career

My niece, Chantel Balcerzak is a very creative person. I think that much of her ability to be creative comes from the beauty that lives within her spirit. Chantel can look at a room and see something in it that most people can’t see. All she has to do is look for a few minutes, and the room presents itself to her with all of the hidden beauty that only she can see. I have looked at rooms that she has designed, and I am always amazed at how beautiful they are. Recently, Chantel decided to redecorate her mom, Cheryl Masterson’s bathroom, and when she was done, it was beautiful. Chantel simply looked at the walls, and the bouquets of flowers appeared in her head. She in turn freehand painted them onto the walls, and they were perfect. Each bouquet was delicate and elegant. Cheryl was delighted with how the bathroom turned out, and everyone can see why.

These days, Chantel is enjoying her second career…a combination of wedding décor and interior design. She decorates for weddings, but often plans them too. She has a natural ability to make the wedding perfect for each bride and groom. From the bouquets and floral arrangements, to centerpieces, candles, and ribbons to bring the romance to life. When Chantel puts a wedding together, it is a wedding to remember. Not only does Chantel design weddings and rooms, but she refurbishes furniture too. Sometimes I am completely amazed at the many abilities she has. Everyone has gift at which they excel, I’m told, and this is definitely Chantel’s gift, as anyone can see.

Chantel’s personal life has taken a “career change” too, in that she is now a grandmother to four little grandchildren, Alice Price, Izabella Harman, Jaxx Harman, and Reece Balcerzak. These babies are very special to her and she, like every grandparent, doesn’t know what she would do without them. Grandchildren are the blessings we receive for having children bring parents, and they are awesome!! Chantel, who was called Teensy by her grandfather, my dad, Allen Spencer, has carried on the tradition with her granddaughter, Izabelle, who quickly became Tinkerbelle, and finally just Tink…which completely suits her. She is tiny, with great big eyes, and a bouncy, even sassy attitude, just like Tinkerbell…or maybe just like her grandma, who was much the same as a child. Whatever the case may be, Chantel is totally happy with those babies. Today is Chantel’s birthday. Happy birthday Chantel!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

The last year has been a whirlwind of change for my daughter, Corrie Petersen. Eight months ago, she left a job that should have had room for advancement, but simply didn’t for her position…it was a dead-end job for Corrie. Never one to give up, Corrie took future in her own hands, with much prayer and guidance from God, she went back to school to obtain the future career that she knew was the calling of her heart…nursing. She began her big job move by going through the CNA training at Shepherd of the Valley nursing home, and once she was a CNA, she began her search for a job change. Upon being hired at Elkhorn Rehabilitation Hospital, she left her dead-end job. Coming from 13 years of taking part in the caregiving process for both sets of her grandparents, Corrie went into the decision to become a nurse, with her eyes wide open. I think that lots of people try going into nursing, only to find that it isn’t for them. Nurses, CNAs, and aides do a lot of personal care tasks that are less than pleasant sometimes. If you don’t have a heart for nursing, it will be a very difficult…but Corrie has a heart for it, and has become a dedicated CNA, who is well on her way to being a nurse. The fall will bring nursing school for Corrie, and she can hardly wait. I am so excited for her.

When we think of job promotions, we don’t generally expect them to happen within the first three months, but that is exactly what happened with Corrie. Since she is a very experienced CNA, even thought she has only been working as a CNA for eight months, Corrie’s supervisors quickly saw the value she brought to their facility, and she has been promoted to lead CNA for her shift, as well as Trainer fit new hires. Both are big honors for a girl who has been on the job less than a year. She is also “laddering up,” which puts her at a higher level of training, making her much more valuable to Elkhorn Rehab Hospital. It is my understanding that they have never had a CNA ladder up, which Corrie was very surprised to find out. So I guess you could say she is making history at work.

