Seester Sunday: Groundhog Day

Melissa:

Well, so much for posting again “next week.” Ha ha. (See our last post from A MONTH ago!) Life happens, I guess. 

This Sunday is a big day for a lot of people. Not only is it Super Bowl Sunday, but in Iowa, it is Caucus Eve!

I worked at Barnes and Noble during the day today and afterward took Percy and Gemma for a nice, long walk around Gray’s Lake.

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Then we stayed in and watched the Super Bowl. I can’t remember the last time we had a night in. With holding a final 50-50 in 2020 three day candidate training for women running for office, wrapping up the 50-50 in 2020 organization as a whole, lining up new clients to begin work for on February 1st and after, attending caucus events, and dating (Yes, the first date at Centro has turned into several dates now!) during the past three weeks, this lady has been on the go a lot. 

Today I wore a sweater, tank, and Pixie pants from Old Navy. This was the perfect outfit for today: practical and comfortable for work, and something I could keep on for the rest of the day at the lake and at home. Not sure if I’ve mentioned it a million times yet or not, but I like to get dressed once for the day and call it good. 

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I accessorized with my main thing: earrings. These I bought from a Lia Sophia consultant eons ago:

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I wore my tall brown boots to Barnes and Noble and then switched to my waterproof ankle boots for lake time. Both pairs of boots are from – you guessed it – Target! 

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While life has been crazy lately, I have continued to stock up on books for the slower days ahead. Today’s Barnes and Noble purchase:

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Hope you enjoyed the Super Bowl, and if you live in Iowa, please caucus tomorrow! I recommend caucusing for Amy Klobuchar. 🙂

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Sarah:

Happy Candelmas/Feast of the Presentation, Eve of Jeremiah’s birthday, Superbowl Sunday, Groundhog Day, National Tator Tot Day, and the first global palindrome day in 909 years. How’s that for a great setup for the day?!

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Today’s outfit consisted of a white maternity tshirt, jean jacket and thrifted black maxi skirt with black Old Navy leggings underneath. I wore boots as well. I also, like my sister, like to get dressed ONCE for the day, and I hate changing during the day, so this is what I wore for everything! My legs were warm and I like having the option to remove my jacket as I tend to get quite *warm* these days! I wore this outfit for church, brunch, walking to the library, folding laundry, making food, soothing a fussy toddler, photographing handstands, delegating jobs, loading the dishwasher, overeating Superbowl food and visiting at my parent’s house. Gabriel was a gift bearer at church today and Lucy read half of the prayers of the faithful as it was 3rd and 4th grade Mass ministries today. It was a good day!

We will hopefully be back again soon with another installment of Seester Sunday!

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. 😉

Sarah:

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!

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Melissa:

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!

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

Primary Day 2018: May the Best Prevail

Primary Day 2018: May the Best Prevail

Today is Primary Election Day in Iowa! It is always surreal for me when I am not working full time for a candidate in a primary and simply vote, volunteer a bit, and wait for the results to come in. 

I have frequently been in my “Target bubble” and laser focused on my optical store, sales, and staffing during the past year and a half. When I am at Target, I rarely check my social media and personal email. It is kind of nice.

And yet I still love to have my political fix outside of working hours. I love reading the news, especially political news. I love watching the Sunday morning political shows. And I love laughing at all of the SNL skits portraying the sometimes sordid state of affairs that comprise our new reality. 

That isn’t enough though. And that is why I am glad to have found new ways to become involved in politics since October 2016. 

I mentioned in my last post that I joined the board of 50-50 in 2020 in November 2016. I have loved every minute of this new volunteer adventure. Being a part of a nonpartisan organization with a bipartisan board is so rewarding, especially in our currently polarized political environment. The organization’s goal is political equity for women, and I love being part of a movement toward a more representative democracy. What I find to be so neat about this organization is that it was founded several years ago and has really blazed a trail for training and electing women in Iowa. 

