Ode to Up North

Even though I started this little life journey of mine on Maui and Texas, in my bones, I’m an Up North girl. I don’t mind the heat of summer knowing that it’s fleeting. I don’t even mind the heat of a vacation if I have water and bevvies nearby. However on a day to day basis, I belong up north. Milwaukee is south. I understand others believe it’s north but it’s not UP NORTH. See, that is actually a very important distinction.

It hasn’t always been the case. When the Peterson’s took me home in Austin, TX and shortly after moved me up to Carlton, Minnesota I balked. Literally. My dad had just started at a new church and had to take time off because I wouldn’t let my mother near me (I’m sure that was fun for her;) So dad would come and give her a small break from my screaming whenever she came near me. I would be reminded of this throughout our time together and have been struck curious by my reactions through the years. When I was 20 my dad and I were having lunch at Byerlys (their beer cheese soup with popcorn on top was magical) and he brought it up because my mother and I were on another “rough patch” and it was my fault because I rejected her when I was first adopted. I sat in that booth and thought to myself, “Is a free bowl of beer cheese soup with popcorn worth this bullshit?” Yes. Yes it was. So I was the good girl and took it. Accepted responsibility for behavior I didn’t remember or could account for. Sorry (that was my sarcastic voice I hope ya know.)

Carlton wasn’t all bad. I was hell on wheels with my tricycle. My best friend Krissy Davis and I would go play on the railroad tracks a couple of blocks from her house. Mind you, I was 6 when we moved away so little 4 and 5 year olds tearin’ it up on the tracks was normal enough that we never got in trouble. We would Vacation Bible School at Jay Cooke state park; snowmobile out our back door, and have a book mobile that came to the house in lieu of a library. OH! We also had a milkman. No shit.

We were within a short drive to Grand Rapids where our cabin was and it was nothing for us to be up there all summer and have dad drive up after church Sunday and return Tuesday morning (Monday’s were always days off for Pastor John.) I have been incredibly fortunate to travel to some amazing places with my amazing husband and hope to do more in the future; however; Up North Minnesota is my happy place. So when we heard Michael Cohen was doing a lifting seminar at Crossfit Duluth this summer I looked at the hubs and said, yup, let’s go. Luckily he was game and it went on the calendar.

Now, our summer has been very low key due to my cutting a weight class for Masters World Championships looming ahead. No dinners out, that’s a big change for us. No summer parties at the house where scrumptious smoked meats and flowing bevvies are served. No GOING to fun summer parties where scrumptious smoked meats and flowing bevvies are being served. Home with maybe an ounce of bourbon and early bed to see what the scale is saying the next day. But we had Duluth to look forward to and it didn’t disappoint.

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This was our view outside our hotel window. It was absolutely gorgeous! We also got to see the steam engine go back and forth and listen to the horn of the Great Lakes ships going in and out of the canal and the train whistle. It was perfect.

First off, I will be the first to admit that memories are often unreliable. For example, I remember driving to Jay Cooke and it seemed like a big drive. Nope, it is literally on the edge of town. Like, we didn’t even really leave town to get there. The entrance was MAYBE a mile from the church doors but I don’t think it was that far. The same goes with a drive to a nearby town called Cloquet. I hated those drives. There was a scandinavian store called Bergquist that has a huge Dala horse outside that I loved. However, I could never go in the store in case I broke something (I’m kinda wondering if I actually did break something once so this was maybe warranted) so I had to sit in the hot car after an hour long drive to this stupid town that smells really bad (from a paper mill. No fault of their own but still, on some days it stunk super bad.) Turns out the drive was about 8 minutes. Could be I was a bit dramatic.

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The ginormous Dala horse is still there. The store is much smaller than I remember it (thatswhatshesaid.)

