LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

Las Vegas is a place unlike any other. And to be honest, I don’t know that it’s my favorite. I’m sure Las Vegas outside of the strip is a wonderful place. I would actually love the opportunity to explore outside of the strip – go hiking, explore Seven Magic Mountains, go to the Grand Canyon, etc. But unfortunately, when I am in Las Vegas for work, I am surrounded by convention center walls, recycled air conditioning, the smell of casino smoke, and the “bing bing bing” of slot machines.

So far, I’ve stayed at two of the hotels on the Las Vegas strip. The Bellagio and The Cosmopolitan. I had a different experience at each hotel.

When you walk into The Bellagio, you are greeted with grandeur and a Chihuly art piece on the ceiling. The shops at the hotel are exquisite, expensive brands like Chanel, Dior, Fendi, etc. along with trendy smoothie shops and patisseries (with just as outrageous prices). Just to the right of the entry to the hotel is the casino, wafting the smell of smoke into the lobby. The rooms were a little less than overwhelming, with an outdated feel. The path to the hotel rooms themselves was long, through “construction” (the hotel was updating their seasonal decor), across patches of carpet – which is difficult to push luggage over, and through intoxicated or discombobulated crowds.

The Cosmopolitan presents a completely different atmosphere. When you walk in, the lobby feels young and vibrant. There are screens around the lobby that give off a nightclub vibe, without being overwhelming. The lines were quite long waiting to check-in, but once you get your keys, you can turn halfway around and walk straight into the elevators. (And if you choose to go to the left, which leads to the casino, there is a slight barrier so the smell doesn’t escape the area.) The rooms were impressive. My first room was simple but still glamorous. Even the closets and bathrooms had glam touches in just the right places. Fortunately for me, my first room needed something improved, so I received an (amazing) two-tier, complimentary upgrade. This new room had a stunning walk-in shower, a giant jetted tub, double vanities, a full living area with an L-shaped couch and large TV, a desk area, a beautiful (and very comfortable king bed) with an additional TV, and wait for it – a balcony with a couch and chair. That balcony was probably my favorite part of my room and served as my mini escape from the hustle and bustle of the work week. It was above the lights, above the smell of smoke and alcohol, and it was as quiet as quiet is in Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas Strip is bright, and constantly busy. It is incredible how a world exists in a little piece of the desert. The casinos are endless and the people continue partying for hours. But it’s incredible how this little strip in the middle of the Nevada desert brings in so much revenue, brings people together, and makes me more lost inside of a building than I thought was possible.

I did actually get to experience a few fun things in Las Vegas – at least enough to share a few recommendations. And I still have a few places left to be seen, knowing that I’ll be going back there again with this job soon enough.

RECOMMEND

A few places that I visited…

Welcome to Vegas Sign: Built and installed in 1959, this 25 ft. sign stands tall welcoming all to Las Vegas, Nevada. As of 2013, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and attracts visitors from all over every day. While I was there, I had the unique opportunity of witnessing a wedding.

The Neon Museum: A non-profit, 501(c)3 organization founded in 1996, The Neon Museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, studying, and exhibiting iconic Las Vegas signs for educational, historic, arts, and cultural enrichment. The main collection showcases more than 200 unrestored signs, as well as some restored signs which are lit all the time.

Bucket List…

Seven Magic Mountains: A colorful, large-scale piece of public artwork called Seven Magic Mountains is a two-year exhibition, created by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, located in the desert outside of Las Vegas. Rondinone says that the location is “physically and symbolically mid-way between the natural and the artificial: the natural is expressed by the mountain ranges, desert, and Jean Dry Lake backdrop, and the artificial is expressed by the highway and the constant flow of traffic between Los Angeles and Las Vegas”. (And it also would make a pretty cool Instagram picture.)

