Launching and operating your own event company is hard work. It’s even harder when you’re still balancing a part-time job at a huge tech company as the Marketing Events Lead, as I currently am. Looking back, this first year in business was all about testing my limits and finding my balance. I’m grateful for it all.

Rule #1 in balancing two event planning jobs = Make sure none of your event dates conflict (DUH).

Seems simple, right? Well, yes in theory. Basic scheduling is all about finding the gaps where you’re free and fitting things in. But good scheduling takes into consideration prep, rest, and work time in between. Well, when you’re in your first year of business and juggling two jobs, excuse my cheesiness but “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

Due to the difficulty in locking down dates for important events AND having multiple stakeholders in general, my events didn’t actually conflict, but they did end up being really really really close together.

What’s crazy is that I already knew that October was going to be a busy month. I warned my husband all the way back in March. But not until the beginning of October did I realize that I had scheduled FOUR events in the span of ONE week. “Holy sh*t,” I thought to myself. I knew it was going to be crazy, but I was going to make it happen, and I was going to make them all kick ass. My sanity on the other hand, took a backseat.

Stress hives. It’s a thing.

Exactly one Saturday before Event #1, I woke up at 3AM to use the bathroom, looked at my arm half asleep and saw a ton of red dots. I screamed to my husband because I thought I had been bitten up by a bug, and then I noticed the rest of my body…I was covered everywhere with red splotchy hives! Cue scream #2.

For the next two days I dealt with uncomfortable itchy hives all over my body. I thought I had an allergic reaction to food, but I’ve never been allergic to anything before which was odd. Later I found out that they were stress hives. Apparently it’s a thing. When your body is stressed your immune system gets weaker. And I guess the drinking the night before was the last straw on my body. It screamed out for me to stop. I spent all Sunday laying in bed watching movies, rubbing Benadryl itch cream (it’s amazing) and holding ice packs to my body.

Finally the hives disappeared, but my eyes and fingers stayed a little swollen and my throat stayed a little tight. I chock it up to a leftover hives reaction and I promptly get back to work.

My first big anxiety attack.

It’s the Thursday before my big Saturday event, and I’m feeling a little stressed. My throat has continued to stay a little tight, and it’s causing me a bit of anxiety all week. I light some incense, ring my Maneki-neko (Lucky cat) chimes, and sit down on the floor to meditate. After a few minutes, tears are running down my cheeks. I open my eyes and breathe deep and hard. “Maybe I should just lie down…”

I walk to the couch and lay my head down to take a nap. Again after a few minutes, I start crying. Soft whimpers at first and rolling tears that slowly evolve into a steady, deep, gut cry. Suddenly I feel like I can’t breathe. Thoughts flash in my head of what to do:

“Who should I call?”
“I don’t want to bother them.”
“My throat feels tight.”
“What if I stop breathing?”
“Should I call 911?”
“Will I make it to the hospital in time?”

I finally give in and decide to call my husband. He’s just ending basketball practice. He hears my loud cries and is immediately concerned. I can’t stop crying. He comforts me on the phone and talks me through what I finalize realize is an anxiety attack. I put my head in between my legs (like they say on TV you’re supposed to do) and breathe deep. It seems to help. I finally stop crying.

That was my first anxiety attack, and it was really scary. As someone who actively promotes self-care, it’s crazy how much doubt there was in my mind about reaching out for help from my loved ones.

Pure stamina.

In the end, I was able to successfully produce all four events. I give credit to pure stamina, a strong support system of friends and loved ones, and the inner competitor in me that always wants to succeed and do a good job. The funny thing is, I had to force myself to take a day off after all of that.

For those curious, here’s a summary of how that crazy week went down:
  • SATURDAY – EVENT #1The 34th Annual Leap Sandcastle Classic @ Ocean Beach, SF (My biggest event for Make it Mariko this year!)
  • SUNDAY – Trevor Chat training (Oh yea, did I mention that during all of this I was also training to be a crisis chat counselor for the Trevor Project, 8 hours every Sunday?)
  • MONDAYEVENT #2Co-facilitated the SOMA Pilipinas Artist Gathering with over 50 artivists. Energizing, exciting, and inspiring.
  • TUESDAY – Fly to Houston, TX for the Grace Hopper Conference.
  • THURSDAYEVENT #3Setup and coordinated the X product demos at the Women Techmakers Party for 1200 people.
  • FRIDAY – Fly home to SF. Help coordinate ceremony rehearsal for tomorrow’s wedding.
  • SATURDAYEvent #4 Coordinated Steph & Brian’s beautiful wedding at the General’s Residence at Fort Mason, SF.
  • SUNDAY – Trevor Chat training
In conclusion:

Lesson #1: Don’t schedule four events in one week.
Lesson #2: Hire more people on your staff.

Stay tuned for blogs going more in depth about some of these completed events.

*NOW YOU SHARE! — Have you ever double/triple/quadruple committed yourself like I did? What techniques did you use to get through and not go crazy? Share below!

Finally fully present and breathing,
Gina Mariko


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