gratitude-a-thon day 2038: old friends



Twenty-five years later, Cosmopoulos, Crowley, Daly. 

Gratitude to old friends. Not that they’re old–I mean their friendship is old. Although one of them is 82, which I think might actually be considered old. Course the older I get, the younger old becomes, but I think over 80 is the start of getting old, right? Can we call it that? You are only as old as you feel….. but uh oh, I’m digressing.


In the past few weeks, I’ve had some occasions to see old friends and awe gratitude was leaking out of my pores. It’s good to remember who you used to be, where you’ve been, good to reconnect with the past and catch up on the present.


Ah, the girls. They look exactly the same.


Occasion One was a reunion of people who I worked with at an ad agency 25 years ago. Yuh-huh– twenty-five years ago. It was a small agency overlooking the Boston Public Garden. It’s where I worked with an art director named Karl, who was my partner and became my friend and who helped me laugh off the epic infertility I had. It’s where I worked on accounts like Waterville Valley Ski Resort and Brigham’s Ice Cream and The Hynes Convention Center. It’s where I threw a shower for a co-worker who I had bonded with over both miscarrying, and had to leave in the middle of the party I had planned because I was so sad. It’s where I was once so cold on a day when I was writing a long copy brochure that I walked to the closest store, which happened to be the most expensive and bought a big, fat, chunky sweater for $275. It would clearly be $875 now, if that store hadn’t gone out of business. (May Louis of Boston rest in peace).  It’s not like that’s what I spent on clothes back then, in fact it was more than I’d probably spent on anything before, it’s just that I could not walk one step further because I was like Elsa in Frozen. I mean, I was chilled inside my body like I’d been in the freezer at the morgue and I had a deadline to meet. The sweater worked, but when I got home and looked at it in a long mirror I realized the big, fat, chunky sweater actually made me look big, fat and chunky, too. So for the next 10 years to amortize the hefty price tag, I brought it with me to every agency I worked at,  where it became known as “the sweater” and anyone who was cold wore it  (looking big, fat and chunky to varying degrees).

Everyone at the reunion looked remarkably good. Even one of the partners, who was 82 looked exactly the same as he had 25 years ago, prompting me to ask him what the heck he was doing because I needed to start doing it.


BU alumni and best friends, Jane and Cid.


Cid at our first dorm.
We got inside the building. Thanks to a very nice groundskeeper.

Occasion Two was that one of my college besties who lives in Chicago, who I never get to see, had a funeral in Rhode Island and came and stayed with me for three days! And we dialed up the other third of us and we had ourselves a dinner at my house and maybe you heard a loud noise last Wednesday night because that would be us–we were howling like a pack of wolves. We relived the old day’s greatest hits, then moved on to the now. It was perfect. Cid and I toured a very changed Boston and even went back to our old dorm. These girls will be my friends forever. This is how it is with old friends, you can’t erase the impact of your bond and for me, these are people I would do anything for, not just because I loved them then, but because I still love them now.






gratitude-a-thon day 319: making music out of nothing

What do you see? How do you feel when you see a photo like this?

I am working on some advertising for a really great non-profit called Forgirlsake, that financially helps girls receive an education in third world countries, where it’s particularly hard to do so. There are multiple reasons that it’s a challenge, ranging from not having enough money in their families, to not having proper bathroom facilities at schools, so that when a girl begins to menstruate, she cannot take adequate care of herself, and has to stop attending (can you imagine this flying in our country). The reason the organization is committed to girls and not boys is because when girls get educated, they can really affect change in their communities (also if there is only money in a family for one child to go to school, it’s always the boy and not the girl chosen). When girls go to school, they don’t get married at 14, or get pregnant as an adolescent.  They can join the workforce, helping to lift their families out of poverty. Educated girls get a voice in things, like how to spend money, which they will choose to spend on education for their children. This one act can help an entire community change for the better. Girls create real change in a way that boys do not (not trying to sell the XY species down the river, but statistically, this is just the truth).  Anyway, I’m happy to help this organization because its goal is powerful and makes a real impact on the world. My art director partner Stephanie Zelman started it several years ago at a high school reunion with some of her old pals (I must be a slacker because at the only high school reunion I ever went to, I just worried about whether I looked fat. Ok, I was four months pregnant, but still, I sure wasn’t thinking about starting a charity).

