7/22/14

Some Things I Need To Change to be Successful in Business

1. Stop wanting to work alone, or at my own pace.

2. Get into technology, all the way, and be proactive about it.

3. Don't always go on instincts, but have the ability to back it up with proof or the numbers.

4. Follow trends.

5. Make my job a part of my life, not get a life outside of a job.

6. Realize what I am worth.

7. Be a better listener.

8. Start caring about my appearance.

9. Cope with setbacks by doing what is told of me, and not melting down.

10. (and last but not least) Go the distance.

Back On

Today in the Quad City Times, there is an article by Linda Cook about how great Scott Community College is, and, that a person with a shady past can walk in there and come out a success. These certain big wigs in the Quad Cities hate whenever I might make one of their establishments look bad, and they always have this hmph! reaction to anything I do or say, though most people do in the media, and it's not surprising. But, just to show what a good sport I am, I have decided to be motivated by Linda Cook, and I'm going to fill out the damn form on financial aid suspension to see if they will lift it, and allow me to get some assistance with my goals. If they do, I will contact the main adviser from the Business program and get enrolled in two online classes for this fall. That means that the personal training will take a back seat, and thank God I haven't paid for that yet. So, the goals are back on! I hope to complete the Business Management Certificate next May, and a Marketing Certificate in May of 2016, and throw in personal training for summer study. Now, I have paid for two classes this fall, Human Anatomy and Food, Nutrition and Health, so actually I will be involved with 3 classes this fall at a time. It will be busy, but I know I can do it, and if things get rough, I'm going to ask for help.

7/21/14

More Odds Than Ends

In canvasing for the Democrats, my friend Therese made a good point, that she is more turned off by someone trying to hard sell a candidate at their door or on the phone, and may make her vote against that candidate. When I did canvasing on Saturday afternoon in Camanche, Iowa for Clinton County Democrats, I just put a human, happy, energetic face on the party, and didn't really pitch anything, even though they wanted me to. I will do this canvasing once a month, on a Saturday afternoon, until election day. Bruce Braley is running for Tom Harkin (D) seat who is retiring, against Joni Ernst, should be a tight race, and the main one to watch in Iowa, though we do have Democrats running for state seats and the governor's seat.

I am now back to drinking half-caf coffee, since I've read caffeine is good, but too much is bad, plus I'm already living on pure energy, and don't need too much of a kick.

I hope Beth will make it home for the week before classes resume for her (Aug. 25th), and I'd like to soon sign both of us up for Day of Caring in the quad cities. We both did window cleaning last year, but this year I'm looking for something new. I believe the date is August 20th, so I hope she will be home for that. Alec and I are going out to her Family Camp week, but just for 2 days, the first week of August, and we are really looking forward to seeing Bethy in action, and having a fun time.

This Wednesday, I will be writing a play called "Bonnie Loses Her Wings." So, be looking for that. I'd also like to, soon, write a piece called "The Fast Lane" about a person or thing that is only fast because everyone else is slow, and why that going-against-the-flow or the norm gets you nowhere.

7/20/14

Why I Serve

Because I can, and it reinforces the "I can" attitude, instead of the "I can't."

Because what you get in return is giving you endurance, it strengthens your spirit.

Because you offer freely and you get freedom.

Because it's a great way to meet people.

Because it's a Christian walk.

I'm always trying to find new things to be involved with in the Quad Cities area. I'd like to start getting my paid job weekend free so that I'm able to help out the homeless shelter on Saturday morning for meal and grocery and pet food distribution. I'd also like to start helping out with road races coming up, both on Friday nights more recently. There is a chance I might do some home renovation too.

7/18/14

De-Funked

Well, I'm in bed, and my knees are throbbing. It's looking like not such a good idea to do these workouts every day, or maybe to cut out some things, like biking, because that seems to bother my knees the most. I'm reconsidering my path into personal training. My knees seem to bother me the most while driving, sitting in my chair, and in bed at night, otherwise, everything is fine. My dreams are unraveling very quickly and making me think that I should just stick to writing.

