And the Award Goes to…

29 07 2012

The National ADDY Awards

It’s a real achievement to win one of these big boys.

I attended the National AAF ADDY Awards Show in Austin this summer. An ADDY is to the advertising industry what the Oscar is to show business or the Grammy is to the music industry. It is arguably the hardest advertising competition in the world. To win a national ADDY means you’ve won your local and district competition. By the time you’ve won nationally, you’ve won three times and beaten out the best in the entire country. It is filled with the industry heavy weights—the world’s largest multi-national advertising agencies and global brands. Those Superbowl commercials whose budgets are the size of small countries…that’s the kind of competition …and that’s who’s there at the awards show. I can’t stress for me what a BFD this was. That Darth Vader/Volkswagon commercial—it won Best of Show—which was the eve of the young actor going into the hospital for very serious surgery which was what the the agency talked about  in accepting their award. 

I was there because it’s part of the national AAF Convention and the club I’ve been president of this past year was being honored at the convention. A few of us from AAF-BR were able to attend and there were three companies from Louisiana that won ADDYs. It was great to be able to WOO HOO for them and we may have been a small group but we were the loudest.

One Louisiana agency won three Gold ADDYs for spectacular photography for a campaign they produced. I coincidently sat right behind the two heads of this agency—one of the largest agencies in the state and have a really great body of work that I sincerely admire. They hadn’t seen me and I didn’t really know if they even knew me, though we had met on occasion. As they got up to accept their awards, I thought, how cool it would be for me to take their picture accepting their awards and then I can give it to them and they can instantly tweet and Facebook it!

There are hundreds of people in this impressive room and it’s dark. When they returned to their chairs, I got up and squatted down beside their aisle chair, quietly introduced myself and asked them if they wanted me to text them their photo. Of course they did and were gracious and appreciative.

Then as I got up to leave, I leaned back in my high heels instead of forward and before I knew it I was flat on my ass with my legs in the air…yes at this most prestigious awards show, there I was splayed out in the aisle. I scrambled up as quickly as I could and assured them I was sober.

The exchange when I got back to my seat.

I had to call them when I got back home over a question about a press release. When I introduced myself, the agency owner said, “Connie, I know who you are.”

Yep, I’m pretty memorable. I’m in advertising and that’s my spin on it.

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Luzianna Friday Nite

22 07 2012

Friday night was the absolute best part of living here in South Louisiana. This post will also be an ode to one of my favorite people in the world, Marie Constantin because I spent Friday at Marie’s camp on the Atchafalaya River (about 45 minutes from my house).

Marie is a great photographer. I first met her many years ago when I hired her for a long forgotten job. She was fresh back from India. She had been invited by the local Missionaries of Charity order  to go back to the Mother House in Calcutta. This is the order that Mother Teresa founded. Marie got to know Mother Teresa up close and personal and was one of two personnel photographers whenever Mother was in the States. I like to say I moved closer to God by knowing Marie, there’s now just 3 degrees of separation; me › Marie › Mother Teresa › God. One of Marie’s photos was selected by the Vatican to be the official photo for Mother Teresa’s Beatification. CBS Sunday Morning did a story on it and there was Marie the day of the Beatification in St. Peter’s Square with her billboard size photo behind her.  The wonderful life lesson I learned and try to live by via Marie from Mother Teresa is to do little things with great love.

Marie has named her camp the Flying Alligator and the pier is the Flying Alligator Riverside Lounge. She has created a little zen oasis that is at the same time a Louisiana-style real fishing camp. Her design style is less is more and everything she has there is perfectly placed from her crab trap ceiling light to the Christmas lights that adorn her porch and pier. It is creative, fun, quirky, hip and all indigenous to where we live.

The Flying Alligator

The Flying Alligator Riverside Lounge

People are drawn to Marie and a party at the Flying Alligator is a great gumbo of interesting people. There’s often some family from far away, there’s the heavily tattooed Cajun in the wife beater t-shirt, there’s lawyers, artists, doctors, a priest, nuns and lots of energetic kids running wild. From the very young to the young at heart, there’s folks who know each other and others who know no one but Marie.

Marie decided to learn the fiddle a few years ago. She’s played for me on occasion and it brings me right back to my daughter’s early band days (you parents out there know what I mean). She gets lessons from somewhere deep in Cajun country and has gotten to know some amazing Cajun musicians along the way. And there they were —Grammy award winners, Mitch Reed, Jimmy Breaux and Randy Abshire—playing on her big screened-in porch. Part of their payment was to make sure there was a bottle of Jack Daniels within arm’s reach. They did a set with Marie on her fiddle and kids playing spoons, washboards and whatever instruments were lying around. The songs were sung in Cajun French and there was simply a timelessness to the evening. Listening to the music on a screen-in porch with friends—this could have been 100 years ago. I’ve found the best spot at the camp to listen and watch the goings-on…the hanging bed!

