Last updated on July 3rd, 2014 at 10:53 am
Last week, I celebrated a huge milestone in a dream achievement: the grand opening of my new downtown commercial property in historic downtown Troy, New York. These days, I am finding happiness throughout the ups and downs that are an inevitable part of living any big dream.
Over the past few weeks, I have written here on 8womendream about the adventure of purchasing a 9,000 square foot commercial property in my walkable historic city, and embarking on the journey of renovating it and renting it out. Real estate development is my new line of work, and I am loving all the challenges and surprises on this path.
Last week was important, because we miraculously were able to finish the renovations needed to showcase the beautiful first floor, 2,600 square foot commercial special on the first floor of my new building. My partner on the renovations, Vic Christopher, runs the wildly popular Lucas Confectionery Wine Bar and “The Grocery” boutique grocery store in Troy, and also heads up Confectionery Construction, LLC.
He and his crews worked their magic in my building, and in two short weeks were able to transform a space that was formerly a pawn shop, with carpeting and astro-turf on the side platforms and a partition wall dividing the space, to one glorious wide open space that stretches back 130′ with white walls, gray and black trim, and silver tin ceilings up above.
I just closed on the building on June 9th, so it was a mad race to get the space ready and to get party planning details handled before the June 27th “Troy Night Out” event, when everyone flocks to downtown Troy to sample the local restaurants and galleries, to enjoy art shows and live music.
We worked hard to open the doors so that we could showcase this beautiful space. I am still seeking tenants, and it seemed like the perfect way and time to welcome everyone through our doors.
Happiness Through Event Planning!
Not everyone loves event planning. It is highly detail-oriented, and can be stressful if you just have a short period of time to throw together a big event.
Since I closed on the building on June 9th, and decided just a few days later to showcase the space during Troy Night Out on June 27th, the pressure was on to throw an outstanding Grand Opening event in just two weeks.
Luckily, my professional background includes event planning. I have planned countless fundraisers for nonprofit organizations, and also used to plan events for Hillary Clinton in Troy when she was our U.S. Senator.
After handling planning a fast-paced, high-pressure event for Hillary with only 48-hours notice, I figured I could easily pull off a fantastic Grand Opening event in just two weeks.
And luckily, I have a fantastic team. Vic and his crew are amazing, and another few beloved friends stepped up to the plate to help as well. My dear friend Ray Felix is the curator of the Fulton Street Gallery in Troy, and he offered to curate an art show for me.
He pulled together an eclectic, beautiful mix of powerful art in less than two weeks, and insisted on hanging and labeling the show himself as well. Many who toured the building during Troy Night Out said it was the best art show they had ever seen in Troy, period.
My friend Samantha Parker, who is a consultant to restaurant owners and who also works part-time at Lucas, offered to help me pull together all the final details for the evening. Normally, I am a pro at making lists of event details and checking them off, but the craziness and fast pace of the past few weeks, plus the fact that Mercury was actively in retrograde, made June especially challenging for me.
Sam was a lifesaver, talking me through all the possible items we might need to make the party work. She offered to stop by late Friday afternoon to help me with set up.
With my brain as fried as it was from all that is happening for me right now, I really needed the help, and gratefully welcomed it! Teaming up with Sam meant bringing our unstoppable Goddess energy together to rock the event.
And we did!
Stepping Up At the Last Minute
A few other friends stepped up to help when most needed. My friends Sean Burton and David Gibson were the bartenders for the evening, pouring free wine and champagne for guests.
I don’t know what I would have done without my awesome crew of friends who helped make everything come together for me and the event guests, at the last minute!
Vic was also a total hero, jumping in to save the day when a few balls dropped. The DJ we were counting on did not end up being able to make it, so he found us a DJ at the last minute who was available that very night.
He also found us a truck to go pick up the tables and chairs we rented Friday, and made sure that was taken care of. He was the pinch-hitter, troubleshooting and pulling it all together for me.
I could not have worked with a better team, and together they all helped me to make it through the craziness and bumps in the road during a wild few weeks for me.
It was in fact my awesome team that made working on this event such a total joy, despite the challenges along the way. I do find happiness in creating a great event for people, that makes for a memorable evening and in this case also showed off a gorgeous newly renovated downtown commercial space.
How I Make It Through the Ups and Downs!
My tried-and-true formula for making it through the ups and downs of a challenging time, and still creating happiness for myself, is the following:
1) I remind myself that “nothing is impossible, if you don’t have to do it yourself!” I also like to say: “With God and love, anything is possible.” Because I had a great team that I could count on, and because others stepped up to take care of important details that I could not handle alone with all that I’ve been juggling, we pulled off something wonderful in a short time frame.
2) I stay focused on the vision, and the end goal. This event was dual purpose – 1) to showcase a beautiful new commercial space, which will hopefully help us to find the ideal tenants we are seeking and 2) to entertain people and bring them together to enjoy experiencing a historic space being brought back to new life. Keeping the end goal in mind always makes it easier to ride out the bumps in the road along the journey.
3) I make sure to have fun along the way. I love the people I work with, and I also got to see so many friends and neighbors during our Grand Opening celebration. I was not shy about sipping some champagne myself, when offering some free bubbly to friends. I went out with dear friends after the event as well, and we split a bottle of wine at Lucas. You have to remember to have fun! I enjoyed myself immensely, despite the last-minute pressures and despite having to play the role of “hostess” all night.
I am truly fortunate to be doing work I love, and to be doing it with people I enjoy and respect immensely. I wish the same kind of fun for everyone while living your biggest dreams!
Lisa Graham is an inspirational writer, life coach, motivational speaker, and globe-trotter whose passion is to help others to find happiness and meaning their daily lives. A political activist at heart, Lisa would like to empower more women to run for political office as a way to create positive change in the world. You can find her on the Madam President Project or watch her TEDx speech on YouTube.
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