Ideal Weight

You might have to work hard to get to your ideal weight, including cutting out certain things from your diet and jogging, or doing the elliptical, but once you are there, things go so much easier all the way around, and the great thing is, you get to be a kid again!

All the time I see families walking into a museum or a shop, and the kids are real skinny, but the parents are real overweight, what the hell? All you have to do, is be more like a kid! So, once you are at ideal weight, all you need to do is a high-intensity, 10-minute calisthenics, the same kind of stuff you did in P.E. when you were a kid. You should be able to work up a sweat, increase your heart rate, and be breathing hard by the time you are done. Cool down with stretches and push ups and abs. After that, the rest of your day is free to have fun!

Incorporate your 10 minute workout (but don't even call it a workout, make it like your power 10 minutes) with at least two other fun activities that you used to do as a kid: bike riding, swimming, soccer, softball, volleyball, bowling, skating, and even add yoga and pilates or if you are brave, belly dancing, so your day should look like: power 10 in the morning, bike ride right when you get home and sprint the bases after dinner. Alternate each day with a different other two activities each day. But, you must do them the same way you did them as a kid, with spunk! Don't think walking leisurely is going to get you in shape. If you wear therashoes, you will build your leg muscles and calm your nerves, and keep your metabolism humming, but it won't get you in shape.

Once you are at ideal weight, 10 minute power workout every day is all you need! Really! Just spend the rest of your day being active, thinking of fun things to do that keep you moving. That's it. Easy, right? Alec and I are going to be starting Bocce ball this fall and hopefully something called Pickleball. I am really looking forward to it. And I hope to get into bowling leagues once a week, incorporate ice skating too.

7/16/14

Plan B

It has been a slight setback with Scott Community College, but I am not wasting a day getting started in my new plans. I will hopefully enroll soon in the Personal Trainer certificate program through Blackhawk College in Moline, which will start on Sept. 9th and run until Dec. 9th, with Tuesday and Thursday evening classes. I want to be the best personal trainer that I can be, and in doing so, I've decided to take two ed2go classes this fall: (1) Human Anatomy and Physiology, (2) Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health. Each of these courses is 6 weeks long, and I will take the body class first, starting Aug. 20th, and the nutrition class will start on Oct. 15th. So, I think I can manage all of this, and it seems so much more up my alley than ever thinking I could do business. I am paying for all of this training out of my own pocket, and will cost me just under 1,000 dollars, not bad for having fun, doing what I want to do, and keeping myself healthy and sane.

7/15/14

Sometimes Decisions Are Made For Us

So, my adviser at college pulled up a screen on me and there were several W's, meaning Withdrawn, one for Sign Language Interpreter, one for CNA, one for Literacy Tutor, maybe more, but yes, my track record is not good. So, the financial aid department said, "Yes, you can come back, but first you must write out an appeal to the dean," in other words explaining why I'm such a screw up and promising that I will never do it again. Ha. I walked out. So, no business classes for me, and no better job, better pay, moving up sort of thing like America stands for. I will however to the personal trainer certificate, and hopefully get in on the next class starting in September, and pay out of pocket. I will do personal training part time and stay on disability.

Some Things

I'm thinking that A Chance will turn into my first novel, a young adult/child's novel, and I'd like to write a section a month, with each section being in 3 parts that are about 4 double-spaced pages long. I'm uncertain how many sections the novel will have, but I have the idea or the crisis for the novel, and will work around that. It is really enjoyable to do this type of writing, and is a nice way to break it up so you don't have to think, oh, my, a whole novel! I will post each section as I get it done, but I'm thinking it won't be done until next year sometime, but you never know.

