I admit it, I’m shedding a tear as I write this. My challenge to myself on April 20, to write a daily newsletter for 30 days or until the end of quarantine is over today, May 19,2020. I thought I’d only be doing this for two weeks. But the lock down has continued, and so have I.
The best part of this challenge was connected with my readers. Their emails and notes encouraged me and many of us connected on a deeper level. To me, that is gold.
This challenge made me realize a few things about myself. One is that I can write a newsletter in two hours from scratch. Two, my hero is not the cowboy in a white hat, but the cattle drive cook who gets dinner ready 500 miles from anywhere. Three, if I were to be a character in a film I would be the resourceful farm girl Ruby (Renee Zellweger) to Ada’s slightly helpless gentlewoman (Nicole Kidman) from the film Cold Mountain. There were fences to mend, cows to milk, and fields to be plowed. I’ve sewed masks, baked bread and planted vegetables during this time. But I ain’t no Ruby. I can’t (or rather, I don’t want to) deftly dispatch a live chicken, but I can write, write, write!
And of course, during this time I learned more about you. I talked to and wrote about people and companies that are in the throes of pivoting and reinventing. By the way, I’ve migrated many of theses newsletters (and more on the way ) to my blog.
I also discovered another type of personality that I’m going to call the changeling. Those are the people growing from within. I’ve enjoyed checking in with two of these changelings, one for song, the other for perfect cocktails. A song and a cocktail — essentials during this time!
THE SINGER AND THE WIG(s)
To watch Veronica Puleo, she of more wigs than Moira Rose on Schitt’s Creek, has been to watch an artist emerge as her true self. And while those wigs are designed to create a new personality to go with the song, there really is no disguising the strong personality that lies beneath them.
Veronica’s challenge to herself was perform a song a day with her band The Replicas, on her social media channels. Sounds easy, but wait! There were issues with how it sounded. How to get the best sound digitally? Then there was the video. How to bring all the band members together from video taken at their remote stay-at-home locations? Then there was the editing of the video. How to sync all the musicians with the sound across four different videos? Hours and hours of time at the computer, that’s how.
One of my favorites is Mambo Italiano (above), a song written for Rosemary Clooney. I love both Veronica’s version of it and the wig!
Veronica and the band then said, ala Mickey Rooney, let’s put on a show! More tech issues, more research, more learning curves. Turns out, performing virtually takes a completely different set of skills. In the end, the show sounded and looked great — a testament to the power of tenacity.
“They say time is a luxury and I agree,” Veronica said. “I looked at lock down as a gift and began working on some unfinished recording projects and my music videos. It’s been a massively artistic and technological awakening for me. When we get back to some sort of normal, I won’t go back to being a workaholic. I’ll take care of my inner artist every single day as I do now.” A changeling for life.
FOOD BY DESIGN(er)
Another changeling to watch is Lisa King and her new website, My Studio Kitchen. A graphic designer, she’s been responsible for all my brand logos and looks. I first saw her design work on the counter at the printer we both used. It was a simple Halloween invitation but I instantly knew this was the designer for me and I asked my printer for an introduction. We’ve been working together ever since.
The elements of a printed piece (or now, a digital one), are like a recipe so it’s no surprise that Lisa is a great cook. But it’s her cocktails that slay me. Cocktails are something I find most difficult to get right – the ratios and the ingredients seem to have an overwhelming amount of combinations. But in another life, Lisa concocted cocktails at Valentino (the now-defunct iconic LA restaurant) so you know her pedigree is top-o’. Her creations (like her dishes) are simple yet comforting,… if a cocktail can be said to be comforting. There are no hard-to-find tinctures, shrubs or bitters. Just great taste.
So when she launched her website last week, and began to populate her Instagram page, I jumped for joy. I love the color blocking of her Instagram feed and the look of her site (designed by her sister Michele). It’s about design. It’s about food. It’s about the art of food and design. My favorite genre!
Thanks to Veronica and Lisa for what they do. Thanks to my readers who are with me as we continue to connect during hellish times as Ruby and Ada did on Cold Mountain. I hope that like them, we will also come out of this stronger, more alive, and ready to sit down to a beautiful country dinner table laden with food (and probably that chicken too) in the shade of a big tree as they do at the end of the film.
At the table are those people who return to us from this war. They will be a bit more fragile, trying to recover from isolation or worse (I’m thinking of all those incredible front line workers), but dang gummit, as Ruby would say, they will be there. The sun is shining now, love the ones you are with, wipe yer tears and let’s eat!
At this point if I were to follow my marketer’s instincts I’d have some call to action for you to take, some course of mine to join or workshop to sign up for. There’s time enough for that down the road. That wasn’t my intent. I simply wanted to write the great stories I was hearing and connect. I’m happy to have had this opportunity to do so and that you are here with me.
On second thought … I do have a call to action for you and it’s simple — Change. Grow. Pivot. Listen. Above all, continue bringing your best self forward. That is truly all we can really do every darn day.
From here on out, I’ll post this newsletter weekly, every Tuesday at 3:15 p.m. PST. I have a lot more to say on a whole host of varied subjects — sewing (and how it relates to my theory of inside-out marketing), full catastrophe living as espoused by Zorba the Greek and throwing in references to current Instagram crushes — the brilliant rants of Russell Brand, the cooking of Padma Lakshmi and the throwback country life of Paula from Hill House Vintage.