What a week!! The book tour in Chicago started with a bang. We landed in the middle of a violent thunderstorm and had to sit on the runway until the lightning stopped so the ground crew could get us parked at the gate safely. Then a few miracles kicked in, as the rain stopped long enough for our bags not to get wet as they were unloaded, and it held off enough for us to get into our rental car and start our one hour journey to our first hotel before it began pouring again!!
We got to the town of Geneva and even though it was after 9 pm, we could still tell it was a beautiful town. I couldn’t wait to see it in the daylight. The best thing ever was that the hotel was only about 100 yards from the Arden Courts of Geneva. The town was simply beautiful with quaint homes and shops.
We went sightseeing in downtown Chicago in the morning and returned to the hotel in time to shower and get ready for the first presentation. We rode across the street and met Kelly Fritz and Pat O’Connor. They were both incredible women, but were disappointed to tell me that there were only going to be a few people in attendance as there had been some cancellations. I promised them that we would have a great time even if only one person showed up!! Two women and the staff of Arden Courts attended and we had a ball!! Lots of notes were taken and some sharing too. Afterwards, Pat shared with me that I had made a huge impact on one of the women there, in the sense that she needed a little positivity about her situation and was able to get that from me!! I was so surprised AND thrilled that in a one hour speech I could make an important difference in someone’s life.
I was told that the following day’s morning session had so many RSVP’s that they had to hire a person to valet park the vehicles!! Wow, that was intimidating!! No pressure on me! And it turned out to be a simply amazing time!! It was in a place called South Holland and there was almost standing room only with more than 60 people in attendance. A box lunch was served with a wrap, potato salad, chips and a cookie. I spoke with every single person in attendance before the program started. That was so much fun!! It was such a diverse group of folks – family members of those with dementia, social workers, nurse practitioners, and those who work with the Alzheimer’s Association. Everyone had a great time!! They raffled off 8 of my books which I happily signed, and I sold about 10 more!!The raffle winners cheered and smiled as if they had won the lottery! I felt awesome !!
The next town was an hour away in a place called Glen Ellyn. My point of contact Patti was simply amazing!! There were great snacks, veggies and dips, fruit and cookies for the attendees. There was also an awesome young lady named Brittany who shared with me as soon as I walked in the door that she was the first person In her Glen Ellyn community who had read my book!! I was so impressed with her professionalism and her desire to learn. She reminded me so much of a younger version of me. There were almost 30 folks in attendance and we all laughed and had a great time!! There were great questions In that session too!! It felt to me like folks were connected to my every word. I signed the books that were raffled off for that group and sold a few as well!!
The Last presentation was a perfect ending to book tour! Fabulous people!! Great appetizers and give-always such as bags, pens & notebooks bearing the Arden Courts name. The acting marketing director, whose name was Romance was a little disappointed because more than 13 people who RSVP’d didn’t arrive, but it was a beautiful Friday night at the start of a holiday weekend so I think people thought of better things to do!! That said, those of us who were there had a BLAST!!!! Romance said she didn’t want to let me leave. She had ordered enough books to raffle off, but because so many people didn’t come, everyone in attendance received a book..Which of course I signed! Everyone appeared to be soooooo thrilled with their books!!
The program was supposed to end at 8pm, but everyone just hung out, just chatting and sharing their stories til 8:30. One young woman who attended had just placed her mom in the Arden Courts community that week, and was really struggling and the toll the disease was having on she and her family. We all listened intently. No one wanted to get out of their seats.
Finally Romance said, “let’s give Loretta one more round of applause”. Everyone clapped, then finally began to rise from their seats!! One woman in attendance has a sister in Temple Hills., MD a mere few miles from us. She said she’d tell her all about me and my story. That would be great if she shares with her sister because I’d love to meet her too!! I found out that the people who were there had all learned of the event through advertisements in the Chicago Tribune newspaper!! I was so excited about that! One person gave me a copy of the ad from her newspaper. It was cool seeing my face and story in a newspaper!!
Tim and I had a total of four days in Chicago. In addition to the four presentations in three days, we saw a lot of the city too. We took the train in from the suburbs and did the river architectural tour of the city, visited the Sky Ledge in the Sears (Willis) Tower, walked the Magnificent Mile, enjoyed the Navy Pier and went to a place I’d been dying to visit called Eataly … it’s an amazing complex of an Italian market, a wine and beer outlet, a full bakery, 9 full restaurants, and every type of cookbook and cooking class known to man all under one roof. We went there twice and tried two different types of meals.
When we headed for the airport on Saturday, I felt as if I had conquered it all!!! I’d met so many people, gave fully of myself, and shared stories, was loved and embraced by all the groups. Yet, i also felt like we had a great mini vacation too!! We walked, and talked, laughed and photographed, and ate to our hearts content. We saw new towns, and embraced new “small town” culture. It’s all a huge part of what I call Conquering Life ….. enjoying every possible moment, and giving your all to everything you do!! It was a week of The Perfect Balance!!