I am part of and contribute to many teams in my life. My family is the very first team that I was ever part of. Before I met my husband, my parents and I worked together, traveled together and lived our lives with a lot of synergy and crossover. And occasional “blow the roof” off the house arguments, LOL. We are human. AND ETHNIC! Those of us of Mediterranean descent can be hot blooded, and expressive and sometimes that just needs to happen, Don’t worry though because 20 minutes later we are also prone to ask each other if the other is hungry. This is how I grew up and how I learned to be part of a team. Be loyal, contribute, speak your mind, protect your team mates.
So in life, right now – I am part of many teams. We have two restaurants and I very much appreciate those restaurant teams, there is our venue, the Estate team. Without the individuals who manage these entities we would have quite the job on our hands. And it would not be any kind of fun. I am eternally grateful to the members of these teams who are there every day making sure our customers have wonderful dining experiences and that our clients in the ballroom have meaningful, beautiful celebrations. Chris is one that I always need to shout out because he runs our venue, works with me at MDE and is a life long, trusted teammate and loved one. He defines the word teammate in every way possible.
Of course there is the team that I built – the team I love producing weddings with – my MDE team. Different that the other professionals teams that I have been a part of, because I built this one from the ground up, and it is one of few that runs truly as I see it should (truth, this is probably because I make most of those top level decisions by myself. I get it – not super team oriented, but like I say all the time, I am a work in progress)… In life, “team” means collaboration, cooperation, contribution and communication. So these are the founding principals that I built my company on. And from my family I learned the importance of having the back of the people on your team so I try to make sure that internally we do that for each other, and that externally we always do that for our clients, and for the vendors that we partner with. MDE is really a beautiful layering of teamwork that all comes together to produce gorgeous events and I am so proud of that. Nicole is a great example of a team member who flourishes in this kind of environment.
One of the teams I am always most happy to be a part of is my true north team. This team, like MDE also has layers to it – first and foremost, Caitlyn Shiels is my sister, my trainer, my confidant, my coach and my equestrian goal seeking partner. Then there is the relationship between me and each of my horses and those are each team relationships where collaboration, communication. contribution, and cooperation come in to play every single day. This is one of the places where I learn the value of these things in a whole new way because my teammates here do not use words to speak to me. Instead there are a multitude of other ways that we communicate and make sure that we are each heard and understood to the other. Last, there are my fellow equestrian teammates that are a part of true north. Supporting them, being supported by them – that is the final and most fun layer of the True North team and one that I truly appreciate! It takes an equestrian to understand another equestrian. Who else understands 4:00 am wake up calls and traveling the country riding horses in search of bigger jumps to fly over?!
With that alone, my life would be pretty chock full of teams. But when you get married you join what is arguably the biggest, and at the same time smallest team you will ever be on; the husband + wife team. My husband Collin is a photographer and often times we work together in addition to living together, going through life together and deciding what direction that means – together.
We are really fortunate that we get to work and spend so much time together – many couples barely see each other and would love to have the time that we do. And I can tell you with 1,000% certainty that our opportunities to work together on projects all over the world are ones that I love. But let’s be real, no team is in perfect harmony 100% of the time. So like all things in life, like all teams – this one too is a work in progress. Fortunately for us we get it right a fair amount of the time. We try to follow four or so guidelines to make sure that the balance stays and the team work is mutual:
- We communicate fairly regularly. Yes of course we text throughout the day and we cc each other on the other’s schedule, but what I am talking about is finding time – even if it is five minutes at 9:00 pm to ask each other about the other’s day. We move in many directions together but we also move in many directions independently so checking in on the other is a really key component.
2. We help each other. Sometimes with bow ties, sometimes with larger more complex issues. I know if I am struggling with something that I can send up a flare and usually Collin can help me walk through it and process what I am looking at so that I can position myself in a more solutions oriented frame of mind. So from the very small to the very large if help is needed we ask for it.
3. Something that is really important to Collin (and that I always have to work on is that we keep romance alive. Admittedly I am the WORST at this. LOL – When I am finished with a long work day, or have just driven 1.5 hours there and then back from the barn, sometimes the only thing I want to do is wear pajamas at 5:00 pm and plop on the couch and be a vegetable. Every so often this is totally fine and well earned and I remind my husband of that on a fairly regular basis. 😂 However I also remind myself that he really enjoys a romantic dinner or going out and participating in something going on in the city. And who could argue that, really? So I try to plan the occasional trip to the opera as often as we get down to Wrigley to see the cubs and make sure that we fit in a dinner for two at one of our favorite Chicago restaurants too. Give and take is a part of being in a team also, and sometimes the effort that is made to accommodate your partner is so incredibly appreciated by them that it feels good for all involved!
4. and my favorite one – LAUGH OUT LOUD. Seriously – laugh at life. There are days my horses do not want to show up for work, or the basement of the restaurant floods. Sometimes my husband and I want to knock each other out because we are irritating the other SO well that this may be our new career. Other days my parents drive me bonkers. And guess what? Laughter helps to make it better and process it. Life is short. Regardless of the issue, I always try to remember that. Especially lately after losing a few really wonderful people in my life. Laughter and knowing that all things do in fact, pass is something I try to remind myself of (in my head) before I lean in to an explosive response.
Now, of course there are times when laughter is not appropriate or even helpful and most of us are evolved enough to know those social cues. I am talking about the very intricate day to day life happenings that go on which can cause immense stress and even weigh us down spiritually. A little laughter, a smidge of levity – that can be fantastic medicine and I have to say Collin is fantastic at this. He is pretty willing to go to any length to get a laugh out of me. What I find so endearing about this is that there is another incredibly special man who always did (and still does) the same thing for me throughout my life, and he is my Dad. Finding that shared commonality between them was a really heartwarming thing for me.
So, if you take anything away from this – let it be that being human is OK. In fact there is nothing we can do about it. So while we go through life as flawed, imperfect human beings what we can do to make it better for those teammates is to cooperate with one another, communicate with each other, collaborate with our whole hearts and minds, and to contribute respect, honesty, creativity and of course – laughter to the mix whenever possible. Life is short, I need to make mine count. This is how I work to do that….Could you imagine if we all worked toward this within the teams in all of our lives; what kind of ripple effect this would have as it carried out in to the world?? Big questions for a Thursday, I know…but good food for thought don’t you think? xoxo ♥️