A lot of times I get this frustration, pent-up anxiety, high irritability or just like a chafing feeling through my body, and I'm not sure where it is coming from or why, but today at work I did a 10-minute workout on my break in the women's restroom: jump roping, twist jumping, jumping jacks, front kicks, back kicks, side kicks, and running in place. It did take the edge off, and I know that really I need to do this 10-minute exercise every day, even on top of other training. When I was done, I cooled down with stretches and then did 30 push-ups, and 90 twist sit-ups.

7/14/14

A Chance (YA Fiction)

A Chance (A Young Adult Fiction piece in 3 parts by Sheri Grutz)

This is a work of fiction, and it is dedicated to Beth, with love.


The goldfinch


We had a guy come and talk to us about birds at school one day. He wore a light brown shirt and pants, and our teacher said he was something called a naturalist, but he had a real soft voice that didn't carry very far so I wished I wasn't sitting in the back by Megan O'Malley who kept telling me if I didn't sit up straight I was going to be crooked when I grew up, and if I didn't start wearing a bra the teachers would call me a late bloomer and make me go to summer school, and then she rolled her socks all the way down and said, “let's pretend it's the 60's,” but I kept telling her to be quiet, so I think she was doing all that on purpose to keep me from hearing. But then he said he was drawing names for a free bird feeder, and you're never going to believe this, but he drew my name. I walked up there kind of slow because my leg had fallen asleep, and I wanted to make the moment last, a Thursday, on the last day of April, the gym already hot and looking old and used up, even the tape on the floor was peeling off in parts, and some lights were flickering like they needed to be changed. He handed me the green and clear plastic feeder with a handout about birding, and it weighed next to nothing, with a thick dark green rope holding it together, and I hung it over my arm like a purse imagining it was a limb of a tree and I was as tall as a building. I don't think I ever won anything before. I went back and sat down and Megan O'Malley was silent with her eyes flickering like birds at the feeder.

When I got home I gave the bird feeder and the handout to my mom who was standing in the kitchen doing yoga poses. “If I do these 3 times a day it will stop my dizziness, Blake,” she said, balancing on one foot that reminded me of a flamingo, but she wasn't wearing pink. Come to think of it, I've never seen her wear pink. “Oh, nice, where did you get this?” she asked. She was opening the feeder and then glanced up at me.

“I won it at school today,” I told her, opening the fridge and looking for chocolate milk, but my brother must have drank it all. I closed the fridge and said, “You're always talking about goldfinch, mom, let's see if we can see some with this.”

“Sure, sure,” she said, the house smelling like a gas stove and a rusty pipe, and the kitchen too packed with clean dishes to look clean. “I know that goldfinches come to feeders, and they like sunflower seeds. But listen, it'll be your project, Blake.” She looked tired, and picked up her coffee mug and sipped while looking outside at the Schwan's truck having trouble in the mud. Old man river was already giving off so many knats, and mom once said sucking on peppermint would help and she stuffed my pockets with the candies, but when that didn't work, she said vanilla, and when that didn't work she said lemongrass, and she tucked some into my hair behind my ear when I went out to play.

Bird seed comes in big bags, and I had trouble getting it home one day on my bike, but I made it, filled the feeder, and hung it on a large screw sticking out from the swing set. I waited, and nothing happened. No birds. Then one day when I came home from school on an early out day, mom was hanging out clothes in the back, and she was saying, “Po-ta-to chip, po-ta-to chip,” real high and I thought something might be wrong, but she just said, “I'm calling them. I'm using their language.”
The yard smelled like clean laundry and manure from the Roosevelt's rose garden next door. Mom said she could never really escape the country. I waited until she was done, but no birds, and then I followed her inside.

One day mom was doing her yoga poses in the kitchen and I told her, “I've been studying up on goldfinches. They are the Iowa state bird, and they are Hawkeye colors. And I guess they are like acrobats, so maybe they are close to being Hawkeye cheerleaders.”

Mom laughed and looked outside and said, “Wait a second, what is that on the ground, underneath the feeder?”

I ran to the window, and sure enough, it was a little yellow bird. I was so excited, and I said, “They finally made it!”

