One of the treasures unearthed at my parents‘ house. A cartoon my dad drew of my grandfather based on a Norman Rockwell image. Some of the humor clearly is of another era when a grown man taking good care of a cat was something tease-worthy.
That said, what I love about this, other than the creativity and the warmth it exhibits, is that it shows we’ve always been a “stand back and hold my beer” kind of family.
I will always be proud of that quality, and it will always be core to my personality.
Kat Kelly-Heinzelman on my mom Susie Sexton: “Every now and then someone special comes into our lives, and we don’t always know they are going to be special until we have known them for a while. Susie was like that for me. I first met her late one night on Facebook when I came home from work – when I was working second shift and I was relaxing and catching up on the things that had happened while I had been working. We got to talking and I found out that I knew her son and didn’t even know it. Not well yet but that too would come. I found that Susie and I had a lot in common and that we liked a lot of the same things. She lived in the house she grew up in which I found very cool. I used to tell her I would come a paint her porch and then we would sit in a rocking chair and gossip while we drank coffee in the morning or wine in the early evening. But life got too busy for both of us to do that and now we won’t ever get to that.”
Love you, Kat – thank you for this. Your friendship was a lifeline to her, and she truly felt “seen” by you in all the best ways. I’ll always be grateful to you for that. ❤️
Every now and then someone special comes into our lives, we don’t always know they are going to be special until we have known them for a while. Susie was like that for me. I first met her late night on Facebook when I came home from work when I was working second shift and I was relaxing and catching up on the things that had happened while I had been working. We got to talking and I found out that I knew her son and didn’t even know it. Not well yet but that too would come. I found that Susie and I had a lot in common and that we liked a lot of the same things. She lived in the house she grew up in which I found very cool. I used to tell her I would come a paint her porch and then we would sit…
Musings from the bleak midwinter … I woke up here in Grey Gardens cranky – the pandemic and life’s obligations weighing me down. I know everyone is feeling it.
But then I saw these little footprints of Hudson’s in the snow which gave me some warmth and perspective. Life continues in beautiful ways.
John Doordashed some unhealthy but tasty and comforting breakfast treats, and I had some lovely NSFW check-ins from my adopted siblings (whether they like it or not) Blaine Fowler and Diane Hill.
I took a much-needed shower (why are we all so averse to bathing in pandemic?) and threw on my new 80sTees.com Mister Miracle shirt (thanks, Kevin Stecko!), which reminded me how much the escapism (pun intended) of comic books thrills me.
Jack Kirby created Mister Miracle (a cosmic Houdini) and the rest of DC Comics’ bonkers New Gods at the height of his most unfettered creativity. Kirby had jettisoned Stan Lee’s reportedly toxic self-promotion from his professional life and let his freak flag fly. This was after already gifting the world Captain America, the Fantastic Four, Black Panther, Thor, the X-Men, Hulk, Iron Man, and so many other incredible characters.
I found kinship in Kirby by inadvertent means. In the mid-80s, Kenner toys released arguably the greatest super hero figures ever with their SuperPowers line: a well-constructed, detailed (for that era), heady mix of characters both popular and obscure. I was gobsmacked when I saw Dr. Fate and Red Tornado hanging on the pegs alongside Superman and WonderWoman at our local KayBee.
But my favorites among all of the figures in the line were the New Gods – Darkseid, Steppenwolf, DeSaad, Kalibak, Orion, and, yes, Mister Miracle. They were day-glo Shakespearean – epic, fun, transfixing. It would be years later that I would learn the New Gods are suspected to have inspired (in part) my other geek love at the time (and still) Star Wars. (Also, an incredible Kenner toy line over which I obsessed.)
So, I put on this shirt, and thought what lessons can I take from King Kirby? How can I live my life as boldly and creatively? And maybe inspire others as he had inspired me?
One of the treasures my dad Don Sexton unearthed these past few months was a beautiful quilt my great grandmother Money had made. (At least I hope I have that right. My mother Susie Sexton is somewhere saying “I KNEW you weren’t listening to me!”)
