This Party Is For You!
Ever mindful of keeping balance in my life, I am committed to judging only one weekend per month (two at the most), and if the stars are aligned, no more than two shows on any given weekend. With that said, my recent four-day judging spree in Greenville, South Carolina, left me questioning my ability to adhere to my self-preservation commitment.
After completing the third day of judging (Saturday), I quickly realize that the situation could take a downward spiral if immediate action were not taken. My five-mile morning run is not enough to pull me through the afternoon, and with no group judging assigned, I knew that it was essential to return to the Greenville Hilton for an hour of YOGA with CHRISKAYOGA. CHRISTINA is my online yoga guru and traveling companion. She is amazing. Everywhere I go, she is more than willing to coach me through my personal yoga experience, full of love and positive energy. Silently, I engage her into an hour-long class that will leave me feeling empowered to pull through my last day of judging. That day will include 175 dogs, two groups and Best Owner Handled in Show.
The lovely MS.DWELLY (hospitality chairperson) recruits a fellow club member – the ever-kind MR.VANDIVER, who graciously chauffeurs me back to the HILTON for my personal time with CHRISTINA. It’s a quick drive from the convention center to the hotel. MR.VANDIVER and I spend this opportunity discussing the amazing rebirth that has occurred in Greenville, and how vibrant and beautiful the downtown area has become. The interesting, fact-filled conversation leaves me wishing the drive to the hotel was a bit longer. MR.VANDIVER pulls his spotless Mercedes SUV to the HILTON entrance. Grabbing MINI-BLACK-BALLISTIC-MAN-BAG from the floorboard, where it was resting quietly between my legs, I express my gratitude before exiting.
Approaching the large glass lobby entrance, I have full view of what appears to be a colorful, tropical-themed party in full swing – live music, drink, food, balloons, Hawaiian leis and more. “This is just wonderful. I will enter and pretend that I’m on the guest list or work for the company hosting the party,” I ponder, while at the same time removing my judge's badge from the lapel of my blazer prior to entering.
As I approach the glass entrance doors, they automatically slide open. The temperature outside is unseasonably warm. I welcome the burst of cool air, and the two women and one gentleman who greet me, as if this were my very own personal HAWAIIAN LUAU PARTY. I have been parachuted into my very own dog-judge dream world.
“Aloha! This certainly looks like a great time. I’m sure you all have been waiting all day for my arrival?” I jokingly suggest.
“Well, actually, we have been waiting for you,” the lady standing to my left shares.
“You’re too kind. Seriously, I’m headed up to my room and will get out of your way. What is this party for?” I ask.
“It’s for you!” the three members of the welcome committee say simultaneously. Red in the face, I thank them for their joyful approach, and follow up with an additional question. “OK, stop playing with me, is this some corporate event? The last thing I need is to get in trouble for crashing someone’s private party.”
“No, we are not joking – THIS PARTY IS FOR YOU! It’s our way of saying thank you to our guests. Help yourself to a cocktail, appetizers, and here is a gift of thanks.” I am handed a small box containing a live evergreen to plant.
Excited and overwhelmed at the same time, I am ushered to the bar for a rum cocktail with the band in full swing. “This is just what I needed after three days of judging!” I mumble to myself. Immediately, I call my friend ROZ, who remains at the show judging. “Hey, ROZ, it’s me. I’m back at the hotel, and you’re not going to believe it. They are having a huge party in the lobby for me!”
“You’re not serious!” ROZ replies.
“Yes, wish you were here – live band, drinks, food … I’m going to send you some photos.”
“OK, see you later.” ROZ ends the call, and I randomly take selfies with the party crew between gulps of rum. “CHRISKAYOGA is going to have to wait until this is over!”
I find a comfortable lobby chair to the left of the front lobby entrance, directly adjacent to where the band is playing. I relish in the moment, drink in hand, ever grateful for my personal party, and for doing what I love. Oh, and grateful that CHRISTINA will be in the room waiting for me when the band stops playing, in support of work-life balance.
I’m going to rethink the one weekend per month judging, if I negotiate a personal party after three days of judging, alcohol, live music and party gifts included into my next contract.