May 2007


You know that 80-20 rule Dyer was talking about in one of my previous posts?  Well, it applies to my work as well.  I promote four venues in my city town, and 80% of my clients choose one particular oceanfront resort.  The average number of guests that these destination weddings bring is about 100, which is the minimum that the resort requires in order to book the wedding.  I understand that my groups are not large, but they fill up the entire hotel (which local weddings fail to do) and they consume more than locals do in the days leading up to and following the wedding.

I have worked well with this location for the past three years.  In 2006, I booked over 20 weddings with them between February and October.  This year I downscaled my business for personal reasons, but still managed to book 10 out of my 14 weddings with them.   As far as I knew, they were happy with my services, although the hotel owner (it’s family-run) had never so much as called me to thank me for my business in these past three years.

Then, this past weekend the shit hit the fan.  Literally.  Almost.   See, this venue has an oceanfront garden where they hold the wedding ceremony.  Because the grass takes a beating from the ocean breeze, it has to be fertilized every 14 days or so.  They started applying the very stinky manure-based fertilizer on Monday, so when my weekend wedding couple showed up on Tuesday, they almost had a collective heart attack.  They called me and chewed me out, but of course I don’t own the venue and couldn’t do anything more than call the events manager and lodge a strong complaint.  She explained that the manure would be removed and that the smell would be gone by Saturday.   I told her that if the clients kept bugging me, I would be forced to send them to the General Manager because all of this was out of my hands, yet I was taking the 80 gazillion phone calls from the irate groom and his hysterical bride.

By Saturday, the manure had been cleared for the most part and the ceremony and reception proceeded without incident thanks to the parents of the groom, who convinced the couple that nobody would notice the slight mulching effect of the fertilizer on the grass.   The bride was very rude and demanding with me, but I won’t go into that right now (happy thoughts, happy thoughts).  I did my job diligently as always, received much praise from guests and parents, wished the nice groom much luck with his marriage (while the bride glowered), and high-tailed it back home.

Fast forward to this afternoon.  I was sitting with my florist, who’s also a great friend and a talented gossip.  He looked nervous, so I asked him what was up.

“I’m only telling you this because you’re my friend and I respect you,” he started.  “You know I care for you very much as a friend and I admire your professionalism.”  A knot turned in my stomach as I imagined something awful I had done to him or another of my esteemed vendors without realizing it.

Finally he spilled the beans.  “One of the hotel employees told me that they are not going to allow you to book weddings for 2008,” he said in one quick breath.  I blinked a couple of times and asked if he knew why.

“They say that the groups you take are too small, but mainly it’s the fact that you’re too demanding.”

I laughed.  I had to!  Before you think I’m some sort of maniacal ogre wedding planner, you must understand the culture of the country I live in.  In Mexico, if you want a banquet waiter to bring a guest a fork because the waiter forgot to set the table properly, you have to address him as follows:

“Jose, could you do me a huge favor?  See, the guest is missing a fork.   Would you be a dear and pretty please go get me another one?  I would really appreciate your kindness, if it’s not too much trouble.”  Meanwhile, the guest is sitting there without a fork and their food is getting cold.

I AM SERIOUS.  I AM NOT JOKING.  This applies to EVERY SINGLE EMPLOYEE.  It is maddening.  When I first started working in Mexico, I would say, “Jose, could you please bring a fork for this guest?”  After a couple of times of saying this, I was pulled aside by the events manager and chastised for my rudeness to their staff!!  HELLO?!?!  What f*ing retarded backwards country do I live in where a waiter gets offended by a straightforward request?

But beyond this, if I am “demanding” with the staff, it is only because the client is demanding with ME (and trust me, I don’t get “pretty pleased”).   The client is paying me so that they don’t have to worry about the little details.  Funny… All the American vendors I’ve worked with have been impressed by how laid-back and nice I am.  They tell me crazy stories about dictatorial wedding planners who snap fingers, throw clipboards, and yell if things are not done their way.  I wonder how the events manager would react to this type of coordinator…

Tomorrow morning, bright and early, I’m going to plop my ass down in the event manager’s office and get the straight scoop (politely, of course, because God forbid I offend her sensibilities).  If she so much as mentions the fact that I am demanding, I’m going to say, “Juanita, who pays your salary?”  She’ll obviously say her boss’s name, to which I will smugly reply, “Wrong!  The client pays your salary, and the client is always right.  I am the client’s representative, which means that when I ask for something, as long as it is a reasonable request and it is asked politely, it has to be done.”

