Brand building through storytelling

Letters From Rona (blog)

Help! Middle-aged teeth are chewing up the family budget

I try to live within my shrinking means, I really do. No more but-I-love-it purchases for me! Yet whenever I make a date with Lisa, my good intentions desert me. “Do I really need this?” cuts no ice with Lisa. Ditto “I can get it cheaper down the street” or “I think I’ll just wait for the sale.” Lisa is my dentist, a woman of standards. I never guessed I would log so many hours in her chair.

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When the president says, “I screwed up”

Just when I was getting used to the welcome but startling notion of a black president who invites his opponents and their kids to watch the Superbowl at the White House, Barack Obama surprised me again. He told NBC news, “I think I screwed up.”

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Hold the Botox, but please don’t deprive me of Photoshop!

I’m about two weeks younger than Bruce Springsteen, whose leaping, limbo-ing performance at last night’s Superbowl made me almost proud to be closing in on 60. My knees aren’t up to such moves, but I have it on good authority that I too am a role model for almost-sexagenarians. Which prompts me to ask: can I be a role model and still have my portraits Photoshopped, as normal female vanity requires?

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Death of a muse

I had never heard of Dina Vierny when I read that she had died in Paris, age 89. Yet I had often seen the splendour of her naked body, sculpted by Aristide Maillol, whose creative powers she awakened when he was 73 and she the 15-year-old schoolgirl he knew on sight to be his model of a lifetime.

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My tried-and-true ritual for falling asleep

In the small cheerless hours of the morning, when there’s nothing I want in the world except another few hours of sleep, I close my eyes and revisit our first house. I find it soothing to contemplate the rooms where, for 14 years, I read and wrote and cooked and raised my son.

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Discovering my inner dancer

Once upon a time, when I played with paper dolls and wore Mary Janes, I wanted to be a ballerina. I thought I was the star of my Saturday morning ballet class, pirouetting with more enthusiasm than grace. I didn’t know that my short waist, knock knees and crooked spine disqualified me from the tutu’d elite. When I danced, I felt beautiful.

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How did we get to be veterans?

On October 18, 1979, when I was starting out at Flare magazine, I dictated the letter that gave a young journalist named Antonia Zerbisias her first magazine assignment. I had high hopes for Antonia, who’d just sent us one of those rare pitch letters that have editors asking, “Why has no one else discovered this writer and how fast can I connect her with my readers?”

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The job of cooking

Ah, Sunday. Where did it go? Mostly, I cooked. I haven’t cooked so much–we’re talking both frequency and volume, great potfuls of garlicky fare–since I was young and poor. Now I’m middle-aged, recession-battered and frugal. Out comes the slow cooker. What an apt name. Believe me, it’s a project to cook this way.

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So what is this thing called the magic of friendship?

The hardest thing about writing is saying what you mean. Or is it finding just the right words to make your point? I waffle back and forth on this, and no wonder: wordcraft is all about meaning. If you haven’t figured out what you mean, you’re bound to cloak your woolly-mindedness in one of those vague, catch-all expressions that leave the burden of interpretation to the reader.

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The year of friends lost and found

I’m plenty old enough to know that my talent for predicting the future is roughly equivalent to my flair for Cirque du Soleil-style acrobatics. yet I persist in thinking of my life as a story I can shape–every year with a theme and a tidy resolution. I imagine myself as the author. Fact is, I’m an uppity character with delusions of control.

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