Friday, December 11, 2015

The Era

I am most certainly at a weird age!! I think from 25-30 is generally a weird time frame, age wise, at least from what I have seen across the board.

Our high school friends who had babies are sending those little ones off to kindergarten/1st/2nd grade, high school & college sweethearts are married and have bought their first house, we mostly all have some sort of job or clearer career path, our identities are somewhat making shape, wedding invitations are growing drastically, not to mention hanging out now means a baby shower or bachelorette party. For the rest of us, we begin to fear crossing 30 with no husband, no children, no house, no job. It is almost as though this weight is peer pressure disguised as a cultural norm.

I have always had older friends, at least since high school. I am thankful to be the baby in my group of friends. I get a heads up for all these life changes at least a couple years in advance, however, that makes me the best and worst person to help them deal with the struggles of growing up. I am telling myself now, NO ONE WANTS TO TURN 30. It is the first age that you really do not want to turn, and from what I hear, it never really changes after that.

No one wants to turn 30 because they don't have a husband/wife, they don't have a kid, they haven't bought a house, they don't have the job they want, they don't have a puppy, they don't have a new car, etc. The problem is that no matter what you have, you'll always want something else or something more. How does that change from 29 to 30?

I cannot count on one hand how many of my friends have had the 30 year old life crisis. I am going to say every friend I have who has turned 30.

As a 25 year old, I would like to give my input, what you do with it is up to you, I suppose.

Over and over and over and over again, I remind myself that my mom was THIRTY-EIGHT (38) when she had me. As far as I know, I have no disabilities, after all, I am an engineer! Even when she had my brother, she was 34, and he turned out better than anyone I know. Okay, so maybe by 40 I will be worried about not having kids, but that is a distant thought right now. Besides, there is always adoption.

Okay, so let's talk about being married. Marriage is not on some check list to get done by 30. If anything, it is a life-goal. A couple of my other life goals include becoming a CEO and getting my pilots license, but I can tell you I have put a fraction of my time into those as compared to finding a husband. My point is, that you should not get married just to be married. It is about much more than that. Maybe you spent your 20's in the military or climbing Mount Everest or building your career that you missed the opportunity to be where your future partner was. Would you take that back? I wouldn't. God put you where he did, when he did for a reason. I am going to guess there are FAR more 80 year olds that have been UN-happily married than 80 years olds that are un-happily never married. Think about that.

Okay, the house thing. At my naive stage, I don't know enough about house buying nor do I have money saved for a down payment that buying a house isn't even on my radar yet and I'm fine with that. I am just not ready, so I guess I don't have that fear.......yet.

I guess you just need to be happy for what you have or at least don't make yourself sick if you don't have what you want. It is not completely in your hands.

Monday, December 7, 2015

A Gram of Beauty

"My personal theory is that a way to deflect a possible negative interaction is by starting a friendly interaction with the person."

This is a recent observation that my brother pointed out on his blog and it struck a familiar note.

To quickly recap his quote, he is a runner and was discussing how runners often say "Hi" or "Good morning" to each other almost in a way to establish a basic friendship of trust. I think this eludes to a recent situation in the town he lives where a woman was brutally murdered around the time he runs in the morning.

Within the past year, I met a woman, who for lack of better terms is what most would call "drop dead gorgeous". Everything from her composure to benevolence and ease of sparking conversation and drawing you in is 'on point'. Yes, it is intimidating to the average Joe, mostly because of her beauty and confidence, but she recently clued me in on a secret to her poise.

After months of growing our friendship, we were talking one night and I questioned how we even became friends. I mentioned something along the lines of my insecurities often coming off in an obtrusive manner and it's not like me to easily make friends with beautiful women*. In her nonchalant tone, she giggled and said; "Berea, #1 you know that you are one of those beautiful woman, right?! #2, I always have to introduce my right away to people who make me feel like that and make friends so that I don't feel intimidated by them." That, to me, was so powerful, like DUH! I guess it just clicked.

So when my brother made the comment I quoted above, it seemed very familiar to me. I'm not sure if it is just how we were raised and the same blood running through our veins or something that many people could learn from.

However you look at it, I can't help but revert to positivity. Enough said.


* For my friends reading this, please do not interpret that to mean you are not beautiful in every way, it was just as hard for me to make friends with you.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Positivity

It is amazing how you can change or influence a situation by your tone or tweek in a few simple words. I've always claimed to be "realistic" in my pessimistic under-tone, but I've realized this year it is actually quite draining for myself and those around me. I think I've always migrated towards a negative tone in an effort to prepare myself and others for the worst case scenario so that I can be happily surprised with the much-less-depressing outcome. That, however, is a big flaw. I don't think it is good to be so negative most of the time, and I hadn't even realized I was doing it.

I can't think of a good example at the moment, but I noticed a big difference when my boyfriend started saying "POSITIVITY!" to anyone who had a negative connotation in a conversation. I realized I was doing it more often then not. Since then, I've noticed other people who do the same thing and it is quite depressing. I have kind of hopped the train by pointing out "I like the positivity" in conversations where it is warranted, in hopes of the other party thinking "you're right". I have noticed it sets a better tone and mood in general.

This "positivity" rant comes on behalf of my participation in the #30daysofthanks hashtag on Instagram. I don't usually participate in those kinds of events, but I made an exception throughout November to show my thanks. I set a reminder every day to post a picture with a few words why I was thankful for that item, which is kind of sad when you think about it (not being able to remember to give thanks). Some days I would be excited to put up my daily thanks and some days, my alarm would come and go without a minute to show my thanks. (I think that only happened twice & I started on Nov. 2nd.) It was very refreshing to take that timeout each day, pick something I was thankful for, and explain to my viewers why. Sometimes, I would interrupt whatever I was doing to take the time for my #30daysofthanks and it would put me in a completely different mindset when I was done. It was very hard to limit myself to 30 things. About half way through the month I had to sit down and write what my plan was for the rest of the month because I had some key things I didn't want to leave out. I do feel guilty now for everything I didn't get to, but understand, I only had 30 days.

Long story short, it's healthy to give thanks every day.

"Give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good, and his mercy endures forever." Psalm 136

Monday, October 26, 2015

My 2nd Ultra-Marathon Crewing Experience

As most of you know, the first time I did support for an ultra-marathon was for my brother at the world championships for the 24 hour race in Italy this past Spring. I had never been to an ultra-marathon before much less "crewed", so I virtually walked into an ambush. It was embarrassing (see my "notes" from April of this year), so in an attempt to redeem myself, I signed myself up to help [crew for] my brother at The Fall 50, which is a 50 mile ultra-marathon in Door County, Wisconsin.

In the weeks leading up, as my brother talked about how his training was going and the effects it could have on his race performance, I was worrying about how my crew skills would effect his outcome. Believe it or not, providing support for a long distance race is somewhat of a science.

Let me give you the layout....
First of all, every ultra is very different from what I have gathered. Everything from the competition to the course to the race organization is different. At the 24hr world championships, the course was comprised of an inner loop and outer loop about a mile in total length, whereas The Fall 50 was a course starting at the tip of Door County and working its way down the peninsula. So, this time, we drove to each of the 10 different gates to meet Isaiah for a quick hand-off instead of being in a stationary location the runners passed every lap.
The top runners don't stop running, so they need nutrition and hydration easily accessible when they need it. Kelsey and I would arrive to a gate, prepare drinks and a gel shot, stand about 100-200 meters away from each other, then wait 5-10 minutes to see Isaiah. After a quick 30 second cheering/hand-off, we headed back to the car and on to the next gate. The day went pretty fast for us because we always had something to do except for the few minutes before seeing Isaiah appear in the distance. Navigating, refilling bottles, finding gel shots, parking, finding ginger gummies, finding clothing articles, etc, the van looked like we had been living out of it for a few months I'm sure. Isaiah, on the other hand, said it got really lonely and boring in between gates with no other runners or spectators.

This was the hand-off at gate 7, approximately 36 miles in.


