A Letter From Holly Gray: Earthworms & Us in the COVID-19 Climate

Wedding Inspiration
May 18, 2020

On the second official night of the mandated home quarantine, after hours of speculation and confusion, I needed some fresh air. I took a brief evening walk with my dog around my neighborhood. It had just stopped raining here in Los Angeles, where I live and have operated my wedding planning and design business, Anything But Gray Events, for the last eight years. Normally, rain would be a welcomed and appreciated change in the spring, but that night, it felt heavy and ominous.

The air smelled like fresh cut grass, the breeze was brisk and sharp on the back of my neck, and the soft ground was flooded from the evening’s shower cascading onto the concrete I walked on. As I illuminated the cement with each step, flashlight in hand, all I could clearly make out in the shadows were hundreds of earth worms wriggling in the puddles of muddy water that lined my dim street. They were drowning and couldn't save themselves. A wave of helplessness rolled over my whole body.

As a child, I learned how important earth worms are to our ecosystem. How their tireless efforts, despite their small size, make a vast and positive improvement in our world and ultimately, the success of the soil we need to survive. They're drawn out of the soil by water and can get washed away and perish if they venture out without a plan.

My knees buckled and my hands flung into a cold, dark pool of rainwater to relieve a wriggling earth worm and return it to safety on the adjacent lawn. I stood up quickly remembering that this was not the time to be soiling my hands in discarded, dirty water. We were living in a pandemic and cleanliness was imperative for our safety. I couldn’t continue to save the earth worms as my ethics told me I should. I had to walk away knowing I couldn’t help them all. Tears quietly streamed down my face as I briskly walked home feeling defeated and powerless.

As our political leaders and health experts from around the country grapple with how to come out of this lockdown safely, small business owners and creatives all over the U.S. have been taking collective sighs, digging deep into their entrepreneurial resolve, and working hard through so much uncertainty in order to save their business dreams. We can feel like hard-working earth worms who are suddenly struggling to breathe and wriggling for signs of relief in an unsure situation.

Like most of us right now, I'm getting up every day with a mixed sense of worry and hope. Then, going to bed feeling the same. While turning on the TV on a normal afternoon can seem like a luxury as a busy wedding pro, currently, television comes with an unpredictable blend of ongoing dread and glimmers of hope. As I cling tightly to my positive attitude for dear life and push my fierce determination to rise the above the natural human instinct to stay in sweat pants, crying, and eat carbs all day, I prioritize focusing on what I can control in my business as opposed to what I can't given our current climate. I am, as we should all be, an earth worm digging into the soft ground, instead of trying to escape from it towards the rain.

Photo courtesy Stetten Wilson

I take massive comfort in that fact that my business has a strong foundation, driven by my passion and clear intention, and solid processes. I've leaned heavily on and taken comfort in having a steel contract drafted by a lawyer specializing in small business and my devoted use of Aisle Planner as a client-facing CRM. This combination has kept me confident and moving forward in a time of business standstill.

Aisle Planner, a tool I've relied on for years now, has kept my sanity intact. More so than ever, I've been relying on my Aisle Planner systems, templates, and tools to streamline my procedures with current and potential clients, elevating my constant communications and ability to quell their concerns, and ultimately been a saving grace when it's come to prepping and executing event postponements and cancellations in the last few weeks due to COVID-19. I could not have postponed and cancelled so many events, alerted all the vendors and venues, sent out contract addendums, and relocated pertinent information in the last several weeks without Aisle Planner and the support of the team behind it. 

We're an industry known for our resilience and grit, as well as our reliance on the support of each other. That right there goes beyond your referral network, "friendors," and business besties. It applies to every facet of your business, especially when it comes to the tools you use to help you manage it effectively. If you're trying to go at this on your own without a CRM, just stop. There's no glory in letting yourself and your business drown. Now's the time, little earth worm, to wake up and realize that digging down deep into your business and rooting yourself with a system that keeps you at the forefront when the rain falls hard is the best investment you can make for your company.

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About the Author

Holly Gray
Holly Gray
Anything But Gray Events
Holly Gray is the CEO of Anything But Gray Events. The Los Angeles based company specializes in planning and designing colorful corporate, wedding, and social events for creative clients. As a second generation event planner, Holly strives to be an all-around expert in the events field and continues to push the envelope whenever possible. With a dash of sass, a hearty laugh and a splash of bright pink lipstick there you have it...