Holy Crap, Obituaries Are Expensive.

My father would be really proud that I was economical with his "official" obit in the newspaper. But he deserves far more than two column inches. So here's what I REALLY wanted to say about my dad.

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Neil Russel Meyer of Issaquah, WA passed away peacefully, (but at least 6 hours later than we expected to prove how strong he still was) on March 11, 2018.  Neil, as he was known by everyone including grandchildren and pets, was born in Springfield Ohio in 1937. He grew up in St. Paris, Ohio, where he graduated high school. After two years in the Navy, Neil went on to receive his Bachelor of Science in Forestry from the University of Montana.

Neil is survived by his wife Nancy, daughter Jennie and husband Dave, step-daughter Bambi and husband Kim, step-daughter Nancy and fiancé Jeff, along with grandchildren Brooke, Forrest, Chace, Sydney, Sam, Cassidy, Carson, and great-grandson Brayden. Neil is also survived by his brother David, wife Jane, and nephew Derek. Neil was predeceased by his parents, Rose A. and Elwood H. Meyer and many dogs, cats, horses and goats who he had a love/hate relationship with. Especially the Tennessee Walking horse who knocked his front teeth out as a child, and that one goat who chewed a hole in his underwear.

Neil had an impressive, 37-year career with Weyerhaeuser, working his way up from a “choker” in the woods to a Plywood Plant manager in Snoqualmie and White River, and later a Systems Management consultant throughout the Northwest. In the mid 80’s, Neil moved with Nancy to Sabah, East Malaysia for five years to manage the building and running of a Plywood Plant just outside Lahad Datu. Daughter Jennie attended school in Singapore during this time, sparing Neil lots of teen hormones and eye rolling.  As a manager, (and in life) Neil was honest, kind, incredibly detail oriented, and so safe he was dangerous, always wearing his hard hat at a signature, jaunty angle.

Being from the forest industry, Neil. Loved. Wood. Which is evident from the temple of cedar home he built with Nancy, the two barns he built with Nancy supervising, and the neatly stacked piles of firewood, in descending order of size, everywhere around the property.

In his younger years, Neil spent his free time playing tennis, up-keeping the property, helping care for Jennie’s horses, swearing under his breath at Jennie’s horses, and going fishing. (But not nearly enough.) He could make a mean Margarita, a meaner Manhattan and a perfectly sweet Shirley Temple. Neil could also be found on rainy weekends puttering around the basement, organizing bolts and screws into an elaborate system of empty Beer Nuts cans.

After retirement, Neil devoted himself to cooking delicious, but eyebrow-singeingly spicy food, wine-making, fence and paddock repairs and keeping mice out of the horse feed.

Neil was a sweetheart of a man, and a loving husband and father with a sharp wit as dry as melba toast.  He saved his occasional lectures accompanied by an impressive nose flare for his family, but to his friends and acquaintances, he was always kind, quietly funny, and incredibly polite. He will be remembered with love and missed by all.

A celebration for Neil featuring good, but reasonably-priced, wine is being planned for late May. In remembrance, please donate to Alzheimer’s research at alz.org.

 

 

 

 

 

It's More Than Business

Yesterday, we pitched to defend an account we’ve had for six years. It went incredibly well. To shock all my coworkers and use a sports metaphor, we really “left it all on the field.”  I wouldn’t change a thing.

And today, I’m a total mess.

Of course, there’s the expected work hangover from too many hours in the office and too few in bed that comes with any pitch.

But this one was different. This one was truly personal.

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I’m the first to say, “it’s just advertising.” We’re not saving lives. And I’m lucky to work for an agency that values family and work/life balance above all else. But some accounts weave their way into your life so it becomes more than a client you work on. I helped develop a voice for this brand, that, because I was the target, was similar to my own. Several of the umpteen ads we created were directly lifted from personal experiences with my kids. I was willing to share parts of my own life because I believed in the work, the brand, and the people behind it. 

Then there’s the bond that comes with time. Over the past six years, between our close-knit client and agency team, we’ve collectively celebrated or weathered an IPO, three CEOs, five CMO’s, layoffs on both sides, one divorce, two new babies, two engagements, and most recently, the death of my dad. Like a week and a half ago, recently. It wasn’t a shock - my dad had Alzheimer’s and started declining rapidly right when pitch work began. So, when he passed, I was back to work in a day and a half. Not because anyone asked me to, but because I wanted to. The quiet support and love of my team, and the knowledge that I had poured my everything into this account for the past six years made it an easy decision. I wanted to see this through, for myself and for everyone I work with who had given just as much as I had.