The Grand Canyon: I’ve always wanted to explore The Grand Canyon and I can’t wait to go back and do this one day. The beauty of the combinations of color within the erosion, decorates the 277 river miles long, 18 miles wide, and 1 mile deep canyon. Because there are so many opportunities to explore the canyon in different ways, until I do some exploring for myself I don’t feel that I would be the best at explaining what to do. But always go prepared and research your plans before you leave!

XO – MC

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO

When I was younger, on a family vacation to Colorado, we stopped through a beautiful town called Colorado Springs. We didn’t stay at The Broadmoor Hotel, but we pulled in the circle drive to take a peek. Well, my dad took a peek. When we pulled up to the hotel, we didn’t realize that you had to be staying at the hotel to get close. There’s someone standing at the entrance to the drive, who asks for your name and which building you are in as you pass. I don’t remember how my dad convinced security to let us through, but they did.

My dad tried to get us all to get out of the car and explore The Broadmoor Hotel property, but I remember that I was too nervous, so I stayed in the car with my mom. I remember thinking to myself, that one day, I would stay there on my own. This was before I was old enough to work, before I chose hospitality as my degree, and before I had started my new job.

In July, I found out that I would keep this promise to myself. I would spend a little over a week at this beautiful, historic property.

Though I was in Colorado Springs for work, I was able to explore a little bit too. On top of learning a great deal from my co-workers, and making new friends, I had the incredible opportunity to take our guests zip lining in the mountains. Soaring Adventures features 2 courses or a combination of the two, with one of the zips being 1,800 ft. long at speeds of 45 miles per hour, at approximately 500 feet above the canyon.

On our final day of the program, a few from the team were able to take a step outside for an afternoon hike. Just on the outskirts of the Broadmoor property, there is a place called Seven Falls. It’s a steep hike up a few flights of stairs, and then a semi-mild hike up the mountain, but the reward at the top is worth it. We also had the opportunity to go to a beautiful park called Garden of the Gods. Though not a difficult hike, the registered National Natural Landmark features 300-foot towering sandstone rock formations with Pikes Peak and beautiful blue skies not far away.

I extended my time in Colorado by an extra day, spending time with a friend of mine from grade school / high school. She just moved to Denver with her husband for his job, and drove to Colorado Springs to meet me. She and I spent the day in Manitou Springs, stopped by the Air Force Base, and then drove back to Denver for the night as it was her husband’s birthday! It was nice to relax after a bit of a long week, and see a good friend.

Colorado Springs was great. I experienced new things, ate at new restaurants, made new friends, met a rescued wolf named Spirit, and explored when I could. I lived that dream I set for myself so long ago, and I stayed in the main building too! It is inspiring how moments like this come full circle, and I am forever grateful for this opportunity. Until the next dream…

RECOMMEND

A few places that I visited…

Manitou Springs: “Not just a mountain town”, Manitou Springs features 8 naturally-carbonated mineral springs, a walkable downtown, wonderful local shops, and a fun penny arcade. It also features the Manitou Incline which is at the base of Pikes Peak, a shortcut to part of the hike but at almost a vertical incline. (Disclaimer: I did not climb the Manitou Incline, but I would like to go back and do this!)

Garden of the Gods: The founder of Colorado Springs, General William Jackson Palmer, asked his friend, Charles Elliot Perkins, to establish a home in Garden of the Gods in 1879 with the hopes that he would build his railroad from Chicago to Colorado Springs. Though the Burlington Railroad never quite reached Colorado Springs, Perkins purchased 240 acres in Garden of the Gods that year for a summer home, later adding to the property as he preferred to leave his wonderland for the public. Following his death, his children turned over his 480 acres to the City of Colorado Springs, forever known as Garden of the Gods, where it “shall remain free to the public, where no intoxicating liquors shall be manufactured, sold, or dispensed, where no building or structure shall be erected except those necessary to properly care for, protect, and maintain the area as a public park.” Overall, it’s a beautiful place to walk around and be overwhelmed by natural beauty.

