The Power of Words

I love to read, and I love to talk about books. I look forward to weekends (including music festival weekends!) so I can dive in a book and spend two days reading. If you want to speak my love language, send me a book recommendation you think I will enjoy or ask me about a recent book I read. At home, I have bookshelves full of books I loved, and piles of books I am looking forward to reading.

Yesterday, I added a new book on my list of books to read, thanks to the recommendation of Debra Neill Baker of Neill Corporation.

She opened our day-long strategy meeting by reminding us of the power of words, and by sharing three sentences we should all incorporate in our conversations more frequently to build connection and love:

  • “Tell me more”: this helps us listen better. I like to “end” a conversation with “what else?” – yet this verbiage is so much more powerful.
  • “I was wrong”: because “I am sorry” is over-used and not powerful enough. This will be a hard one for me to incorporate in my language…  
  • “I don’t know”: because it is ok not to know. As a colleague added, another nice way of saying that is “I haven’t learned that yet.”  

These phrases came from a book Debra read recently, which I immediately ordered: Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan. This book is about “12 essential phrases that turn the wheel of life.” (I think “No” is on that list and that is certainly a word I need help with!)

Today, I commit to using these three more frequently. And this weekend, I am going to read this book!  

How to dress for a music festival

The first (and only in Switzerland) music festival I ever attended was the Montreux Jazz Festival, the summer after my senior year in high school. My memories of that experience include Jamiroquai, dancing in mud, and wine-fueled fights with friends (remember, in Switzerland the legal drinking age is 16). In the last five years, I have had a chance to experience some fabulous US-based music festivals. Some of the memories are similar, yet most are much, much better. The past two weekends have been consumed with Jazz Fest amazingness, which I wrote about last Sunday. While I wasn’t intending to write about music festivals anytime soon, reading the May issue of Allure Magazine on the plane this morning changed my mind.

On page 132, in their fabulous “Insider’s Guide” column, they had a piece about “How to Dress for a Music Festival” with advice from EvaLotta Fredén. I loved everything she had to say, and thought of a couple things to add.

I could not agree with her more in terms of avoiding short skirts or dresses, on account of usually ending up sitting on the ground. I have to confess however that I forgot my own advice last Saturday, and wore my favorite casual short silk dress. I wasn’t sitting, but I did ride on a Vespa to and from the festival, which came with its own set of challenges. While I always think cute summer dresses will look nice, they are quite impractical. Jean skirts are even worse.

I love jean shorts the best, complemented by a nice top. Most will tell you that jean shorts and a tank top, or jean shorts and a t-shirt are the best attire, but I prefer something slightly fancier (after all, I am European, and feel best when I am overdressed). My favorite outfit this past weekend was white jean shorts with a Club Monaco silk / lace top. To EvaLotta’s point, sleeves are great to protect yourself both from the sun and from the evening breeze (even lace sleeves).

I try to avoid black, except for the cloudiest of days. Even a light black t-shirt in 70 degree weather can feel like a sauna. And as a general rule, I avoid jeans, except for exceptions, as was the case this past Friday when it was cold and windy.

A must if the weather-woman calls for anything except bright blue skies is a raincoat or poncho. With one of the wettest Jazz Fests on the record this year, no one will question this for a while.

Shoes are another matter of debate. I personally like flip flops, on the condition that the ground and the air are very, very dry. I hate the tan lines that come with other types of footwear… Then again, many festival veterans will only wear closed shoes, on account of clean toes. When the rain comes, or when the rain has come and left inordinate amounts of mud, rain boots are a must (walking in the mud in flip flops will ruin the flip flops and the back of your calves…). While Hunter boots seem to be a favorite, anything plastic and high enough to enable you to walk in mud puddles will work. Always with tube socks to avoid uncomfortable chafing. Avoid heels at all costs. I have to admit I tried platforms once; didn’t do that a second time.

Finally, in terms of accessories, as EvaLotta suggests, sunglasses and a purse that keeps your hands free to dance and drink are a must. I would add to that, hair accessories, which during festivals seem to replace jewelry. Flowers, pins, headbands, anything you can think of. I have not yet been able to pull off that hippie style, but am working on it – maybe for the next music festival!

A family Jazz Fest

The end (at the beginning)

The evening of day 7 of Jazz Fest is always bitter sweet. Nothing can explain it better than the photo below, which makes me so happy and breaks my heart at the same time.

While I don’t know this for a fact, I would bet that this couple has loved Jazz Fest in that house, together, for many a decade. And this year is their last. They somehow symbolize what Jazz Fest is all about. It’s not about the music, it’s not about the food. It’s about family. About family love.

My water booth family

The magic of Jazz Fest, for me, happens at the Water booth. Yes, we sell water. “Cold water, 3 dollars…” I have re-mastered my multiplication table of 3. Which is sometimes thrown off by the Monster Energy drink that we sell for $5. No, we don’t sell beer (oh, the hand movements and grimaces we have witnessed in answer to that cold hard fact). No, we don’t sell Coke (despite the bright red Coca Cola truck out of which we get the Dasani water we sell). The magic of the water booth is the family of friends that every year comes to help sell water, manage the cash register, and make Jazz Fest so fun. There are too many to name, but the highlights this year were the sisters… the Smith sisters, the Schwarzmann sisters. Maybe I just think that because I am fascinated by sisters…

My family of friends

The water booth is also amazing because it becomes ground zero for friends. Best friends Josh and Jaclyn are there rain or shine (Jaclyn modeling the classic Jazz Fest rain outfit). Ric and Michelle make the trek from Dallas annually (Michelle rocking the best rain boots ever). And more…

The family of music

There is, of course the music. I didn’t want to like him or them, but I loved Adam Levine and Maroon Five. How could I not?! I wanted to love Fleetwood Mac, and did, but not for as long as I thought I would (the music family in that band, and the re-configuration of those couples is amazing to me). Then, I discovered Phoenix, an alternative rock band from Versailles, France. They are so very French, and there are two brothers playing in that band. My people. Then, of course, there were the Black Keys. Not brothers per se, but Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney could have been… and amazed the crowd with the fact that two musicians can make the sound that seems like it should be coming from a band of 5+.

My family

Above all else, there is family. And that is perhaps the most amazing magic of the Water booth, the fact that it brings family together. Multiple generations. Multiple family units. Multiple brothers. The modern reconfigured family, all coming together, with love, happiness, and an open heart. Thank you Mary for making it all happen. 7 magical days.

My sisters

Of course, there are my three little sisters. I tell them about Jazz Fest, about the music, about the Water booth, about the headsets that their babies can wear to protect their ears. Next year, I hope. Next year, maybe one of my three little Swiss sisters will have the opportunity to experience what I have the pleasure of now calling a family tradition.

The end

It will come as no surprise that these 7 days filled with family and families ended up on a slightly bitter-sweet note. The painting that was created today in the water booth, the

painting that had all of us in it, somehow ended up in the hands of a stranger (at least, a “stranger-to-me”). Then again, we have our family, so who needs the painting? Then again even more, Paris wasn’t in the painting, so it wasn’t a real representation of the family anyway… We will just have to have Alex do another live painting next year… Till 2014, Jazz Fest!