Holiday Letter 2021

Season’s greetings! We hope this letter finds you safe and well.

As with many things in 2020, the holiday letter went out the window. So, this will be a two year recap. 😉

Little did I know that taking a leap of faith into my own business in 2018 would prove helpful during a worldwide pandemic a year and a half later. I was already accustomed to working from home and had clients who relied on some of my services even more-so without in-person events. The 50-50 in 2020 organization had made the decision to dissolve after the candidate training cycle that concluded with the Blueprint for Winning Academy at the end of January 2020. We were able to wrap everything up neatly well before the pandemic hit. I knew this would be concluding when I first signed on with the organization, and the timing of everything proved to be impeccable.

Covid affected each of us differently. My favorite saying pertaining to this strange time has been, “We may all be in the same storm, but we are not in the same boat.” Each of us experienced a different reality. Thankfully my life was not disrupted to the extent others’ were. I was able to mostly work from home and stay safe and covid free. When the derecho hit Des Moines in August 2020, I experienced two and a half days without power and a fridge full of spoiled food. Once again, I counted my blessings.

My fifth niece Mary Josephine was born on July 18, 2020. With Covid restrictions in place, I was not able to visit the hospital and instead spent two days and one night as Nanny Mel for her older siblings in Bennett. We had a blast! And then, when my sister Sarah and brother-in-law-Jeremiah arrived home from the hospital, the kids surprised me by telling me that I would be the first to hold sweet Mary. So I am 6 for 6 with holding my nephew and nieces first after their parents!

The most trying part of 2020 was my mom’s 70-day stay in hospitals and rehab facilities after aspirating on food and enduring multiple complications from Parkinson’s disease. You can read previous blog posts for all of the details. She and my dad left home for routine appointments and errands on August 28 not knowing that she wouldn’t return until November 6. So thankful to have Mom at home again, albeit with a lot of new caregiving requirements.

Percy, Gemma, and I moved from Des Moines to Davenport on November 4, 2020. We found the perfect rental house in the McClellan Heights neighborhood complete with a porch and swing, fenced in back yard, and an amazing front room for our office. We love being back in the Quad Cities and closer to family. I enjoy more frequent visits from my nephew and nieces, as well as my once or twice weekly trips to Durant to see my parents.

While concert going and cross country and overseas trips were put on hold during these past two years, I was able to enjoy a few other fun times:

  • I read 67 books in 2020 and have read 55 books thus far in 2021.
  • The pups and I have explored many new trails and parks across the state of Iowa.
  • I took one weekend trip in 2020 to Omaha/Council Bluffs for cousins Allison and James’s high school graduation and great aunt Marilyn’s memorial service.
  • I visited my bestie Jen and her family, along with a few of my college friends, in Lee’s Summit, MO in July 2021.
  • I treated myself to a long weekend in Milwaukee when visiting the city for cousin Tess and Eugene’s wedding in August 2021.
  • My favorite kids resumed their weekend visits to my place in December 2020. While we were not able to venture out during the first round of visits, we are now visiting more of the Quad Cities including the Quad City Symphony Orchestra at the Adler Theater, Cafe d’Marie, Figge Art Museum, Freight House Farmers’ Market, Me & Billy, Putnam Museum, and multiple River Bandits minor league baseball games at Modern Woodmen Park.

As 2021 comes to a close and I reflect back on these past two years, I am amazed by all that has happened within a short window of time. I have learned to embrace change while becoming more resilient. By going through the tough times, I am learning how to better enjoy the good times. Let’s all unleash the joy during this holiday season, and let it carry us into 2022.

Melissa, Percy, and Gemma


Top 12 of 2012

12.  Bestie Jen’s pre-wedding, wedding, and post-wedding festivities

This is first listed because it consumed most of my year – so fun!

Dress shopping, Creston bridal shower, Kansas City bridal shower, Chicago bachelorette weekend, the main event in Loose Park in Kansas City, reception and dance at Boulevard Brewery.  Of course we jammed out at the dance.  😉

11.  Bestie Lexi’s first baby – Charlotte (Charley)

Another bestie moment.  I love my friends like family – just ask the Andersons back in the Burg.  🙂  I only wish we all would see each other more often.

10.  G and L

I continue to spend as much time as possible with my favorite little people, my nephew Gabriel and niece Lucy.  I like to brag about them here in my G and L series.

