Well, folks, it's been a terribly enervating week. Every trip, every phone call, every email and every job seemed to just suck the energy out of my normally energetic frame. Even this afternoon as I was out running yet another errand and fielding yet more calls from the family about what to pack for our trip to Austria tomorrow, I was trying to figure out when in the world I'd actually have time to SLEEP.
And then came a very happy idea. My tummy was growling and I was still a good hour away from home, so instead of driving to the bank (my next errand), I pulled up in front of Great Harvest Bread, where they always have several loaves of bread at the ready to slice and give away. With weary eyes, I asked the youngish counter girl for something that would put me in a better mood. "Do you like sweet?" she asked. I nodded. She smiled and continued, "Try our new low-fat cinnamon bread," and cut me a slice that I swear was three inches thick. She handed it to me and I slid back into my car.
But an amazing thing happened... Those big buttery blobs of cinnamon and sugar melted in my mouth, and as I was driving, the whole world seemed to morph into a sweeter, happier place. My mouth curved into a smile. My step grew lighter, and I chatted with the bank teller. Wow... she really did put me in a better mood! Who knew happiness was made of cinnamon??
I jumped into the car and drove back to the bakery--not just to thank the girl for making my day, but also to pick up two loaves for friends who are deserving of such bliss. Share the love!
Thought I'd drop in this little pic before I take off for Europe. This is from the booth at the Michigan Renaissance Faire. The weekend was happily quite profitable, however,... [pause as Heidi tries to find a diplomatic way to say this...] ... it was also fraught with challenges and quickly became unnecessarily frustrating. See the smile on my face in this picture? It's completely fake. (Hey, I'm a professional--I can smile and be friendly through ANYTHING!)
On a lighter note, I was amazed at this phenomenon as I drove through Milwaukee on the way back from meeting with my web guy. Yes, dozens of people were standing on Milwaukee's overpasses, waving and shouting greetings. I've never seen anything like it! This is the closing weekend of the 100th Anniversary celebration of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and local enthusiasts showed up to crowd overpasses, streets and even highway entrance ramps to greet bikers from all over the world. I have to say that witnessing this gave me a huge sense of satisfaction. There's something about people showing up just to admire a big, shiny, loud bike and wave at its leather-clad rider that makes me happy.
A late night, to be sure, but what an invigorating one! Tonight was our Success Team's Idea Party, based on the idea created by Barbara Sher. Basically, we all invited a few friends, brought food, and told everyone what our goals/dreams were and the obstacles to our achieving them.
And boy, did we get those creative juices flowing! At some point, each person did get that great "Wow--now that's an idea I like" expression on his/her face. You know the one--it looks like the person is smiling, but with his/her entire body? Yes, that one!
So a special thanks to Amy, Missy, Dan, Kevin, Susan, Jonathan and Paula for taking an evening out of your busy lives to share your creative juices with us to help us accomplish our goals. We got ideas from wacky to practical and everything in between--thank you!
From left to right: Laura, Camella, Caroline; yours truly, Harley, Kevin--the very first Chicago Success Team!
I took a precious bit of time this afternoon to re-read a great book by Peggy McColl, The Eight Proven Secrets to SMART Success. And these gems just jumped out at me:
* Be a pillar of strength and an undeniable representations of unwavering courage.
* Bring everyone together to collaborate and find solutions.
* Encourage others. Look for the positive qualities and strengths in others and acknowledge them.
* Be the voice of reason with calm assurance and turn a chaotic situation into a peaceful condition.
I know; I know. Easier said than done. But still, on the occasions when I can do at least one of these things, the results have been remarkable. It could be as simple as, when a client is complaining about a marketing company charging way too much and still not giving him what he wants, recommending a stellar marketing company that I know will treat my client with respect. (Bring everyone together,) It could be as easy as saying, "Wow! You really handled that situation well" to a friend who just went trough a trying time. (Encourage others.) Or it could just be as simple as not indulging in gossip or blame-spreading and just calmly getting the job done. (Be the voice of reason.)
Now I'll be the first to admit that I'm not always the voice of reason nor the pillar of strength, as my friends will no doubt confirm. :-) But it's reading books like this one that remind me of why I shouldn't let the impatience get the better of me.
You know, with all the muss and fuss of shoots and faires and power outages and clients for fall and winter shows, I've forgotten one very important thing:
I'm going hiking in Austria in under two weeks!