I also recently participated as a panelist in a WONKS! podcast titled “Women & Politics.” This was a bipartisan panel of two Republican women and two Democrat women. We had so much fun talking about the things we all have in common, as well as areas of difference. How refreshing to be a part of something bipartisan and positive!

One of the audience questions during the WONKS! podcast asked why we women panelists were not very angry. I personally prefer to channel anger into action, thus letting go of it. Yes, the political news of the day is often frustrating. I do sometimes yell at my TV or Twitter feed. I vow to stay involved in politics so the crazy does not prevail. And I want to elevate the discourse. I want to elect good people. I want to be a positive voice for change and not sink to the level of name calling and false assumptions. I long for the days when being a moderate and compromising were not perceived as bad things. 

On this Primary Election Day in Iowa, I hope that the best women and men prevail. I hope that we elect more people in November who have diverse backgrounds and a willingness to listen to various points of view. And finally, I hope that all of the candidates, staff, and volunteers know that, win or lose, the primary battle was worth it. 

Melissa Gesing, vote, Iowa politics, primary 2018
Voter #201 in Des Moines 64!

Why we must advocate for the F-35

As of today, my little brother Mitch has been deployed for 108 days.

When his ship departed Norfolk, VA, on November 16th, I felt helpless. The Paris terrorist attacks had just happened the Friday prior, and I know in my heart he was on his way to fight the “bad guys.”

I have been involved in politics since college, and national defense has often been a hot button issue of mine. I feel that my political involvement is doing something to make the world a better place, albeit small compared to what my brother is doing.

In addition to continuing to support candidates who align with my views regarding national defense, I have recently begun to pay attention to the actual issues at hand that directly impact our men and women serving our country. Issue advocacy has a huge impact in our country. While lobbyists get a lot of attention, especially during the recent presidential debates, each of us civilians can have an impact far greater than we realize. Advocacy makes me feel a little less helpless when watching news reports from afar.

An important part of supporting our troops and advocating for them is making sure they are equipped with the necessary tools to perform their work. With military technology continuously innovating at breakneck speed, it is imperative that our aircraft keep pace. There is only one option when it comes to truly top-of-the-line next-generation fighters: the F-35. The F-35C variant, which is intended for the U.S. Navy, the branch in which my brother proudly serves, will be the most advanced aircraft ever designed to specifically conduct aircraft carrier operations.

Each member of our armed services is someone’s brother, sister, son, or daughter. The responsibility rests on our shoulders to do everything in our power to keep these loved ones safe as they lay their lives on the line protecting our way of life. This requires that they have the best technology available and the best tools to accomplish their mission. In terms of aircraft, this can only mean the F-35.

I hope those we have elected to serve our state in Washington, D.C. join me in supporting our military and advanced technology like the F-35. In addition to this being an incredible tool for our military, it is also partly manufactured at Rockwell Collins, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This is a win-win scenario for national defense abroad and jobs here at home.

I am proud that U.S. Senator Joni Ernst supports the F-35 aircraft and the safety of our brave troops, including my little brother. I encourage everyone to advocate for this important aircraft being added to our nation’s weaponry.

With our troops, their friends, and families sacrificing so much for freedom, it seems to me to be a relatively small request to provide our armed forces with the most state-of-the-art equipment and weaponry.

Please join me in advocating for the F-35 aircraft, and thank you to the men and women who are serving our country.

Top Ten reasons why living in the first in the nation caucus state is awesome

1. An extended family

Wherever I go, I have political family. Everyone who is anyone in politics cuts their teeth in Iowa. We see each other at our best and worst. We have yelled at one another, divulged our deepest secrets, and formed a mafia-like bond.

2. Political boot camp

Want to be a big deal in politics? You have to come to Iowa. Our activists and staff are a tough crowd. We don’t care where you come from. You are expected to work 85+ hours a week and like it. This work is not glamorous: making phone calls, knocking on doors, ensuring event signs are placed properly and never fall down, signing up event attendees before you let them out the door, running to get food for national staff, etc.

