DSC_0648Hello and thanks for visiting my brand new blog! I’m Alison MacLeod Drake, and in case you haven’t guessed it with a name like that, I grew up in Scotland. Scotland is a beautiful and magical place. I still get shivers when I’m there and watch the mist floating over the water and hovering on the mountains. Everywhere you turn it’s a picture perfect scene. As often happens though, we leave the place we grew up. My first “leaving” was when I ventured to the Midlands of England for college. I completed my BA in Visual Communication Studies in 1985 and then headed to Manchester, England to work for a large audio visual/production company. I met so many amazing people there, many of whom are still my best friends today. Fun fact: “wee” is my favorite word!

Purple Rain, Purple Rain

Opportunity knocked and my next big “leaving” took me to Minneapolis, Minnesota where I worked for a Marketing and Advertising company. All I knew about it at the time was that Prince was from Minneapolis, and that was a good enough reason to go! (I was young at the time :) I arrived in Minnesota in the winter and no one could have prepared me for the cold. My warmest clothes were no match for the weather and I was forced into buying puffy clothing that was not my style but necessary for survival.

Meant to be

In November of 1992 the planets aligned and I met the love of my life, Randall Kipp. We were married in November 1993. Randall is an architect and had the opportunity to work on a project for a current Minnesota client in Irvington, Virginia. We had no idea where Irvington was, but were thrilled to visit in the winter to escape the Minnesota snow. How it happened, I really don’t know, but after several visits we fell in love with the tiny village (450 peeps) and decided to trade our city life for a rural life. That “leaving” happened in 1997 and we’ve never looked back!

Finding my way back home…or close to it!

It took Randall a while to adjust. He said he missed his anonymity. Living in a small village in a rural area everyone knows everyone, and everyone knows what you’re doing EVEN before you do, which of course, is so much part of its charm - but can take a little getting used to! I on the other hand loved it immediately. I have since realized that it is because of the water - it reminds me of home. Randall has been busy over the years and built a fine practice in tiny Irvington. He has the privilege to work on many amazing homes on beautiful pieces of land with breathtaking views of rivers, creeks and the Chesapeake Bay. His incredible clients come from all over the state and the country to find their little piece of heaven in our area. I switched gears and decided to open a retail store full of all the things I loved, furniture, décor and gifts and later women’s clothing and accessories. Duncan & Drake (named after myself and my Scottish Terrier Duncan) opened in early 1998. I grew the business and met many amazing people along the way. Ultimately it all became too much to manage, I had created a monster, and after much soul searching, I closed it. After a brief rest, I decided to get back into retail – what was I thinking - this time with a partner and friend.  It was during this time that my life changed.

WDE…Worst Day EVER!

My Breast Cancer diagnosis was made after a routine mammogram. It was my 10th year of having mammograms and I had never had so much as had a call back. This year was different. When I got the call that I needed to come back for further tests, and not to worry – this happens all the time, I knew deep down something was wrong. I got that feeling in my stomach that doesn’t lie. So it was not a surprise (and yet still shocking) when I got the news. I can vividly remember the radiologist asking if I had any questions, but I couldn’t speak.

The Haze

There began the whirlwind that comes with such a diagnosis. Tests, appointments more tests. How did I feel? As if I were in a haze. I touch more on this in “My Story” so take a read and I’ll be writing in more detail about this in future blog posts, too.

Turning Point

This marked the beginning of some significant changes in my life. Three years on, and I can honestly say I am happier and healthier than I have been in many years. I am now following my new passion – all things health and nutrition – and hope to help and inspire others with what I have learned and with my project: Cups of Prevention. email_signoff1