Isaiah ended up finishing at 05:54:33, in 4th place, reaching both of his goals. Considering the rain and head winds on Saturday, he had an amazing performance and I am thrilled to have been there. Congrats again Isaiah!

Lessons Learned: (Mostly specific to my brother)
-Practice makes perfect....Even though this was only my 2nd time crewing, I learned SO much the first time that I did way better this time.
-Organization! You can't crew if you're discombobulated.
-Each water bottle is for a specific drink. Don't mix them!! I.e. Water, Gatorade, Pom juice, and coconut water.
-Communication. This could be a blog post of its own. I'm talking about communication between crew members & communication with your runner. If there is more than one person crewing, roles & responsibilities need to be discussed/defined. Like having a child, at the end of the day, the runner is most important. Communicating with your runner is most important and most difficult. In USATF certified courses, the rules are pretty strict, so you basically have one chance every 1-6 miles to talk to your runner. Meaning, the rules only allow you to provide aid at dedicated aid stations (AKA gates) or defined areas, so you can't stop anywhere on the course and hand-off beverages/food/etc. Some are even strict about when/where you can communicate with your runner. At the competitive level my brother is at, these runners DON'T STOP, so you don't have time to have a 30 second conversation and get what they need. You have about 5 seconds as they are flying by at 8-9mph. So, Isaiah comes by and says "pom juice and ginger". The next time you see him and have those things ready, there is a good chance he already wants something different. After all, he's had ~10min to think about it. Example; it was raining and he wanted his hat so he says "hat next". Mistakenly, I grab his skull cap, not the baseball cap he wanted, not to mention it had stopped raining & was sunny by the time he got to the next gate, so he didn't want his hat. This situation happened nearly every 6 miles, fortunately, I learned to prepare and have multiple options so I had what he needed.
-HAND SIGNALS!! Attention ultra-marathoners! Isaiah uses hand signals, which are SO helpful! When he is about 200meters away from us, he throws up 1, 2, or 3 fingers which each represents something he wants. That gives me about 20 seconds to get what he wants and he doesn't use energy talking as well as not getting miscommunicated.
-The pickier your runner can be, the better. I am talking about before the race as you prepare all the stuff for your runner, the more detailed and specific they can be, the better. Like wanting 6oz of water, not 10 and not 4.
-Help pack the supplies. When Isaiah packs, it is like a treasure hunt to find what he needs, which can be time consuming.

Room for Improvement:
-GPS tracking. It would be SO useful if Isaiah had some sort of tracking because we would arrive to a gate and not know whether he was still 10 minutes away or had already passed. Thankfully we never missed him, but it was definitely likely. For the first half, we kind of calculated his pace and distance so could figure out approximately when he would be arriving, but that got time consuming and less important after a while.
-Liquid ounce labeling. Isaiah would ask for a specific amount of liquid and quite honestly, it is SO hard to get the right amount, at least for Isaiah. Too much, not enough, etc. etc. Maybe in his head he can eyeball 6 ounces, but I can't. We already discussed upgrading his bottles for the next go.
-Better communication. Like headphone walkie talkies or a watch that has 10 options and he can just press a button 1-10 so we would know a little before what he wants.
-Cheering team. Two people crewing is good. One person could have the liquid and one could have gel, one can drive and one can navigate, two ears to hear Isaiah's requests, etc. However, it would have been nice to have more people there cheering for Isaiah especially along the parts where there weren't any people, because we didn't know if we would have time to stop or where to stop.
-Visual identification. Isaiah said he would get confused if we took off a coat or put on a jacket throughout the day because he wouldn't be able to pick us out. Next time we should wear bright vests that can be put on over any clothing independent of weather conditions and stick out from other people.
-I need to prepare for myself! Meaning, I could afford to have a spare bag for snacks/food/water and clothing. Weather changes during the day/night, so one set of clothes doesn't really cut it and food and drink sources are unpredictable. Not to mention the guilt I would have digging in to some of Isaiah's supplies.
-Since hand-off zones are regulated, we should communicate in between laps/gates. At a checkpoint, we would try to tell Isaiah how far behind the next guy he was and he was trying to tell us what he wanted to drink next and we were trying to cheer.........it was just a lot to say in a few seconds.

I can't wait for next time!!!

Final Results:
Male Participants
1.Zach Bitter5:17:25
2.G Anthony Kunkel5:38:13
3.Christopher Denucci5:38:35
4.Isaiah Janzen5:54:33
5.Tim Stieber6:26:58
Female Participants
1.Camille Herron5:38:41
2.Michelle Kurnik7:22:40
3.Jessica Garcia7:24:25
4.Erin Zerth7:36:19
5.Jessica Lemere7:40:49

Thank you Kelsey for putting up with me all day, navigating, being there for my brother, and keeping me company.Thank you to the Chocolate Chicken in Egg Harbor for the food stop! Thank you to Zach Bitter, Anthony Kunkel, Camille Herron, and Chris Denucci for being more of a motivation to me than you know. Great race to all of you, I really enjoyed watching/cheering and congrats to each of you, especially Camille for setting a world record. Thank you to the poor guy working at the bait shop about 6 miles south of Egg Harbor that had to deal with me running in like a nut job asking for hot chocolate and hot water and a cup. I'm sure I looked like a whack-a-doo (anything for Isaiah!). Thank you participants, volunteers, and friends who did not steal my sunglasses that I left on a boulder at the 7th checkpoint in Murphy Park for 4 hours.  Thank you to my parents for letting us borrow their van and lastly and most importantly, thank you Isaiah for being so awesome and doing things like this. I am certainly living vicariously through you, keep it up!


Monday, October 19, 2015

Re-Meet Berea

Hey guys!

Thanks for stopping by. I am writing today, because my post with the most views, Meet Berea, was written over 6 years ago, so I decided I need a re-introduction. When I checked this morning, it had more than 350 views and is the top result when you search google for "Berea Janzen". Regardless, I have changed and grown in the past 6 years, so here is my update.

I am a Senior Manufacturing Engineer at ABB, one of the world's leading companies in power, automation, and electricity. In layman's terms, if you have seen Iron Man 3 or Terminator Salvation, the big orange robots that make an appearance were built/designed by my company. I work mainly with production and operations to improve efficiency at our plant which assembles motor drives, along with some other electrical control products. I have worked here almost 5 years, starting with my first internship and holding 3 other titles.

I am a 2012 graduate from MSOE (Milwaukee School of Engineering), and hold my B.S. in Industrial Engineering. Getting my degree from a private engineering school was by far the hardest thing I've done, but worth the unspeakable amount of debt I am in because of it. Looking back, I am honestly shocked by how everything worked out considering in 2007 I would have never expected to now be an engineer. I have aspirations to go on for my MBA, but am beyond terrified of taking the GMAT. I have a hard time justifying paying $250 for a test that might not go well. So, that is a work in progress.

I get asked weekly where my name comes from, so if you do not know, maybe you are curious. Berea is a city in Greece, but no, I am not Greek. The name Berea comes from the bible and is now called "Veria". There is also a town of Berea in Ohio and Kentucky in the United States, which I occasionally get asked about, but my parents did not know about them when they named me. After stating Berea is a biblical name of a city in Greece, I usually get asked if I am Greek which turns into a conversation about me actually being German.

My immediate family consists of my parents (married 33 years) and my older brother, Isaiah. Together we lived in 5 different states during my childhood, mainly due to my dads career development. I have a very small extended family, consisting of 2 grandparents, 3 aunts, 3 uncles, and 4 cousins. One grandpa passed when my mom was 14, the other when I was a baby, and my grandma 4 years ago. My other grandma re-married, so I also have a "step" grandpa, but as far as I am concerned, he is the only one I have known, so there is no difference. Then 2 of my 4 cousins were adopted at a young age, but I grew up knowing them as part of the family also.

I also have a cat that I call my fur baby, Mika, a medium hair tuxedo love bug. I have had her about 4 years, so she is now 6 1/2 years old. I really try refraining from being a crazy cat lady, but there are not many better things than holding her after a long day, with her nails sunk in just far enough to say, "don't leave me", with her soft fur, and loud purr box. She has helped cheer me up many times.

