How I Survived: 5 Days Without a Phone

The following is a true story.

It was a bitterly cold morning in rural Pennsylvania. Temperatures hovered around 4°F, give or take, but it felt even lower with the biting wind. I didn’t care. I awoke in a cozy AirBnB cabin on a hill that overlooked a frozen lake. Snow covered every inch of the ground, lingered on bare branches. It was the quintessential winter view. So, I bundled up, grabbed my lightweight tripod, and headed outside with my boyfriend. I placed my iPhone in the phone mount, hit timer, and stepped back. Then the wind picked up.

As if in slow motion, I saw the tripod tilt back and hit the balustrade. In a knee jerk reaction he leapt forward. I can still hear his bellowed “Noooooooo” as the phone broke free of the mount and tumbled below. It landed roughly 15ft from the balcony on an icy shelf.

“I’m going to get it,” I abruptly stated.

“No, you’re not. It’s not safe. It’s gone.”

“It’s not gone. It’s right there. I can get it.”

“Fine. I’ll try and get it.” He began what seemed like a simple downward climb through the trees. But it wasn’t simple at all. An otherwise normal decline (on a thawed out day) was made treacherous by the frigid temperatures that froze both the leaves and water below it. “I can’t go any further without slipping. It’s gone.”

“No. It’s right there. It can’t be gone.”

He found a stick and stretched his arm out to pull the iPhone within reach. The wind returned and the iPhone skated another 20ft down. “That’s it. It’s the phone or me.” I didn’t answer. He crawled back up.

Stubbornly, I lost sight of what truly mattered and could only see pixelated red. “It’s right there!” The phrase was all I could muster. I went inside, changed into my winter boots, and made my way down. As I began my descent, I made it only a fraction of his distance. As a self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie, this was beyond even my comfort zone. “Alright. It’s gone.” Icy ledge 1. Me 0.

For the remainder of our time in the cozy cabin I went through the motions of denial. Like salt in a wound, I kept going back to balcony and stared at my device, trying to map the ways I could get it. If only I had ice cleats! (yes, I actually considered it). Each time I tried to think of the lesson that was hidden in that moment. The irony that the object of my desires was just beyond my reach.

It’d be five full days until I’d get a new phone– no calls, texts, or social media. Fortunately, I learned a few valuable lessons along the way.

Once my anxiety began to dissipate I realized how truly happy I was in the moment. As a content creator there’s a constant pressure to be ‘on.’ To produce something. Let’s face it, we’re all living in our own version of The Truman Show. Without a phone I had no choice. My TV show was temporarily canceled. And as a result, I was able to do what really mattered to me: read, relax, and enjoy my boyfriends company by the fireplace. I wasn’t distracted. For the first time in a while I was serenely calm.

There’s beauty when we accept the things that can’t be changed. Once I accepted my situation I appreciated it. I thought back to the countless hours I spent aimlessly scrolling, looking down rather than up, and imagined all the moments I missed. The added little details that make up a life. Rather, I imagined all I might’ve missed if I still had my phone.

As the days rolled on, I reflected on what the iPhone represented. I questioned my need to feel so connected, and cautioned that perhaps I was even addicted to it. The incessant need to be in contact and mindless scrolling, they were acquired behavior that impeded an ability to simply be with my own thoughts. The facade faded away and only the reality remained.

By day five I lost it. I cried, screamed, and all other adjectives associated with childlike tantrums. This was more than a detox, it was a full blown colonic and I lost my sh*t. Then, the replacement phone came and I couldn’t help but pause. Will I go back as though nothing happened? Will I forget the lessons I just learned? I imported everything from the iCloud. No. Not today.

So go ahead, “lose your phone” once in a while.

8 Things a Good Brand Story Needs

Before the dawn of social media (I’m talking Instagram and Facebook, not Tom from MySpace), the concept of a ‘brand’ was limited to a business or company. Even now, as you read the word ‘brand’, images of products are likely popping into your head.

For me, the Nike swoosh is one of the most iconic logos of all time. It’s simple but memorable. So simple, in fact, that you can see that swoosh upside down, sideways, backwards, and any other way and still associate it with Nike.

Photo by Rafa De on

But unlike its logo, the Nike brand story is anything but simple. It’s one that’s been built over time. As a result, since its founding in 1964, the company has maintained its rank as the largest sportswear brand in the industry, synonymous with determination and athleticism.

But today, thanks to social media, a brand is much more than corporate consumerism. A brand can be a small business, an identity, even a person. All it takes is a compelling story. Don’t know what that means? Or where to start?

Here are 8 things a good brand story needs.


Ralph Lauren (the person) started his line with ties, but his vision was always greater. He wanted to design a lifestyle, not merely a fashion brand. In taking a page out of the RL book, vision not only defines a brand but carries it.

