“Do you love me? Do you want to be my friend? And if you do, well, then don’t be afraid to take me by the hand. I think this is how love goes. Check yes or no.” George Strait
Can you remember when you first met your significant other? The butterflies you felt? When I was dating my husband, I can remember being in his pick up on a date. He went to the shift gears, and his hand touched my knee. Oh, I was so excited! Now, granted, he may have very well done that on purpose. The longer we’ve been married, the more he’s shared his secrets on his smooth moves… But the thrill of that flirtation was one of the many reasons that he kept my attraction for him growing.
On multiple occasions, he would ask me to go for walks at the end of our date and point out constellations in the sky. It was certainly romantic, but I was about playing hard to get and purposefully held out that first kiss. Little did I know, he was doing the same thing! Apparently, we both like to play mind games with each other. Or maybe we both like to be in control? Either way it made for a good laugh when we talked about later and discovered we both wanted the kiss, but weren’t willing to be the first to cave!
We did end up kissing eventually, which of course made him fall madly in love with me and determine he couldn’t live without me! Ha! We have been happily married for 14 years. He is my world. I love him fiercely! Which made it all the more a shock when I realized I wasn’t prioritizing our relationship. Well, I was, but not in the way it needed to be. I think the older we get, the more responsibilities and commitments we find ourselves in. It’s never a matter of choosing one thing over your spouse. You can’t choose not be a parent, go to work, etc. However, I recognized that I fell back on a crutch of my spouse will understand. We’re both tired. He’ll understand that I just want to go to sleep. We’re on a budget. He’ll understand that we can’t afford to go on a date. Settling into complacency, even when your intentions are full of love and good motives for your overall life, is not cohesive to a thriving marriage.
This month (and forever in fact!), I challenge you to be intentional about prioritizing your spouse. Do the simple things that you did when dating, that made love fun and exciting. What were your moves that kept your partner intrigued? How can you go the extra mile to show them that you love them? It doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy. Just making simple steps to show you are prioritizing their importance to you, can go a long way.
Another year ends and a new one begins. 2018 has been a year of great development for me professionally. I launched my first ever national product line with major retailers. My company managed over 1000 events in 365 days!?! Yes.. one thousand! I sang the national anthem on live television and had many other exciting things take place.
One of my greatest professional achievements to date happened this year, and that is when I met the Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence. In business, I have a motto that I will pitch anyone, anything, at any time. The worst that can happen is they say no, right? To have that mindset, you have to have confidence in yourself. I think a lot of that goes back to my parents. They always encouraged me and told me I could do anything. Well, anything aside from sports! I was certainly not gifted in that area…
Similar to how people create bucket lists of things they want to do within their lifetime, I created a bucket list of events that I want my company to run or be a part of one day. Many are major events, such as the Oscars, the ACM awards, NY Fashion Week, etc. Others center around specific event categories: MLB Baseball games, parades, or world record attempts. Lastly, I strive for specific event clients: major non-profits I believe in, favorite celebrities, political figures.
I have a list of these dream prospects and I repeatedly pitch them. Most of the time I’m completely ignored, but I always say… it only takes one person to open the door. For about two years, I have repeatedly pitched President Trump to allow me to help run an event that he is at. Zero response. Fast forward to this year, I saw Vice President Pence was scheduled to visit Arizona. I immediately wrote a letter and offered my event production services. No response…I received a call from a phone number in Washington D.C.!
The person on the line asked me a couple of questions, and then explained they were having issues with their originally scheduled venue, and they could use my help. I was given direction on secret service requirements, capacity needs, and then sent to work. Now I have never done drugs in my entire life. I’m a good girl. Nyquil is about as risqué as I get with alcohol. But at this moment, I was high with excitement! I found a location that met the specifications and called my new best friend back (aka my contact at the Vice President’s office) to solidify everything. Ultimately, the VP’s office decided on a different location than the one I had presented, due to it being a more familiar location for secret service.