Ooooooooo, I can’t wait!   I am not worried about losing this venue.  It is a cycle whose life has come to an end and it is time for me to move on to greener pastures.  There’s a gorgeous private villa I have my heart set on promoting… And the commission alone covers two months’ rent for my apartment!

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Note: This is the final installment of a three-part post.  You can read part I here and part II here.

One of the most famous verses from the Tao says:  The journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.  In other words, start small and take things one day at a time.  If you have goals and objectives, don’t look at them in their entirety.  Many times, they’ll seem insurmountable if we look at the big picture.  However, if we break down the process into achievable steps, suddenly our journey towards our goals doesn’t seem so daunting!  This wise teaching can be applied to any experience in life, whether it be starting a new business, writing a book, running a marathon, building a marriage, or raising a child.

Dr. Dyer encouraged people who are battling addictions to apply this philosophy.  For most, the idea of never again touching an alcoholic beverage, a drug, or an unhealthy food can be overwhelming.  However, if they decide that “for today only” they’ll avoid their addiction, and they make the same decision every day, they will tame the beast and reach their goals.

When it comes to solving problems, Dyer recommended a similar approach.  The Tao, he said, encourages us to take on difficulties while they are still easy and solvable.  We should never let a problem become overwhelming, but should instead nip it at the bud.  Procrastination sometimes causes small issues to become huge problems; by taking small steps every day, we effectively prevent these insignificant details from snowballing into a major dilemma.

Dyer went on to say that we are all interconnected in this Universe.  Everyone and everything emanates from the same source.  Therefore, he concluded that there is no such thing as an enemy.  He borrowed a Native American saying to emphasize his point:  No tree has branches foolish enough as to fight among themselves.  Don’t judge another, because we all come from the same place, we are all the same, and we are all headed in the same direction.

The Tao states that if you try to use violence to get rid of your enemy, more enemies will arise.  Think of the dandelion weed.  It has soft white tufts that hold hundreds of seeds.  If you try to destroy the dandelions from your garden with your lawn mower, the seeds will scatter in the wind and in a few months you’ll have even more dandelions!  However, if you respect the plants and allow them to play their role in nature, you’ll soon learn to live in harmony with them.

When faced with the choice of being right versus being kind, the Tao encourages us to always choose kindness.  Whenever you find yourself at an impasse with someone, always be the first to say “I love you”.  This is the best way to end a silence: I love you.  These three simple words break down the strongest barriers and reach the center of our core.

Finally, Dyer encouraged us to see everything that happens in our lives as miraculous.  And it’s true… The fact that we’re on this planet, that the Earth even exists, is a true miracle.  That two people find each other and fall in love, that’s a miracle.  That a living being can be formed from two microscopic elements, that’s certainly a miracle.  What miracles have taken place in your life???

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For more on Dr. Wayne Dyer, visit his website at www.waynedyer.com

I highly recommend his PBS special, The Power of Intention.  Watch it here on Google video.

Note: You can read the first part of this post here.

One of the recurring themes most spiritual teachers emphasize is gratitude, and Dr. Dyer is no exception. He reminded us to live with gratitude every day of our lives. How many of us go through life feeling sad and depressed for what we don’t have? How many of us wake up every day and think “thank you” before we even get out of bed? Try saying and feeling “thank you”. It is one of the most transformational exercises you can practice.

Much of the Tao encourages us to live our lives by imitating how nature acts. When faced with the topic of flexibility, Dyer looked to the palm trees and the water in Maui, the island where he lives. Palm trees sway to and fro with the wind, bending at impressive angles and thus avoiding the perils of snapping in half. Dyer suggests we live our lives like palm trees, being flexible with our thoughts and ideas. “It’s OK to say ‘I don’t know’,” he encourages. “It’s also OK to change your mind”. These two ideas should come as a relief to those of us who feel incarcerated by our decisions and pressured by the need to have the right answers.

