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


Seester Sunday: Happy New Year!

I am continuing to catch up with posting our Seester Sunday updates. This post should finally bring us up to date. 😉


After a bit of an absence with Seester Sunday, we’ve decided to (try) to get back into the habit. This week followed a snowy Saturday that left us cooped up in the house most of the day. The kids were a bit antsy and honestly we didn’t do much. I spent a good majority of the day on the couch and J even cooked dinner (spaghetti-his trademark 😉  ).

All that to say we were slow getting up and about on Sunday morning and were LATE to church after de-icing the van and driving on slick roads. Kateri was the only one who got her hair fixed and Ruth wore her snow boots. We were even short one kid as Lucy was at a sleepover. We walked in and Ruth took off in Ruth-fashion running up the center aisle to where we usually sit…..except we weren’t sitting there because, as I mentioned, we were LATE and had to sit elsewhere. Ahem. Anyways, here’s what I wore:

 Who’s that handsome teenager standing next to me? Oh, that’s only my man-child, Gabriel. I somehow convinced him to get in a pic with me. In case you’re interested, he now can wear man-sized jeans, I buy his shoes from the men’s section and he no longer needs a booster in the car. {tears**}

My dress/tunic/long shirt thing is thrifted and old and some brand I’ve never heard of. I love it. It’s comfy and forgiving. It’s short enough that I don’t wear it in the summer but feel comfortable putting it with leggings. I can bend over and wrangle Ruth kids without my hiney showing. My leggings are run-of-the-mill from Old Navy and are much warmer than they look! Boots are my favorite grey ones from Famous Footwear that I’ve had for 2 years.   And that’s that!



So, the reason this Seester Sunday post is a day late is because yours truly did not get her act together in time for a Sunday post. While I do not ANY human children, nor do I have a husband, my life seems to keep me busy with other things.

I spent my snowy Saturday working at Barnes and Noble. What began as a part time seasonal job has become a permanent part time job that I absolutely LOVE. Hopefully I can continue to balance my bookselling job with everything else going on in my increasingly crazy life!

On Saturday night, I had an amazing first date at Centro, my favorite restaurant in downtown Des Moines. Then, I was invited to join this great guy for a second breakfast date on Sunday morning before mass. While I was home by 11:00 p.m. on Saturday night, I barely slept! Glad I still woke up early on Sunday though, because breakfast was awesome.

After breakfast on Sunday, I attended 10:30 a.m. mass at the Basilica of St. John. Then I came home for some office time. My client 50-50 in 2020, whom I currently serve as Executive Director for, has A LOT going on during these next two weeks! By mid-afternoon, I was off to Barnes and Noble for the rest of the day and evening.

I also wore a thrift store gem during this past Sunday. I found this dress at Phase 2 Consignments in Grinnell, just over a year ago. This photo is not from Sunday, because, as we have established previously, I did not have my act together this week:

This photo is from the Women Lead Change Dubuque Conference in November 2019, where I exhibited on behalf of 50-50 in 2020. Paired with my dress then and this Sunday were Silpada earrings, and brown tights and boots from Target. I do not wear a lot of jewelry, and earrings are my go-to accessory – in addition to my glasses!

Another note on my dress: I love cowl necks and things that flow openly. Nothing is worse than a form-fitting dress when you are having a day when you feel bloated or fat. Yes, we must be self confident, but we all have those days because we are human.

We look forward to posting together again next week!


My 2013 resolutions were quite successful. I did not resolve to do anything earth shattering, but a win is a win!


Little could I have known how much of a leadership challenge I would face throughout 2013 when I wrote my resolutions. When our 49-year-old optometrist passed away in February, I dug down as deep as possible to find every ounce of strength to keep our Target Optical team going. I would not wish this situation on anyone, and yet I now have a vast new perspective on what being a leader truly means to others. I am always a work in progress, so number one on last year’s list will continue to be a priority for me.

I wore more nail polish and lipstick in 2013. That was a fun one. 🙂

And I took number three to the max! I became very involved with the chamber and engaged in more OneSight activities. I was even chosen for a OneSight mission to India in December 2014! Woot!

Jag did pretty well with his resolutions also. I tried to sit and read more often, prompted by his immediate plopping into my lap whenever I finally sit down at night. He has cut back on plant eating and now gives Gabriel and Lucy several minutes before he hisses, runs away, or both.

Today I ponder the year ahead and create a few new resolutions (with some Kevin Nealon-esque subliminal thoughts):
1. Blog every week. (And actually post what I write.)
2. Send more snail mail. (Nice timing with the postage rate going up. Just a few pennies here and there though, which is nothing compared to the money I spend on Starbucks.)
3. Get my ABO – American Board of Optometry – certification. (Stop making excuses for not taking the exam! My life will always be busy.)

