A Holiday Letter (with a two year update)

Greetings from the south side of Des Moines!

Since I have blogged very sporadically for the past two years, I will try to somewhat briefly catch you up on the “Life of Mel.” 🙂 A lot has happened since I blogged more consistently before the crazy election year of 2016! If you want the crazy election year details, you can find a few of those in my past blog posts.

My niece Ruth Gianna was born on September 23, 2016, and I was overjoyed to become an aunt and godmother for the fourth time. To illustrate how crazy that time of the year was: I left the hospital in Muscatine on the day she was born to travel across the state to Council Bluffs for a Republican women event early the next morning.

I returned to the Target Optical world in December 2016, and that brought me back to Des Moines. Jag the cat was excited to return to his old stomping grounds of his youth, and Percy the puggle loved moving into our new apartment near his new favorite walking trails at Gray’s Lake. I was excited to be blocks away from a Starbucks and a winery!

I managed the Target Optical Urbandale location and kept my toe in politics, as I joined the Board of Directors of 50-50 in 2020 the Friday after Election Day. I was excited to have an opportunity to help recruit and train women to run for office in a bipartisan atmosphere. You can check out more about 50-50 in 2020 at www.50-50in2020.org.

My brother Mitch married wife Hannah in California in late 2016, and we celebrated their union “back home” in June 2017. I love my new sister in law! We had a great party in Cedar Rapids, complete with most of my best friends and many family members joining in on the fun.

I enjoyed a couple of road trips and concerts with my best concert buddy Jen that summer also: U2 at Soldier Field in Chicago; and New Kids on the Block and Boyz II Men at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

And that brings us to 2018.

Unfortunately, last year had a rocky start, as my 15 year old cat Jagger Q passed away on January 21, 2018. I was devastated. He was my first adult pet and traveled across the country to Houston and back with me when I moved there from 2004 – 2006. Percy even missed his feline brother, roaming from room to room searching for him during the days after his passing.

While Jag will forever be irreplaceable, Percy and I knew we needed a new family member. Gemma Louise, a spunky three year old Corgi / Chihuahua mix, joined our family on February 7, 2018. Whereas Jag and Percy took a year to simply peacefully co-exist, Gemma and Percy were instant soul mates.

In late February, I visited my brother Mitch and his wife Hannah in Camarillo, California. Mitch was stationed at Point Mugu when I visited, and he is currently deployed overseas with the U.S. Navy. Mitch and Hannah will be moving back to Iowa after his enlistment ends this coming fall. I am so excited to have my little brother close by again!

Summer 2018 concerts included Counting Crows and Live at the Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, as well as Billy Joel at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. If you ever get the chance to see Billy Joel in concert, do it. He is an amazing talent.

My niece Kateri Elizabeth Ann was born on August 1, 2018, making me an aunt and godmother for the fifth time. I am so fortunate to live just over two hours away from my sister Sarah, brother-in-law Jeremiah, and their five kids: Gabriel, Lucy, Amelia, Ruth, and Kateri. I always say that if I don’t have my own kids, being an aunt is truly the next best thing.

I left Target Optical in September to pursue my long time dream of starting my own consulting business. The Executive Director of 50-50 in 2020 was retiring, and they were looking for someone to take the reins. With it being a contracted position, it was a natural fit for me. I set up my new business, Red Goose Solutions L.L.C., and began my work with 50-50 in 2020 on October 1, 2018. My spare bedroom “Hotel Mel” has now been converted into my headquarters for everything girl power. 😉

When I am not on the road spreading the good word about 50-50 in 2020, traveling to see family and friends, or going to concerts; I can be found in Des Moines plugging away in my home office, networking at various area social gatherings, trying out new restaurants, playing outdoors with my fur kids, sipping wine with friends, or curling up with a book. Life is not just good – it is great. I hope this letter finds you happy and healthy. From our home to yours, happy holidays!

Mel, with Percy Power and Gemma Louise


Moving to the 50266

I survived yet another move!

The process of moving can be quite deceptive with moments of “this is going to be easy,” to “oh my God, what am I doing,” to “no looking back now!” I can honestly say I made the right decision with moving to West Des Moines. And I can honestly say I went through all of these moments repeatedly.

When I decided to transfer from the Davenport Target Optical store to the Urbandale and Des Moines area Target Optical stores, my new boss and old boss (the stores are in different regions, of course!) made our initial conversations very painless. “this is going to be easy”

Then, while I had my store staffed and my replacement identified and recommended, the process seemed to take forever to finalize. “no looking back now!”

