Home Office

The Cowboy told me at least two years ago now if not three .. this was shortly after we first met but well after we knew this was such a good thing .. that if I would consider a move to South Dakota, he wanted me to have freedoms I wasn’t able to enjoy in the past. That of a flexible life and schedule. A career where I could pursue any number of my passions and do so from the solitude of our acreage or wherever else my work might take me. He and his dad would build me a small office, a space all my own out here on the acreage. It wouldn’t take any time at all to put up, he told me. His dad builds steel buildings and this would be a quick and easy project. All I needed to do was say the word.

Years later, families combined under one roof in one state and some long overdue repairs and remodeling done to the house to better accommodate us all, the office has now become our focus. I couldn’t be more grateful.

Before the snow started to fly last November, we re-roofed our old red barn with used tin found on Craigs List (I say we, loosely. The Cowboy and his dad tackled the majority of that project. So glad it’s over. So is the Cowboy’s mom who couldn’t stand to be over here watching her husband and son 30 feet in the air working on it.) Since then, the cold winter kept any work in the hayloft at bay. But we are feverishly back at it.

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We recently found more cool, old tin from the Stockyards in Sioux Falls for some of the interior walls.

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Sioux Falls Stockyard Steel Panels

And a farmer just down the road has been planning to burn his old livestock barn to the ground. We’ve gone and pulled boards to use for trim and another interior wall.

Insulation has made the loft remarkably comfortable and drywall is going up where barn wood and steel panels aren’t. I’ve saved an old light fixture to use in the space. Friends offered to part with two old windows from their grainery, we’re using those too. We found the coolest old tailgate to turn into a desk. I talked with a friend tonight who’s an auctioneer and let them know we’re looking for a couple of old wood cabinets I might use for storage.

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It may not be in the time-frame we initially talked about. But the delay allowed us some wonderful opportunities to do things differently than we might have otherwise and make use of a great existing space. It also allowed me to start building a business that is now ready for a little more elbow room.

For each step of this journey – with the Cowboy, with my daughter, our families, friends, even my ex, my career, faith and life – incredibly humbled and grateful.

 

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“Just Trust”

Love all, trust a few.

The word, trust, has come up quite a bit for us today. The Cowboy and I had a conversation about trust first thing this morning in regard to a project we’re working on together with someone – and that what we’re counting on from this other party, will happen. Trust came up again later today in regard to an article I’m working on, that I’ll do right by the people involved in it because it’s a genuinely sensitive issue.

In the midst of another interesting discussion tonight. The words, “you just need to trust .. ” were part of a lengthier text we received a few moments ago.

There are reasons, that after years .. heck even days of working with someone, living with someone, knowing someone, you just know that you can trust that person. Wholeheartedly.

Or, that you can’t. Sometimes trust goes away with one incident. Other times, no matter how many chances you give a person, no matter how much you love them or want to believe things will be different this time around, trust is just hard to come by. Why? Because they’ve shown you time and again they can’t take responsibility for their own actions or tell the truth, they’ll screw you over for fun, for spite, to get ahead or .. for really no good reason at all other than a lack of empathy, if given the chance.

Trust – and respect – need to be earned. Not demanded. And I’m amazed anymore at how often people feel these two things are a God given right. Mistrust, more often than not, doesn’t just happen. For no good reason. Heads up.

Can it be earned back? Absolutely. Do people change? Of course. But trust is a biggie. And re-gaining it doesn’t happen overnight. Or, just because someone tells you you should.

There isn’t a morning that goes by I don’t wake and put every ounce of trust I have in the Lord that people all over the world, and in our own circles, will do right by each other. When that doesn’t happen, which is often the case, I trust there is a reason we have yet to learn. And we try again tomorrow.

Embracing Change

“If we can recognize that change and uncertainty are basic principles, we can greet the future and the transformation we are undergoing with the understanding that we do not know enough to be pessimistic.” – Hazel Henderson

I love this quote.

Down the road

A lot of people reflect on their lives this time of year. We go back and ponder what it was we had hoped to accomplish over the past twelve months and what our dreams might be for the year ahead.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel we’ve had time to think about much of anything other than where we need to be next and what needs to get done for the holidays – not until this past weekend, anyway.