After brainstorming a bit with dear friend Aaron Latham about the merits and downsides of framing it (ain’t no wall big enough for THAT!), it occurred to me to order one of those plexiglass display cases you find in jewelry stores and trade shows. Thank you, Shoppopdisplays, for coming to the rescue and delivering on Sundays!
I spent far too much time trying to figure out how to fold this damn thing, but I’m thrilled that it is safe and displayed now in our TV room.
That little moment of creative endeavor and honoring the past did my heart good. I’m no Jack Kirby, but this artistic activity – not to mention that quilt’s bold colors and beautiful lineage – will brighten my January/February days.
My crankiness has subsided, and that is all due to family, friends, memories, reflection, and writing (this right here if you made it this far). Food, shopping, and cute dogs help too!
Yes, I overshare, but social media and blogging for me are (as they were for my mom) the perfect combo of bulletin board, journal, and party that never ends. Thanks for being there. ❤️
Thank you, State Bar of Michigan and wonderful Mark Rossman, for inviting me to be a presenter at Thursday’s Business Law Symposium. Kudos to my Clark Hill colleagues Linda Watson and Jonathan Martone who hit it out of the park with their respective panels.
It was such an honor to be included and to offer my legal marketing and branding thoughts alongside such fabulous souls as Sabo PR’s Mary Ann Sabo, 2nGage’s Tyler Cady, Dinsmore & Shohl’s R.J. Cronkhite, and Sikora Law’s Lindsay Sikora. Thank you to our fantastic moderator Fishman Stewart PLLC’s Maxwell Goss for organizing all of our ideas and to Rossman, P.C.’s Anthony Bowen for keeping all of the trains moving and clocks ticking.
Thank you to my Clark Hill Marketing and Business Development colleague Stacey McIntyre who watched all six+ hours of the fantastic event and grabbed these images and to our Clark Hill social media maven Tommy Franz for this post.
It was also a treat seeing my buddies Nemeth Law, P.C.’s Terry Bonnette (a fellow Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit board member and Mosaic’s fab governance chair) and Butzel Long’s Jennifer Dukarski (my newfound digital dance party partner) do their incredible things during the Symposium as well.
Text:Clark Hill Member Linda Watson, Member Jonathan Martone, and Director of Marketing Roy Sexton each participated in different roundtables last night during the State Bar of Michigan Business Law Symposium.
Linda’s topic was “Mentorship – What is it and How Does it Happen?” Jonathan’s group presented “Law Firm Management in the Pandemic,” and Roy’s group discussed “Building Your Brand and Protecting It — Responding to a Four Alarm Fire.”
My Columbia City High School classmate Jennifer Krider is a helluva chef AND entrepreneur with a thriving (and darling) catering business/gift shop/soon-to-be empire: From My Side of the Kitchen … https://www.frommysideofthekitchen.com.
It’s a family affair – daughters Mackie Sheets and Kaitlyn Morgan, mom Connie Gottschalk, sister-in-law (I hope I have that right) and another fellow classmate Marta Krider Pearce, Marta’s mom Jo Krider, and no doubt many I’m missing – all lend a hand. Proud of them all and what they’ve built. 🙌
(Fun fact: Connie and husband Joe, who were neighbors to my parents Susie and Don Sexton for years, were part owners of another very cute gift shop in Columbia City in the late 80s. Their exceptional handicrafts are still in my home and that of my parents. And clearly their entrepreneurial spirit lives on!)
I share all of this because family matters, and small towns can be magical places where creativity and commerce really bloom. AND I received this darling pillow in the mail Thursday from Jen and Co. It’s going to be a welcome reminder in our tv room that no matter where life takes you, your roots give you the foundation for success and fulfillment. ❤️
File under: #IHaveTheCoolestBoss … for a short week, this was a wild and woolly one with Friday taking the cake 🍰. So this birthday surprise from my boss, colleague, and friend Susan Ahern Friday was a welcome surprise indeed.