Probably the biggest news of the year…and her lifetime, was the addition of their new baby granddaughter on May 30th of this year. Next to motherhood, grandmotherhood is about the greatest experience that comes from getting older. Not that Corrie is old at all, especially when you consider that we, her parents are now great grandparents. This baby is such a sweet, good natured little girl. Corrie and her husband, Kevin enjoy every single minute they get to spend with her. I know they would like to spend lots more time, but her family is a big one, so we all have to share. Corrie is feeling so very blessed these days. Having a grandchild is the greatest thing ever, and for Corrie and Kevin, a granddaughter is amazing, because they never got to have a daughter, and they wanted a girl too. And, to top it off, they get to share a birthday of sorts, because hr granddaughter is one month old today. And in addition, having a job you really love..well, as the saying goes, “find a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” Now, I don’t think that Corrie would say that her job isn’t work, but it is work she loves, and that makes all the difference. Today is Corrie’s birthday. Happy birthday Corrie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Michelle Stevens has always had an artsy flair, so when it came time to decide on a career, there was no real decision to make. She knew that art had to be a part of her life forever. She also knew that she wanted to share her love of art with others, so what better way to do that than to teach art. I know that some people might think of an arts and crafts instructor right about now, but that is nothing like the requirements an art teacher has to have. They have to know how to do every kind of art…painting, sculpting, sketching, and so many others. To be an art teacher, one must be an artist in every sense of the word…and they must also be a teacher.

Looking forward, I can envision Michelle’s life filled with beautiful artwork…moat of which she has made herself. Of course, I don’t know that, it’s just the way I see it. Michelle has always had a artsy flair about her, and now that she has trained for both art and teaching, it is time to take the next turn in the road. School is over and now she is ready to become a teacher of art. The next plan so far is to move back to Casper, and of course, we are very happy about that. We all hope that she will be able to find a teaching position here at home, but of course, that remains to be seen. I think teaching here would be awesome.

This past weekend marked the final step in Michelle’s education, when she walked across that stage to receive her diploma. The excitement was clearly showing on her face. Her parents and boyfriend were in the audience, almost unable to contain their pride. Years of work were behind her now. She had made the cut. We are all so proud of her and so excited to see where life takes her now. Casper couldn’t possible be blessed with a better art teacher than Michelle. She loves her chosen profession, and the really nice thing is that she can mix her favorite pastime with her career. The future is so bright for her…and so colorful. Congratulations on your college graduation, Michelle!! We are so proud of you and we love you!! The future is yours!!

BobFor as long as I have known my husband, Bob Schulenberg, he has had a job. He is a hard working man, who never quits…until now. Today, for the first time since he was sixteen years old, Bob doesn’t have a job to go to anymore. In the years I have known and been married to Bob, he has had only two jobs. The first in a uranium mine where he worked from 1973 to 1989, when he went to work for the City of Casper. He has worked at the City of Casper for a little over 27 years. One of the girls in human resources, Tracy did a little bit of figuring to come up with some interest figures about how much time that 27 years really is. According to her calculations, for Bob’s May 1, 1989 start date through his last working day for the City of Casper, June 30, 2016, figures up to be 9,922 days, or 14,287,680 minutes, or 857,260,800 seconds. Anyway you look at it, 27 years is an incredible accomplishment.

Bob has never been a man who sits around, and his retirement will be no different. He loves working on cars for family and friends, and already has several jobs lined up to keep him busy…after he takes a couple of weeks off that is. After all, he is going to have to get used to this new direction his life is taking, and what better way than to relax for a couple of weeks before diving into the new ventures he is bound to take on.
Retirement plaque
Of course, being retired will mean that he has more time for our favorite pastime…hiking. We are planning several trips in the near future to go hiking, some just for a weekend, because, after all, I am not retired yet, and others for a week at a time. Of course, no matter how long we are able to go for, we always enjoy our hiking. We love getting out in nature, and especially getting back in the trees.

