One of my favorite shows growing up was Tales from the Crypt. Not the animated one. The HBO version. I honestly don’t know what normal child would be able to go to bed after seeing this face at night:
But, who said I was normal?
We have a small About Us page, but it doesn’t help in getting to know us on a more personal level.
What I hope you retain from today’s read is just to get to know me a little better. And the life lessons that built who I am today. I know I encouraged everyone to be persuasive in 1-3 minutes last week, but it is a little harder to stay in that time frame when it’s an extended about me page. Soooo, I’ll call myself a hypocrite. Sit back and enjoy the show!
Tales From The Early Years!
My parents were high schools sweethearts. Married right after graduation. And popped out two Irish twins. Side note, we are not Irish, that’s what siblings are called when they are barely a year a part in age. I still don’t know how that is physically possible. Anyway, none of their family members went to college, nor did they. They were just raised to work, get by and make babies.
Dad learned welding skills growing up and worked on equipment for dealerships. Mom was a tomboy; if there was any job a man could do, she could do it better! She did anything from making parts for machines, to being a forklift driver! However, she never had a filter and often lost her job by telling the boss how she could do their job better. Oops!
Life Lesson #1: Respect Superiors and the Power of Restraint.
Mom stayed home with us while we were in diapers, but due to financial constraints, went back to work. By that time, dad started trucking and took us along with. My first childhood memories are waking up in the sleeper cab of a semi to the smell of breakfast pizza, and a cold chocolate milk waiting for me on the dash of the cab. When you’re a kid, this is awesome!
To this day, I have no idea how they successfully transitioned two sleeping toddlers out of their warm beds, into a semi, without us waking up. I can’t even get my kid out of his car seat into the house without him waking up!
So the semi was filled with barbies, magna doodles and coloring books. We kept ourselves busy and even conducted science experiments: the effect of sunlight on crayons sitting on a warm dashboard!
Life Lesson #2: Forgive and Don’t Get Mad.
It was blessing to have super forgiving parents when you make a mess or break stuff. We probably broke them of their spirit early on and I’m sure they didn’t have the energy for anything more but forgiveness anyway.
We often hauled grain, cattle or farm equipment from dealerships. Cattle was the worst. They stink. And guess who had to spray out the trailer? The Irish twins. Dealerships were the best. Everything shiny and new. With toys! And lots of candy. They knew how to keep us entertained.
Life Lesson #3: Fluctuating grain market prices at elevators and the impact on stakeholders. As well as many four letter words by age 4.
Free child labor:
By the time we were school age, we were left home alone a lot. Mom would be there to get us on the bus, and she’d be home by 6. Dad came home after dark, or after we were already sleeping. During the summers for a few years, my sister and I cleaned houses with my mom. We didn’t get paid. We knew anything earned needed to get deposited before Saturday’s grocery check was cashed at a bank.
The cleaning jobs were probably one of my favorite. Eventually sis and I just did the cleaning while my mom started cooking to provide them enough meals to last the week. Most were for widowed men that never had to cook or clean in their life and now were left alone.
I was often tipped with their spouses’ jewelry, which I didn’t want to accept but my mom explained that it was an insult if I didn’t. Also, some didn’t have relatives or children to pass family heirlooms down to. I kept them, and still pull out a gold chain or silver locket and think fondly of when each piece was given to me.
Life Lesson #4: To the world you may be just someone, but to someone you may be the world. ~ Author unknown.
Self explanatory…we were the only people in these people’s lives for a while.
Adventures in babysitting:
Eventually, mom got back into another factory job. And I picked up baby sitting jobs in the summer. People would drive across town to pick me up by 6:30am so they could be at work by 8. Then be home by 6pm. I made a buck an hour per kid, and was paid an extra $5 if I did laundry and dishes during the day. I did this from about ages 11-13.
Life Lesson #5: Seriously, some people shouldn’t be allowed to reproduce.
This experience made me not want to have kids! Until I met Mr. DS of course.
License to drive:
By 14 I got the most wonderful gift in the world: driver’s license! Hello freedom! Dad paid $1,000 for a 1980 Chevy pickup for my sis and I to share. And we were pretty much on our own after that. I’d make an appointment to go get my eyes checked, dentist, yearly physical for school and be sent with the family grocery list a mile long and a blank check to cover it. #Adulting!
Life Lesson #6: Cash Envelope System.
My parents did pay the regular bills, but gas, freedom and cool teenager stuff was on me. I would estimate how many miles I would put on each week, price of gas per gallon, and if there was anything left for other fun stuff. Movie tickets. CD player. Newest *NSYNC CD was a must. And put some in savings; I visited the bank weekly!