I again pitched that I be able to work the event and was told they’d make it happen. A couple days later, they called to break the bad news. I couldn’t officially be on staff due to a needed lead time for a full background investigation. However, to make it up to me, they invited me to attend the event as a VIP. I was given a front row seat (in front of major political figures). I was able to meet Vice President Pence. He graciously signed my notebook that I take to all event meetings. I almost broke down in tears when that happened. While it may seem insignificant, to a small business owner who poured her heart and soul into her business – that notebook represented thousands of hours of blood, sweat, and tears. With the culmination of everything leading up to being at that event, it felt like the ultimate validation. The hard work was worth it!
I’ll forever be grateful to the Vice President and his staff for allowing me that opportunity. I will never forget it. And to those of you setting goals for the New Year – dream BIG! Work hard. See what God can do!
“Christmas makes you feel emotional. It may bring parties or thoughts devotional. Whatever happens or what may be, here is what Christmas time means to me.” The Judds
Is there anything better than the reflection of a color wheel on a silver tree? I’m an avid vintage lover, descending from the ultimate vintage-head himself, aka my dad. We had an aluminum tree proudly on display in our big picture window growing up. Every holiday season, cars would slowly pass as a flood of on-lookers reminisced of years gone by.
As adults, both my brother and I were gifted aluminum trees from my dad. He wanted us to share this sacred tradition with him. I must say, this was a GREAT present! I use it yearly, in addition to our regular family tree. When we moved to Arizona, we purchased our first artificial tree. We couldn’t get over the high price tags of the real ones. The $20 price tag for a massive tree you self-cut in Illinois wouldn’t leave our minds. For that same price, you’ll get a Charlie Brown tree in Phoenix!
Nonetheless, we enjoy our artificial tree. It is lovingly adorned with our children’s homemade ornaments, shiny glass balls, and a plethora of garage sale finds. All year long I search estate sales for Christmas ornaments. In addition to antique ones, I thoroughly appreciate the handmade decorations. I often wonder about the person who created them. What precious lady stitched this angel ornament into existence? What sweet couple celebrated a 50th wedding anniversary with a commemorative ornament? I feel by purchasing such treasures at garage sales, I’m acknowledging the value of these people and the lives they’ve lived.
Often, when dealing with antiques, the story is what increasing the value of the piece. Yes, the item itself may be valuable, but add an interesting history to it, and you may triple the price. The same holds true to our lives. Don’t get me wrong, there is always value to be had in any life! But the ups and downs that we experience, the stories we have to share, that’s what’s truly interesting. While you’re with family this Christmas season, take the time to share and listen to stories. One of the most intriguing conversations I ever had with mine, began with two simple sentences. Tell me the happiest time in your life. Tell me the saddest time in your life. Real heartfelt answers followed and I grew to really know and understand my loved ones.
Isaiah 9:6 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Fall weather is here, in all its glory! It’s my most favorite season, where we spend loads of time with family, stuff our faces with deliciously unhealthy food, spend money we don’t have, and make memories that are cherished for a lifetime. Before all of that, we have the election. Oh, joy! Politics.
Now, don’t throw this paper in the trash just yet! I promise not to get on my high donkey…or elephant. Anyone else find it a battle to avoid the drama of it all? It’s on social media. It’s on the news. It’s on the radio. It’s on commercials and billboards. It’s in text messages and phone calls. And that’s just the ad campaigns themselves. On top of that, you’ve got the personal family and friend interactions. People who are overly vocal, others who are extremists in every sense of the word, others that just hate the world, and still others who plead the fifth on anything that may shed light on their party of preference.
It’s very easy to focus on our differences in times like these. People get so enraged, they stop being friends, or even stop talking to family. They think whatever the political commitment – it’s a deal breaker. Well, I say that’s hogwash! A person’s worth is not defined by their political party. We can agree to disagree about issues that are very important to us, while still respecting and loving one another. Isn’t that what the Bible says to do? Love your neighbor as you love yourself.
Prime example: my grandpa was hardcore about his political affiliation. Talk negatively about his party, and he’d probably have some choice words for you. Politics were pretty much a faux pas at the holidays. My parents always said not to bring it up! I vote completely differently than my grandpa did. Did that make me love him any less? Absolutely not. Did it prevent him from coming to my rescue when I had a flat tire? Nope. Why? A true relationship is more valuable than a party.
Go vote! Make your statements where it counts – in the polls. And then leave that behind and go love on people. It’s the ultimate campaign contribution.
