Friday, September 24, 2010

Don't question it. Just say Thank You


I've been debating writing this post, but at this point in my new life, I have nothing left to lose and everything to gain. At this point, Many can testify and there's no one I need approval from.
I probably won't even promote this post. This blog is 90% for me and not a service or my expert opinions.

I touched on the serendipitous meeting between Tito and I 8 years ago, but I need to break it down here. Believe it or not, this is how it happened.
You'll read in an earlier post that I was working that music director gig for Jim Beam 10 years ago watching the suits eff up their marketing with big budgets and no real relatable message that quantified into Beam drinkers. Regardless, I LOVED that job, and I loved my bands (and band boyfriends).
Thank goodness I experienced it all in my 20's. I'd never survive that life now.
Overall I had a great ride with that company and I loved my life on the road.

3 months before I found out Futurebrands were cutting music marketing for bull riding sponsorships, I woke up in the night after seeing Tito on the news talking about on his handmade vodka being distilled in a shed in the outskirts of Austin. 30 seconds or so after sitting up in the middle of the night the absolute truth about his brand and more importantly, who he was, and what needed to be done to make it all happen came straight to me. I knew he was special, his vodka was great and he could turn the industry on it's ear achieving the impossible in a business of corporate owned spirit monopolies. I still had a job at Jim beam but I KNEW what he needed to do and I wanted to help him. I had never even met the guy in person.
I also felt some strange connection to my dead father thru him, being that he was a scientist and a tenacious dreamer, even though I dated older men than him, (enter daddy complex) Tito was about 40. I was almost 30 then.
The very next day, after being awakened with the ideas for him, I went to a tequila tasting at Miguel's La Bodega in Austin and in he walks with his gorgeous pregnant wife. A friend nudges me and dares me to go introduce myself. My knees start knocking together, but I manage to walk up to him, tell him the message I have for him and make a complete ass of myself. He says he has no money and no employees and can't start paying one now. I say, don't worry...that I had a job. I just needed to tell him what I knew about what his next steps were. (3 years later, he admitted to me, he also knew who I was-someone had recommended me to him-but he still let me make an ass of myself. That's Tito)
Back to the story.
He saves my email addess. Since he, to this day, has no computer on his desk, he eventually emails me from somewhere 3 months later that he would like to meet. By this time, I was out of that Jim Beam job, gathering unemployment and soaking up my more stable Texas life. I go see Tito, out at that shed in far south east Austin. I tell him what I think and he tells me again that he has nothing to offer me, but sure does appreciate my opinions on his business. Then, I just blurted out without thinking- “I'll help you anyway and to survive, I'll pick up some freelance jobs on the side. If you like what I do, and bring you in some cash, you can pay me someday” 9 months after taking his vodka from event to event, and telling his story, It was getting it placed into bars and in the VIP at Austin City Limits.
That November, My roommate had been gone for months working on a little movie called Sideways, so I took a break, and went to go hang on the set with her in Santa Barbra with some frequent flyer miles. That's when Tito called me back with a little offer of paid employment with Tito's Handmade Vodka. That was a year after our first meeting.

They all say it, and I believe it. (Do what you love for the love of it, even without pay....and you'll probably end up paid)

After 8 years building his company with him and the eventual other employees that joined us, I decided I missed helping at the beginnings of companies and ideas. SInce he's doing great, he's let me work on some other projects now at my little consulting biz called bellanti Branding. I have my own office, and a few clients at a time. I discovered that my visions for Tito and all of our marketing and web presence started to come for other people I talk to, and work with. Whole visions of websites, directions, messages, plans...they come to me without even thinking.
They come fast and furious and absolute. They MOSTLY come in the middle of the night, or in the moment of meeting with someone if there intentions have legs....
Or they don't come at all and I back out of the gig or excuse myself. Or change the subject.
Maybe this is just the gift of creativity. But I must admit, I wake up in the night with the songs of Robyn Ludwick already playing in my head. Last week I was awakened with the full branding, mission, logo and message for my new pro-mutt rescue-news site. I was tired but I knew I had to just say thank you and drag myself out of bed to write and draw it out.
My acceptance of this gift is making the gift more intense and I can barely keep up now with the information. I'm wondering if there is a way now to tap more into this and do less of the day to day and just help people with answers and direction...or let them know where the pitfalls are.
It's evolving daily. That's my secret. Although I'm guessing, it's a common thing about the human condition, to be spiritually charged like this. Songwriters talk about this kind of thing a lot.

2nd annual Happy Place weekend adventure

Where we go to regain our superpowers Part 2

2 weeks ago on the 2nd annual Van Horn Snyder Ranch working trip, we brought our friend Kathleen along, another cowgirl badass worthy of the sometimes rugged opportunities West TX present to me and Cal.
Ya know. Like cattle drives and braining large snakes.
These trips seem to coincide with particular friends who need the Snyder ranch experience for whatever personal things they happen to be going thru. It begs the questions whether we need to start some kind of re-programming girl power camp there complete with cattle drives, dirtbikes, sharpshooting, ghosthunting, texmex eating and honky tonk dancing.
We stay at Callie's spacious house in town in Van Horn and then make our way to the ranch about a half hour into more remote valleys mornings after consuming the best breakfast burritos at Daddy Snyder's shop.
He hops in the truck with us, downs a few beers and tell us some of the wildest west Texas tales we couldn't possibly ever dream up. Daddy Snyder lived them. Stuff of legend.
I have fallen in love with him. He calls me Bethany.