First experience with mental illness and human behavior:
At 15, I began working in a nursing home. First in the kitchen and helping feed people, then as a CNA at 16. It wasn’t bad to begin with. I was so young I probably looked 10 and everyone thought I was their kid. It wasn’t until I got moved to an Alzheimer’s wing one night (another CNA called in sick!) where I learned a few life lessons.
I was trying to help a 6’8” man get ready for bed. Physically he was fine. But he had some form of dementia. I actually used to know him but thought it was no big deal, he should like me and know me too right? Wrong. Sundowning is real, and he became irate the moment I walked into the room. He grabbed my arm so hard, twisted it to the point I thought it was going to break and punched me in the stomach. A hand also flew up, knocking my glasses off. A 5’4” gal who barely weighed 100 pounds was no match for this.
Somehow I got out of the room and ran to the nurses’ station. The head nurse first of all couldn’t believed I was assigned to that list. Apparently, it was the high risk list and most often times, people on it ended up being transferred to mental institution where they could do no harm to themselves or others. Which, the man was eventually transferred. (That explains so much why the other gal called in sick too! Dang it!).
Life Lesson #7: Understand the task you are about to take on. Make sure you have the proper skill set to complete the task. And if you don’t, let your boss know ASAP!
Gotta Pay to Play:
One fun job I had was working on the upkeep of recreational trails. We did anything from painting and fixing picnic shelters that were running down, to mowing trails and fencing. It was a bit of a distance to work every day. That Chevy sucked gas! And wasn’t reliable. So I paid $3,500 cash for a Chrysler Sailboat, I mean New Yorker, which could make good gas mileage and get me there on time. The job was a lot of dirty work but really helped prepare me to be in shape for sports in the fall!
I played sports, was in band and choir to stay active, but also just to spend time with my friends. I also love competing. By my freshman year in high school, I was on varsity playing back row as the Libero (the digger, the little one you put in the back because the 6” girls usually can’t squat that low).
When I was 14 I also started hitting the college party scene.
My sister was dating an older guy, and would always want to hang out with him. My mom told her to take me with as I’m assuming she thought taking your lil sis is a drag and you can’t do bad things. Well, she’d just ditch me anyway.
I didn’t drink at the parties. Sports and school was too important! But usually just grazed on the food and was a fly on the wall. I did have another friend that would come too to keep me company. If we knew a party was about to be busted, we’d take off running or driving in one direction. The cops would fall for the bait and follow us while everyone would evacuate in the other direction. Yes, we were thrill seekers. And luckily never got caught!
Life Lesson #7.5: Luck eventually runs out.
I injured my arm my senior of volleyball and couldn’t serve or dig, and had stress fractures in my foot and shin from overuse and running too much. I was depressed to not be playing, and so when I hit the party scene – I then started to drink. Why not? I can’t play sports.
Well, when you drink, you lose care. And focus. I neglected to leave when I should have and got busted. 2 days before my 18th birthday I got a MIP (minor in possession) of alcohol. I got kicked off all sports teams, my chair in band at State Music & Choir, my scholarships. And hello college to be paid out of pocket.
Life Lesson #8: Sports and activities keep kids out of mischief.
Kids, just don’t do what I did. Mmmk pumpkin?!
When did Mr. DS come into the picture?
Backing up a bit to some better moments in my early years, the first time I spoke to Mr. DS was at a big bonfire outside of town. I was 14 and sitting on the end gate of my pickup kicking my legs when he walked over and said, “You know you’re too young and shouldn’t be here right?” I said I know and told him all about my sis ditching me. He then sat on the end gate and talked with me for a couple hours!
We both were dating other people at the time, had lots of mutual friends and just chatted it up like we were old buds. What I didn’t know who was also at that party was a pedophile. A guy in his late 20s, that often sought out girls in their early teens. Mr. DS knew this and told me some years later. He was looking out for my best interest that night.
A standup dude back then!
We didn’t date in HS, but kept bumping into each other over the years at parties or sporting events. Again, chatting like we’d known each other for years. I even remember my high school boyfriend telling me he didn’t want me to talk to him, because I seemed too happy when I did!
During spring break my senior year of HS we ran into each other again. He asked how boyfriend was doing and where he was at. I said, “Don’t know. We broke up awhile ago.” It was at that moment Mr. DS claims he saw me in a different light: available and 18. He asked me out on the spot.
Life Lesson #9: Be with the person that makes you most happy.
Pits of Factory Life:
The summer after HS I got a job I liked but didn’t enjoy the people I was working with. It was at a factory, I got to clean machines. All day! However, I worked with women who constantly asked me how much I was earning an hour, and getting put on the spot for other nosy type of personal or financial questions. I was raised to not talk about money, and keep pretty quiet about yours or other situations. Lots of life lessons were formed at this factory. For starters, my first day on the job another kid I had just met and worked beside lost his arm cleaning a conveyor belt. I didn’t see it happen but was walking out after my shift change when the ambulance was pulling in. I heard about it the next day. They tried to sew it back on but it was too shredded.