Before you can create your brand story you need to have a clear vision of how that story will read from beginning to end, even if you make up the chapters in between.


The Wing provides flexible workspaces, but the value is much greater. You don’t just get a place to work from. You’re provided with an inspiring atmosphere with a library, complimentary coffee, and even networking opportunities.

A successful brand story provides value beyond the dollar sign. It offers the audience something they can take away with them, or even share with others.


Environmental activism is the thread that keeps the Patagonia brand story together. As a result, the clothing company continues to make headlines as it pursues its purpose.

Once you have your vision and value, a good brand story needs to have a purpose beyond itself. It’s not only about what you are or what you provide, but rather how you hope to make an impact. One that resonates with your audience.

Photo by Sagar Soneji on

Would you trust an Instagram account with 10 posts and 100k followers? Unlikely. It takes countless hours of hard work and months (even years) to build an organic following. No one is an overnight success (even didn’t see its first quarterly profit until over five years later).

Brand stories, like everything else, take time to build. No matter what your vision, value, or purpose is you need to invest in your brand story before it sees real growth. Have patience. When that first domino falls the rest will follow.

Photo by Engin Akyurt on

What do Starbucks and AirBnB have in common? They create communities. From loyalty programs to personalized experiences, the two brands have built multi billion dollar companies placing people first.

Once a brand story begins to catch on it needs a community to keep it alive. Those with a shared interest or vision that find continued value in the brand itself.


Disney, from its iconic characters to theme parks, has created a world that resonates across multiple generations on a global scale. And that’s because it connects with its community.

For a brand story to be successful it needs to connect to its audience on a deeper level. Without a heartfelt connection the brand is nothing more than a sales pitch.

Photo by Florian Doppler on

Stickiness can be hard to define. At the most basic level it refers to how memorable or contagious a brand is. Apple is a sticky brand. Its integrative approach (watch, TV, Mac, AirPods, home) is so convenient for consumers that there’s continuous anticipation for the newest release. Let the iOS vs Android war wage on.

To maintain a community connection a good brand story needs stickiness. Something to keep its audience coming back and look forward to what’s next.


Chick-fil-A was founded on Christian values. It’s stated outright in their Purpose. And placing company wide value in God, whether you’re a believer or an atheist, can be appreciated because it’s genuine.

When all is said and done, a good brand story is rooted in sincerity. It remains true to the brand vision, values, and purpose. It’s honest with the community, and itself.

Ready to tell your brand story?

Whether you’re in the beginning stages or years into the process, it’s never too late to implement these 8 strategies as part of your brand story. If you need help, think of the brands that resonate with you and ask yourself, ‘Why am I loyal to this brand? What is it about their message that makes me choose them above all others?’

Want to take your business to the next level? I’m here to support your brand story. Let’s work together: email me at .

I want to hear from you! Comment your thoughts on this blog and branding below and let’s continue the conversation. For now, here are some of my favorite quotes about branding from the business experts themselves.

Empower Women

Millennials, and those born after us, associate Afghanistan with war. We know it as a distant place where our American soldiers have been fighting/protecting since the attack on September 11, 2001 and little else. Because of this timeline, most of us have only known the protections awarded to the Afghani people, and the progress made for women’s rights. But now the people, once again, face an uncertain future as Taliban rule grips the country, and fears mount over the restrictions imposed on Afghanistan’s women.

It’s hard to fathom what these women face. We live in a democratic society, at a time when females have been breaking the glass ceiling for decades, and continue to do so with each passing day. But imagine if it were all taken away. No more education, pursuit of career, or even the ability to walk alone. Imagine being an 15-year-old girl forced into marriage. Now, imagine this were your daughter, your niece, your sister. Those who have only known freedoms, happiness, to have it engulfed in flames, a wildfire of despair.

This weeks Weekly Wellness has a somber tone because woman all over the world ache over what Afghanistan is going through. In a flash flood of headlines, we’re suddenly made acutely aware of what little liberties our fellow females have, and the brutalities they face, in other parts of the globe.

While I won’t presume to give advice over what can be done abroad, I’d like to touch upon the ways we can further empower women in our backyards to achieve a healthy mindset.

Continue The Conversation

Surround yourself with a group of women that empowers one another. This can be a support group, network, or even your own family and friends. Together, tap into resources that provide accurate information on what goes on in other parts of the world. Typically, a .gov or .org site will have the most reliable data and facts. Through global awareness comes local accountability. When we continue the conversation on what occurs in other parts of the world it helps us appreciate what we have in our own backyards. Further, it encourages us to take action for ourselves that could, someday, help change the future for someone else and builds trusting relationships.