Seven Falls: Located in a 1,250 ft. wall box canyon between the towering Pillars of Hercules lies a magnificent series of waterfalls. Surrounding the falls are 224 challenging steps to the hiking trails and banks of streams the feed the falls themselves and its 181 ft. drop.

The Golden Bee: My favorite place to eat all week was this amazing gastropub on The Broadmoor property. The pub was actually transferred to The Broadmoor panel by panel, directly from the UK. There is nightly piano entertainment, with song-books provided. My favorite meal that I had was the Shepherd’s Pie and I would order it seven times more. The coolest part of The Golden Bee experience is that they throw bees at you. Yes, you heard that right. The servers throw bees at you! They’re sticky bees, and the server’s goal is to get them on your clothing – and they’re very good at it too!

Air Force Base: I had the unique opportunity to see the Air Force Base Cadet Chapel before it began renovations. It was beautiful. Many religions celebrate their services in this Chapel, with the Catholic chapel being on the lower level. That was just as beautiful.

Bucket List…

Pikes Peak: With several ways to get to the top (drive, bike, hike, or jeep tour), Pikes Peak is absolutely something that I would like to do one day. With 14,115 ft. in total elevation, the hike itself is a 7,500 ft. elevation gain. Local guides suggest spending a few days in Colorado before making the hike so to acclimate before the additional elevation gain. Bring plenty of water, as there are no places to refill up the mountain. Costs and what to bring vary depending on what you want to do, but either way you’re in for beautiful views and an unforgettable experience.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is the only zoo located on the side of the mountain. Their mission is to share the wonders of the natural world with kids of all ages and providing memories for a lifetime. They were named the 6th Best Zoo in North America by USAToday’s 10 Best Zoos (falling behind my home (St. Louis) zoo in 3rd. This zoo homes more than 30 species of endangered animals and feature a live giraffe cam! My guests enjoyed this zoo, and I can’t wait to go back to enjoy it myself.

XO – MC

SUNRIVER, OREGON

On my very first day of my brand-new job, I learned that I would be going to “Sunriver”. A quick google search told me that Sunriver was a resort community in Central Oregon, near Bend and the Cascade Range. I honestly had never thought of Oregon as a “destination”, and I really didn’t know much about what to expect from the terrain or weather in Oregon. I thankfully had a co-worker send me some pieces of advice about what to pack, and soon enough, I was on my way. I was too excited to once again be in the air that I couldn’t rest on the plane. Plus, I had a window seat, so I spent most of my flight staring out into the sky. My layover was in Salt Lake City, and the views from the sky were incredible. And they only got better as the trip continued.

I was upgraded on my flight from Salt Lake City to Redmond, Oregon. It wasn’t first class, but I felt very blessed to have that happen on my very first trip, which I knew wouldn’t happen all the time. When I landed in Redmond, I deplaned on the tarmac and headed inside to baggage claim. The airport was very small, with no physical gates, and I was most definitely overdressed in my business casual. After baggage claim, my coworker picked me up, and we began the drive towards Sunriver.

Wow, did I underestimate Sunriver, Oregon. On the drive, I began to see parts of the Cascade Range appearing in the distance. My coworker taught me about the Three Sisters, Broken Top, and Mt. Bachelor, which are actually volcanic mountains located at the boundary of the Deschutes National Forest. Over the course of the 2 weeks that I was in Sunriver, I learned a lot about these significant peaks, and even explored a few of them.

When I first arrived to the hotel, I was upgraded (just for the night) into the Presidential Suite to accommodate some of their other guests, and I felt like a VIP. The view from the room was incredible, a huge balcony with rocking chairs, I had a double sided fireplace, a rainfall shower, and a beautiful jetted tub. To be completely honest, I was so exhausted from the day of travel, and even a little nervous for my first day “on the road”, that I didn’t enjoy the room as much as I could have. I fell asleep right away.