Life Lesson #10: Safety and the importance of lock out/tag out.
Also at this same factory job, because it was too noisy, we had to wear ear plugs. Did you know when you lose a sense, all your other senses become heightened? I could tell when people were walking up on me. I read body language more. From the pedophile guy a few years earlier, I also learned to look for perp eyes. People that stare at you a little too long. And don’t say anything. And make you feel uncomfortable.
Sure enough, there was one. I would be cleaning something, and I felt like I was being watched. I’d look around until I could find him. Lurking around a corner. Just staring blankly in my direction. When he would catch me seeing him, he wouldn’t disengage.
He’d keep giving the same stare with no emotion on his face.
One day, I have my back turned and I know someone’s walking up behind me. Before I could turn around, I felt my sides squeezed. I whirl around and it’s him. Very pissed off I said, “What are you doing?” He said, “Oh. I’m just tickling you. I tickle everyone here.” I said I wasn’t ticklish and to never touch me again.
I left but that night I felt gross. Even after a shower I felt his hands wrapping around my waist and squeezing. Not like being tickled. Like how you would pull in a lover. It made me want to puke. I called my boss at 10pm that night and told him about the incident. He lined a meeting up with HR the next morning. They removed the guy from my department, but I felt like that wasn’t enough. I quit that day. 2 weeks earlier than I planned as I was scheduled to go to college.
During those 2 weeks, I ran like I would normally do if I had extra time. Guess who would be driving by on my usual running paths? Yup. The guy that had touched me. Not sure if coincidental or if he was a stalker. But I never noticed him before when I ran. I made a point to tell my friends, family and even called my old boss again just in case. I didn’t see him after I called my former workplace.
Life Lesson #11: If you feel you are in an unsafe situation, get the hell outta dodge! And make sure everyone knows! There’s a lot of weird people out there!
The factory job was 20yrs of experience in one summer. The MIP was an eye opener, as well as the filling out the FFAFSA by hand for college and signing up for more debt than I understood at the time. When I got to college, I was done with people. Besides my one faithful bestie and now BF, Mr. DS. The party scene was over a long time ago and I just spent most of my time in the library.
I wanted my own apartment, but there’s the most ridiculous rule on the planet that I had to stay in the dorms my Freshman year. I had high hopes for my roommate and things looked good initially. She must have had her elevator greeting speech prepared when she met me. In 1 minute, I learned she attended a private catholic school growing up, she never drank or did drugs, she was a 4.0 student and she was saving herself for marriage with her boyfriend who was a senior in HS.
Well, by the the time Christmas break rolled around, she dumped her HS sweetheart, there was beer in the micro fridge (not mine), her grades were failing, the room constantly smelled like pot and she had done I don’t know how many dudes on the basketball team…in my dorm room. I really wish the library was open past 11pm.
Life Lesson #12: You have to have some fun and make your own mistakes when you are young (preferably under 18 so it stays off the permanent record) or else you may turn into a huge idiot and make bigger, more expensive mistakes when you are older.
Happy Days Are Yours And Mine:
Good timing, Mr. DS freshly graduated college and got a job in the same city I went to school in. So, I pretty much moved in with him and let my roomie take over the dorm.
I transferred to a different college the following year, but obtained my bachelors degree in 3 years with a 3.97 GPA; darn that one B- in Statistics. I also signed up to get my MBA and completed the program in 18 months; almost a 4.0 again! Darn A- in Ethics. 😉
After my first degree, Mr. DS and I eloped, via a destination wedding! I wanted a vacation! Yup, on a beach. Somewhere. It was awesome. For the wedding package, it was $1,800 per person. That included flight, 6 nights, all inclusive and some other touristy stuff.
We paid for our own and invited other friends and family. If they wanted to attend, they could on their own. Surprisingly, some did! Their packages were $1,400 per person. If we tried to get the same deal again today, it would be $4,400 per person. Crazy the cost of inflation!
Life Lesson #13: Take The Vacation.
If you worked hard, and saved up for it over the years, go on a vacation with the people that make you most happy.
And there you have it folks! We will not have an ending like most episodes of Tales from the Crypt. Instead, leave off when the guy gets the girl at the end!
These were some of the major life events that helped build the person I am today, and formed my Defined Sight! This pretty much covers the first 21 years of my life. The later 20s and 30s you’ve seen through my other posts and will see more in my future posts!
Overall, my goal is to keep staying on a positive, professional path. Keep career building. Keep adapting to change when I see it coming. Expect the unexpected. Know thy value of money and work hard to retire early. On a beach. Somewhere.
Not sure if Mr. DS will write a post up like this (he made need some encouragement). What are your early life lessons learned that have helped build who you are today?