Tunes & Bricks

When the pandemic enveloped us all, chaos became the norm. Working parents juggled school, work, creating spaces for everyone and everything AND all while trying to remain healthy. It was hard. Really, really hard. In so many ways, we are only just discovering the effects of this time.

For me, in the span of 48 hours, I needed to move a working newsroom of 90 journalists to home. From technology to psychology to workflows, it was perhaps the greatest professional challenge I’ve faced. So were the days and months that followed. This isn’t about the darkness though. This is about the light. The minutes and hours consumed by Covid, death, mental health, news, motherhood, marriage existed without boundary. The natural, daily start and finish of so many things blurred. One thing melted into the next until it was one big day after day.

I needed something.

Something to ignite my mind differently and feed my soul peacefully. Enter tunes & bricks.

I always wanted to learn the violin. I never said anything because all I knew was that it was “the hardest instrument” to teach and master. Well, what better time to rise to a challenge than in an era where sickness and death forced us to face our mortality? In December 2020, I went to an amazing music shop right here in Tampa. It is a GEM. I quietly browsed the violins and held them to my cheek in the position I had seen so many do. It felt light and distant. Honestly, I was disappointed. It’s an intangible I can’t explain however as I walked the store and looked at all the beautiful instruments, one found me. The cello. I sat down and held the instrument in my arms, resting against my body. It was full and powerful and the connection was instant. I took her home with me for a test run. The aforementioned amazing Violin Shop offered a rental program, which is great because dropping $2K for something I “think I want to do” is a luxury I don’t have!

I found a teacher. I will write a whole separate entry on him. (In a word: Inspiring). I learned to read music. I learned to play and my journey continues. The courtship turned to marriage and in February, I made this beautiful instrument my own.

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”

– Aldous Huxley

So I kind of have a rep, one I have earned no doubt. I have a passionate relationship with LEGO.

I played with them as a kid but nowhere near the level I do now. It started during the pandemic with an 8000+ set recreating the Taj Mahal. From there, my expensive habit grew. I built cars, Star Wars figures, carnival pieces with battery operated parts, landmarks and even flowers. Next up? The Home Alone house. Ah nostalgia!

I’ve always admired Lego. The word itself means “Play Well”. I have often used the Lego story to inspire teams I lead through times of change and transition. If you think about it, it makes sense: Individual pieces of all shapes, sizes and colors coming together to build something beautiful. Teams are no different. Each person is a key component to overall success of culture, production and execution.

During the worst of Covid-19, each day felt out of control. From the ebb and flow of the newsroom to the care and concern for my family and employees to the never-ending rise in cases, anxieties were high and spirits were low. When I could break away from the phone or zoom, I would turn to Legos. There was catharsis in building, piece by piece. I found silence in my thoughts and peace in my movements. There was a sense of control in knowing one piece attached to another would continue a pattern that would achieve a result. It was the only place in my life during this time, that end-beauty was guaranteed.

As numbers fall and people emerge from their homes, my gratitude for LEGO stays. There is great satisfaction in building something from nothing. There is peaceful resolution in putting order to chaos. And there is simple happiness in playing well.