CELEBRATION SPOTLIGHT – Fay Stout
During a recent interview for Celebration Spotlight, I spoke with Fay Stout, a retired critical care nurse who Celebrates Every Day through her photography. Throughout the interview, I couldn’t help but laugh or smile. Fay is the epitome of joy, and she sets out every day with a spirit of adventure.
Michele: You’ve been celebrating every day for a long time now. What got you started?
Fay: I think it’s been since about 2015, and it’s fun. I don’t remember how I stumbled on the site, but ever since I did, it’s been, “Oh! What day is this?” and “What day is tomorrow?” and each time I try to find a photo that I’ve taken to go with that day. I’m back in the archives trying to find something to use. Sometimes I can find things; sometimes I can’t, and sometimes I go out specifically to take a photo for that day. It just depends. But it’s been a great amount of fun. It’s something to look forward to, and I post the day to my Facebook site, and people seem to enjoy it. If I miss a day, they’re like, “Oh, what happened to her?” or “What day is it?” (Fay begins to laugh.)
Michele: They call you out on it, don’t they?
Fay: Yeah! But it’s just so much fun.
Michele: I agree with you there. You’re very talented with your photography. You look like you’re having fun. One of the photos you directed me to was the National Pretend to Be a Time Traveler Day photo. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Fay: This was a very surprising photo for me. I went to the Wiley [Reed] Blues Festival in Texas, and it was a day event. And I was sitting in a little park area just watching people; I love to watch people and love to photograph people. And across from me was a building with the most beautiful mural on it. But it was going back in time with an old automobile and an old building. It was beautiful.
All of a sudden, a man comes walking along. And he looks like he’s just come out of the wall of that mural; he fit in so perfectly. He had a little derby hat on, and there was a woman following behind him very close, and I didn’t want her in the picture. So, I had my long lens on my camera, and I took a couple of quick shots hoping it would work, and it did! It was so exciting when I saw the photo because he looked like he blended into that whole mural. I’m sorry I didn’t run and get his name and email so he could have the photo, but it really turned out to be a lot of fun.
Michele: You also told me about your bumper stickers.
Fay: Oh, yeah. (She chuckles.) My last day of nursing in 2012, I was going to retire. I had been a critical care nurse for 45 years. Loved my job. Every day was different. You could go home at the end of the day and know you had helped someone through a difficult time in their life.
So, anyway, as I came out of the door of the intensive care unit, I kept hearing all these beeps and buzzers. And I thought, “Never again will I hear these familiar sounds that have been a part of my life for so long.” But I had one thing, as I approached my car, I had one bumper sticker, and it said, “Retired RN,” and I slapped that on the back of my car.
Well, it has been all downhill since then. (Faye chuckles again.) I drive an old Honda CRV. And I have about 100 bumper stickers on my car. Some of them have been bleached out by the Texas sun. Some of them, somebody took a key or knife and cut through some of them. But my bumper stickers are not of places that I’ve been. It’s just fun quotes or fun sayings. One of my favorites is, “Don’t do anything you don’t want to tell the paramedics.”
And Practical Jokes
They’re just fun to look at. Sometimes I catch other people looking at them. I came out of a store one day, and three ladies are around my car looking at these bumper stickers, and I thought, “Ok. This looks like a little bit of fun. I’m going to play a little game.” And I walked along very nonchalantly as if it wasn’t my car and one of the ladies said to me, “Come here! Come here! You have to see this.” And I went over, and she says, “Look at all these bumper stickers.” She started pointing and reading them.
Another girl was up by the passenger side of the car, and she called me over to her, and she says, “You gotta see this. There’s a skeleton in the car!” And Mr. Bones, especially in October, Mr. Bones rides with me. He’s my passenger. I always buckle him in for safety, and people get quite a kick out of him. We were just laughing. And very quietly, I turn to them and said, “That’s my car.” And they broke up laughing.
Michele: That’s one thing about talking with you is that you spread joy. And after we got done talking the other day, I thought, “She is so infected with JoyGerm.” We have National JoyGerm Day on the calendar, and that made me think of you.
Fay: That’s a good germ to have.
Michele: That is a good germ to have.
Fay: Some joy and humor in our life; it makes life easier.
Michele: I definitely walked away with a smile that day. Another thing that we talked about…tell me about your friend Lucy.
Fay: Oh, Lucy is so special. I used to love going to estate sales. As a matter of fact, I used to take every Friday off to go to an estate sale. You never knew what you would find. You could find a $5000 painting with a gilt frame or buy leftover toilet paper if it hadn’t been used. There’s something there for everyone. But I was in the garage looking for a flowerpot. It was kind of dark in the garage. There was a lady sitting at the table there. She had kind of dark glasses on. Made no sense to me.
I came around again, and I looked at her, and I realized she wasn’t real. She was a mannequin. Oh my gosh! I got so excited. And it was a sale day. I forget how much off, but she was $65. That’s pretty good for a mannequin, especially one that pretty.
I said to the fella handling the sale, “I want her.” I told him I was parked about a block and a half away and that I’d pick her up. At this point, people are overhearing this conversation. So when I got there to pick her up, he was starting to take her arms off. I’m like, “No, no. She’s going to sit in the passenger seat next to me.” People started laughing at that point. So we got her in the seat, and we got her buckled in, and off we went. All the time, I’m thinking, “What am I going to call her?” She reminded me… Do you remember the I Love Lucy Show? Her reddish hair kind of reminded me of that, and I decided, “I’m going to call her Lucy.” And that’s what I did.
