It rained and stormed all day in Nashville – the soggiest Easter I can remember. I spent a peaceful morning in bed with 2 Strawberry Pop-Tarts, a cup of hot tea, the New York Times, and my iPad.
During the afternoon, our daughter who would rather be living in her college dorm made cookies, my husband worked on a hobby, and I drafted Bacon interviews and cleaned my bathroom. We watched the Easter service from our church late in the afternoon then made dinner. It was an entirely pleasant day.
And yet. (Our older daughter. Our parents; my sister. The crowded church, the crowded brunch, the pretty dress.)
Saturday, when the sun still shone, we invited my cousin and her husband over for a socially distant cocktail on our back patio. Was this essential?
It’s back to work – Corona style – for some, this Monday morning.
I’m worried about those who can’t get back to work, and I know you are too.
I’m impressed with all the innovation as people find ways to work remotely. Today, I’m happy to feature Mimi Bliss and Rebecca Thompson, two Nashville women who have adjusted their businesses as well as their lives.
Hi Mimi and Rebecca! I’m so happy to chat with you this morning! First and foremost: How are you doing? What’s your stress level?
Mimi: Like most people, every day feels like a roller coaster to me. I try to find a balance between deep concern for people who are the most vulnerable, and creating routine and purpose for myself and my family.
Rebecca: My stress level has run the gamut from fear of the unknown to peace that all will be well, and this too shall pass. I try to stay in gratitude and action.
How anxious are you about leaving your house? What do you leave your house for?
Mimi: I leave the house to walk with my husband, care for my horse, and walk the dog. Trips to the grocery store are fewer now. The dog is very happy. He loves the frequent walks and constant companionship at home.
Rebecca: I am sheltering in place and working virtually. I leave my home for occasional trips to the grocery.
Mimi, please tell us about your work at Bliss Communications and how it has changed…
My work focuses on public speaking as a core leadership skill, whether you’re doing a media interview or giving a business presentation. As we adapt to virtual meetings and video, we need to be crisper and more concise in our communications. Early in COVID-19, I recorded videos with tips for virtual presentations. Sharing the videos with others has given me a great sense of purpose (videos at mimibliss.com/blog and https://vimeo.com/user83707745 )
On a day-to-day basis, my work has shifted. I like the challenge. Instead of being in New York this week to prepare executives for media interviews (it’s hard to imagine now), I’m doing coaching and workshops via Zoom and WebEx to prepare business leaders to present effectively in virtual meetings. I have my go-to work wardrobe for video calls, thanks to consulting with Rebecca. My outfits remind me of dressing for work when I was a TV reporter. Deep colors, no prints.
Rebecca, would you please tell us the same about your wardrobe consulting business – and how you and Mimi have been working together…
As a wardrobe consultant my goal is to help women and men dress with ease and confidence in their appearance. I provide closet edits, shopping, coordinate outfits with existing clothes, incorporate new clothes with the existing wardrobe, plan outfits for the season’s events and important meetings, travel packing, dress individuals for photo shoots and on camera appearances. Since many of us are working from home during the time of Corona and in more virtual meetings I’ve coached clients via Zoom on how to dress for virtual meetings. I’ve always known I could do it; however, this has offered me the opportunity to make it happen. Mimi and I have had several zoom consultations with her wardrobe. It’s been easy to do it with her since I know her clothes so well and she is the consummate professional! I am thankful she got me started working with clients through zoom.
What’s the hardest thing about the Time of Corona?
Mimi: This week, I’ve heard more about friends or acquaintances who are sick or have lost relatives to COVID-19. That’s hard.
Rebecca: The hardest thing for me initially about the Time of Corona was the uncertainty – health, financial, social distancing from friends, and learning a new way of doing business. I am learning more about how to adapt in general.
What’s the best thing about the Time of Corona?
Mimi: My 16 year old son would probably be horrified to read this, but I like having him at home during the day while he does remote school. It’s like having a preschooler, but without the tantrums. Our day begins with breakfast at 8:30 am., followed by his morning school meeting via Zoom at 9 a.m., then there’s lunch around 12:30 or 1 p.m., with both of us sharing various spaces in the house for work. He’s a good officemate and like the routine..