Apart from the basics, I also have aspirations to move to a warmer climate sooner than later. I never thought I would stay in Wisconsin past college, so each year is a little surprising and depressing mid-winter when it is 0 degrees out with 10mph windchill and 3 feet of snow. It would be much easier to relocate if I did not have an amazing job. Until then, traveling will have to do.

Hope you have enjoyed reading!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Maybe it's the weather...

Maybe it's the weather, the season, the people. Who knows.

We are in the weird part of the year between Summer and a slew of holidays. Everyone rushing to get some time off to enjoy some peace in between tourists and Winter weather, which means reconnecting with friends because Summer months have been packed with activities.

I finally started reading a book my mom gave me YEARS ago about insecurity, a topic I am no stranger to, and it has certainly put me in a certain mood facing some personal issues. I am caught between looking out for #1 while not hurting everyone in my path and how to change without changing. I guess I go through these "who am I phases" like a roller-coaster and over-analyze aspects I've never paid attention to to a fault. I know I'm being extremely indistinct right now, so my apologies if you aren't getting anything out of this other than my vaguely scattered mind. I guess my best attempt at being more clear is to say, I'm feeling guilty about not spending time with people in my life, past and present, that are important to me. Along those lines, I have been spending a lot of time thinking about the relationships I am keeping up with to get a better sense of self. Kind of like football players watching their past games to see what they can improve on and then trying to change some aspect of muscle memory.

In other news, something happened to my iphone that made it inoperable for about 36 hours, while I took it in to get fixed. Can you remember the last time you went nearly 2 days without a phone? I guess after a slight panic attack, I decided how pathetic it was the reliance I put in my phone, that I needed to get over it. Every time I thought about something I "needed" from my phone, I took a second to remind myself that I would be fine if I never had that thing again and use my resources to improvise. Ironically, the most crucial items I would have missed if I didn't get my phone back were the sentimental things like; pictures, voice recordings, etc. Now that I have my phone back, I'm a little disgusted every time I open it up and think about how it is one of those things that easily gets taken for granted.

I also got the days of the week confused last night and made an entire batch of homemade tomato soup in a crock pot for a grilled cheese pot luck we are having at work Friday. I didn't have room in the fridge, so it didn't get saved.....:-\ So frustrating.....I'm too young for this.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Family

"At the end of the day, they will always be there for you."

At least, this phrase is often spewed from my brothers' mouth about our family when his little sister wants to skip an opportunity for a family dinner or holiday.

Sometime in high school, I vividly remember being told, to my face, that my family was weird. At the time, I was very hurt and probably even cried about it, but in hindsight, maybe I agree more than not.

Uncanny, abnormal? The Janzen's? Okay, yeah.

My dad? A pastor. My mom? On a mission to save the world. My brother? An aerospace engineer, ultra-marathoner, Everest hopeful, and much more. Me? A princess engineer.

Which of those left you speechless, judgmental, or very inquisitive?

My response if you were;
speechless - We aren't normal, but you aren't normal to us either. There is something to learn from everyone.
judgmental - You can't judge a book by its cover. Wait to judge until you meet us, we will surprise you.
inquisitive - Let me answer your questions before you ask. My dad is a LUTHERAN pastor, therefore he can have a wife and kids. (After all, God gave Adam, Eve.) No, he was not that strict with me growing up, my mom was more so than he, which balanced each other out quite well. Since he didn't become a pastor until I was a child, we moved a lot so that he could to go to seminary, do his vicarage, and then become settled, so my mom was never able to become established in her career of teaching. She is saving the world because she will do anything to help another human. My mom is the most giving person I know. As for my brother, he does everything. I can't even start a list because it would not encompass everything. He is incredibly humble however, so he would rather talk about you than himself and has a tendency to  underplay his many feats, so do me a favor and give him some positive compliments the next time you talk to him. Lastly, myself. I could talk for hours about myself, so just read the past 6 years of my blog posts.

Why would one think we are "weird"?
Yes, we had family dinner every night at 5:30pm (and I mean every night, until I moved out), we go to church every week, we joke about "Berea's mountain emotions" and my mom "shooting up" (in reference to taking insulin for her diabetes). We didn't have alcohol at any family function until after I turned 21, saying "oh my God", "OMG", or "Gosh" is not acceptable in our house, it is not uncommon for my brother to casually mention having been out of the country last week, or spending a family day together in an art museum, or getting Christmas presents from my mom that she got free with rebates, and the list goes on.

So, maybe we are weird, but I wouldn't trade them for anyone. It is certainly ALWAYS interesting in our family and I like it.

My dad has taught me about every aspect of life; from baptism, to marriage, to funerals. Like; being conscious of how not to slam the communion wine like a shot of alcohol, the only answer to why you want to get married is love, and how to deal with loved ones who have Alzheimer's. My mom has taught me a lot about life in regards to the morals she wants to teach me. Like reminding me that beauty and outward appearance is not important to God. My brother has taught me how to take care of my body and to "live your life".

So, thank you family. I love you.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Everest Review

Earlier this year when I saw the trailer for the new movie, Everest, after getting goosebumps head to toe, I texted my brother that I had to see it and preferably with him.

Just to re-iterate, my brother went to Everest in the 2014 climbing season to attempt THE beast, the tallest, Sagarmatha, Chomolungma, Peak XV.

Needless to say, I've been planning for months to see this movie with my brother. My whole life I've been following in his shadow; trying to copy him (or his blog titles), keep up, and living vicariously, so it comes as no surprise that I raided his book collection at some point and took a couple books that looked interesting or that he had recommended. (Mind you, the options were somewhere between mountaineering, running, and engineering related.) Point of the story, I ended up reading Into Thin Air. At the time, it was just a good read, but now, it means so much more. It explained Mt. Everest to me; like the geography, terrain, climbing jargon, death, and the overall tone of climbing the tallest mountain in the world. Turns out, the movie Everest was based on this book, so another reason I'm glad I read it.

The movie was based on the true story of the 1996 disaster on Everest when 12 people died, making it the deadliest season until 2014. Having not been to Everest myself, I thought it was a great movie. Had I not read the book, it would have been more suspenseful, but even so, it was incredibly dramatic as I remember my heart rate shooting through the roof at multiple points. I debated going to the bathroom a few times just to bring my heart rate down, but decided I couldn't miss any of the movie. It was nice going with my brother who was able to whisper things like; "the depiction of getting a helicopter above the Khumbu Ice Fall would be that crazy" and "yes, those bridges do exists" and "I took that helicopter from Lukla" as well as being able to nudge him when they mentioned about climbing without "O" (like he wants to do).

I watched the movie from the perspective of having HAD a loved one on the mountain before, so to me, it was really interesting to hear the raw things the mountaineers said that my brother didn't [want to] express to me. It also hit insanely close to home having the mountaineers' family's documented in the film. I guess I didn't realize the role I played in my brothers experience. To me, it was his spot light. At one point in the movie, the wife of Rob Hall was laying on the couch in the middle of the night wide awake & I vividly remember sleepless nights impatiently awaiting my brothers next update. Because of my own selfishness, I was rather happy to know his trek was cut weeks early due to the avalanche, so that I could sleep.

Death is real. I remember having the worst conversation to-date with my brother one night leading up to his departure for Everest. I can't imagine how my parents felt talking to their 27 year old son about the reality of him potentially dying on this mountain. I wanted to think he was smart enough to make good decisions, but I also know the mind games thin air can play on anyone. I think the decisions made in 1996 killed lives, but they were all justified to those people at that time. You just never know at 26,000 feet.

My thoughts post-movie are two-fold......
1- I don't want my brother to go back. The worst 2 disasters on the mountain happened in sequential climbing seasons, 2014 & '15, so what pattern are we in?
2- I want to go to Everest Base Camp. Just the journey there would be amazing and enough emotional havoc for me that I don't think I would have the urge to go through the ice-fall. No thanks. However, I would want to be there if my brother went back. Realistically, time & money will decide that.

