Monday, May 23, 2016

Mount Everest 2016

I have been so busy as acting PR manager for my brother, Isaiah, that my own blog has been the dismal, ignored, ugly, step-brother. I will get to that in a moment.

Between working ~50hour weeks, trying to make new friends in a new city, and following my brothers' every step, my free time has been near zero. Where to start?!

As I make more friends here, I am finding out how many local cultural norms I do not know. They are all subtle ignorance's, but make me look unintelligent in a group of people. Most of the time I just smile and nod and keep my mouth shut so I do not look/sound dumb then ask someone later what the context was. On a positive note, that means I am meeting more people and learning new things! My apartment has a pool, which is the best decision I unknowingly ever made. I am actually getting a real tan and have only been at the pool the past 2 weekends. I cannot remember the last time I was able to say that in Wisconsin in May. Needless to say, I love it! So, even though that is what I am doing with my free time, it is all in the name of meeting people, like my neighbors.

Work has been absolutely nuts. Two short months ago, I was one of about 5 people working at our new facility and now our parking lot is nearly full every day. It has been so exciting seeing it come together, but let me tell you how challenging!! I absolutely love my job, so working my first 13 hour day was not as depressing as it sounds. I have been wearing every hat possible, meaning I have been doing every and any role necessary to ensure customer satisfaction. Out of all my new coworkers, I have been with our company the longest, which means I know many things that no one else knows. Every detail counts. It is all very exciting including the fact I hired my first intern and have another starting in a couple weeks. It is beyond satisfying having a "mini-me" as well as getting to reminisce about my internship experience and how I can create that experience for my interns. Thank you dad for suggesting I take notes! Those notes are GOLD now.

MY BROTHER! My dearest, overachieving, extraordinary, big brother. Isaiah Janzen, in all his glory, reached the SUMMIT of Mount Everest this past weekend!! As I watched his progress throughout the day on Friday I became increasingly more excited and nervous as I watched his GPS tracker tick closer and closer to "Mt. Everest". Shortly after 4pm CST, I realized his GPS placed him on Hillary Step. I was sitting in small town Mississippi, behind my work computer, on the edge of my chair, watching my brother climb through "the death zone". Around 5pm, I felt like I was watching the slowest/longest golf game in the planet, immensely more suspenseful. By 5:30pm, I had everyone in the office painfully watching his GPS and by 6pm, we were all cheering when we saw Isaiah at 29,029ft followed by a Twitter update that he was on the summit. My immediate thought; "Okay, you can come home now". I updated Facebook to let the world know of his great accomplishment and received 200+ notifications over the next few hours from friends and family across the world celebrating his success. Getting up is one thing, now getting down is the other. I won't rest easy until he is home!

Those of you who know my brother, knows he stops at nothing. I am so proud of him for accomplishing this feat. This is a defining moment for Isaiah as much as he will likely down-play the seriousness and extremity of the situation. I am so proud to be his sister! What is next after climbing the tallest mountain in the world?! Only one person can answer that and I'm sure he'll find something.

On a serious note, putting this all into perspective, I want to offer my deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the 4 people who lost their lives this year on the mountain. Nothing is certain up there. It has been a painful, sleepless past few weeks knowing the danger that awaits its next victim. God bless!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Southern Yankee

I saw a funny newspaper article titled "Southern Yankee" yesterday while walking downtown Memphis. It has been somewhat of a culture shock from time to time living down here, but it's why I took the opportunity.

You get so stuck in your bubble that anything unfamiliar seems like a death trap, or at least oddly bewildering or unacceptable. It is weird being on the other side of the fence. For example, I had quite a few laughs when living in Wisconsin and explaining the "norms" to a friend who moved there from North Carolina. Obviously, it was easy to say he was the "weird" one, but that has quickly become me in my new home.

I mean none of this in a bad way, actually the opposite, but I am trying to enlighten you.