The house was completely quiet for about 24 hours as my daughter had taken off for the last half of Christmas break on a trip with her dad. The Cowboy’s three came back to the house last night. This past weekend was the first we’d been home, had down time and pure calm to just think and be still in months. And in the quiet of the morning yesterday, I began to reflect, on all has transpired over the past year.

I did my best in that moment to keep my mind from wandering into what my hopes and dreams are for 2014 because I wanted to contemplate what, if anything, we had actually accomplished this past year. Was it all I was hoping for? Could I have done more? How have we adjusted? Where exactly are we now? What does any of it mean? I don’t know but I’ve done my best to live by the above quote and remain only optimistic about whatever lies ahead.

We have, I believe, accomplished a lot. As a family. Blending homes is not an easy task. Given what others have told us, what I’ve observed with the advice we’ve given, I think we’ve tackled it with about as much grace, patience, enthusiasm and understanding as any family I know.

Career is a different issue. And, I’m thinking a lot about it right now because in the quiet of this past weekend, I came to realize it truly has been a year that I’ve been away from my previous job. One that I love(d) despite all it’s flaws and crazy schedules and demands.

Studio

I signed off the news desk a year ago this week. There are so many reasons I have not looked for a similar job here in South Dakota, all have had to do with family and wanting, needing more flexibility at this point in our lives. But, “Do you miss it,” is a question I am asked often. I do. And here’s why:

1. The people – the news business is home to some pretty interesting people who get into doing news for very different reasons. Whatever the reason, it’s this crazy pool of a) young, hungry, at times misguided and naive but driven, interesting young professionals who often have a vision of what the world is or who are at their core curious about everything. If you get the chance to watch them over the years, it’s interesting to see how life experience changes their perspective on storytelling. b) Those that have been in the newsroom for a lifetime who get fired up by few things anymore, but their knowledge of the market can’t be replaced. It all makes for a wonderful, quirky, fun loving yet dysfunctional team that everyday, many times a day, meets deadlines and gets the job done. You can count on them. You have grown many times to count on these folks to be there for you and let you know what’s happening in the world. Even if you don’t feel it’s relevant to your life and you’d rather complain about them than change the channel.

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2. The people – not just those you work with but those you have the absolute pleasure of being able to go and interview each day. It can be anyone from the President to a transient, community leaders to criminals. And they all have a story worth sharing, something we can all learn from if we’re only willing to listen and spend time with them.

3. Piggybacking off of that, no day is the same – anchoring was about as predictable a day as anything in television news and while I never thought I’d want to be on the anchor desk as a young, hungry reporter who had dreams of being a foreign correspondent, I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity. It allowed me to best help raise my family on so many levels. A sincere thank you to Tom Bier, Larry Frost and Jim Harmon who saw enough potential in me to first put my mug on the air.

4. Gifts of food. Into to the newsroom. It was like no one had eaten in weeks. Devoured. Gone.

5. Having a beat – not everyone loves having a beat, but man it allows you to really dig into something and become knowledgeable enough you can hang with the best of them on it. You can talk extemporaneously about it and not rely on a notebook when you really know what you’re talking about. Beats seem to be going by the wayside with the downsizing of newsrooms – everyone has to be a bit of an expert in everything. Also fun in its own way. But if you have the chance to pick up a beat, I encourage it.

6. Tight deadlines and being able to walk away at the end of each day, knowing your job was DONE.

7. Free hair styling, makeup and facials. Wow, do I miss that. And boy could I use at least the latter again. I had never had a facial until it was part of the contract with the last newsroom I worked for. Wow. Facials. If you’ve never had one, they are awesome. Go get one.

8. Somewhere to wear all the suits I’ve built up over 20 years of reporting/anchoring. Rural South Dakota’s not really a mecca for professional attire. I’m still not 100% sure where my work life may lead me so I’m hesitant to give them away just yet (says the girl more inclined at the moment to throw on insulated coveralls before heading out the door than a 2-piece from Ann Taylor).

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9. Editorial meetings and the debates every day about what people would most want to know if given the choice between stories. These were always interesting, small brawls.

