Production Life, Or, Why I Never Update My Blog Anymore…

Taking a Moment to Take it All In - The Grove at EFG 2018

This post I wrote a day or so after returning home from Enchanted Forest, after my most challenging production cycle to date. I have much more to say on this, as my life lately has been consumed by this work. But my sleep deprived ramble does a pretty great job of summing up why I am crazy enough to give up job security and all things normal in pursuit of Lucid Enchantment… 

My heart aches almost as much as my body. My capabilities and strength have been tested and I’m slowly learning to turn the stress into fuel, not to over-invest or overbook myself, to communicate better and to balance with self care and healthier habits. I am not too sure how I stumbled into this realm, but as I look back on the year that has passed since I shifted my career towards freelance event marketing full time, I am grateful. Uncertain, definitely. Scared, every day. But so fulfilled, astounded, inspired and thankful that I get to work with so many inspiring badasses…

Light Portrait of Collaboratorium friends by Harmonic Light

This industry is unstable and my stubborn insistence on truly believing in what I am marketing doesn’t make things any easier. But I get to bring people together for a living. I am barely getting by most months and don’t have investments or savings to show for my hard work, but I have some of the most epic memories and an impressive wristband collection. I have witnessed some amazing shows and experienced the true meaning of community. I have learned SO much about social media, communication, marketing, the music industry, project management, community dynamics, and myself – and yet there is so much more to learn. I have made many many mistakes. I have been challenged in so many ways and I have invested so much emotion and energy and time into this career at only a few years in that I can’t fathom doing anything else, but I also constantly wonder if I’ve truly lost my shit. 🤪

This work is HARD. Every job in event production is hard. It breaks people. It is unsustainable, grueling, chaotic and thankless. And everyone just assumes “you must be raking in the dough since you go to so many festivals.” It is horribly misunderstood. Which is true of every creative field I have worked in but especially in the festival scene. It’s underpaid and often unpaid and yet I continue to sign myself up for this madness. I truly must be insane.

But if I’m crazy, at least I’m surrounded by other weirdos who are creating epic experiences, living their dreams and pulling off some impossibly awesome stuff along the way. The more I festival the less I really party at them. The work is the play for me (plus to market the festival I have to experience it, so lucky me!).

While everyone is buzzing around from stage to stage at night, I often stop in my tracks on my determined walks over the venue grounds and turn around. I stop thinking of what I’m off to do next and I just take it all in. I take a deep breath and I open my eyes to see the amazing visuals on the walls of LED panels and the lasers lighting up the trees and the fog like sky glitter. I hear the crisp perfectly tuned sound flooding my senses and I feel much more than the bass reverberating from that beautiful stack of speakers. The energy of thousands of people celebrating life surrounds me and I literally vibrate. Sometimes it brings tears to my eyes because yes, I am a sap. 😭

There is NOTHING like producer’s high. And though the sleep deprivation and depleted serotonin might be doing most of the talking here, it is in these moments of pausing to take it all in that my heart feels most full and I feel most aligned with my dreams. I may play but a small role in bringing these people together and helping them share their gifts, it may seem really silly to get all sappy and proud that I help throw parties for a living. Especially when most of what I do is very much not a party. But after months of hard work, challenges, learning, herding cats, jumping hurdles, stress, sleepless nights, tears and time, experiencing that moment of pure magic makes it all so worthwhile.

Taking a Moment to Take it All In - The Grove at EFG 2018
Taking a Moment to Take it All In – The Grove at EFG 2018

I spun on my heels to face The Grove stage and the beautiful lights and music, I could see the Flow Zone lit up with friends spinning glowing toys, the light show dancing on the trees overhead, and the sounds of laughter mingling with a dope beat in the air, I thought “we did it. Again. Somehow it all magically fell into place… this really IS an enchanted forest…”

Making magic real is exhausting. But I couldn’t think of anything I would rather do or anyone I’d rather do it with.

What a season so far… Thank you enchanted forest gathering & Lucidity Festivals & FireDrums Fam. I look forward to much more hard work and play to come. 

The Enchanted Life

Photo by Jacob Avanzato

Eeeeeeeeeeek! Where has 2016 gone? How is it mid-July already? Oh, and by the way, will I see you next weekend at Enchanted Forest Gathering? I better. For the last few months, my life has basically been consumed with producing and marketing my favorite festival.

