I love my Magic 8-balls. Yes, plural. I have a purse one, a full-sized (like a softball) one, and an app on my phone. I might have a Magic 8-ball problem. Nah, I can quit any time I want. Any time. Well, signs actually point to no there, but I can pretend, can't I?
So, why so many? Well, have you ever been ambivalent about a decision you needed to make? Like, should I go to a movie tonight? Should I order pizza? Should I scoop the kitty litter? Yeah, like that. I am constantly plagued by the little choices in life. How many times can my partner, J, and I have the same conversation about what we're going to have for dinner tonight? Jeez! My solution to the yes and no questions of my world? Ask my friend, the Magic 8-ball.
But there are rules, because, see, I treat it like a sacred divinatory device. That's the GODS speaking to me through that Mattel m-fer! So if I don't want to know their answer, I should be courteous enough not to ask, right? Listen, don't you hate it when someone asks your opinion on something and then just ignores it? I feel like the 8-ball Gods feel the same way. "Why'd you bother asking me, jerk!"
So, if you ask the 8-ball, you have to be willing to do what it says. My daughter has gotten in on the action, and in some ways, I think it's been bad for her. She reports that she finds the concept that it could say ANYTHING anxiety-inducing. My housemate says it's like when you flip a coin and while it's in the air, you suddenly know which way you want it to go. The ambivalence can suddenly vanish in the face of the total decision-making POWER of the 8-ball.
But I find that helpful. I really, truly, have never regretted the decision my 8-ball has given me. To me, it is a surrendering of the future to the deities Mattelius. Take me where you will, oh Toymakers of Fate. Well, there was that time when I told it, "Wait, no, two out of three..."
...of an event producer. Today was especially hectic. We hit three banks (no, not to steal from them, silly, just to make deposits and stuff), the post office, our local food coop, drug store, pet food store, plumbing supply house, grocery store and warehouse store. After recovering from all the damage that did to the bank account, I've spent the last two hours setting up social media posts, updating the website for the events, conversing with acquaintances about the latest gossip in the events biz and trying to get my daughter to reply to texts about pick up time.
Yeah, my life is sooo glamorous. But you know what? I like it this way. Yes, it's good to have some down time, but being busy keeps me on my toes and engaged in the world around me. The flow chart of when things have to get done for events has doubled in its intensity as we've doubled our event load for the year, but that keeps it lively.
If it's Tuesday, it's THE hotel events Day. That means I need to spin up the plates on the D+Gs in particular. You know, like the old circus acts where they have a whole bunch of plates on sticks and if they stop spinning they fall off and break? Yeah, that's my life as an event producer, and it's just gotten positively forest-like! Whee! Spin, plates, spin! And I hope I don't drop anything that can't be picked back up again.
I get a lot of questions from people about how we accept programming items at THE. It's highly scientific and based upon thorough market analysis...NOT. No, it's actually about several key factors:
Maybe outside of the expected realm of topics for an event producer like myself, but I'd like to write a bit about vacancy. I'm not talking about apartments without tenants. Well, not literally. But that's a good metaphor for what I'm talking about.
As some of you know, I'm a widow. My husband died almost a dozen years ago and that's how I got into this business, really. He was the event producer and I worked for him before he got ill. Through his long final sickness (cancer—don't smoke...really), I learned to do what he'd done and what I'd done all wrapped into one so I could (and did) take over when he was gone. The long process of understanding and integrating grief has taught me a lot of things, one of which came up this morning in the shower: Vacancy. This is what often happens when someone loses a relationship, whether to death or to other kinds of loss, like breakups and falling-outs.
I have experienced vacancy in my life many times. The most obvious was when George died. His death opened up a vacancy in my world. I no longer had him as a husband. We were polyamorous, in other words, we had other romantic partners, and I wasn't single. But I wasn't married to him any more.
I wanted, desperately, to fill that vacancy, and I searched for years to try to make it happen. I tried to mold my other partner and, later, other people into the empty space left by George. It just didn't (and really couldn't) happen. The space in my world occupied by him was one that could never be filled by another person. He was utterly and completely unique. While others could fill parts of that space, no one could fill them all, and even with multiple partners, there were still empty gaps.
This morning, while showering, I pondered the space that was left by George. When I thought about it, what came to my mind was that it had caused a vacancy in my world. And that wasn't bad. Bad and good are judgments we almost arbitrarily apply to things, I mean, other than obviously awful things like the Holocaust.
The vacancy he left opened space for all kinds of other things to happen that would never have happened otherwise. Of course, those otherwise things might have been wonderful, too, but since they didn't happen, I'm not going to fantasize about them. Instead, I'm going to enjoy the gift of vacancy. It grants me a resilience to deal with difficulties and see the possibilities in the worst moments. I hope you can find gifts in your vacancies, too.
Among the first ideas I've had recently for a workshop I'd like to present is one titled "Getting What You Came For". The concept is that people often go to events with no real focus, or with a focus that is possibly too specific or unattainable for the event they're at. I want to offer some ideas about how to make your event experience better through framing those desires more reasonably, and also through accepting what you're given.
An example: A dear friend of mine went to one of my events planning to spend time laying in the sun with her beloved, making love by the Maypole, and generally deepening her relationship. What's wrong with that? Absolutely nothing, except that a lot of those goals were based on things outside her control. For example, it was cold and cloudy most of the event that year. The ground by the Maypole was muddy and cold and her beloved didn't want to make love out there in the muck. Her beloved actually had gone to the event with the goal of hanging out with friends a lot, not spending all of their time with my friend. Thus, my friend's plans were effectively ruined.
But did her event need to be ruined because of this? No, not really. And it wasn't. Instead of the event my friend thought she wanted, she got something else entirely. She spent a ton of time with her friends and met some new and wonderful people. She learned some incredible things in classes and in one on one talking and took home some terrific new tools for deepening her relationship which she was able to use in a more practical way without the distraction of the event.
So how do we frame our event goals in such a way that we can actually reasonably achieve them? Do we even need to have goals for events? Or can we take what comes to us, open to the guidance of the universe? I'll unpack more on this in part 2.
Love to get comments! Tell me about your experiences!
Sometimes the urge to write comes over me and it won't let go. This past weekend I attended Sacred Space, a conference I go to most years in Maryland. The focus at the event is on advanced magical practitioners, and the quality of the programming is very high. And, yes, I've presented there a few times, I'm proud to say.
At the conference, I attended several workshops by T. Thorn Coyle. I enjoyed them all, but the last one in particular, which was about Sigil Magic (the practice of imbuing symbols with magical power), sparked that urge to write. It helps that Thorn is a prolific writer herself and was sharing with us some sigils she'd created to help keep her writing. Because the secret to being an author is simply to produce words. Lots of words. Some of which are good words.
That's actually the secret to being an artist, too. Produce lots of art. Some of it will be good. Some of it will not be good. That's okay. Beauty. Eye. Beholder. Etc. Anyway, that's the long story of why this blog was formed. So read on and hopefully I'll produce some good words.
Cat C. is the president of Turtle Hill Events and a graphic designer, too. She's been in the events biz for more than two decades and thinks she might have a tale or two to tell.