I’ve told Matt the story of when I was riding tricycle at our church in Carlton (it had a super cool handicap ramp that I could go up and down while my mom did some work inside) and I decided I needed to go pick up my brother from school. So I left and took off for South Terrace Elementary which was on the other side of the railroad tracks and about two miles outside town. Mind you, this was the only way out of Carlton on the south side so semi-trucks and other fast traffic was the norm. Didn’t bother me a bit, I was outta there. When we were driving around I told Matt that I’m curious how far I actually got before a church member caught me and took my back into town and called my parents to come get me at the local barber shop. I figured this was another distance amnesia thing and actually not very far. Nope. It was far enough that a 4 year old on a tricycle this far outside of town these days would have been front page news and received a one on one relationship with child services. Not gonna lie, I remain pretty impressed with myself on that one.

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How the hubs felt about hiking;)

After tooling around Carlton, we headed to Jay Cooke to do some hiking. Yes, for those who know Matt, hiking. Jay Cooke has a swing bridge that terrified me when I was younger but is kind of fun now. The river is low, that helped a bit. If you fall off it you’ll just hit the rocks and probably be maimed or die but you won’t be swept away by the rushing current. So there’s that. I understand my love of climbing all over rocks now as Jay Cooke is the perfect rock climbing park. We hiked a few trails but would stop and sit on the rocks. A common theme is that I would get close to the edge of the rocks and Matt would hang back. I’ve mentioned a few times on social media how proud I am of Matt deciding to take this weight cut thing on also. It means the world to me that my still super strong strongman can also move easier and is feeling better in general without 35 pounds of strongman bulk to his frame. We went to 3 state parks this trip. That’s 3 more than we’ve ever been to in our 9 years together. Pretty soon we’ll start traveling with a bike rack. (But probably not.)

I packed food since my diet is still very strict but the bigg guy winged it. What this meant was we always needed to be within striking distance of food. EZPZ. After hiking at Jay Cooke, Matt wanted ice cream and the little frozen treats at the ranger station wasn’t cutting it. Off to Cloquet we went (the whole whoppin’ 10 minute drive) and entered Gordy’s Hi-Hat. Now, here’s something interesting. When I think of Cloquet, I think of the ginormous Dala horse; the 1 hour drive that was actually 10 minutes, and the smell of the paper mill. I don’t remember Gordy’s. And this is where I tip my Mom hat to Lynda Lou. At some point, she decided Gordy’s wasn’t going to be an every day stop for ice cream and the best french fries you’ve ever had. This also explains why we would take a slightly longer (I mean, like 4 minutes, not 50) route into town, it bypassed Gordy’s. Matt got his burger and fries and ice cream and I got a tiny taste of the best french fries on the planet.

The next day belonged to lifting. Seeing Michael again sans half a finger he lost earlier in the week was a gift. Honestly, if I had his coaching on a regular basis I’d be such a better lifter. He’s also a great man who is entertaining as hell in general so just being around him is good for the soul. The crew at Crossfit Duluth were as wonderful and supportive of each other as anything I’ve seen and we even hung out with them afterwards to eat and watch some of the airshow that was nearby with planes zooming right over their building (we left before the Blue Angels went on but the other planes were very cool!) Training time confirmed the fact that I just need to be strong and cue-able and he’ll get me to where we need to be in a couple of weeks at the meet.

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Having Michael Cohen barking cues at you for hours on end will make you a better lifter. True story. Also, I was a spy for Sheryl to make sure he behaved with that newly surgical’d finger. He didn’t touch a barbell so I think for him that was behaving.

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Blueberry with ice cream. Yup.

The next day, we headed north. Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock Light House. But first, a very special stop at Betty’s Pies. Now this stop IS embedded into my brain and in fact, the last time I was there was with my mom. So I fit a piece of blueberry pie and ice cream into my calorie count for the day and didn’t even feel a little bit bad about it. While I rarely condone emotional eating, I do embrace enjoying a memory through food. That’s what Betty’s Pies is for me. No matter how many “rough patches” my mom and I went through over the years, we had pie and conversation at Betty’s up north. We had a wonderful day filled with more hiking; more me close to the edge of the rocks with Matt hanging back, and more silliness but most of all, we had pie. I’m not even a huge fan of pie. I’d far rather have cake or donuts but blueberry pie and ice cream is forever pictured with contentment between me and my mom. I cherish that.

