Moving Day

I've moved.

It has nothing to do with Blogger and everything to do with IdyllHands.  It absolutely bugs me that someone else is letting that name sit stagnant here on Blogger and since I discovered that I turned IdyllHands into a WordPress page back in 2007, I thought I might move over there.

It feels nice and homey so far.  Won't you join me?


It's just another 6 letter word

How do you deal with stress?

It's a common question.  You get asked this question in a myriad of settings.  It's common in a job interview, in a meeting with your boss about managing touch situations, your friends ask you this when they are consumed with jealousy because you always just seem to blissfully out of the situation.

However, the answer is not so common.  Depending on who you ask and when you ask, the answer could be one of a million things.  My answer has certainly changed over the years... and thankfully it's changed for the better.  I used to deal with stress by breaking out into hives around 11PM at night.  I first experienced this in elementary school (really, what was so stressful back then?).  I was visiting my grandma in Arkansas and my flight back to the DFW area was cancelled on a Sunday evening.  That would have put me back there Monday morning and GOD FORBID I be late to 5th grade class.

God forbid.

The next few times were throughout high school and college and usually a result of something pretty big being out of my control, much like my flying situation of 5th grade.  Once I graduated from college and took on my first job, I learned to deal with stress in different ways.  Mainly I learned to not let it get the best of me and send me home looking like I've had a serious allergic reaction to something.

As the years have passed, I've noticed that stress hasn't been a problem for me... like... at all.  Something someone mentioned to me this morning made me think about this.  Where has the stress gone?  Did someone take it?  Did it go away?  Why don't I notice it anymore?

Now, don't get my wrong, there are days that are completely off the charts with crazy and I'm left exhausted by 4PM, but I'm not stressed.  Even when it seems like the 1800 people around me are going to revolt at any time because they didn't line up early enough to get a seat to see Elie Weisel, I'm not stressed.  What in the heck happened?

I've been called "the eye of the storm" by a few people at work.  I can't tell you how I do it.  I can't give you any breathing exercises to control the stress.  Heck, I can't even promise you that going home and watching trash tv at the end of the day will help control the stress.

I can only tell you that it doesn't bother me at work like it used to.

Now, when I'm in the passenger seat of some people's car, the stress level is through the roof.  GIVE ME THE WHEEL, people, GIVE ME THE WHEEL.

And I refuse to say this is a control issue :)


Was It the Iced Coffee?

I just spent the last hour and a half sipping on an iced coffee with a coworker talking shop.  Our shop talk of choice this afternoon was classical music.

Yeah, yeah, I know - classical music is so serious.

Or is it.

I really don't think it is.  I think it's passionate.  I think it's intricate.  I think it kisses your ears and sends them on their way full of lust and excitement.

Serious is not what it is at all.

Walton Arts Center just finished its 3rd season of Artosphere this past June.  I'm pretty sure I've talked about it in the past, but it's a HUGE festival celebrating Arts and Nature that spans over the course of a couple of months.  We have dance, speakers, theater, children's activities, folk music, pop music and of course, classical.  As with any event (I take that back, some events don't need any help) there is the constant struggle of how do we reach out to new audiences.

Is a new audience the point of the show?

In the case of Artosphere, it kind of is.  We want the festival to be accessible to the masses.  We want low cost tickets, we want high end entertainment and we want the BEST of the BEST.  The question when it comes to classical is how to we convince people that they want the best of the best.  How do you convince the 25 year old video game illustrator that he/she must come listen to this:

Okay, okay, so that's easy to get people to come listen to.  But what about getting people to sit and listen to this: 

That isn't as simple.  In fact, it might take some work.  Heading into this meeting today, I wasn't sure what I could contribute.  I'm one of those people who used to eat, breathe and sleep classical music... but I've strayed.  I've strayed so far away that the extent of my classical music enjoyment as of lately has been via soundtrack for a movie or videos I find interesting on YouTube. 

I've just... lost interest.

Those words alone are enough to make me turn inside out.  When did this happen?  When did I quit wanting to attend every classical music concert I could get to?  After today's discussion, I'm quite certain it was after I quit learning about it.  I left the classroom and the music left me.  How did I come to this brilliant conclusion?  It was probably the 70 minutes discussing how it's education that will bring the masses in.  I'm not talking about high end, text book, put you to sleep education.  I'm talking about real, honest, and meaningful discussions about the music.

What made that composer tick?

