Stepping Out With…is a chance to explore what has prompted others to step out of their own comfort zone to realize their dreams. We meet, and know, people in our everyday lives who have stepped out of their comfort zone to do something amazing. This series looks at the people I know and meet that have done just that. Sheer inspiration!
I met Anita recently, since moving to Calgary, but had heard of her prior to our arrival. Jason’s brother, Kevin, had told me of this friend who was having a famous folk singer sing at her upcoming 40th birthday celebration. I honestly didn’t think much of it…until I met Anita and experienced her infectious enthusiasm as she shared with me her lifelong dream of having Valdy play just for her and how she had managed to arrange exactly that.
Her story is the epitome of OneGiantStep; the idea that we can all see our dreams come true, you just have to take it one step at a time.
Who is Valdy and what does he mean to you?
Valdy is a Juno Award winning, Canadian Folk Singer and Songwriter who is known for his most popular hit (“Play Me a Rock ‘n Roll Song”) from the 70’s. I have been a huge fan of Valdy from the time I was 9, (so 30 years now!) when a friend introduced me to his music… Of course there is a story behind this which I will share at my party before the big show! (G’s Note: Anita shared with us that, at 9 years old, she was bullied at school and the friend played Valdy’s Rain Maker. It helped her get through and ever since then she has been a die hard fan.)
How many Valdy performances have you seen and where?
I have seen Valdy perform 12 times in about 20 years in 3 different provinces – ON, BC and AB! I have been accumulating quite the collection of personally autographed albums and assorted paraphernalia.
What first made you think that you could have Valdy perform at your birthday party? What were the first steps you took to make it happen?
For close to 15 years I was trying to figure out how I could somehow be at the same private function as Valdy, where we could chat casually and I could spend more time with him, possibly. During the past 5-7 years or so, I noticed that he often played private venues. After one particular concert, Jeff and I began to seriously speculate how much it would cost to hire Valdy as an entertainer. We did the rough math, and after a few years of debating if I should try or not, I finally got up the nerve and emailed his agent and waited, holding my breath… as it turned out, Valdy loves to perform private functions, and, as they say, the rest is history!
What has been the hardest part of seeing your dream come true?
By far the most difficult part is doing all of the research beforehand to make this dream come true. What sort of venue can we have this at? What to do about lodging and food for guests, transportation, hiring a sound guy, etc. Indeed the logistics of holding a private event of this size was the most challenging! This also requires a huge commitment, and I have been planning this for close to two years now.
What has been the easiest part?
Hmmm, I think the easiest part is that I am not afraid to meet and communicate with people, which you need to be able to do with an event such as this. Also being organized is key.
What is the biggest surprise of the whole experience?
I would have to say the biggest surprise is how many guests will be attending (about 92 at last count) and considering that many of them are travelling from Ontario and BC, this is simply extraordinary and I feel very blessed to have such wonderful company to share this dream with!
What is your advice for others who maybe have a dream but haven’t yet realized that they can do it?
Absolutely GO FOR IT! Try not to be afraid of rejection… don’t listen to the negative ones who doubt you or think your idea is crazy (I did run into this situation a number of times during this adventure), you only live once so just go for it!
Anita kindly invited me to her party this past weekend and what a party it was!!
A lodge nestled in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. Friends and family filling the space with laughter and music. A Canadian music icon taking the stage.
The highlight of the weekend for me, and for Anita, was when Valdy played a new song written just for her by Jeff; the love of her life. My heart melted for the two of them.
An amazing tribute to an amazing women who is now riding high on the knowledge of what it takes to step out and make her dream come true.
So, tough question I know but…was it everything you thought it would be?
The event itself far surpassed any of my expectations, dreams, etc. Feedback from everyone was amazing! It turned out fantastic all in all!
You looked, throughout the weekend, to be alternately stressed and relaxed. I was impressed by your ability to ‘get things done’ but then to be able to ‘turn off’ and let your teams do the work so you could enjoy the evenings. Would you do anything differently?
I was definitely stressed more than I ever could imagine, unfortunately. There were SO many last minute things that I had to do, never even thought of (such as sound guys needing a clear path between stations and with so many guests, this proved difficult, power outage Friday, etc.) as well as unforeseen events that occurred. Having learned from this experience, I would have completed a lot more of the shopping prior to the last day (as much as possible), would have delegated a bit more, would have taken into consideration that some people could not arrive till Sat and that many people left early on Sunday and as a result I bought WAY too much food!! Overall the feedback was excellent, they felt I did not miss a thing, and that was greatly appreciated!
It’s well known that travellers sometimes have trouble coming home because it’s the end of the planning and researching and work of being on-the-road. Do you think you’ll experience something similar now that all the planning and preparing is done?
There is definitely a “down” time after an event such as this, or a vacation, but to hear the guests’ stories, and it’s been a few weeks now, and letters that I have received, emails, cards, etc., thanking me for such a memorable event, it is all worthwhile.
I like to think that the realization of a dream like this is only the beginning. I guess the inevitable question is…what’s next?
Haha… what’s next? Hmmm… there has been a lot of discussion on this topic, between myself and Jeff primarily, but also hearing feedback and suggestions from others. The overall vote has been “when are you doing it again???”, which of course is positive! It would be wonderful to do a similar event two year’s from now, but changing it up somewhat, perhaps add more rock than folk… not sure, stay tuned! Thank you!
Thank you, Anita, for sharing your story with me and for inviting us to your amazing celebration!