Following through on my resolutions will hopefully help me to channel a creative outlet for myself, keep in touch with friends and family, and continue to challenge myself professionally.

Here’s to all of our successes with this year’s resolutions!

Happy New Year!

The Value in After Hours

As I was driving home from Jersey Grille in Davenport Tuesday night, I thought about how I almost turned down an invitation to go out for drinks after the Scott County Republican Central Committee meeting.  (Yes, Republicans have fun too!)

I had laundry to fold, a checkbook to balance, and various other things waiting for me to do at my apartment.  I had to get up early the next day and drive to Durant for my church lady job.  But I’d just been elected as a precinct chair and secretary, and it had been way too long since some quality Grey Goose had touched my lips.

So, I went.  It was supposed to be for only one drink.  Ha ha.  I can count on one hand the number of times I have gone out for one drink.  I don’t make a habit of getting sloshed.  I just get caught up in great conversation, so one drink turns in to two, and then I have a final drink to keep even with someone across the table.

I’m glad I took the time to socialize a bit more, and I used to do this more often.  I enjoy the after hours socializing, because walls come down and you uncover the off the record things that paint the whole picture of who someone is.

Going back to my New Year’s Resolutions (which seem to have been created forever ago), #6 and #7 illustrate the need to socialize more.  And now that I live in downtown Davenport, it requires much less effort.  Win-Win!

2011: New Year and New Goals

New Year’s resolutions – so interesting.  Even Lindsay Lohan tweeted about her proposed fresh start in 2011.

I stayed in this New Year’s Eve, worked on some projects at home, and had a lot of time to think about 2010.  There’s nothing like picking up Christmas tree needles in your living room for an hour to really give you quality thinking time.  I assessed what went well and what did not and thought about where I want to be at the end of 2011.

Working back from December 31, 2011, I came up with several resolutions that will put me on the path toward my 2011 goals:

1. Spend less money on random, needless things.  I will still allow myself to have a Starbucks every couple of days – no need to get extreme here.

napa valley2. Become better at saving money to allow me to experience more things: more trips to see friends, more concerts, work at a Napa winery.

3. Spend more time around beaches and palm trees.

4. Eat healthier and exercise more so I look good in my bikini while doing #3.

5. Rock the SendOutCards business.  Even when other things in life take hold, make some time to focus on my business.

6. Continue to seek out positive people while eliminating unnecessary contact with those who are negative and drag me down.

7. Enjoy the journey!

New Year’s resolutions snowball from one thing into another and can become overwhelming, as my list above illustrates.  Rather than give up on my list completely, I am going to tackle it in pieces.

My first task is to utilize my slight OCD and Type A skills to create a financial spreadsheet for 2011 and track all expenditures.  Then I will continue my Dream List of items I want to spend any extra money on.

Regarding the beaches and palm trees, I’m keeping that one open to pursuing opportunities that may arise or have already presented themselves.  Yes, this one is vague for a reason…..more to come.

The eating healthy and exercising more item is a pretty typical New Year’s resolution.  I’m not hitting this item really hard – just going to take baby steps on it here and there.

Some of my SOC creations

I love working with SendOutCards and have made great progress with it during the past three months.  However, I can always be doing more, and I must constantly remind myself to keep the momentum going.

Just when I think I have eliminated negativity from my life, someone will sneak in with it when I least expect it.  Whether it’s a snide comment from my brother, or an acquaintance looking at me in disbelief when I tell him/her about leaving a high paying job to pursue new things, I don’t need to give either one the time of day.  Of course I love my brother, but I am allowed to set boundaries with him.  Same goes for people who don’t say anything, but instead show me the lack of support by what goes unsaid.  I will simply move along and prove them wrong as I become happier and more successful.  Those who don’t get it now may eventually understand, and some will never understand because they refuse to accept another viewpoint.  As one of my friends often says, “So be it.”

The most important thing is to enjoy the journey.  Too often I get so wrapped up in tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year.  And then I forget that most of the fun lies within the present.  I never know when my last day is coming.  Goals and resolutions are good, but working toward them today is even better.

I’ve never shared my New Year’s resolutions like this, so I am hoping it creates more accountability for my actions.  Committing to the action steps along the way can seem daunting without support from others.  It’s time to quit worrying about jinxing my dreams, and instead be open about them and enlist others’ encouragement.

And I am always here to encourage you too!