Hi Bulletin Friends!
Welcome to my personal newsletter, which will be known as THE REFRESH and it will introduce you to my new business and the talented team at The Kerri-Lee Mayland Company. Plus it holds space for me to write about my passion: design and the people and stories behind it.
Bulletin is a product and platform powered by Facebook, and I can’t wait to get to know you in a brand new way. Being part of this innovative new community will give me a chance to show you design while introducing you to people with one-of-a-kind stories my team meets along the way.
First, a bit about me
My career as a television news anchor has spanned nearly 30 years with the journey taking me through markets all over the country—from Phoenix, to Washington, D.C., Boston to Philly as well as a few other stops along the way. I was born in Victoria, B.C., Canada, studied at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, and now I call Connecticut home. I have two kids, a baseball playing sixteen-year-old boy named Van who is an artist and snowboarder, and a nine-year-old ballerina named Katalina who is all sugar and spice and loves skiing and figure skating. My husband, Kirt, is my biggest ally and supporter. He's an attorney who teaches at UCONN Law and runs his own renewable energy business, donating much of the land he acquires for conservation purposes. On the side, we have Airbnbs that Kirt upkeeps and I decorate and book and we are always trying to come up with ways to bring the comforts and luxuries of home to visitors from all over the world.
I have one speed: GO! I can't remember a time life wasn't jam-packed, fulfilling, and lived to the fullest. Until it wasn't.
A complete about face
Rewind to more than a year ago and the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. For so many of us, it completely stopped us in our tracks, forced us to re-evaluate, in many cases, everything. For me, it was my entire career. My last day on the anchor desk at NBC was Friday the 13th, March 2020, the same weekend the world started shutting down and my private battle with chronic Lyme disease came to a breaking point. My health had declined to the point that there was no pretending that I was okay anymore. I didn't look or feel myself and the myriad of symptoms and side effects that had been plaguing me, now owned me. I will save details of my health journey for another newsletter, but suffice it to say the only way I was propping myself up to get into work daily was by relying on prescribed immunosuppressants usually reserved primarily for cancer patients. Being on low-grade chemotherapy with a surging virus without a vaccine, just wasn't an option anymore and when my doctor said, "Enough is enough," I finally listened. Just like that, my daily career in TV news came to a halt and there was now a pandemic to get through, too.
The walls were closing in on us
It didn't matter the size of the rooms we were in, quarters suddenly felt very close as our new normal started to sink it. Zoom meetings, remote school, "business on the top party on the bottom" online wardrobes-- what world were we suddenly living in? My initial remedy was to attempt to create an online version of what my life used to be while using the time to try something new. I auditioned for a virtual choir in Toronto, Canada called Alt Vox and contributed to a couple of their videos and couldn't believe how much fun it was (click on the link and see if you can pick me out!). I invited friends and family to join a supper club and we cooked virtually with chefs all over the world on Friday nights. In fact, in a future article you'll meet Josephine in Nairobi, the chef I got to know while learning how to cook her famous curry. Seeing the backdrop of her home provided familiar virtual comfort for me and no doubt many others. Book Club was on Wednesday nights and we dove into some raw, revealing books such as Hidden Valley Road, Educated and City of Thieves. I came to love the heartfelt discussions that inevitably went off on all kinds of crazy tangents, but we got more than just good reads out of Book Club, we shared our day to day stories with each other, and talked about what we were doing to try to thrive where we were. I, of course, also loved to look beyond the person talking on the screen, studying the choir member's zoom backdrops, the chefs kitchens, and the cozy reading nooks behind Book Club members. Fascinated with the way people live, even in on a computer screen, it fanned the fire in my gut to do my passion, pandemic or no pandemic. To REFRESH.
Be the change
My Lyme struggles are something I kept private, which worked well when life was normal, but in the depths of the pandemic I felt isolated, like a fish out of water. For a second, I was tempted to sit around and feel sorry for myself but instead I did what my mum always said to do when a personal pity party is pending. "Go and do something kind for someone else," she would say and her words echoed loudly on the darker days. So I listened, and started helping people make their remote life a little better, and certainly a lot more beautiful. Not only did I have a purpose again but I was able to give those around me a REFRESHED space in which to quarantine.
The United Colors of.... Design
It's a lot of work this business of "before and afters," and eventually I could no longer do it alone. My REFRESH team came together organically and represents countries from all over the world. Vietnam, Sweden, Peru, Canada, Thailand and of course, the US. Our global melting pot might be our greatest strength because there is no style we don't know, no design we can't do, and our projects are bespoke down to the last throw pillow. From small thrifted projects to complete home renovations, we do it all, have adventures along the way and meet people with stories I just can't wait to share. That's why Bulletin couldn't have come at a more perfect time for the REFRESH team because we are absolutely bursting at the seams to tell you about the view from here.
So hop on! I'm saving the passenger seat of the work truck just for you. Subscribe and don't miss out on any part of the journey, I promise it will be a colorful one and the stories won’t be scarce. If you want to just see some jaw dropping makeovers, you will get that here too. Whether you are an HGTV junkie, you are planning home renovation projects of your own, or you prefer armchair DIY, THE REFRESH will tell the stories behind the design. The people doing it, and the people asking for it to be done. I think you’ll realize, as I have that renovations aren’t just what happens to the homes we live in, often, the greatest renovation is what happens to our hearts and souls along the way.
And that's-- REFRESHING.