So let me tell you some things I have found interesting in my first 2 months living in Tennessee. The state roadkill is the armadillo. I am totally making that up, but I forgot that I haven't seen an armadillo in probably 10 years. Fire ants are a real thing here as are bees the size of a quarter. I forget that I have a different accent than everyone down here, so when I say things, I am often asked to repeat it a few times and visa versa. Not to mention I can literally feel the southern accent pulling on mine. I will say a word and almost not be able to pronounce it because I am using half my northern accent and half southern. I also get stared at when I talk in public because people know I am not from around here. I got passed by a Sheriff going over 90mph on the highway. Confederate grave yards are a real thing as well as Confederate pride. The Memphis Grizzlies are by far the biggest point of pride for everyone in the surrounding area. College sports and Greek life are HUGE. So, I am now a Grizzlies fan, Ole Miss fan, and Redbirds fan. Along with Packers fan, Badger fan, Brewers fan, and Kansas State fan. In other words, my team never loses. I am a "ma'am" or "miss" or "darling" and don't say please and thank you enough. I have not made the switch from "you guys" to "y'all" but I am sure it is in my near future. Recycling has not yet become a thing here. Oh and smoking in restaurants and bars is still a thing. Being part of or knowing someone on a BBQ cooking team is a must. And yes, I already took off the Friday after opening night to the national BBQ cook-off in Memphis because that is also apparently a must. Many gas pumps are missing the part that you can latch the gas nozzle causing you to HAVE to hold the pump handle the entire time you fill, which I haven't quite figured out yet, but I have some theories. I have been told everyone vacations here during the summer because it gets so unbearably hot. All of the fun activities happen late April through early June because the weather is perfect. Liquor is not sold in grocery stores like it is in Wisconsin. You have to go to a liquor store, which is inconvenient probably for the better. "Sin" tax is no joke as a 12 pack of blue moon around here sells for ~$18 (unlike WI ~$13). There are no [strict] laws on window tinting because of the deathly heat. I think that's a good start.

It has been incredibly fun and at times interesting learning these cultural norms. Thankfully it takes about 2 sentences out of my mouth for people to get the fact I'm not from around here. :-p

It continues to be a fun journey and I'm so glad I made the decision to move!! I still look forward to visitors!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


I am just kidding, the correct title is: Memphian.

Here we are!! I have officially been living in Memphis almost 3 weeks! I feel like I should copy my brother; "I Live In [Memphis]: Week 3", but, I don't want to put a date on it.

WOW! Everyone has been asking me; "So, what's new?", "How is Memphis?", "How are you doing?", "How do you like it?". 

You guys......I am so delighted to tell you, I love it! My first week here, I had 6 visitors mosey through my abode. SIX people in the first 8 days of moving to Memphis! Needless to say; I was a little overwhelmed!! Moving to a new city, hostessing, planning a move, dealing with no furniture, not knowing the city...but I have the most awesome support system, it all worked out. As overwhelming as it was, every moment was so enjoyable, I would not have wished for it any other way.

My mother helped me move, and boy did she help! My mom is SO CARING, it is insane to me at times (in a good way). It was so re-assuring to know that she was here to help with anything...literally, anything. My mom raised me to be independent, so I felt less-obligated to entertain her and did not stress as much leaving her home alone during the first week. Thank you, mom! Since I arrived on the weekend, it was so helpful having her here merely to keep my thoughts straight, accompany me on store trips, explore the city, etc. I know I can have quite the 'princess complex' attitude at times, but she can deal with it better than anyone I know. Mom, you are the best. I'm sorry for treating you way less than you deserve. 

While she was here, 2 other friends stopped by. I am so glad they did. They are the type of people to say; "hey, we are leaving Milwaukee now, see you in 10 hours", and actually show up the next day. I LOVE IT! Thank you B & S for coming!!! I can't wait for you to visit again, because I will actually be settled and able to take you around, however you are the best people to hang out with during the awkward; 'what do I do in a new town', phase. THANK YOU!

While my mom was sleeping on her last night, I had 3 more girl friends come into town. My mom left and my girl friends were right here to fill the void. We had the best weekend. I got to go to Graceland, experience Beale Street, Rendezvous, and I got to find out my boyfriend had different plans than expected for our relationship. Three years, down the drain. That's where I'm at. 

I am in a seemingly great place given the circumstances. I never dish this kind of stuff, but at this point, I have nothing to lose. Our relationship hadn't been in a good place for a while and I can't explain it, but we weren't 'meant to be'. I am just glad we came to those terms now, rather than months into a marriage. It is very hard losing a close friend regardless. In the big scheme, I just lost all my friends moving across the country, it is just crappy circumstances to cut every cord. I am making it sound more depressing than it really is. I have been so busy at work (which I don't mind at this point) and busy decorating my house that I haven't hit the "oh my gosh, I don't have any friends" phase.

Everyone here is so nice! I walked into the grocery store today and had a group of girls compliment my sweater. Then, the guy at Starbucks couldn't even take my order because he was land-locked with my hair. <3 I love the attention, but I feel like the meanest person around here, not saying "ma'am" and "y'all".  I love it. Southern hospitality is no joke and it's contagious.

I feel obligated to talk about the weather. IT'S AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Snow and cold is a thing of the past and summer hoodies now become my winter coat. I am so overjoyed, I can't even explain. I am happy here, there's not much more to say. 

Thank you everyone for your prayers, I am having a great transition. I look forward to hosting you all as I slowly build my fortress in the south.

Take care Y'ALL! ;)

Friday, March 4, 2016

If I Won the Lottery...

