Growing up I would have never categorized myself as someone who was artsy or creative. I was very musical, sang in the choir all through school, show choir even. I played the piano, flute and bells. But I was also very logical and even math minded in school. I did love English class and picking apart a story and then writing about it, but I never saw that as being creative, just more so academic - my inner nerd coming out, because I also got lost in the stories of history classes and the puzzles that were presented in science.
I was very involved with the journalism program throughout high school, but I wasn’t a writer, instead I was the photography editor for the school newspaper and a page designer for the yearbook. I should have known back then that I am wired a certain way - visual and spatial. Today, this part of my brain shines through. I am particular about the placement of a piece of clip art for a handout, as well as the common thread and design of a slide presentation. I can see a monthly calendar in my head when people ask about dates. I also care very much about what a room looks like, whether that is in my house or my classroom, everything has its place and there is a need for balance, a common thread or purpose. I’m also drawn to an image, a moment that I just have to capture in a picture because visually it says everything, it’s a story.
I didn’t realize until I had children how much I enjoy planning a party. This is where the visual parts of my brain start firing from the moment a theme is chosen and I truly enjoy bringing it to life. Now I see myself as a creative person because this is my hidden talent.
A gathering starts with a theme that is first shown on the invitation. When I think about my five children their first birthdays all had a theme and color scheme that I was then able to thread into each aspect of the day. Parker’s first was elephants, while Weston was a painting party! I threw Corbin a winter “ONEderland” and the twins’ first birthday party was a circus theme. For their second birthdays the twins had a fiesta! Corbin’s party was all about the farm, while Weston’s second birthday was a vintage airplane theme and Parker’s was goldfish (he even got a fish tank and goldfish as his present). Having five children has allowed me to bring many themes to life - Mickey Mouse and Wreck it Ralph, the Columbus Blue Jackets and even a Camp “in.”
The theme allows for a color scheme and focus for decor. At times I have even made my own bunting and used the sewing machine to put it together, I then added chalkboard pieces to showcase certain phrases that corresponded with the theme - “There is no one I would rather be than me!” (Wreck it Ralph), “Time Flies” (Vintage Airplane), “Old McCorbin had a farm…” (Farm), “Come One, Come All, Caroline and Ryland will turn ONE before your very eyes” (Circus). The theme then trickles over into the food. Tacos for the fiesta, and fresh veggies and fruits for the farm. Of course the desserts all tie into the theme as well - rice krispy treat paint brushes (Art) and a fish cake and cookies (Goldfish). The theme can even carry over into the activities - painting (Art), scavenger hunt (Camp-In), candy car making (Wreck it Ralph). My signature addition to the kids’ parties that is honestly my favorite part, is I give the adults a task. Each party I ask a question and have them respond. I’m keeping all of their responses and plan to display at each child’s graduation party; it’ll be so nice to see what people said about them, but also see who was there on these special milestone moments. The questions always tie back to the theme…What sport do you think Parker will find the most success with in his future? If Weston was an animal you would find in the forest what would he be? What superpower does Corbin have? Finish the sentence…Ryland and Caroline go together like… and since I’m an English teacher I always ask them to explain!
I was one of my first friends and family members to get married and then have children, so I realized my hidden talent and passion for planning a party at just the right time. This love of a theme and watching it come to life was something I was able to do for my dear friends and family members on the eve of their wedding and as they were anticipating the arrival of their baby. One of my favorite bridal showers I orchestrated was for my sister. I wanted it to be fancy and perfect. I decided on a ladies tea and the vintage elegance truly came to life. We hosted the shower at the Columbus Club, this 19th century brick mansion in downtown Columbus, Ohio which is now the the site of an exclusive dining and social experience. My father is a member of the Columbus Club and so we were granted the ability to rent a room for the event. There were tea sandwiches and bundt cakes from Nothing Bundt Cakes. Honey with a honeycomb dipper and the tag line “meant to bee” was the favor. We had drinks on the patio before a sit down lunch at a table set for 30. It was intimate and divine, exactly what my sweet sister wanted and deserved. I’ve hosted a handful of other showers that from the theme sprung so many beautiful and memorable moments from love birds to breakfast at Tiffany’s to just simple and rustic.
I have yet to mention the flowers…my visual spatial eye first showed it’s true passion with flower arrangements. I would leave Kroger with a cart full of flowers and the kitchen would be splattered with stems, vases, and color. All of my gatherings have to have flowers of some sort and it helps to tie in the theme, especially when hosting a friend’s spring bridal shower. My mother will often request my skill of flower arranging at the various parties she will host. They have typically been holiday gatherings, so I am able to toss in holly berries or rich greens, but she’s had a few summer occasions where bright colors and sunflowers can frame the tables. There is something almost therapeutic for me when I assemble an arrangement. Every piece has it’s place and finds its nook, it’s almost a puzzle I truly enjoy putting together.
But we can’t forget about the babies…how precious to host a baby shower for a dear person in your life. I started by hosting baby showers for my teacher friends in our school library (the traditional location for a shower and a rite of passage almost) ranging from bold confetti to soft traditional pinks. One of my favorite baby showers I hosted was for my husband’s cousin and my dear friend. She was having a boy and we decided on an ABC theme. There were letters and books, flowers and chalkboard phrases. Each guest contributed to a page of a collaborative alphabet book keepsake for the baby boy. It was the perfect occasion to shower this beautiful mama to be, who now is juggling two sweet babes.
My recent addition of chalkboards to the mix of parties first caught my sister’s eye and then my dear friend who both got married recently. I was able to adorn their special day with bible verses, directional decor, but also just sweet phrases. I can’t even begin to tell you how rewarding it was to make something that was personalized for two very important people to me. This task gave me so much joy.
So if I find myself happy in my work, motivated to reach my goal, challenged to be better, then why am I not doing this all of the time? Why have I not found a way to make this life happen? Because I know people… I know people who need someone to bring a vision to life, I know people who are vendors in the party planning business…Diana from No Knead to Bake makes the most delicious and beautiful treats, she’s awfully sweet herself. There is also Katie Sprinkle who has the best spirit and can capture the most precious moments. A party also needs paper and my dear friend Rachael from Fifi Paper has that perfect creative touch. So if I know people and I have a passion for it, why am I not trying to build a party planning business?
Because taking a leap of faith is scary. The unknown, the what ifs, those can be hard to combat. There wouldn’t be a safety net if I failed, so I’m too afraid to jump. But I also love what I do as a teacher and so I wonder can I do both? Why can’t I do both? We will see…
I always thought that once I chose my career path I could never divert from it, just grow within it. But I don’t know anymore, I see so many people moving on and recreating themselves, I know it can be done, but I also know I need to find the right path for me. This hidden talent, this passion, this voice within needs to shine and so I find ways to embrace those skills because even though it doesn’t encompass my entire story, it’s a part of who I am. Don’t stifle what’s within just because it doesn’t make sense right now.