Education is a powerful tool that empowers women to achieve their goals— at all ages. When we take advantage of the tools available to us— schools, libraries, museums, etc.— we begin to think about the world in possibilities. It shapes our future and is a step towards gaining independence. It also builds confidence and promotes higher self-esteem.

Promote Body Positivity

As part of continuing the conversation and furthering education, women are empowered through body positivity— form to functionality. Learn all about your body and how beautiful it is, through every age and stage of life. Accept every piece of who you are and know that you are more than enough. When we take down the walls of negativity— the “should be” sizes, weights, images, status, career etc.— we build a positive mindset that leads to healthier habits.

It’s okay to feel helpless right now and need time away from the headlines. Unfortunately, not all of us are in a position to change what occurs on foreign ground. But know that you are not helpless. You have tremendous strength and ability to change the future and empower women right where you are. Think global, act local, and help create an informed community of support.

5 Lessons We Can Learn From COVID

In March of 2020, COVID entered our lives and unleashed a world of uncertainty. Like the morning of 9/11 or the assassination of John F. Kennedy, we will all likely remember exactly what it felt like, and where we were, when a virus forced us into our homes indefinitely.

The events that followed would unfold much like a tsunami– a single catastrophic blow followed by a series of precarious waves. Government orders became a life raft without a paddle, keeping us afloat with expectations but without real direction. Soon, days blurred into a single hourglass as we watched our time evaporate. And with it went our jobs, lives, comfort, stability, and maskless faces. We’d no longer be the same because nothing was the same.

But there’s hope. We have vaccines, businesses are reopening, travel bans are lifted, and loved ones can gather once again. Our tomorrows are more promising than our yesterdays. So, now that the worst part is behind us (fingers crossed) what have we learned? What will we take away from it all?

Here are 5 lessons I learned from COVID:

How to be an Optimist

1. How To Be an Optimist

The saying, “someone always has it worse,” carried me through the worst of times. When my family got sick, when I lost loved ones, when my company dissolved, when everything I knew turned upside down, I acknowledged that I was still more fortunate than others. Those who lost so much more.

COVID-19 taught me that in changing my perspective my mindset would shift as well. Every moment became an opportunity to be grateful for what I did have. I learned how to accept the growing pains by turning negatives into positives and literally counted my blessings every morning. It wasn’t easy. Days would go by and I’d accomplish nothing, except the ability to say I was fine. For months the mere concept of staying happy and healthy saved my sanity, because I didn’t allow myself to fall into despair. I was sad, I was struggling, but I knew I still had tomorrow.

Being an optimist amid chaos didn’t mean things weren’t wrong, or that I wasn’t sad. It meant I could overcome the situation because I was hopeful for the future.

2. To Take Advantage of Today

Tomorrow takes on a different meaning after being locked down or closed out. When real life turned into Groundhog Day, only without the benefit of Bill Murray, every day became a lost opportunity. The gym session I postponed, the grocery shopping I put off, the people I forgot to call, the prolonged ‘we should get together sometime,’ they no longer existed as part of a hypothetical timeline. Tomorrow was stolen and my brand new 2020 planner became a relic of a pre-pandemic world.

In the days, weeks, and months that followed, as time blended together, COVID-19 taught me to take advantage of the day ahead. When nothing is guaranteed, not even toilet paper, following through on even the simplest task becomes a foundation for the future.

3. That We’re All Part of a Global Community

The onset of the pandemic was marked, in my mind, by two defining moments. The first, when I assumed a sickness in China wouldn’t make its way to New York. The other, watching videos of Italians in lock down singing from their balcony. One instance elicited fear while the other inspired hope, and that would come to define my year ahead. A year where death tolls made headlines and reports of heroism turned pages.

Between international flights and the internet, our world is more connected than ever. When an outbreak in China made its way across the globe, in a matter of weeks, ‘halfway around the world’ quickly ended up in our own backyards. But, unlike the Spanish flu, thanks to technology, the pandemic of 2020 connected us. We had TikTok trends, video calls, Netflix ‘Top 10s,’ baby Yoda, and the ability to see, in real time, how the rest of the world was responding. Some of us doom scrolled while others searched for hope in a haystack. It all proved that we are linked, in some way, shape, or form.

COVID-19 taught me that, and it created a sense of togetherness in the most isolating of times. Every single person on the planet experienced the same thing, a notion that is concurrently heartbreaking and freeing.

4. Copywriting as a Skill

When the newspaper I worked for dissolved, along with the entire life I built around it, I felt displaced. I didn’t just lose a job, I lost a family, a home, an entire community and, along with it, financial security. The economic tole of the pandemic was inescapable and I was caught in the wake. Companies were downsizing, office spaces rendered useless. With nowhere to turn, or so I thought, I searched for a way to make money independently. That’s when I tapped into copywriting.