9.  Social Media

My love affair with social media continues.  Where else can you have Ivanka Trump, John Rich, Kate Snow, and NBC’s Rock Center retweet and/or reply to you?  Twitter is my favorite!

8.  M-A-D-O-N-N-A!

Jen and I made it onto the big screen in the Sprint Center when were were dancing it up during the opening show (of course).  Madonna had the #1 best selling tour in 2012.  I know why – simply amazing.

7.  Denver with cousins

Lots of good eats and drinks, along with cousin bonding time.  And I didn’t go to bed that much earlier than my 20-something cousins each morning.  😉

6.  Career moves

When I left Target Optical at the end of 2011, my regional manager told me I’d be back.  I laughed then, but he is laughing now.  While I enjoyed my time as a Business Development Associate for Rainbow International Restoration and Cleaning in Davenport, the bullseye pulled me back.  I became Optical Team Leader of the Davenport store in August.

5.  Jagger Q

Jag the cat turned 10 years old in August.

4.  Political nerd forever

Still actively involved in political stuff and enjoyed five minutes of fame when Romney came to town in June.  A few people told me I need to smile when on national TV.  Noted.  (In my defense, I was trying not to make a funny face and it was HOT that day.)

3.  iLove

Best book I read last year was Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.  And I finally bought an iPad.  Best investment since my iPhone and Dyson purchases during previous years.

2.  Melify

My sister coined this term, and I embrace it.  I am always keeping busy with one project or another, whether it’s with SendOutCards or organizing random stuff.

1.  Holiday spirit

After a long day of work and post-work shopping on December 19th, I returned to Smurfette to find a card on her window.

Holiday Cards Don’t Have to Be a Hassle

Only 17 days until Christmas!  Can you believe it?!

One of the often dreaded tasks during the holiday season is sending out cards.  Not to worry though – I am here to help!

In true form, I have created a checklist to create some sanity with your card sending this year:

1.  Decide what kind of cards you want to send.  Are you going to get out the craft supplies and scissors and hand make them one by one?  If so, you have my kudos.  If you have fewer than 50 to send, this may be do-able.  However, if you are like me, the list grows every year and is creeping up toward the triple digits.

Regardless of how many cards you are sending, I recommend that you include a photo or two and find an efficient, yet personable way to send them.  SendOutCards has literally revolutionized the card sending process.  Go to my site and send a card on me to see how it works.

If you don’t want to be crafty and aren’t ready to jump into the online program yet, then find the cards that are right for you.  Many stores and photographers have a wide selection to choose from.

2. Finalize that mailing list.  As I mentioned in my party planning post, having a great mailing list is everything.  Go through it carefully.  Check for name spellings, those who have recently moved, people who have passed away, and couples who have split.  Utilize social media to verify addresses you are unsure of, or to add a few new ones.  Print a hard copy of your mailing list to keep on your desk, as you will likely have moments when you ask yourself, “Did I remember so-and-so?”

3. Decide what you want to say, and write it down.  A few format options include a formal letter, news bulletin, and short personal note.  Most of the time, it is easier to write down notes first and then arrange it into a specific format second.  Once you know what and how much content you are working with, it is easier to determine a format.

Be selective about what you say and how you say it.  Think about how your mother, best friend, distant cousin, and boss will perceive your message.  If recounting the year, provide highlights and not a boring rundown of absolutely everything, including the nasty cold you caught last month.

4. Address your cards with style.  I prefer hand addressing to provide a personal touch, along with a regular postage stamp.  Once again, SendOutCards provides this service, and the envelopes look great.  I’m telling you now – there’s a reason I sell it.  🙂

5. Post offices give me headaches, and I don’t know anyone else who is ever thrilled to stand in line for stamps or to have mail weighed.  Do your post office duties ahead of time (or – last plug – just use SendOutCards!).  Weigh your card and purchase your stamps well before you send them out.  By now, you are SOL for this year if you haven’t done your post office homework ahead of time.  However, keep this tip in mind for next year.

6. Have a plan for the misses.  You will inevitably forget someone, or receive a card from someone not on your radar.  Decide when your last card sending date will be.  If you send until all of the misses are done, you may be sending cards into the new year.

7. Final tip: NEVER email your holiday cards.  I personally find this to be tacky.  We do almost everything electronically these days.  Can we please take the time to send at least one physical card to everyone once a year?  It will mean more to the recipients than you realize – especially if you have fun, personalize it, and send it from the heart.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Holidays & Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Holidays & Happy New Year!Mel & Jag