The next morning, I moved into a different room. It still had a fireplace, a porch out the back door, my own rocking chairs, and a clear view of Mt. Bachelor. Over the next two weeks, it would become my peaceful getaway. The overall programs went very well. I learned a lot about my new job, and had a great teacher. On the small moments of free time that we had while in Central Oregon, we were able to drive to neighboring areas to Sunriver, mostly in a town called Bend.

Bend, Oregon is not far from Sunriver, and according to locals, it has really flourished in recent years. It is home to Mt. Bachelor, and the Cascade range, but even more so is filled with lakes, the Deschutes River, skiing, and more. Bend hosts a significant number of tourists throughout the seasons, and with all there is to do and explore, I can see why. I constantly saw locals paddle boarding, kayaking, biking, hiking, and I even saw some in ski gear. Bend is also home to the newly trendy Hydroflask and Deschutes Brewery, the 8th largest craft brewery in the nation. On one of our free afternoons, we were able to experience Bite of Bend, which was going on in the downtown Bend area in the midst of a marathon. To be honest, Bend reminded me a lot of Fayetteville, Arkansas. It was very local-driven, very proud of its small-town feel while also being proud of its growth. Though Fayetteville doesn’t quite have the scenery that the Cascade Range gives Central Oregon, I feel that Northwest Arkansans would fall in love with Bend and vice versa.

I am very grateful that my first trip with work was to Central Oregon. It was unexpected and beautiful, and it’s a trip that I don’t know if I would have taken on my own. The Pacific Northwest is even more beautiful than I’ve heard, and I can’t wait to go back and explore more of Oregon’s beautiful state.

RECOMMEND

A few places that I visited…

Sparks Lake: 25 miles west of Bend, Sparks Lake is approximately 370-acres of lake wetland, surrounded by 360-acres of meadow, marsh, or stream wetlands. Breathtaking views of South Sister, Broken Top, and Bachelor butte surround the lake, and trails. The lake was formed about 10,000 years ago, when lavas from the Mt. Bachelor Volcanic Chain blocked the upper Deschutes River. There are small streams (also known as “beaver highways”) throughout the area that are freezing cold, and very slick, so watch where you step! You will need a day pass or forestry pass to park and explore for the day!

Devil’s Lake: 30 miles southwest of Bend, Devil’s Lake is a shallow 23-acre shallow lake with turquoise color and scenic views. The trailhead is located just off the lake, and travels into the Three Sisters Wilderness. You do need to have the $5 Day Pass or a pass off their approved list online, in addition to the free, self-issue permit required Memorial Day – October 31st. This hike was moderate, and after about a mile turned into 4-6 ft. of packed snow.

Newberry National Volcanic Monument: Including 54,000+ acres of lakes, lava flows, and geologic features, this monument was created to view the lava lands of Central Oregon. The highest point in the monument is Paulina Peak (pronounced pawl-eye-nah), at a summit of 7,985 ft. Unfortunately, there was too much snow on Paulina Peak during our visit, but we made the most of it by checking out the Big Obsidian Flow and Paulina Lake. At 1,300 years old, the Big Obsidian Flow is the youngest lava flow in Oregon.  A one-mile trail leads through this astounding lava flow of obsidian (black glass) and pumice to overlook Paulina Lake. While not a difficult hike, this path gives history on the Big Obsidian Flow and Newberry National Volcanic Monument as well. Covering an area of 1,531-acres, Paulina Lake is the larger of the 2 twin lakes in the Newberry Caldera. Both Paulina and East Lakes rely solely on rain, snowmelt, and hot springs for water. Paulina Creek drains Paulina Lake, creating a remarkable waterfall by way of a chiseled, narrow gorge through the caldera’s west wall. The hot springs at Paulina Lake are a little more difficult to find than then ones at East Lake, but just as cool. After bathing in the hot springs, it’s a tradition to then plunge into the freezing lake. You will need a day pass or forestry pass to park and explore for the day!

