symbols. Steve fills in the deeper truths. Abandoned buildings represent emptiness. A bicycle tossed into a murky pond symbolizes lost childhood opportunities and stolen joy.

Family Secrets Storytelling Art Book

The Essence of the Human Spirit

This is a book that one can spend time with and learn from. And on some level, all of us can relate to the stories told by Steve’s art. We’ve all been hurt. Most of us carry scars from painful encounters with life, with family, with those who should have loved us.

Steve’s art cracks open a door in any heart that is willing to let go of old pain. As sorrowful as many of his stories are, he does not leave us without hope. His is a life that healed. His is a heart that became whole. He’s allowed the secrets and the shame to burn away and transform into a source of compassion and strength.

I love Steve’s Artist Statement, included in the book:

“The essence of every human being is his or her inward spirit. I believe that who we are as a person is the compilation of every thought, memory and human interaction we have ever experienced. My goal, as an artist, is to create visual expressions of those unseen places of the heart, of the child within, and of those shared experiences that connect our hearts to those around us.”

The boy who thought he lacked artistic talent, the boy who endured hardships that no child should have to experience, the young man who struggled with his own addictions, became the artist who now touches other hearts and sets them free.

Sitting with Family Secrets, you may shed hot tears. Old memories may surface from the shadows. And healing may begin, if you will allow it to. As Steve says, we all have untold stories. It’s time to tell yours.

Order Your Copy of Family Secrets

Order Family Secrets The Storytelling Art of Steve Head HERE. And check out The Art and Photography of Steve & Cindy Head Facebook Page HERE.

Family Secrets Storytelling Art Book

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5 Reasons to Enjoy Treasures Now

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How many times has a friend or family member said, “Oh, I’ll save that for a special occasion.”

“That” might be the good china or an expensive shirt or a family heirloom or even a gift from a loved one. Saving something for a special occasion imbues that item with greater value, it seems. It’s not meant for everyday or regular use. Rather, a special occasion worthy of the item must occur first.

Greg’s dad frequently recited the “saving it” clause. He chose to wear the same shirts and trousers over and over and tucked away new items, meant to replace their worn out counterparts.

After his death, I uncovered stacks of unopened gifts and clothes still in their original packages.

What if, instead of saving the good stuff, we gave ourselves permission to enjoy treasures now?

5 Reasons to Enjoy Treasures Now

Enjoy Treasures Now

I get it. I’ve tucked heirlooms and vintage items away too. The fear of breaking or wearing out something often overrides the joy that the item brings.

That changed for me a few years ago, as I kept “rediscovering” pieces I’d put away. I asked myself, “What good do packed away treasures do? What joy do they bring?” Overcoming fear of loss, I pulled those pieces out of storage and began incorporating them into my everyday life and décor. I’m not sorry!

5 Reasons to Enjoy Treasures NowThe first vintage item that I hauled out of the attic…and repurposed. This is my grandfather’s WWII Army trunk, enjoying a second life as a vignette holder.

I am more relaxed now with my treasures, allowing them second lives or renewed purpose in my home. From my experience, I offer 5 reasons to enjoy treasures now…rather than keep them in storage.

Tucked Away Treasures Don’t Bring Joy

This is a Marie Kondo teaching. A champion organizer, Marie loves to tidy up. One of her guiding principles involves holding an object to see if it sparks joy. If it does, keep it and if it doesn’t, give it away, sell it or throw it away.

If a treasure is tucked away, how do we know if it brings joy? In fact, thinking of the old adage, “Out of sight, out of mind”, how do we even know what we have?

This thought led me to uncover all my treasures, several years ago, and find ways to use them again. Otherwise, I kept forgetting what I had, until I came across it again.

I began with my grandfather’s trunk and kept going, one or two items at a time. These pieces bring me great joy. And it’s not just vintage pieces that I am now using. I have comfy shirts, fun socks, favorite pens and dinnerware that I regularly use, simply because I enjoy them.

The fear of wearing something out is as great as the fear of loss. However, never wearing my single pair of bright yellow plaid socks is not only a shame, but a waste. I bought them because they spark joy and make me smile. I may wear them out. However, what joy do they bring, folded in a drawer? None!

5 Reasons to Enjoy Treasurs NowWearing the greatest socks ever!

Treasures Tell Stories

This is one of my favorite reasons for keeping my treasures around me. With vintage items, there is the fear of breakage.  Packing an item away appears to keep it safe. I know first hand that is not always the case.

My neighborhood lay in the path of the 2011 EF5 tornado that devastated Joplin. I lost a vintage globed table lamp that fell casualty to debris bursting through a window. All in all, my house fared better than most around me. Half a block away, uprooted houses rested in the middle of the street or resembled nothing more than a pile of rubble. Safekeeping treasures did nothing to protect them in that storm.