"Thou shall have no other gods before me." Exodus 20:3

Sources:
Everest. Dir. Baltasar Kormákur. Perf. Jason Clarke. Working Title Films, 2015. Film.

Krakauer, Jon, and Randy Rackliff. Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster. Villard, 1997. Print.

Monday, August 31, 2015

TEN YEARS

Ten years ago today, we watched & heard about the destruction of some big hurricane that made landfall on the East Coast. To most mid-westerners, a hurricane is a foreign thought, much like ice storms in Atlanta, so I hope to share the event from a perspective of someone who witnessed Katrina aftermath first hand. 

To give some history, Katrina began over the Caribbean, worked it's way up Florida, over to the Gulf of Mexico, and up to Louisiana before dissipating further up the rest of the East Coast. It reached category 5 somewhere near Florida and by the time it hit New Orleans, was a category 3. As it stands today, Hurricane Katrina was the most costly hurricane to ever hit the U.S., coming in around $108 BILLION in property damage, according to the National Hurricane Center. 

It is easier to understand Katrina and its eradication by understanding the composition of New Orleans. Imagine the city as a bowl floating in a bathtub. At the top of the bowl; on one side is Lake Pontchartrain and on the other is the Mississippi River outlining the rim. To help keep the bowl from drowning, levees add additional height to the sides. Unfortunately, the wrath of Katrina was able to breach many of the levees and either flooded over them or broke them by force, essentially "flooding" the bowl.


Approximately 3 weeks after my 15th birthday, the nightly news my family watched devoutly at 5:30pm CST began to flood with Hurricane Katrina reports. The phrase swept the media as we sat in the Midwest, waving summer goodbye. Growing up, I have learned most people do not get the feelings I do, however watching the news day after day and hearing "Katrina this, Katrina that, Katrina, Katrina, Katrina..." made my ears bleed, figuratively speaking. Afters days, weeks, months of hearing and seeing the progression of Hurricane Katrina, I started to beg my parents to go help New Orleans. Don't ask me the miracles God worked, but somehow before I knew it, my family and I along with about 40 other Mid-westerners were on a coach bus headed to New Orleans to help with the reconstruction. 

December of 2005, 4 months after Katrina hit was when we went to help. The shock we had upon arriving in New Orleans was unimaginable. Initially, just seeing piles of abandon cars under the freeways, convenient stores that looked like they had been closed for years, and the Super Dome gated and shutdown was enough of a shock. We stayed at a church (don't ask me where) that had cots setup for us. The next day when we woke up, we split into teams based on expertise and were given our assignments. We hopped on the bus and headed to the first home we were going to "gut". Before arriving, we were driven around as a local from the church briefed us on what we were about to experience. 

Slowly, we started seeing houses with water lines easily depicting where the water stood after the storm. They began about knee height and before you knew it, the water marks were almost to the second floor. I vaguely remember hearing our leader mumble "respect the owners, this is their life..." as I fixed my eyes on buildings with large spray painted "x-codes/Katrina crosses/search codes". It was horrifying driving through neighborhoods, I will leave it at that. The areas we went into were still completely uninhabited and even blocked from entry apart from relief teams. 

I don't remember how many houses I helped gut, but I will guess ~4-5. Some, the owners were there, some they weren't. It was extremely somber. When we arrived, someone in our group would survey as much of the house as possible, since there were kids in our group, there might be things we just shouldn't find. Most often, the house was so destroyed, you couldn't even get inside without starting to clean. We wore white hazmat suits and surgical masks because mold had infested everything. The 2 most memorable parts of the experience to me were; the refrigerators and swinging a sledgehammer. The refrigerators were bio-hazard and had to be treated as such. They nearly all still had water in from the storm, believe it or not. The strong men would carry them out to the curb where we had begun a "garbage pile". After having one explode open and be the worst smell I have ever experienced, they started putting straps around the doors to prevent that. Secondly, sledgehammers. So, these houses were ruined from sitting in water for weeks that we had to empty everything in the house down to the bare bones structure. Ask my parents about watching me, as a 15 year old, swinging a sledgehammer 1/5 my weight at kitchen cabinets. Needless to say, my feet may have left the ground a time or two. 

It was heart-breaking to be around the homeowners. I could see myself in their shoes just knowing natural disasters can happen anywhere to anyone. You didn't want to disrespect their things, yet even their most personal belongings were not safe to keep, including picture albums or family heirlooms. They cried, and all you could do was say we were there to help them worry about one less thing. They thanked us profusely and explained they had signed up with 10+ organizations to help clean their house. The church we worked for was telling us about the HUNDREDS of people who had signed up for help.

While there, we saw a lot of the city. We stopped on Canal Street, because it was one of the few places with any people. It was touching that as we walked down the street in our matching "Volunteer Relief" shirts, the number of locals that thanked us. 
I think we found an open restaurant, Craw Daddy's maybe, and ate outside because the 60 degree weather in December was somewhat amazing to us Wisconsinites. It was the only semi-normal experience we had on our trip.

I visited New Orleans last year, in February 2014, for a work event of my boyfriends', which was my first time being back since 2005. I definitely had goosebumps most of the trip and many flashbacks about my first visit. It was astonishing how life has moved on since then, which is awesome. From what I heard, there is still evidence of the storm, but I'm sure they try to hide it and forget about it. Among us visitors, it came up a couple times in conversation about Katrina, but mostly shrugged off since life has seemingly moved on.

I certainly won't forget the lives I touched and that equally touched me along with the experience I had. =)

References:

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Inside Out

The recent movie, Inside Out, explained emotions very well, in my opinion. I think I need to watch it 2 or 3 more times to catch everything. It is so far beyond my understanding of how emotions work, how they differ between people, how to control them, and how to properly convey them as to be unbelievable. Regardless, I recommend you watch the movie unless you are a stoic person with zero emotions.

Drastically switching topics, I want to post my yearly rant on different political hot topics, namely; nationwide gay marriage passage & confederate flags. I say "yearly rant" because I usually hate getting involved with politics because I am not entirely educated on these subjects and can only provide my little slice of the pie. Besides; I am terrified of getting slammed by people that have opposite opinions when I really only mean to convey how I feel and am not trying to change the world into having the same opinions. Just to re-iterate, this is my blog, that I share with the world, to hear my opinions and discussions about the thoughts in my head and to give you a better glance at who I am. I encourage you to have your own opinions, but please be courteous of mine as well. Let's get to it...

1- Gay marriage. To keep this short I will only say a few things. First, I don't mean to judge anyone on their life choices. The sins I have committed (and continue to commit) are equivalent to everyone else on this planet and as a Christian, I know I am no "better" than anyone else and choose to repent those sins because of reasons too detailed to discuss here and now. That being said, I am Christian and thus my beliefs do not promote the unity of same sex individuals. My life choice is believing in the bible and God's Word and keeping his teachings as my core morals. I could write a lot more, but I recently read an article that captures the essence of my beliefs on gay marriage and aligns close enough to share with you. To read in full, please click here.

2- Confederate flags. In case I, or anyone else, look back on this post, there was a recent shooting in South Carolina by a 21 year old (accused white supremacy advocate) at a predominately African American church. (Google: Charleston Church Shooting). Anyways, as a spin-off, since the 21yr old had a lot of confederate memorabilia, it has become a nationwide issue of banning confederate flags from nearly every aspect of society. Most stores have stopped selling them, including Amazon who took down all of their confederate items. Enough back story...I can't say whether I agree with all of the societal repercussions happening because of this incident, but I can certainly attest to the southern cultural norm of confederacy pride, for lack of better words. I can't count the number of times I was called a "Yankee" while spending time in Memphis, TN last year. I found it extremely offensive considering half of my family did not arrive in America until AFTER the civil war and even though the "Yankees" won the war, I certainly DO NOT/HAVE NOT ever flaunted it. Since the war was 150 years ago, I really question why people want to represent a time period our nation has fought so hard to change and give us ALL the freedom we have today. The confederacy lost, and for good reasons we can all be proud of. If anything, those flags should be a reminder of what we already fought and conquered. I understand and can appreciate family history if your roots are from the South, but you also need to support the greater good of the future and decide what you want to represent for your children/grandchildren.


