Contentalist Blog

Pimento cheese and an unintentional reinvention

Backstory of Contentalist

Seems impossible that 10 years have passed since I left everything familiar and relocated. Not just a move to a nearby city or state, where the locals have a different accent and a twist on their pimento cheese recipe but another country on a separate continent, where pimento cheese is not even a thing. To make the situation more intriguing, my adopted hometown of Basel sits on the border of three countries – Switzerland, France and Germany, also known as the ‘dreiländereck’ or corner of three lands. Was I fluent in any of these languages or cultures when I arrived? Okay, I learned a bit of Italian, which is what they speak in the southern parts of Switzerland, for my wedding on the Amalfi Coast. But to answer the question, no. I went from living and working in a place that was as familiar as my favorite pair of Levi’s to being an alien in a foreign land, illiterate in the native language. Being unable to be heard in my new hometown was tough for me as a word lover and people connector but the temporary discomfort was worth it. Suddenly, there was an endless opportunity to explore, learn, travel, work and experience life in a place relatively unknown to me, except what I soaked in on European holidays. Call me crazy but it was one of the most exciting, albeit scary steps in my life.

Every day became an adventure. Even routine tasks such as a trip to the grocery or the post office were no longer standard fare. There were moments of discovery, mixed with times filled with incredible frustration and embarrassment. Not only did my world change, my perceptions expanded. I learned new ways of life from locals and expats who shared their traditions and culture with me. It was eye opening, thought provoking and liberating.

Working on both sides of the Atlantic

As I settled into life in Switzerland, I continued to put my knowhow in marketing, communications and practice growth to work for business leaders on both sides of the Atlantic. My days were filled writing copy and developing content. This included penning articles, guides and other communications, along with developing online toolkits and marketing resources. Interestingly, I began to find joy working behind the scenes as much as the “out front” leadership roles that I held in the US.

Long-lost love

Who could have known the photography course that I took out of necessity at the last minute, when my university advisors realized I was going to be an hour short of earning my business degree would make such an impact on my life here. I am happy to report that the move to Switzerland reignited my desire to get behind the lens. My beloved camera quickly became my constant companion, helping me document new discoveries and connecting me to people. Once I realized how to unlock its secret powers, I had a front-row pass to events and stories in which I found myself. Art, music, sports, business and creative vibes were everywhere and my trusty friend made me a part of this exciting scene. How good it feels to be reunited with a long-lost love.

Unintentional reinvention

Along the way, I realized I was becoming someone new, yet familiar. An unintentional reinvention. The more I pondered this curious development, the more I heard the age-old question that my teachers asked in school – “What do you want to be when you grow up?” After lots of tussle, I had an epiphany – it was time for a new question. “Who do you want to be?” As I listened closely, my inner voice was saying “Embrace all that you are, rather than make a choice. In other words, “be your you.” Your life is rich and full, so draw on what you are passionate about and can monetize. Tap your interests to connect with the community, help and give back too.” What a eureka moment.

Contentalist is born

This revelation helped me embrace who I had become, both professionally and personally. No more separate boxes. It was time for this mid-century millennial to combine a love of writing, photography, storytelling, marketing and leadership. It was fueled by the the needs I saw around me during the pandemic from professionals, entrepreneurs and startups wanting to connect with others. I realized I could help them capture attention and build trust. Sometimes that meant replacing the tech talk in a startup story or taking the dread out of a photoshoot. Other times it was writing important articles for business folks that didn’t have the time or gumption to write them. There were also time that required finding the right words to use in conversations with stakeholders.

The result of all this mind-numbing contemplation and on-going development is Contentalist. It is all about creating compelling content for busy professionals, entrepreneurs and startups that want to make an impact with their internal and external audiences. Words that resonate. Photos that captivate. Brand stories that engage.

Power of connection

In a land where I am no longer an alien or illiterate in the native language, I value the importance of capturing attention, being heard and winning trust so much more than you can ever imagine. It’s amazing how much you can gain when you connect the dots between all the things that you enjoy. Some of the best discoveries are ones you take from one and apply to the other. Your focus becomes clear and you create more innovative solutions. Not to mention, it is a proud moment when someone says “thanks for helping me accomplish my goals and dreams.”

Looking forward

Now that you know the inspiration for Contentalist, get ready for practical tips on how to be heard, along with fun and uplifting anecdotes. I look forward to sharing new insight and introducing you to some of the amazing people featured on this website and others along my journey.

In the meantime, give me a shout, if you have a related experience or a topic that you would like to discuss. I look forward to hearing from you and continuing the conversation.

In case you’re wondering

I made the most delicious pimento cheese the other day. I used a Croatian pepper spread called ‘ajvar,’ mixed it with aged cheddar a friend brought back from Ireland, then spread it on a piece of homemade Swiss bread called ‘zopfbrot’ from a dear creative soul with whom I collaborated on a recent project. This pimento cheese sandwich perfectly embodied who I have become. That first bite made me realize how rich my life had become by embracing my all and opening myself to what and who are around me on this crazy wonderful adventure.

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