After a few hours of checking wells with him and soaking in the desert sun from the second tier of the quad hunting vehicle on this particular trip last month, we then went out and rounded up his ponies out roaming the land.


Daddy Snyder helped up saddle up and we started out on those horses, Just Callie, Kathleen and myself. Not 150 or so feet in to our journey, out of the sky dropped a bunch of multi colored balloons. I shit you not.

Kathleen started out full gallop to retrieve them. We could not really process the strange significance of this but Kathleen tied them to post and then seeing Callie;s horse was more “spirited” decided to switch horses with Callie. Kathleen was looking for action, and she got it. Upon returning from our rides, that horse got spooked by the balloons Kathleen went back for and threw her off right in front of us. The horse took off. Kathleen heard her arm pop, dusted herself off, shed one tear and walked back to the ranch house. I was shaken as I have a worst case scenario panic button, but Kathleen and Callie were calm. Well, actually, almost goofy. Daddy Snyder had tears in his eyes as we got in the car and headed to the ER in Van Horn. There was no one at the hospital and I joined in on the strangely silly vibe, stealing rubber gloves and stuffing them into random purses. Kathleen was bruised,potentially fractured,slinged, but NOT BROKEN. We went straight from there for tex mex dinner and brought our bottle of Tito's into the restaurant in leiu of pain pills. Later that evening we went back to our new favorite bar at the old famously haunted hotel El Capitan where we caught up with cowboys and a wayward singer songwriter who lent Kathleen his guitar for some of the most beautiful surreal moments I have ever experienced. Kathleen has somehting special going on with her music.


From there we brought those damn balloons with us to a Tejano bar still trying to prove our story to the cowboys, and since they only had beer and wine at said bar, and with me being a 100 percent Tito's girl, I danced the rest of the night instead-learning new Mexican dances with the cowboys and getting nasty stares from the local gals.
There's so much I must leave out for fear of a too long post, but you get the drift.
On the ride home back to Austin, we stopped at Balmorhea to heal our wounds and drove 7 hours watching the tropical storm roll in with wild cloud formations, rainbows and one hell of a sunset to be reckoned with. We are headed back in Oct. for the rodeo. Kathleen has a gig in that hotel bar , I'm going to sponsor the rodeo, and we are going to investigate the El Capitan


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Go to your happy place!


This is my year to travel, decompress, live for me, let my creative mind take over, stop worrying about money and ambition and HEAL.
I'm still healing from a few years of intense work related anxiety, chronic fatigue and the violence that comes with losing multiple pregnancies. I just started this blog entry to describe a more recent trip to Van Horn, TX, but I can't until I set it up with last years.
Last August I suffered my most drawn out, painful and violent miscarriage. It was also my last.
During the pain and procedure, I kept going to a "happy place" in my memory--an escape...that place being my friend Callie's ranch in Van Horn, TX. about an hour from El Paso and a little less from Marfa.
A week or 2 after that terrible experience, I wasn't leaving the house or my husband much. I was feeling very fragile and afraid. There was a terrible filmstrip re playing in my head over and over and I was paralyzed.
I mentioned my visions of Snyder Ranch to Callie and she told me she was going the next weekend and it would be good if I came along. I fought it because I felt so fragile, but Callie and my husband insisted and so I tearfully packed a bag.
This part of Texas has a certain cosmic charm that can really only be experienced. It would take an entire blog to describe the vibe of the people, the mountains, the sky, the culture. You can't help but get swept up and changed there.
Callie has a 76 year old cowboy dad who is quite legendary in those parts and it's an honor to get a few minutes worth of his witness. We usually ride around with him on one of the hunting vehicles and help check his wells on the expansive property while a few of Callie's dogs try to keep up with us and chase jackrabbits.



This particular weekend was the cattle working weekend. Callie's dad was short some cowboys and asked if we could ride.
Without thinking, we agreed. Had I really known what a 5 hour cattle drive entailed, I may have laughed and excused myself.
But we agreed to do it, so Callie's dad saddled us up with some cowboys who couldn't speak english and he put me on his best horse. At first gallup, I found myself reaching so far into my childhood riding memories just to remember how the hell I was to hold on, but I did it. We brought ALL the cattle home over many miles and rocked our spanish. We rode through steep mountain passes for 5 hours with no food or drink or bathroom break. A bull charged us fora mile and we evaded him. Our backs were raked bloody from ducking brambles and thorns.
Hours later when I finally got off that horse, I was seeing stars and weaving. The cowboy wives made us chili dogs for dinner and I ate 3. I am a vegetarian. We drank Tito's and Sweet Tea and listened to Callie's dad and partner tell us wild stories all night and it was one of the greatest days of my life.
That crazy ride was something so wild and impossible to even imagine, accomplishing it with a sister friend who already makes me tougher stays with me now through everything. I knew I was SUPPOSED to be there. I AM supposed to be there. It all makes sense. It's helped me accept the way life turned with a supernatural ease and I have felt 1000 times stronger ever since.