Which won't happen because I don't gamble, but IF I came across a large sum of money, this is what I would do.

  • NOT quit my job. I love my job enough to do it because I don't have to. 
  • Donate 15% to God
  • Pay off my student loans
  • Pay off my best friend, J.D.'s student loans
  • Pay off my brothers student loans and Mt. Everest debt (as well as his next Everest trip)
  • Buy my parents a new car, that they never would
  • Buy my parents a vacation, that they never would
  • Give my parents a lump sum of money in payment for all they have given me
  • Take my best friend, A.H., on a 1 month, all-paid vaca to Europe including lost wages for pulling her away from her job for that long
  • Go back to Vegas with my "Vegas girls" for an all-paid trip
  • Buy my boyfriend a jet 
  • Buy my brother a Tesla
  • Get my parents anything else they want
  • Take a month to knock out some items on my bucket list
  • Buy myself a GT-R
  • Buy a vacation house somewhere
Doing the math, all of this would only cost under $6 million, including taxes and assuming I don't retire. So, who wants to fund me? :-D

Friday, February 19, 2016

Going Through Changes

Boy am I going through changes!!! Turning the pages and flying through the chapters...

First of all, I haven't blogged about this yet, but I'd like to take a moment in remembrance of my Uncle Dennis who past away last Thursday, February 11th, 2016. Obituary here. After months of suffering from Esophageal Cancer and complications, I am glad to know he is in a much better place, but that doesn't make it much easier to comprehend or accept.

The news came on my last day of a 10-day vacation in California. There is never a good time to lose a family member, but especially not in the situation I found myself. I am not talking about being on vacation, I am talking about having to leave less than 48hrs after getting back from vacation to start my first day of my new job in Memphis, TN. My first day of work happened to fall on the day of my Uncle's funeral. What to do? Before you judge me and call me cold, you can't possibly understand unless you were in my shoes. I told myself if this happened, I wouldn't miss it for the world, and I missed it. With all these moving pieces, I am living my life hour-by-hour.

So, I get home from my California vacation, begin to face reality, mourn my Uncle, pack for 10 days in Memphis, catch up on 10 days away from e-mails, run errands, and etc. I trudged through the daze and hopped on a plane Valentine's Day to begin my new job. Sitting on a plane that was de-icing, in 20 degree weather, for an hour, on Valentine's Day, knowing I wasn't going to be with my family for the funeral was heart-breaking. I can't count the number of times I choked down tears in the airport having every emotion in the Berea handbook.

Finally arriving at my hotel, sleep was the only thing I wanted. When I opened the door of my room, I was greeted by a bouquet of flowers and a love letter from my boyfriend. Needless to say, it meant A LOT.

Monday was rough; putting on a face for my first day at work while torn inside thinking of my family. I manage to get through everything, so that's what I did.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-2

Monday, January 25, 2016

See You Again

It comes with great excitement and long anticipation that I am proud to announce, I am moving to Memphis!

You are probably wondering a million things, so let me try and answer them quick and dirty, then I'd like to talk about the personal aspect I have been dying to dish. 

-I am moving because I got a new job with my current/same company. 
-Feb. 15 is my start date & they'd like me to move ASAP. 
-I will be leading a project dealing a lot in Milwaukee, so I will still travel to Milwaukee through June. 
-My official new title is Production Development Specialist, which is a fancy term for Sr. Manufacturing Engineer. 
-Yes, my cat is coming with me! 
-No, my boyfriend is not, however he is 200% supportive of my decision in lieu of my career. We have a plan to make things work long-distance, so that's all you should be concerned with. [Turns out, "make things work" means "we're done."]
-It is warmer there!! The 7 day forecast shows over 60 degrees (for January). 
-It is in the same time zone. 
-I visited Memphis quite a bit in 2014 for a project, so I am semi-familiar with the area. 
-I have begun apartment searching, but will do more when I'm there in February. 

Those are the basics.  

My feelings:
I AM SO EXCITED!! My impatience, lack of fear, affinity for change, are all characteristics that helped make this life decision. Most importantly, for the past 10 years, I have complained about Wisconsin winters. I have agreed with the phrase "if you hate it, why are you here?" for far too long. This is me standing up and doing something about it. I didn't exactly go searching for the opportunity, but it found me and said; "Hey Berea, I'm here. Are you coming?".  I couldn't say no.

I had my mind made up the day I found out about the opportunity. After the shell shock, my subconscious had a 20 minute conversation about the positives & negatives, but at minute 21, I vividly remember thinking "Berea, are you kidding me? You have to do this." End of story. I knew. 

