Off the Wall Charlotte murals in Nashville

March 2020 Highlights: The Highs + Lows

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Oh man, March 2020 will go down the books as the month that spanned an entire year, huh? And we thought January was bad. March typically kicks off a crazy three-month whirlwind for us in the tourism marketing world, but life threw us a curveball and we had seven straight weeks of travel canceled, just like that. As such, we only spent two nights in March in hotels, right before all Hell broke loose.

But while March wasn’t at all what we expected, it also wasn’t all bad either. We spent time with family, pre-social distancing, were semi-productive on the house front and announced one of our big projects for the year.

Charlotte on St. Patrick's Day

The Highs

We launched Walls for Women! Despite these trying times, in the past few weeks we’ve had even more cities sign on like McMinnville. We’re up to about 10 murals for this summer now, and I couldn’t be looking forward to our all-female mural festival more. Just goes to show you: The world needs more color. Lucky for us, painting is a pretty isolated activity.

Charlotte turned two! We had a dino-mite party for her with just our closest friends over at my house. This little girl continues to be the sweetest, spunkiest, kindest and, yes at times, most dramatic kid I know. I can’t believe we have just two months left when it’s only her; I’m excited for her little brother to arrive, but it’s definitely bittersweet.

Charlotte turns 2
Charlotte turns 2

Charlotte turns 2

Charlotte turns 2
Charlotte turns 2

Charlotte turns 2

Charlotte turns 2
Charlotte turns 2

Charlotte turns 2

We finished installing parquet in our hallway. When we bought the Cedar House, a wing of it had flooded and the previous owners didn’t even bother laying down floor where they’d ripped it out. So for a year, we lived without a hallway on the half of the house with our master and our offices and just temporary carpet in those rooms. But no longer! The parquet is officially finished, and we’ve made the carpet selects, which should go in at the end of the month if all goes as planned.

Laying parquet floor

We’ve started the exterior renovation of the Cedar House. First up: Pressure-washing the entire thing with an eco-friendly wash we found online. It’s been more than four years since this home had any sort of varnish, stain or protectant coating it, so I’m not kidding when I say, many of the walls took eight to 10 passes before all the grit and grub was removed. It took three days just to do one corner of the house—or about 25 percent of the surface—so we’re doing it in chunks and we’re rented all the equipment to do the next section this weekend. When it’s all cleaned and had time to dry out, we’ll start staining, likely by the start of summer.

Pressure-washing the Cedar House

I met and spoke on a panel with the great Priscilla Presley. You guys, she is an absolute doll. We spent the weekend at Graceland where my friend Caroline and I did an on-stage chat with Priscilla about travel. This was the last public appearance we made before going into quarantine. We also ran into her at a bar after the conference—remember bars? remember socializing? sigh—and she was so kind and invited us to join her and introduced us to her companion, who was formerly Jerry Lee Lewis’ manager. I will forever be a Priscilla fan after that weekend.

Speaking with Priscilla Presley
Speaking with Priscilla Presley

We launched our TEDx Tullahoma event and sold out … in four hours. Then two days later, it was canceled for COVID-19. The good news is that we have a rescheduled date for October already.

The Lows

The Nashville tornado. It’s hard to believe it’s been exactly a month since Tennessee was rocked to the core. Twenty-five people died, and parts of Davidson, Putnam and Wilson counties will never be the same; in fact, most were just kicking their relief efforts into high gear when the virus halted the entire world. I’ve been sharing ways to help out over the past few weeks on my Instagram and hope to one day be able to blog about travel to Nashville again, which is what the area is really going to need post-shutdown, but in the meantime Hands On Nashville, Gideon’s Army and the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee are where I’ve been pointing people. This NYT essay written by Nashville’s own Margaret Renkl is the best piece I’ve read on what it was really like in the days that followed; I highly recommend reading it even if you aren’t from here.

The world is crumbling. Enough said? You know what’s happening; you don’t need me to reiterate. And you already know how I feel about this, though my emotions are playing a pretty serious game of pinball, depending on the hour of the day. All I’m going to say at this point is STAY HOME. Things are going to get worse before they get better, and they can’t get better if we’re all selfishly flitting about our respective towns.

All of our work projects for spring and summer have already been canceled or postponed. We saw it coming, so this is no big surprise, but when we already had a big fall project shelved, that really hurt. The plus side? I’ve been self-employed for over a decade, and we always make sure we have a buffer to help in times like these. I’m also grateful for the stimulus package, in particular the SBA loans rolling out very soon.

Whiskey and Rye

So many of you emailed me just to chat after this week’s post, and I love that! In times like these, if we can’t keep each other in good spirits, who can?

I’d also love to hear what kind of posts you want to read in these times. I feel uncomfortable and, quite frankly, uninspired by the idea of posting about any kind of aspirational travel, even if it’s for planning purposes down the line, but I have time, which is something I haven’t had the luxury of in a year if not longer, to write at the moment, so tell me what kind of posts would most help lift your spirits. More book lists? Essays? Home renovations ideas you can tackle on your own while isolated? Public art? How to survive a pandemic and not murder your spouse? A mishmash of it all?

  • April 2, 2020

    Hi Kristin

    Thanks for your reply to the last newsletter. I had a friend tell me that he and his wife took a trip through part of the Texas Hill Country two days ago and did not violate any quarantine rules. It is wildflower season in Texas. The Bluebonnets are beautiful.

    They packed a picnic lunch at home. Got in their car drove about an hour. stopped at a rest area, never got our of their car. and never opened a window. Then drove home. Elapsed time two hours.

    • April 2, 2020

      Bluebonnets would do anyone a world of good right now! Go enjoy them with your wife for me, Ray 🙂

  • April 2, 2020

    I love blog posts about the everyday stuff, like you’ve shared here. Seeing how other people do the stuff we do – fix up the house, spend time with family, enjoy favorite books, outfits, hobbies. More than that, write what you like. I’m here for it all. Hope you and yours continue to thrive despite it all. xoxo from Boston.

    • April 2, 2020

      Thank you, Sarah! Maybe I’ll use this time to film some home reno tricks, like painting tips from a 15-year pro (SVV!), that I’ve never really had time to do. I love everyday posts, but my “every day” right now is a lot of chilling, reading, Zooming and napping with Ella, ha.

  • April 7, 2020

    I would love more books lists! 🙂

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