So, now that I've had time to breathe, I actually sat down and leafed through the hiking information, checked out our (my mom's, brother's and my) hotels online, and pulled out my dusty copy of Let's Go Europe. My German is shamefully inadequate (I think I can order butter and beer and tell a guy to get lost), so if anyone has helpful travel phrases, let me know!
Just in case anyone was worrying, yes, I'm finally back in Chicago after an extremely unpleasant stay at the Detroit airport. Which, by the way, I never want to see again!
And I was hoping to report news of the first weekend of the Michigan Renaissance Faire today, but unfortunately I never made it there. Oh, I was determined to go, and spent quite a bit of time at the airport on my cell phone trying desperately to make it work, but, as the booth owner pointed out:
1. No running water at the site. No toilets or showers.
2. No electricity at the site.
3. Two hours' wait for gasoline--and the crowds were mightly restless!
The last one was the clencher. I could've made it back to Michigan easily, but I wouldn't have been able to get the gasoline to leave. And stranded in Michigan is a situation I never want to be in again!
So let's start this again... next week!
The good news is that I enjoyed a wonderfully relaxing weekend with the talented Gray, who was kind enough to pick me up at the airport and to volunteer to help out at the booth. And I did FINALLY invest in a new digital camera, so keep an eye out for more pictorially-infested blog entries in the future.
Also, I did receive some wonderful news while in New York: one of my clients called a marketing specialist that I'd referred, and they ended up with a profitable relationship. Don't you just love when things work out win-win?
I'm in Hell.
Oh, no, wait... it's Detroit.
The Detroit airport, more exactly. The place where I've been passed the last very groggy 15 hours without power. No escalators, no lights, no flight monitors, no vending machines or ATMs, no cash registers, and, most unpleasantly, no air-conditioning against the muggy, 90-degree Michigan heat. No cots either, which is one reason why my sleep last night totalled one hour between 1:00 and 2:00 a.m. And folks here seemed to think that 4:30 a.m. was a good time to start making calls and bustling about the now-fully-powered airport, so I figured, what the hell? Can't possibly be more miserable than I am right now. And hey, turns out the first coffee shop opens at 5:00 a.m.
'Course, that was about the time I discovered that my water bottle had leaked all over my Pullman bag and was sending cold little droplets dripping down my leg. So over my coffee I pulled everything out of the bag and dabbed the items (including a borrowed hardback--M.E., forgive me!) mostly dry and re-packed the bag. Took a while, but what the hey; my new flight isn't scheduled to leave for a good three more hours (a full 12 hours after my originally-scheduled flight) , and I've already finished both books I brought along. what else have I got to do?
(Okay, I hear applause from the gate next door--the first flight of the day is officially LEAVING!)
Anyway, the trip to upstate New York was really cool, if for no other reason than I finally got to see th facilities of one of my best and most talented partner/clients, Eagle Entertainment, home of the energetic Dave. And he was nice enough to send the cutest and most gentlemanly young associate, Garth, to pick me up and drive me to my hotel. :-)
Anyway, the shoot today (oops, yesterday) was fun (in the challenging way), and went something like this:
8:30 Heidi arrives after Garth has filled her with the proper amount of Starbucks coffee.
9:00 Dave gives me the tour.
9:30 Begin shoot but discover we need a mike, not a boom.
10:00 Bagel-coffee talk.
10:30 Restart shoot. Heidi flubs one damn line repeatedly, making us all nervous that we won't finish in time for my 4:30 flight--something I did not yet know I didn't need to worry about!
2:00 quick, nervous break for lunch
2:30 Resume shoot. Heidi finally gets in the zone, nailing everything on the first take.
2:45 Re-shot a few bits we didn't think we'd have time to do, just to give the client options.
3:00 Heidi changes, repacks, shakes hands, and is driven to the aiport.
3:30 Heidi arrives at airport, in plenty of time to check in and catch her flight.
It kinda sucks from there on, and I don't feel the need to recount every one of the dragging, sweaty, stale hours that were to follow.
Let's just say I'm looking forward to being home.
... from the person who is duplicating a copy of your demo tape from the original master reel:
"Uh oh. I hope I didn't do what I think I just did."
Yes, my kindly volunteer friend John accidentally taped over the ONLY original master of my demo tape. This wouldn't be such a big deal--the demo is available on CD-ROM and easily downloadable from this very site. BUT I'd just received a request from a prospective client who specifically asked for a VHS copy and needed it mailed the next day (as in today) before I leave for New York and Michigan. Yikes!
