A few things: September 2019

The purpose here is to give you something else to read, something other than, you know, news…

We’ll start here:

Live A Great Story.

Five years ago a guy named Zach, head full of stories from a trip around the world, took a can of red spray paint and wrote/drew/painted/tagged “Live A Great Story” on a column on a popular running trail in Austin. Passersby starting taking pictures and posting on social media. Zach and his buddies took $30 and some lumber to make a screen printing device, and they started printing t-shirts.

Fast-forward five years to this: https://liveagreatstory.com/

Maybe you’re thinking: that’s the most Millennial thing ever. And you’d be right; the challenges his generation face are part of what put the idea in Zach’s head to begin with. And, sure, there are plenty of #liveagreatstory Instagram posts that are the I’m-pretty-and-my-life-is-SWEET People magazine versions of “story” as opposed to, say, the (insert any great work of literature) versions of self-reflection, self-discovery, and struggle. Don’t miss the bigger point here: You’ve got one life to stand up, screw up, try, fail, persist, explore, and grow. Live it.

A bag of LIVE A GREAT STORY stickers (mix of big and small) costs $15, and comes packed in paper, not a plastic bag. You can get 50 2-inch stickers for $25. I’m thinking of passing them out randomly with the Halloween candy. Totally serious about that.

Also: It’s the story of a guy making a living by chasing his dream. You know that’s my favorite work-life balance kind of story, right?

Other inspiration from people chasing dreams…

My friend Stephanie, who owns the delightful boutique me & mrs jones, is like a human dose of Prozac. She is funny, cheerful, warm, and energizing – and, above all that, utterly genuine.

She is also a savvy businesswoman, and her business passes the Janet Kraus 10-second test with flying colors. The Kraus test is simple: is your business primarily Oxygen (essential for life), Aspirin (makes life less painful), or Jewelry (makes life beautiful)? Stephanie’s boutique is jewelry and aspirin and oxygen (in that order) combined.

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Do you need gold leaf, decor stamps, adorable pots of designer chalk paint, and special brushes to DIY that table you picked up from the side of the road to put in your living room? Of course not; it’s jewelry (non-essential). But you’ll enjoy the hell out of it and want more (and more), and delving into that kind of creative endeavor makes life a little lighter (aspirin), and taking care of your living space is something that is a basic requirement (oxygen).

It’s all the things, Stephanie’s store, which is part of why I like it so much. What takes it over the top for me is Stephanie herself and the way she treats other people and supports other women. She not only knows her vendors, she embraces them as an ecosystem.

JB at me and mrs jones sept19
Photo from me & mrs jones

Which is how I got to meet Lisa Rickert, founder of Jolie Paint. Lisa brought Annie Sloan’s chalk paint to the U.S., started a furniture business (AVE Home), and then created and launched her own line of paint and related products.

She’s also a mom – a “working mom,” and although I hate that particular term (what mom DOESN’T work???), I love the way Rickert talks about her work and herself and her family in this interview with The Everymom.

In person, what’s most impressive about Lisa is that she is confident but not arrogant, committed but not strident. She has the goods to pull off a feature in ELLE Decor and the poise to pull off a small boutique-by-small boutique road show – something that might seem glamorous but is actually grueling.

She is a young woman (young to me) chasing her dream and finding her way, accepting the support and encouragement of women like Stephanie.

It was awesome to watch, a study in women’s entrepreneurship AND a creative color-mixing workshop all at the same time.


Our book group read Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends, which we enjoyed (and in discussing it, we all acknowledged how much we also enjoyed no longer being in our 20s). Next on our list is Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead. What a title, right?

If you can stand a not-happy ending and a story that will stay with you for a while, try The Snakes, by Sadie Jones (a “deliciously wicked… antidote to a relaxing summer’s day”).

A few articles:

“On 9/11 Luck Meant Everything”

“How I Learned to Cycle Like a Dutchman”

“What would it take to bridge the black-white wealth gap?”

“Why an Assault Weapons Ban Hits Such a Nerve with Many Conservatives”

“Why Netflix’s Founding CEO Always Carries a Notebook”

“How Female Founders Use Instagram to Mentor the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs”

Note: I found those last two articles from Bill Murphy’s terrific Inc. This Morning daily email, which is still my favorite daily read. Sign up for yourself at Inc.com.

And, of all of them, the one I most hope you’ll actually read: “Dear Disgruntled White Plantation Visitors”


One-Pot Pasta with Ricotta and Lemon

Salad with tomatoes, cucumber, onion, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, NM red chile powder, and fresh herbs (no link, because that’s literally the recipe)

Most of the time, for us, it’s either chicken paillards or eggs with a salad or steamed vegetables. We are utterly boring these days. Sometimes (not infrequently) we have pasta with Marcella Hazan’s quick tomato sauce. Boring perhaps, but dependable. And enjoyable to prepare, which isn’t nothing.

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