“Stupid bird,” mom said, “eating off the ground like that, don't they know that's how they get diseases and stuff?”

“Oh, mom, look!” I told her. “Two more on the fence.”

“Yes,” she said, seeming uninterested, “they do tend to flock together.”

“That's just like Hawkeye fans too. All the cutest boys at school wear black and yellow and they all sit together at lunch.” pause. “Oh, look, mom, they are at the feeder now.”

“You need thistles and milkweed to keep them coming back, that's why they like the ditches so much, stupid birds, don't even know how to protect themselves.”

Mom walked into the other room, and I wasn't sure if I should get closer to the birds, cuz I might scare them, so I watched from the kitchen window until they were gone. I noticed the feeder was half gone, so I filled it again, and looked around for awhile, but I only heard the hum of traffic from the highway about 2 blocks away.

A couple of weeks later, I came home from school and mom was outside cleaning the windows, and when she saw me, she started saying, “Po-ta-to chip,” again and I just laughed. She said, “Those goldfinch are always cheerful, just like you.” silence. Then she said, “The female goldfinch, she will do anything for her mate, stupid bird, counts on him for everything.” I watched mom a minute, then the feeder, then went inside to get out of the sun. It was the last day of school. I felt summer like an ache for chocolate.

I made a bird bath out of an old plastic lid from a big bin for my brother's toys, and it had gotten a little bent, so the water pooled all to one side, and I kept it by the fence, out of the way so my brother wouldn't kick it over. I saw lots of birds coming into the yard, and sometimes they would come to the feeder, but not always. I thought I saw some of the same ones stopping on a regular basis, but I wasn't sure. Some day, I'm going to drive a yellow and black car, and I'm going to go everywhere, even to get food from miles away from home like the goldfinches do. I might even go to the Hawkeye university. Mom says, “Well, it's close by, that's a plus.” Who knows, I might even become a naturalist.


The tree house


When I was younger, we always lived in big apartment buildings that reminded me of a hotel, only no one comes with clean towels, and mom used to get so mad about the neighbors using the washing machine for urine-soaked clothes and sheets, she said they had no sense to soak them, the way we would for my sweaters that would stop smelling like my teacher's hand lotion and wood cleaner for our new desks we gotta wipe down every day. Mom was working out at Fairyland, and one day she said, “Kids, we're moving.” She said it made no sense to drive all the way to work, why not live closer, and by closer, she meant real close, cuz this house was along the river, and then she started walking to work. When we left the apartments for the last time I forgot my purple Pocahontas sweatshirt hanging up in my closet, and we went back to get it, but the lock had been changed, and mom felt like someone had pulled one over on her, but then realized she couldn't come back, and said, “They can keep it for all I care.”

“It's weird how I've always had wicker,” mom told me when were moving our stuff into the new house that she called 'our little bungalow.' It was because the area usually flooded every year, and mom said, “That's the price you pay for getting a cheap place.” The things I liked about living there were playing with the Simpsons little remote boats, feeding the ducks, and being away from noisy t.v.'s from the apartment walls. The things I didn't like were all the mud, the flooding, and getting up earlier for the bus. One day in early spring, mom woke up on a Sunday when A.J. And me were watching Endurance on t.v. Real low cuz mom was sleeping from working late, and she said to us with the sun on her like a hundred moths, “I'm going to build us a tree house.”

It took us awhile to get used to the water moving. “You hear that?” mom asked. “It's gurgling like an old man in a nursing home.” And from then out mom called the Wapsi, Old Man River, and I wondered how old he was, if he had grandchildren like me, and where the end of his mind went.

During our first spring at our little bungalow, mom said it was the perfect time to build the tree house, and she had to choose a tree that good and sturdy, with branches we could climb, and one free of parasites or any kind of rotting. She chose a maple, dead center in the front of our house, saying that it wasn't the ideal location, but it's not like you can move trees. She said she wasn't asking the city for permission, or getting a permit or anything like that, “This is just child's play,” she said. “And we are being resourceful, so they should thank me.”