10. Taking sometimes hours of meaningful conversations and turning them into a relevant, informative 1:30 minute story others will find interesting enough to stay tuned to your channel. It’s not easy. It’s not perfect. But it does fill an important niche in our daily lives and can have a tremendous impact on community – when it’s done right and with the right intention.

What is wonderful is there are many ways one with a passion for people, storytelling and community building can find or create unique career opportunities. It’s been fun exploring what those might be, embracing all of the change and uncertainty of a new life and career.

Wishing everyone the best in 2014.

The Greenhouse

The Greenhouse here, it is quite a big operation for a very small town.

The Greenhouse

So, each spring, when all of the new plantings come rolling in truck after truck, the call goes out for help.

Spring plugs.

Spring plugs.

“How did you end up out here or even know about this place?”

The question was asked of me, as I was working alongside several women last week, all have been with the Greenhouse some 20+ years.  They’ve all essentially, been with the place since it opened and they were surprised I even knew about it, given I told them I had only moved to the area recently.

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I told them the Cowboy had taken me out to the Greenhouse last spring to introduce me to the owners (friends but also customers of his), to reassure me there are amenities in South Dakota that I also enjoyed back home (which I was worried about, and I thoroughly enjoy gardening), and to give me the opportunity to dig in the dirt around his place and get a few new things planted.

I loved the place.  And apparently the owners noticed, as we left with a two cartloads of plants, flowers and vegetables for the garden.

“Don’t expect me to water any of this,” the Cowboy said as we loaded everything into the back of the truck.

“I don’t,” I responded, adding, “But that just means I’ll have to come back for more….”

A year later, I am back.  There will be plants going home with me again in the near future. But for now, I’m helping plant, prune, water, hang .. whatever is needed while I also work to get my own business on its feet.  Even then, I may still hope for and love a few hours at the Greenhouse when I can get them.

……………

I know of a few friends who think I’ve lost my marbles.  Working at a greenhouse?  I know of at least one other person who feels I should not necessarily go back to exactly what I was doing before, but something along those lines that would have me earning the same paycheck because, well .. just because that’s what this person expects me to do.

I decided long ago, it shouldn’t matter necessarily what others expect of me.  Unfortunately I’m not always great at sticking to that theory, and sometimes you just can’t.  Like when you do have a job, a boss, customers, a family at home .. all those things do need to be considered.  Because they are part of your team.  But outside that circle, well ..

Let us not try to be the best or worst for others, but let us make every effort to be the best for ourselves.” – Marcus Garvey

I, right now, am feeling really good spending time at the greenhouse.

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It’s almost like that sabbatical I have heard so many others, mainly higher education professionals, physicians and clergy, talk about and take.  A time and place that offers you the freedom to just be.  To think.  To regroup.  To dream big or ponder all the problems of the world and how you might help solve them.  All the things I have been hoping to find time again to do.  Digging in the dirt the past few weeks has allowed me to dig a little deeper into my soul and really start churning up what I’m made of and better think about/define what it is that makes me tick.  What will make me grow.

Working at the Greenhouse has also reminded me of a few other things I now realize were lacking in my former career and day to day ..

Finding inspiration.

When is the last time you thought outside the daily grind?  Got up and asked yourself if you are happy doing what you do?

Asked yourself, “What inspires me?”

I have a feeling most people don’t ever ask that of themselves, because if they did, that might mean they would have to do something about it.  And most likely it would be life changing.  That, is a scary thought for some.

My brother, among others if I had to guess, believes I am a bit nuts I’m quite certain because of all this.  Because I have been asking myself this question for years.  (Not if I’m nuts.  Inspired).  I still am asking, in fact and perhaps have lived my life and career a bit more this way than he feels is healthy.  He would never leave his job.  He never has.  There’s too much security in staying that far outweighs any other issue that might exist.  But I’ve always told myself in regard to career, that if heading off to whatever is helping pay the bills doesn’t inspire me, it’s time to move on.

I came to this conclusion among other reasons, after watching my most awesome parents who I just love to pieces work and work and work and work and work for years in jobs they appreciated but didn’t necessarily love.  And then shortly after they both retired and were to ride off into the sunset and do some really cool things, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and passed away.

Life is too short to not find inspiration in the things you do everyday.  Personal or professional.