Upon departing Urbandale after my day of apartment shopping with my mom, I encountered the worst driving conditions of the season and was shocked to hear AM radio declare that an ex boyfriend decided to run for Congress in the area I was planning to move to. “oh my God, what am I doing?!”

Side Note: No ex drama, wish him the best. These things just make one pause and look upward to the skies and say, “What are you trying to tell me?” Same with the blizzard. Why during that day at that time? Lord only knows.

My family jumped on board immediately to offer help with packing, loading, unloading, etc. “this is going to be easy”

Multiple Quad Citians showed their love toward me. They say everyone loves you when you are leaving. 😉 Seriously, I do appreciate their sincerity. “no looking back now!”

The money crunch of moving always stresses one out. “oh my God, what am I doing?!”

Navigated the roads of Polk County like a pro (and west of I-35 like a semi-pro). “this is going to be easy”

Felt like a complete newbie as I adapted to various stores’ unique processes. “too late to look back now!”

Upon a return trip to my parents’ place in Durant, unsuccessfully attempted to bring back four of my five plants. I guess that two hour stop and leaving them to freeze in my car in sub zero temps did it. “oh my God, what am I doing?!”

Transferred my Junior League membership to Des Moines. Feeling like a nerdy junior high girl as I prepare to attend my first event here. “no looking back now!”

Felt at home in my new place as soon as I moved in. “this is going to be easy”

If you want to test your will, patience, and self confidence, I suggest picking up and moving to a new area. Nothing builds character like a good move.

The Stump Speech

At Target Optical, we each write a stump speech – a statement (or maybe a book for some of us!) about why we do what we do each day. I wrote two different stump speeches when I was a team member from November 2010 through December 2011. When I returned as an Optical Team Leader in August, I found myself agonizing over this. I like to write, and I like to write with meaning and authenticity. The stump speech is an ever changing document for many, as we all evolve personally and professionally during the course of months and years. Nonetheless, I wanted to get this right. After reviewing my stump speech nearly every week since August, I was ready to sign my name to it. Then my boss told me it was a bit more all-encompassing, so I now refer to it as “Mel’s Manifesto”. Drumroll……..

I believe investing in my team and guests will create a great business culture, thus bringing vision and happiness to an increasing number of people every single day.
I recruit as a way of life. I was once a lost, passionate person looking for a work home. Now that I have found it, I share the opportunity with the best people I meet.
I approach team members with sincerity and passion, pushing them to fulfill their potential. Settling for anything less is a disservice to my team and our guests.
I lead by example and set high expectations. I am approachable and expect conversations to be productive. I demand a positive outlook and showing respect to others, including ourselves. I show appreciation for a job well done.
I enjoy dressing up for work each day and sharing my fashionista sense with those around me. I stay on top of the latest fashion trends, thus empowering me to truly give the best service to every guest.
I thrive on efficiency and fun. I constantly try to find ways to make the Target Optical team and guest experience better. When people walk into Target Optical store 4002, they think, ” Wow! I love it here.”
I am committed to growing our business by retaining current guests and constantly marketing to potential guests. I strive to keep my eyes on the large picture: being the best brand in the optical industry.

On My Energy Soapbox

This is not a political blog.  I repeat, this is not a political blog.  I feel we have plenty of those.  I enjoy reading them, especially from the pure hack-ish behind the scenes perspective.

While I don’t work in politics for a paycheck anymore, I find it always seeping into my life here and there.  And I will always be involved at some level, since one can never really get out of it once you have the bug.  The last time I discussed anything political in Mel’s Musings was during Trump’s flirtation with a presidential run.  So, having the bug, the political is bound to sneak into my writings now and then.  I’m trying to limit it to three times a year max.  So far, I am right on track.

Yesterday I went to a Romney event at LeClaire Park in Davenport.  And it’s fun to attend these events as the average joe standing in line, waiting to go through the metal detector, watching the staffers scurry about.

While at an event as large as this one, it is tough for me to stop analyzing the play by play of the advance team and staff long enough to let myself really think about the issues.  Elections are supposedly about issues, right?  So now, I step out of my box and onto it…..

One of the issues that I have become increasingly passionate about is energy.  I was a bus captain for one of the Iowa Energy Forum buses at the Ames Straw Poll last summer.  I sported a bright orange shirt all day long that day.  Since I hate wearing the color orange, this wearing of the orange shirt shows just how much I care.  🙂

The energy issue seems pretty simple to me:  If we have resources here close to home, we should use them.  With all of the advancements in technology, we have cleaner and safer ways than ever before to make the most of our resources.  I was ecstatic when Mitt took a moment to talk about energy yesterday and remind us that our leaders should focus on taking actions that promote economic recovery and job growth, not impose punitive tax schemes that hurt us all.

