June 26, 2016

Living in a Fishbowl

So here is the rest of the story:

I didn't want to write about this before as there were two other people chosen to have docu-ads made about their life, to help launch the new product. They hadn't completed their filming until now.

One of them is a mid-lifer up in Canada who is a outdoors man, fisherman, and who likes to tell stories and ride motorcycles.

The other person is Samantha Richardson Alday, who lives in Alabama and is 47 years-old. Sam is a colon cancer survivor since the age of 29, who has been able to change her life with fitness. The ad agency put her in touch with me, as she was having the same pre-filming anxieties that I had. The first thing I said to her on the phone was "Sam we are SO having a bizarre parallel experience." It was really good to connect with her.

So now that her filming is done I can divulge what I didn't know was happening during my own filming- (that I was very happy not to know- until after the filming was over):

On the first morning of the shoot, Lauren Sally, the creative director, took my daughter out on the porch and asked her how I was doing.  I think my daughter explained that I was a little stressed, and hadn't been sleeping well, but that I was basically coping okay. Lauren then said to her, " I am going to tell you a little secret and you are not to tell your mom what it is until the filming is over- when I say "cut" to the cameramen, the cameras don't stop rolling. This is when I will get the most candid, natural side of her."


So it really was like being on reality TV.

And even when the cameras weren't around, I very often still had a hidden microphone on me that was capable of picking up every word I said. Or at least John, the audio guy could hear everything I said (and probably did?). One time I came out of the bathroom and said, "Oh my goodness, you just heard everything that happened in there didn't you?" He just smiled.

I would also forget that I had a mic on me, as did Liz Caven, the production manager. At one point we paused to firm up the parameters of my contract/agreement with the ad agency, in privacy, out in the mud room and I imagine the audio guy heard this whole conversation(?).

Oh well- I guess he has some insider information.

But the story doesn't end here.

Remember how I said that two branding people came from the food company on the 2nd day of filming and sat out on our front porch?

It didn't occur to me to wonder what they were doing out there, but after awhile I did. When I looked out during a break, they were watching everything that was going on inside the house on a monitor.

So crazy! - but understandable. They were there to keep an eye on things.

When picking out what color tanktop  I was going to wear for the next scene, the branding people took photos of me in the two different color options, sent them to headquarters, got the answer and the color decision was  made.

Pronto. Just like that.

Anyway, I decided when I took on this job that I was going to be an open book. I decided to just be myself and tell my story, even the struggles that I have faced in life, like having had an eating disorder in college and what that was all about and how I struggled academically because of undiagnosed ADD.

So I am not upset about the fish bowl I was in. It was just part of the creative process. I get it. Being a creative person myself I guess helps me to understand this perhaps.

It's all good. I totally felt like I was in good hands and continue to be in good hands, with all the footage they shot of me and now own. Part of this is my trust in Lauren- but the other part is just my comfort in myself and that I am not someone to hide who I am.

But still- having my story land on the market in mid-July is a bit scary.

What elements of those 2 eleven hour days will end up in my docu-ad?

This I will have to wait and see-

and keep my fingers crossed that the great experience that I had, continues.

June 18, 2016

Day Two

It's been hard to sit down and write this self-centered post after hearing about the very sad situation in Orlando this week. Writing it seems so very frivolous, next to all the pain that has affected so many people in the wake of the shootings. My heart and love goes out to all the victims and their loved ones.

My heart goes out to all of us.

Day Two of the Shoot:

7am: We have an early start to the day. The night prior, before we parted, creative director, Lauren Sally, asked me what it was that I would like to discuss the next day that we hadn't already. Gosh...I thought for a minute, it was becoming hard to remember all that we had already talked about as Lauren had asked me questions, almost constantly, throughout the first day of filming- often repeating the same ones, reaching perhaps for new or deeper answers.

I finally said, "I would like to discuss the beauty of allowing ourselves to age naturally and the ebb and flow of a long marriage."

Scene 1: Cooking in the kitchen. While I have my hair and make-up done, Liz Caven, the production manager, measures all the ingredients into small bowls for the granola recipe that I am about to make on camera.

I emerge with a new hairdo, looking like the suburban housewife, that I am always trying to avoid being.

But I kind of like the new look.

After I make the granola and put it in to bake, I stand at the oven and Lauren interviews me in depth, for the second time. At the end she asks me what it is that I would like to say, that I haven't. What comes to mind first is how grateful I am to have been chosen for this project. That I've been writing Lines of Beauty for 6 years and am blown away that she found it and has basically asked me to tell my life's story. I thanked her for the acknowledgement. I am near tears at this point, probably with a visible quivering lip as well.

