Anyone who knows me even a little bit knows one thing: I love to cook and garden. It’s a passion, a hobby, a meditation, and something that brings me a lot of joy. I recently hosted a baby shower at my home for a dear friend – I made the food, created the party favors and prizes, crafted, and decorated. After the event, one of my friends said, ” Martha would be so proud.”
It started when I was a kid. I’d collect leaves and flowers from the garden, put them into a salad bowl, and use the pool water as “dressing.” No one ever ate it, of course, but I liked the process of making something for someone. Later, that turned to crafting. It didn’t matter whether it was pottery, painting, or pasta — I liked the process of creating.
When I first heard about The Distinguished Speaker Series of Southern California, it was via twitter. I was curious to see what it was all about, and much to my surprise and delight, I saw that the one and only Martha Stewart – my homemaker idol – was on the lineup. I had to know more
Distinguished Speaker Series Returns to SoCal this Fall
What I learned is that The Distinguished Speaker Series has been around since 1996! Its mission is simply to educate, enlighten and inform the community by bringing in some of the greatest thought leaders of our time.
Past speakers have included the likes of Bill Clinton, Yo-Yo Ma, John Glenn, Madeline Albright, Frank McCourt, Jane Goodall, Frank Abagnale, Malcolm Gladwell, Magic Johnson, Maya Angelou, and the list goes on and on.
At the events, the speakers share unique experiences and perspectives on everything from world affairs, politics, history and the environment, to business, economics, art, entertainment, and everything in between. With its season running from October to May, this year’s events will take place in Beverly Hills, Pasadena, Redondo Beach, and Thousand Oaks.
The more I learned, the more I was intrigued and for full disclosure, I engaged with the folks running it and they offered me tickets to Martha’s appearance including a special meet and greet.
Why I can’t wait to meet Martha
To say that I am counting down the days until May 2016 (that’s right, NINE months from now….) to have a moment with THE Martha Stewart to share how much she’s impacted my life, is an understatement. I’m without a doubt one of her biggest fans and I don’t fangirl much. The fact that she went to prison and the one thing she missed the most was fresh lemons only made her more endearing to me.
With the risk of sounding like a crazy person, I’ll share this. In high school, when VCR timers were still a novel thing — long before Tivo and DVR — I recorded her show religiously and watched it the second I got home from school. I’d practice the recipes, try the crafts, and dream about one day having a garden. Her magazine was my first subscription, long before Cosmo!
“What to Have for Dinner” was my first cookbook, and the pages are well broken in, stiff and stuck together with smudges and fingerprints all over them. Her butternut squash risotto was my first attempt at risotto and still the basis for many creations since. Her pâte brisée is still my go-to pie crust. Her traditional Thanksgiving turkey — cheesecloth and all – is a tried and true favorite. I’ve veered off a few times, but I always come back.
She taught me how to fold fitted sheets, how to truss a chicken, how to arrange flowers, how to prune roses, how to decorate a table, and I even took up knitting for a summer once (that one didn’t last long). Need I continue? To be honest, the only time I’ve ever NOT gone straight to Martha first was when I made Boeuf Bourguignon for the first time. That had to be Julia Child, and I think Martha would probably concur.
Many learn such skills from their mothers or grandmothers. My grandma actually DID teach me how to wrap presents beautifully — I can’t thank Martha for that one. But my mom wasn’t a homemaker — she was a hard-working career woman who taught me other, more important life lessons. She didn’t teach me how to weed my garden or stuff a turkey, but she taught me about things like discipline, respect, good manners, courtesy, the value of hard work, humility, perseverance, and standing up for what you believe in no matter who it upsets along the way.
Many, many years ago, upon my college graduation, I had a job interview set up with a producer from Martha’s show. I was ready to move to Connecticut and do any job that I was offered to be able to work with her! But, as fate would have it, I never made it to the interview. The week before my scheduled appointment, in what became one of the most interesting sliding doors of my life, I ended up being offered a job in Washington, D.C. where I’d be mentored by two veteran reporters who had once been part of CNN’s investigative unit, and I couldn’t say no. It was my first real news job and the rest is history…
Now, back to the Speaker Series. Though I’m obviously most excited about Martha, this season is going to be a powerhouse of inspiration and I plan to get to as many as I can.
Here’s the lineup:
- Ehud Barak (Oct 2015) – Former Prime Minister of Israel and Global Statesman
- John Cleese (Nov 2015) – World-Renowned Comedian & Oscar-Nominated Writer
- Henry Paulson (Jan 2016) – Former Treasury Secretary in conversation with Geoffrey Colvin, FORTUNE Magazine Editor
- Platon (Feb 2016) – World-Renowned, Award-Winning Photographer for The New Yorker and Master Storyteller
- Michio Kaku (Mar 2016) – Theoretical Physicist and Futurist
- Leon Panetta (Apr 2016) – Former CIA Director & U.S. Secretary of Defense
- Martha Stewart (May 2016) – Lifestyle Guru & Founder, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
“Millennials appreciate transparency. We want to go ‘behind the scenes’ and see the bigger picture. This series gives us the opportunity to do just that,” said series co-owner Kathy Winterhalder.“We’re able to hear the stories of world leaders, professional athletes, Pulitzer Prize winners, and celebrities of all kinds told in their own words. And through their stories we are able to personally relate to them. This isn’t an edited interview that gets a once over before it’s introduced to us. This is raw, up close, and personal.”
2015-2016 Season Schedule:
For tickets and more information, visit speakersla.com.