Once the world went virtual, content became currency. No one passed by traditional ads anymore or met in person, which meant that digital storytelling could make or break a business. People were going online for everything– from workout videos to product purchases. In an ‘aha’ moment, I knew my decade long career as a journalist would benefit those that solely relied on the internet for their livelihoods. I could edit, write, proofread, and create countless forms of content for others because I made a living doing just that. The only difference was I’d be doing it for the business directly, not a publication.

COVID-19 taught me that I had a lucrative, transferable skill– writing. Prior to the pandemic, I never considered copywriting. But in a sink-or-swim situation, it revealed a new horizon of possibilities. As I began to take on clients for projects, I built a side-businesses. It awarded me some financial relief, both physically and emotionally, while also providing me with a purpose again.

5. What I Really Need

With nowhere to go and nothing to do, I questioned what I wanted most. In the beginning it was Amazon. Without travel, without events, without a social life, I wanted something to look forward to and tracking packages became a hobby. But, with fluctuating income, the joy of opening boxes quickly dissolved into guilt and I was forced to find happiness elsewhere.

When the familiarity of the outside world faded, physical desires dwindled and external comforts like events, food, working out, or even shopping, no longer satisfied me because they no longer existed. At the time, I lived at my childhood home, after a tumultuous setback only a few months prior. As isolation continued, I ached for personal freedom and solace. I took to the outdoors on weekends– walks on the beach, hikes in the Hudson Valley– and quickly discovered that what I really needed was to reconnect with myself. So, I did just that. I got my own apartment, started a daily walk routine, read more, cooked more, and got involved with more non-profit work. COVID-19 taught me that as my distractions waned I attracted more of the life I truly needed, and wanted.

Take The Good, Leave The Bad

In the months, and even years, ahead we will rebuild from the wreckage of COVID– the political unrest, mourning our deceased, financial impact, addressing our mental health. But through a worldwide restoration comes personal reflection, an opportunity to learn from what was lost. In taking something positive from an unarguably difficult situation we can come out of it with understanding. Maybe it’s blind optimism, or perhaps it’s just hope.

I’d like to acknowledge that COVID-19 impacted everyone differently. My heart goes out to all of those suffering right now. You are not alone. If you need assistance please comment below and I will refer you to an organization that can help.

Instagram vs Reality: Which One Are We Living In?

Instagram versus reality. It started as a trendy movement but poses a very real question: what world do the majority of us live, or think we live, in? 

You don’t have to be a 20-something influencer to fall victim to the arising mistruths of social media. Politics are peddling agendas on platforms for their own personal gain, which is nothing new. Except now they, along with dedicated supporters, are using outlets like Facebook or Twitter as a petri dish for spreading false or slanted information. Former president Trump has become the poster politician for the wave of internet inaccuracies. His Trump tweets spread faster than a California wildfire, and proved to be just as lethal. In true hypocritical fashion, his unverified statements were the exact thing he tried to warn Americans against: fake news. To his followers, these statements were regraded as fact, thus creating a particular narrative. 

Fast forward to 2021, the rise in concern triggered Twitter to clean its birdcage. Twitter is scheduled to roll out phase one of a new program called Birdwatch, a community based initiative that allows users to flag posts they feel are misleading and have them add contextual notes with additional information. But who is qualified to “identify information…they believe is misleading and write notes that provide informative context”? How can we vet against targeted bias? 

Social media is not the source of misinformation, it’s the scapegoat. However, it does give rise to falsified realities. In December 2020, Hilaria Baldwin (wife to well-known actor Alec Baldwin) made entertainment headlines when it was speculated, and then revealed, that the entire Spanish persona she created (including her accent) was a fabrication of half-truths. It turns out, the Massachusetts native is more American than apple pie. Yet, through a meticulously crafted online presence, Hilaria (Hilary) was able to stage her own reality. And her followers applauded, without question, furthering confidence in her identity. Did it hurt anyone? No. But, like politicians and influencers, it became part of a public narrative, both on and offline.

Hilaria Baldwin in East Hampton 2017

Hilaria’s situation isn’t all that unique. How many of us prefer the personas we’ve created to our every day lives? If we’re really being honest, to an extent, aren’t we all living in a fantasy? Even during COVID19, social media is somehow still flooded with vacation photos, fit bodies, and well-dressed individuals surrounded by friends. With travel restrictions, gym closures, and social isolation these images are somewhat unbelievable (unless you really are that fine during COVID, kudos) but they also provide us with an escape from our pandemic reality.

If we take a look at ourselves, who are we? What narrative are we creating versus the one we are actually living in? How different are the two stories and will they ever completely line up?