I came home from school on a really windy day, and saw an electric saw, a nail gun, and an electric drill laying out under the maple tree on an old sheet that mom put down over the torn up yard. She came out of the house when she saw me. “Those damn ducks leave such a mess in this yard, we've got to stop feeding them, but you know, maybe not, because if it floods this year they will be the first indication that something is up. How are you, Blake?”

“Good,” I told her. “I want to help, mom.”

“Ah, ok,” she started. “I rented these tools down at Tru-Value, got a real bargain too, only $35 a day for the 3 of them, can't beat that.” She was testing the batteries, and making sure they were in tight, then she was putting on work gloves that were much too big for her hands, reminding me of the Hamburger Helper commercials. “Hang on a second, Blake, I want to give you something.” She went into the house and came out carrying a briefcase-type pink plastic toolbox. “This can be your first set of tools. It was my first set. You can have it.” She handed it to me. I opened it, and admired everything in there, then I was gone. I knew I had to adjust my bike seat, since I asked mom to raise it, and now that I'd been riding it, I liked it better down. I also wanted to screw in my door knob on my bedroom door, and maybe find other loose ones around the house. I left mom to work, and she called out to me, “Keep an eye on your brother, will ya?”

Later, when I came back, mom had put on two planks across a V in the tree, and she was now screwing in the planks that would lie crossways over the 2 bottom ones, and I yelled up, “Hey, mom, it's like Jenga!”

Mom smiled and let out a laugh then said, “Yeah, but no toppling this one.”

Mom finished the tree house in 3 days, just in time, because we got a big storm, and the river was already high, but we escaped this time, with the Wapsi just at flood stage, and going down. We weren't so lucky late in June, this time, we got flooded bad. One day we got 4 inches of rain overnight, then the next day we got 6 inches in the afternoon, and then that night we got even more, so, the water was coming in fast. Mom said, “Now, is the time for the tree house.”

We stuffed our backpacks with food and drinks, and some of my brother's stress balls and scarves that he likes, moving quickly, mom saying, “I've got everything elevated, did you remember all the games in your closet?”

“Yes, mom, my beanie babies are up on my wall, but I didn't get my stuffed animals.”

“We will have to toss those.”

“No, mom.” I was near tears. She quickly got a plastic garbage can bag and handed it to me.

“Take this and go stuff 'em in, and put it up on the bookcase. Hurry.”

I took one last look downstairs and water was halfway up, junk mail floating in it, old rags, bugs and plastic laundry bottle caps. I ran outside, water was up to my ankles. Mom was holding A.J.'s hand, and he was screaming, “Nooo!” He had never been up in the tree house. This would be a major test. Mom was practically lifting him onto the steps of the tree house, but he refused. We decided I would go up first and then he would take my hand and I would help him up. Miraculously, it worked. The rain had stopped. We sat, listening to sirens, looking down into the water that held so much debris, sticks, plastic, and even fencing. My brother was too stunned to make a sound. We would stay up there overnight until it was safe to get down, the ground moving like a water bed with the moon rolling over it, mom and my brother sleeping ok, but me, I was wondering why the cicadas, like normal, wouldn't shut up.


He doesn't talk


I always knew my brother was different, and one of the big differences was that he didn't answer me, just said things like “Ba-doy-ba-doy,” like he was making up his own song or something. I remember when we were little and mom used to carry him everywhere, and she called him “JohnJohn” until he went to camp that first time with the A.J. On his shirt tags, and they kept calling him that, and it stuck, so mom started using it too. Plus I think it's good that he has an easy name to spell.

One time my brother put my mom's truck in drive and ran into a tree, but it wasn't the tree house tree, and then mom kept telling that story at the family gatherings, along with the apartment stories. One day mom came home from waitressing at Fairyland and we were still up with Christine our babysitter.
Mom opened the door and her face went big in shock. We had gotten a delivery that afternoon with the foof in it. When my brother saw my mom's face, he laughed and laughed. The foof is his favorite thing. He even sleeps in it.