See, my mom was an Up North girl. She grew up in Grand Rapids and instilled in me such a love for Up North that to this day, being there or even thinking of it makes my heart full. We didn’t fight Up North. In fact, we found so many commonalities Up North that it was almost as if we got along on a daily basis. I loved what she loved Up North. Not because I was trying to fit into her ideal, but because these things truly touched my heart and embedded itself into it. Up North belonged to Lynda Lou and Jules and no one could touch that.

I received a text in March after weigh-in’s at Nationals that my mother had a massive stroke and wasn’t expected to survive. I hadn’t spoken to she or my father in over 10 years. I knew this day would come. My staying away from the Minnesota Peterson’s has proven time and time again to be the right choice for me. This was no different. I made sure my kids were okay and then handed the phone to Matt and said I’ll need to deal with this in a couple of hours. The next day, I received a vile and vicious note from my sister that again, confirmed what I had believed. That these people are not for me. Her games didn’t stop, she even excluded us from my mother’s original Obituary. Matt wanted me to tell her to fuck herself but I had always said that when this day comes and WHEN she would lash out at me (shitty people are very predictable) that I would answer in kindness and honor to my parents and myself. And I did. Oh believe me, her words cut deep. She was completely successful in briefly decimating my emotions. But a good cry and a bourbon filled night with my sisters in strength (and hubs) in Salt Lake filled holes in my heart that an angry Joy could never touch. Ever. (By the way, my sisters in strength are the shit. They are everything my sister, Joy, could never be. They are strong in themselves so don’t have to lash out at others. They lift not only weights, but your spirits when needed. They are diverse and fascinating and I adore them. I’m two weeks out from seeing them again and cannot wait! After that I get to spend time with my throwing sisters in strength. Aren’t I lucky to have so many amazing sisters?)

I learned those weekends, in Salt Lake City and Duluth, that there are parts of my relationship with my mother that can never be touched. That are lovely and warm and fun and even silly (Lynda was rarely silly. I told my Auntie Karen the day after my mom’s stroke that she brought out the silly in my mom. Auntie Karen does that, brings out the best in all of us.) Those are our Up North times. Up North brought out similarities and stifled the differences or the hurt that had built up between us over the years. That’s what Up North does.

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Really though, my hot hunky hubs is the cutest!

Every step Matt and I took during our Duluth weekend was a step my mother and I had taken together and I’m just realizing now that this was my introduction of her to him. I had told Matt that when I got there I might cry. Not from sadness but because it is my happy place. Well, I didn’t. I tried when I was driving away from the lift bridge one last time but I just couldn’t. I was filled with such gratitude that we had this weekend together that I just couldn’t muster up any sadness.

And one last thing about our Up North weekend, I left with an understanding that Jay Cooke; the lift bridge; even Betty’s Pies (hopefully) will still be standing long after I’m gone and they will be a part of someone else’s love for Up North. How awesome is that!

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I have what I have and I am happy. I’ve lost what I’ve lost and I am still happy.

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Changes

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For a bargain price of $75, you can order a money lei that has $30 worth of flowers on it. Nailed it!

I haven’t written since March. The biggest reason was because something with my wordpress was messed up and I don’t possess the patience or the skills (in that order) to fix it. But the hot, hunky, hubs does and he fixed it this morning before taking off for the week. And boy howdy, aren’t you lucky because I have a LOT OF FUCKING THINGS TO SAY! I mean, probably not but at least I have options.