When you learn to be flexible, you learn to release control over many aspects of your life. Dyer again takes an example from nature. If you try to grasp water in your fist, you’ll never succeed. The liquid will run through your fingers and trickle to the ground. However, if you gently cup your hand and let water fall into it, you’ll be much more successful in your endeavour. The same applies to life: The tighter you try to hold on to something, be it a moral value, a rule, or a person, the faster it will slip through your fingers. When you allow things to come to you and permit them to just “be” in their natural state, you’ll have an easier time holding on to them.

Looking at nature again, we see that a newborn baby – an ideal representation of the fullness of life – is flexible and supple. You can touch a baby’s head with his foot and he’ll feel no pain. Death, on the other hand, is brittle and hard. Just think of dead leaves crunching underfoot, or the stiffness of a corpse. By being flexible, we connect with the essence of life; by being rigid in our thoughts and actions, we move one step closer to death.

One of my favorite parts of Dyer’s talk had to do with how we bring up our children. As a firm believer in preparing children to be autonomous beings, I am horrified every time I see what Dyer refers to as “helicopter parents”. These people believe that their main role in life is to hover around their children and protect them from every situation that they’ll encounter. Instead of safeguarding their children, these parents are interfering with their development, and are creating persons who not only don’t trust their own instincts, but have received the message that they are not capable of solving problems on their own. Dyer explains what I’ve known for a long time, that children are not for us, they are through us. We are simply vessels that deliver them into this world. It is our job to prepare them and give them tools so that as adults they’ll be able to succeed.

The next topic Dyer discussed was our perception of a given situation. He reminded us that hidden in every misfortune is good fortune. It’s all a matter of how you look at it. I was talking about this with my mom a few weeks back. It’s really amazing how two people can have the same exact experience, yet for one person it can be a blessing, while for the other it can be their downfall. Take the case of Heather Mills, for example. She lost her leg in an accident, which many would consider the most tragic thing that could befall a person (short of dying). However, not only did her loss enhance her professional achievements, but it also allowed her to make an impact in the world through her campaign against landmines. Would Heather have achieved all this had she not lost her leg? Perhaps. But how many of us, when faced with the same circumstances, would have bemoaned our bad luck and lived the rest our lives with a “woe is me” attitude? I learned many years ago that things aren’t good or bad… They just are. It’s the emotion we attach to them and how we react to them which give them power over us.

Note: I’m going to break up this post into three or four parts, due to the length of his presentation and the quantity of information provided.

A couple of months ago, I was browsing the Hay House website for the first time, looking for books on Dr. Wayne Dyer. I came across a link to purchase tickets for a PBS program that Dyer would be taping in San Diego on May 23rd. I bought a ticket and continued my search for books, not giving the ticket much thought.

I attended the taping on May 23rd, along with about 300 other people. I was SHOCKED when Dyer announced that tickets for this event had sold out in one hour! Talk about being in the right place at the right time when I bought the ticket! Divine intervention? You know what they say: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

For his new book, “Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life”, Dyer applied each of the 81 verses of the Tao Te Ching to his life. Over the course of one year, he read, studied, and lived the ancient Chinese philosophies and recorded the changes he noticed in himself. During the talk, he highlighted some of the most important concepts taught by the Chinese texts.

According to Dyer, reading and applying the wisdom of the Tao will allow the qualities of integrity, joy, peace, and balance to flow into your life. You will return to “the place from whence you came”. In other words, you’ll re-align with your source energy, your true nature. We all come from the divine, and for the nine months that we lived in our mother’s womb we trusted in this divine nature to create our lives. However, once we’re born and develop an ego consciousness we lose trust in our own nature and depend on others to show us the path to happiness.

What is ego? Dyer defines it as: Edge God Out. Ego consists of false beliefs, including material possessions, extrinsic rewards, and likability. Children’s egos develop early in life; in kindergarten, they are rewarded with gold stars for their achievements. As they grow, their self-worth becomes dependent on awards, material possessions, and a sense of belonging to the “right” crowd. However, when one of these “foundations” crumbles (as they are prone to do, being built on false premises), the person is left confused and disoriented, having lost touch with source energy.

If you believe you are what you do, when you don’t, you aren’t.