6DaysCountdown

This post sat blank as a draft for weeks as it grew closer and closer, and somehow it just never got done, with all of my jobs, attempting to pull off a garden this summer, and getting ready to move. Again. (More on that later…) So here we are, less than a week until gates open, and still far from our ticket sales goal, and I am hoping for a miracle as I write my annual love letter to my enchanted family.

The past few months have taught me more than I can really wrap my head around. This entire year has been a roller coaster. Through it all I have been working on Lucidity and Enchanted Forest. I have taken on more than ever before in these roles, doing everything I can to help my team succeed and learning from amazing collaborators in the process. It blows me away that in the span of two years, I have gone from attending and volunteering at festivals to helping create them. I never thought my hobby would turn into my dream job.

My favorite thing about working at these events has been getting to pull my friends into roles in the organizations I work with, giving them a chance to shine, and watching them completely amaze me with their brilliance. I am inspired by the people I have the pleasure of working with every day, and at my friends’ capabilities when given a platform and a purpose. The plans have been in the works for months. Our team has been working our asses off, and this precious child we’ve incubated together over the past six months (honestly, more like six years, as this will mark year six of EFG) is about to be born, ready or not, into a world that may or may not be prepared for it.

I never feel ready. No matter how early we start planning and marketing, the event itself sneaks up on me. But I jump anyway, trusting the hard work I’ve put in, the team that surrounds me, and my community.

EF2016-Lineup-Poster-FINAL-web-4

Listening to our amazing music lineup, checking out the weather forecast, and planning our camp full of locals and collected friends from near and far have left me buzzing with excitement.

Last weekend I traveled to Seattle and back to my little sister’s wedding. I feel like being so busy working on festivals has left me with way less time than I’d like to help her plan her wedding, but luckily, she is superhuman, and the entire thing was meticulously planned and went beautifully. We even managed to avoid the rain that was on the forecast. In SEATTLE.

I hated that I had to take my laptop on a wedding trip and spend down time working. But alas, with this labor of love, I can’t give enough. EFG, you have my heart.

I am not only the Marketing Operations Manager, helping keep the marketing machine moving along, but this year I once again co-coordinated the Flow Zone workshop space. This time I got to share that honor with my partner in flow, James, and we are super excited about the talented roster of teachers & performers we’ve put together.

EF16-Yoga-Movement-lineup-poster-Final-Web

This year boasts our most epic lineup yet, with some exciting new micro-environments, a HUGE variety of workshops, and all kinds of magic in the making. This year our team, our website and branding, and our systems all got a major upgrade. We’re finally growing into our new venue, Black Oak Ranch, and collaborating with some of the people we could only dream about working with even a year ago. I am truly excited to see where this YUM train goes… I just hope we get enough people there to make this dream viable.

It’s become a very tough and oversaturated market in the last few years, and with so many festivals it has been hard to draw the crowd we need to sustain the ridiculously epic production we’re putting on. The intention is on point, the team is amazing, our lineup is strong, and now as we set sail on this adventure, we can only hope for the best. I believe. I always have. I always will. There is no place like home. And for me, home is among my friends in the Enchanted Forest.

I hope you’ll join me in the dream… We’re building it. Who will come be a part of it?

Happy Birthday to Me, Indeed!

D’awwww… I feel like I’ve been adopted into this awesome loving family of brilliant creative jedis of compassion and light and change. Hearing their gratitude totally made me cry at our Lucidity​ marketing debrief meeting last night. My team is just so wonderful! And I’m a total sap.

As the marketing team discussed what worked and what didn’t about our work and Lucidity this year, it became apparent that I have really stumbled into something special here. It has been such an honor to work with you all and I have learned so much in so many ways from this experience.

Working at Lucidity: This is my job. Amazing!
Working at Lucidity: This is my job. Amazing!

I left my first Lucidity Festival feeling very proud of my involvement and my hard work the past few months, but also just simply awestruck and inspired and blissed out by the people, the stories, and the energy that create the event and the community surrounding it. Just WOW. I left saying “yeah, this is something I can feel good about promoting/selling/blabbing all over social media and to all my friends about/dedicating my time to/staying up late working on/etc.” and so very aligned with everything Lucidity is creating.

