Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category



May 16, 2011

And just when I needed it most – out of an almost forgotten past came rejuvenation and recommitment. Yesterday, I learned a significant influence in my life passed away. And I quote from the shared obituary:

Mr. “J” was passionately dedicated to the power and possibility of education… His educational innovations were many.  He brought the first musical to Staples and the first dinner theatre production to Rochester.  He advised the original creators of the Mantorville melodramas and sat on an early advisory board for the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis.  By the late 1960s, he developed what is believed to be the very first high school television studio in the country.  In the 1980s, he left teaching to create the Rochester Instructional Television Studio…His hallmark was pushing his students to achieve…(and) throughout the years, students always found an open door and an even-handed assessment when academic or personal problems found them in need of someone to listen.

The Post Bulletin suggested Mr. “J” gave his students a “taste of success”.  And that taste, for me, was three-theatre filled years of personal accomplishments that taught me much about myself as he pushed me on ever-forward to explore my skills and talents and overall , gave me permission to be ME; then turned me over to Bob Wise at RJC as well as to his friends at the Rochester Community Theatre.

The theatre skills themselves are long-since forgotten; but the passion remains – as does the message I heard over and over from both Mr. “J” and Bob Wise:  In twenty years, no one will care about your grades or academic success.  You will be judged and rewarded on your love of life and how you use your leadership skills.  If only all students in the world has such wise council!

So I am sad for the world but glad for Mr. “J” that his battle with Parkinson’s ended this month.  And thanks to Dave who let me know, I am reminded that this man’s encouraging words captured forevermore in that ’63 Rochord will be there as the push to move me through this stormy time in my life:

As one of the “reliables” of the theatre department, you have been of invaluable help-how can we ever replace you.  Not only has your contribution affected the shows you worked on, but you have established a standard that people will be attempting to attain for years to come.  So you have actually contributed to the shows we will give in the future.  I shall always be grateful to you, but I hope theatre has been its own reward.  Best of luck for bigger and better partys.  – Mr. “J”

If only this kind of support and encouragement were available to every student, our world would be a better place.

And here’s hoping that Mr. “J” is smiling down from heaven – recognizing I may not have delivered all he sought from me, but, yes, I’ve had good luck in delivering “bigger and better partys”!


LOOKING BACK; 2010 – The Upside

December 30, 2010


For me and Creative Events, it was a very good year!  Carry-over from Lawson, a new client in Dancer’s Studio, and of course CRV made 2010 not only the best year of 20 in terms of income, worthwhile and fulfilling projects, press and recognition, but saw me personally end the crippling debt caused by my fall and back injuries of 2002.  What a wonderful feeling it was to write that last check and erase that $21,000 that faced me this time last year!  And thanks to good projects, I was able to retire the Jeep, put myself in a new Mini Clubman, and make right a situation with a vendor that incurred way back during the RNC.  Yes!  With the slate wiped clean, I can now move on to that new life “after the fall” and for that, I am ecstatic.

But most of all, how much I have learned this year through an ever-growing circle of forward-thinking event folks and friends!  I feel like I began ever so long ago as one of the pioneers in meetings and incentives, matured with that industry as I was given a lot and in exchange, gave a lot back. Now,  once again,  I have received such a gift to be part of the morphing of those industries into new and uncharted territory requiring a whole new way of thinking as I grow from an event planner to an experience designer to meet the needs and thinking of today’s world in corporate America. Yes, it is a little daunting to not have the answers, to be experimenting with new thinking, and wondering, as time allows, if I am headed in the right direction.  But oh how exhilarating to fit a new piece into the puzzle that lies scattered about my desk and brain. What a great feeling it is to know I have a stack of books and book-marked websites and articles that are waiting to lead me further into that world. I am reminded, that for me, the thrill of discovery and one a-ha moment after another trumps the complacency that accompanies the self-confidence of knowing I can make it happen…the OLD way.

So after the last couple months of winding down, filled with health issues all resolved, despite depleting the savings to “tide me over”, and the uncertainty of what lies ahead, I am looking forward to 2011 and wishing I had another 40+ years ahead of me to continue to reap the riches of good friends and good colleagues experienced in the journey to this point.   