Monday, June 8, 2015

Confessions

In the past week, I've been asked 4 times (that I can specifically count) if I have lost weight. There is no easy way to talk about this and quite frankly, it is an awkward conversion to have with anyone in person, but that is why I blog. The easy answer is yes, but I have more to explain and talk about than a simple "yes".

I grew up wondering what my body genetics would turn out to be considering my mom has always been able to eat anything she wants and not gain weight and my dad could look at food and gain weight. By the end of high school, it seemed like I was taking my moms metabolism weighing less than 115lbs and standing maybe 5'4" tall.

I went to college and somewhere mid-way through, I remember stepping on the scale and seeing 148 pounds. Needless to say, I freaked out. Nine months later, I saw my brother cry for the first time when he caught me in the midst of my coping mechanism, what I can now admit was an [un-diagnosed] eating disorder. Seeing my brother have that reaction to something I was doing was enough to find a means to an end. Apart from my family, I have really only talked to 3 close friends about that period and maybe some day I will elaborate, but eating disorders are never really cured, so it is still a healing process. All I know is that I was not comfortable with my weight, wanted to eat anything and not gain weight, but decided there had to be a healthier way.

I slowly changed my eating habits and carved out the most unhealthy habits I had like; eating fast food daily, drinking soda, snacking before bed, and binging on sweets. Five years later and 28 pounds lighter, I feel like I am finally at a good place physically. So, yes, I have lost weight and I hope that losing 6 pounds a year is healthily acceptable. The image I see in the mirror may always be distorted, but the scale doesn't lie. I have spent countless hours thinking about food and weight, like most women, and don't want to fall into the trap of "freaking out" again.

Honestly, I'm not sure what a healthy weight means for a 5'5" tall woman, but to me, it means comfort-ability. Until recently, I was not happy or comfortable, so that is my answer.

I have mixed feelings when I am asked if I have lost weight. Part of me is ecstatic that it is noticeable and part of me wants to cry when I am reminded every time what I have gone through to make it here. Magazines make me seem fat yet getting the comment " you're skin and bones!" makes me feel unhealthily skinny. I get that everyone's perception is different and mine is likely also skewed, but again, I am finally comfortable and got here in a healthy way.

Thanks for your support and listening.

"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

10 YEARS in Wisconsin!

Hello internet!

It has come to my attention that I have not blogged about a very important event in my life. I have lived in Wisconsin for 10 years!!! If I am still here when I am 28 in January of 2019, I will have lived here half of my life, which I do not think I have ever been able to say before. However, that is 4 years away and I hope I live in a warmer climate by then, but I never would have thought I would have been here this long already.

The grass is always greener on the other side, so it will be very interesting to see my life in 10 more years!

That was my moment of "celebrating", now life goes on..

Monday, May 18, 2015

A-Squad

This post is dedicated to my very handsome, single, male friend, Francisco, aka Cisco. He is an eligible bachelor who recently ended his time in the marines, sniper platoon, after about 6 years. Although currently living in Milwaukee, he has seen the world and can't wait to share his experiences with a lovely lady. Cisco-thank you for your service and best wishes to finding a woman that can compare to you. I also want to say thank you to my boyfriend, James, who will be helping to upgrade my blog in the near future and provide professional web designers from his company to do so. Thirdly, my brother, Isaiah, I would not be writing the following post if it was not for you. You are my biggest motivator and inspiration.

I wanted to talk about running today...I am an amateur and frankly beginner runner, but after 4 successful, dedicated weeks running, I have some insightful reflections that you won't get from avid/professional runners.

1- I don't find running the hardest part. Meaning; my legs aren't killing and I have not gotten shin splints yet, which has always been an early running deterrent for me. I find breathing the hardest part. I also find it very easy to tell myself it is so hard that I should just walk and then when I have done my run and recover within 15 minutes, I realize I probably did not have to stop.

2- Allergies. Sometimes after I run (which I've only been running outside) I die of sneezing and watery eyes and then it stops within an hour. It is not every time and it is similar to other allergies I have, but I found that interesting. Especially because it does not start until after I am done running and back inside.

3- Whenever I see another runner, I want to cheer and say; "Keep going! You're doing great!". Especially people struggling more than me. Good for them. HOWEVER, I get some interesting reactions from people. Some men stop and stare then turn to watch me run away (which I don't appreciate). I have gotten a few high fives, which is awesome. I don't like running where there are lots of people, but it has its benefits at times also. Running at the lake is great for people watching and I must say, it keeps me from thinking about stopping.

4- Along with tracking my runs on Runkeeper, I've been keeping a "running journal". Most importantly to track what I eat/drink prior to the days run, how I feel during that run, and what the weather is like. I am interested in correlations, to find out what works for me and what doesn't with actual data and not assuming.

5- That feeling you get when you bend over to do something and the stretch you feel in your legs feels so good you stay there for a while. Also when walking/running up stairs and you feel like some 10lb weights you've had for the past 20 years have been removed because it is so much easier.

It is exciting to see my progression. From barely being able to finish a mile a month ago to shaving 6 minutes off of my 4 mile run. I am far from good, but each run helps in some way. I am about a month out from my 5K and I can't wait!

Congrats to everyone who ran the Green Bay Half & Marathon this weekend! You rock!


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Employment

I do not talk about work much on my blog because I am scared I might say something that does not represent my company in the way they want and get me in trouble. That does not discount the fact that I spend 45 hours a week "earning" a paycheck and working for the big man in Zurich.

Work is a funny topic for me. I probably relate to very few of you.

Apart from lawn mowing and doing office work for my dad, my first job was at Shopko when I was 16. Within a year, I went from cashier to service desk to customer service supervisor. Yes, I was managing people at the age of 17. Where do you put that on a resume? I left that job for college, and I still look back on it as one of the greatest learning experiences I have had related to jobs/careers. I was a waitress one summer, which was probably the most mentally difficult job I have ever had, then I was a cocktail waitress at a bar, which paid amazing and meshed well with my college habits and sleep schedule. During school, I worked at my college bookstore, which was the absolute best way to numb my brain after sitting in engineering classes all day and included 2 great bosses who treated me like their child. My junior year of college I got my first internship which has turned into the job I have now.

My internship could not have been better. I was on top of the world, getting paid more than I ever had, dressing up every day, getting up 4hrs earlier than I was used to every day, having freedom none of my other jobs had ever given me, and MOST IMPORTANTLY it affirmed that I wanted to be an engineer and finish school.

I always said that the day I walk into work unhappy was the day I needed to start looking for another job. In respect to jobs, I am an extremely positive person. My dad once told me something to the effect of having to make work fun or you will live a very long, unhappy life, so that is what I have tried doing. I also believe that you can influence your emotions based on how you decide to think. If you think "work sucks" and it is "boring", that is what it will be. I can't say I am that positive in all aspects of my life, but when I am having a bad day at work, I will complain about it and then think how blessed I am to have what I do.

I attended a retirement party recently for a fellow coworker and it was an eye-opening experience. He had 40+ years of experience and mostly with our company. A phrase that stuck with me is when he told the older generation to have patience with the younger employees. He said that we will make the same mistakes he/they did at one point, but you grow and keep making mistakes until you retire. He said that we all bring something to the table and have to be understanding of each other to grow as a company. Not any person alone can run this company and even older employees can learn from young ones. It felt good to hear from a retiree that he has something to learn from someone with such little experience because in many aspects I look up to him just like you look up to your grandparents because of their wisdom and worldly knowledge.

So I switched jobs at the beginning of the year to a different division in the same company and boy has it been interesting! Who knew it could be so different simply switching divisions? I went from knowing a lot to knowing very little and it has been hard for me. I switched jobs probably for the main reason that I didn't feel I was growing exponentially anymore. I was extremely comfortable and knew if I did not take the opportunity to grow elsewhere, I might be stuck feeling comfortable for a while. I think all of this stems from college and learning so much so quick so there is a void when that feeling is not there.