My point is this. Pitches suck. Wait, that’s not my point. (But it’s true.)

My real point is, most creatives are natural empaths. We feel all the things, for better or worse. We think with our hearts first, then our minds. That’s how we’re able to come up with ideas, over and over, that connect with people. This makes us passionate, hugely loyal, and emotionally vested. Sure, we have to learn to separate and let stuff go. But to us, it’s more than just a job. We’re putting a little piece of ourselves into everything we create.

I don’t know how this pitch will turn out. Of course, I hope we win. What I do know is, I had tears in my eyes yesterday listening to our founder give his heartfelt closing remarks. Because I know every one of us gave our all, and we’ll be there for each other, regardless. 

So, for the clients out there who think “it’s just business” I want to tell you, on behalf of all the agencies putting their hearts and souls into what they create for you, it’s way more than that. And if you find an agency partner who gives you this level of devotion, don’t let them go. Because you’re going to get far more than anything that can ever be stated in a contract.

 

 

A Recipe For Your Tween!

EVENTUAL CORNBREAD MUFFINS

For when your 12-year-old gets the spontaneous urge to bake, right before dinner.

 These are not our muffins. We were too busy weeping tears of joy while finally eating them.

These are not our muffins. We were too busy weeping tears of joy while finally eating them.

Ingredients

1 cup Super-Exasperating flour

1 tablespoon baking powder - or is it baking soda? WHY IS THIS SO HARD!?!

1⁄2 teaspoon salt  (the thing that life rubs into wounds.)

1⁄2 cup sugar

1 cup yellow cornmeal (plus extra for counter and floor.)

1⁄2 cup butter (or 4 tablespoons, cut from a stick, one tablespoon at a time, using 4 different utensils.)

3⁄4 cup milk

1 egg that you thought you might be out of and momentarily FREAKED OUT.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375º F. Argue with parents about another recipe that calls for 400˚F.
  2. Get out all ingredients above, and every single measuring cup, spoon, spatula, and mixing bowl to your family’s name. Place on counter. Flip hair.
  3. Get irritated when parents ask if they can help, because the rest of dinner will be ready in 15 minutes and these have to bake for 25.
  4. Grease muffin pans with cooking spray. Make it apparent that removing cooking spray cap is as difficult as lifting an anvil. Be sure cap shoots off across the kitchen narrowly missing the cat for dramatic effect.
  5. Stomp to pantry and back again.
  6. Pour 1 cup of cornmeal into a 1/3 measuring cup from a small, awkward hole in the cornmeal box at the most difficult angle possible. Spill approximately 1/3 cup on counter. Groan. Pour remaining 1/3 cup cornmeal into a ½ measuring cup because it's right there and it's still clean. Pour both approximated measuring cups into the mixing bowl. Huff while mom sweeps the remaining cornmeal off counter into the bowl with her hand and calls it good. 
  7. Mix dry ingredients together with sloth-like efficiency. Throw in a noise directed at your little brother that sounds like a cat growling underwater.         
  8. In nine separate bowls, melt butter, pour milk, and beat egg. Start by melting butter in the microwave in 5 second intervals over the course of 6 minutes. Gasp in exasperation when egg doesn’t break through a whisper-soft tap and the power of your mind. Combine.
  9. Stomp to pantry and back again with exaggerated hair flip.
  10. Add dry mixture to wet mixture and stir until just combined, over the course of what seems like 47 minutes.
  11. Refuse additional offers of assistance as the color drains from your family’s face in hunger and desperation.
  12. Slowly, and with the 627th clean spoon in the house, transfer batter into muffin pan, filling each cup all the way to the brim.
  13. Flail your arms in frustration when parent asks how full the muffin tins should be and you say 2/3 full.
  14. Glare at mother as she transfers extra batter into empty muffin tins to prevent a house fire from starting in the oven.
  15. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean and the rest of the family has lost the will to live.
  16. Remove and serve hot. In delightful contrast to the rest of the meal, which is now cold.  
  17. ENJOY!!!