The experience renewed my determination to enjoy treasures now, because I don’t know what tomorrow brings. Scattered throughout my home, these old pieces whisper their stories to me, every time I glance at them.

My mother’s wooden shoes, from her childhood, tell a story of love. My father’s Harley Davidson woven throw recounts his courageous battle against cancer. Grandpa Moore’s 119 year old china doll reminds me that he cherished that special toy, as a small boy. Leta Moore’s vintage curling irons speak of her connection with her mother, as a young girl.

I want these stories told. I want to hear them. Tucked away in closets and drawers, the stories become muffled and eventually lost to me.

5 Reasons to Enjoy Treasures NowBill Moore’s china doll, happily gracing my dining table.

Repurpose Treasures in Fresh Ways

This fun way of displaying treasures brings enjoyment and a sense of satisfaction. Inspired by using Pop’s trunk to hold quilts or holiday décor, I turned many pieces into vignette holders. The vintage suitcase, Aunt Roxie’s old footstool, Aunt Annie’s red box and an old wooden sieve (pictured above holding the china doll) all serve now as backdrops for arrangements containing other keepsakes.

My backyard garden features old rusty buckets and big metal washtubs that hold colorful flowers and aromatic herbs during the summer. An old red toolbox protects succulents and an old wheelbarrow transforms into a fairy garden while vintage minnow buckets allow candlelight to spill out into the twilight.

Bringing new life to an old, worn out item, extends the usefulness of that piece. Decorating with and using these pieces in fresh ways sparks joy, yes, and also ramps up my creativity. Study a treasure that no longer works well in its original form or purpose, and let it speak to you.

I set out an item and look at it multiple times the day until I get a creative idea or a visual download that guides me in repurposing it. Pinterest provides amazing ideas as well.

5 Reasons to Enjoy Treasures NowEvery treasure in this vintage suitcase, repurposed to hold vignettes, tells a story.

Continued Usefulness

Not all treasure are beyond their intended purpose. These items still serve in useful ways, once fear of loss is replaced with enjoyment.

Many of my vintage kitchen pieces came from the old shed in Grandma and Grandpa Moore’s backyard . Packed away because something new replaced them, I found delight in rescuing these treasures and bringing them home. That was 40 plus years ago…and I still use some of these items daily.

Concerns about wearing out those beauties proved futile.

Heavy glass pitchers hold lemon water or home made almond milk. The enamelware colander still cradles freshly washed veggies. My aunt’s glass juicer makes me smile when I twist half a lime on it. I decorate with old glassware, drink from vintage teacups and decorative  bowls perfectly display fruit.

Do I fear breaking something that is irreplaceable? I think about that possibility and use care when washing an item or displaying it. I recently broke a treasure, unpacking it from a box. The 1940s cookie jar belonged to Greg’s parents. My heart sank as it slipped from its protective bubble wrap and hit the floor with a cracking sound. Fortunately, it broke into only two pieces. Repaired it can still serve as a container or simply grace a shelf. I am grateful.

However, if something breaks beyond repair, I’d rather know that the treasure brought me great joy while I used it instead of sitting forgotten in a closet. I can live with the risk. It’s helped me too to discover previous repairs in some of the treasures. They’ve been broken before! Somehow I feel better knowing that.

It’s a choice one must make. If losing an item breaks a heart, keep it safe. Or display it with care. For many years the china doll remained safely in a closet. Now, she delights me from various places around the house. She’s not for playing with. And I handle her carefully and mindfully. She’s too precious, however, to hide away.

5 Reasons to Enjoy Treasures NowThis vintage glass pitcher gets used weekly.

The Next Generation May Have No Interest in Treasures

While not intended as a judgment, the truth is that children and grandchildren reaching adulthood may have no interest in family treasures. Carefully preserving heirlooms and keepsakes may come to naught, when the next generation doesn’t feel the same way about them.

I love the current trend among many young adults to live with less and travel more. Additionally, the tiny house movement and the minimalist lifestyle encourage a life lived with less stuff. There’s nothing wrong with those trends at all.

All it means is…don’t save treasures to hand down, when there may be no one willing to take them. Use those keepsakes, repurpose them, let them bring joy. And if a child or grandchild wants to keep that story alive, by owning the treasure, wonderful. And if no one wants those treasures, at least they were enjoyed for a time. Truly, that is enough.

Don’t Save Anything for a Special Occasion

Madeline Engelbreit says,

“Don’t ever save anything for a special occasion. Being alive is the special occasion.”

I love that quote! It’s at the heart of what I desire, with the treasures in my keeping. Don’t save them for a special occasion. Use them. Wear them. Repurpose them. Repair them if necessary…but don’t hide them away and forget about them.

Enjoy treasures now.

5 Reasons to Enjoy Treasures Now



Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program is designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to, all at no extra cost to you.