Lucy Goes on an Adventure
I got her a pretty dress to wear. And sat her in the rocking chair. She sat there, and she sat there. After a while, I thought, “Lucy needs to get out and have some fun.” I took her to the Rowlett Library. Outside of the building, they have a bench where a statue of Mark Twain sits. And I thought it would be fun to have a picture of Lucy with Mark Twain. I carried her to the bench, got her all situated and was getting ready to take her photo when an elderly woman comes out of the library with a bunch of books in her arms and about burst out laughing when she saw Lucy.
She turned to me and said, “What’s this all about?”
I said, “It’s my friend Lucy. She wanted to go out for the day.”
She just laughed some more. She said, “I have been so depressed. This is the highlight of my week.” When she said that, I realized Lucy could bring a lot of joy into people’s lives in such simple ways. It seems that everywhere I took her, people loved her. I took her to the arboretum. She got her first kiss at the arboretum from one of the male volunteers. I was wondering what she was feeling. Was she excited? Was she embarrassed? You know, she didn’t say a word!
(Big laughs from Fay and Michele.)
But everywhere she would go, she would meet new friends, and people loved her, and everybody wanted their photo taken with her. And I am sorry I didn’t get a photo of that first lady who made that remark at the library. Because I don’t know, if it weren’t for her, I might not have taken Lucy out, but she just sparked everything.
Michele: And you’ve posted all her adventures out there. Lots of people seem so interested and do find joy through Lucy. I love the stories that you tell. Another subject we had talked about was… You had a photo of an armadillo on National Wildlife Day. Did you take that photo?
Fay: I sure did.
Michele: It’s beautiful. Did you get up close, or how did you get this photo?
Fay: This is an interesting thing. A bunch of the photographers from the nature photographer group I’m in went down to the Santa Clara Ranch in Texas, and they have areas where you can go underground, and they have it opened up so you can put your camera through there. And they set up different scenes like ponds or whatever. We were leaving that day when all of a sudden, this armadillo comes up and wants a drink of water. I have never seen an armadillo up close like that. He didn’t seem to see us or wasn’t afraid of us, and he got his drink of water. And that was probably one of my favorite nature shots.
Michele: I can see why. It’s absolutely gorgeous. You have a lot of unique photos out there. You pose Lucy for National Absurdity Day for one, but you have a few Absurdity Day photos out there.
Fay: The two toilets…no, I did that for Toilet Day.
Michele: Well, let’s talk about that since you bring that up. Tell the story for National Toilet Day, this photo you had in your archive.
Fay: Immediately when I saw it was National Toilet Day, I knew I had a photo in the archives. What are the chances of having a toilet picture that you would want to post? But I love to go to little towns in Texas. They are fascinating. I was out for a weekend with a couple of girlfriends, and we were just doing photography in little towns. We went to this little café for lunch, and my one friend had been there previously.
I needed to use the bathroom, and so I got up to go use the bathroom, and she says, “Oh, wait, wait! You need to take your camera with you.” I thought, “Wow. That’s really weird.” So I took my camera with me, and I opened the door and in this enclosed area are two toilets, one in front of the other. It was insane. And it just tickled me, so when toilet day came up, that’s the one I used.
Michele: I don’t blame you. It’s so perfect. What you’ve mentioned before is that you meet new people, and you spread that joy creating a bit of a ripple effect. Can you tell me a little bit about the people you’ve met?
Strangers and Friends
Fay: I have met so many wonderful people through photography, and a challenge site on Flicker called 100 Strangers. I have met my 100 strangers, and I’m on my second batch of 100 strangers. You must go up to a stranger and ask to take their picture. And then, I would get their email and send them their picture. They would tell me something about themselves, and of course, I’d get permission to post this.
It was just a fun challenge to do. I think the best portrait I took was of a fella at a 4th of July event, and his daughter told me because she saw it on the computer, she said, “My father said that this is the photo he wants in front of his casket when he died.” You never know what photo you will take that will be so meaningful to a family. I love meeting strangers, and I met strangers every day at work as a nurse; I heard so many life stories. We all have a story to tell.
Michele: You have so many stories to tell. So many, we probably haven’t even scratched the surface with our little conversations here.
We talked about festivals and events at one point. Which one would you like to talk about?
Fay: There are a couple that are a lot of fun. One is where they have rubber ducks in Rockwall, TX. There’s a fountain and a little waterfall area, and a little stream area. And people can actually put money on these ducks as to who will be the winner. All these rubber ducks are sponsored by these different businesses. So they’re all dressed in a different way. You might have a little duck with a beard or all kinds of crazy things. When they start floating, and they go over the falls, and they start coming to the end of the line to see who the winner will be, people go crazy about it. I have had such fun photographing the ducks. There’s such a thing as Rubber Ducky Day! Who knew?
Michele: It’s one of my favorite days.
Fay: And when I saw that, I said, “Yes, I do have some ducks I can use for the day.”
Michele: You even have them featured on your main page.
Fay: They’re just fun to look at. I enjoy them. That’s a good day to celebrate, even if it’s just in a bathtub with a rubber duck.
Celebrate Every Day
Michele: That’s true, too! You’ve just celebrated a lot, and I find that especially wonderful. What does Celebrate Every Day mean to you?
Fay: You know, we never know what happens in the future. As a nurse, I know that. You may live; you may die. It may come on suddenly. And I think because of that, it’s so important to celebrate something out of each day. It might be something stupid and silly, but that’s ok. Whatever makes you happy, celebrate that thing. And I think part of this too.
The day after Christmas in 2015, we lost our house in a tornado. In a matter of 10 to 20 seconds, our lives were literally turned upside down. If you had asked me the day before, “Are you going to lose your home tomorrow?” I would have looked at somebody like they were crazy. But we never know what tomorrow holds, so cherish today. Celebrate something for today. Make today special in some way. That’s kind of how I like to do it.
There are over 1,500 national days. Don’t miss a single one. Celebrate Every Day® with National Day Calendar®!