Coopers and Cornfields

We left Bloomington yesterday and set out for the next workshop—Karen Cooper’s. Karen had said she lives out in the middle of farming country, and as we drove, I began to understand exactly what she meant. We drove through miles and miles of Chocolate Chip, not-yet-planted cornfields, broken up occasionally by a tidy farmhouse, nestled amid a few trees and surrounded (sometimes) by a white picket fence. It was Americana like I have never imagined, and it set a wonderful tone for the day. We sensed we were going to be meeting hardworking people who lived a simple life to the fullest. . . .

Before heading to Karen’s, we checked into the White House, a charming bed and breakfast a few miles from her home. We’ve spent most of our time in larger chain hotels, so this was a nice change of pace. I did have to borrow a hair dryer from the owner (I didn’t even think to pack one!), and we tiptoed around a little more quietly than we would in a hotel, but it was fun to chat with the other guests at breakfast and experience the personal service you get at a good B&B.

After settling in, we headed for Karen’s. We overshot her home a little, stopping first at what turned out to be the house next door (really down the road a bit), which was the office of the family’s farming and trucking company. Gary (Karen’s husband) pointed us in the right direction and told us he’d have to tease Karen because, after all the suspense and excitement, he got to meet us first!

When we finally arrived, we were greeted with warmth, love, and excitement. Most of Karen’s nine girls were just heading out on a field trip (Karen homeschools them, which was a wonderful topic of discussion for us, since I homeschooled my girls as well), so I got to meet them before they left. Shortly after that, the group meeting began—Karen’s first ever! Her upline drove down from Wisconsin, and they put together a wonderful experience (treats, Make & Takes, stories, photos, etc.) for the 25-plus demonstrators there. Demonstrators had driven from all over (Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, etc.) to come, and it was delightful to meet them.

After the group meeting, Sara and I enjoyed an absolutely priceless dinner with Karen, Gary, and one of their older daughters, who works in the family office. We had rib-eye steak (from a cow they raised themselves), a tasty salad I’ve never had, and—of course—home-grown corn! Simple but so delicious! And the company was even more enjoyable than the food. (Did you know there were several different varieties of corn? Sara and I do now!)

Guests started arriving before 6:30, and we had a fabulous workshop! We laughed until we cried a couple of times, and thoroughly enjoyed stamping and fun and conversation with people who you just sensed were genuine and decent. Karen got five bookings (woo hoo!) and decent sales (I think).

The guests enjoyed the projects (we are still featuring the April Two-Step into Spring promotion) and an evening of fun with friends!

And I loved being there! Growing up, my dad taught us to work hard and play hard, and that’s one of the things I believe in—I could tell last night that I was with people who understood and shared that philosophy! I had to duck in the bathroom at one point and wipe my eyes because I was so touched by the spirit of warmth and generosity I felt from Karen, her family, and the people who came to her home. What an honor to be there!

And that’s what I love so much about workshops—not just these Workshops of a Lifetime, but any workshop—the opportunity to enter someone’s home, get to know them on a very personal level, and connect in a way that doesn’t happen anywhere else. I will never forget Karen Cooper and her family—or any of the other demonstrators who have achieved a Workshop of a Lifetime—because they have welcomed me into their lives in a very personal way.