Every day is a unique experience and as much as we try to understand the course, we may never. Until then, I will try to keep learning. :)

Friday, May 1, 2015

Thank You Ford

Since I have had an influx of page views in the past month, it has motivated me to write more often. So, thank you for being here whether it is curiosity, boredom, or interest, I appreciate the audience. Also, thank you to my semi-famous brother for sending traffic this way. However, today, I am diverging from news updates on my brother...

It is no secret that I wish I was a race car driver. Mostly, it is just me dreaming and pretending, but come on, we all have dreams.

My interest in cars has been around for the majority of my able-to-remember life. Ask my parents how much anger it gave me riding in my mom's mini-vans or dad's 15+yr old cars. Although I am quite the diva, my anger was prompted by a passion, I guess you could call it.

Fast & Furious was my favorite movie series before the hype of Paul Walker...RIP. I remember the numerous times I watched the series in middle school, in my friends' basement, with the surround sound cranked. I now realize that was my first exposure to the Skyline (now GT-R) which remains the car I lust after.

Regardless, somewhere around that time, my dad bought a Porsche 924, which only enabled my need for speed and nice cars. (I might add here that my father actually got the car really cheap and had a friend restore it, although I like to pretend it was a million dollar car, his career doesn't really lend itself to buying over-the-top things such as a Porsche.) I was also the instigator in my brother getting his first speeding ticket in that car. (I'm sorry, Isaiah, it should have been me.) Also a major reason my 16th birthday didn't come quick enough. I even took special driving lessons, from my instructor, on how to drive stick so I could prove to my dad I was good enough to drive his car. Whatever the case, a little piece of me died when he sold the "Por-shuh", knowing full-well Wisconsin is not conducive to owning a nice sports car. I still cringe when I see people out in their sports cars less than "2 rains after the last snow".

February, 2013 was a great month in my book. My high school car, 1997 Nissan Sentra, broke down in the middle of an intersection and was beyond feasible repair, so I bought my first car. MY first car. For the first time in my life, I have a car I am proud of. It is far from my dream car, but a nice present to myself. Within 2 months of owning it, I was pulled over for speeding for my first time ever, but let off with a warning. I have surprisingly never had a speeding ticket or been in a major accident...I thank God regularly.

That leads me into another subject: types of drivers. I like to classify drivers into 2 categories; proactive and reactive. I'd say reactive drivers make up 95% of drivers. Symptoms are; not checking mirrors, not turning to look in blind spot, and thinking that everyone else on the road is attentive and good at driving. Proactive drivers are the opposite. Not trusting other drivers, constantly checking their surroundings, conscious of all cars around them and the speed they are moving, aware of near-by cars drifting or people on their phones not able to stop as quick, etc. I'm not condoning speeding (although faster speeds are allowed in Europe) however, I think speeding, to an extent, is safer when you are a proactive driver than reactive, but that is just my two cents.

Lastly, in the subject of cars and driving, I must talk about traffic patterns. I have been driving the same stretch of a major highway, in Milwaukee, for over 4 years. It intrigues me, immensely, trying to understand traffic patterns, which not to mention, varies from city to city across the globe. Looking at the smaller upper-midwest region of the US is plenty to try and understand. Things like on-ramps and why the person on the highway inevitably slows down for the person entering. Do you realize that causes the person behind you to slow down and so on until 10 cars back is braking and starts rush hour? If you keep going and cause the person on the on-ramp to slow down or stop, they can find a break in traffic that won't cause everyone to slow down. My favorite; people driving slow in the FAST lane. When I drove in Italy, it was awesome. It was essentially like frogger where the fast lane was a moving log you could only stay in for a second. If I pass you on your right, get the hint, MOVE OVER. And if you are going to pass someone, don't pass them going 1MPH more than them. I end up weaving through traffic because it is easier for me to criss-coss 4 lanes of traffic to pass 1 car, than build my anger and frustration waiting for a slow car in the FAST lane. I am frustrated just thinking about it. It also annoys me when people turn left when there is a no-left turn sign. (Although I do it occasionally, hear me out.) Those signs are 1- for your safety and 2- for traffic flow. If you are trying to turn left during peak hours, there probably won't be a break in traffic for you to do so and the 20 cars behind you are stuck when they are trying to go straight. Some guy actually YELLED at me for honking at him for trying to do that saying he was from out of town. Would you let an 18yr old drink at your bar if they said they were from Canada? My examples could go on for days, so if you ever want to hear me rant, ask about it.

Thanks for stopping by!

And for the record, I am not a Ford fan, but he did make the first publicly available car, so for that, I thank the Ford family.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Earthquake in Nepal

Just wow.

I don't know what it is with mountains, climbing, Berea, and emotions, but there is a correlation. Maybe it is just Berea and emotions, period.

The information I have at this point is far from what the outcome will be, but to give a background...

A large earthquake hit Nepal 2 days ago. From preliminary reports, it was about 7.8 in magnitude, the largest to hit Nepal in 80 years. The death toll is in the thousands and climbing (no pun intended) by the hour. Mt. Everest was also affected by the earthquake which resulted in multiple avalanches and already a high death toll. Since the major earthquake, there have been multiple aftershocks which have been nearly as bad as the first and certainly not helping with rescue efforts. I am no official news source, so that's about all I can speculate for certain.

My family is no stranger to natural disasters. Well before Hurricane Katrina in 2005, I would be glued to the television after any worldwide disaster. I remember begging my parents, even in middle school, to go help with the disaster relief.

I think it started sometime around 1st or 2nd grade when a tornado ripped through my town of 1,200 people and destroyed a family friends' farm. My family (along with half the town) assembled to help clean-up what we could on the farm. I really only remember grabbing debris and throwing it away, but I remember emotions were high....
Fast forward to 2001, my crazy family visits the World Trade Centers within 2 months before they were attacked. I begged and pleaded to go help, but for one reason or another, it wasn't feasible.
Four years later, Hurricane Katrina made landfall. For weeks, I told my parents, "I want to be there, I want to help". My dad happened to mention it to the right people and Christmas break of 2005, I was on a bus to New Orleans to help with the clean-up. It was a life-changing experience.

One year ago, my brother was on Mt. Everest during the worst avalanche in history, up to that point. We had the "death" talk before he left and it was the elephant in the room that "would never happen to him" kind of thing. Waking up in the middle of the night to a text asking if my brother was alright was a "throat in stomach" moment. I was able to quickly learn via Twitter that he was alright, which was all I wanted to hear. They stayed on the mountain only a few days, long enough to decide climbing was pretty much canceled for the rest of the season and he began his nearly week long trek of the mountain, back to Kathmandu.

I can't imagine backpacking off of a disaster on Everest, only to another disaster in Kathmandu.

#1- I've thanked God many times in the past 2 days for keeping my brother here safe this month. #2- I've thanked God many times in the past 2 days for being able to sleep knowing my brother is safe. #3- I've prayed many times in the past 2 days for the families and friends of those in Nepal this week. A disaster like this is just so far from the imagination of most people who have never experienced a disaster. Thousands dead, houses destroyed, friends and families injured, no source of food, no source of medical help, no shelter. That just begins to describe my attraction for helping with disaster relief.

When the avalanche came down Everest last year, it was the most deadly event on Everest until this year. Two years in a row, a major disaster like this...!!! I mean, come on....

My prayers are with you Nepal.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Endorphins

I've spent a lot of time over the past week reminiscing on my experiences in Italy and the impacts it had on me. In no sense do I want to detract from the actual heroes (runners) of the event, but for the small audience interested in my story, that's why I'm here.

I have said this multiple times to different people in the past week, but being amongst hundreds of runners, I felt fat and lazy at best. My only claim to a healthy lifestyle is participating in an annual sand volleyball league for a few months of the year which usually lends itself to more social drinking than fitness. I am enough health conscious to not be over-weight and I know that's saying more than many, but it's nothing to be proud of.

