Monthly Archives: January 2018

Immature Decisions

Sometimes we shouldn’t be making decisions. I have always wondered why there are life changing decisions made in our youth when most of us are too immature to really make these decisions. Maybe I am only talking about myself. I was not mature enough as a teenager to make decisions that would impact my adult life. One instance is my schooling. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I am a first generation American on my dad’s side and a 2nd generation American on my mom’s side. My family were poor immigrants who came to the United States because they believed they had a better future here.

00 barberMy paternal grandfather was a barber by trade, so when he came to the U.S. he got his barber’s license and continued his vocation. He and my grandmother had eight children, so they did many things to help support the family. One thing they did was purchase a grocery store. My dad and a couple of his brothers ran the store. The store had competition from Kroger and A&P, so the family decided to sell the store for the cost of inventory and equipment. As my dad stated, “We didn’t make any money in this venture but a family of ten ate well for several years.” The family also moved to a small farm which is now a part of the suburbs of St. Louis. Their little 00 grocerfarm was 12 acres, where they had a few chickens, pigs, a milk cow, and mule, and of course a large garden. My father only went to the 8th grade. He started high school, but had to quit to help support the family. His younger siblings were educated through high school, but no farther. They were entrepreneurs—they became business owners, mostly in the construction industry and became very successful.

My mom’s family was also not well educated. My grandfather did not believe that his daughters should attend high school. They were all hard working individuals. My mother became a bookkeeper, and after she married my dad, and he started his construction company, she became the office manager.

00 bisonWith this as the background of my family, there was no discussion of education or careers in my family. I was the youngest of three girls. We all were educated, and we graduated from high school at one of the best public schools in the state of Missouri. I didn’t like school. If the diagnosis were a possibility in the 50’s, I probably would have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. I couldn’t sit in a classroom and concentrate. I used to daydream out the window. I have no idea what I was thinking about, but I know I was not listening to what was going on in the classroom. I used to tell my children that when I was in school I watched the buffalo roam outside the window. My school was located next door to Grant’s Farm, which is a popular destination in St. Louis, that has President Ulysses Grant’s log cabin, and they have bison (not really buffalo) roaming the grounds. One time I came home from school with my report card, and I had a lot of C’s for grades. I really didn’t do much work to get these grades, in reality, I didn’t do any work! My mom saw my report card, and she said it was okay, because these were average grades and we are an average family! Ha! I still have to chuckle at that.

There were really no expectations of us when it came to our education. I think there was an unstated expectation that we would take secretarial courses in high school, graduate, work for our dad, meet some great guy at our little bitty church, get married, and stay home and raise babies. By my senior year in high school, I realized that was not what I wanted. I didn’t really know what I wanted, but I did know that I did not want to work for my dad. I walked into my high school counselor’s office, and told her that I wanted to go to college and community college would be a good place to start. My counselor told me that I was not college material, but I could try to apply and see what happened. I applied to the local community college, and I was accepted on academic probation. That meant I had to make good grades the first semester or they would kick me out. Well, that was easy—I just needed to crack a book every so often—if I could make C’s in high school without opening a text book, this should be easy! It was, and I was quickly removed from academic probation.

I do not understand why most of my life my decisions were made by what I didn’t want to do rather than what I wanted to do. Part of the reason is that I was never encouraged to have dreams—things that I would to love happen in my life. My life was reactionary, rather than purposeful.

I made new friends in college, and fortunately they were good “church” kids, so I never got in trouble or partied hardy, or anything like that. My friends were good students, and I worked a bit harder to do well, because I liked having a bit more independence. Not doing well in college would mean dropping out and working for my dad. That was not an option for me.