I have to dig pretty deep to remember what I was doing in March. If I look back at my last blog post, it seems that I was being annoyed by snowflakes who think they deserve shit based merely on the fact that they exist. Still annoying. I was upset at the continued practice of men taking over women’s sports and being labeled as courageous. Still am but the issue has gained traction which means the general public has become involved and, well, you can guess where that goes. It goes to jokes and misunderstanding and the idiotic, “well just make another class” argument (as if you’re the first person who thought of this?!) which is the equivalent of saying, “we should just pay off your student loans.” First, where does the extra money come from? Fucking duh. Second, and most importantly, to bring up the additional class of athletes in competition completely distracts from the original issue that BOYS AND MEN SHOULD NOT BE COMPETING IN GIRLS AND WOMENS CLASSES!  Keeping the general public focused on an issue is nearly impossible these days and I don’t possess the patience to try. If you believe boys and men should be able to compete and win in girls and womens athletic competitions merely because they “identify” as something else, you’re wrong. There. Issue resolved.

In March, reality started setting in that the Oz man was heading off to basic training in a few short months. Yowzer. So frequent trip to Minneapolis became the norm and from March to June, I was driving up on an average of every other weekend. It became a grind and by mid-June when the weekend finally came for him to leave, I was exhausted. His shipping out came down to the wire with his final tape test (the little man had gained some Minnesota winter fluff and worked his ass off his final month to go on time. I’m so incredibly proud) and when his girlfriend arrived at my hotel to go over to the final swearing in she asked, “When will we know if he passed his tape test” in which I replied the most important lesson of an Army mom, ever, “If he hadn’t passed, we’d know by now. No news is good news.”

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Army Mom 101: Smile. Your recruit has been seeking your reassuring smile their whole life, the day they’re shipping out is possibly the most important reassuring smile you can give them. Also, NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS. Live it.

Walking into a room with 20 or so recruits leaving and family members was a bit overwhelming because mom’s were already crying and we had over an hour to go before goodbye’s were necessary. I didn’t know what to expect when we connected with Oz but his huge smiles and excitement were contagious and it was literally impossible for me to be sad. He was ready. And if he’s ready, I’m ready. After all, he’s the one doing the work. I just get to sit home and train and be hungry.

On that note…

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The best French Toast I’ve ever had was in Kenosha at Frank’s diner. I had ordered it with my omelette and Matt had ordered a pancake with his. When they came, Matt kept telling me how good it looked and hinting around for a taste. I said it was the best french toast I’ve ever had. Yes, he wanted some (even a little bite.) No, he didn’t get any (sharing is for chumps.)

Sandwiched in the spring was Masters Nationals in Salt Lake City. More on that later but one thing I walked away with was the knowledge that I had to cut to a different weight class to be competitive. I still hadn’t been able to hit a solid squatting program due to tendonitis from getting overtrained last fall (when your instinct disagrees with your programming and you’ve spoke up enough times to understand your coach isn’t listening to you, break up with said coach before you drive yourself into the ground. I didn’t do that or at the very least, I waited too long. Never again. I am just now back to squatting pain free and feeling good. It took 8 months. Fok.)

So April showers brought the beginning of a 40 pound cut. Right now, I’m somewhat in the weeds but things are moving again largely because I’ve aligned myself to Kathy Cromwell in Savannah and thanks to her Athlete’s House food plan, I’ve dropped 5 pounds in the last week so I’m still feeling stressed but confident. And before any of you ‘you have to do it smart and just lose a couple of pounds a week‘ speaks  up, shut up. When you are recovering systemically from over training; still trying to put on muscle or at the very least not lose any; get your lifts sorted out; are not home every other weekend for months; have normal life stress, and are 52 then you get an opinion. Even then I’d probably still tell you to shut up. The general population doesn’t get an opinion on cutting weight. Sorry not sorry. I’ve seen how you people eat.

Cutting weight with a weigh-in looming ahead of you makes for a very dull Jules. Our social calendar has been bleak and heading out for a shared cup of coffee on Sunday with my dear friend, Heather, was really as exciting as things get. I can’t eat out; I can’t drink, what a sucky summer. But I have goals and I have no intention of failing. My lifts are on track and I get to spend three hours with Michael Cohen this weekend at a lifting seminar in Duluth, MN which will pull all the pieces together and give me four weeks to nail shit in. Also, Duluth Minnesota is my happy place so even though I don’t get to eat scrumptious food or drink scrumptious beer, I get to sit on the shores of Lake Superior with my hubby and just ‘be.’ That makes up for every piece of fun I’ve missed. I’m so very excited!

