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September 7, 2010 / Rachel Jean

Two Years

On Monday, Ryan and I will celebrate our second wedding anniversary.

It’s funny how everyone has advice for new couples. Here are 20 things that I think every couple should know that I’ve learned already or believe to be true.

  1. Say “I love you” at every opportunity.
  2. Never threaten divorce. Ever. It’s not even funny as a joke.
  3. If it bugs you, say something. Then let it go.
  4. Screw the cynics. Yes, marriage stats say 50% fail. That means there’s another 50% that stay together. Chances are, you know a happily married couple.
  5. Just because a couple is happily married, doesn’t mean they’re newlyweds.
  6. Marriages take work, but loving someone easy.
  7. Your spouse will do things that you’d love to tell your friends, but sometimes you have to respect your spouse enough not to share all.
  8. Your family might be your biggest supporters, but sometimes they can create the most stress. (You’ll get your grandchildren when we’re ready, damn it!)
  9. Sometimes you need to go to bed mad, but take the time to figure it out in the morning.
  10. I’m sorry is a necessary phrase in your vocabulary, but sometimes it sucks saying it.
  11. Little things matter. Big things matter more.
  12. Making your spouse’s day may make yours.
  13. There’s nothing worse than seeing someone you love hurting when there’s nothing you can do to make it better.
  14. Fight fair. No name calling. No screaming. No threatening. Talk about the problem and what you think could make it right.
  15. Trust each other, and don’t give the other person a reason not to trust you.
  16. Work hard. Play hard. Enjoy doing both of these together. (This doesn’t mean you have to work at the same place.)
  17. Respect boundaries.
  18. You won’t always share the same values, but respecting each other’s values is critical.
  19. Have hobbies you enjoy together and others that you do on your own.
  20. Be happy with today. You can plan for the future, but don’t obsess over it or wish away time.
July 31, 2010 / Rachel Jean

The Sex Offender Next Door, What Did We Expect?

There’s a lot of controversy in my hometown at the moment. A level three sex offender is moving to the area, but he will not have a permanent address. Why? He’s going to be homeless.

Of course I’m concerned. I have family that lives in that area. I grew up there. Friends live there. Do I want them in the path of a sex offender? Definitely not.

Here’s what I find interesting about the whole thing: the comments on the articles and on my Facebook, all seem to reflect a crazy mob mentality. They don’t seem to reflect actual facts.

In MN, the level of offender is based on a formula. Not surprising, he scored high enough to be a level three offender. However, I’m disappointed in the public’s response. Despite their shock and alarm over an offender moving into the area, it doesn’t seem like people are doing their due diligence to appropriately remedy or adequately inform themselves on the situation.

For example, many are making comments about protecting kids. Don’t get me wrong, I’d make sure mine would stay away from him too, but a quick search told me that he didn’t commit a crime against children. According to the MN Department of Corrections, he “engaged in sexual contact with victim (adult female) and held her against her will. Contact included restraining victim and pulling her to the ground. Offender gained access to victim by approaching her in a public park. Offender was not known to victim.”

So how are people reacting? The mob has ensued. People have made tough-guy comments about harming him, cried out against the system for allowing his release and even suggested that he should be moved to another city. But does any of this solve anything?

Here’s what I think should happen. The community needs to attend the public hearing. Get the facts. Find out what they can about him, where he’ll be, where he frequents, etc.

Then they need to act. Start by doing the things that they SHOULD BE DOING ANYWAY: locking their doors at night (it’s a small town, many don’t,) don’t walk alone after dark, inform people of where they’re going and when they plan to return, only take familiar routes, etc.

Second, understand the formula that makes someone a level three sex offender.  The state legislative branch has information on their website that describes the formula used to determine risk of re-offending. Not surprising, a guy planning to be homeless almost couldn’t rank as a level one or two.

And even more importantly, the community needs to get involved. We have state legislators for a reason. Not one comment on these articles has suggested contacting a legislative official and pointing out the loophole in sex offender registration. As I finish this post, my next step will be to contact my local and state representatives. Hopefully, I can encourage action in the next legislative session that will close this gap.

Finally, I think that an issue like this bears political considerations. On one hand, we want to lock a dangerous person up indefinitely. But on the other hand, we want our taxes kept low. Can we keep taxes low and keep people locked up? If they aren’t locked up, do we have the resources to keep the public safe? A situation like this should make you assess your political affiliations and make you prioritize accordingly. I’m not saying you should be a DFL-er or a Republican or an Independent or a Green Party supporter. But using a “real life” experience to assess your political views should help shape the way you vote.

July 23, 2010 / Rachel Jean

The Problem With Being A Millennial

Five years.

That’s what separates me from “Generation X.” Instead, I’m considered a part of a generation that is generally making a bad name for itself.

Damn it, I’m a millennial.

On the one hand, I grew up with computers and encyclopedias. I remember writing down my notes from the encyclopedia for my 3rd grade “research paper” on pandas on notecards. I can remember the days when you used multiple search engines to do your research and came up with very different results depending on which one you used. (My favorite was Dogpile because it aggregated results from multiple search engines.) As far as learning goes, I think I received the best of both worlds by having to learn with and without the assistance of technology.

But fellow millennials, we need to knock a few of our cohorts upside the head. People are out there making us look bad.