As my second year in college was going full steam, I realized I needed to figure what I was going to do for the last two years, where to apply, and what should be my major. I am really embarrassed to admit this, but I picked my future college and major by what would be the easiest. A couple of my friends were transferring to Southwest Missouri College (now Missouri State University). I checked out catalogs from the school, and I found out that if I majored in Sociology and minored in Psychology, the only hard course I would have to take would be Statistics which was required for my minor. There was no foreign language requirement, and the math requirement was low. I happily transferred to this college, and spent my last two years, having a wonderful time with my friends, and doing what was minimally required (in my opinion) to graduate with a Bachelors of Science in Sociology, with a minor in Psychology. I am sure I learned a lot, but don’t ask me today about it. I think I know more psychology than I do sociology. That is sad.

mbaNext problem—what does one do when they have a college degree and no idea what to do with it. Back in the day there were no internships for students to work places that would require this education. There were academic advisors back then, but I do not remember one of them asking me what I wanted to do with my education when I graduated. I do have to say that I am proud that I took only four years to get my degree, and I proudly received my diploma, and my family was proud of me.

I married shortly after graduating college. I went to find a job, and I had no clue where and how to find one. This was 1970. I remember being asked if I was married or single. I was asked what my husband did for a living. I was asked when I planned to start a family. Yes, all those questions were legal back then.

I struggled over the years working. Then I started my family, and I stayed home when they were babies. When my youngest was 2 years old, I realized my marriage was falling apart and I needed to go back into the workforce. The easiest jobs for me to get were secretarial, because I had all the skills needed, and those were quick hire positions. The biggest problem is I hated being a secretary. I could type, file, answer phones, and pour coffee, but I found no satisfaction in the work. Seventeen years after graduating from college, I called a local college and told them that I needed to come back and get a i_love_hr_mugdifferent bachelor’s degree. The school said the they thought that since I had been working in business most of these years, that if I could pass the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test), they could put me into their MBA program. The rest is history. I have my MBA. For the first time, I started making my way rather than being reactionary. I wanted to go into Human Resources. The reason for that at first was reactionary. So many places I worked, the Human Resources person was absolutely no help to me as an employee. I told myself I could do a better job supporting the employment process from start to finish, and I could do better caring about both the company as a manager and the employees who worked everyday and needed to be helped and encouraged to be the best employee they could be. That gave me purpose.

I did not have the maturity at 19 years old to decide what I wanted to do in the future. I am sure there are 19 year olds who may know their direction, but on the whole most don’t.

I am grateful for 2nd chances. God has given me second chances in so many areas of my life. I retired as a Senior Human Resources Manager for a Fortune 100 company. I absolutely loved my chosen career. I love when on occasion I get a phone call from someone who wants me to consult with their company. I love being able to dip my toes back into HR for a short time.

My life is no longer reactionary. I have hopes and dreams, and I work toward them every single day. I am sure I must know something about sociology and psychology, but I do know and understand business, strategy, employee and management issues, and every single person who walks into the workplace is important and valuable.

Yes, I may have made some different decisions than I made at age 19, but in the end, God has moved me zig-zagged, to where I am today. I am grateful for all the experiences, and especially grateful for the wisdom I have acquired. Does that mean I am finally mature?age

Overwhelmed, But Blessed!

00 busyDo you ever have times when everything going on around you is just overwhelming? So much to do, and so little time to do it?

I started out my year of 2018 feeling that way. My husband and I go to Florida the third week in January every single year. He has a timeshare in Panama City Beach, and that is his week. It is about 20 degrees warmer in Panama City Beach than Missouri, so sometimes it can be pretty chilly there. To make his wife happy (that’s me), he plans a second week farther south in Florida so we can enjoy truly warm weather during this cold winter month. This year he added two weeks to our Panama City Beach vacation. I am looking forward to the warmth.

In December we took a trek California to see my son and his family and to celebrate an early Christmas. On our way back we stopped in Phoenix, Arizona, to see if we could find a property to purchase so we could become snowbirds in the winter. We originally thought to do this in Florida, but on thinking what was most practical, Arizona jumped into our heads. Living in Phoenix was an old dream of mine. When I was a young, single mother, I dreamt about living there, and not fighting with the weather in cold Missouri. When Dennis mentioned the possibility of Arizona, I realized this was the correct place. I have a 2 year old grandson in the Los Angeles area. If I winter in Florida, he will never get to know me, and I will never get to know him. Phoenix is about a five-hour drive to Los Angeles.

