Competition, Pride, Achievement...all of these can make or break a person!
For many years now I have been working with and doing my best to motivate young people of all ages. I must say it can be extremely challenging. Kids today have so much pressure to be perfect and are often times taught to have the 'do whatever it takes' mentality. Anyone that honestly knows me, knows I thrive on competition. I pride myself on being the best I can, and yes like many, looove when I am recognized for it. I believe all of these -from a pure place- are healthy, noteworthy attributes. However, when left uncontrolled; competition, pride and the need for recognition can ruin even the greatest individual.
Today, I spent the majority of my day at the District Track Championship. During my time I saw so many young athletes give everything they had running, jumping, throwing; leaving it all on the track. Throughout the day I asked many of them how they did, more times that not, the response I received was “not too good”. Why…why would a so many 8-12 year old children give such a discouraged response? I am sure this question has many answers, for many different reasons, the only thing I will say is let’s change it!
You see, this time of year is filled with award assemblies, sports banquets and graduations. I witness posting after posting of children with framed pieces of paper, trophies, medals, mementos…you name it there is an award for it and a parent sharing it with everyone they know! Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT negating that children should hear how proud you are when they do well or that you should refrain from sharing it. I wonder though, what do they hear when the rest of the world is silent…when there is no blue ribbon, or gold plated #1 to take home, no top honors announcement or recognition to give? I am all for winning and being the best, but what message does it send to children when they are repeatedly praised, posted, and paraded in front of their peers for ‘winning’? More importantly, are they equally honored for their character, heart, and daily growth? If not, I fear the message they receive and respond with very well may be “not too good”. I fear they will buy into the idea that awards and material things are what give a person value. Even worse, what happens when these children become adults?
My guess, they grow up and trade in their medals for cars, their awards for houses and their trophies for promotions. They will spend much their lives focusing on receiving the ‘award’ and lose sight of what really matters. They will continually compete with the person next to them, not out of true competition, but out of fear and insecurity; believing that they aren’t good enough. Again, I am not saying congratulations is not in order when they win, but our children deserve our praise for so much more than a shiny piece of paper with their name on it. Our children deserve to know that we love them unattached and unconditionally; for who and what they are. They should be praised and posted for their character, honored for their diligence, and valued for their individuality and strength. No award, trophy, car, or house will leave this world with them, so isn’t it time we as parents begin teaching the next generation how to live a life rooted in purpose, built with commitment?
If you agree then I have a challenge for you as a parent, teacher, grandmother or influencer. Create a post, a letter, or a note; tell your children and the world how amazing they are…for nothing other than who they are.
Many of us are told to go to college, get a great job, buy a house; get married and start a family…then life will be perfect. Often times we follow these rules and recommendations only to find ourselves consumed by a life that is far from perfect and in all reality quite miserable. We are left wondering, how did this happen? We ask ourselves, “Where did I go wrong?” Demanding that…”This makes no sense!”
Let’s rewind time a little…First, you graduate from college and choose a company that pays well and has “great benefits”. Over the next 10-20 years you believe all the promises they make and give everything you have, hoping to reach the top, retire early, and live comfortably. About half way through this journey something starts to change but you can’t quite figure out what it is. The drive that used to get you out of bed each day for work has turned to dreading another 10 hour shift. The ambition that helped you believe in advancement and career growth has been silenced by the realization that you don’t like to play the political game this company expects you to play. And finally, one day, it hits you when your three year old daughter asks you “can’t you just stay home with me?”
This question prompts you to reflect on the last decade…All the lies you have been telling yourself trying to make sense of the long hours, demanding work load, and corporate propaganda. The vacations you skipped, days you went to work sick, and holidays you missed with your family. Worst of all, you have justified this to ‘take care of your family’…after all this company made you believe they ARE what makes life possible. It is at this very moment you realize that you drank the Kool-Aid.