Special note: Come see me! If you’ve read my article before, you know I’m an event producer in the Valley. I’ve got some GREAT events you’ll want to add to your calendar:
Nov 3rd 10AM-4PM Pineapple Triangle takes place at Unexpected in Downtown Phoenix. This event exclusively features goods made by local artisans. Plus 20% of all items purchased and tickets sold benefit Lighthouse for Hope, a non-profit helping pediatric cancer families. $10 admission. Kids 12 and under are free. PineappleTriangle.com
Nov 30th 5PM-10PM Johnny E Osuna Park in Downtown Peoria. This event has been held for over 30 years and features live entertainment, a visit from Santa, snow, crafts, kid zone, shopping, food trucks, and more. Admission is free with some activities requiring a nominal fee. AZstreetmarket.com
Can’t make it to my events? Shop my products online. Front Porch Pickins has launched a fabulous farmhouse and vintage inspired art line available at Kirkland’s, Wayfair, Overstock, and iCanvas.com. They make the perfect gift!
The other night, my husband and I sat down for a date night. We’ve been married almost 15 years. We both work extremely long work hours, in addition to having two kids, juggling housework and other commitments. I tell you that, to say our “date night” includes staying up late, watching a movie in bed, usually while working on our laptops. Should you see us in public on a date, start singing! It’s likely one of our birthdays! Ha!
My husband let me pick the movie. Thank God! I am not a fan of his go-to, which is sci-fi. When I was engaged, planning our wedding, I agreed to let my now husband plan our eventual vowel renewal. Fast forward to today, his plans involve me in a gold bikini with double buns on my head holding a blaster pistol. The fact that I know the term blaster pistol means I have watched Star Wars way too many times with him over the years. Pray for me, people! Back to MY movie choice – I picked Won’t You Be My Neighbor? If you’re unfamiliar with the title, it’s a documentary on Mr. Rogers. I learned so much about him that I didn’t know. For example, did you know he was a minister? Did you know he shot a series for adults? Did you know he loved silence on tv? Did you know he did all of the puppet voices? The film shared about Mr. Rogers’ backstory, how the iconic show was developed, and how he was such an inspirational person who genuinely loved children and people.
Although there are many impactful quotes that I could share with you, the paramount piece that Rogers said, which stuck out to me was this: “You don't ever have to do anything sensational in order to love or to be loved.” How much does that statement counter what society instills in us? You don’t need to earn that next promotion at work to be loved. You don’t need to be prettier to be loved. You don’t need to be smarter to be loved. You don’t need to do xyz to be loved. Ambition and bettering one’s self are important. There’s no doubt of that. But you, just you as you are – you are enough! You’re valuable. You are loved! God loves you! I love you! Others love you!
Is there someone in your life that you think feels they need to earn love? Take the time to share Mr. Rogers’ words with them. Your words of encouragement hold more weight than you think.
This summer I am living by the motto of work hard, play harder. If you’ve read this article before, you know I’m an event producer. I LOVE work and am constantly in development with my brands and the growth of my company. I have just shy of 1,000 events I’m responsible for this year, and well over that in 2019. That equals long hours, and non-stop multi-tasking.
When summer hit this year, we had almost every week designated to some sort of fun! The kids and my husband went camping the first week. Then we hit the road to California, where I helped produce a luxury car auction event. I may have experienced complete insanity when planning this part of our vacation, as I crammed four major tourist attractions in four consecutive days. On a semi-related note – if you suffer from chafed legs from walking 40 miles in amusement parks four days in a row, solid deodorant is your best friend. Rub it on the area and no more problemas! I wouldn’t know anything about that of course…
We visited Disneyland two years ago, so we wanted to explore other venues the state had to offer. Being so close to Arizona, the five-and-a-half-hour drive is a breeze! LEGOLAND was our first stop, and drastically exceeded our expectations! The day we visited was Star Wars themed, which immediately won my husband over. Star Wars characters were EVERYWHERE and there were no lines for the meet and greets! After a ridiculous amount of selfies, and taking in all of the Lego displays, we made our way to the LEGOLAND and CHIMA Waterpark. We could have easily just spent the entire day at the waterpark – it was THAT GOOD! From very short lines, to a variety of attractions for all ages, this park was definitely a family favorite! When we left, we decided LEGOLAND is a must-do when visiting California.