I’d recommend asking yourself.   Like now.  Before the years have passed you by and you wished perhaps you had done things differently.  In the meantime, I’m a big fan of Penelope Trunk and have had the chance to know her even a little bit.an interesting read on the topic (agree with it or not):    http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2012/08/27/how-to-find-inspiration-at-work/

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At the moment, I’m inspired by working with a former colleague on a new webpage for the business I have decided to start.  Even if it’s a small business on the side of something else.  But I’m pretty sure, if I work hard at all on this, it will turn into something wonderful.  (This is despite the fact I just spent another half hour looking at the latest job postings.  I’ve been told by an old friend and career coach to never stop looking.  It’s good to keep your options open.)

It’s not a micro-brewery.  Not yet anyway.  That’s a dream for a few years down the road.  Not a coffee roasting facility either.  I had been thinking, how can I go wrong with two of the things I love most.  #Buylocal is the trend (so is the hashtag, sorry had to use it) and there are few local breweries or coffee roasters that I can tell throughout in South Dakota.  Like, anywhere.  And I miss good, local, on tap, cold hearty beers as well as rockstar coffee shops with locally roasted beans every mile or so.  We’ve talked about opening a boutique and looked at properties in the area for a storefront.  I’ve dabbled in some design and woodwork.  We met with friends who were encouraging us to look at a screen printing business due to another idea I have.  It’s been a couple months of throwing it all on the table and in the midst of it looking at what else still might be out there.

While logistics of any and all of it are getting worked out, the Cowboy said to me recently, “Remember the greenhouse I took you to last year to pick out some flowers?  I got a call from the owners today.”  (They are friends and the family, shoeing clients.)

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“She wants to know if you might like to help with spring planting,” he adds.  “They could use some help.”

Crisis or opportunity?

“I can’t believe you’re leaving your home and your job,” a friend said to me in December after I had given formal notice I was leaving.  “That seems like such a scary thing to do, especially at our age.  What do you think you’ll do?”

Stay with what you know, or ..

I don’t know, I told her but I’m certain the right thing will come along.  If it doesn’t, I’ll create it.  I’ll have to.

At 40, I am (among the masses out there who are) starting over in many ways, with life, with career and with family.  And while that may seem scary to some, I am among those who choose instead to focus on all of the opportunity before me to create the best possible life.

……….

In moving to South Dakota the beginning of January 2013, I did everything possible to give myself a month of downtime .. to regroup, to think, to make conscious decisions about what I wanted to come next in life and career, to dream, to putz, to have a glass of wine in the middle of the day and not worry about being on the clock somewhere, to take care of my daughter and make sure the transition was the best that could ever be possible, to get paperwork organized (you know, all those files you keep saying you’ll get to), make sure address changes were going through, really ground us in our new home, life, marriage and family, to go through boxes of ‘stuff’ I haven’t looked at in years, pitch the old and make room physically and emotionally for all the new in our lives.

After a lifetime of being on the constant go, constant work, always trying to do more, earn more, do better .. I wanted one month.  One month.  To regroup.  Heal.  Center.  Ground myself in our new home.  Take a walk, not a run.  Then.  Then, I thought.. the resumes I have been sending out will certainly have found their way to someone, some company I am a good fit for.  Some opening that’s currently posted.  I’ll have found a great new job working of course, for someone else that is also a great fit and I’ll get at it.

2 1/2 months later, with the right job, the right fit and the right opportunity still somewhat elusive .. perhaps that isn’t what He has planned.

Perhaps the path I am to be on, the one I’ve been sifting and sorting through, dreaming about, narrowing down, passionate about and getting nudged toward is becoming much more clear.

Help wanted: Someone who can …

There are about 10 topics I’d like to write about given the events of the past few days .. 9 of them serious, and one totally frivolous but life changing.  For women anyway.  I swear.  About shaving.  A fun fact my own mother never knew, but that I feel .. now that I have had the knowledge handed down to me, I should pass on .. especially as my own daughter starts to consider whether or not she has enough hair on her legs to start.

But I haven’t had time yet to really sit down and write about any of them.  The pace has been non-stop for days.  I think that’s what happens before you leave on vacation in general.  But it’s also because, it’s just been ridiculously busy.  Spring seems to be that way every year no matter what, doesn’t it?  I don’t know why.  Can’t put my finger on it.  But it is.  And I know I’m not alone in feeling this way ….