Fortunately, about a year or so ago my husband and I decided to make a change. After careful thought and prayer my husband walked away from a 10 year career and great salary. Why? Because we knew deep down, there had to be something better. Along this journey it was refreshing to discover there are a few great companies that value family and balancing work and home. While the transition was terrifying, it was well worth it. At one time our children would go to bed while their dad was still at work, now there are very few nights when he isn't here to tuck them in.
While we are so blessed to be where we are now, I write this because many of our friends and family are still stuck. They face decisions like, should they stay home with their infant that is running a high fever? If they do stay home, what will the repercussions be? Will they be written up? Will they be looked at as less dedicated or unfit for the next promotion? Again, this makes no sense, and about now you may be thinking neither does this post! What does this have to do with event planning?
It has everything to do with event planning because having an event takes time and thought. Two things we cannot give to those we love when we become consumed by the cult of corporate America. Instead of planning our child’s fifth birthday party we pay someone hundreds of dollars to entertain our child and few friends for two hours, with some cheap pizza and a few streamers. Instead of preparing a Thanksgiving meal with family, everyone just brings their favorite dish they bought from the frozen food section of the local grocery store. I am not saying that short-cuts are bad or that you shouldn't get help when planning an event, after all I am the event help. I am also, NOT saying that you shouldn't work hard. What I am saying is that your company and your job are not what make life possible. You make life possible.
When we find a way to invest our energy, passion and hard work into spending time with those we love; life will make perfect sense and so will the events we celebrate life with.
My life makes sense now, does yours?
It is almost that time of year…Time to put away the bathing suits and sunscreen and replace them with sweaters, warm coats and mugs of hot chocolate. The transition from summer to fall changes our wardrobe, our weather, and most importantly the types of events we attend. Instead of graduations, backyard BBQ’s, and swim parties we have Harvest Festivals, Thanksgiving dinners
and Holiday get-togethers.
To help you embrace the quickly approaching holiday season and subtly get your house ready for entertaining, I have included a few tips and tricks of my own. Just pick one or try them all as you get ready for cozy nights, hearty meals and time with friends and family. Keep in mind, the holidays are not only about your guests but you as well, so feel free to enjoy these delights with our without
Candles are Key- Time change means early, cool evenings; candles create a welcoming feeling for guests as they arrive to your house. Choose spice filled fragrances like apple cider, nutmeg or hazelnut for that special reminder of the holidays. Make sure to light your candle at least an hour before your event begins, this will help you put on your hostess hat and allow time for the fragrance to filter through your entertaining space.
Eat, Drink, and be Merry- During the summer we eat fresh treats that cool us down and keep us feeling light, needless to say baked goodies are a limited commodity. Come fall, we crave the comforting warm goodies that remind us of grandma. So start your baking early, try new recipes and be sure to share. Baked goodies are great as gifts and give that extra bit of thoughtfulness others are looking for this time of year. If you aren’t fond of baking that is ok too, there are plenty of specialty bakeries and shops that can help you out.
In addition to the confections and baked goods, beverages are also a huge hit. Best of all, they are successful with or without alcohol. From flavored espresso and hot cider to specialty cocktails and spirits, holiday beverages add a splash of flavor to every event.
Décor Do’s and Don’ts - Yes the holidays are approaching but that doesn’t mean your house has to be consumed by pumpkins, turkeys and trees. Keep it simple and add a touch here and there. Place a wreath on the door, a knick-knack or two on the mantle, and add a touch of sparkle to the kitchen counter. If you see a piece while you are out shopping grab it. Adding a little here and there will minimize the stress of decorating, eliminate the clutter, and allow the transition to happen naturally.
Mingle with Music- This is event sense after all, so you can’t forget the sound. Unlike many outdoor summer events that allow for higher noise levels, your holiday environment should be soft, subtle, and soothing. No matter when an event takes place the music affects the mood your guest will have. It may not be time to play Christmas hits but don’t hesitate to softly play some slow jazz or hire a set of acoustic musicians. Both options are great for making your guests feel comfortable, relaxed and entertained throughout the night.