Sunriver Brewing Company: This is actually where I watched the Blues win the 2018-2019 season Stanley Cup. They have great beers and ciders on draft, good food, and a great atmosphere. It’s a seasonal menu, but if they have the Baked Mac ‘n Cheese or the Moroccan Bowl on the menu, those were hard to beat!

The Last Blockbuster: The very last Blockbuster exists in Bend, Oregon and is still functioning as a real Blockbuster today. When I stepped inside, I was filled with nostalgia for going to my own local store and picking out a movie with my parents. I picked up a sticker on my way out, and definitely took a picture inside.

Pilot Butte: A scenic viewpoint located just east of Bend, this butte allows for 360 views of the Cascade Range and more. You can drive, hike, or bike up to the top, just be careful – the roads are windy!

St. Francis School: This 1936 Catholic schoolhouse was transformed in 2004 to a hotel complete with classrooms-turned-lodging rooms, a pump, brewery, a movie theater, private meeting/event space, live music bookings, and a fantastic soaking pool. McMenamins is a hospitality company that is considered a neighborhood gathering spot throughout Oregon and Washington since 1983. Not only do they honor each property’s former life through photos and memorabilia, they create custom artwork, furniture, and light fixtures to honor the history as well.

Bucket List…

Mt. Bachelor: I would love to hike around Mt. Bachelor in the summer, or ski during the winter!

Crater Lake: Though not particularly in Bend or Sunriver, this is definitely a place I want to visit. 7,700 years ago, a violent eruption triggered the collapse of a tall peak, forming Crater Lake. Fed by rain and snow, it is the deepest lake in the United States, and one of the most pristine on earth.

XO – MC

HOMEWARD BOUND-ISH

In my previous post, I mentioned that my mom recommended I look into a company based out of St. Louis. And though I didn’t find a position that I qualified for right away, I did the next morning. After cancelling my plans that day, redesigning my resume, creating a cover letter, and submitting before the day was over, I had applied for my dream job.

There weren’t many details about the interview process within the application. So if I were to even receive an interview, I didn’t know when that would happen. Even though it was the weekend, I was so excited about this potential job, that I checked my email the next morning (Sunday). And the next day. And the next day. Which happened to be Tuesday.

And that Tuesday morning, I received an email from the company requesting to schedule an initial interview with me. I was that much closer to my dream. I wanted to schedule my interview on the very next day, but I knew that I would be too eager, and I needed time to do additional research about the position and prepare for the interview.

The first interview went well. I had some help from friends finding a quiet, noise-free location away from work to take the phone call. The interview was fairly standard, filled with situational questions based on my past experience. I am grateful that I took the extra time to research and prepare, because I was able to anticipate questions while answering them confidently. By the end of the interview, I didn’t know if I was moving forward, but my interviewer made me aware that I would know if I moved to the next round of interviews or not, by the middle of the month.

Just as I checked my email every day after I submitted my resume, I checked my email every day waiting to hear hopefully good news. It only took a week to get the next email. I was invited to a second, in-person interview. I scheduled the interview for a Monday after a weekend I would be in St. Louis, though the company did offer to fly me to the interview. (WHAT?!)

I worked hard to prepare for this interview – more than I had ever prepared for an interview. I researched the company on Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn, and I discovered 20+ potential interview questions, with suggested answers. I adjusted the answers to fit my experience, and gained confidence as I answered the practice questions.

The day of the interview came, and I arrived about 30 minutes early (to the parking lot). I walked in at the recommended 15 minutes prior to the interview, and signed in at the security desk. Soon enough, I was interviewing for the position. This interview went similarly, fairly standard questions as they applied to the events industry, with the implication that situational answers were needed. It began with two managers within the operations team, followed by a separate meeting with the vice president. The first portion went well, though I was nervous, I felt that there was a smooth ebb and flow to the interview. The second half with the VP, was the most nerve-wracking interview I’ve ever had, and I walked away feeling… okay.