Opening up new areas for energy exploration will produce good jobs for many Americans who are struggling.  That in turn will help our economy.  And I say this as someone who likes to hug a tree every now and then.  Energy exploration and protecting the environment are not mutually exclusive. (I feel I could leave it there a la The McLaughlin Group and say, “Discuss.”)

On the flip side, we had President Obama visit our great state just before Memorial weekend.  And of course, as with any good presidential event, this was a great photo opp.  This time we had the wind turbines a-going.  Wind is great.  But wind can’t do it all.

While Obama was chilling with the wind turbines, I was enjoying the wheat field on my dad’s farm in Northeast Iowa:


One of the reasons I stay involved in politics is because I feel like too few people stand up for what is right, or even what they perceive to be as right.  I am tired of class warfare and the expectation of a zero sum game.  Energy producers are already some of the highest taxpayers in the nation.  In order to lessen the price at the pump, boost our economy, and get families back to work, we should look favorably upon the contributions of our energy producers.  They are not villains.

And, harnessing our own fuel sources domestically would allow us to become more energy secure and create a greater national security in the process.  I am tired of messed up situations abroad.  While using energy at home wouldn’t get rid of all of the crazies in the world, it would sure help us deal with them a lot less than we do now.

While this energy thing is a political issue – especially during an election year – it is more importantly an independence issue.  Summer is the season of red, white, and blue.  We are in between Memorial Day and Independence Day.  When I see the flag, I am reminded why I get on my soapbox every now and then.

High Heeled and Low Maintenance

“Fortune does favor the bold.” – Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO

I thrive on girl power, real girl power.  I am sure I have driven more than one co-worker nuts with this enthusiasm at one time or another.  I was probably at my height of my own version of feminism when I worked on political campaigns.  When surrounded by men and analyzing a commercial, I would notice different things than they would.  I honestly wasn’t trying to pick a fight.  I was simply being honest.

As I have encountered various situations both professionally and personally, I have learned that girl power is found in a variety of forms.  I like the bold form. The form that takes no prisoners.  The form that does not apologize.  The form that is accountable and is willing to admit mistakes.  The form that embraces the full scope of being a girl.

I have also realized the forms I do not like.  The form that takes things too personally.  The form that nitpicks.  The form that is highly critical of fellow women but not men.  The form that says we must hide what makes us different and unique.

I am a firm believer in doing what I think is right, being myself, and letting the chips fall where they may.  I can always improve, learn, and re-evaluate.  But I am not going to constantly second guess myself as I get things done every day.

While I don’t agonize over how I am perceived, it helps to receive some positive reinforcement now and then.  One day, while working with a congressional candidate in Minnesota as part of my consulting duties at Victory Enterprises, the candidate turned to me and said,

“I told my wife we need to find another one of you to work for us: high heeled and low maintenance.”

SO proud of that.  It still warms my heart.

Changing the Headline…..Yet Again

I made a few big changes at the end of 2011.  I retired the red and khaki on December 29.  I also left the headhunting business.  It was bittersweet to leave good positions to pursue an awesome opportunity.

My Optical Family 🙂

While I no longer babysit G and L for a full Friday every week, I continue to see them as often as possible.  And since I barely blogged during the fourth quarter of 2011, I have plenty of Fridays with G and L posts in the file yet to publish.  And when I am through those, I will have new posts from random times together.

I have been in my new role with Rainbow International of the Quad Cities (Like us on Facebook!) for 53 days now, and I absolutely love it.  My official title is Business Development Associate.  I travel across Scott, Clinton, Jackson, Cedar, and Muscatine counties in Iowa, as well as Henry and Rock Island counties in Illinois.  I meet with insurance agents and others, promoting Rainbow’s restoration and cleaning business.  I attend various chamber events in the Quad Cities, Clinton, and Muscatine.  I manage our social media accounts and website.  I take care of all marketing activities and purchases.

My Cute Rainbow Office

I continue to work the SendOutCards and Red Goose Solutions businesses on the side.  And of course I am still doing the political thing like a mad woman too.

So now my headline includes “marketing gal”.  I had already been a marketing gal for quite some time, just had not realized it yet.  Self realization is a wonderful thing!