I’m sorry that she had to wage war with the Postal Service to get it here – even more challenging in these pandemic life days – but I’m grateful for the outcome. And I honestly enjoyed this extension of last month’s birthday fun!
This beautiful and brilliant Captain America 3D print – autographed by equally beautiful and brilliant Chris Evans (swoon! 🥰) no less – is the perfect addition to our pop culture crazy home. I love it!
But I especially love that I get the distinct privilege to work for and with such an incredible, kind, thoughtful human (and team) at such a wonderful firm as Clark Hill!
I don’t remember being this skinny. Or this young. Or this tan. Thank heavens dear friend Chris Marrone captured it on film! And then texted them to me on Saturday.
Chris is a putz who looks EXACTLY the same now as he did 22 years ago when these were taken. Our first and only cruise – Western Caribbean- and we had a blast! Chris has always been the resident vacation planner – we need him to plan another, when the world isn’t bonkers!
I spent this afternoon with John Cena. It was heaven. HBOMax’s Peacemaker is brilliant. A dash of Netflix’s Cobra Kai, a smidge of Fox’s Deadpool, some of Amazon’s The Boys, and even a little of HBO’s Watchmen. (That last reference comes full circle as Watchmen’s “The Comedian” was a riff on the original comic book “Peacemaker.”)
The show is bonkers, irreverent, subversive, and more than a bit poignant. Yes, Peacemaker is a study in male arrested development and will appeal to the naughty and vulgar 8th grader in all of us.
But Cena also conveys a tragic sadness amidst the rampant silliness, a beefy Willy Loman in spandex. And the smart ensemble trapped in an unceasing series of Rube Goldberg-esque dead-ends owes as much to The Iceman Cometh as it does to the X-Men.
See? Not all of my references are comic book-oriented.
Danielle Brooks as a comically green field agent (who might not be as inept as she telegraphs), Jennifer Holland as her more seasoned (read: wryly, candidly cynical) colleague, and Freddie Stroma as adorably homicidal and overeager wannabe sidekick Adrian Chase (aka “Vigilante”) are standouts.
Showrunner James Gunn takes the merry melody he began in last year’s The Suicide Squad and turns it into a symphony. Whereas that film occasionally was mired in its own fan service, Peacemaker builds upon its predecessor’s promise and avails itself of the expanded real estate serial television provides to develop its characters without sacrificing any gee whiz puerile shenanigans.
And watching The Suicide Squad is not a prerequisite. There is a brief recap in the first episode, and, in many ways, Peacemaker is the far stronger production. I almost wish I HADN’T seen The Suicide Squad first (which nonetheless I did enjoy).
Even if you loathe superheroes – or ESPECIALLY if you do – you’ll find it endlessly entertaining.
A week or so ago, I caught up with Netflix’s tick, tick…BOOM! and Amazon’s Being the Ricardos, which also could be dubbed the “late bloomers double feature” (not just because I saw them well after their respective premieres). Both films explore the challenging intersection of art and commerce, a limbo often riddled with casualties who *just* haven’t quite made it yet but keep hitting that show biz gaming table for one last hopeful spin.
tick, tick…BOOM! is the autobiographical musical by the late Jonathan Larson, Pulitzer Prize-winner for Rent. Detailing his 30th year of living, the piece reads like a Gen X bohemian Company with its protagonist bouncing from well-meaning friend to less-well-meaning friend on a journey to find himself and a backer for his long-gestating musical (no, not Rent … yet).
Director Lin Manuel-Miranda displays a sure hand with the material, fueled no doubt both by love and respect for his contemporary Larson but also from his own career’s stops and starts.
The film is a glorious fairytale of hardship, and its leading man Andrew Garfield (always a marvel) turns in a career best performance, deftly walking a high wire of being inspiring, endearing, maddening, and self-serving. Oh, and he sings (gorgeously), plays the piano, and (sort of) dances, all while painting one of the clearest-eyed portrayals of the white hot isolation of a creative spirit I’ve ever seen.