I’ve heard and seen a few horror stories. I recall catching an intern doing her homework once at a previous job instead of the work that we desperately needed to get done. (WTF?) I’ve even seen the entitlement in some friends. (No dear, life will be just fine if your parents don’t pony up for your princess dream wedding.)

But when I read this article from Twin Cities Business, I nearly flipped a gasket:

Anne, a seasoned HR manager at a large manufacturing company, welcomed Justin, a new hire fresh out of college, for his first day of work. She gave him a tour of the office, got him settled in at his desk, and told him when and where his orientation session would start later that morning. Then Anne went back to her own desk to work, and just as she was digging into the accumulation in her inbox, the phone rang.

It was Justin’s mom. She wanted to thank Anne for giving Justin his first job and also offer some advice about how to manage him.


Let’s presume Justin is unaware of mommy-dearest’s actions.

Seriously, Mom? Justin needs to be a grown up now. If he didn’t leave home to go to college, he’s certainly stepping into the adult world now. You are doing your son no favors by telling his company how to manage him. The helicopter-mom act is only exasberating the bad name of the millennials and adding to the sense of dependency and entitlement. If never forced to be on his own and take personal responsibility, he’ll never be on his own.

This article is only online in part. The rest is also a must-read. The full version goes on to describe parents who want to review their child’s benefit package to help them make an informed decision regarding their employment offer, interns not being satisfied with less-than-meaningful work, etc.

In fairness, I firmly believe that the parents are as much to blame for this situation as the millennial. No one forced you to make that phone call. (I’m not even sure that they would be ok with it, but that’s a separate issue.) But parents, sometimes, your kid needs to screw up. Even more important: YOUR KID ISN’T PERFECT. Life might be tough sometimes. This is one of life’s greatest learning experiences.

But millennials, take some responsibility. Pay for your own cell phone. Buy your own car. Work your own way through college. And for the sake of all of us, DON’T LET YOUR FAMILY DO ALL THE WORK FOR YOU!

I know I mentioned in a previous post that I had help from family. I asked for connections. No one wrote the letter for me. My family didn’t coach the interviewer, nor did they encourage my hire. A family member sent an email out saying, “Hey, Rachel Jean is looking for a job. If you might have an opening that fits her, you can contact her directly.” I still applied and intervied like everyone else. I firmly believe that I didn’t get any special treatment in the hiring process. (The contact at the business that hired me didn’t know me and wasn’t a part of the interview process. She simply told me where the opening was and who to address in my cover letter.)

I see this everywhere. I believe it. Millennials are expecting more and asking for more help. If you want more responsibility earlier, fine. Earn it. Have some drive. Do it yourself.

And if you have a hovering parent, do whatever it takes to land the helicopter.

July 22, 2010 / Rachel Jean

“Love Like Crazy”

Love Like Crazy

Sung by Lee Brice
Written By Doug Johnson and Tim James

They called him crazy when they started out
Said seventeen’s too young to know what loves about
They’ve been together fifty-eight years now
That’s crazy

He brought home sixty-seven bucks a week
He bought a little 2 bedroom house on Maple Street
Where she blessed him with six more mouths to feed
Yeah that’s crazy

Just ask him how he did it; he’ll say pull up a seat
It’ll only take a minute, to tell you everything

Be a best friend, tell the truth, and overuse I love you
Go to work, do your best, don’t outsmart your common sense
Never let your prayin’ knees get lazy
And love like crazy

They called him crazy when he quit his job
Said them home computers, boy they’ll never take off
He sold his one man shop to Microsoft
They paid like crazy

Just ask him how he made it
He’ll tell you faith and sweat

And the heart of a faithful woman,
Who never let him forget

Be a best friend, tell the truth, and overuse I love you
Go to work, do your best, don’t outsmart your common sense
Never let your prayin knees get lazy
And love like crazy

Always treat your woman like a lady
Never get too old to call her baby
Never let your prayin knees get lazy
And love like crazy

They called him crazy when they started out
They’ve been together fifty-eight years now

Ain’t that crazy?

Every time I listen to this song, I fall more in love with it. It resonates with me.

July 8, 2010 / Rachel Jean

Inspired by Pat

I have a truly awesome former boss.

Pat can best be described as the “hippest 62-year-old woman I’ve ever met.” Even better, she has an endless sense of optimism that’s downright admirable.

Like myself, Pat was laid off from our previous employer. She was there a bit longer, but not much. While we’re both glad to be out of the craziness, she hasn’t found a new opportunity yet. But if you think for a second she’d even be slightly depressed, think again.

“I can’t believe I’ve been out of work for 45 days! But Rachel, being laid off in the summer isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’ve been out walking around the late, exercising more, visiting friends and enjoying the warm weather!” (Not to say she hasn’t been looking for jobs too, but you can only send out resumes for so many hours in a day!) But is it all fun and games, well no, but she accentuates the positive. And like I did, she’s found outlets that remind her that life is still good and there’s plenty to be thankful for having.

We talked about my job and how I found it, exchanged ideas and really just enjoyed catching up. I’m confident that whatever organization snags Pat, they’ll be impressed.

“I know I’ll find a job. I’m conscientious. I’m a hard worker, and I’m a darn fun person to work with! I’m sure I’ll find a company that works hard but has fun while they do it.”

It’s this sense of optimism and zest for life that made her one of the best supervisors I’ve ever had and a joy to know personally.

PS If you’re looking for someone to inspire your team, I have the ultimate candidate you must meet… actually… I have 3!