I struggle with 2 things. #1-I am a horribly competitive person and HATE losing. Okay, who doesn't but I think I am on the extreme end. I have gotten in a lot of fights with friends and family because I am a sore loser. Not only do I get unreasonably angry when I lose, but I then avoid situations where I could lose again, more often then not, making me a quitter. #2-I have always struggled with self-image issues and physical fitness certainly plays a role in that. I don't feel like going there today so that's all I will say about that.

One point of this post is to express the admiration I had for all the runners in Italy. Little did they think or care, but each one of them is so far beyond my limits as to be unbelievable. Do I think I will ever run a 24hr race, no, but it was motivation that I can and should run.


So, I've started running again. The first run was hard. I was bad and slow. I was coughing for hours after. My legs didn't even hurt to give me feedback it was worth it. However, for the first time since high school cross country, I have the urge to keep going. Only because I've quit so many times. We will see how it plays out, but I know I'm better than that, I just have to prove it. I've set training goals, I've set a race goal, I'm tracking my runs (and physical feelings). I don't want to quit this time. 

Moral of the story; thank you runners. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Note: Part 3 (Medical & Team Staff)

As a preface, for those of you unfamiliar to what I am talking about in this string of posts, I attended the 24 Hour World Championship Of Ultrarunning in Torino, Italy. Reason being; my older brother qualified for it as the #2 spot on the USA men's team. I will spare the details, because each part is dedicated to a specific person/group who knows the circumstantial details of what I will be addressing.

Here are the links to the other parts:

This part is to the medical & team staff-

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!

For helping my brother feel better, encouraging him, making him smile, & coaching us on what to do with him. Let's not forget the mental coaching you did calming US. I'm sorry.

You did wayyyyy more than your job description and not only are the athletes thankful, but so am I. Between relaxing Isaiah, making him smile, telling us what his body was lacking, and putting up with me for 24 hours, thank you.

To the staff for driving us all over Turin, I really appreciate it. Transportation can be such a nightmare in foreign places, it was nice to have you there and keep us coordinated with the athletes.

Thank you for all the supplies you bought. The pizza for us, the athletes food, THE TOILET PAPER, the water. It was incredibly less stressful not having to worry about those details.

Thank you coach for being awesome. (I don't like mentioning people's actual names on here.) You did amazing coordinating everything, and so much more than I even know about. Logistics, statistics, mentality.....you just always knew the answer. I can't say thank you enough for your dedication, you are awesome.

Hopefully next time I won't need to rely on you all SO much, but know I appreciate all that you did.

A Note: Part 1 (Brother)

As a preface, for those of you unfamiliar to what I am talking about in this string of posts, I attended the 24 Hour World Championship of Ultrarunning in Torino, Italy. Reason being; my older brother qualified for it as the #2 spot on the USA men's team. I will spare the details, because each part is dedicated to a specific person/group who knows the circumstantial details of what I will be addressing.

Here are the links to the other parts:
A Note: Part 2 (Fellow Crew)
A Note: Part 3 (Medical & Team Staff)
A Note: Part 4 (Lessons Learned)

This part is to my big brother-

I'm sorry. Foremost for not coming to more of your races when I really could have. Secondly, for not knowing how to "crew".

I'm proud. To see you with your team and how much you bonded. See you representing Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin (to name a few). That you can do so much more than me (& most others). To see you run for TWENTY-FOUR hours through the pain and still be so positive. That you have a more caring heart than I do and that you finished the race.

I'm thankful. For all the lessons you teach me and realizations you make me face. For being a great role model and simply that YOU are my brother.

Please don't be disappointed or upset with the race results. You fractured your leg mearly 6 weeks ago and had no where near the training you would have had under normal circumstances. For basically zero training............how did you even get to 80 miles? You did more than many healthy people WITH training! I guess I'm just saying, like I always do, don't be so harsh on yourself.

I hope to share more experiences like this with you and learn each time so I can be the best support possible. I also learned a lot this week and hopefully you can see it through these notes. I'm actually pretty excited to crew for you again so I can do a better job.

Love,
Berea

"Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." Hebrews 12:1

A Note: Part 2 (Fellow Crew)

As a preface, for those of you unfamiliar to what I am talking about in this string of posts, I attended the 24 Hour World Championship Of Ultrarunning in Torino, Italy. Reason being; my older brother qualified for it as the #2 spot on the USA men's team. I will spare the details, because each part is dedicated to a specific person/group who knows the circumstantial details of what I will be addressing.

Here are the links to the other parts:
A Note: Part 1 (Brother)
A Note: Part 3 (Medical & Team Staff)
A Note: Part 4 (Lessons Learned)

This part is to the fellow crew members of the USA athletes I spent the 24 hours with-

You all know it was my first time as "crew". Isaiah won the North Coast 24 with no crew and I had no idea why that was a big deal until this week. When he asked if we'd be his crew, I thought he meant for us to come cheer for him. How was I supposed to know what that really meant? I virtually didn't know anything until a couple hours in. Please forgive us for being uneducated, in your way, needy, unorganized, frantic, or anything else that we were.

Thank you for everything. For giving us salt tablets, gel packs, shot blocks, and everything else we didn't have prepared. Thank you for being patient as we learned and teaching us the tricks. I honestly felt dumb compared to you.

Sorry for running into you a million times or standing in front of you when your runner was coming before ours. I learned its a team effort organizing that many handoffs. I promise to be better the next time we meet.

You all did a great job and taught me a lot. Is it okay for me to say how sore I am today?! :-/

Thanks again and let me know where I can post my pictures to. I have some great ones of most of the runners & crew!

Hopefully I'll see you before 2017, if not, I'll see you then. :)

A Note: Part 4 (Lessons Learned)

As a preface, for those of you unfamiliar to what I am talking about in this string of posts, I attended the 24 Hour World Championship Of Ultrarunning in Torino, Italy. Reason being; my older brother qualified for it as the #2 spot on the USA men's team. I will spare the details, because each part is dedicated to a specific person/group who knows the circumstantial details of what I will be addressing.

Here are the links to the other parts:

This part is recapping [some of] the lessons I learned-

I learned many things......
1- I will definitely help pack Isaiah's supplies next time. Thankfully we had a big backup supply for the team, but there were many things Isaiah requested on the spot that were never discussed.
2- I will probably invest in a mifi or something similar. I had many friends and family wanting live updates that I couldn't really provide unless I was standing in the right spot at the right time with my phone at the right angle.
3- I learned there needs to be better communication within a crew as far as job responsibilities. It was just my mom and I crewing for my brother and it didn't work well. Who prepares the food/drinks, who hands them to him, who watches for him, who cheers for him, who decides what he needs, who runs to the middle of the course to check on him or cheer for him, who changes him? There needs to be order and organization. It would also help having a "runner" to get his water bottles or any other errands needed.
4- Ice, ice, ice. Hot water, hot water, hot water. Depending on the temperatures outside, food/drink temp. is important.
5- I will dress more appropriately also. It got really cold in the middle of the night and really hot during the day. Needless to say, I was not prepared. Also with my shoe choice, but it could have been worse.
6- I want to start running again. Easier said than done, but there are many reasons for this also. It's rewarding, it's good for you, there are always different lengths and goals, it's positive, and many more. Watching all the runners made me feel fat and lazy. I was also asked about 3-4 times if I was a runner simply because "I look like one". Quite honestly, that's half the battle. Another reason is because the Germans killed it at running and I've got a lot of German in me. Perhaps that contributes to my brother being a professional world runner as well. My biggest struggle is giving up. When I'm bad at something, I give up too easily. In order for me to be a successful runner, I need to be invested and find motivation. I have the determination when I set goals, so maybe I'll start there. Isaiah, feel free to give me crap about not running, that motivates me.
7- Find better phrases to cheer and learn what Isaiah needs to hear at different points.
8- Keep track of all items given to Isaiah and better stats. I only got the first 5 hours.

There may or may not be more to come....