Cutting weight and getting my lifts where they need to be for Masters World Championships in Montreal a week before Oz is slated to graduate from BCT has been the perfect distraction from worry. First off, there is absolutely nothing I can do to help Oz right now. I write every day. I send an occasional package of little things that are approved to send. I think of him the moment I wake up and he is my last thought before I close my eyes at night. But he needs to control his destiny now, mommy’s lecture time is done.

There’s been more change but I think we’ll stop here. Having to relive it in blog form is nearly as exhausting as going through it the first time. Besides, my alarm just went off and I need to eat again. OH! I have to set an alarm to eat. High maintenance much? I’m actually not good about getting food in during the day so suddenly it’s four in the afternoon and I have to eat three meals worth of food. No bueno. So now I set an alarm so I’m eating all my food when I’m most active and am feeling much better. Cutting weight is no joke. I just really can’t wait for french toast.

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future.

John F. Kennedy 

 

 

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Monday Bacon: Bill

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Gratuitous picture of my Pilots.

Years ago, like, 34 years ago I was in High School. Yup, I’m old as dirt. I went to HS in suburban Minneapolis in Brooklyn Park called Park Center. We were the Pirates and while I just made sure they hadn’t changed their mascot for fear of offending Pirates, I found on the wiki page that the motto of my former High School is, “Once a Pirate, Always a Pirate.” I’ve literally never heard that but to be fair I didn’t pay attention much in H.S.

During the three years of time served at Park Center, we remained in the same homeroom with the same homeroom teacher. I have no idea if this is normal, once I was released I stopped thinking anything about my days incarcerated. (Can you tell yet that I wasn’t a fan of High School?) Our homeroom teacher was Mr. Sturges. He was one of the football coaches and kinda bad ass so I was fine with the situation. I remember two or three of my fellow inmates, one named Tom (super nice guy I would talk to here and there) and one named Bill (super nice guy I didn’t talk to much at all.)

Today’s story is about Bill. See, since we were stuck together for three years on a school day daily basis there were times we’d visit with each other. I was probably more of a listener but again, don’t remember. I DO remember that from one of the first weeks of the 10th grade when we started our sentence, Bill shared that he was going to go into the Air Force and be a fighter pilot. Geez, that’s cool. I had an idea that I wanted to be a flight attendant and though I kept it to myself, felt a bit of a kinship with Bill over our mutual interest in flying while recognizing my path was very different.

Fast forward three years into the mid-winter of our senior year and I came into homeroom with the usual desire to be anywhere else than school and noticed a dark atmosphere in the classroom. Has that ever happened to you? You walk into a room completely oblivious to others in the world and suddenly you know you’ve stepped into somber energy without knowing why?  Well, in homeroom, that day was somber.

I looked over at Mr. Sturges and he kind of shook his head in a “don’t ask” way and then I noticed that nice guy Bill was very sad. Like, death in the family sad. He wasn’t crying but you could tell he’d been crying. Whatever was happening, it was a bad day. Finally, the bell rang, Mr. Sturges went to close our door (something that happened rarely) and looked over at Bill one last time who slightly nodded his head and gave Mr. S that he could share what was happening.

Seriously, as someone who goes to worst case scenario in a flash, it was terrifying. Mr. Sturges seriously and solemnly (so basically super serious) announced that Bill had just found out that he was ineligible for entrance into the Air Force because of a physical limitation (I believe it was his eyesight but I can’t remember exactly so am going to be vague and say physical limitation.) That as a homeroom where we’ve been together for two and a half years, can we give him some support and do our best to quash rumors if we hear them. Bascially, get Bill’s back.

