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!

Fullard Baby Shower, Part II 

At the beginning of March, I hosted a baby shower for my sister and brother-in-law. Their baby is due at the end of April. I promised to share a couple pics so today I will do that and give a few more details that anyone can use in planning. 

We decided to have the shower at a brewery. The location was perfect because the brewery was next door to a train station for easy travel access if friends and family from the city wanted to join. 

What made this shower really special is there was so much handcrafted work we put into it. This was a major family effort and we had fun doing it. I was the leader but a leader is only as good as the people they work alongside of to get things done.

Upon arrival, the parents-to-be greeted every guest at the door. We had cute mini notebooks that people could sign for the guestbook. I found them at Target. 

Guest also dropped off their baby book which was requested in lieu of cards so the parents-to-be can build a library for their son.

The parents-to-be also took care of the first round for every guest if they wanted a drink or soda from the cash bar in our private room. 

I don’t know about most people but we didn’t want some of the traditional shower games. I planned just a handful and included other activities that could be done throughout the event to keep things interesting. 

Guests came in and if they wanted to the participate in The Price is Right game, the got a card which had preset items. I ordered them from Amazon. People just had to guess the prices without looking online. We told everybody at the end we would go over the prices and the top two people to get the closest without going over the grand total would win gifts. We gave out two gifts per game throughout the shower. 

At each table, we had advice cards that I created from these cards I found at Michaels. They were board cutouts of onesies. I bought stamps and ink and in the scrapbooking section of Michaels, found little elephant stickers. Our theme was animals and mostly elephants.  We had elephants on the invitations and a lot of the things that we used to send out messages about the shower.

With these cards from Michaels I put a cute blue stamp on the front that said ‘welcome baby’ and added an elephant sticker then on the back I used a different stamp of a parent elephant leading a baby elephant.  All the guests per table could write advice for the new parents then at the end I collected them all and turned them into a flip book.

Thirty minutes into the party, we brought out food and had salads and wraps for people to snack on. During lunch I started my Spotify baby playlist which was basically a bunch of songs that I found with either baby in the title or main parts of the song. 

When it seemed like people were wrapping up lunch, my sister and I hopped on a mic to explain different things that people could be doing like writing advice on the onesies at the table, filling out their Price is Right cards or writing something encouraging or funny on the butt of a clean diaper so when the parents-to-be are having late night diaper changings they can get an energy boost. 

We did start two other games at the end of lunch. For the first, we had two people per table (there were six tables of 8 total) come to the front for the baby first portrait game. I found sheets at Michaels that were sheer but had little baby feet imprints on them. I took a full sheet divided in a half, divided in half again and cut four sections out of them so I could get enough for every person. The sheet just had to be big enough to fit on their forehead. Each of the 12 people got a sheet and a marker and then when we counted down they were given 60 seconds to draw what they thought the new baby was going to look like. The catch if course was they had to hold the sheet on their foreheads and draw blindly. At the end of this game we had the mom and dad to be pick who drew the best portrait and who drew the worst. Each of those people then got a prize.

Following that game, we set up the ‘Name That Poo’ dirty diaper game. Other than being a fabulous photographer, my boyfriend was phenomenal with preparing for this game. We had nine diapers and bought nine different types of chocolate. He melted the chocolate inside of each of the diapers and numbered them. People had to guess what “poop” was in which dirty diaper. They could smell, touch, taste, whatever would help them to guess as many of the poopy diapers as possible. Whoever got the most would win a prize so that was a really fun one. People really got into it. It looks so gross because of the way that the chocolate melted inside of the diapers. It looks like real poop but reassure people that it is chocolate and there are no kind of surprises. It made for some really great picture.

Shortly after that, we set out cake for people to break and eat before gifts. The BABY letters on the cake table were another craft project of mind. I found plain wood block letters at Michaels, covered them in several layers of blue acrylic paint. The last layer, one side was covered in fine loose blue glitter. 

There were two tables full of gifts and we wanted to get through them all but also have something to break up the time.

Gift opening is tricky because it can get redundant and people can lose interest so before we even started the gift opening, I had set aside three gift bags. Three people were going to walk away with a prize and they didn’t have to do anything except be the last person holding the gift bag when the last gift was opened. 