Supporting players Alexandra Shipp, Robin de Jesus, Vanessa Hudgens, Joshua Henry, MJ Rodriguez, Judith Light, and Bradley Whitford (as Stephen Sondheim no less!) are all stellar, sharply capturing the earnest if ephemeral nature of relationships in the theatre community. There are Broadway cameos aplenty, and I won’t spoil the fun, but I will give shout outs to Laura Benanti (always a comic delight) and Judy Kuhn who are positively larcenous in their all-too-brief respective scenes.
Comparably, Being the Ricardos is shaped by the endless, thankless years performers toil in an effort to “make it.” While the film focuses on Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz at the peak of I Love Lucy’s fame, we learn, through flashbacks and writer/director Aaron Sorkin’s signature rat-a-tat dialogue, the steep challenges through which this legendary couple powered to achieve blockbuster success relatively late in their respective careers.
The film clarifies without belaboring that Lucy and Desi’s success came with a steep price. Years of working in obscurity created hairline fractures that would eventually blossom into infidelity, but throughout they remained a united front in art and business.
Notably, while Kidman doesn’t look one whit like Ball, she does nail Lucy’s husky smoker’s voice and overall demeanor. We leave the film with incredible admiration for Lucille Ball as an entrepreneur who transformed the industry, as a comic visionary with an artiste’s obsession for detail, and as a social progressive who beautifully didn’t give a damn for mid-century social norms.
Kidman and luminous Javier Bardem (as Desi) conduct an acting master class in how to portray beloved historical figures, channeling their essences, while making them uniquely their own. Consequently, they land a timely and timeless message of living in one’s moment.
They are aided and abetted by JK Simmons and Nina Arianda as William Frawley and Vivian Vance respectively. Despite Arianda being saddled with an unfortunate body shaming subplot, both Arianda and Simmons sparkle brilliantly as showbiz workhorses who simultaneously value and resent their “second banana” success.
And, for those who geek out over sumptuous scenic and costume design, there is lush Eisenhower-era eye candy aplenty, with one postcard-perfect image after another of Hollywood’s (and television’s) golden age.
The film’s politics get slippy at times. Sorkin seems intent on force-fitting a modern liberal’s gaze onto Lucy and Desi’s history, but tricky details like Richard Nixon exonerating Lucy from her communist party past get in the way. Be that as it may, the performances transcend any pedantry to detail lives fully lived in service to art and cultural progress.
Episode description: “Thor’s hammer, ‘Mjolnir!’ Attorneys with dogs! Superman t-shirts! Roy Sexton leads a lively discussion about how the little quirks make your law firm more attractive to new hires, current staff, and the audience of your marketing efforts. He shares his career anecdotes and Clark Hill’s recent branding revamp while being frank about the need for a new type of law firm culture. Learn more about the Legal Marketing Association here.”
Thank you all for the birthday love. I made a failed attempt to try to go through and like or comment on all of the Facebook posts, but Facebook is being stubborn and I think about 100 of them are lost to the ether. Given that part of my mantra was to unplug and chill out, I hope you will forgive me.
I had a wonderfully relaxing day with John and my dad Don and Hudson. I was suitably spoiled by John with an avalanche of superhero-themed gifts, a CD player for my car (yes, I’m a dinosaur), and a much-needed desk chair (after nearly two pandemic years of sitting in an antique straight back kitchen chair 🤣). My dad had this great T-shirt made up for me and brought this scrumptious cake as well as some beautiful family heirlooms I’ve been nagging him about. Dear Rob Kates surprised me with this rare Cyndi Lauper disc he knew I was coveting (and treats for Hudson!). And Megan McKeon and Susan Ahern continue to ply me with liquor with a very thoughtful Caskers gift card. 🍸
We kicked back in our movie room watching Tick Tick BOOM (glorious!!) and listening to my dad’s new Christmas gift jazz CDs. (There we are with CDs again!) More than a few gin-and-tonics were imbibed, and then John chauffeured us to Seva Ann Arbor and treated us to a quiet, lovely dinner. Thanks to the staff there for the surprise tiramisu. Seva has become our “Cheers” in pandemic, a welcome haven for which we will be ever grateful.