All too often, I get into conversations with people wanting to do more. When I talk about my brothers' life adventures, the usual comment is "I wish I could do that." What are your limitations? What is the consequence of exceeding those boundaries? As much as I hate cliche sayings; "never say never". 

I am not moving as an excuse for an escape, rather to challenge my comfort zone and learn MANY new things. I am perfectly content with what I have and where I am, but contentment is not progressive. Fear of change is the biggest road block I face in my career, so if I am advocating for change, I need to understand its challenges in order to sell the change.

My fears:
-Leaving family
-Leaving the best friends I've ever had
-My job not meeting expectations 
-Living in a southern state (and getting the Yankee comment all too often as well as the [slower] pace of things and being called ma'am). 
-Not being amongst Packer fans
-Driving 9+hrs with my cat 

Not to sound rude, but I don't need your advice. I will be fine. The positives outweigh these fears and I have contingency plans for all the above. My family loves me, friends will come and go, and I won't have to wonder "what if".

What I ask of you:
Please text me whenever! Probably a lot at first, but I will really need you 1, 2, 3+ months in. Just say hi, tell me you miss me, whatever. Our relationship won't be the same, but I promise I will always want to hear from you! I have moved enough in my life to know when I'm out of sight, I'm out of mind. I will hold no animosity when your life moves forward without my presence because mine will too. 
I want you to visit!! Just give me a slight warning and I promise I will be the best hostess! 

I made this decision because if not now, when? This is the best time to do it.

I ask that you send me Spotted Cow, Packer's swag, and cheese. No brats or snow please. 

Stay tuned for my Memphis adventures! There will be more to tell. :)

Monday, January 4, 2016

2015 Finale

Happy New Year!

Let's start with some 2015 stats:

I took a personal record number of vacation days = 20.875 days
     (The previous highest was in 2014 at 13.5 days)
I visited 2 new countries: Italy & Jamaica
My salary increased 10.4% over my 2014 salary
     (Thanks to a job change followed by a promotion to Senior Engineering)
I spent 44% of my weekends outside of Milwaukee
I visited and stayed at my parents house the most since college (6 visits)
I experienced Las Vegas for the first time as an adult & didn't gamble once
I was at Lambeau for the retirement of Brett Favre's jersey
Experienced the warmest September in Wisconsin's recent history & no snow until Dec. 28th
Stayed up for more than 24hrs for the first time since my college era (for my brother's 24hr Ultra)
Surpassed 1,500 posts on Instagram

On a more personal note, I don't feel like my year was as exciting as the stats show! How is that for pessimistically high standards?

Even though I took an exuberant number of days off, I traveled to less places that my previous 2 years. I think taking 3 major trips was the reason for the vacation depletion. I spent more time in fewer places than less time in more places. I also traveled much less for my new job, as I only took 1 trip instead of 6. I like traveling so that was a big bummer, so subconsciously I must have made up for it on my personal time.

I also had much less pressure from a work aspect this year. Since it was my first year in my new position, I didn't have years of knowledge weighing on my shoulders, like me leaving would not remove a fraction of daily functionality for the rest of my coworkers. In previous years, I had always been moderately stressed about leaving work and the consequences of missing events or knowing important information that no one else did. I've got to say, both are hard. In my case this year, it makes me nervous about my necessity and the age old, 'do they really need me?', question. However, I think it's bad for a company to have employees that have hidden knowledge that only they know. Considering on a day when we had to let 7 white collar employees go, HR called me in to say how my work is much appreciated and recognized across management when none of my coworkers got the same praise was reassurance I am still needed. :)

I became quite the movie buff this year. I didn't keep track, but I must have seen a record number of movies this year. Some of the most notable and highly recommended, in no particular order, are: Everest, Secario, The Big Short, The Hateful Eight, The Martian, Mad Max, Ex Machina, Inside Out, The Longest Ride, Southpaw, Furious 7, and Entourage. Also highly recommended non-movies are; Making a Murderer and Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show.

Although our official 'dating' didn't begin until February, this NYE marked 3 years that I have been seeing my boyfriend, which feels like a huge milestone surpassing my past relationships. We did many things together and independently this year which I feel makes a strong relationship. I am also proud to say he had a great year as an entrepreneur making many tough business decisions as well as getting to visit his work force in the Philippines. I read a book recently that gave the statistic that by 2018, 80% of wives will make more than their husbands & although we are not married, I will probably not make more than him in our careers, but it is certainly something I aim for!

In conclusion, I would like to leave you with some of the goals I have for 2016, maybe you can hold me accountable.
Take the GMAT (& tentatively/ambitiously get accepted to grad school)
Take more management training
Visit 2 new countries
Buy a pair of Christian Louboutins
Keep my weight under 121lbs consistently (I maxed at 124 this year)

Thanks for reading!!