I don’t know if Bob feels like not having a job is as strange as I feel like it is, but I’m sure he will quickly get used to it. It’s like getting a drivers license. At first it’s strange to be free to go when you want to, but then you get used to it, and it’s just normal. Before very long, retirement will be the same. So without further ado, Bob is calling it a career, and now he is off to new adventures. Congratulations on your retirement Honey!! I know your new adventures are going to be amazing. You’ve earned it.

Kevin, Josh, and Chris paintball fightingKevin 3For some time now, my daughter Corrie Petersen, her husband, Kevin and their boys, Chris and Josh have loved camping. They camped on Casper Mountain, where the boys used to play paintball, and at Alcova Lake, where they liked to fish. The boys all love fishing, and while Corrie would rather take pictures, they find the lake to be a very relaxing place. This year, however, has been a little bit different for them. While they are still camping at the lake, fishing, taking pictures, and just enjoying the three day Memorial Day weekend, they are one short, because Chris moved to Sheridan, and couldn’t get off work to go along. That is what happens when kids graduate from college, and start their adult life and their career. Their priorities are different now. They have their own plans and dreams. imageWhile they truly miss going camping with the family, that simply isn’t to be right now.

Corrie and Kevin are very proud of the accomplishments Chris has made, and of his job. Chris is a chef at the Open Range restaurant in the historic Sheridan Inn, in Sheridan, Wyoming. Chris loves his job, and he has made lots of friends in Sheridan. As graduation neared, he decided that for now at least, he wanted to stay in Sheridan, so the family is trying to reinvent their camping trips around the reality of being one short. They understand that Chris is not that far away really, because Sheridan is only about two hours from Casper, but when they are camping and he isn’t there, it might as well be a thousand miles away. Being one short is still being one short.

For Corrie and Kevin, this is the beginning of change. Before long, Josh will be through with college and on to his career too. The boys will marry and have families of their own, and the camping trips will again be reinvented to being two short. I hope they will still go out and do the things they love to do, and that on occasion one or both of the boys will join them and later, bring their families too, because the memories they will have of the whole family camping and fishing IMG_8300Jumping Joshtogether will be priceless later on in their lives. I know, because I remember them from my childhood. For me the chances to go camping…or anywhere else with my parents are in the past. I would love to be able to go back in time for a little bit, to roast marshmallows over the campfire and sing campfire songs with the whole family. The memories are sweet, but they make me lonely for my parents too. I hope Chris and Josh will try to get together with their parents once in a while at the campground. They will never be sorry they did, because the memories will be with them forever.

Lumberyard 1As a young man, my dad decided to broaden his horizons and so, he headed out to California, where his brother, my  Uncle Bill and his wife would eventually join him. While out there, Dad worked at McDonald Douglas, helping to build airplanes. That would eventually help him in his job as flight engineer in the Army Air Forces in World War II.

After the war, and after his brother, my Uncle Bill, my Dad again headed out to California to work in a lumber yard. I don’t know if this was the only job they did out there, but if it was, I would be surprised. I think most single people, especially the young ones tend to try out a few vocations, before settling on a career…and this would not be my dad’s career choice either…no would Lumberyard 3California be his choice of a place to live. Nevertheless, he and Uncle Bill did work in the lumber yard in the Eureka, California area. Their job was to pull the lumber off of the “Green Chain”. A green chain is a type of lumber delivery system used in the 19th and early to late 20th century to collect the final product of the mill and move it at a controlled rate. The men, like my dad and Uncle Bill, would stand alongside and pull lumber that matched the required dimensions and place it in piles. Basically the lumber was sorted by hand. Modern sawmills use automatic systems to place the lumber in an area where it can dry. The green chain was most likely called that because it was a way of setting the green lumber in a staging area for drying before it could be used. I would think that this type of job would be rather boring, and that is also most likely why they didn’t stay in that career.
Lumberyard 2
The thing that I found most interesting about these pictures, is not what the men were doing, but rather that I had to read the list of men in the picture before it hit me that one of them was my dad. I suppose it could be that the picture wasn’t of the best quality, but I really think that it was because my dad was so much younger in the picture. He was very handsome, and I could see why my mother fell for him the minute she saw him. He was rugged and friendly, with a nice smile. I am glad that he and Uncle Bill didn’t stay in California, because then he wouldn’t have met my mom, and my sisters and I would not have been born. 