We contacted a relative who is a real estate agent, and asked him to show us homes while we were in Phoenix. The first day was so frustrating. We had seen the real estate list, photos and all, but seeing a place in person is a real eye-opener. I had a major headache by the end of that day, and I don’t get headaches! I put myself to bed at 7:30 pm. I am not sure if the frustration made me that tired, or what. The next day, we were ready with a new list of homes to view. The second day was a better day. However, my husband is a civil engineer by education, and he is looking for the most energy efficient home we can find. Unfortunately, most of the places we looked were older and were not that energy efficient. We looked at homes in communities for people over 55. My reluctance to that is if or when we want to sell our property, it limits who we can sell to—I don’t like to be limited. Finally, on the third day, my husband told the realtor to find us new homes. We were trying to be practical, moderate priced, and something we could live with. We found a neighborhood at the foot of a mountain—a mountain that is owned by Maricopa County, and they have seven hiking trails for all levels of hikers on this mountain. The lot we got should have been a premium lot, but they had two buyers for that lot, and both sales fell through. Now, they are building homes all around this lot. If you are familiar with homes in Arizona, everyone has a tall privacy wall built around their lots. Construction will be more difficult once all the houses around are built and the privacy walls up—they need to sell this piece of property before the houses around it are completed. Therefore, they offered this lot at NO premium. We did not have to pay a dime extra to get a mountain view from our yard!

00 my mountain

The view of the mountain from the back yard.

We came home feeling really good about our decision to have this home built. We can have it just the way we want it, the location is perfect, and if we ever sell, we can sell to anyone. We got a call in late December telling us we need to meet at the design center in Scottsdale to select our interior finishes and we need to do this early January. We found some really cheap flights to a regional airport in Mesa, flew down and stayed a few days at a cousin’s home who lives near our future home.

We are home now and getting ready to go on probably our last Florida winter vacation. We will be gone three weeks. While we were in Arizona, we were told that there is a walk-through once the framing is completed on the house. That could be late February or early March. I am starting to feel overwhelmed. We will be home a short time, and then we have to leave for Arizona for the walk-through. Granted we could have our agent do this, but this is our home, and we want to make sure it is what we need. This is our job, not his. So, I have these trips, one week in Arizona, three weeks in Florida, and another few days back in Arizona.

Now to complicate matters and make things even busier. I have won an “Honorable Mention” in a contest. They have asked me to fly to California for two days for a photo shoot. I will get my hair done, makeup, and a new wardrobe I can keep for this photo shoot, along with a gift card for my trouble! They pay for the flight, hotel, and my meals. The only problem is, they wanted me to come during the time I was in Florida. I told them if I came, they would have to fly me from Panama City Beach, but my return flight would have to be to Fort Lauderdale because that is where we were going to that weekend. They said, “No problem.” I will write a new blog in the future, how and why I won this honor, but that is not what this blog is about today.

We will have been home exactly seven days and then leave for Florida. I need to pack for three weeks, for different weather conditions. On top of that, I need to take an extra bag that I will use when I fly across country for my photo shoot. I am very excited, but feeling a little overwhelmed by it.

00 Germany

Seligenstadt, Germany

We travel, but we do reasonable travel, but somehow this year, that has gone out the window. Last September one of my sons got married to a lovely young woman from Seligenstadt, Germany. Because of her immigration status, she cannot leave the U.S. for a while until all the paperwork and proper documentation is gathered, so they planned a wedding reception in Germany for mid-May. Dennis thought it was only right that we attend this reception. I have never used my passport, and when we got married, Dennis promised me that sometime he would take me to London (the one place I wished to see). So as not to disappoint, he made us reservations to fly to London and spend a week there before moving on to Germany. We will fly into Frankfort and stay at an Airbnb in Seligenstadt for 10 days. Sometime during those 10 days, we will take a train to Paris for two days. Talk about a dream vacation. I am super excited. I cannot wait to see these beautiful places, and meet the family and friends of my daughter-in-law.

