Friday, May 1, 2015

PIKS: People I Know Series 001: Diane

I have been writing my blog for over three years.  My original intent was to write about retirement so that friends retiring after me would know what to expect when they retired.

As time passed, I realized that each person’s retirement is an individual experience. And my blog morphed into the story of how I spend my time in retirement.   I talk about lifestyle topics as much as retirement.  And I am no longer “recently retired”.

It occurred to me that it might be fun to use the blog to highlight people in my life instead of just writing about me.  I know many interesting people, and so why not find out what makes them tick.

I plant to write one PIKS post a month, depending on how much I have to strong-arm my friends and family into doing an interview.  The rest of the blog will continue to be a chronicle of my crazy retired life, home improvement, crafts and DIY (do it yourself) posts.

I came up with a list of interview questions, and it seemed like I should be the guinea pig.   And why not start PIKS by talking about someone I know pretty well?  Me.

Here goes…

1. When and where were you born?
I was born in Evansville, Indiana in 1956, but I grew up in the country about 10 miles from there.

Sunbeam Bread Ad

2What is your first, most vivid memory? 
I remember dad taking me to “the store”, Weinzapfel’s, which had something for everyone:  general store, tavern, restaurant and barber shop.  Bert Weinzapfel would call me “Little Miss Sunbeam”, before he and dad would tell the latest jokes.  And “the store” is still there although now it's just a bar and restaurant. 

Me and cousins Kathy, Linda and Donna.

3What were you like as a child?  What did you do for fun?
I was a precocious and nerdy little kid.  I always wanted to sit with the adults at family gatherings because their conversations were more interesting than hanging out with the kids.

And I loved reading, riding my bike, teaching my younger siblings in our makeshift “school” in the basement.   And I was the fastest runner in 4th grade…my claim to fame.
With my cousin Linda.  I'm the little fashionista on the right.

My grandma on far left.  

4.  Who was the oldest relative you remember, and what do you remember about them?
I also loved hanging out at my grandma’s house where I helped with baking, gardening and preparing meals for my grandpa and the farm helpers during the harvest.  She was a strong woman who stood her own in any situation. In other words, you didn’t mess with her.  She hated to lose at cards, and possibly she cheated a little bit...

5. Describe your parents. What were they like? Where did they meet?
My parents were hard-working people who raised 5 strong and independent kids.  My dad was a route salesman at Pepsi Cola Company.  He was very competitive and often won sales contests at work by asking his clients (friends) to help him out by buying more soft drinks.  Mom worked at Pioneer Seed Corn and helped germinate new types of seed.  With our parents leading the way, we laughed a lot in our house and enjoyed each other. And we still do.

Easter 1966, a few days before my 10th birthday.

6. What was the best gift you remember as a child?
It’s a toss-up between a beautiful turquoise Schwinn bike I got when I was 10, and my first guitar that my uncle Joe gave me when I was 13.  I wish I still had that bike and guitar.

7What did you want to be when you grew up? 
At first I wanted to be a teacher, which I suppose is why I forced my siblings to attend my basement school.  Later in high school, I attended Indiana Girl’s State, and that got me interested in being an attorney.  But instead I had a career in banking and insurance.  Go figure.

8. Describe your first job.  What did you do with your first paycheck?
Like many kids in the area, I started de-tasseling corn at age 13. Basically, you pulled tassels off seed corn by walking through hot, wet corn fields.  If you were lucky, you got to ride a de-tasseling machine.  It was usually  at least 90 degrees, but you had to wear jeans and long sleeved shirts so the corn leaves would not cut you.  I hated the job, but it was a way to earn money.  I used my first paycheck to buy contact lenses.

9. What have you liked best about your life so far?  What is your happiest or proudest experience?
I have a natural curiosity that helps me get to know people (I ask a  lot of questions), tackle new jobs I know nothing about (my whole career) and enjoy new arts, crafts and music. I also have great people in my life who love and support me.  That along with my strong belief in God help me experience life to the fullest. 

Family weekend at our house
My proudest moment is getting my MBA from the University of Iowa while working full time.  It was 4 long years of night classes, and if that wasn't tough enough, during that time frame I started a new job and moved to another city.

10What has been the most frustrating thing or biggest challenge in your life? 
In my career, the most frustrating thing was assessing and hiring the best job candidate.  I could always find something in each candidate that I liked, and it sometimes clouded my ability to assess future job performance.  

I always gave employees the benefit of the doubt, usually trying to help them improve, which was sometimes at odds with my manager who wanted me to fire the person if they weren’t meeting job expectations.  This caused me a lot of internal strife over the years.

11What job did you do most of your life?  What did you like most about it?  Least?  
Most of my career was spent managing people and projects in banking and insurance. I loved the challenge of managing a wide variety of projects and departments while I was learning about the new subject matter.  I managed a a Programming Department though I was never a programmer, and I had to quickly learn about the construction trade while managing a new building project. All of this kept me on my toes and helped me learn something new each day.  The part I liked least was always pushing people to get the job done on time and despite all the obstacles.

12. If we asked a relative or good friend about your best and worst qualities, what would they say?
My worst qualities are being impatient and pushy. I finish people’s sentences because they are taking too long, and I am quick to tell someone how we need to solve a problem because I think I can readily assess the situation.  Oddly enough, I think these same qualities helped me be successful in my career.

My best quality is that I am kind, thoughtful and care about people.  And I have a good sense of humor.

13What do you do for fun now?  Hobbies? Special Interests?
I now have time to be creative with arts and crafts. I love repurposing things like jeans into purses, beads and found objects into sun catchers and bistro chairs into planters for flowers.  I love writing, and this blog has given me a wonderful outlet for lots of words.  I enjoy live music, listening to music and playing guitar.  I like to take long walks and ride my bike around the neighborhood with my husband.  I enjoy hanging out with friends and family, laughing and telling stories.  

14. What one item in your life would you never give up? Why? 
It’s probably a car.  My husband and I used to drive about 500 miles one way to see each other on weekends when we lived in different cities. Nowadays I drive to lunch, to shop and to visit family and friends. Since we don’t have public transportation in our town, I would be stranded without a car.

15What frightens you?  Why? 
Besides the obvious answer being “snakes”, what frightens me is the growing use of violence as an answer to problems.  The news is full of violence from shootings in our city to beheadings in the Middle East.  How has the value of human life taken a back seat to drugs, gangs and political and religious agendas?  As a person who tries to understand why, I can’t get my head around physical violence.

16. What is the best advice your parents gave you? 
My dad said “education is the one thing that no one can take away from you”.  And my parents always modeled the importance of working hard and “earning your keep”.

Mom, Dad and and 5 kids in 2004.

17What’s your best advice for living a good life?
Be kind to people whether they are your friends and family or the checkout clerk at the grocery.  You never know when a simple kind act or conversation can brighten someone’s day.  Be generous with your time and talents, and live in the moment.  And don’t forget to have fun and laugh!
Family in 2015.

Live it up!

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