This year, let autumn inspire your senses!
There are many things that go into planning an event, and there many types of people
that plan; organized, unorganized, early birds and procrastinators. Whatever type of person you are and whatever kind of event you are having…MAKE A LIST!
So it’s pretty obvious to make a list, but let me ask you, What is on your list? How many lists do you have? And…Where did they go again! My suggestion, in all your planning, organizing and list creating is make ONE master list that has the Who, What, When, Where, and THEME!
Who? The who is split into two parts. First, it will include the people you want to invite…and not just those you know will show. Sometimes we don’t invite people because we think they won’t come, but it can be just as important to invite them anyway. This can prove to be especially important if you are planning any type of corporate or public event, and who knows… maybe they will surprise you.
The second who, is who will do the what? Who is the caterer, who is the entertainment, who will help manage the event? Don’t
leave it until the day of to grab a volunteer, decide who the best fit for the job is and list them.
What? This will detail What your event will have. What kind of entertainment? Will it be catered and What type of food? What do you want people to feel or get from your event? …and the list goes on!
When? This is fairly uncomplicated, pick a date and time and commit to it. However, you should take into account the weather and holidays when deciding on when the event should be. This will help minimize possible conflicts and disasters.
Where? This can be easy or very complicated…When deciding where, look at three things…who can make it here, what
is the budget, and will my guests feel or get what I want here? If you can answer all three questions easily, BOOK IT!
Theme? Some people think themes are childish and unnecessary, but it is quite the contrary. Themes give you direction and let
your guests know what to expect. A theme will help keep you on track when planning and making decisions; knowing what to eliminate and what to keep is crucial. For your guests a theme will help them know how to dress, what to bring, and help make them comfortable from the start. The key is that a theme should only be used as needed. If you are planning an Under the Sea Birthday Party everything should scream Finding Nemo. For a wedding maybe it is simply a color theme that will be infused throughout the event.
My Final piece of advice when using these points to make a list…Start Backwards! It may sound crazy but trust me,
it will make more sense!
One of the main reasons that DOV Sound was created was due to the amazing talent here in the Central Valley and the
limited awareness of it. The question is why are we limited? Many people talk about the lack of quality events here in the valley but have no idea what is lacking…So if you have ever made the statement “I wish I could find a good place to go on the weekend”…see where you fit on this list!
1) Where is all the talent at?
There are great artists, musicians and entertainers in the Valley and yet, only a few know where or how to find them. Not
because they don’t exist but because our own preconceived notions and fears about certain parts of town cause us to miss out on the richest culture. I hear time and time again that people will not go south of Shaw avenue...Why, because the buildings are a little
older, or the people a little different, or simply because you think you are better than south of Shaw? Whatever your reason, it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that there are great venues like Fulton 55, and talented artists that would enrich our community if we could see beyond the buildings and the streets.
2) Businesses don’t want to pay!
Business is a cycle, you want entertainment to create revenue for your business but you don’t want to pay the quality entertainment that will create revenue. As a business owner if you utilize entertainment in the right way, you will be rewarded. Having
quality live music can pack the place out, and drive up your sales. In order for that to happen you need a group or band that will draw the right crowd to your doors. You need a band that will keep the crowd entertained all night, and you need a band that will leave them coming back for more. The problem is that takes time and tons of work on the bands part, which translates into money. Yes, there are tons of musicians and artist that love what they do and will play for free, but you get what you pay for. If you pay nothing, you
can’t expect to get any of these results. Think about it...would you do your job for a free drink? There is no way a drink will pay for a week worth of practice, an hour worth of set up, and a night full of playing. Business owners, if you want serious entertainment make it a serious business transaction.
3) We just don’t appreciate art.
Sure we follow trends and pop culture but our community as a whole has a hard time looking outside of the box, where real art
lives. Going back to reason one, we all stay in our bubble and become limited by its boundaries. We listen to what is popular, we wear what is popular and we think that will make us stand out and be popular. Art is suffering because of a lack of individuality. We have taken art out of our schools, musicians out of music, and creative thinking out of society. Great entertainment is birthed from
individualism, creativity, and art.