This year has been a LOT. But today was just what the doctor ordered. Feeling deeply calm and content right now. Love you.
Thank you, Wabash College (and Karen Linn Handley!), for this lovely shout out to my mom Susie Sexton in the latest alumni magazine. She and my father Don Sexton loved Wabash and the positive and profound impact attending and, later, working there had upon me.
I still remember vividly the day they dropped me off for freshman year, her standing in front of Sparks Hall (right after a shutter on the stately building crashed off its hinges to the ground) exclaiming with pride, “Go and have fun! Enjoy this!” That exhortation may have been an immediate response to me tearfully asking them to take me back home. As I understand, my mom herself cried during the entire car ride back to Columbia City when they left me that day, but I never got one hint of her own anxiety about setting me on my path. To be honest, I was even a bit shocked that she seemed so ready to get rid of me! ￼
My mom had an incredible superpower to be the eye of a hurricane in the truly important moments and to exemplify bravery when others were caving around her. That takes an incredible energy, selflessness, and love – it also takes a toll on the person who sets that intrepid tone day after day, year after year. The older I get the more I realize what a high wire act that can be. I will always be grateful for that quality my mother had and how I benefited from it.
I’m glad this particular issue’s theme is “gratitude” as that is what I’m feeling right now.
Please check out Editor Kim Johnson’s excellent foreword – she nails with candor and warmth and wit the anxiety we all are feeling these days and how moments of pause and of appreciation can re-center us.
Part 2 …
My grandma Edna Duncan had an inimitable way of decorating for the holidays. If I were to give her style a descriptor, I’d call it “how to avoid putting up a tree while still seeming festive for the grandkids by utilizing one’s fireplace, some tinsel and garland, and assorted marginally Christmas-related items.” There was a nurse doll (still scratching my head about that one), a handful of glass ornaments, some mid-century flocked reindeer, a half-drained snow globe or two, and THIS little item. (Well, not THIS very one pictured, but you get the idea.)
I’m guessing some liquor vendor gave this novelty promo item to my novelty-promo-item-loving grandpa Roy Duncan (this apple doesn’t fall very far from THAT tree) when he ran #ColumbiaCity’s “Blue Bell” (Wrangler Jeans) factory. I’m not sure how/if it survived years of inquisitive grandkids (myself included) pushing the lid down off sequence, shoving fingers in the automaton pups’ mouths, and plugging and unplugging and plugging it back in. I also don’t know where the original ended up, but I decided late one night the other week to see if I could find a replacement on eBay.
Lo and behold, my insomnia-fueled nite owl online shopping adventures struck gold. And $150 later (Merry Christmas to ME!), this very cute and, yes, incredibly annoying piece has been added to our own eclectic decor. Let the holiday traditions live on!
Now, when and if I start gifting bottles of Old Spice cologne with checks lovingly affixed (not to mention wearing little straw hats), you’ll know my transformation into Edna Duncan is complete!
Yoda does NOT look amused. 🤣
Part 3 …
I am truly lucky to have a wonderful friend with whom I also happen to work. I’ve known Megan McKeon maybe about 10 years now? But we first actually collaborated in 2015 on a Legal Marketing Association – LMA International annual conference quick start panel. Fellow panelists Heather Morse-Geller and Gina Furia Rubel said, “We gotta get Megan to join us!” They were absolutely right. Few people are as devoted, as hard-working, as caring as Megan.
