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Writer Showcase: Cindy Atlee

Updated: Dec 11, 2019

Cindy Atlee and I go way back to the days when I taught YogaRhythmics®. Every week we danced, laughed, and stretched together, and I had no idea that she was also a powerhouse in the marketing world. Back then she was Senior Vice President/Branding & Organizational Culture at the global public relations firm Porter Novelli. These days she is principal of The Storybranding Group, a consulting firm that helps clients define and give voice to what’s best and most distinctive about them in order to create compelling brands, develop motivated leaders, and deeply engage their workforces. I can personally attest to the power of Cindy’s work, as I took her class for “solopreneurs,” When the Product is You, which helped me define what I wanted to offer in the world.

Cindy is the co-author of Professional Strengths, Values & Story Index and Narrative Intelligence: A Practical Guide to Working with Archetypes, as well as a speaker and workshop leader. She is also a regular participant in my Monday afternoon AWA workshop, and she has joined me on a few retreats.

Cindy wrote the piece below at a retreat in response to this prompt: "Make a list of things you're grateful for. Then pick one to write about." Cindy's list included grilled vegetables, David Whyte's poems, Christie's happy song, and Frank's collection of U2 albums. The last item is the one she chose to write about that day.

2,000 Albums

When we were married, there were times when I hated that record collection. 2,000 albums collected over many years, first when he was in the Navy and then as a professional deejay and finally as part of an avid avocation. 2,000 albums that had to be packed, boxed, lifted, moved, uncrated, sorted and re-shelved every time we moved. 2,000 albums that seemed to take up every nook and cranny of every living room we ever had.

2,000 albums including the latest recording from the artist whose concert we’d seen on our very first date. He’d shown up that night in a Jeep borrowed from a friend. In an open air Jeep on an unseasonably cold October night. In an open air Jeep so noisy we had to shout at each other as we drove to the concert. In an open air Jeep just unsafe enough to make me wonder if seeing Bob was worth it--because at the beginning of that night I was far more interested in Dylan than in the man behind the wheel of that Jeep, although by the end of it those positions had been reversed.

2,000 albums that our toddler daughter delighted in pulling down from the shelves, teething on them almost, as her father sprang up to prevent an atrocity from being committed on the seminal work of Frank Zappa or the earliest rebellious edges of Neil Young or even the guilty pleasure of the Monkees singing “I’m a Believer.” Oh, he was such a believer in the music, in those 2,000 albums, in the power of music to stir the soul.

2,000 albums that included some of the last music John Lennon would ever record, music he played as he wept when the news came in, during his overnight FM radio shift, that John had been shot and killed.

2,000 albums that included everything U2 had ever recorded, starting with a bootleg LP he’d bought after seeing them in the tiny Ontario theater in Washington, D.C., playing to what seemed like only a handful of attendees who believed as he did that they were onto something great.

2,000 measures of a man’s life, meted out through the ebullience of Bob Seger, the doomed beauty of Eva Cassidy, the folksy wisdom of John Prine, the husky sensuality of Chrissie Hynde.

2,000 albums that help form the common ground between his son and his daughter, born 20 years apart, raised by different women, each still answering the Grateful Dead’s call to jam—their hearts beating with music, as his did.

2,000 albums I moved for the last time, without him, 15 years ago. His remains.

"2,000 Albums" © 2017 by Cindy Atlee

Photo courtesy of Flickr/tupton

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