The Best Guests

 

“We are coming tomorrow- Thursday am,” my mom texted me at 9 pm Monday night. To which the only logical response was, “Who knew?!?”

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Kylie, Ingrid, Myself, the stars: Sheryl, Scott

With ski equipment and an early birthday gift packed, a dogsitter arranged, and a non-refundable hotel reservation on the books, it seemed the suggested February 19-21 visit to the Cities had accidentally been moved up a month. Even as the last to know, I am so glad it did.

To ensure the 5+ hour drive from Milwaukee is worthwhile, I normally have a detailed itinerary with the objective of making them as obsessed with the Twin Cities as I am. Clearly we’ve made progress if they’re voluntarily visiting in January. AmIRight?

So Tuesday’s date night of fish tacos at Brandon’s and late Revenant viewing became a double date. While my go-to is visiting the best or newest restaurants, I think we may have discovered a new tradition. Brandon and I take our homemade dinners very seriously (let me know if you want to score an invite), so getting to share a meal and snapshot of our weeknights with my family was far more meaningful than any trendy menu.

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Important vegetarian note: Freehouse allows black bean substitutes for any burger *heart eyes emoji*

We met back up for lunch Wednesday downtown at Ling & Louie’s, which my roommate Sarah Duever joined us for. In an effort to make everyone feel like a celebrity, I like to alert the masses that my parents are in town and see what they’re able to join us for. My mom then spent hours exploring Nicollet Mall and mastering the skyways in the name of shopping. While I was being a worker bee, my dad showed himself around town and visited the Mill City Museum.

With some help from a Minneapolis event calendar, we decided on dinner at Freehouse and a comedy show at Acme Comedy as our evening activity. With the very intense viewing of Revenant (I spent a lot of time hiding in my scarf) the night before, I figured laughter would be the best medicine. However, any night with the celeb guest list of my parents and freshman year clan/Florida and Vegas travel companions Kylie and Ingrid is destined to be hilarious.

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For the record, I took this before photos were outlawed (Kylie, not so much)

As a first-timer to the Acme Comedy Club, I would absolutely recommend it to anyone visiting or living in Minneapolis. It mixes the posh atmosphere of it’s North Loop stomping grounds with the comfort and coziness all Minnesotans love. Servers visit you in the red plush seating for drink orders, as we laughed (with a few cringes) through three openers and the main act: Minnesota-native, Cy Amundson.

While Amy Schumer Radio sometimes gets me through the work day, nothing compares to the intoxicating atmosphere of a comedy club. Surrounded by other audience members, some with a crazier laugh than mine, you can’t help but be present. Even though I couldn’t have told you Monday this is what my week would have looked like, I couldn’t think of anywhere else I wanted to be, or company I’d rather have.

Sometimes it’s what we’ve planned the least that we need the most. Scott and Sher- you are welcome any time.

 

3 Years, 5 Lessons, Countless Downdogs

Passion has been a bit of a buzzword for me lately. It could be from creating inspiration boards with kindergarten-3rd grade students, the Greek Awards recommendation letters I’ve been writing, or from the Tazo tea called Passion that I drink daily.

More than anything though, I think it’s credited to the recent Downdogs for Diabetes event. If you aren’t familiar, this is my sorority’s annual fall philanthropy event; a yoga class, led by yours truly, that benefits the Alpha Gamma Delta Foundation. I’m simply unable to explain my involvement and energy surrounding this event, without touching on passion.

DSC_56The Alpha Gamma Delta Foundation benefits diabetes education, research and awareness; along with many other initiatives to support Alpha Gam alumnae in need. The University of Minnesota Alpha Gamma Delta chapter (Delta) holds 2-3 fundraising events each year to support the Foundation. Downdogs began three years ago, and I’m thrilled to see that it’s had staying power.

Even for those not studying public relations and/or with a love for events, Downdogs has taught me a few things over the years, all of which I couldn’t have learned if it weren’t driven by passion. As graduation approaches, and people of all stages in life continue to stress about the future, I think tapping into passion may be just as calming as a downward facing dog-

1. Stay on brand– Downdogs for Diabetes has been successful as a fall philanthropy because it stayed true to Alpha Gam. Our Purpose, which is like a values based mission statement, outlines the importance of health and wellness. Focusing on what you value- and what you don’t- can put things into perspective. This along with the yoga classes held in our living room, Alpha Gam and yoga go hand in hand. Although it had not been done before, this event wasn’t a huge stretch (no pun intended).

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The first Downdogs for Diabetes, 2012.

2. Shake it up– From the lines outside Mesa at bar close, to the club meetings that advertise with only two words- free food-we’ve all seen (and experienced) how people are motivated by food. As a result, this event was pretty unconventional compared to other fundraisers for our chapter and for the community. However, risk taking is essential for innovation and allowed our chapter to discover a new tradition.

3. Authenticity is key– This ties in with numero uno, and is probably the most important of them all. Downdogs wouldn’t have started or succeeded had I not had genuine enthusiasm and trust that it could. If your vision is authentic, you’ll be able to get others to envision it as well.