scan0048When my niece, Lindsay was born, she was all smiles and lots of personality. She had lots of curly dark hair and was a real beautiful baby. When you know someone from birth, it is sometimes hard to picture them as adults, with careers. You watch then go through grade school, junior high and then high school, but they still seem like kids to you. Then suddenly they have graduated from high school and headed off to college. Those little kids days are gone, but somehow you still can’t think of them as an adult…until college graduation…because somehow that brings the whole point home.

Lindsay began her studies at Casper College, where she achieved an Associates Degree in Fire Science. Then she decided to change her field of study. Having always been Pho50A2interested in nutrition and exercise, she decided to go into something in those fields. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology and Health Promotion, and then her Masters degree in Nutrition, Exercise, and Food Science. Her schooling was over and Lindsay would be stepping into a new life, and a new career.

It really hit home for me, that Lindsay was all grown up, when she was hired at South Dakota State University. Oh yes, she has had jobs before, but not a career, and there is a difference. Lindsay is a Community Food Policy Field Specialist. If you are like me, you probably have no idea what that is. According to the South Dakota State University website, “Her major focus is to bring policy-informing research together with outreach and engagement activities to further foster community food policy councils as an important factor in healthy communities and families. Support program 522479_3840009395166_965112000_ndevelopment that aims to enhance food security.” My sister, Allyn, who is Lindsay’s mom, says “Lindsay is in charge of starting a food policy council in 5 states, to help get healthy foods into food banks and other such places. She works with farmers and ranchers to bring good, healthy food to food banks and to get support policies in place to mandate it.”

Somehow that seems like such a big job for the little girl my niece is in my head. Of course, I know that she is well trained for it and she will do very well at it. South Dakota State University is very blessed to have her. Today is Lindsay’s birthday. Happy birthday Lindsay!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

When you were born Siara, you were such a tiny little girl. You were so much like your mom and grandma…sophisticated from the moment you arrived. Some people are just like that, and you were definitely one of those. You had a smile that made the sun seem to shine a little brighter, and you were and are so stylish. While you never grew to be tall, you had a personality the made you seem larger than life. You always wanted to be tall, but now, I think you have grown quite comfortable in your own skin, and you know that it doesn’t take height to make you a success. It’s all about what is on the inside, and Siara, you have it all, and you will go far.

Now, you are 18 years old and graduating, and I am finding it very hard to believe. Where have the years gone? How can you be graduating already? I am so proud of all you have accomplished in your school career. You are an amazing cheerleader, and a great student. You have proven yourself to be a role model, a true friend, and even a national champion. Your high school years have been filled with many successes, and I know that whatever you choose to do as a career, you will excel in as well, because you know how to succeed.

Now your high school career is over, and your life journey is just beginning. There are so many possibilities for you to choose from, so many roads to take. You may start out on one road, and find that you want to go down another road altogether, or you may find the road you want right away, or you may already know where you are going. It doesn’t matter, because that is what life is all about…growing and changing. No matter how you change or what you choose to be, you will be great, because you are an amazing person…a big success in a little package.

I still can’t believe that today, you are a high school graduate. How can that be? You should still be that little teeny girl running around your grandma’s house, or spending the night at grandma’s with Lacey, giggling the night away, and then not wanting to get up the next morning. Now, those little girl days are over, and you go forth into the world, ready to take it on and win! I am so proud of all you have accomplished and all you will accomplish. I am also very excited for you, because it is the dawn of a new day for you. The world is yours…go out and take it!! Congratulations on your High School Graduation little Si-Si!!