Well, ya, sure. That’s easy. But I let that somberness stay with me a bit that day. See, I knew how it felt to have dreams crushed. I took it seriously. It’s a huge bummer. Bill had been talking for over two years that this was his dream and plan and suddenly it’s over. That. Sucks.

So, Bill couldn’t join the Air Force in a function he had planned on because he was physically unable to fit the parameters the Air Force had set for their pilots. He couldn’t play. Again, that totally sucks.

And now here we are, with a “Bill” situation in women’s athletics. See, men who no longer want to live as men and wish to change their identity to women AND wish to continue to compete in sports that have meant so much to them in their male past without the somber ‘Mr. Sturges’ conversation that this can’t be because the physical parameters are not compatible. SO, what do we do? We say, ‘well okay, have at it.’ We don’t say, “WHoaaaaaa there partner, we better look at this with thought and foresight as to what that means for the girls and women who have already filled these athletic classes to make sure your desire to live as a woman and compete in a women’s class even though you have spent time as a boy who’s gone through puberty or outright as a man in sport is the right thing to do!” Nope, that didn’t happen.

The IOC opened Pandora’s box by saying, “Well, ya, ok go ahead.” Instead of playing the big bad role of Bill’s U.S. Air Force and reminding these men that they are men and inserting them into a women’s class would be HUGELY unfair and we better make sure we’re on the right side of things here, the IOC just said, “fuck women’s athletics. We don’t really care anyway and really just want to avoid the bad publicity of a lawsuit or the impression that we are intolerant or transphobic. All we’re doing is sacrificing women, carry on!”

So for the last 10 years we have been hearing about boys and men taking girls and women’s state high school titles; world titles; accolades that belong to women now going to men, and even college scholarships to women’s teams even though other than hair and makeup and possibly a breast implant surgery, they live biologically as a man.

Oh well, it’s just women’s sports. We’re supposed to be good little girls and just move aside because people who choose to live outside their biological setting don’t want to sacrifice their desire to compete. In fact, quite the opposite. They (those doing it, not the general transgender population) have no problem expecting girls and women to sacrifice OUR hopes and dreams tied up in sport. Nope. Fall in line or beware of the Transsport lobby that will quickly go after you in the press, social media, and anywhere else they can.

Now you’re the enemy and if you DARE speak out against men competing in women’s classes. You will be called names; you will be attacked on social media as not being smart enough to understand that there is actually no advantage for men competing in women’s classes, along with other various amounts of fun.

Well, some of you have actually met me and understand how I roll. That being, I give no shits. Men competing in women’s sports classes is wrong. It is unfair. It is cheating. It demolishes a fair playing field that is the Olympic spirit:

The goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.

Fair play. It is one of the foundations of the Olympic movement. Fair play. We can go back over 8 years with modern day advanced drug testing to see if someone cheated in a former Olympics to ensure fair play was achieved and yet we allow boys and men who’s testosterone levels ENSURE that fair play is not allowed to compete in Women’s classes. We recognize World Records and even, god help me, award Top Female Athlete accolades to a male.

Fuck. Me.

**as an aside, I creeped on my former high school classmate’s social media and saw that he DID serve 24 years in the Air Force so whatever physical limitation he initially had to deal with was fixed. It’s too bad it’s not that easy in the transgender world of sports. We can’t Lasikvision the physical advances of puberty out of a male. Sorry.

So congratulations to the nice guy in my homeroom named Bill who got to live out his dream after all and serve our country in the process. Unfortunately, there are girls and women around our country who don’t get to live their dream. But that’s okay right? It’s only women’s sport.

I don’t see any point in playing the game if you don’t win, do you?

Babe Didrikson Zaharias

 

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401K

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Our Plan A to makes our dreams come true is to win the lottery. The problem? We forget to buy tickets and just go to work.

I was in my 20’s when I landed my first job with a 401k employer match. In fact, it was a really good match and I took advantage of it. My understanding it all resembled how I understand the Cloud but still, I took advantage of it. I didn’t think of it much. I was too busy grinding to make a life for me and my twins.