Which piece's debut had the audience rioting out into the Parisian streets?

Which composer had a thing for his bassoon student and therefor wrote more bassoon music than is ever necessary?  (It was Vivaldi, by the way, I'll give you that one).

These points are interesting.  The answers might intrigue you.  At least, our hope is that it turns someone else back on in the way that just talking about them turned me on.  We didn't just talk education, we talked about intrigue, about drum beats and about new communities.  The conversation was fulfilling.

This conversation was exactly what I needed on this Monday.  I might also say with confidence that the iced coffee wasn't too far from necessary either.


Like a Chicken With Its Head Cut Off

I'm sure most of you have heard about working smarter, not harder.  Usually when I hear it, I follow it up with "yeah, yeah... easy to say".  In reality, I'm constantly looking for ways to be more efficient in my daily activities.  If I make things smooth for my team, the easier my job is.

Notice I didn't say "if I make things smooth for me".

The more difficult the challenge, the more I like the job.  I like puzzles, I like piecing things together, and I love it when someone throws me a curve ball mid-stream.  I thrive on that environment, however, not everyone does.  There are a small handful of people in my office who's jobs it is to take a jumbled mess of a puzzle and lay it out so that our team can come in and complete it without losing their minds.  I love that and if it were already laid out for me, I would have probably grown bored with things years ago.

Let's pause for a moment to give me a chance to say that I DO not like this atmosphere in my personal life.  I like order, I like ease and I like smooth the moment I step foot in my front door.  It would be easy to pull out the pocket psychologist and retort that this is clearly a result of constantly using brain things while in the office, but that just isn't true.  I've always preferred a calm home and I haven't always worked in crazy town.

Crazy in the office gives me something to solve, crazy in a home causes me to break down.

I've thought about this a lot lately, especially as I start to face a time in my career where I'll start to see a huge shift from daily front line activity to more of a planning from a birds eye view role.  Why do I love the chaos I work with at work but hate it at home?  Is it because I like the outcome at work?  Recognition?  Realization of a job well done?  An entire team working harmoniously because I've helped them to bring order to things?  At home, who sees that?  The Schmoo Cat?  The Sweet Boy who already tells me how wonderful I am on a regular basis?  I'm not sure.

Perhaps it's a classic "If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound" situation.

What are some areas in your life that are as different as night and day but you thrive well in both scenarios?  I'd love to hear what make all of my readers tick.

The Thrill of the Hunt

I felt it was time to change gears for a bit.  I've been blogging so often about my professional life, that this blog seems to have taken a turn for the paycheck chat.  Don't be fooled, there is so much more to me than my 8-5 (and those of you who know me know it's more like an 8:23 - whatevertimeofnightIgetoutofhere:00).  I used to blog ALL OF THE TIME about crafting and gardening.  At least, that's how I remember it.  I'd have to go back and see if that is really the case.  I'd like to get back to a me who has the energy and inspiration each night to download what's living in my head and make it fun.

I'll start with this post.

I know that shopping for vintage items at thrift stores is equivalent to putting a bird on it as far as trendy goes.  I care not.  If enjoy something, I do it (and yes, I love people who put birds on it!).  I've always had a thing for flea markets.  When I lived in Austin, I was in a mecca for cool, hip, funky things and those things usually came with a hefty price tag.  It was Austin, after all.  Cheap isn't something that city is familiar with.  However, it wasn't until I moved to NWArkansas that I learned that it isn't the flea market you need to spend your time at, it was the thrift store.

Thrift stores are usually home to LOADS and LOADS of junk someone dropped off after cleaning out their garage.  I've even found a creepy prosthetic that had seen better days in the 1960s at one of these shops.  Keep your eyes open, though, and you can find treasures.  Thrifting isn't for the faint of heart.  Thrifting takes stamina, good shoes and loads of iced coffee.  You have to use your poker face or risk someone following you around if you look too excited about everything you find.  It takes not being squimish to touch someone else's clothes/kitchen goods/sheets. 

Thrifting is work.

Hard work.

But it usually results in some great treasures.  Take that scale in the picture above.  The last one I found up for auction online went for $59 and the condition was no where near to that above.  I found mine for $5 at a garage sale.  And no, it's not a repro, it's the real deal.  And that McCoy cookie jar, just $13 at Salvation Army. 

I'm not sure what I love more, the object or the REALLY great deal I found.  Maybe it's a combination of both.  Maybe that is what makes thrifing so dang exciting.