00 framingBack to our home in Arizona—the builder told us this week that the house may be done early May. We will have to go out a week ahead of closing for the final walk-through. We are good with that, but if for some reason that gets delayed, we told the builder we couldn’t come out for the walk-through and closing until June after we come home from Europe. I need to take a few deep breaths—that’s a lot of traveling in a short period of time.

00 books

Approximately 1/3 of our books!

We plan to continue living in Missouri for a while. We have realized though, that we have to prepare our home in Missouri for the possibility of selling. This home is 4,500 square feet (our new home is a reasonable 1,600 square feet). There are two huge libraries of books not counting the many, many closets of stuff that need to be sorted through, some thrown away, some donated, some to sell, and some to keep. We have house plants that will need to find good homes if we are going to live between two homes. All of this is work and time consuming.

If you are reading this blog, I assume you have read some of my past blogs, and know the hardships I had endured in my past. I would have never in a million years thought my life would ever turn out like this, and I am forever grateful to God and all his blessings he has given me. I have had times where I paid the electric bill one month, and the gas bill the other. I have had times where my mom delivered groceries to me so my children could eat, and she clothed my children also. I do not take all this travel, buying a 2nd home, or anything I have for granted. I am overwhelmed by how much my life has changed. I am grateful that God has given to me a man who loves me for who I am, and doesn’t require me to change myself for him to love me everyday!

00 colanderI have to take a deep breath as I plan this year. In between all the traveling, I need to clean out closets, drawers, and bookshelves. I need to decide what stays in Missouri and what goes to Arizona. I need to decide what memories of material things I can let go. (I will always keep my mother’s Tupperware colander, not only because it is the best colander I have ever had, but every time I use it, I think of her). Those are the kind of decisions I will have to make this year. If I think about it all, I get very overwhelmed. As I learned in my 12-step group for codependency, I need to take each day one at a time. Do what I can do today. I will be setting up a calendar of tasks to be done so that each day I see only what that day will bring, and not the overwhelming amount of everything.

I will also not forget that through all this, I need to keep my focus on God, and my family and friends. They are more important than all these things, and all the things I need to do.

I will breathe — I will breathe — I will breathe. It will all work out. I will have time to do what really needs to be done. I will lean into God to hold me up. A year from now I will write from a warm sunny backyard looking at a mountain instead of ice and snow. I am blessed, and I will breathe . . . .00 bible verse

Life is Short

I have been following a young girl on CaringBridge. I found her by accident. Someone on Facebook posted a link to the CaringBridge site. This young girl had just been re-diagnosed with cancer after being over 5 years cancer free. I have been following this young lady’s life for the past six months, and now it seems she is down to her last final days.

00 parentsIt is sad and tragic to read the words her parents write about the journey they are all on. I must give credit to these two wise adults who are trying to balance their family, take care of their daughter, and live life with the mundane things like going to work. Since the CaringBridge site is set up to talk about the sick person, it doesn’t really say much about those on the edges.

How do parents go to work day in and day out knowing their child is so tragically ill? How do they concentrate on anything? How do they give time to their other children while this one is demanding so much care. My heart breaks for them.

guaranteeWe have no guarantees. When we were born, we did not come with a warranty agreement. There is no replacement for a defective model. There is no repair shop that guarantees complete satisfaction of results.

I think about when my sister died a little over five years ago. I was going to work every day, but I wasn’t always “there” since there was so much concern and stress in knowing how ill my sister was. I am sure that is nothing compared to a parent with a critically ill child. The months of my sister’s illness are kind of a blur. I spent my days off with her. I sent out a lot of emails to friends and family, and daily the number of those to whom I was communicating grew as I was asked to add more to the list.

