Creating happiness can be seen as the happiest job in the world, one filled with love, beauty and of course tons of flowers, flowers dangling from the ceiling or suspended between glowing candles and burning dreams.
I can’t precisely remember my state of mind as the happiest in the world when I noticed a $400,000.00 dollar project in an old historic building flooding the second a party began, nor when I saw the drapes of a ballroom in flames, or even the blackout party 10 minutes prior to rolling down a gate for 400 guests to enter. These are the deep inside parts of our job that our clients and their guest will never know.
None of these situations can even be compared to the state of mind and anxiety that I was going through, and when you think that you have learned all your lessons and there is nothing more that can happen (after meticulously planning the perfect wedding for 8 months), something does, like a gigantic cloud of smoke particles in Europe preventing the entire continent from taking flights and of course trapping my “swan wings tulips” there. It sounded like a paradox but not even these exotic flowers with fringed petals that resembled swan wings could fly anywhere. The weather’s unpredictable games, the Sandy Storm that almost left my lovely client without a wedding gown and half of her guests stuck in different airports of the country – sometimes I felt these disasters were taking a toll on my soul.
I remember myself driving down i95 and all of sudden feeling like it was impossible to breathe, it was only possible to cry and time was a vague reference of life. Am I still alive? Am
I still here? I asked myself while I tried to pull the car out of the highway with the intention to stop at a safe location.
This feeling began to occur frequently at the most sui generis situations, on vacation, in the car, on my grocery time at Target, and even while sleeping. Being in an elevator was a problem, sitting in a tight space or even taking a flight was a huge effort, not to mention that my husband needed to explain to Ticketmaster that he was taking his grandmother to a concert and if they would be so kind to seat us in an aisle? I was only 43 and was posing as a grandmother and felt like one too.
My kids were the ones suffering, I could not listen to them any longer, I was there but my mind was somewhere else, I was too tired to listen, too extenuated to read bedtime stories, too overwhelmed with work, it took me a month to realize that my daughter had a broken arm, and I had not taken the time to take her to a doctor. I started to cry when I realized her arm was broken, the bone was healing in the right direction but my heart was not.
I decided I’d had too much. I was not able to balance my life properly and it was too late. It was time for a change.
It was not my client’s fault. I was my own boss, I was the one demanding myself to exceed expectations, I was the one not sleeping thinking about plan A,B,C and Z. The one answering text messages and emails at two in the morning, the one working during all week, during the weekend, coming back home with the first rays of light on a Sunday morning, was me. I was the one that was also raising two beautiful kids that deserved better, and besides that, I wanted to enjoy life, enjoy being a mother and I wanted to be present.
For years I managed to have control, but at some point I became addicted to work, addicted to my clients, addicted to perfection and at the end of the story I was at risk of losing my sanity and my life.
I started to value the power of the sun over my skin, the smile of my kids while taking a calm walk and the millions of stories they needed to share with their mom.
The power of sharing and even taking vacations, telling stories at dinner at the end of each day just to hear about their failures or daily triumphs, their frustrations about reality and their expectations for the future.
In the last 36 months, together with my kids and the support of my husband, we have marched, discussed political views, talked about things that matter to them, helped a family rebuild their home, and founded the Believe in Kindness Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that helps volunteers strive to be an agent of social change, and transform lives through kindness. An organization committed to providing emotional support to girls at risk in Peru, girls that do not count on a mother and often come from broken homes and suffering. Here in Miami we take every opportunity to inspire through kindness and get our community involved.
Today, we don’t hang flowers from ceilings, but we give hope to people, and while there are difficult moments in our journey, we can envision smiles of true happiness, the kind of happiness that makes us feel real, one that does not burn dreams but enlightens them.