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

No News is Good News

There isn’t much new in this neck of the woods, which leaves little to be excited for and little to complain about.
I’d say the biggest item looming right now is a trip to Italy I have planned for April. Why? My brother won a spot on Team USA for the World Championship 24 Hour Race! I’m not sure if anything surprises me with him anymore. I mean, from the moment he graduated high school and left the house, I don’t think he’s stopped moving since. Regardless, I am beyond excited to be heading to Italy. Bring on the cheese, pasta, fashion, art, cars, and don’t forget the jet lag!
In other news, my boyfriend and I celebrated dating for 2 years over Valentine’s Day this past Saturday. I don’t normally talk about my boyfriend on my blog, but I would say 2 years is blog worthy :-p. It has been a happy 2 years to say the least.

Thanks for reading everyone! God bless!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Jamaica Mon

My list of “countries visited” grows to 5 as of this past week. After a long-planned vacation to Jamaica, I am back to the cold frozen tundra. After I recap the trip, I’ll tell you some things I learned.

We were there for 7 days and 7 nights. (We being my boyfriend, his twin, his girlfriend, and another couple.) The first couple of days, the weather was slightly less than ideal, meaning it was overcast and lower 70’s, which was slightly too cold for me to lay out under the sun. (However, I would take that over snow and cold any day.) So, we went shopping at a local market/mall and ate a lot. We stayed at an all-inclusive resort, but left the resort multiple times for different “excursions”. My first excursion was a rafting trip. Our tour guide was really funny and the trip was fun, however it ended in a downpour of rain, which wasn’t horrible since we were already wet and it was still about 75 degrees out. The next adventure we did was a snorkeling trip where we were taken to a coral reef and got to swim around in the deep sea. It was REALLY cool just floating with the ocean, watching the fish, and fighting the current. I certainly got my work out that day. The snorkel trip ended with a visit to Margaritaville where they had a slide leading to huge inflatable trampolines and such in the ocean. Minutes after getting out of the water, we saw a sting ray glide through the water where we had just been. Finally, our last day there, we went deep sea charter fishing. After 5 hours and only 5 smaller fish, we docked and ate our catches at the local yacht club. I will mention here that we also saw dolphins swimming alongside of us.

Each night at the resort, there was a different type of entertainment. One night happened to be “Miss. Iberostar” (the name of the resort), in which I was unknowingly signed up for. After a brief warning and some preparation, I won all the events, however, I ended up getting 2nd place because the other girl was with an entire wedding party and the winner was chosen based on crowd applause. Quite the entertainment regardless. The other nights were spent at similar entertainment events and eating even more.

The rest of the time was filled with laying by the pool/beach and sleeping. It was great.

Now for the learning portion. Immediately after exiting the airport, when we arrived, I almost had a heart attack that we were going to get in a car accident because, as I learned, they drive on the left side in Jamaica. That took quite a while to get used to. The leading industry in Jamaica, I would say, is tourism. It was fascinating to hear that each position at the resort had a special title in which the individual had to take schooling/training for. I was even asked what an engineer is.

Jamaica is an odd mix of wealth. On the right could be a tin house and on the left could be a huge resort with marble pillars. I was surprised that for such a small island, there was a ton of open land. Goats roamed free, as well as feral cats and dogs. The rum was plentiful (one of their biggest exports) and I learned that although Jamaica is known for its marijuana, it is still illegal. I saw very few (less than 5) overweight men. American currency was more freely accepted and welcomed than Jamaican however, if you didn’t have exact change, they would round up. I also think that half of the population of Canada migrated to Jamaica for the winter. Burger King bought out all the McDonalds down there and Harley Davidson, for some reason, was quite popular, although I didn’t see any Harley bikes. Typically, the work week consists of 6, 7 hour days, followed by a 7th day off. I also learned from a bus driver that Jamaica gained their independence only about 50 years ago. Their native tongue is Patwa, but everyone I encountered spoke fluent English.


All in all, it was a good trip to the Caribbean. In my quest to visit more countries, I’m not sure I would go back soon, there is still so much of the world to see! 

NEW

I have been the NEW person enough times in my young life to lose track. I moved a lot as a child that I semi knew what to expect being the new kid at school. In hindsight, moving was always bittersweet. 
The good: leaving behind unpleasant people, exposure to change, new opportunities, expanding knowledge base, getting to meet new/awesome people, access to previously unavailable resources, starting fresh (learning from mistakes you once made), etc.
The bad: leaving behind awesome people, having to re-establish relationships, starting fresh (first impressions), learning unfamiliar things, having to change, making new mistakes, being the “low man on the totem pole”, etc.

Being the new kid at school is very similar to starting a new job. I have only been working (paying taxes) for the past 8 years, which is less than some of you have been at your current job, but I’ve held my fair number of positions throughout high school and college.

Being new will never get old.

It hasn’t yet.

Being new is really the concept of adjusting to change and since this world has a bazillion variables that could change, it is hard to adjust, and that is just human nature. It is also human nature that things that are hard are often not pleasurable and avoided, meaning that people usually avoid change, if possible.

The point to this story is that I started a new job at the beginning of the year and as with any new job, it has its pluses and minuses. Thankfully, it seems like most/all of the minuses are short-term. (To that, I ask myself; “how long is short-term?”)

It has been hard re-establishing myself. Although I only moved maybe 30 feet and I’m still with the same company (different division), there are a lot of differences! A whole new team and structure, different processes and procedures, new responsibilities, and the list goes on. It’s amazing I’ve worked in the same building with some of these people for 4 years and have never met or worked with them. I had someone say something to the effect of “since you’re new to the company, you wouldn’t understand”. It’s hard starting as the new person and lowest on the totem pole in my immediate group.


Again this time, I am learning many things I will change next time and many ways I won’t treat future new people. Stay tuned. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

High Risk, High Reward

My brothers recent blog post inspired me to write a "counter-post" from my view.

If you don't want to read the whole article, he basically highlighted his findings and tribulations for starting a new company, which he attempted in 2008. Although I have virtually NO entrepreneurial experience, I have some educational knowledge and a whole lot of exposure via my entrepreneur boyfriend to the world of owning a company. I'd like to share my thoughts.

First of all, there are many different categories of businesses, so comparing John Deere to Apple to Nana's Corner Store is as far apart as comparing can come apart from general business principles. However, in Economics, we are all familiar with the phrase "goods and services", so I like to begin there with a dividing point for businesses; 1- businesses that provide a tangible object and 2- businesses that provide an intangible object, per say.

I'm not here to teach economics, but I do want to list some things I've learned about entrepreneurship.

1- To run a company, you must be invested. Don't run a company on a "good idea", run a company on something you are willing to miss Christmas to see succeed.
2- Have confidence your product/service is THE BEST there is. Actually, don't have confidence, you need to actually believe yours is. If you think someone else has a better product, you [probably] won't succeed.
3- Starting is the hardest part. You need time and money. By time, I mean a minimum 40 hrs/week and by money I mean initially a disposable  $10,000 (roughly).
4- You won't have time for hobbies, entertainment, or vacations, but you'll need them. No more painting, working out, snow boarding, hunting, fishing.......you shouldn't have time for these if you are truly invested in your company, however to keep sane, you should find time.
5- You will have to know all facets of owning a company. If you have a bachelors degree in rocket science, congratulations, that didn't prepare you to understand payroll, business taxes, operations management, patents, etc. Oh, and sooner or later, you'll need a lawyer ($$).
6- Network. You absolutely need every resource in the book. Whether it is someone who has been through what you are going through or a perspective client or a potential business partner, just network. "It's all about WHO you know." TRUTH.
7- Foreign labor is cheap. Foreign transportation is not. Decide how you want to run your company.
8- Be able to make decisions. Decisions under pressure, long-term decisions, hard decisions, you'll face them all.
9- Set Goals. Weekly, monthly, long-term, short-term, etc. Set high goals and obtainable goals, optimistic and realistic. The most successful people set goals, I can't remember the statistic off the top of my head.
10- Read. Read NPR, Forbes, any business journal or entrepreneur book.

I'm not saying these are going to make your company succeed or that these are the only factors, but they are certainly elements to consider.

On that note, in the near future, I don't plan to start a company because I don't have what it takes.