Fortunately, I was too damn tired to get upset at the extremely apologetic John. And even more fortunately, the video editing god Joe who created the demo reel for me was smart enough to keep a copy of it in his files... just in case silly clients like me happened to do something that makes them say, "D'oh!"
I also like to think that occasionally the tapes do spontaneously combust, a much more legitimate reason than "I forgot to punch out the little tab that makes it read-only." :-/
So off I go to pick up my VHS copy of the tape tonight. I've promised Joe my first-born for helping me out with this. And just for being so damn smart.
You know, I think I'll let Joe hold on to that master reel. You never know when something could spontaneously combust.
WOW! Here's my schedule for the next week as of today:
Friday: Morning, work for the development firm. Afternoon, make calls and prep for the Michigan Renaissance Faire. Try to con someone into seeing a local production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show at Stage Two tonight, directed by the wonderful and talented Steve Genovese.
Saturday: Hitch a ride to Bristol faire and pub crawl with the Scots all day.
Sunday: Drive fellow Texans Missy and her all-too-innocent friend to Bristol faire and show them some good, clean fun. Dance like a maniac at Drum Jam.
Monday: Do six million little things to prepare for the shoot later this week and the road trip immediately after. Create an SOP for running the booth (my left brain at work, folks--it can't be stopped!!) and spend all afternoon with the phone glued to my ear, taking care of last-minute details. Read over industrial script for Thursday.
Tuesday: Morning: development firm. Afternoon: run scripts and errands. Evening: water aerobics and lay down scripts on my ear prompter.
Wednesday: Pack. Pet my cat and beg his forgiveness for leaving him again. Fly to upstate New York ALL DAY (I can't stress this enough--this is a good 8-10 hours of travel!) for an industrial shoot.
Thursday: Get up godawfully early, do hair and makeup, put on a suit. Take a tour of the facilities of a truly wonderful client, Eagle Entertainment. Talk about Aegis Industrial Software on camera all day. Fly back to Chicago that night, arriving around 10:30 p.m. Collapse into the car of the fantabulous Gray, who offered to chauffeur me home.
Friday: Get up even godawfully earlier, pack the car, and leave for the seven-hour drive to the Michigan Renaissance Faire by 6:00 a.m. Arrive by early afternoon, put out fires all day and evening, collapse. Thank my lucky stars Gray came with me to keep me sane!
Saturday: Set up booth by 7:30 a.m., meet and train new associates at 8:30, open doors at 10:00 and let the crowds come in!
Sunday: Repeat Saturday and collapse.
Again I say: Who says the economy is bad? I've got so much work that I won't sleep for a week!
There are a lot of skills that one hones as a freelancer/independent contractor. There is the ability to utter an enthusiastic and confident "Of course we can do that by then!", which is immediately followed by a desperate, "How are we going to do that by then??" And, of course, only a freelancer has the grace and skill to NOT panic when one month of well-paying and time-consuming work is followed by a four-week dearth of employment. And let's not forget the importance of being able to email and fax out contracts and invoices at the speed of light, even when on the road.
But there is a very important skill I learned many years ago from my college roommate Sheila. She had (and still has) the ability to awaken from a dead slumber and still answer the phone like the most cheerful secretary you've ever heard.
And she taught me well. :-) This morning I slept late, having arrived to meet with a client in Madison, Wisconsin, at well past 11:00 last night. But the second I heard my cell phone chiming this morning, I hopped up, uttered a bouncy, "Good morning! This is Heidi," and proceeded to quote my industrial film rate for a last-minute client.
If only they knew!
Oh, and for those who've been following the blog, I did NOT land the gig for which I was asked to scream at the audition. But I'm getting increasingly excited about selling corsets at the Michigan faire, which will be oodles more fun anyway. And please, if anyone is near Holly, Michigan over the next seven weekends, please stop by!
1. I really need to stop stressing about arrangements for the Michigan faire.
2. When all else fails, make a flowchart. (see #1)
3. I really can use beer to condition my hair.
4. A dark ale works best for conditioning one's hair.
5. My clients will always ignore their contracts unless and until I send them invoices.
6. My cat will play with absolutely anyone and anything.
7. Clients are good, but friends are better.
8. You can really do a lot with glitter and a magic marker.