I was a night shift front desk operator for a company that made computer suspension parts. I worked 3-on-2-off days just like production but instead of their 6am-6pm hours, I worked 7:45pm-7:45am to cover shift changes and be cheery when the rest of the world arrived between seven and eight a.m. Sometimes my evenings included straightening up the conference rooms and if I were super lucky, there were meetings held that included food so I got some snacks to munch on throughout the night (I recently read an article on how many restaurant workers actually eat off the plates of customers who’ve left food when they bring them back to the kitchen. Didn’t gross me out at all, been there.)

Over the seven years I worked at Hutchinson Technology, I grinded my way up to a very sweet production planning position that I was incredibly proud of. It also gave me 7 years of experience working with Engineers. Ever worked with a bunch of Engineers? Then you get me. They’re a handful. I married one too so jokes on me. (Not really, but actually some days,  ya.)

In one of my planning jobs, we overhauled and implemented our shop stock system and it was 9 months of lots of hours and no overtime paid out. So I’d bank my hours and take off here and there on Friday afternoons but mostly those hours just hung out on a piece of paper.

At some point, our department hired a middle manager (just what companies need right? More middle management to really tie the room together.) Well, Bob (srsly, his name was Bob) looked at that piece of paper of my OT hours and quickly told me that I would only be allowed to take an hour or two off that time off per month and he’ll let me know when that will change.

Uhhhhhhh, you can imagine how that went. See, I had invested that time in making sure the company was successful. Our deal was that I could take that time off when I wanted to assuming that it wouldn’t jeopardize the project. I had spent weekends at work with my toddler twins hauling their little activity boxes around and worked while they sat quietly and played (one Monday when I came in my boss asked if I’d brought the Z’s in with me that weekend while I worked. I got pretty nervous and asked if they’d bothered a few others who were there working and she said quite the opposite, my co-workers couldn’t believe how quiet they were. Score one for mom and her activity boxes.)

The point of all that is, I’d invested in seeing this project turn over without drama and I’d succeeded in doing that. So when it came time for Bob to sign off on a Friday afternoon so I could take my Z’s fishing and he turned it down, well, that didn’t go over as well as he thought it would. Truth be told, Bob didn’t last long. Not my fault, things were a little too fast paced and he was near enough retirement that when he was encouraged to be done with working he jumped on it.

How I work is this, I’ll invest myself in things I believe in. I didn’t invest myself into High School. Barf. I hated it. I’m kinda surprised I graduated. I mean, I went and everything, most days. But I hated it. I hated most of the people; the games; the teachers; the school work, everything. So what I do, sign up for four more years in Nebraska. I earned a stellar student loan and a few friends I still have. Yeah me.

I’ve held jobs I invest myself in and some I haven’t. My Taco Bell career lasted two days. I just couldn’t. My Mills Fleet Farm career lasted nearly five years during high school and college and I actually loved it. Still do. The Mills family has sold the name and we have a shiny new Fleet Farm west of us and I’ve been there at least five times. Still love it. I mean, you can buy MRE’s; Carhartt; a gun; a Mickey Mouse blow up Christmas dealio, and some candy. What’s not to love?

I’ve invested myself to work hard for some people and some people I quickly told to fuck themselves (some took longer.) Once I realize that everything I’m investing into their success isn’t reciprocated, well…

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You know how this goes, yes?

I’ve been lectured by some people who are so fast to throw me under the bus that I kind of stare in amazement at their audacity to reality. Because at some point (hopefully), we understand that our investment in beliefs or people really aren’t serving us well anymore.

I call it growth. Or self preservation. Take your pick.