This is big for me, as this whole marketing / promotion thing is pretty new to me and I refuse to work with organizations I can’t align with and believe in. I invest myself very heavily into my work and everything I am involved in, my inner artist and workaholic just can’t help but pour every ounce of creative energy, heart, and soul into my projects and my work – especially when the project is particularly inspiring or meaningful to me. This one must have struck an artery…

Scenes of Lucidity 2015: Kindred Quest
Scenes of Lucidity 2015: Kindred Quest

I feel like I just went to jedi superhuman badass training camp or something. You are all AMAZING humans. Thank you for trusting me, pushing me, inspiring me, collaborating and sharing and welcoming me into your family. Thank you for your patience, your understanding, for reading all my unnecessarily wordy e-mails and for adapting along with me to new processes. Thank you for spoiling me rotten the moment I arrived on site, a warm place to work, cold pressed coffee on tap, sweet Lucidiswag, and OMG the FOOD!!! Thank you for making it possible for my sweetie to join me for the weekend at Lucidity – I felt like my life was utterly complete getting to spend time with him, some of my good friends, my amazing team, and so many new friends all at once in such a beautiful place. Wait, and I got paid for this?! I must be dreaming… oh wait, we all are… co-creating a stunningly beautiful future that I have only begun to glimpse and am SO excited to help reveal…

I must give a few shout outs in gratitude… Reuben Smith – THANK YOU for contacting me about openings in the marketing department at Lucidity the end of last year and recommending me for a position. I owe you a beer, a bottle of kombucha, and/or a really huge hug! Hope to see you at Once Upon a Festival!

To James ‘Jaymo’ Barnard, who I worked very closely with the past few months – you are a rock star and I’m not sure how you do it all! You were an absolute joy to work with, always easy to talk to, kind, supportive, and brilliant. To Jonah Haas, Noah Crowe, Wolfbear, Sabrina Calderon, Matt (Rodriguez and Rideout), Victory, Meow, and WAY too many other people to finish this list… Thank you for welcoming me into the fold, showing me the ropes, and being your amazingly badass, hard working, inspiring and superhuman selves! I am so impressed and awed by everyone I encountered at Lucidity. I have found a home in the transformational festival community and especially a few small, like-minded and inspiring events that I am lucky enough to work with on a regular basis now. Lucky me!!!

To my partner James, thank you for being so supportive, flexible, and for putting up with my utter failure to cook a proper meal for weeks on end and all my late nights of work and going to bed before me. And I am SO grateful that you got to join me for the weekend at Lucidity last minute and make my week even  more complete! And to all my friends who I have not seen much of these past few months, I miss you! My campmates at Lucidity also helped make it an amazing weekend I’ll never forget… so much gratitude!

Beautiful Lucidity Memories - So Much Love!
Beautiful Lucidity Memories – So Much Love!

I’m here as long as you’ll have me, Lucidity family, and that goes for the larger transformational festival community as well. I thought going to these events for a decade plus would change my life, but WOW does being part of the team producing them do so even more…

On the horizon for work (and play) is Once Upon a Festival in June, which is the same crew as Foreverland last year, with a few new additions and a new name. I will be assisting with the marketing team and doing some street team and media team management this year; I just got up to speed and activated for my new role! And then Northern Nights in July, a local festival in the redwoods on the Mendo/Humboldt county line that I am street teaming for. And my home sweet Mendo favorite, Enchanted Forest, will be returning to Mendocino county this year and I am thrilled to have been offered a position as a Production Assistant for this year. It’s gonna be a busy summer! Hope to see you at one of these stellar events!

As I close in on my 32nd birthday, I feel like this entire year, maybe this entire life, has been one great big beautiful birthday gift. I always was a late bloomer, and I feel like I’m finally starting to create a balance amidst the chaos and variety that is all of my jobs, my projects, my relationships and connections and my dreams. I have been blessed in countless ways over the years, but damn! Life is REALLY starting to get juicy as of late and I feel like I’m hitting my stride!

We are going out dancing Saturday night and meeting friends for brunch with a view on Sunday at Little River Inn to celebrate my birthday this year. I’m looking forward to keeping it simple and having fun with my Mendo friends and celebrating life this weekend. There is certainly much to celebrate this spring!

Boy is this getting good or what?! I can’t wait to see what’s around the next bend…