And once more, at the end of 2011, I am sure we will again be reviewing those lists of “Best of” and “Worst of” and wondering what the future holds for the world, the country, and for each of us personally as we peer into the light that signals the coming of 2012! May the scales tip to the good side for all of us.




December 15, 2010

It started with a passage in “The NEW Social Learning” this weekend…

The 21st century mind is a collective mind where we access what we know in our friends and colleagues brains.  Together we can be smarter and can address ever more challenging problems.  What we store in our heads may not be as important as all that we can tap in our networks.  Together we are better.

And someplace in the depths of my brain, a switch turned on…”Together we’re better; we’re better together…There’s just no mountain we can’t move” and try as I did, the melody just would not go away.

So five days later, I caved in and this morning, searched everywhere for NARRATIVE BEDS – which I was sure I would have more luck locating than “BB plays CMG” or a box of show tapes packed away for the last 25 years. I did find it, and have now been on a mental tour that began in South America and progressed across the US from sun-up in Florida to sun-down in Seattle as I listened to the Minnesota Orchestra play Billy Barber in the longest opening mod I have ever heard or seen. And along the way, images of dewdrops on an orange, and coffee beans and light trails of semis at a distribution center on the west coast merged with a barbecue at the farm, entertaining the client in our box at the Dome, no air conditioning in our hotel as fear of “slide amebas” grew, freeze-frames from 16mm to slides, two green-sprout girls on their first show, as we taught them to steal hotel furniture for stage props,  and after an aborted balloon drop, a crazy creative director jumping into the middle of a net stuffed with inflated balloons. Oh my.

And of course, once I was playing the CD, how could I resist the 9370 Reveal or the Navistar Open/Fit and Finish and more images…from that gorgeous silver 9370 coming over the hill, to the shots of a red logging truck coming down the mountain trail as Al hung in a harness from the helicopter in the rain to shoot it, to over a thousand giddy grown men crawling like ants over and under and into the new trucks.

And then there was Billy and Hollywood calling from New York to announce they were recording the Navistar track on a synthesizer (a what?) and trying to convince me I would love it; we did not need the MN Orchestra for this one.  They fought hard, and finally we compromised.  Record it; bring it back for the client to hear, and in the meantime we would hold the sound studio and orchestra – just in case.  And I wasn’t paying, if the client didn’t like it. From there, a whole new menu of “firsts” was launched: machine-made musical tracks, graphic laser effects mixed with atmospheric lasers, and a stage that parted to reveal not a truck but the orange diamond road…at the dawn of a new beginning. And somewhere along the line, we even let video replace the superior 16mm!

Wow! We had an innovative and creative group producing great meetings for great clients. And all before we even knew what a pectin was!  Lots of good memories of all the team.  Al and Hollywood, I am missing you today and all that you taught me! Together, we WERE better!  Wishing you and all those that survived us a very happy holiday!

(I should have skipped the CMG Prism track however….good images of that Dayton meeting? Not so much. Although, that is where, over a bloody mary, Wikstrom and I dreamed up the product expo concept so we would never again have to be breakout speakers at the national sales meeting-especially with Daytonians in the audience.)



September 27, 2010

This past weekend definitely did its best to dispel any images of tranquil, crisp, colorful autumn days that generally mark the beginning of that time of year that has grown to be my favorite – September to December. Instead, it was tumultuous from start to finish!

The rains of last week wrecked havoc and I watched with horror the footage of the out-of control Zumbro River and impacted communities along its path…from Pine Island to Oronoco, White Bridge, and on towards Zumbro Falls and Hammond…names so familiar to me – not only from memories of my youth, but also because my sister and her husband live on that river at Oronoco– high above the raging current.

Meanwhile, the aftermath of those same storms will impact us locally this week, as the Minnesota River carries the run-off northward to us with crests on the Mississippi that will cancel activities on the river that were planned as part of the “We Are One” Dakota Nationwide Conference with which many members of our “Telling Native Stories “ group have been assisting.

One old friend is dealing with the last days of a dear pet, while for another from those BI days, life’s journey ended in hospice and today we will remember her well.