If we want our events to make sense, we have to be willing to go outside the box…Travel down town, give a musician his fair share, and reconnect with the artist inside.
Event Photographers come in many forms, artistic, amateur, and amazing. For most individuals having great photographs is at the top of the priority list. We all want those beautiful, perfect pictures that will create a lifetime of memories. So whether you are paying a professional or having a close friend photograph the event, here are a few tips that will help capture the memories you want…
1) Use a good camera! Yes a professional photographer will come with all the right equipment, but not everyone can afford to pay the professional…not to mention some events won’t require it, but a good camera can go a long way. There are many affordable high quality cameras for all you amateurs, like myself. My advice, do your research, read the reviews and look for AUTO Settings!
A great photographer and even better friend turned me on to this guy…Thanks Corina!
Check his reviews out: http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/great-camera.htm
2) Good Lighting! There is a reason why Hollywood has a crew that specializes in lighting…because it makes you look a thousand times better. Unfortunately, most of us can’t pay a staff to follow us around with camera lamps and reflectors. The funny thing is the
solution is quite simple, use natural light. It can be your make-up, your body or your photography, but I am a firm believer that natural is always the best. So in my opinion outdoor, natural lighting, helps make your pictures look their best. Not to say that set photography isn’t amazing too, I just prefer the natural elements. So, here are a few links on natural light.
-Photography with Natural Light: http://ezinearticles.com/?Photography-With-Natural-Light&id=1799915
-Tips for set lighting and Natural lighting: http://www.digitalpicturezone.com/performance-metrics/pros-and-cons-of-artificial-vs-natural-lighting-in-portrait-photography/
3) Wear Colors that look good on you! We all have colors that mesh with our skin tone and one’s that wash us out. As a speaker, in front of harsh lighting, I learned a few tricks to help look my best. They also work for photographs.
First wear, colors and avoid white when you can…White can easily wash out individuals of almost any skin tone, especially without proper lighting, so just avoid it if you can. Instead, wear bright colors or at the minimum accent with bright colors. Ladies wear a brightly colored scarf or have a bouquet with vibrant colors. Men can place a handkerchief in their jacket pocket to add color or wear a bold tie. And if all else fails…choose coral. Coral is more than just a poplular color, it also looks great on any skin tone.
4) Have a good friend! Even if you decide to book a professional photographer bring a friend or someone that knows you well and can be honest. An extra pair of eyes is always helpful. Remember too, photographers have a job to capture what they ‘think’ is best for you…that doesn’t mean they know every piece about you. Maybe you don’t like red lipstick, or maybe your grandmother is closer to you than your sister. A good friend can help capture you the way you want to be remembered. A good friend can tell you to suck it in, or put down the bouquet. This will help you relax, and help the photographer do what he does best…capture the memories important to you!
I admit that I am no expert at photography, and yes,I have had my fair share of bad pictures…but one thing I do know, is that memorable photographs always make sense.
I know I am not alone in the battle between what I want to see in the mirror and what is really there. Thus, the need for Mirror Mirror.
About a month ago or so, I went to shop for a new bathing suit. Like many women, I get ready in front of the bathroom mirror each day. This prevents me from focusing below the waistline. I have a healthy diet, and work out a few times a week. While I know bathing suit season is never enjoyable, I did not dread it either. Until, I saw what I normally miss each day, the bottom half of my body! The unflattering florescent lights and unforgiving mirrors in every direction, made me say two things. One, put back the suite, put down the cookie, and workout harder...Two, STOP getting ready in front of a bathroom mirror.