Tao, which in Chinese means “the way”, guides us back to where we started and encourages us to trust in our own nature by retraining the ego in the following ways:

Shift from fear to curiosity. There’s nothing more liberating and life-affirming than discovering a new passion, talent, or calling, but many times we’re held in place by fear of failure. Push aside your convictions of what’s doable and what’s impossible, and trust that your divine nature will guide you.

Take the need to be in control and shift it to trust. You weren’t in control of your physical development while you were in the womb, yet everything was created perfectly by your source energy. Allow it to create everything else in your life with the same perfection and ease.

Shift from a sense of entitlement to a sense of radical humility. Live in awe of everything that surrounds you, and be grateful for each person, thing, and situation your life is graced with. “Stay humble, stay low,” Dyer recommends. He goes on to explain that the sea stays low, yet rivers and streams flow into it. Isn’t that imagery beautiful??

Be kind to the kind and the unkind alike, because our true nature is kindness. If you want to live in a more thoughtful, positive, and caring world, you have to start by being the change you want to see. Each act of kindness you put forth encourages others to act in turn.

Shift from “needing more” to “living contentedly”. Our society is constantly reminding us that we need to have more. The media, our peers, and even schools encourage consumerism at a frightening scale. However, it’s been demonstrated that humans live by the 80-20 rule: We only use 20% of what we have; the other 80% goes to waste. The Tao says, “When your cup is full, stop pouring.” Dyer encourages us to give away the 80% that we don’t use. Perhaps even more importantly, he touts the virtue of giving away something that we really like. The act of sharing with others something that has brought you immense happiness will undoubtedly bring more joy into your life.

… I plan on writing about the Wayne Dyer presentation I went to on Wednesday.  The man rocks. 🙂  Now, back to work.  Ugh.

Author’s note: This was the first entry on my first blog, posted exactly one year ago today. Mr. T and I had been dating for one month. We went trail running… He kicked my butt and won my heart.

“When life gives you lemons, make a wildflower bouquet.”

With these words, a small arrangement of bright blooms, and an even brighter smile, he made me forget all about my twisted, aching ankle. Wouldn’t you let go of your sorrows when the man of your dreams hand-picks flowers to cheer you up?

I wrapped my arms around him in an effort to hide the wave of emotions that threatened to overwhelm me. Tears came to my eyes: tears of gratitude and joy, tears of love and tenderness, and above all, tears of relief.

How fortunate I am to have met this man and to have become enveloped by his love, his warmth, and his giving, unselfish spirit. His very presence fills me with happiness; my soul stirs when I look into his sweet, honest eyes.

His brilliant mind is never at rest, always pondering, questioning, testing boundaries. His sense of humor is at once infuriatingly cunning and endearingly innocent. His zest for life is exhilarating. His good looks and boyish smile make my knees quiver and my heart skip a beat. His body, strong and protective, presses against mine and takes me to new realms of physical pleasure.

I feel more strongly about him after a month of dating than I ever did about the man I was married to. This I find at once fascinating and disconcerting. I am learning to enjoy each day of our courtship without the urgency I tended to inject into relationships. No longer do I need to achieve that elusive and daunting goal of marriage for the sake of reaching a socially-imposed milestone. My matrimony and subsequent divorce have freed me of this pressure, and for that I am forever grateful.

I used to question why brides placed so much importance on their weddings, why they were so excited about the day. Now, feeling as I do after such a short time, it takes an enormous amount of restraint not to shout my emotions from the rooftops. I wish everyone could know how I feel about him. Maybe one day they all will, and we’ll share in a celebration of our love. In the meantime, I treasure each day we spend together as a precious gift not to be taken for granted.

Mr. T’s walls are infested with termites and his condo will be tented tomorrow. We spent all day Sunday removing plants from the front and back patios and bagging all the food in the pantry and fridge. So much fun, we should do this every month!

I spent 10 hours on my feet on Saturday at a wedding, and I’ll have to work straight through this coming weekend, as well as all of next week. In case you’re counting, that’s 12 days without a day off, including an upcoming Saturday wedding with the groomzilla from hell.

I’m surviving on Starbucks soy chais and visions of poolside (virgin) pina coladas, because there’s light at the end of the tunnel… On June 2 we fly to Cancun for eight fabulous days of fun in the sun!

I know what you’re thinking: Quit complaining. OK, rant over. Now, back to work. 🙂

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