What’s really interesting about this project is that one of the things I’ve run into while doing the creative is the idea that it’s hard to connect to people who live so differently than we do, whose realities are so foreign. We forget that inside they’re just like we are, falling in love, hating to clean up, laughing at jokes. They likely don’t have our go, go, go mentality of jamming as much as possible into a day and feeling like a loser unless they do (they have one up on us in that way), but in their hearts, I believe they have a lot of the same hopes we all have. Still, it’s hard to imagine, right? Anyway, it is for me. When I see a photograph of a people in a third world country, I instantly feel that they are grateful for what they have and don’t need more (probably because they are so often smiling), and hold onto your seats for this next admission: that they are, well, sort of simple. That sounds awful, doesn’t it? But getting into the psychology of how people respond to things, is useful when you’re trying to reach them. There is a way in which we need to feel a connection to a group, if we’re going to help them. And that’s what I’m trying to find in order to make the advertising compelling enough to get people to make a donation–how you, yeah you, will need to feel to take action and open your wallet, when there are so many other charities right here at home that are vying for your attention and money. And that takes honesty about my initial impressions, even if it does make me sound like a shallow witch face meanie head.

Anyway, I found this video that really helped me today to humanize the face of poverty and the third world, and show that like my inner self tells me, people are just people, loving music and art and laughter and family and friends. Just like me.  I think it will help me work on this project. It already helped me have a better outlook on today.

gratitude-a-thon day 306: really good advertising


As if I’m not already crazy about Jet Blue and their free tv and movies, check this out: they gave away free flights to people advertising on the “rideshare” section of Craigslist to get them home for Christmas. C’mon, are you not loving this? Oh, advertising, you say, you cynical Sally. So what, I say back. Nice if every company’s advertising did something good for people in order to get noticed. Don’t be a hater. This is totally cool. Major YES. Way to run a company.

gratitude-a-thon day 226: teaching

Nike created The Girl Effect. It’s one of the most compelling pieces of marketing I’ve ever seen.

So, I am teaching a class at the Art Institute of Boston/Lesley College with my advertising art director partner, Steph. It’s called Concept to Campaign. We say we teach advertising, but the truth what we really teach is thinking. Because in advertising, like in most things, you’re trying to solve a problem. Sometimes the problem is easy, like how to get people to notice the client sells shoes.  Sometimes it’s harder, like how to get people to buy the client’s shoes.  And sometimes the problem is even harder, like how to get people to think they need, must have, gotta get the client’s shoes, even though they really don’t need, have to get, or want them. So, it’s all about thinking outside (when you have no parameters, which believe it or not can be difficult) and inside (when you have parameters, which believe it or not can be easier) the box.

I really like teaching because I really like kids. And it’s funny to be teaching kids that are Jake’s age, because I probably haven’t mentioned, but Jake just WENT TO COLLEGE. Anyway, I also like it because while there is all sorts of bad advertising, and all sorts of bad advertisers, persuasive advertising can be used for good. There are loads of examples of how a non-profit has used advertising to get attention, and make changes in the world. How can you argue with that?

This is one of my most favorite pieces of advertising ever. EVER. EVER. EVER. It’s smart and savvy and simple and gets to the compelling emotional truth, which Steph and I are always droning on about in our class. It’s called The Girl Effect. It’s the kind of intelligence that moves the dial. It’s what I’m trying to teach kids to be able to do. Maybe someone in the class will go on to do some work that will alter our gun laws. That would be something to be grateful for.