Rebecca: I’ve been reminded of what is important to me – faith, family, friends, the fact that all of us humans are connected, and nothing is stable so I best get used to it. Stability in any time is an illusion. I have this moment. And in this moment everything is always fine.
Have you learned anything about yourself or the people around you?
Mimi: We have more empathy for each other. There are opportunities to connect with people, whether it’s by Zoom, phone, text or email. I’ve had Zoom gatherings with high school friends and wonderful phone conversations with others. I talk to my parents nearly every day. It’s easier to reach people on the phone when we’re all at home.
Rebecca: I’ve always known that we are all the same – we all basically have the same fears and desires. It’s easy to forget that since we self-identify in so many ways, thereby separating ourselves from others. This is a reminder to me that we’re all interconnected and truly need each other. I’ve seen how my family and friends are loving, caring and want to help others in need. Out of necessity it has been easier to make changes in a variety of situations during this Time of Corona.
Have you learned anything about Nashville? Your neighborhood? Our country/world?
Mimi: I’ve seen some incredible examples of leadership in our community. It seems like a lifetime since the city closed the bars on Broadway, but that was a critical step toward protecting public health and it took leadership. We all have a renewed appreciation for healthcare professionals and hospitals.
Rebecca: There is more connection even if it is a neighborhood online platform. I’ve seen leaders emerge nationally, and the world-wide sharing of information as we have a common goal in the Time of Corona.
What are you reading? And – what would you recommend?
Mimi: I like audio books, so I’m listening to Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen, by Dan Heath. I’m a fan of the Heath brothers’ books. Upstream is about how we tend to react to problems rather than solve them, so it seems a bit ironic right now.
If you are a fan of audiobooks, I recommend Ann Patchett’s The Dutch House, which is narrated by Tom Hanks. Wonderful book, wonderful narrator.
I’m reading Lunch with Lucy: Maximize Profits by Investing in Your People by Nashvillian entrepreneur Sherry Deutschmann. I can hear Sherry’s voice as I read the book. It’s authentic and a great read.
My husband, Dwayne Barrett, is reading First: Sandra Day O’Connor by Evan Thomas, who was honored by the Nashville Public Library Foundation last year. He said the book has given him a new appreciation for Justice O’Connor’s role as the swing vote on the Supreme Court. I loved the book because she was a trailblazer for women and led such a full life.
Rebecca: I recently read True Faith and Allegiance by Alberto Gonzales. It details the story of this former attorney general of the US and White House counsel. Nashville is honored to have him at Belmont University where he became Dean of the law school in 2014.
I was reminded of how George Bush and Alberto Gonzales lead their lives with their faith guiding them. Regardless of one’s political views, President Bush was a true leader. In 2005, after reading a book about the 1918 flu pandemic Bush told his top homeland security advisor, “Look this happens every 100 years. We need a national strategy.” What a thinker, planner and leader. In this Time of Corona President Bush’s leadership is especially significant to me.
What are you watching? And – what would you recommend?
Mimi: “Mister Rogers Neighborhood” and “1917” are two good movies that we’ve watched recently.
Rebecca: I love a range of things from the great British shows such as “Call the Midwife” to the raunchy humour of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”! The latter may be offensive to some. To see the main character have utterly no filter is comedic to me.
Other forms of stress relief in the Time of Corona?
Mimi: Pets. The animals just want a little love and plenty of treats. They have no other concerns.
Rebecca: I begin each day with prayer and meditation. Walks, being in nature in this beautiful time of year, and staying connected to friends via phone and text have helped me with stress.
What’s your advice to friends and colleagues in the Time of Corona? What helps you get through the day – and the dark hours of the night?
Mimi: The best advice I received early in the pandemic was to build resiliency through routine and purpose. It’s really worked. Routine is things like cooking dinner or walking outdoors, while my business provides a great sense of purpose. We all find routine and purpose in different places.
Rebecca: The thing that gets me through every day and the darkest of nights is always my faith. Without it I would have no reason to get out of bed. I’ve also enjoyed wearing clothes for my day as opposed to loungewear. I put on my lipstick and perfume every day. It just makes me feel better!
Thank you, Mimi and Rebecca! I’ve been wearing my perfume every day too, Rebecca. Maybe today I’ll wear lipstick too. xoxo