3. Meeting presidents (and candidates) before they are a big deal

If you live in Iowa and have not shaken a president’s hand, it really is your own fault. Candidates visit multiple times in a variety of venues. Insider trick: Go see them before they officially throw a hat into the ring. It’s much easier to get a handshake and photo without a gaggle of press closing in.

4. A nobody can succeed

I volunteered on my first campaign while at Simpson College. While my family is informed and votes, no one else has volunteered on a campaign or tried to make a living in the political world. In Iowa, you are given a fair shake as a kid who has no idea what she is getting herself into. Work hard, be loyal, and use your head. That’s what it takes in Iowa.

5. Everyone is a TV star

With national and international media everywhere, if you participate in this process, you are likely to get in a camera shot at one time or another.

6. People care about your opinions

Reporters are dying to know what we are thinking. Friends from across the country reach out seemingly out of the blue.

7. A full mailbox

Ever get disappointed when you check your mailbox, and nothing is there? Never an issue during caucus season in Iowa! As a political nerd, I even keep a few of my favorites as souvenirs. (Photo above courtesy of Marlys Popma.)

8. TV ads

While we all get tired of these ads, they are a sneak peek into the oppo research underway for the general election. Once again, this might be a good thing for us political nerds only.

9. Crossing things off of your bucket list

Being on the Today Show (simply in the crowd outside) has been on my bucket list since grade school. Did I mention I am a nerd? 😉 Tomorrow I will likely cross this off my list if everything goes as planned.

10. People (kids too!) are inspired

With all of the above going on, those Iowans who have never participated in the process often think twice about it every four years. Just this year, I have several friends who are likely to caucus for the very first time. I also get to involve friends and family in many of the cool things listed above. We in Iowa have a voice before the field is narrowed. How cool is that?!

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
Email:
melissa@iowafrw.org
Twitter:
@melissagesing

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.

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:

Ta-da!

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.

My 9-11 Story

Everyone has a 9-11 story.  Some seem more significant than others.  Mine is one of the least significant, because I was not working in New York or D.C., I was not on a plane that day, and I didn’t personally know anyone affected directly by the deaths.

But as I have heard the ordinary stories from that day, I have learned that it touched us all in different ways.  Sometimes the seemingly insignificant occurrences can become pivotal down the road.

My day began as usual, in my apartment shared with Lexi on the south side of Des Moines.  One of my nerdy tendencies is listening to and half watching the Today Show when I get ready in the morning, and it was no different ten years ago.  I remember Matt and Katie breaking in with the news that a plane had crashed into the first tower.  And I will never forget the first words.  Lexi’s boyfriend made a comment something like, “Some drunk guy having too much fun,” and I said, “No, that’s something a crazy terrorist would do.”  Those words still haunt me.  Little did any of us know what was to come in the following minutes, hours, days, and years.

I finished getting ready for work and went downtown to a bank, where I worked in an office upstairs, as I was at that time the only staffer for the Sukup for Governor campaign.  Another business had offices upstairs, and I remember someone poking his head in my door telling me to come see the news.  I walked down the hall where several people were gathered around a TV.  Wow.

It didn’t set in until I talked to my boss on the phone, and he said to stay off the phones for the day, that this news story was capturing everyone’s attention and no one cared about campaigns that day.

Then I walked down to the Republican Party of Iowa headquarters just a few blocks away – the old rented space, before they bought the old funeral home.  I walked into the conference room and sat with Darrell, where we watched in amazement at the news developments.  Darrell kept saying, “Where is our President?  We need to hear from him.”  And he referenced Pearl Harbor a few times.  This was officially a big deal.

Finally President Bush issued a statement.  He had been in Air Force One, receiving updates and staying safe.  The news gradually unfolded to tell a story of a group of extremists led by Osama bin Laden.

The rest of the “work day” was a blur, and then I drove home at around 5:30 p.m.  It was a short day, since I usually worked until 9:00 p.m.  I, like many others, was wondering what all of this would do to gas prices, the economy, and on and on.  I pulled over at the Quick Trip and waited in line for 20 minutes to fill up my car.  I could have waited until the next day, but why risk it?