9am: As I am pulling myself together, suddenly the doorbell rings. I feel alarmed. Who the heck is at the door? Is it UPS? A neighbor? I feel as though we are all on this secret mission and have been caught.

It turns out that it is the two people from the food company, who are in charge of branding. They have flown in for the day, to keep an eye on things. Heading into this project they are one of the things that I was most worried about. Are they going to arrive in suits and be all corporate and controlling- and make me even more nervous?


They are in jeans, and seem laid back and friendly. They unpack the new product that we are launching, go out on the front porch and I almost forget that they are there.

Scene 2: Product planting. The product is placed on my kitchen counter, in the background. I've never tried a nutritional drink because I've always assumed that they are disgusting- things that elderly people drink, that are full of crap. This one however is a cleaned-up version with lots of vitamins and minerals. I take a sip and it reminds me of chocolate milk. I like it so much that I drink the whole thing and stick another one in the fridge so that I can try the next one chilled.

Scene 3: Lauren then announces that its time to blog.


I am shocked, as this scene was not on the agenda that they had sent and my office is very messy and has not been cleaned. I'm temporarily horrified, but they push away all the tax papers and mess, and in an instant, we carry on.

Lauren asks me to pull up a few of my favorite posts. I draw a total blank, as I am so caught off guard, but decide to write into the blog's search box  the word "mom" and then the word "fitness". I find a few of my favorite posts. I get through reading the fitness post, which is about a very inspirational 92-year-old swimmer who I met, but when it comes to reading the post about my mom, which is about how much older people need to be touched, it takes every ounce of me to not ball. I pause and look down at Lauren, who is seated on the floor off to the right of my desk, but out of the way of the cameras. Her eyes are filled with tears too.

I take an even deeper breath- it feels like reality TV but it is all so real.

Scene 4: All 9 of us get into several cars and head to film a walking scene, where we meet up with my friend Brenda, who is a women's entrepreneurial coach. I bring along another friend's rescue dog and we walk around a reservoir, with microphones hidden on us. Prompted by Lauren, we discuss the importance of having close friendships. We also discuss where in life we stop ourselves from doing things, out of fear. We discuss many different subjects, which all seem a blur to me at this point. One thing I do know is that much of this scene is shot by the cameras at a distance, and Brenda and I almost forget that they are there. We almost forget, only until Lauren yells, "Turn around and come back this way!" or when she shouts out another question for us to answer.

Scene 5  1:30pm: No time for lunch- our next shoot is at an outdoor community pool. I am so glad that I put "the product" in a cooler and brought it along so that I can infuse myself with strength before they ask me to swim two lengths of butterfly at a time, over and over again. They have no idea how hard this is for a 55-year-old to do. I pretend however that I am temporarily 15 and manage through it, without my wheels falling off- thanks to the nutritional drink. They film me under water again here, as well as put a harness on me, where they connect a go-pro camera to my chest.

What the?

I am as happy as a dolphin.

3:00pm: We finally break at the pool for another take-out lunch.

Scene 6: Back at the house we shoot the scene, that will be the lead up to the run, that we shot out in Concord the day before. I come down from the second floor, stop at the bottom to put on my sneakers and tie them, do some stretches and then run out the front door. You'd think that this would be a quick scene to film but to get the camera angle right and not have me fumble when I tie my laces, requires many retakes, which I am very happy to do.

I know that we are about to conclude another eleven hour day and that soon everyone will be packed up and that I will be sad to see them go.

Before they leave, Lauren takes time to show me some footage of the the last two days.

It looks really good.

I suddenly feel like I am about to say good-bye to my new summer camp friends, whom I don't want to leave.

I  walk out into the drive-way, hug them, thank them and bid them farewell.

I suddenly feel as I kind of did back in 1988, after our wedding was over.

So sad to have the festivities end.

So I head-out and celebrate with Brenda for dinner, which begins with a very large, extra-dry martini and many olives.:-)

Next week's post-

The things that I haven't yet been able to divulge :-)

June 11, 2016

Lights, Camera, Omgoddie

Day One

Memorial Day 4am: The shoot is to begin Tuesday morning and I still haven't fallen asleep. Mr- Fix-It awakes to pee and I get up, hug him and say, "I am SO scared." After snuggling him tight, I am able to sleep for 5 hours.


I awake, wishing that I could meet with a professional for a pep talk.

