Travel Untangled: Memphis, Tennessee

A few months ago, I had some vacation days to burn and some summer to enjoy. I asked my family to join me on a road trip to Memphis. 

We could spend time with my Uncle Sonny, a retired military vet who spent many years working in the Department of Corrections. He likes structure and routine but loves when family come to visit and disrupt all that. We had a great time. We could also…

.. See one of my fave former college professors and let her meet the cuteness that is my nephew. Then we could for sure…

 

…enjoy some sights and scenes of Tennessee. On our trip, we even took a few minutes to marvel at the mighty Mississippi River which we crossed at several points. We will definitely be back though, we didn’t make it to Beale street and some of the music tours we wanted because of several crazy, stormy weather days. 

One of the places we visited that I always wanted to check out was The Lorraine Motel. This is the location where civil rights activist and leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was shot. 

In addition to a memorial for Dr. King, there is also a Civil Rights Museum taking visitors through the history and journey of blacks arriving enslaved, enduring slavery and the on-going civil rights movement, to present-day, of African-Americans in America. A powerful mixture of triumphs and setbacks, the memories cascade even today since many of us or our parents and theirs are alive and saw the up and down times throughout history. We don’t have to look far however since America still isn’t very far on the spectrum of, “all men are created equal.”

Each room in the museum takes on a different piece of history. It’s always emotional for me, but I held myself together. That is, until I walked into a room with a song playing over the loud speaker and a video with lyrics on a giant screen. They were singing, “We Shall Overcome”….and I lost it. A ball of tears. I guess the outpouring of feeling overwhelmed me. Each word as powerful and relevant TODAY as decades prior.

It was quite an experience and I would recommend you take a visit to the Lorraine Motel someday. 

No matter who you are, where you are from, how you were raised or whatever else, we can teach ourselves (our kids, spouses, friends, neighbors, politicians, families, coworkers, etc) to be/do better because we know better, to really love people – all people, to show kindness and humility in our humanity. We can absolutely change the world. 

“I may not get there with you but I want you to know that we as a people will get to the promised land” -Dr. King

Final Civil Rights Museum room has quotes from many world leaders, including President Barack Obama

Hope you enjoyed the recap of my trip to Memphis! That place is full of history, music, great food, good fun and I can’t wait to be back.

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Chicago Goods: Museum of Contemporary Art

In the last month, I have been to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) located downtown Chicago twice. They currently have Japanese artist, Takashi Murakami, on exhibition with The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg

Murakami has an interesting mix of artistic displays, ranging from traditional Japanese paintings to fun animated characters to kooky yet darkly playful looking, almost monster-like characters to pop art collaborations with musical artists like Kanye West.

MCA is located just behind the Water Tower Place, a mere block from the Magnificent Mile. Most days they are open until 5pm with the exception on 9pm on Tuesday and Friday and being closed on Mondays. Suggested regular admission price is $15 for adults. Illinois residents are free on Tuesdays which is also a treat because during the summer, MCA hosts Tuesdays on the Terracewhich features live jazz from 5:30-8pm, has drinks for sale and space for people to mingle or chill on their back patio area. After the jazz is done, visitors have an additional hour to walk through all open exhibits before the museum closes at 9pm. 

Murakami’s The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg came out of the Japanese folk saying that an octopus in distress will chew off a damaged leg to ensure survival, knowing that a new one will grow in its place. 

A really profound concept when you think about it.

“The exhibition chronologically traces the many reinventions and refinements that have fueled Murakami’s career. I have now gone through the exhibition twice and I don’t think it will be my last. I find something new and interesting every time and there is plenty more to discover. Though some of the pieces have aspects that are plain weird, when I think overall about his message, I get it. I love that the exhibit goes in chronological order so you see the evolution of Murakami’s craft and mental state as he reinvents and refines over time.

I know the Art Institute of Chicago gets a lot of love (and it should!) because it has a lot more historical pieces but this is another option for people looking for something different in Chicago.

Murakami will be on display until September 6. Enjoy! 

Summer is Here!

Here in Chicago, summertime weather seems to has arrived and I am over the moon.
Though summer officially lands June 21, just last week, I was able to pack my winter coat away…finally. I wish I were joking about that. Even last month we were still having temps range from 40s to 80s which just makes me crazy in the head. 

I already declared that I want to be outside as much as humanly possible. 

Chicago has so many festivals, concerts, shows, rooftops, events and many of them are free or cheap, at least the ones I keep an eye out for. 

Downtown isn’t the only part with things to offer.  Tourists and locals can get to know city areas even better by stopping by the hundreds of neighborhood festivals. 