Meanwhile, I, like the Zumbro River, am raging over the pettiness of a one-time friend and vendor who for the last 7 weeks has done his own raging because he did not get a linen order from me…enough said until some time in the future when I am sure I can speak of it without showing the disdain I feel today for the self-centered, immature campaign he has launched to discredit the event, me, and my team. Who knew a $700 order was so important? Because that is all he could have competitively delivered of that order in the one week timeframe we had to source, rent, ship and deliver within our tight cost and color parameters for an event for 5000 people. And who knew that the Apres-who did get the order along with the order for 225 hi-tops, is no longer considered a local ISES member – at elast in this man’s twisted mind. I am reminded of a favorite quote from my college days – which in this new context, takes on new meaning – “We Are Such Little Men When the Stars Come Out.”

Add to that, the issues of the day from politics, to reform of education in Minnesota, to Target’s incorrect use of the word “grocery”, to learning that old perfume should not be disposed of in the trash or down the drain because it is a hazardous material and should be dropped off at the country household hazardous waste facility, all trumped by the fact that today is a day of celebration known as “Family Day: A Day To Eat Dinner With Your Children”. Who Knew?!!! And what does that say about our world?

Thank Goodness, the weekend ended at the Guthrie with a wonderful performance of “The Master Butchers Singing Club” followed by good conversation and a glass of wine in Sea Change as a friend and I fondly remembered another dear friend, now living in California who had introduced Louise Erdrick and her books to both of us. Thank you, Rhonda Couchigan!

Hopefully, those good feelings at the end of Sunday are what extends into the week before us, as September straightens out and gives us the temperatures, blue skies, colors and glory of a Minnesota Fall that we expect!



June 9, 2010

In 2008, I worked with Ryan Hanson amongst many others on a large project for the RNC…a picture of our event ended up on the cover of Special Events Magazine.

In 2009, I worked with Ryan Hanson on an event celebrating the installation of the green roof on Target Center…the event went viral and became the subject of my first blog last July.

In 2010, I worked with Ryan Hanson on the production of the Spotlight and CATIE Awards during the Event Solutions Conference in Las Vegas…and today the June/July Issue arrived, with that event not only on the cover, but with not one but two articles about it on the inside.

Right now, Ryan is working with me as Creative Director to produce an all-employee meeting and brand launch for 5000 people for a local medical devise company…are we in the running for another cover?

I’d like to think it was me; and will certainly promote the success as a good collaborative partnership…but I know he’s really the lucky charm in the mixture. Is he that talented; or is he that connected? Either way, it works. Think about using him on your team – but not until September please – he is far too busy right now!



February 28, 2010

Amidst the raging health care debate on every Sunday morning talk show, and horrific shots of the devastation in Chile on the news channels, the dependable Sunday morning Strib experience brought a smile to my face with its travel feature “Into the Wild” – a look at Wild River State Park in the wintertime.

I am an urbanite and have been since childhood. Family vacations at my Grandma’s in Wisconsin were always met with trepidation. I wanted to go; I always had fun – but I had this thing about the bugs.

The original log cabin-turned guesthouse- along the river erected by the once-logger north woodsman, Grandpa Herb, might have been charming to the eye…but oh, the spiders! Not to mention use of the outhouse out back, wood tics, strange crawly things in the river, and the poison ivy. And who knew who or what might be hiding in the woods?!! My fears were trumped only by a week of fun with all the cousins, excursions through northern Wisconsin to visit relatives whose names I hardly knew, lots of roadside stops along the way, picking blueberries so Grandma could make us muffins for breakfast, shopping in town for new jeans and moccasins, and endless hours at the beach. So I was always excited, as we rumbled across the “Indianhead” Bridge from Wabasha to Nelson, and were officially on vacation in Wisconsin. But when I could, believe me, I opted for sleeping on the living room floor in the house, with running water, no spider webs, and close proximity to the adults in the huge kitchen- in case I needed them!

So, when the staff of the old Meetings Division planned their first Memorial Day outing to camp at Wild River back in the 1980s, needless to say, I had to be convinced that I would have a good time! But off I went, in the safety of my own car, in case I just could not stand it and had to get away quick. Little did I expect that I would grow to love Wild River, those Memorial Day weekend outings , and the camaraderie shared with all those that camped or just came up for the day to party with us.

I am not sure a cabin in winter, with no running water nor kitchen at Wild River would be my thing, but reading about it, I was flooded with such good memories of the site and of all those that experienced it with me.