No time for that.

I fret that the crew has bought plane tickets to Boston, and made hotel reservations and that I won't be able to deliver what I think they are looking for.

But deeper inside, I know that I probably can.

Tuesday 2:30am: First day of the shoot. I awake for good after 3.5 hours of sleep and linger in bed for eons. I try to calm myself by reading.

7am: Finally I get up and dress in the casual outfit that the food company has chosen, from photos of different clothing options that my daughter and I had sent them. I force myself to have breakfast and then put on some make-up. I feel anxiously excited for the crew to arrive and keep telling myself that all I need to do is..... be myself.

7:45am: The director and the production manager pull into our driveway 15 minutes early, followed by a cameraman.

"Oh thank god," I say to one of my daughters," There is only one cameraman and they said there was going to be two."

I'm so relieved.

8:00am: Another cameraman pulls up in front of the house. Uh oh. It turns out he's the audio guy though. He seems really nice. Everyone does. Next, a woman drives-up and gets out of her car with some cases, one of which is on wheels. "Who are you?" I ask. She says that she is the hair and make-up stylist.

REALLY? I had no idea she was coming but am relieved to have the tired circles under my eyes taken better care of.

I go inside and wash my face and she gets to work. She has this funky little spray gun that sprays foundation on my face and other neat tricks that I've never come across before.

I start to feel more glamorous then I've felt since I was four-years-old, when I wore my mom's high heals, too many pop-it bead necklaces and her fancy lady's hat.

Photo by Danielle Keefe

Scene 1: They switch the green shirt that I had put on to a periwinkle one, because of all the lush greenness outdoors- the sweaty, periwinkle t-shirt that I wore when I cleaned the house, in the heat, the day before.

Scene one is shot out on our front lawn, casually sitting atop the picnic table with creative director, Lauren Sally. She asks me to interview her on camera. What a smart move. This I can do. I start to relax. Then she asks me a gazillion questions about my life. One of them was about swimming and it becomes immediately apparent to me then that I wasn't chosen for this docu-ad because of it, as I thought it was. I was chosen, I think, because of my simple mindset and lifestyle and because I am an active, outdoorsy, mid-lifer.

Suddenly I wonder if I am simple enough. I also wonder what it was in me, that convinced her, that I can pull this whole thing off from just having had a skype interview with me. How did she know that I wasn't going to be like a deer in headlights?

I feel at home with Lauren though, and trust her and can see already that she is adept at bringing out the best in me.

So I begin to relax a little more.


Then another camera man arrives.


I think that maybe the first cameraman has to leave for another shoot.

This is not the case.

Scene 2: Hiking at the highest peak in our town, which takes only 5 minutes to summit. It's a family hike with Mr. Fix-It and our younger daughter. Easy peasy except that it is pretty hot out. The make-up and hair artist Danielle Keefe, comes with us. I ask her if she is here for the whole day. She says that she is, in case I sweat and need a touch-up or have to have my haired sprayed again .

This is all so surreal.

I keep feeling like I am in a dream.

Then the crew and I eat a late take-out lunch at the house, out on the picnic table.

Scene 3: Knitting in my studio on a knitting machine. Lauren, the director, asks me to bring down my favorite sweaters so she can pick one for me to wear. She chooses one that I knit in the1980s. I say that I think that maybe it's too boxy. She says she loves it, so I put it on.

Scene 4: Knitting-by-hand out on the front porch.

Scene 5: A running scene on beautiful, stonewall-lined Baker Bridge Road in Concord. There is a tractor mowing a field in the background. Some of his dust billows up beautifully into the late day sunlight. They take several retakes of me stopping and putting my sneaker up on the stone wall to retie it. I wonder if the camera will catch the little hole in my sneaker, where my baby toe is slowly making its way through.

Sweet & petite production manager, Liz Caven, stops the evening traffic, so that they can shoot me running. I imagine that people probably think her car has broken down and she needs help. It feels a bit like I am in a Hollywood movie.

Scene 6: Swimming at Walden Pond with a handful of my swim team as extras in the background, including Mr. Fix-It. When the team takes off for their swim around the pond, the crew does some neat underwater shots of me swimming. I am in my element here and feel happy that the first day of shooting has gone well and that my comfort level with the project is continuing to grow.

Then the crew stays to photograph the Walden Pond sunset and Mr. Fix-It and I stop on our way home for a big bowl of soup and a glass of wine.

I go home and tumble into bed and sleep like a rock for 7 hours.

To be continued.