My sister knew she was dying—so does this young girl. The difference is my sister was 68 years old. I am older than that today, and it really feels very young. From the time my sister was diagnosed until her death was only about 2 1/2 months. That’s not long.

I think about how short our lives are. Do we take advantage of every moment we have? Do we let petty things bother us? Do we reach out to our friends and family when we think about them?

How do we live our lives each day? This young girl did not get a lot of days. My sister got more, but still they were cut short.

What are the things that are important? If our time is limited on this earth, are we attending to the things we think are really important? Everyone has a different list of what is really important in their life. That’s good. It means many different things will be accomplished.

00 tuna sandwichIf the doctor told you today that you had only a short time to live, what things would be important to accomplish? What do you want your life to stand for? I was told to never leave a job with a tuna sandwich in your desk drawer. Of course, that was not a literal statement, but it meant not to leave anything undone that may not smell very good later. Is there someone you need to make peace with? How about anything you wanted to complete or do for someone special in your life.

By the way, this young girl passed away. Her family is in mourning, but they are also thankful that she is no longer suffering.IMG_1247.JPG

Looking Forward . . . .

Do you make resolutions? Why do people make resolutions? It just seems that they make them to break them.

As a new year moves on in our life, we have things we would like to change. Maybe in our personal life, weight loss, find a significant other, improve our relationship with someone, or it can be a career resolution, to find a new job, or work to get that much desired promotion. Maybe it’s our spiritual life, to read scripture more regularly, to help the unfortunate, to connect more with others of our faith, or to go to church more regularly.

I don’t like making promises I cannot keep. I like looking at my past year, seeing what worked great, and what needs some adjustment, then making goals to hopefully take my life to the next level.

00 floridaThis past year of 2017 has been full of surprises for me. I started the year with our annual trek to Florida. My husband has had a time-share in Panama City Beach, Florida, since the 1980’s. The first time he took me there, I was so excited about going to Florida, I packed all my summer clothes and was ready to go. I had been to Florida a few times, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Jupiter, and Orlando. What I didn’t know is that Panama City Beach is in the panhandle of Florida, and it can get cold there in the winter. Now I am prepared for the quiet week of slightly chilly / slightly warm weather the third week of January in Panama City Beach. What my sweet husband has done to make that trip a bit easier, is to add some weeks and take me farther south into the warmer parts of Florida. Last year, Panama City Beach was unusually warm, and we spent two full weeks there, and I was in heaven! This year we will spend one week there, the second week near Fort Lauderdale, and the third week in Orlando.00 handbook

I had the opportunity to dip my toes back into the Human Resources field by doing some consulting. I wrote some employee handbooks, and traveled to Wisconsin to conduct diversity training. Writing handbooks is not just a simple task of copying an old handbook and adding the name. It entails a discussion with the principles on philosophy. We discuss benefits, and the purpose of them, how they are given, when they are given, and who pays for them and how. We talk about work rules, and how flexible the employer wants to be, and what to do if they are violated. I love this part of handbook development because it is eye opening for the management to realize, it’s just not a list of stuff they give or a list of rules they want. There needs to be reasoning behind it, and consistency and integrity.

As this past year moved on, we entertained many at our home. I think the highlight of entertaining this year was the Eclipse Party at our home last August. Many of my high school classmates along with some of our relatives attended this party. We celebrated birthdays, and in September, we celebrated my son’s marriage by hosting a wedding reception at our home. We also traveled to Indiana for a family wedding, and spent a week in Branson with my sister.00 eclipse

In early November we celebrated my mother-in-law’s 99th birthday. She is doing quite well, living in an assisted living home nearby us in Columbia, MO. She really enjoyed her day, and loved being the center of attention and the star for the day. Her celebration always makes me miss my mom, who would have turned 99 two weeks after her. Happy 99th birthday, Alberta!

