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Words about words, brands, names and naming, and the creative process.

#sparkchamber 080519 — Nellie Ballarini

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Time keeps flowing along, but #sparkchamber managed to catch up to the free spirit and breath of fresh air that is Nellie Ballarini. A small-town girl, Nellie grew up by a river, in a big house on a double lot next door to her cousins and her grandmother. The kids loved to play in the piney woods by the side of the houses, and to go down to the river. Her mother packed up peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches and the kids were pretty much left on their own. She and her siblings and cousins spent a lot of time playing outdoors. They always wanted to go fishing and would try to make their own fishing poles. “Maybe we had one between us,” she recollects now with a laugh.

Although she liked both science and history, she decided on medical technology for college — history was too much memorizing, too much to remember. She started working in a lab while she was still in school, but soon realized she wanted a job where she could interact with people more. And, as it turns out, there’s also a lot of memorizing in organic chemistry.  [Later she came to appreciate history more, and stopped worrying about the memorizing. To this day, her favorite reading is historical novels and history books that tell a broad story.] 

She ended up in nursing, a career she thoroughly enjoyed — it both engaged her spirit and paid the bills. She had two children toward the end of a 10-year marriage and raised them on her own for the next 10. Around then, she and a friend were at a local restaurant. Nellie happened to catch the eye of a handsome fellow across the room, but quickly looked away. As she tells it, “He came over to the table and said, ‘I saw you look at me and look away,’ and then he asked me to dance.” The happy couple celebrated their 30-year anniversary this past month.

When Nellie retired from nursing, she was reminded of the freedom of her youth. Not that she ever forgot it — “I’d always be walking into work thinking it’s such a beautiful day. I wish I could go for a walk in the woods instead.” — but she could have more access to it — “Not until I was in my 60s was I able to really make my own schedule.”

1.] Where do ideas come from?

I think it’s the observation of the world around you. From watching other people. If you need to do something and you don’t know how, or you want something and you don’t know how to get it, you have to find a way. Some of them — I just find them in my head.

2.] What is the itch you are scratching?

Right now, trying to get some freedom. Trying to have opportunities for myself to explore. To participate in what’s going on around, outside myself, outside my house. Enjoy other people, friends and family. Not always be inside myself.

3.] Early bird or night owl, tortoise or hare?

How do I get things done? Haphazardly. I write lists. Multiple lists. Lists of lists. And then I diverge from them. And usually managing some kind of crisis in the middle of that. A crisis of probably my own making. But absolutely I prefer mornings. I’m always afraid I will miss something if I go to bed too early, but I love to be up early in the morning. I wish that most of the day could take place before 8:00 a.m. Or maybe 9:00. After that I feel the day is almost gone. I’ve always been like that.

4.] How do you know when you are done?

I don’t think I’m ever done. I’m always re-doing. Re-thinking. Doing over. Or thinking I could have done it a different way. Projects that is. My whole life actually. I guess I have to say never. Never done.