So here’s to the Meetings Division…Hollywood, Bether, John, Al, Diane, and all the others who camped or visited for a day before life took us in different directions as only a few of us morphed to tipi experiences scattered about the country from Milwaukee to St. Louis to Albuquerque. Thanks for the wonderful friendships. It’s been a while since we were all together spinning tales and creating new experiences. (The Lake Independence cookout in ’06 hardly counts) I am missing you all today.



December 6, 2009

In November, I had a birthday. And within a week, I was flooded with mailings from a variety of heath insurance companies and others asking me how my retirement plans were coming. What a disconnect!! Hasn’t the world out there heard me say I want to mirror Ruth Code and still be doing events when I am 80 years old?

After raising her family, Ruth began her event career. From her days as a step-on guide, she grew to a full-fledged event planner and a resource for sophisticated, tasteful and authentic décor. Ruth and Leisure Code epitomized event excellence. This classy lady mentored several of us as we found our way in a fledgling industry in the early 90’s-and for that, I have always been grateful.

Debilitated with rheumatoid arthritis at 80, she fought hard to overcome the issues surrounding that. But when climbing ladders to set an event became too difficult, she succumbed and retired. With her clients’ interest at the forefront, she matched their profiles and needs with strengths of some of us and then asked us to care for them. From Ruth, I inherited a division of General Mills.

A couple years ago, I saw Ruth at the grocery store. She was 85 then, and frustrated that she hadn’t found a new career replacement to stimulate her like the event world did – but she was still looking because she did not want her brain to stop working!

Her enthusiasm and inspiration continues to motivate me to keep up and keep going and I thank her so much for being the role model to demonstrate that it is possible.

I confess, there are days, in this current world of exponential change, that I wonder if my passion for this industry will be sufficient…and then I remind myself – I am doing this not only as a career, but like Ruth, I need the Brain Food!



October 24, 2009

A year ago, we heard a rumor that involved a friend, and posing as event guests, we set out to investigate the scurrilous gossip and scandal. We secretly gathered the evidence and offered suggestions to curb the exploits we found objectionable. And our friend thanked us for the expose.

Over the last many months, we have kept our private eye on the behind-the-scenes intrigues- offering our support, suggestions and praise for positive actions as the situation warranted.

Yesterday, that friend and I had a catch-up breakfast at the Wilde Roast, and I was absolutely delighted to hear that this touchy situation has exploded into a full-blown AFFAIR!

Life is short! So Share the AFFAIR with the Chocolate Extravaganza. I am going to be there and you should be there too! Check out all the provocative details at



August 5, 2009

A year ago, a dinner party I was planning for a friend was cancelled as she was struck with a rare disease that endangered her life…I tucked away the birthday card…to give to her “later”.

As she battled for her life, I was engulfed in RNC activities and although I sent a card every few days, I was saddened because I could not be a part of her daily support group – I could only send my best thoughts and wishes that she would get better.

In September, she returned to her home. When I heard she could use some minor help, I volunteered for Tuesday Nights for as long as she needed me.

Early on, I brought dinner; later as she grew stronger, I was there to celebrate the victories and give encouragement on a down day, and to continue to wish she would get better.

Before long, she was giving back to me, as her continual improvement each Tuesday helped offset the sadness I felt in watching another friend who was battling pancreatic cancer – and those Tuesday nites gave me balance and hope.

Eventually, she went back to work part time and friends that had been absent returned to her life. But every Tuesday, our lives continued to connect.

Before I knew it, it was July and her birthday again. I pulled out that year-old birthday card, and planned a mini-celebration – but she could not make dinner that Tuesday of her birthday week.

And the next week, she couldn’t make it either. Follow up e-mails and a couple voice messages went unansered as well. Puzzled, I wondered what I had done-or maybe she was ill again.

And then I realized my wishes had come true. She WAS better and had gotten her life back…Tuesday nites with me were no longer a necessity.

I am thankful for the experience of sharing her healing and for her help as I mourned the loss of my friend, Sharon.

And one of these Tuesdays, we’ll have dinner – to catch up on what’s new, because I miss her laughter, and because she’s weathered the storm and I got my wish – she is better.

I’ll save that birthday card – maybe next year.