The Best of April 2020

April 2020 Highlights: The Highs + Lows

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I know every last one of us has eagerly been waiting for the time to bust out the “it’s gonna be me May” meme, yet May doesn’t exactly feel like crossing the finish line as it has in previous years. While, sure, many states—mine included—are starting to reopen in phases, I’d say that the majority of you are just as scared/confused/conflicted about how to move forward after the past two months of terror.

This month may be the first month in my adult life when I spent 30 nights out of 30 in my own home. It may also be the last time that happens as an adult, so I’m cherishing this forced time at home.

Still, while the pandemic has hit our industry—tourism and hospitality—harder than most, and we likely will be reeling from the effects for years to come, we’ve found ways to make lemonade. I can count on one hand the number of days in the last 60 that I’ve had “off;” instead, SVV has kept me busy with home-improvement projects, and I’ve looked at this unexpected time at home with my husband, animals and immediate family as a blessing.

Easter 2020 in Tennessee

The Highs

We’re wrapping up three state-sponsored projects. Every year, we get an influx of work through nearby CVBs and chambers who are doing tourism projects through state grants. And every year, those projects are due, well, at the end of April. Thanks to this spring shutting down many businesses, we got a bit of an extension for all three of those, so will be shooting the remainder of the content for those projects throughout May and June, the prettiest time of year in Tennessee in my opinion. It’s nice having tourism work in a time when there’s not actually tourism, and it’s always smart to prepare marketing assets in advance.

Aerial view of the Sewanee Cross by drone

Here’s a hilarious outtake from one of our shoots in which the local wildlife did not observe social-distancing orders.

We’re working with several past and present clients to help educate their partners on marketing practices and how to move forward. I’ve got two webinars scheduled for the next couple weeks with several others in the works, and it’s a really great way to continue to connect with those in my industry while also feeling useful in some small way. You can register for the free one with Connect Travel this Wednesday via this link. If you’re someone we have worked with in the past and would like us to offer something similar to your partners, just say the word! We’d love to help in any way we can.

We started rolling out cocktail content. SVV and I are big spirits lovers; not only were we number 3 and 4 to complete the Tennessee Whiskey Trail three years ago when it first launched, but we’re adventurous spirits consumers at bars—yet less adventurous at home. So it’s been fun experimenting with at-home cocktailing, featuring only the liquor, accoutrements and props that populate our cabinets. Check out our cocktails archives if you’re wanting to expand your mixology skills; we’ll be adding a new travel-inspired drink every week for the foreseeable future.

How to Make a French 75 cocktail
How to Make a French 75 cocktail

We’ve tackled more homes projects in two months than we would in an average year. Thanks to this excess time at home—and the fact that my husband doesn’t believe in days off, even on the weekends—we’ve finished installing our parquet floor, pressure-washed the exterior of our all-cedar house, worked on the lawn and landscaping, started remodeling the back deck and begun to paint, among other things. What we weren’t planning on doing was ripping out nearly half of our 1,000-square-foot deck due to rot and neglect, but I guess better now than later as the result of an accident, right? We learned before we ever moved in how much previous owners had neglected this pretty gal, and we committed early on to bringing her up to snuff.

Ripping out our deck

We’ve also taken on more homes writing. It’s fun when art imitates life and vice verse. We’re ramping up our DIY writing as we pen homes pieces for This Old House and other shelter pubs and simultaneously expand our home-renovation content here on the blog.

We’ve had an abundance of time to flesh out Walls for Women. Not only have we had additional cities sign on to participate (shoutout, McMinnville!), but we’re adding so many more fun components to the state-wide project like a documentary. Forced time at home has opened so many doors to really making our 19th Amendment project awesome. Read more about how Walls for Women came to be here.

Walls for Women in Tennessee

Speaking of, we built a new site for DMA-Events. Less than two years after launching, our nonprofit site was feeling stale, so this past weekend, I sat down and built DMA-Events a new site where we can showcase all the murals and projects we’re working on.

I spent six hours of my life cutting eggs out of construction paper. But the result was totally worth it. We’ve already painted hearts and now glued up paper eggs—what window craft should I aim for next?

Rainbow eggs out of construction paper

I’ve had so much extra time with Charlotte. Since mid-March, we’ve been isolating as a multi-family unit given our state of affairs—a disabled father, a sister and her husband who are essential workers (CPAs during tax season who are dually burdened with PPP and SBA loans), and my mom who takes care of their child (with occasional assistance from me when needed)—so not being on a plane for more than two months has meant so much more time with my beloved niece. We’ve ridden bikes, swung on swings, jumped on the trampoline, played in her new blow-up pool and she even went viral this week. I’m soaking up every last minute with her as an only child before her brother gets here this month.

Easter with Charlotte
Easter with Charlotte

Easter with Charlotte

Charlotte on the trampoline

Charlotte Rose, two years old
Charlotte Rose, two years old
Charlotte Rose, two years old

Charlotte and Kiki at Easter

The Lows

My iMac crashed. If ever you needed an excuse to back up your hard drive, take my word for it and do it now. My 3TB iMac Fusion drive had a mechanical failure overnight a few weeks ago, and despite both an Apple Genius and a Nashville computer company trying their hardest, neither could figure out the cause of the fatal error, get the disc to mount or recover the data. I’m trying not to get too weepy about losing so much personal information, but it’s hard to find the bright side there. Anyone have great experiences with a data recovery service that managed to recover the majority of your assets for you?

We pushed back Media Grits. I wasn’t sure if I should put this in the highs or lows, to be honest; in all fairness, I’m happy to have an additional eight months to make our travel media conference even more awesome and at a time when our tourism partners are really going to need the guidance, I just wish our reason for needing to postpone it weren’t all of our reality at the moment.

Media Grits travel media conference in Tennessee

Ugh, need I even say it? … the rona. We’ve finally reached the point where we know a few victims who died of the virus, all under 40 and asymptomatic. It’s hard staying positive with news like that hitting our daily feeds, and yet, we continue to do our part by staying at home, despite state orders, and protecting those closest to us.

Speaking of, enough with the COVID-shaming. I don’t care if someone on your feed is reacting differently to how you’ve treated corona or if you are judging them for their parenting or isolation style. ENOUGH ALREADY. We all cope and handle crisis differently; the only common denominator is the need to exercise compassion, kindness and understanding for and with everyone you encounter.

How was this strange, wild April wherever in the world you are living?

  • May 16, 2020

    I’m jealous of the QT you get with your niece…I only get to see mine a few times a year and they change so quickly!

    • May 25, 2020

      She is the BEST. And now has a little brother, too!!!

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