My new adventure in politics

As of January 1, 2016, I am on a new adventure. I am serving as President of the Iowa Federation of Republican Women through the end of 2017. Having been involved with the organization on and off since age 19, I never thought I would step into the president’s role. I have always been involved in politics in some way, and others saw it coming long before I did. I always pushed it off with a, “No, that’s not for me.” or “I will help in other ways.”

When the nominating committee chair called me last year, I tried to tell her all of the reasons I should not be president: I work full time, I am sometimes involved in primaries with my day job (also in politics!), I like to challenge the process a bit too much at times, I would have high expectations for achievement, I haven’t always been the most tactful with people in the past (working on this!), etc. None of this dissuaded the nominating committee.

Then I learned who my potential teammates on the executive committee would be. I was sold. They are an amazing group of women. So I said yes.

Still, I worried. Did they really know what they were getting into? No, seriously! I’d like to think I have mad political organizing skills, but I am human and thus, not perfect.

When working behind the scenes, imperfections can be easily overlooked. When being the one front and center, they are often magnified. Don’t get me wrong: I am a confident person. In fact, Self Assurance is number four on my Strengths Finder 2.0 Assessment. But even confident people worry about doing the right thing.

And this is about so much more than me. It’s about an organization that is tied to local, state, and national level organizations. Our mission is to elect Republicans, and we have a huge election in 2016. I wanted to do the role justice.

I was elected on October 17, 2015, and then I had October 17 – December 31, 2015, to navigate the transition between President Elect and President. During this time, I decided that I would do three things to be the best leader possible:

1. Communicate openly.

2. Be authentic.

3. Work my heart out and leave everything on the field.

On New Year’s Day 2016, I sent the following email to our IowaFRW members and friends:

I hope you are enjoying a wonderful holiday season and take a little bit of time to rest up for our busy year ahead.

Thank you for all you have done, are doing, and will do to spread our message, sign up new members, and help elect Republicans.

We have a lot to be proud of! Let me ask you this: What do the first female Iowa Senate President Mary Kramer, the first female Iowa Speaker of the House Linda Upmeyer, the first female Iowa Auditor of State Mary Mosiman, and the first female U.S. Senator from Iowa Joni Ernst all have in common?

They are all Republican Women! “Republican War on Women,” my foot!

We are the party of women’s suffragists and abolitionists. We are the party who lifts people up because we know a hand up is much more respectful and sustaining than a hand out.

We can hold our heads high going into 2016 because we are doing good work.

And yet, we have so much good work to do. Our job is never done.

We must sign up new members, engage our members, and implement an aggressive ground game to turn Iowa red in 2016.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), the youngest woman elected to Congress, recently commented on her new role within the Republican party and on the Hill in D.C. She stressed that we need to be authentic, citing how she wears patterned tights instead of traditional panty hose from time to time. She also has her own way of connecting with constituents that is unique to her.

We each bring our own uniqueness to the table. I have been told more than once that I do not look or dress like a Republican (whatever that means!). We are a diverse group of women, and we are leaders in our communities. You are who you are everywhere, so always be recruiting women and men to join us.

I signed up to join the Iowa Federation of Republican Women in Mardelle Helmke’s living room in Humboldt, Iowa. The year was 1999, and I was a campaign staffer working for Elizabeth Dole for President. The IowaFRW President at the time, Deb Foster, cornered me in that living room and would not let me leave until I filled out a membership form. I gave her every excuse, including that I didn’t have time, and you know what? She said, “That’s OK. Just join and do what you can.”

You do not need to be President of IowaFRW to recruit new members. And you don’t need to be at a political event to ask someone about joining us. I need each and every one of you. Our country needs all of us.

Take a risk. Pour your heart and soul into our cause. You will not be disappointed. Our Republican candidates are all so much better than the alternative.

My challenge to you for 2016: Familiarize yourself with our IowaFRW 2016 Goals and do one thing you have not done before to help elect Republicans.

We must provide value in addition to being present. Too much is at stake to simply do what we’ve always done in the past.

In the words of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Let’s “Work hard, have fun, make history.”

I look forward to meeting or re-connecting with you during my travels. Let’s do this!

Melissa Gesing
Your 2016–2017 President
Iowa Federation of Republican
Phone: 563.506.3826

So, here it goes! I’m on Day 19 in my role. I have already experienced a few successes and survived a few mistakes. Guess what? I’m still standing and more energized than ever.


No TV-DVDs-Netflix Conclusion

I made it until May 16, 2014 with no TV. I had an appointment at Bob Brown Chevrolet on Friday, May 16th and the TV was on in the waiting room. I decided to watch it.

Then I visited my family in Durant that weekend. I could have resisted the TV, but I instead decided, “When in Rome, do as the Romans.” My family does not watch much TV at all, but it still counts.

I arrived home that following Monday with a puggle in tow. Introducing a dog and a cat require great patience, along with the help of some wine and TV.

Sure, I could have been stronger. I will likely try this social experiment again when I do not decide to bring home a new dog to my eleven year old cat who has always been an only child. (Stay tuned for more insights on dogs and cats living together in a future post.)

I went without Netflix until May 24th and pretty much made it the entire month with no DVDs. My DVD exception was putting in “Monsters, Inc.” for my friend’s daughter to watch when they visited me on May 28th.