Writing about my own birthday seems…odd somehow. I was due on April 27th, which is my dad’s birthday, but I was…to quote what my dad used to say about me…stubborn, and I refused to arrive on schedule. Ok, ok, I know I’m a stubborn person…I always was, and it has not always been a bad thing. I stubbornly stick to something until I succeed at it, which in my opinion is a good thing. Still, my stubbornness wasn’t always completely welcomed in my parents house, when I was younger.

I was a debater, which my parents always called arguing…imagine that!! I simply had my own ideas, and somehow I think they just didn’t understand that. My dad probably gave me a little more leeway on the debates than my mom would have liked, and much more than my sisters expected me to live through. But, somehow, I survived my childhood, without my parents killing me for my stubbornness, and managed to move into adulthood.

I think it was in my adulthood that I grew into my stubbornness, so to speak. I have always hated losing, and it was my stubbornness that makes me keep trying and working at something until I succeed at it. I have always felt that my stubbornness is a big part of why my marriage worked…that and the fact that Bob has the same kind of stubbornness that I do, and that he hates to lose too. Of course, like everyone who is married, I have read all kids of opinions on what makes a marriage work, but I believe that if you don’t stubbornly determine to make a marriage work, it simply won’t. No one can keep up with all the steps to a successful marriage…at least not if they are going to live life. You just have to love each other and decide that you will accept who your spouse is and learn to get along. Of course, loving your spouse involves some of the steps to a successful marriage, but I think they happen spontaneously…not by planning.

My stubbornness plays a role in my career too. It is what makes me work hard, and makes me determined to succeed. It is also that stubbornness that makes me fight for the health of those I love. As a caregiver, I hate to have to put my mom or in-laws in the hospital. I want them to be healthy, and it infuriates me when I can’t keep them healthy, but I rejoice when I am able to bring them home and watch them get strong again.

I know that most people look at stubbornness as being a negative thing, and something to be avoided, but not me. I have learned to live with my stubbornness, and even to be thankful for it. It has defined me so to speak. I suppose that is because there are good kinds of stubbornness and bad kinds of stubbornness, and I have chosen to make my stubbornness work in a good way.

When I first went back to work after taking 13 years off to raise my girls up to the junior high level, I found that there were not many places who were willing to take a chance on me and my abilities. That said, I found myself working at a Burger King as the main day girl, mostly working the drive thru window from August, 1988 to April, 1989, when I was hired by our insurance agent and began my career in insurance. The time I spent working at Burger King, while less than fulfilling, because I was capable of so much more, was interesting and I very much enjoyed working with most of the people I worked with. I spent many hours saying, “Thanks for choosing Burger King. May I take your order, please?” It got to be a habit, and I have never forgotten that greeting, normal I’m sure, when you say the same things for so long.

My girls were in junior high when I worked at Burger King, and as we all know, junior high school girls attract junior high school boys. So began the years of phone calls from those boys to my girls. All that seems pretty normal, and it was, but after a long day at work, answering the phone was the last thing I wanted to do. Nevertheless, on this particular night, I answered the phone when it rang, and immediately fell into my normal routine…”Thanks for choosing Burger King…” At that point my mind completely blanked blanked on what should be said. I stumbled along with, “No…that’s not right…not Burger King…” Finally, I pulled out, “Hello.” After a moment of silence on the other end, a boy said, “…is Corrie there???” Yes, without a doubt, he thought I was crazy…and for a moment, maybe he was right.

That has happened to me several times, I’m sorry to say. I have answered my home phone as, “Farmer’s Insurance” or “The Stengel Agency” and I have even made calls to doctors for my parents, and told them I was “Caryn, with The Stengel Agency.” I guess, we get into a habit, at work of saying certain things when we answer the phone, and and after a while, our mind forgets that we aren’t at work. Whatever the reason, telephone faux pas can be pretty embarrassing for the person who momentarily forgets where they are, and pretty funny to the person on the other end of the line.

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