4. Details can come later– When I originally planned Downdogs for Diabetes, I wasn’t sure exactly where it would take place, if people would like it, or what impact it would have. I just knew there was only one way to find out, which rings true for professional and personal life scenarios. You won’t make any strides forward or try anything new if you’re waiting for guaranteed success.

5. Gophers can’t be tamed– Okay but actually. Goldy attended this year’s event, and was a bit more rambunctious than mygoldy average yoga student. Rather than letting his surprises (i.e. pretending to change the music, bringing a ladder to his yoga mat, and spraying people with their water bottles) throw me off, I rolled with the punches. As much of a planner as I am, there can be a point where preparation no longer serves you. 5 year plans are great- especially for when someone asks you what’s your 5 year plan– but it needs to be able to adapt to the new experiences and growth you will be fortunate to have.

One of the greatest things yoga has taught me is to keep my mind as flexible as my hamstrings. Whether it’s planning events or planning your future, letting go of certainty in order to embrace and appreciate surprises makes life a bit more zen, and a lot more enjoyable.

St. Thomas Up ’til Dawn

Last night, I had the opportunity to take part in the St. Thomas Up ’til Dawn event. Throughout the fall, each regional St. Jude office holds Up ’til dawn events at local college campuses.

For region 6, St. Thomas marked a halfway point in the UTD season. Last week College of Saint Benedict & Saint John’s University raised $22,587 for the patient families of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Winona State, Drake and Iowa State are on the horizon.

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Up ’til Dawn calls for students to create teams and fundraise prior to the event. Teams arrived at UTD around 11 p.m., settling in and enjoying food from Subway, Chipotle and Kind.

At midnight, the event began and a St. Thomas student, Chase Baumgartner told the moving and uplifting story of losing his best friend, Dylan Witschen, a past St. Jude patient. The tellings of the friendship that developed through playing football together, reminded all participants how vital it is they help children “stay up for good.” The Dylan Witschen Foundation thrives in the teenager’s memory.

Throughout the night, participants were entertained by team challenges and minute-to-win-it style games.

One inspiring student, Brittni Sundby, encouraged people to donate by promising to shave her head if she reached her personal goal of $1000. Reaching her goal 9 days before the event, anticipation built. Updating peers and family on Facebook, Brittni confirmed that she would indeed be shaving her head to show support for the children who have no choice but to be bald.

Nearing dawn, Brittni donated her long auburn locks, stating “those kids need hair more than I do” and is now rocking a bald head. Brittni served as the co-director of the St. Thomas UTD executive board and on team St. Jude Rockin Eboard, whose fitting tagline was Bald is Beautiful. The teams and St. Thomas community raised $23,170 for St. Jude, reminding everyone on the St. Jude team of the value of events like these.

Sorority Recruitment

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Me and My Assistant, Aly Dahmen, Before Open House Round
As the Vice President of Recruitment of my sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta, this fall was the craziest and best time of my life. The planning for the five days of formal recruitment began in February, allowing my anticipation to grow with each day.
I remember comparing the process to skydiving. I’ve never been, but I’m assuming sorority recruitment is pretty similar. All of Spring semester, I was the skydiving instructor, and the Alpha Gams  were in the registration process- watching the safety videos and covering the logistics.
For me, this meant planning all decorations, outfits, refreshments and entertainment.
One sister asked me, “You don’t do anything this semester though, right? That’s nice it’s just the end of summer.”
Interesting. Not quite.
However, I believe what makes a great leader and an even better event planner, is the ability to absorb stress, without any others feeling the wake. Blame it on the yoga, but this aspect of events and strategic communications has always appealed to me.
Dropped tables for Open House Round
Dropped tables for Open House Round

Towards the end of August, we were all on the plane. Anticipation was building for all and a five day workshop, Polish Week, consumed our last days of Summer. As I facilitated Polish Week, I realized what it meant to be in the plane. There’s no going back, how you handle complications is the only thing that will change the outcome. Not everything will be perfect or go exactly as planned, but recruitment will happen either way- so find a new perfect.

As recruitment came, it was time to dive. I expected this time to be full of anxiety, but it was far from it. Already out of the plane, there’s nothing to do but enjoy the process.

Sharing highlights of conversations and positive aspects of each round, telling jokes during down time and updating our inspiration board kept spirits high. Ultimately, the endless support and love I felt throughout the whole process, made it the best fall I’ve ever taken.

With relaxed attitudes and the AGD brand making up our parachute, after the final day of recruitment, we landed on our feet. Even better, we found ourselves surrounded by an amazing pledge class of 45 new members.

Dropped tables and decor for Preference Round
Dropped tables and decor for Preference Round

My experience in strategic communications allowed for a strong recruitment experience as well. Coordinating members, facilitating values based conversations and [insert sorority jargon] was done keeping our brand in mind at all times.

The women going through recruitment must make impressions and decisions about our chapter from the conversations they have with a few members. Focusing efforts on our brand being present in each of these instances allowed these interactions to be genuine and valuable.

Who knew there was so much PR in skydiving?