Thursday, March 17, 2011

Two stories, one post

I'm exhausted. Mentally, physically, vocally and emotionally pooped.

Here's why.

Last week we had our Spring Style Show at work. If you've read this blog for some time, then you know that as the events director at the club where I work I host two fashion shows a year, one in the fall and one in the spring. It's always a huge undertaking, but even more so this year since I had no help in the decorating department. I did it all myself. So basically that means I worked nearly 24 hours Monday and Tuesday decorating and rehearsing with the 5 stores. The show was Wednesday morning.

I chose to use an Alice in Wonderland theme because I knew I could have fun with it, and was lucky enough to find some really neat items for the decor: oversized playing cards, two huge standees, one in the form of the Mad Hatter's Hat that I attached to the front of the podium so it would look like I was emceeing while standing inside a huge top hat, and the other a "Drink Me" Bottle which I placed next to the cocktail table. The table gifts were candle holders in the shape of tea cups, and I decided I wanted bright flowers coming out of hats as the center pieces. My friend and flower connoisseur, Ronnie Pesnell, chose gerbera daisies and I found precious accordian paper hats in bright colors. The way we situated the hats on top of the vases, it appeared that the hats were floating, which was a really neat effect.

In the center of the room we have a large wooden pole that is always a challenge to decorate because it is right smack dab in the middle of the runway, and if not covered with something, becomes a hazard for the models. Due to time constraints, I didn't want to attempt anything too over-the-top or difficult. So I found some fabric online with flowers in a rainbow pattern, and some really large stickers of various Alice in Wonderland pieces. I covered the pole with the fabric, used fishing line to string the oversized playing cards together, and cut out the stickers and attached them with fishing line to the fabric. The story of Alice in Wonderland is one of constant disorder, so by pulling the various items from the fabric a bit, it gave it a weird, colorful, off-kilter, 3-D look that you can't really see well from the pictures. But I was happy with it.

The best thing of all, though, was the backdrop I found to rent online. I found a website that has hundreds of theater backdrops of all sizes. The one I used was called "Alice in Wonderland - 2" and was 10 feet high by 20 feet wide. It was perfect for what I needed!





The finishing touch is always putting the lights on the runway, which takes HOURS. I have to individually duct tape each light to the stage, which seems to take FOREVER. Once that was done, I used the rest of the oversized playing cards to line the stage.

It took 2 1/2 days to complete the entire process. It took less than an hour for the waitstaff to tear it all down. Sigh...


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Style Show is always a beast as far as stress is concerned. But last week was even worse. I found out Tuesday that my Uncle Ron passed away. I was blessed enough to be able to see him one last time the previous Sunday after hearing the news that his health was quickly deteriorating. But the news still took my breath away. I've written about my Uncle Ronnie on this blog several times, mostly quoting some little nugget of wisdom he had given me over the years:

"Time gets shorter and shorter the older you get because each year is a smaller and smaller increment of your life. When you're three, a year is only a third of your life. When your 33 it's a 33rd of your life."

"When you get divorced and remarried you are simply trading in one set of problems for another set of problems. Make sure you marry the set of problems you can live with."

When I started a sales job at one point in my career I enlisted the help of Uncle Ron. I told him I wasn't any good at it and had no idea how to get better. This is what he said to me, "Nea, sales is not about your pitch, or about you, or even really about whatever it is you're selling. Sales is about finding out what a person needs and then doing everything you can to fulfill those needs." So simple, yet so brilliant. And he was a very successful real estate agent and businessman who not only worked with that philosophy, he lived it as well.

He lived his life fulfilling people's needs. While I have a tendency to prefer to stay unnoticed at restaurants full of people or at parties and social gatherings, my Uncle Ron could walk into any room full of people and by the time he walked out he would know (and remember the names of) almost everyone in the room, and they would remember him, because he had the gift of instinctively knowing what a person needed. If someone needed a laugh, he would tell them a joke. If they needed to talk, he would listen. If somebody needed to feel loved and cared for and appreciated, he would most often say something like, "She's purty and talented, just like her Uncle Ron!"

I will forever miss hearing him say those words.

In the past couple of years, Uncle Ronnie called me many times to share new lyrics he had written, and more recently he shared ideas he had for the book he had begun to write. Most often he would call me while I was at work and I would spend 20 or so minutes at a time laughing out loud. He was a bright, funny, wonderful man who lit up every room he ever entered.

So when I sang at his funeral Saturday, which I considered to be a great honor, it was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do. I was unable to look at my family members, especially my Aunt Joanne, who is one of the strongest, most faithful, most loving and compassionate women I've ever known, and my cousin Amanda. Singing is hard. But it is impossible if I'm crying. So I kept my eyes up, and powered through it. And I was grateful to be able to sing for Uncle Ronnie one last time.

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This week has been stressful and busy as well, but mostly for Emily. I will write about it in my next post...

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