Hanging out on the hanging bed

It’s a step back in time and yet it’s still how we live here. Everyone who comes brings food and drink—after all, eating and drinking is what we do best down here. There are bales of hay and camp chairs for sitting. Kids fly in and out with a slap of the screen door. You hear a parent telling their kid to get out of Miss Marie’s outdoor shower. There’s been a rain and even though it’s made our hair a little wild, it’s washed away the intense heat of the day. There’s a bonfire glowing outside, sausage burning on the grill and people are wandering from porch to pier where the view is classic Louisiana. A huge powerful river flowing swiftly by with flying white egrets glowing against the early evening sky.  The sounds of music and friends laughing hanging in the air.

Louisiana is not always an easy state to live in—I’m not blind to its problems—but man, it was easy living Friday night.

Back story from Marie:

Connie—I will tell you our family was destroyed years ago by a rift….  Because of this, I named the camp the Flying Alligator…because Alligator’s can’t fly and our family couldn’t heal.  So I thought, maybe if I get this camp and fix it up, some family member will want to come and play and maybe we can heal and be a family once again.  Well, my niece Wendy came to the last party and she had such a magical time, she and her boyfriend got engaged on the swinging bed.  Some of my friends were quite surprised to meet Wendy because they didn’t know I had a family…like I hatched from an egg or something.  And this time my nephew Jason and his family came and had a most extraordinary time.  Jacob (another nephew) is scheduled to come in the fall and we’ll go hunting together.

I tried to make the camp magical and so I had my workman create a single size swinging bed.  But my dog wouldn’t fit in bed with me, so we turned that one into a swinging couch and made a new double size swinging bed…as you know.  Other magical things I put to heal my family are the outdoor shower and the Crab Apple trail (I used my chain saw and lawn mower and it took me a year to cut a trail through the woods.)  And now we have the Pier (the Flying Alligator Riverside Lounge).  By the way, Father Paul Counce, pastor of Saint Joseph’s Cathedral, came up with that one along with Becky Kirk and Steve Davison.

Mother Teresa used to say that there is another kind of poverty that is harder to make go away than hunger.  With hunger, you give a piece of bread and it’s gone, she would say. But with this other poverty—hurt in the family—it is very hard to make go away. “Find Calcutta in your own home…in your own family,” she would admonish.   She would tell people not to travel all over the world, but to “find Calcutta at home first.”  Thinking about all this is why I do what I do at the camp.  I’m fighting a different kind of poverty.





Miracle Balls

16 07 2012

This blog post is like one of those movies where there are several stories that seem unrelated, but come together in the end.

Backstory 1

I love process books. That’s a book that breaks something down into small doable steps to achieve a goal. One that’s pretty well known is “The Artist’s Way”. But the one I’m reading now is on “Making Miracles” . I’ve been reading this for months and months. I like to read it only when I wake up really early (5 AM) and have quiet meditative time, to read, meditate and journal. And even though I love this quiet time and to awaken with the world and hear the birds sing and see the sky lighten and savor the silence, I really love sleep.

This book is about creating and making miracles happen in your life. I really do have miracles happen to me all the time. The key is to be aware when they are happening and to savor them and be thankful for them. This blog will highlight my miracles as well as -my goofiness, because it’s all the same journey that I am stumbling through.

Backstory 2

The chapter I’m reading is about manifesting something real in your life. The exercise is to imagine something that you can hold in your hand. It can be anything. But to totally imagine it, what it looks, like, feels like, it’s totally real in your mind. And then let it go. And wait and watch till it comes to you. I imagine a small multi-shaped star. It is silver and shiny—I like shiny things— like a charm you could wear on a necklace.

Backstory 3

I started following Fab.com when I saw a few FB posts from designers that they had bought something from them. Fab has a great marketing story. They now send me lots of emails most of which I delete.

So months go by and I forget about this. And one day when insomnia hits I am looking at my Kindle in the middle of the night and click on the Fab email. And there were my stars. It was exactly like I imagined it, and was earrings that I could afford and wear. So I ordered them. Pretty cool. And the artist that designed them was awesome.

Backstory 4

It was coming to the end of the year as my position of AAF-BR president. The president gives a party every year for the board that’s reflective of whom they are. My sweetie Steve and I are foodies and he’s an awesome cook. So he agreed to cook a multi course meal that I would pair with my favorite wines. Father’s Day was coming up and he said, even though he’s not my father or the father to my daughter, if I got him anything, he’d like a chef’s tunic that he could wear to the party. So I ordered one with Chef Steve embroidered on it.

Backstory 5

It’s the day before the party. And both the earrings and the tunic arrive on the same day. Steve had totally forgotten he had asked for this and was so touched by the gift and so proud to wear it for my party.

The Miracle

It’s a great party. The food is great, the wine is pouring steadily. I’m wearing my Miracle Balls. And I’m telling the story to these people I really care about. And there’s this WOW moment when I tell it, when we realize that it’s all come together at this moment in time. This great gathering of professional friends, the man I love proudly wearing my gift and me wearing my Miracle Balls. And that’s the Miracle and it was really a night filled with love. It was a much bigger gift than I was expecting…miracles always are.

And I call them Miracle Balls because is sounds a little naughty.