This weekend I enjoyed the Chicago Blues Fest, one of the world’s largest, free festivals celebrating blues music performed by outstanding musicians and artists. 

I want to soak up the sun (bathed in my sunscreen of course) and be at the lakefront all the time. The next few weeks include camping trips and roadtrips and fun in the sun. 

If you live in a part of the country like me where you get 4 seasons and it’s not divine all the time, enjoy summer while we got it! The next few months will be the perfect mood booster to prepare for whatever winter brings us later this year.  

Have a great week and get some outdoor time in. Fresh air is everything and good for the body, mind and soul. 

Moms

The older I get, the more I appreciate my mom and what I have learned from her. She has had her set of triumphs and challenges in this life. In my eyes her triumphs are plentiful and outweigh anything else. She has taught me the love of learning and how to show compassion. I admire mom’s strength. It encourages me to live in my own strength. 
I am grateful for my mom and many other women in my life who have given motherly advice, been positive examples of wives, mothers, sisters and daughters I am proud to know and be like. 

You didn’t have to love me like you did but you did and I thank you. 

Happy Mother’s Day! 

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fyre

Surely by now you may have heard of a weekend fiasco (aka purebred sh*t show) called Fyre Festival, an expensive and decadently overpromised “luxury” festival in the Bahamas set to kick off last Friday. 

A dream deferred when as people arrived the festival’s promises went up in flames (in some cases, literally and yes the pun is intended). 

The festival’s organizers, McFarland and Ja Rule (which like, why?) have been under a lot of heat as they should be for taking thousands of dollars from people (just because some may have been rich doesn’t mean they deserve to be bamboozled) and totally not delivering the service nor the experience people not only expected but that Fyre Fest explicitly promised. Fyre Fest compared their inaugural event to Coachella in California which I haven’t been to yet but I guarantee people would not return if they experienced even a fraction of the hot mess Fyre Fest displayed. 

I won’t go into ALL the details of the unraveling that occurred because that’s what the internet for and you should certainly read about it. It’s terribly entertaining. 

In short, people bought high-priced tickets to stay in villas on a Bahamian island for what was supposed to be a two-weekend music festival. As people arrived, chaos ensued with lack of preparation and execution on the part of festival organizers and crew. People were pissed to find emergency response tents instead of villas, bare bones meals, lack of lights, security amd much more. It was basically camping which is fine if you knew going in that’s what it was. This was more of a bait and switch situation. 

Hearing the reports and seeing the pictures met a range of responses from hilarity to horror. Ja Rule became a Joanne the Scammer meme QUICK. It was all just a big mess. I started following the story because I was fascinated by the company responses or in many cases, lack thereof. 

Until they were dragged through every valley on social media, they seemed to play it cool or make excuses for why things weren’t ready. 

The following was the apology (or again lack thereof) attempting to explain away how their poor planning was not their fault. 

April 29, 2017

Yesterday was a very challenging day for all of us. But we would like to fully explain what happened.

Billy McFarland and Ja Rule started a partnership over a mutual interest in technology, the ocean, and rap music. This unique combination of interests led them to the idea that, through their combined passions, they could create a new type of music festival and experience on a remote island.

They simply weren’t ready for what happened next, or how big this thing would get. They started by making a website and launching a viral campaign. Ja helped book talent, and they had hundreds of local Bahamians join in the effort. Suddenly, they found themselves transforming a small island and trying to build a festival. Thousands of people wanted to come. They were excited, but then the roadblocks started popping up.

As amazing as the islands are, the infrastructure for a festival of this magnitude needed to be built from the ground up. So, we decided to literally attempt to build a city. We set up water and waste management, brought an ambulance from New York, and chartered 737 planes to shuttle our guests via 12 flights a day from Miami. We thought we were ready, but then everyone arrived.

The team was overwhelmed. The airport was jam packed. The buses couldn’t handle the load. And the wind from rough weather took down half of the tents on the morning our guests were scheduled to arrive. This is an unacceptable guest experience and the Fyre team takes full responsibility for the issues that occurred.

Everyone was very concerned for our guests. They needed a place to sleep and everyone did their absolute best to rebuild. We took everyone to the beach and built as many tents and beds as fast as possible, but as more guests arrived, we were simply in over our heads. Ultimately, we didn’t think security could keep up, so we had to postpone the festival. The response to the postponement was immediate and intense. We had no other options, so we began the process of getting guests quickly and safely back to Miami, which continued through the weekend. Our top priority as a company is to ensure the comfort and safe return home of all of our guests.