I felt just about all of the feels throughout this interview process. Nervous, excited, happy, anxious. When I saw the original job posting, I had a feeling that this was just “meant to be”. Each time I saw an email, I had the same feeling. I couldn’t shake that feeling. The day before I found the job posting, I discovered that I wanted to travel and that I wanted to begin the process of moving back to St. Louis sooner rather than later. And here was this job, that required travel 2/3 of the year, moving back to St. Louis, and let me continue to work in events. It almost felt too perfect.

Just as I did after the first interview, and on the advice of a kind family member, I sent my thank you cards to those who interviewed me during the second round, and waited patiently. (And checked my email multiple times a day.) I waited for almost TWO WEEKS. But it was worth the wait.

I got the job.

That feeling was real. It was meant to be. I was moving home. (Though I will be traveling throughout the world 250+ days out of the year.) I have my dream job. It’s happening. I’m homeward bound-ish.

XO – MC

DISCOVERY

This past February, I was in the process of interviewing for a job that would completely change my career path in hospitality. I was asked to interview for the position, which was a huge honor considering the field it was in and my lack of experience in said field. However exciting it sounded, I wasn’t sold on the potential of this new position. After all, I have been living and breathing hospitality for several years now, and I thought I had found what I was meant to do.

The interview process was extensive and I am grateful it was for a few reasons. It taught me about what I want looking into my personal and career-driven future. I hadn’t been seriously asked what I want my future to look like from someone outside of my current organization. Those who did ask, usually asked rhetorical questions or questions that had generic answers. I knew that eventually I wanted to move back home (to St. Louis) and have a family of my own one day, with maybe a job that at times, would allow me to work from home. But there was no real timeline, and there was no clear path of a career (even if it was in hospitality) that I wanted to follow.

This interview process taught me to rely on friends and family, and who to rely on, ensuring that the friends and family that I surrounded myself with would lead me to success. Making life-changing decisions is scary idea, and without support from those who surround you, you are making those decisions alone. So surrounding yourself with those who have strength and faith in you, is key to successful change. I believe that Matthew Kelly said it best,

“The people we surround ourselves with either raise or lower our standards. They either help us to become the-best-version-of-ourselves or encourage us to become lesser versions of ourselves. We become like our friends. No man becomes great on his own. No woman becomes great on her own. The people around them help to make them great. We all need people in our lives who raise our standards, remind us of our essential purpose, and challenge us to become the-best-version-of-ourselves.”

This interview made me think about how my friends and family would fit into my life as I tackle the new job. And as I talked to friends and family, I discovered those who challenged me to become the best version of myself, and those who didn’t. Those who encouraged me to become the best version of myself supported me, but they knew how to ask me the tough questions.

And while I was being interviewed with questions from the potential new employer (and my friends), I also learned to ask the right questions for myself. As I mentioned before, I considered what my future would like, but I also learned to ask about where and what hours I would be working. This helped me discover what I wanted from my work/life balance, and my comfort in my office space.

This interview was a truly positive experience. Two months into the process, I was offered the position. I asked the company for the weekend to consider the offer, because as silly as it sounds, I didn’t “feel it” when I received the offer. After work that day, I went to get food with a friend who helped me weigh the pros and cons scribbled in crayon on the back of a placemat. We eventually determined that the cons outweighed the pros, not necessarily about the job or the company, but the results from accepting the job and how it lined up with my goals. I learned that I wanted to begin the process of moving back to St. Louis. I learned that I wanted to travel, much like my family has/will have the chance to with my dad being in Europe. And I learned that I wasn’t ready to give up on hospitality.

That night, I talked to my mom who told me to research a company based out of St. Louis. I did, and I didn’t find anything that I qualified for related to hospitality. I felt very discouraged, because I was ready to grow in my career elsewhere, preferably taking a step towards moving home. The next morning, I had a weird instinct to check again. So I looked at LinkedIn. And I found something that I qualified for, that would allow for travel, and that would keep me in events. I immediately cancelled my plans for the day, redesigned my entire resume, created a cover letter in the same design, and submitted it all before the day was over. I took a chance on something that gave me “that feeling”, even after I just simply read the job description.