While sometimes it is comforting and helps to build our confidence if we can’t see those trouble spots, it can be devastating if they are missed on a special day. That is why a full length mirror is mandatory prior to any event, especially one with a photographer; and
not just one mirror but two. Why, you might ask…because no matter how amazing your body is, some things just look better than others. We need to check our backside the same way we check the back of our hair after it is done. We need to see all the places that need to be tucked, smoothed, pinned, and pulled. We need to be honest with what flatters our figure and what doesn't. A full length mirror from the front may stretch the truth but one in the back, will never lie. Yes, you may have to face the fact that this dress just isn’t the one, but it's worth it if you can leave the house looking your best, and every woman always deserves to look her best!
So today…A Mirror Mirror makes perfect sense!
We strive for perfection! We want the perfect man, the perfect wedding, the perfect life. In our pursuit of perfection, we wait, we worry and we complain about how the ‘imperfect’ stands in the way; never realizing that those very flaws just might be what bring about total perfection.
Not that I am suggesting it is wrong to take your time, but now days I hear, “Don’t settle down too soon”, or “Wait until you finish college and buy a house, when you have everything in order”. So we wait, and wait and wait. Then we find ourselves in our thirties, with a house, no husband and on a time crunch because our baby making years are passing us by at lightning speed. Then we get married only to realize, Mr. Perfect, is not so perfect and oh by the way, it rained on my wedding day…and my life is now filled with chaos, confusion, and a rollercoaster of emotions.
The error in all of this is not that we strive for perfection but our inability to realize how the imperfect makes life, just perfect!
Unlike many suggested, I did not wait, and married in college. On our wedding day, we lost the bow ties, forgot the unity candle, and I cried like a baby. But now, I have a photo album with an amazing story line. For the first few years we lived in a small apartment, just making it. We had struggles daily, but every struggle prepared us and made us stronger for future battles. His flaws, though they drive me crazy, balance me perfectly. I am a mom, a wife, a business woman, and an individual. I try each day to be perfect in every area but I usually come up short, and that is OK!
Why, because the imperfect moments make life perfect. When I realize I have messed up as a mom, I get an opportunity to show my daughter that I am human, and to teach her that it’s important to say “I am sorry”. When I spend hours on a project only to find out there was an easier way…I know next time there is an easier way.
Every imperfect person, moment, and event has a purpose. We can choose to dwell on the imperfectness of it or discover how uniquely perfect it makes our life. Your wedding day gets rained on…now you have a photo album that echo’s the classic “singing in the rain”. Your husband is determined to be the best at what he does…you have a great provider. You job doesn’t go quite like you
planned…now you have more time with your beautiful children.
In life and in event planning things will just happen. There’s only way to get through it…adjust your perspective and allow the situation to be perfectly imperfect! Then, and only then, will your life always make sense!
No I am not talking about the love of your life, but the one that will ask you to say “I Do”.
Choosing an officiator for your event must be a perfect match but this is where most people settle. Why? Because people tend to think in terms of time and money…decorations take hours to put together, my pictures will last a lifetime, and the venue is costing me an arm and a leg…The problem is that under most circumstances there is one main person overseeing the entire ceremony, service,
or event. So my question would be doesn’t that in itself make finding the right person a priority?
The good thing is that the amount of time and money it takes to book someone to oversee the event is minimal, and having the right person can make your event the best it can be. So here is my list of the top five things to look for when choosing an officiator for your next event!
#5- Do you understand what I am saying?
Any basic communication class will teach you to speak clearly, slowly, and to annunciate well. If you have a tough time understanding your speaker in a one on one conversation, your guests definitely will.
Sometimes we still want what we want. So, if you are insistent upon having a particular person speak or even if you are chosen to speak at an event and have a difficult time communicating effectively, there is help. Organizations, such as Toast Masters, offer participants weekly speaking sessions with positive feedback and correction. Just plan ahead and give yourself enough time before the event to prepare for the sessions. If it is already last minute, you can always look for a seasoned speaking coach. DOV Sound Events even offers clients assistance in speech writing and coaching. If for some reason, DOV Sound is not available for your event, there are many amazing professional speakers across the country with similar services.
#4- Timing is everything!