Then something amazing happened: venues, bands, and people started contacting us and said they’d do anything to make this festival a reality and how they wanted to help. The support from the musical community has been overwhelming and we couldn’t be more humbled or inspired by this experience. People were rooting for us after the worst day we’ve ever had as a company. After speaking with our potential partners, we have decided to add more seasoned event experts to the 2018 Fyre Festival, which will take place at a United States beach venue.

All festival goers this year will be refunded in full. We will be working on refunds over the next few days and will be in touch directly with guests with more details. Also, all guests from this year will have free VIP passes to next year’s festival.

We’re grateful for the Bahamian Government and The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism for their assistance during this challenging time—their efforts have been exemplary. We want to thank the people of the Bahamas for their support and for graciously allowing us the privilege of visiting their islands. We apologize for any inconvenience the past 24-hours has caused and we look forward to making a considerable donation to the Bahamas Red Cross Society as part of our initiatives. We need to make this right. And once we make this right, then we will put on the dream festival we sought to have since the inception of Fyre.

Thank you for all your continued patience and understanding. We apologize for what all of our guests and staff went through over the last 24 hours and will work tirelessly to make this right. Please check our official social media channels (@fyrefestival) for further important updates.

You can (and should) do your research to fact-check. Still trying to save face, the company did not make an appropriate apology to address their role in the chaos at the same degree the mess occurred. The blame kept getting passed and there are still many stages of this story just DO NOT add up. They just don’t.  As a patron, that part would infuriate me because at the basic level this company is not acknowledging what they failed and misrepresented so everyone can move forward. 

For example, they apparently did not realize they were unprepared until people began arriving by plane to the island. 

They plan to try this again next year (which like, why?) and prove they can produce the vision they had. They are offering the option for refunds or people can opt for additional free VIP passes to next year and forgo their refund. The first lawsuit has been filed of which I am sure others will follow. 

The lessons for me in this story are simple: greed destroys, preparation is everything and taking genuine responsibility for your actions is what can actually save your butt when the smoke clears. As an aspiring entrepreneur, watching this company crash and burn in jaw-dropping fashion is a valuable example on how to not go down the same path even on smaller scales. 

Even If Your Voice Shakes

The best advice I ever received was ‘speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.’ I’m not even sure where I first heard it but it resonates deeply with me. 

I have always loved to read and write, something my mother influenced in me. I enjoy those things but sharing raw, personal information, having uncomfortable or difficult conversations doesn’t always come as easily whether in print or in-person. 

Over recent (…and ongoing!) years of maturity and self-boldness even if I feel fear, I push myself to have conversations that may be tough but need to happen. Whether it is addressing a crack in a friend or familial relationship, being vulnerable with sharing how much someone means to me, getting real with people about physical or mental health concerns, kicking myself in the pants often to progress or needing to get on the same page with people who are different so we can achieve goals at work or beyond. 

My mom told me if you have compassion and you show that in your delivery whenever you talk with people, they will receive it in the spirit you meant rather than be offended, upset or simply ignore you. Part of what we are accountable to with people is what we say but the other part is how we say it. 

Gear shift…

This week on the 26th marks my two year blog anniversary. My time flies. This is an exciting time because I am looking forward to exploring new mediums in addition to tradition blog-style writing like video blogging (vlogging for you hip folks). 

I will still keep writing every week because my content will be a little different. I am currently working on content for a YouTube channel with some fun topics about beauty, travel, food, fun, art and lots more. 

It took me a long time to try it. I kept talking about all these ideas and did nothing with them. Eventually, I had to feel the fear and do it anyway. That’s actually a blog topic for another day. Getting over the anxiety of trying something new. The fear of failure or the comparison drug that keeps one looking at someone else’s yard instead of focusing on our own. Hoping for the freedom someone else has without doing the work to gain it on your own. Be bold and go for what you want and need in this life. 

I am passionate about connecting across the globe – both near and far – with people I can both share with and learn from. I know as my digital network expands in the future it will always be a clear value to speak the truth even if my voice shakes. 

Baby Fullard Has Arrived!

Today is such a special day. We welcomed my nephew into the world and he is simply perfection.

It has been a bit of a hellish experience for my sister who was in the hospital 40 hours before the baby arrived. We are exhausted and will be recovering for a couple more days. Birth plans changed and there was a lot of pain involved but we are ultimately thankful for a healthy delivery for mom and baby. 

The new parents are adjusting to a new face in the family after many months of anticipation. We are all just SO delighted!