On Monday, I declined the offer to the other job. It was hard, but I thanked the company for their time and for teaching me a lot about myself. I had to follow “that feeling”. Ultimately, this interview taught me that though I wasn’t meant for a career in law, I was meant to stay in hospitality. I wouldn’t say I doubted my place in hospitality throughout this process, since hospitality is present in almost any industry, but I was unsure how it would fit in with my personal goals.

My biggest piece of advice after this experience is to take the interview. You’ll learn more about yourself than you thought was possible, even if you don’t take the job.

XO – MC

PHOTOGRAPHY CLASS

Have you ever had inspiration to do something completely out of your normal? I had that today. I’ve been wanting to kick off this blog (and a little bit of photography) for quite some time. But I didn’t know where to start, or where I wanted this to go. I have a pretty good eye for a good photo, but my editing skills were lacking. I barely know how to use my super fancy Nikon.

A few weeks ago, I helped execute a bridal expo at work. One of the vendors, a semi-new vendor friend of mine, was at the show, across from our booth. His booth was so cute, complete with a neon-pink sign and balloon arch. Oh and he had petit fours. Our booth was amazing too, complete with the largest charcuterie board I’ve ever seen (credit to my Director of Sales), but for the sake of inspiration, we’ll focus on his booth for now.

I have met Dale a few times throughout my time working  within the Northwest Arkansas hospitality industry, the first time being when I was still in college and he had a shoot at the hotel where I worked part-time. I’ve always admired his work. He and his fiancé, Tyler, were prepping the booth and we all kind of hit it off – the petit fours absolutely had something to do with it. I mentioned how badly I wanted to learn from Dale and his photography skills, and even sent a few brides his way. By the end of the day, I owed him my sister’s vegan pumpkin muffin recipe.

About a week later, his Instagram story had an announcement about a photography class. I instantly signed up and invited one of my friends to come with me. I couldn’t wait. The class was at 21C Hotel Museum in Bentonville, about 30 minutes North of Fayetteville. I had been to this hotel and museum before for a luncheon, and I was excited to see the Green Penguins.

My friend and I planned the entire day – starting with a trip to Target for a cute notebook and pens, which conveniently had a Starbucks inside. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, Starbucks is the way to my heart, but when you combine Starbucks and Target, it’s even better. When we were leaving Target, a kiddo around the age of 3  was screaming that he didn’t want to leave. We felt that on so many levels. After getting our caffeine, we drove to lunch at Big Orange in Rogers. Their menu has gluten-free buns, which makes a gluten-intolerant person like myself very happy.

After lunch, we drove to 21c, arriving early to get the best seats. Dale gave two presentations: Portraiture & Composition and Camera Settings. He touched on aperture, f-stop, shutter speed, iso, and exposure. We learned what effects adding flash creates. Dale talked about the best angles to take photos, leading lines, framing, repeating backgrounds, foreground vs. background, sizing, and more. As he went through the presentations, I realized that some of the elements he mentioned, I naturally incorporate into pictures.

Overall, I learned a lot from the entire day. I downloaded and discovered more with Adobe Creative Cloud applications, such as Lightroom and Photoshop, on my computer and phone. But something that happened after this photography class – almost completely unrelated to photography – is that I gained confidence to actually start blogging regularly.

A long time ago, I thought about what motivates me. What impact do I want to leave? I still don’t know exactly. What I do know is that I want to live a life of altruistic hospitality. I want to always serve others, and welcome them into my life in the kindest way that I am able. What I do know is that when I spend time with my grandparents, I love hearing about when they were children, young adults, newlyweds, or before they had grandchildren. I love reminiscing with them, and one day I want to do that with my own family. I take pictures all the time, and I enjoy documenting my life on social media. I love to document memories. But I love to write. And I want to write more – about my life, my job, my family, my travel, my dog, and everything in between. So what motivates me? I said something one day to a friend of mine, and it’s always stuck with me…

Document everything. Someday you will be embarrassed, laughing, crying, or smiling, and remembering how you didn’t take that moment for granted.