Fast forward to modern times. I’ve thought a lot about investing these last couple of days and I’ve come to a few conclusions. Mostly, I’m probably pretty selfish when it comes to things I invest in. And I’m okay with that. I invest in my marriage, first and foremost. Some days that requires a lot. The deposits seem to add up and when I go to make a withdrawal, I get an **account overdrawn** notice.  Truth be told, that probably happens to Matt too. Some days there’s a whole 100 bucks in the account and some days we’re down to a penny. That’s okay. If we do get overdrawn, it’s time to step back and figure out how we’re going to get to at least zero so we don’t have to close the account. Then we do, at least, so far we have. We make sure we don’t allow certain penalties into our marriage account; cheating (physical or emotional), disrespect, scary fighting. Rules to ensure we never step out on a ledge that we can’t get off of.

I, obviously, invest in my training. One of the more humbling realities these last few weeks is that I’m not in fighting shape like I was a few months ago and now I have a new coach whom I have so much respect for but feel like a big dufus because I’m missing so many lifts (at least I was. I’m responding quite well and coming back but still, humbling.) See, what I told him initially was that I was a hard worker. But when I’m missing weights that were warm up weights last year at this time, I’m embarrassed. I’m not showing all the years and hours of hard work that I’ve invested in to being a top performer in my class. (I will. Stand by.) When it comes time again to start throwing (it’ll be a while) I’ll invest in that training also. Physically and mentally, I invest in being the absolute best I can be.

I invest in people. Now here I’m just as selective as I am in my training or my marriage. I know we’ve all invested in people who have let us down. Those who we’ve continued to invest in long after the health of the relationship had passed. I still do it today, not as much, but I get annoyed when I don’t part ways with an unhealthy person sooner. The people I invest in are stellar. They vary in activities; likes and dislikes, and interests. But at the end of the day, they are some of the best people on the planet. My investing in these people make my life a joyful and fairly stress free one. I am always honored when others I respect and love invest their time in us. Years spent making memories together because they find value in this friendship also. That always means the world to me and especially poignant now because our next few weeks is scheduled to be filled with these people. Yeah life!

I also invest in ideals. Principals. Values. While I would categorically not consider myself to be religious, I do believe in God and his teachings. I believe in a moral compass that is built not just in Christianity but also in Buddhism and just downright hippy shit that the famous Coke commercial embodied back in the 70’s. I believe in other’s rights to have different beliefs and will mostly try to find some respect in their investment of those opposing views.

Basically, I understand being invested in something. I live it. I respect it. I work with it all the time. I walk my talk every day in my investments with very little worry. I’m confident that in nearly all cases, I’m on the right track. This is why I can’t fault those who have opposing views, because I believe they’re doing the exact same thing.

But (yup, there’s a but all up in this bitch), at what point do we look at our investments and say, Whoaaaaa there Nelly, you and I’s gots to part ways (that’s my cowboy speak of the post.) Because like I’ve said, we’ve all learned that we’ve invested in the wrong people or situations. Totally normal.

For example, there is an entire class of private High School students in Kentucky (in all honesty, I believe the public school system should be taken apart and vouchers given for education. What a fucking mess of a cash cow the American public school system is. Abolish it and give choice a chance) who have found themselves smack dab in the middle of a controversy of investments. See, some people invested their time and beliefs in the “fact” that these students had shown disrespect to a Native American veteran. But then, when evidence showed otherwise, those who had already invested so much time and energy into hating these kids couldn’t/wouldn’t back off their hatred because they’d already invested too much. Suddenly, adults are calling for some of these High School boys to be beaten; raped, and even killed. Because they are white and were wearing a hat that those same people say represent hate yet the only one’s displaying hate and racism were those people. I mean, really?

You are really so invested in what you THOUGHT was happening that you can’t back up and see objectively what the fuck you’re saying? THIS is your America?

Look, we all make mistakes. We all misjudge at some point and have to come back around and say, ‘oh boy, I screwed the pooch on that one. Mybad.’ That’s okay. That’s growth. When we start judging a group of people based solely on the color of their skin and what they’re wearing, well, geez haven’t we moved on from that yet?

If we love our country, we should also love our countrymen.

Ronald Reagan

 

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