Opening Monday: Issue 5

This week’s job openings:

1.  Food Technologist – Quad Cities

2.  Plant Manager – Upper Midwest

3.  Maintenance Manager – Quad Cities

4.  Certified Real Estate Appraiser – Quad Cities

5.  Datacom Sales – Quad Cities

6.  Business to Business Sales – Rockford, IL; Cedar Rapids, IA

7.  Experienced Copier Service Technician – North Central / Western Iowa

8.  Copier Service Technician / Repair – Quad Cities

9.  Power Electronics Technician – California

10.  Power Electronics Engineer – West Coast, U.S.A.

Email resumes to melissagesing@gmail.com.

Optical Signs

Yesterday I posted about paying attention to my gut / inner voice / instincts in order to prioritize my jobs and activities.

My largest decision to come out of that was to take on more work at Target Optical and pursue that avenue further.  And I want to give credit where credit is due.  Yes, my gut led the way.  But there were many signs during this past week also.  Call it coincidence or God, or a little bit of both.  Regardless of your opinion, it was definitely in the stars to make the decision I did:

– My hairstylist Amanda randomly mentioned during cutting my hair that she finally went in to Target Optical the other day.  She found a pair of sunglasses she is in love with and can’t wait to get them.

– I constantly spotted red shirts that would look so cute to wear at work.

– My mom bought glasses and sunglasses at Target Optical and had a wonderful experience.

– My great aunt Connie made me red jewelry to wear at work.

– I constantly check out people’s glasses: on TV, at restaurants, when shopping, you name it.

– G was shopping with his mom and L at Target one morning, before Target Optical was open.  The gate was closed and lights were out, but G noticed optical when they were within site of it.  He said, “Mommy, eyes!  Mommy, eyes!” multiple times and was disappointed they couldn’t go in to look at the glasses.  (And I’m thinking he may have wanted to see his Aunt Mel too!)

My take away:  If you are facing a tough decision, go ahead and do a gut check, but also open your eyes (no pun intended!) to the signs around you.

Gut Check

My most recent a-ha moment was summed up with a tweet on Monday night:

“Sometimes the best opportunity is right in front of me, but I do not see it because I am making things more difficult than necessary.”

I have been reading the book “Fierce Conversations” by Susan Scott as a leadership assignment for Target Optical.  As a regional consultant, I join in on the weekly Optical Team Leader conference calls most weeks.  We have been discussing sections of this book for a portion of the conference call during the past few weeks.

Last week I was reading about listening to oneself and going with our instincts.  Sometimes we may be wrong, but more often than not, our gut is right.  I needed an honest gut check.  I have been analyzing things from a broader perspective but needed to zero in on my gut and therefore, my instincts.

I have been trying to eliminate static in my life, i.e. eliminate one thing or another that takes my precious time.  I thought it might be my political involvement on the state level with Republican women.  After that gut check last month, I discovered I cared too much about the cause to let it go.

Then what was I going to do?  I was sure eliminating that item had been the silver bullet.  Maybe I’m destined to be going in 20 different directions at once.

October 2011 was my best SendOutCards month to date.  Everything clicked for me.  I definitely need to put more time in to that project.  Great, I just keep adding to my priority list.  Shouldn’t I be eliminating things and thus simplifying my life?

I am beginning to realize that maybe the good stuff will rise to the top, thus creating a natural selection of what needs to go.  I had been convinced that I would ax out the bad and deal with the leftovers.  I was approaching it the wrong way.

The Target Optical job has been my one constant during the past year.  My one year anniversary is quickly approaching.  It started out as a 10 hour per week job and quickly became more than that.  And that has been a bit scary, especially after leaving the human resources job in the general Target store because it became something I did not want it to be.  So I have been very critical of optical at times, while not being critical enough of other things.  But optical really is different.  It keeps me balanced in multiple ways.

I love helping people to see, in the literal sense.  I am a crazy Target lady and always will be, whether or not I am wearing the red and khaki.  I appreciate the stability it provides.  I also like the little bit of flexibility that allows me to be me:  godmother, entrepreneur, and political enthusiast.

None of this should be a revelation because it was right in front of me the entire time.  The problem is I was making things too difficult.

Opening Monday: Issue 4

This week’s job openings:

1.  Plant Manager – Upper Midwest

2.  Maintenance Manager – Quad Cities

3.  Certified Real Estate Appraiser – Quad Cities

4.  Datacom Sales – Quad Cities

5.  Business to Business Sales – Rockford, IL; Cedar Rapids, IA

6.  Experienced Copier Service Technician – North Central / Western Iowa

7.  Copier Service Technician / Repair – Quad Cities

8.  Power Electronics Technician – California

Email resumes to melissagesing@gmail.com.

Happy Halloween!