I briefly dreaded having to post this conclusion, and then I remembered that I did this for myself and no one else. I went 15 days without TV, 23 days without Netflix, and 27 days without DVDs. Not too shabby. I had nothing to prove, and I will always be a work in progress. My sister and brother-in-law asked why I had not posted in a while, and the delay had nothing to do with shame. I have been busy parenting Jag and Percy through this crazy adjustment period. And I may have been procrastinating while watching TV. 😉

No TV Day 12

I have made it over one third of the way through this no TV month! Some days are still easier than others. And I am totally planning to binge on Netflix after this is all over.

A few more awesome things that have come about since I last posted:

Balcony Bliss
I am loving the warmer weather and spent most of last Wednesday out on my balcony. Since I cannot make up my mind about which patio furniture to purchase, I just hauled my living room chair out onto my balcony. This is the first time I have had a balcony in several years! Thus, the multiple mundane balcony photos.

Jag was so excited to be outdoors too. He prefers to show his excitement through lounging and napping. He loved the spot right under the makeshift patio chair.






Reading Like Crazy
I have been reading The Wall Street Journal, Time, Vogue, and my book of the month nearly every single day – all of them! No distractions, except for…

Free Fall
This Frozen Free Fall game is addictive. My goodness. The saving grace is with the limit of lives during a given time span. Of course one can purchase more lives, but I am not that hooked. Whew!

Quiet Time
Instead of waking up to the Today Show, I am waking up to the sunlight and letting my mind wind up for the day that way. Of course, I have my limits and eventually brew a pot of coffee to really start my day. Mornings can be so peaceful though!


Only 19 more days to go!

No TV Day 5: Unintended Consequences

As I sit down at home for the first time today – at 8:34 p.m. – I feel like this no TV thing is no big deal on days like today. I worked a full day at Target Optical, and then I attended a Junior League of Des Moines meeting tonight.

In two or three hours, I will likely be asleep. So, I backtrack through the small windows of time when I have been home today. And I realize this no TV thing has already changed a few habits:

– I wake up in the morning feeling super refreshed.
– I eat at my kitchen table instead of while sitting on my couch.
– I am becoming more comfortable with silence.
– I pay more attention to Mr. Jagger Q, my orange tabby.
– I am reading more often.

I am sure this list will grow, and I never imagined no TV would change this many little things within just five days. Now, off to read……

No TV Day 3: Too Busy to Care

I am posting my Day 3 recap on Day 4 with no TV because I had a whirlwind of a day yesterday. The only moments when I thought about TV were while I was getting ready for work in the morning, and then when I arrived home after midnight and only would have stayed awake for about 10 minutes of whatever random thing I turned on anyway.

I had a full work day at Target Optical followed by a quick wardrobe change and a bachelor party out on the east side of Des Moines. Days like yesterday are often the norm for me, as I tend to pack my calendar with stuff to do. I like to be out spreading my social butterfly wings, and I thought about that when I decided to go TV free for a full month.

My challenge will be those days when I have that rare down time and want to waste it by zoning out in front of a good show or movie. Finding new ways to relax is the challenge. Stay tuned for today’s recap a bit later…….

No TV Day 4: No Cheesy Ads (Almost)

I woke up this morning thinking about my Sunday morning political shows and briefly thought about turning the TV on for just one hour. And then will power prevailed! Instead I washed dishes, read a book, and nursed my wine headache with a pot of coffee.

Instead of thinking about the good things about TV, I switched gears and thought about the things I absolutely do not miss with no TV in my life. And while I like the Sunday morning political hack shows, it occurred to me that I am abstaining from TV during the height of Iowa primary season.

One thing I absolutely do not miss with no TV in my life: cheesy political ads! With multiple candidates running for both U.S. House and U.S. Senate, we have plenty of ads going in the Des Moines market.

Yes, I spent nearly a decade of my life immersed in politics. And now I dabble in politics within the volunteer realm. I can still call a cheesy campaign ad when I see it. And I take those bad ads personally. Come on consultants, give me more than that!

The thing is, I should have included You Tube in my no-fly list for this month. I see a new ad pop up online, and boom, I am watching/critiquing it. Oh well. Watching it once (or twice) is way better than seeing it multiple times during the news or prime time. Yet, I cannot help but to ponder those bad ads and re-write the script/setting/everything in my head. And then, just to prove my point, I have to show the bad ads to non-political-hack friends or family to get their opinions. Turns out I know the electorate. They hate cheesy ads too.

Score one for no TV!

Day 2 with No TV-DVDs-Netflix

I made it through yet another day TV free! Woot!

I have to admit, this no TV stuff is still really weird for me. I do not miss actually watching it, for I don’t actively watch TV that often. It is just the security of having it playing in the background that I miss.

I miss falling asleep to my Netflix comedy or drama of the moment. And now I have this sudden yearning to finish House of Cards Season 2.

And I still have those five DVDs still in their wrappers, just calling my name. Another month of dormancy won’t hurt them, since they have been collecting dust for some time now.

It seems that eliminating this stuff completely tends to bring up a need to do all of my TV-DVD-Netflix watching now. Instead I am staying strong and doing my other usual stuff, like laundry, sipping wine, checking Facebook, and doing some volunteer projects at home.

I do reward myself with a little Free Fall game action on the iPad periodically. I need something mind numbing to keep me from being too serious.

On to Day 3!