Maybe that's what makes it so dang addictive.

My name is Erin, and I have a thrifting problem (but at least my sister - she blogs here - has a bigger problem - she buys all the things!  No really, she finds the most AMAZING treasures for next to nothing... I get jealous).


Florida, It's Been Real

The conference is winding down. The last sessions have been held, I exchanged my last business card this evening and the swag has been packed. It's always bittersweet at the end. I'm very ready to get back home to the Sweet Boy and the Schmoo Cat but am very sad to be leaving friends.

So much has happened over the past year that I owe almost entirely to my involvement in IAVM. I was talking to a couple of long time IAVM members at lunch today about my speech I gave at the New Member orientation. The speech wasn't much different than the one I gave last year. Well, it was way different since I kind of made it up as I went along, but the main point was the same.

You absolutely need to try this crazy thing called a conference out more than once.

Heck, while you're at it, go ahead and sign up for membership in the organization too. You'll thank me later for that advice, I promise.

I said that last year. I preached on about how your first year is the time to study the map and make sure you know where you're going. Your second year is when you start heading down the path. It's the time between your second and third year when you start taking the back roads and scenic routes.

It's the scenic routes that take you by the most amazing places.

It is because of my involvement in IAVM that lead me to meet a very important mentor. She is a mentor I needed desperately at that point in my career. It is also involvement that lead to my participation during the past Superbowl that lead me to meet some very awesome individuals. Individuals that might lead to new opportunities some day, new experiences and new lessons learned. It is because of my involvement in IAVM that I discovered Venue Manager School and attended on scholarship. That is an opportunity I'm not sure I would have received other wise.

All of this is because I came back. I can't imagine a world in which I found something else after trying these shoes on only once.

I suppose I don't want to imagine that world.


Soaking It In

Today was proof of one thing and one thing only (okay, maybe a few things, but one IMPORTANT thing) - you really never know what you might take away from a day at a conference. Today seemed fairly mild according to the schedule. I'd spend half of the day chasing around partners in the trade show. I expected to talk about tents, flooring, chairs more awesome than any other chairs I've ever seen and event management software. I expected to be intrigued by Frank Abagnale (even if I think I will still pretend he looks like Mr. Dicaprio in real life). I expected to end the day with a swollen left foot because after all, what is a day on my feet without going to bed with a mongoloid left foot? I did not expect to wag my finger at myself with a disapproving look. You know the look, it's the kind you get from your best friend when you've actually managed to disappoint him/her (which is hard to do, right, because they are your bestie). Yeah, that kind of look.

I attended a Women in Leadership session today. It dealt heavily with the topic of self doubt (well, that's not what the speaker called it, but that's how I'll explain it for simplicity's sake). I'm talking about the ugly creature that lives in the back of your head telling you things like "Oh, lucky you being in the right place at the right time and getting that awesome opportunity/promotion/raise/project" or "It won't be long until my boss figures out that I am TOTALLY the wrong person for the job even though I've been doing it for 8 years" or "I think I'll just go ahead and let someone else do it, they are probably better equipped for it than I am". Ugly, ugly stuff, people.

At first, I thought that wasn't me at all. I'm confident. I'm smart. I'm pretty. Dammit, I know what I'm doing and that is more than I can say for some people. Oh yeah, and I'm modest! (see what I did there... it's called being ironic... or something like that). However, I stepped back for a moment and realized that it was me. It was so much me that I was ashamed of years of being that person.

There is one way, and one way only that I am that person on a regular basis. When people ask how I got into my industry, I almost always say "I fell into it, I guess. The job just happened to be open when I was looking and it was in a small market".


Why on earth do I tell people that?

Had I not been EXACTLY the right person for the job, I wouldn't be where I am today. Heck, I'd probably have already gone back to school for a grad degree and be in a completely different field.

Everytime I say that, I'm cutting myself down. I should sing my praises. People ask me about how I got my start in venue management because they are interested. I should indulge them, not downplay it. I should represent myself as the fabulous person I am. I should show my true self, not the self conscience, mousey person I make myself out to be.

So that is my goal tomorrow. When asked about my past, I'll stand up and explain how awesome my first job was and how my skills and qualifications got me that first job. And I promise to be humble about it. After all, I'm not looking to be a braggart, just to give myself my due.

I would have to say I soaked a great deal in today.