A few tips and tricks based on our experience: There is a charge for parking. Lockers are available to rent daily, and we considered it a basic necessity of the visit. If you’re on a budget – be sure to eat before you arrive. Food is pricey, but it was actually good. They also offered healthy options, which is abnormal for theme parks! We brought a change of clothes, but that seemed to be unnecessary in retrospect. We’d give this stop a 10 out of 10!
Day two, we ventured to Universal Studios Hollywood. The first thing we liked about our visit, was that the parking lot was immediately adjacent to Universal CityWalk, the entrance to the park. Security and ticket lines moved quickly. We got the Universal Express tickets, which allow you a one-time, front-of-the-line pass on each ride. My son struggles with waiting…who am I kidding, don’t we all? With the time we saved on waiting in lines, we were able to visit every attraction in the park before it closed. The magnitude of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was overwhelming! It’s so authentic in its presentation, including snow covered two-story homes, chilled ButterBeer, full-size train engine with conductor, all accompanied by singing toads. If you’re a fan of the movie in the slightest, you’ll enjoy it! My daughter purchased an interactive wand, which she used to “do spells” throughout Hogsmeade and see magic in real life. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey was by far our favorite ride of our vacation. It was very disorienting, and unlike anything I have ever ridden on in my life. The DreamWorks Theatre featuring Kung Fu Panda, was again a wow-moment, as the theater comes to life in a 360 presentation. It was VERY unique! My kids loved meeting characters from Despicable Me, Shrek, Scooby-Doo, and more! I tried to avoid Jurassic Park – the Ride, as I didn’t want to get wet, but to my surprise, I loved the ride and it refreshed me to keep having fun for several more hours!
“If you can see I'm the one who understands you. Been here all along, so why can't you see you belong with me?” – Taylor Swift
The sea of Swifties was aglow at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, with over 60,000 attendees adorned with pulsating wristbands lit up with vivid colors coordinating with the stage’s on-screen graphics. Welcomed by deafening screams, this was Taylor Swift’s fifteenth performance in Arizona, preceded by earlier career performances held at outdoor bars, malls, clubs, theaters, and opening for other artists. All of which lead up to this, her Reputation Stadium Tour premiere, which broke University of Phoenix Stadium’s concert attendance record, previously held by One Direction. The multi-Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter, invested over fourteen months planning this tour, seeking fan input, and incorporating their ideas to ensure the final experience was a crowd-pleaser.
Known for her attention to detail, Swift’s production was comprised of an amazingly complex main stage structure with collapsing and expanding segments, incorporated pyrotechnics, water features, massive two-story LED screens, crowd-engaging stage to stage transitions taking her from the main stage to both east and west segments of the floor seat back row. Swift, as well as her opening acts of Camilla Cabello and Charli XCX had solid vocals that wowed and wooed the audience again and again. Charli XCX, who sported a vinyl, salmon colored rain suit, was first on stage. Her high-energy and talent belted out song after song of chart topping hits. Camilla Cabello followed with vocals reminiscent of Cyndi Lauper, and the dance moves of Paula Abdul. Each artist earned even greater respect, by acknowledging their backup singers, dancers, and band members individually by name.
Leading into her solo-acoustic set, Swift thanked her fans for supporting her during her “musical changes” despite the overwhelming warning from industry naysayers that a cross-over from country to pop wouldn’t be well-received. True to her commitment to fans-first, her set list included her most recent hits like …Ready for It?, Delicate, and Don’t Blame Me (which had a strong KISS vibe) , while incorporating great favorites like Love Story and Should’ve Said No which was done as a mashup with Bad Blood.
Being a typical girl, while getting ready to attend and write this review, I was debating on what to wear. I thought, I should go with a more conservative makeup, as I am working. I almost immediately dismissed that notion, knowing how Taylor embraces bright red lipstick and uniqueness. On-site, as I observed her fan base, there was massive diversity. Every ethnicity was represented, both male and female, grandmas to grandbabies, conservatives to liberals. Everyone was welcome; free to be themselves.