Regardless.

Because of how busy it has been, the overarching thought in my head the past 3 days has been:

Living on caffeine and out of my car too often ...

(sorry for inside glimpse of my coffee mug .. just painting the picture here)

I would really love a personal assistant.

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I work in a business where you have to be incredibly self-sufficient to get done what you need to everyday.  Not always.  I am surrounded by great people who are hard workers and get a lot done that, I won’t lie, in turn, helps me look good each day.

Don’t most of us, really, in some capacity have that as our scenario?  We’re part of a team that comes together to produce whatever the product is for our business.  Each day.  That’s just what teams do, to be successful.

But like any profession, mine happens to be news… there’s a lot of individual responsibility.

I’ve always managed it.  Not as well as some others.  And far better than some others.  But I’ve managed.

When I look back, I have worked – hard – relying on my own performance since I was probably 12.  I delivered papers.  I mowed lawns.  I babysat.  I worked in a feed mill.  In a cornfield de-tassling.  Shearing Christmas trees.  Waitressed (much of my adult life) for years where I – at times – was the only server on the floor.  I know how to get a job done.  I can and will do what it takes to get a job done.  And I take pride in doing it well.

So when I left news for a few years, went into another profession and was given an assistant to work with ..

I had NO idea what to ask of this person.

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I went overnight from having only a reporters notebook, a desk phone, a computer, a small quarter cubicle wall big enough to maybe post a few snapshots in a tiny shared workspace, a deadline daily and people that shouted across the room to each other when they needed something to get done – and now .. to two beautiful, spacious offices, a long range multi-million dollar fundraising project, all of the electronic devices I might need to make that happen, access to some of the most influential people in the field I was trying to raise money for .. and, an assistant to make it all happen.

“What can I do to help you,” my awesome assistant (and he really was) would sincerely say.  Daily.

I had no idea what to tell him.

Ever.

Until …. that is, the day the lightbulb went on and I realized how much better two working together could be .. how much more I/we could get done .. how he could potentially help with the monumental tasks at hand .. behind the scenes .. taking care of the always important little details that I hate dealing with .. so that in turn, I could do what I think I do best and that is focus on the big picture… and that it was okay to ask for help.

But by then, he was gone.

He was working for others who did know how valuable he and the work he was capable of doing and loved to do .. was.  And still is.

And, while I am talking about all of this now in terms of the world of work..

At this particular moment in time .. again, I would give anything for a personal assistant.

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Do people really do this?  Is there a niche career here?  Personal assistants?

Yes there is.  In fact .. I may give http://www.justaskchelsea.com/index.html a call tomorrow now that I’ve finally taken the time to google something I’ve been pondering for years.  Because I’m pretty sure me paying her for one hour .. even two to do something like .. run to the DMV for me would have been far less than the ticket I found on my windshield yesterday for expired plates.  Just one example of where I would sincerely appreciate some help.  A partner of sorts.

Many of you have them in the form of a spouse.

Know that I understand how pathetic it is I feel I could use an assistant.  To help me manage my time/life outside of work.  But I’ve gotten to the point I don’t really care what anyone else thinks in certain areas of my life.  It is what it is at this particular moment.  I am doing what I can to work toward more time with family and friends and less time with everything else.  But much like spring cleaning .. sometimes you have to make a bigger mess in the process .. to get to that cleaner house.  That’s kind of where I feel I am at in life.

Someone to help .. (the Cowboy and I .. I know, would do this for each other, if we actually lived closer to each other .. or in the same place) would not only make the chaos more manageable.  But also, more fun.

‘Want more fun and less stress?  Do less,’ you say.

If it were only that easy.

There is a huge market here.  Why are so few doing this?  Do running other people’s errands stress out those doing it for work, too?  Is there not enough money in the world someone could pay you to run errands because you have enough of your own?

Budding entrepreneurs – just a thought:  If you are looking to start your own business, have a clean driving record, can be trusted, are good with confidentiality, love kids, and are happy to work with people who might really appreciate your work..

Consider.  And please apply, within.