There were six tables so one gift bag would go around basically two sets of tables and every time the parents-to-be received a gift that was blue the guest gift bags would get passed two people to the right. It kept people engaged, curious and they had some incentive. It also kept things moving. It is definitely something I would recommend because it’s simple. Our shower was coed so just make sure you have gender-neutral gifts. 

Halfway during the gift opening we actually paused and I had all of the men in the room which was a decent amount come to the front. Each were given a balloon. They had to blow up the balloon, take their shoes off and set them in front of them put the balloon under their shirt then on my count, these “preggo” men had to put their shoes on and tie them up. The fastest two would win a prize. There was one guy who was smart enough to wear slip on shoes so he won first place of course and then another guy one next to him.

One thing that I did say after while because we had a lot of prizes given out…if somebody already won a gift then they should give that gift away to someone else not in their party. It was an opportunity for people to bestow some goodwill towards people they didn’t know or come with but also share the love a little bit. 
After the balloon shoe tie game we finished up the gift opening. Between gift openings we also gave answers to some of the games like the dirty diaper game (just one person guessed 8 of the 9 diapers correctly) and Price is Right. 

Once the last gift was opened, I had the parents-to-be say thank you everyone and goodbye. We ended on time. 

The party favors went with the animal theme. Animal crackers in a clear box with a hand-made cloth elephant or plaster elephant on top. We tied them down with ribbons. It took a lot of hours and was a true labor of love. 

It was a really fun event overall. I could not have done this without the help of my family, my sisters, my brother-in-law, my mom and my boyfriend…who got roped into more projects than I’m sure he cared to do. 

I think people really enjoyed themselves and I definitely look forward to hosting more events and parties in the future. And moreso, I can’t wait to welcome my nephew in a few weeks.

Unexpected & Perfectly Planned

My Sunday had an unexpected twist and I couldn’t have planned it any better. 

I woke up and decided to go to church. My boyfriend and I usually go together but he had some filming scheduled for a show he’s performing in this summer at Second City. 

We have been having a lot of really great, necessary, inspiring, motivating, challenging chats about spiritual health and our faith and how we can best live our faith out. Spiritual health has tremendous impact on physical, mental and relational health in our opinion. I’m honestly so humbled and grateful to have someone in my life who is so serious about how we can build our lives better through our common faith. 

Anyways, i digress.

So I went to church and sat  on my own near the back. After the service, I was putting my coat on and after a few minutes this girl who had been sitting behind me the whole time introduced herself. 

We talked a little and I found out this was her third time at the church. In fact, she had only been in the US for 3 weeks. She is on a visa from South Korea to study under a missionary. She found the church through Google and decided to visit after reading positive reviews. 

She seemed so sweet and here she was venturing around Chicago alone. At this point, I’m totally fascinated. 

She asked me what places are nearby for food that I would recommend. She’s not that familiar with the area. We walk out together, chatting and even learned we’re the same age born just a few months apart.

I ended up walking her over to the restaurant I recommended. Great brunch spot and they have a fab short rib and fried egg sandwich. 

Well I said my goodbyes outside the restaurant because I was supposed to catch the tail-end of filming. 

When I was about to leave on my way, I could feel something telling me to chill…be a friend. 

I made a call and found out filming was about to wrap so I would miss everything. I decided to walk back to the restaurant and enjoy brunch with this girl I just met. 

We had a great time. We shared stories of our lives over a meal, discussed our faith and plan to get together more while she’s in America. 

Sometimes I pray, not sure what I need and yet find myself just where I need to be. 

After a relaxed Saturday, I had been somewhat frantic by Sunday afternoon thinking about all the projects I needed to work on. But that’s not what was important. I needed to just be still and know instead that God can create connections that blow my mind. 

Of all the people and places, it was cool to meet someone new who could really just use a listening ear and someone to share a bite with. We had fun, insightful, encouraging conversation. 

I happen to be a person who believes in the connectedness of things and events.  

I needed that unexpected part in my day as much as my new buddy Ms. Yoon did. Here’s to making this giant world smaller by just getting to know someone new.