00 mapWe left the day after Thanksgiving for a three week trip that took us down to San Antonio for three days of sightseeing. Then we made our way through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona (where we visited with a high school friend who lives in Surprise—what a fun name for a city! “The city was founded in 1938 by Flora Mae Statler, who named it Surprise as she 00 snowman‘would be surprised if the town ever amounted to much’.”) We drove on to Los Angeles and spent a couple days with a friend and former HR colleague. Of course, because I love connecting people, we did dinner with her and my 2nd cousin since they live just a mile apart. We always have such a lovely time when we all get together. Then we moved north of LA to Encino, where my youngest grandchild lives. We celebrated an early Christmas, and had so much fun getting to know Luke, and he getting to know us. We left LA the day the wild fires broke out, not because of the fires, it was the planned day to leave. We made our way back to the Phoenix, Arizona area where we spent a lot of time visiting with many of my 12 first cousins who live in the area. While we were there, we put a contract in on a house to be built so that next year we could become snowbirds!

We rounded out the year with Christmas and New Years celebrations with our families, in an easy-going relaxed manner—my kind of celebrating!

01 y2kNow the new year is here. It is 2018. It is hard to believe we are 18 years into the new century! Do you remember 18 years ago, when we were going into 2000? How many of you worked at companies, where the IT personnel stayed overnight at work on New Years to make sure the computer system did not go down because of going into a new century, now having to use a 4-digit year, rather than two? Remember thinking that utilities would shut down, and banks would stop functioning? I worked at a credit union at the time, and everything rolled around just as it should. There was no shutdown in any infrastructure.

I have a big and busy year planned for 2018. In a few weeks we are going to go on our annual Florida trip, probably for the last time. Once we begin to be snowbirds in Arizona, there will be no need to warm up in Florida. Of course, I will miss the ocean, but if I recall, a five hour trip to Los Angeles to see my grandson will also give me access to an ocean.

Soon we will be going to Arizona to select our flooring, cabinets, and all other finishes for the new home. We will have to go back again in the summer to close on the house, and to begin to furnish it. When the year ends, we will be going there to spend the rest of the winter until late spring.

germanyAnother trip planned with be to Europe in May. Our main destination is Seligenstadt, Germany for the wedding reception for my son and his wife (the one we hosted last September). She is from Germany, and the wedding celebration with her family and friends will be this coming May. We are going to go to England for a week before we arrive in Germany. We will be there for almost two weeks, and will at some point, take the train to Paris to spend a couple days. I am sure this will be a trip of a lifetime. I have a passport, but have never used it—time to bush off the dust, and put it in my pocket!

I look forward to doing some HR consulting. Just dipping my toes in every so often keeps me informed of my chosen career, keeps me in touch with former colleagues, and allows me to still have a positive impact on the working world.

Most of all, my desire to stay connected to people will continue in 2018. The majority of my high school class turns 70 in this year, and we are planning a 70th Birthday Bash in the fall. Our high school class is pretty amazing. We love seeing each other, and connecting. We love sharing our lives today, rather than our memories of yesterday. We have become close to former classmates who we may not have even known back in our school days. I love this class of people—they do have class!

I plan to continue my knowledge of Christ, and grow more in my faith. I look forward to finding a “winter” church, and possibly join a “winter” small group. I love that my small group in Fulton likes meeting during the summer, so we will not lose their connection once we have become snowbirds. The only thing that will change in 2019 for this group, is finding a new home for the small group to meet.

I am grateful to God for all he has blessed me with this year, and I look forward to see what adventures and trials I may be facing in the coming year. Everything should be a learning opportunity. I wish for peace, joy, and contentment for all my family, friends, and those who read this blog. I am so grateful for you following my weekly writing. I hope I am inspiring you to become more thoughtful, loving, active, or whatever you wish to grow in your life.

Happy New Year!00 peace and joy quote