Have you ever considered what makes a movement? If you take away the marketing and PR, you remove the gimmicks – what truly makes a die-hard, lifelong fan? Swift knows. In her own words, she acknowledged how we’re all “pining for a connection with someone…someone who will walk your steps with you.” Writing lyrics about her heartaches and triumphs, opening up about being bullied on social media, making fun of herself and her mistakes – Swift takes the first step forward in establishing that connection with YOU. She values YOU. Plain old YOU. Boring YOU. Loads of baggage YOU. She writes about YOU, “YOU belong with me!” She shares in the happiness and sadness with YOU. You, you, you………..and YOU. I’ll take that and own it. Will YOU?
If YOU want to connect with the Reputation Stadium tour, check out their upcoming dates at taylorswift.com/events.
Spring cleaning? Please God, no! I hate cleaning. It’s the worst. While we must all eventually get on board the cleaning train, or face our inevitable debut on a future episode of Hoarders, I’m refusing to acknowledge reality and sharing with you some ways to take your Spring to a whole new level!
“Yeah, here's to the farmer that loves his day in the sun, Won't sell that old half-ton, Nobody knows better 'bout a hard-earned dollar. Just tell him how far he's gotta go and he'll go further” – Luke Bryan
The farmer in the dell, the farmer in the dell… Do you remember singing this song as a child? Until I wrote this article, I thought the lyrics were “and the dell.” What’s a dell? Who knows? Any why doesn’t the song rhyme? Random questions that make you go hmm…
Growing up, I often visited my Grandma and Grandpa’s farm in Missouri. My brother LOVED the farm. He’s an outdoorsy, animal-loving adventurer. I, on the other hand, avoided all physical labor, bugs, and animals. On one trip, my Grandpa told us that he needed help moving a bull from a barn to a pasture. He put me in one position, and then put my cousin in another. He told us he was going to open the gate, and all we needed to do was make sure the giant bull kept walking past our “human fence” to his final destination. Obviously, I was scared at this point. As I’ve shared before, my Grandpa was a Hatfield. He was tough as nails; a true brute of a man. He told us to make sure we didn’t run when he opened the gate. It was important we stand our ground. Reluctantly, I stood there watching as my Grandpa walked over and handed a bat to my male cousin. I remember asking my Grandpa why Brandon needed a bat? I don’t think he answered, but I do know that a flood of panic ran through my mind. I was a sitting duck! If this 2,000+ pound bull charged in my direction, I had zero defense. My Grandpa swung the gate open. The bull took a step forward. My Grandpa prodded the bull a little, and it took a couple more steps.
Let me pause this story to tell you another. As I shared before, I hated physical labor. Any physical activity – count me out. So when I had to do the obligatory mile run in high school, I pretty much walked the whole way. If I recall correctly, I walked the mile in a little over 12 minutes. At the end of the year, to pass P.E., our coach told us we had to beat our time from the beginning of the year to pass the class. “No problem! I’ll simply jog it and easily get a better finish time,” I thought to myself. Well, as I ran, I started getting that runner cramp in my side. I was panting hard, but kept going. Next thing I know, I’m staring at the sky. I had passed out while running. I knew I had to finish in order to get class credit, so I ran the rest and finished with a time of over 15 minutes!?! True story. I needed to tell you that, so you could appreciate what happened next in the bull story.
As the bull slowly meandered towards me, and by towards me, I mean within 150 yards… I completely freaked out. I bolted faster than a speeding bullet! I probably would have qualified as an Olympic finalist that day. I do not know how that bull reacted. I do not know how it finally arrived at its new pasture. I didn’t stick around to see my Grandpa’s reaction. I’m confident in saying it likely wasn’t pleasant and included many words I can’t write here.
As this is March Madness season, what better time to share a story about when I made someone mad? If you’re breathing, you may have noticed that our society has shifted to a rather mad tone in the last few years. Log onto social media or watch TV. You’ll find someone ranting about politics, religion, their life’s misfortune, or first world problems. I encourage you today to let go of your anger. Choose contentment! If you’ve wronged someone, ask for forgiveness. Life’s too short to dwell on bull. See what I did there?
Desiree' is the executive event producer for Street Market. Her writing is dedicated to all things related to country living, home décor, travel and events, family, faith, and more. Check out her column in Arizona Real Country Magazine.