Please, Please, DO NOT ask a long-winded person to officiate; especially if you are on a time schedule. Always, choose someone that you have heard speak and are confident can get straight to the point. A few short stories or examples are ok but keeping it short is always best.
“A good example is the best sermon”- Benjamin Franklin
#3-Think about your guests
For any type of event, remember talk to them not over them. Do not be hesitant to ask your officiator to adjust what he or she is saying to the audience. The message should be one of two things. If it is a personal event, such as a wedding or memorial service, the message should be reflective of the people it is honoring. Or, if it is a public event, like a church function or corporate meeting, it should restate and reinforce the purpose of the event.
#2- Get your guests Involved
Thinking about your guests is crucial. During the event, you will be wrapped up in the details while your guests sit through the service. With that in mind, not only should you gear the message to your guests but get them involved too.
One of the most memorable wedding ceremonies I attended, asked the guests to stand as the bride and groom finished their vows. The pastor then asked those in attendance to vow to hold the two accountable and support them through the good and the bad. It was simple and short, but gave the ceremony the perfect personal touch.
#1- Set the Tone from the start!
The single most important reason to choose wisely when it comes to who will preside over the event is… Your officiator will set the tone from the start!
Will it be an emotional night, or one that is uplifting? Will it be drawn out and boring or fascinating and engaging? Usually, it needs a little of both. The best way to balance any message is to use humor. Yes, it should be the right kind of humor, but a good chuckle can help ease the pain at a memorial service or break up the seriousness at a corporate event. Just make it poignant and something everyone can understand. The rest should simply make sense!
“Once you get people laughing they’re listening and you can tell them almost anything”
Who better to demonstrate humor, timing, and a message for the audience than Mr. Cosby.
Why Event Sense...because there are definitely some key components when it comes to planning an event. Where you decide to place your focus and attention should well... just make sense!
Most individuals have a general idea, a color, or a theme they want to get from an event. It can be a wedding that has to be pink, a corporate event that leaves employees feeling energized or a Bon Voyage inspired Retirement party. While all three of these might play an important role in the direction of the event, they will not determine the success of the event. What will however, is the use of your senses; what you see, what you taste and what you hear will not only be essential to the way you experience the event but your guests enjoyment as well.
That being said there has to be a careful balance between Great Food, Great Design, and Great Entertainment. That does not always mean that it will be a 33/3/33 split among the time or the budget. It does mean that all three areas should get careful planning and detailed attention. Unfortunately, this is a mistake that many fail to take into account and damage the event's success because the event not only impacts you but all those around you. I once went to a wedding that had amazing decor and a decent dance floor, but the food was picked by the bride for the bride. She was a very picky eater, and ate only a limited selection of food. As a result the menu was terrible and left most guests waiting for it to be over so they could grab something from the nearest burger joint. This happened simply because the bride considered only what she wanted on the menu and not what her guests would want.
This same response will happen any time there is a miss in one of the three areas but fortunately it can easily be avoided. For
example, let's say you are food lover, and you place all of your time and money into the menu. You will probably be satisfied at the end of the night. Your guests, on the other hand will leave with a feeling that the event lacked something, such as good entertainment and atmosphere. One way to solve this dilemma is to take your love for food and incorporate it into other areas of the event, such as the decor and design. For centerpieces, you can use edible centerpieces or incorporate fresh fruit. Most citrus fruits are very colorful,
inexpensive and do not require special handling or storage, making them great for decorating. Keeping a common thread like this throughout the event will help to maintain balance and minimize cost; leaving plenty of room for entertainment
in the budget. Balancing the senses will help to keep your 'want' the primary focus, and your guests 'need' taken care of. Remember at the end of the night...it should all make sense!
Summer Dawn is a published author and speaker. Taking on the role of a wife, a mother, a business woman and an individual; she is all about balance, creativity and out of the box thinking. Her eye for artistic design and knack for budgeting makes her an invaluable resource to her clients and associates.