I was glued to CNN, Fox News, and all of the news channels for the rest of the evening.  Lexi and I chatted about it, and I talked to a few people on the phone.

So many things we take for granted as Americans were challenged that day.  However, in the days and weeks that followed, those things we take for granted were very much intact.  We came together to support one another during a tough time.  We rallied around the flag.

Of course, it didn’t take long for politics to divide us again.  But it’s good to know that we can put politics aside when we have no other choice.  That is my lasting take away.  Sometimes it’s good to kick politics aside and just be real.

My Winding and Perpetually Forked Path

I admire people who can manage to do all of the right things in the “correct” order in life:

1.  Graduate from high school

2.  Graduate from college

3.  Land a great job

4.  Marry the man/woman of your dreams

5.  Enjoy a year or two of married life sans children

6.  Own a home

7.  Have a child or two

You get the idea.

Simple, right?  Then, why is my life so different?  I completed steps 1 and 2, and to a certain extent 3.  And that’s where it really starts to get interesting.

I’ve had recent dreams that turn into nightmares when I am once again changing jobs/career paths.  I wake up wondering if this is a sign.  Am I ever going to be happy?  Why can’t I just settle down into one thing and be content?

I have a pretty strong faith.  I am not hugely into material things.  But yet I am a Pisces, a dreamer, thus somewhat “out there”.  What to do….

When I watched the movie Forces of Nature with Sandra Bullock on a somewhat awkward first date during college, I admired her character because while she was adrift and had a messed up life, she was interesting.  Little did I know then that I would someday feel just a little bit like her, sans child.

While I am very Type A, slightly OCD, etc. etc., I am also a very free spirit.  I hate stuffiness and the status quo.

But the point is I love being out of my comfort zone.  I bore easily.  I love challenges.  On the flip side, I hate monotony, worry that I may be perceived as flighty, and easily get annoyed with people.  As two friends recently reminded me, we often become more close minded when we try to be too open minded.

Back to the path:  The winding really began during college.  Freshman year I was too scared to challenge the straight and narrow path.  And then sophomore year happened.  I would never be the same.  Thank God.

I realized I could get a 3.3 GPA when partying a lot.  I learned that the good guys on paper are often terrible dates.  And I began to challenge expectations.  I took the LSAT and knew when walking out of that testing room that I likely wouldn’t be going to law school for at least a few years, if ever.  The results came back, I did well, and that was enough satisfaction.  I proved to myself I could do it if I wanted to.  One catch: the nagging voice saying others would be disappointed in me for not following through.

I was going to double major in political science and journalism, but I opted to minor in journalism.  You see, the political bug bit me.  I was off and running.  Campaign work was my life.  In between political stints I’d dabble in retail.  But I always returned to politics.  Once you get in, it’s nearly impossible to get out.

Until I moved to Houston.  Then I managed a Whataburger, taught preschool, and worked at American Eagle.  I loved the weather and all the big city had to offer, but when returning for my sister’s wedding in July 2006, I realized what the missing piece was:  my family.

So back to Iowa I came.  I worked at Victory Enterprises for three years, was learning the ins and outs of the company.  But it wasn’t where I wanted to stay permanently.  Then to Target HR.  Great company, but I still didn’t have that elusive work-life balance I’d been reaching for during the past year.

I took a part time church lady job and started working my SendOutCards business more actively.  Then Raye from Target Optical bought me Starbucks.  Yes, coffee sucks me in every time.  I told her I’d work 10-15 hours a week at optical.  Five months later, I’m full time.  One month after that, I get a nice new regional assignment.  I love it, but I want to resist it.  I was planning to work my own business full time!

Throughout all of this, I’ve had a few good dates, a few miserable ones.  I have parted with most guys on good terms.  A few of them have married their next girlfriend.

I have met many amazing people.  I have fabulous friends.  I adore my niece and nephew.  I am volunteering more and making time to babysit Gabriel and Lucy one day a week.

While my path is not straight or clear, I am doing my best to enjoy the journey and appreciate the people in my life.