XO – MC

FAYETTEVILLE TOWN CENTER

I received a promotion today! This is my second promotion at Fayetteville Town Center, a convention center in Downtown Fayetteville, Arkansas. Fayetteville Town Center is an organization within the umbrella of the Fayetteville Advertising & Promotion Commission, as is the Visitor’s Bureau, Experience Fayetteville.

In March of 2017, I started at Fayetteville Town Center with the title of “Event Coordinator”. Within my first month, our Facility Director (essentially a General Manager) and Senior Event Manager submitted their resignations, in addition to the other two Event Coordinators. That left our staff with an Event Manager, a Director of Sales, and myself. We had an external set-up crew that also handled some maintenance of the facility, but other than that, it was just the three of us. To say it was rough, would be an understatement. But we made it work – because that’s the event world and we couldn’t sacrifice our client experiences.

In June, I was promoted to the role of Event Manager, taking on clients of my own. I couldn’t have asked for a better first 100 days at Fayetteville Town Center. I didn’t learn through a Training Manual, I just did what I could. I made mistakes, as I still continue to do, but I learned from them. And usually, whatever I did, worked. By August, the Executive Director of our parent organization had hired a General Manager to fulfill the role that the “Facility Director” left. A lot began to change after Jordan started. He quickly promoted the other Event Manager, Monica, to the role of Director of Event Services, and changed my title to Event Services Manager. Our Director of Sales left the organization in October, and we had to figure out how to sell our venue to new clients, on top of retaining our current clients. Our Director of Sales also had most of the knowledge of our internal booking system, so we had to learn that too. I took that as an opportunity to teach myself everything I could about it, through studying, trial, and error.

By the beginning of December, we brought on a new Director of Sales, Tina, and a Facility Manager, Josh. The Facility Manager’s role would be different than the previous Facility Director position that was replaced by our General Manager. Josh would be responsible for the upkeep of the facility, from the paint colors to the A/C units to the on-site resources. He would also inherit the upkeep of Experience Fayetteville, and the two other properties within the umbrella of the A&P Commission, the Walker-Stone House and the Clinton House Museum.

Right after Josh was hired, we all went on a team retreat in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It was great for building our new team, and beginning to discuss our plans for the future of Fayetteville Town Center. Monica and I proposed the creation of a Training Manual for operations, Jordan helped us brainstorm new core values and a new mission statement. Tina discussed her plans to bring in more business. And Josh sought improvements that he could facilitate. We had some fun too, and even made a friend on one of the evenings we spent in Hot Springs.

Since that retreat, our team has grown immensely and a lot has changed. We hired new Event Services Coordinators, and continued to update the Training Manual. We renovated our offices into additional breakout space, and rented a new office space. We repainted our lobby, and then our entire venue, and replaced the carpet in some areas. We transformed our linen room into a hospitality suite, and transformed our maintenance junk room into an A/V and linen room. We created a liquor room from a file room, while also increasing our liquor profit margin by over 50%. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t always easy to execute the change, but every change has been worth it.

Today, I received a promotion for Event Services Manager to Sales Manager. This position was created and posted at the beginning of this year, because sales are growing significantly. I will be responsible for gaining and retaining business within the “SMERF” market (social, military, education, religious, and fraternal). This will take some of the pressure off Tina, our Director of Sales, from all of the leads that come to FTC. In addition to this market, I will retain some of the responsibilities that I inherited throughout my time as Event Services Manager, i.e. accepting payments, maintaining the knowledge of outstanding balances, etc. I will be responsible for the social media and marketing for the organization, including (but not limited to) Facebook, Instagram, and Wedding Wire. I am so excited for this opportunity, to learn directly from Tina, and to see where I can grow from here.

XO – MC