Flash forward a few years later, and Megan introduced me to Clark Hill. Heather told me that I MUST take the job – as she saw it as the right next step for me. Don’t tell Heather I said this, but she’s darn right 99% of the time! 😉
This legal marketing community blesses us with guardian angels at every turn, and three years ago when I received the distinct privilege to work with Megan my life improved for the better. I’ve never worked harder in my life, been challenged to be a better professional, or had someone so consistently in my corner as I have had with Megan, and our wonderful boss Susan Ahern, and our incredible colleagues.
Why am I telling you all this? Well, it’s late. And I’m in a reflective mood. And this magical surprise (pictured above) appeared on our front doorstep. Admittedly, one can argue it’s a year early as I will be president elect of the international association next year and president the following. Nonetheless, when my husband opened this, thinking he was going to find new floor mats for his Jeep 😅, we both squealed with delight. Of course, being me, I couldn’t get this on our movie poster wall fast enough.
(NOTE: I added the word “elect” to the image in the hopes of avoiding controversy! 😅)
This gift puts such a big smile on my face after one hell of a year. Everyone knows I love movies obsessively, but Megan has a distinct giftgiving prowess and somehow she found somebody who could turn me into my own movie poster. The tagline is hysterical: “Only the marketing is legal.” 🤣
Fun fact, Megan took this picture of me – and it is one of my favorites. We were in Chicago, on a sidewalk patio, shortly after I had started with the firm (halfway between a couple of my quarterly nervous breakdowns 😂), waiting for Ray Koenig and Susan to join us for drinks. Little did that naive Roy know what incredible adventures were ahead. But I’m looking at this poster, reflecting on the past year, the past three years, the past 10 years, incredibly grateful for what our legal marketing community has given all of us and for this friendship with dear Megan. Love you, Megan.
I hope everyone rings in 2022 with love in their hearts and an appreciation for what makes us each uniquely perfect in our own beautifully fallible ways. My holiday prayer.
Stephen Sondheim’s passing hit me harder than I even had thought it might. I have been privileged to play BOTH Bobby and Buddy (from Company and Follies respectively): two sides of the same male-arrested-development coin. And, speaking of sides, I did my time in Side by Side by Sondheim. I have cherry-picked from his inestimable songbook for one-man cabaret shows over the years. I spent my high school summer in Japan obsessed with Madonna’sDick Tracy-inspired I’m Breathless, most notably the numbers “Sooner or Later,” “More,” and “What Can You Lose?”
But my deep love of his story-songs began with Barbra Streisand, Betty Buckley, and Dawn Upshaw, who wove magic with Sondheim, plucking tunes from his catalog, disentangling them from their source shows, imprinting the vocalists’ own hopes and heartaches on his twisty-turny lyrics, and giving the soon-to-be standards new life through clever and evocative arrangements. That’s when I saw Sondheim’s true musical brilliance, as a Rorschach test on the soul, malleable and elastic but never losing the unique zing that was purely him.
I find myself heartbroken yet also optimistic that generations of similarly intrepid performers will continue to be inspired by Sondheim and to explore the maps of their hearts through his work.
Let me see the world with clouds Take me to the world Out where I can push through crowds Take me to the world
A world that smiles With streets instead of aisles Where I can walk for miles with you
Take me to the world that’s real Show me how it’s done Teach me how to laugh, to feel Move me to the sun
Just hold my hand whenever we arrive Take me to a world where I can be alive
Thank you to Dan Packel from ALM Media, LLC for including my thoughts in this well-crafted, illuminating, at times provocative piece on the divide between associates and staff where return-to-office is concerned. Highly recommend reading, and NOT necessarily because I’m in here!
“Even in more client-facing roles, different personality types can thrive in a hybrid world. Clark Hill director of marketing Roy Sexton describes himself as an introvert, and he’s thrilled that his firm is giving him the ability to continue spending several days a week outside of the office. That’s where he’s at his best in developing new ideas. ‘Understanding that it is a business, there is a benefit to being together physically. I miss my colleagues and I miss seeing them in person,’ he adds. ‘I do think there’s something to be said for getting up, getting ready and putting on something more than basketball shorts and a goofy T-shirt. I miss having some distance between work and home.’”