“What are we going to do you guys, it's so big,” she said. She carried her excitement over to my brother like an ice cream cone. “Do you like it A.J.?”

My brother said nothing, but he sat down in it, and it swallowed him up. That's why mom said she got it because it's like getting a big hug.

Mom used to pick us up from day care and over the loud truck she would ask, “A.J., it says here you played with ring toss and bean bag throw, was it fun?”

My brother said nothing. Sometimes I would say, “Mom, he can't talk.” But she would keep asking him questions.

Then after a few years of school, my brother would come up to mom and say, “Hi, mom,” and mom always was so shocked. She would talk to talk to him, but that was all he ever said. When I came home she asked him to say hello to me, but he never did. Then mom started having him go up to everybody when we first saw them and say hello with their name. So, my brother started repeating her, “Hello, grandma,” “Hello, Adrienne.”

A.J. Kept coming home and saying, “Hi, mom,” and mom would ask him all kinds of questions about his day, and then my brother started repeating everything she asked him, “What did you do today?” “Did you play outside?” Sometimes he said just the second half of the question, but he always repeated it. He repeated like a bird would, and I mentioned it to mom one time and she said, “Yeah, and like a bird, he might fly away and never come back.”

One day when I came home to our little bungalow, mom was painting a coat rack with images of vegetables, and my brother was laying on the foof watching Grease, and mom said to me, “You're never going to believe this but A.J. Said, mom, library?”

“He knows it's Wednesday.”

And from then on out, my brother would come home and say, “Mom, library tonight? Speech? Pizza Hut? Truth Singers? Movies with kids?” He would ask her for each day. Mom said he needed the routine, needed to know what to expect. She even told me that he can't go backward, he can only go forward, and that reminded me of riding my bike, it's impossible to go backward, or even see behind you, and everything is in your face, it's a moveable feast.

Every Tuesday afternoon my mom drove my brother to speech classes, a brand new building with carpeted walls even, and big foam blocks that went in a water table. My brother loved going, but mom said, “He needs to want to do it.” I didn't know about that because I didn't want a lot of things either, except sometimes wanting my dad instead of Christine, or my dad instead of church, or my dad instead of my P.E. Teacher. At speech, they came up with some funny things, like sound therapy, and this thing where mom had to brush my brother's skin, and they even tried getting him to sign some words, but after about 2 years, one day, they told mom that they weren't making progress and the state said if they don't, they won't get funding, so mom and my brother stopped going.

Mom had stopped pushing my brother, and he had stopped putting up a fuss, but then last year something amazing happened. My brother started saying, “I want to go swing,” or “I want noodles, mom,” or “I want to watch Annie,” it was like complete sentences. But the thing that drove us crazy was that he kept saying these sentences over and over, repeating them, even after you'd say, ok.

One day, mom and my brother and me went to Pizza Hut in the winter when the river was so dark with cold that it looked like an ice cream cake, the boards along the yard leading to our driveway would be the knives, and the forks were in the trees, and when we got to the restaurant, my brother kept saying, “I want sghetti, mom,” over and over.

Mom said, “I never thought I'd say this, A.J., but can you be quiet?”

I told her it was weird to say that. After all this time of my brother not talking, then kind of talking, and now talking too much, it must have been a sign that he was making progress. I stopped ever saying, “Mom, he doesn't talk,” and I started saying, “Mom, he's a broken record.” A.J. Just kept on repeating, like that every day sun, repeating it's same pattern, filling us with each season, and making our little bungalow cast a warm glow in our hearts.













7/13/14

Recap on my Manners Series

I went from thinking that manners are insidious, to really thinking they are necessary, and a total attribute. Being courteous and kind, being mindful, being helpful, it will offer you more, and you will keep your edge.