Reverse Goal Setting- Know Your Value Part II

Note: This post will make sense on its own, but is intended as a continuation of Know Your Value

Goal setting is about looking to the future. It’s filled with optimism and the thrill of what’s possible. Reverse goal setting, as I’m calling it, is it’s realist step-sister.

Last December, during our team’s year-end offsite, we were asked to think of a goal or endeavor that didn’t go our way in 2017. Being asked to reflect on the year that’s already passed, let alone zero in on something that wasn’t a highlight, is a hard pill to swallow.bw

This is why morning is my favorite time of day- maybe I’ll set a new record of productivity today, who knows! At night, I have to accept the defeat of the unchecked boxes of my to-do list.

At this point in 2017, I had only been at Comcast for four months and had already experienced and accomplished more than I could have imagined. So what came to mind instead, was a personal unchecked box.

My letter, that I opened this December 2018, asked for me to embrace my blog as a platform to share my perspective and my experiences. To not be shy in sharing my yoga instagram, or hide this hobby of mine.

I reminded myself, “Others need your light and you need to shine.”

So what did this mean for 2018? While the letter was forgotten for most the year, making myself a priority was not. I shared my experiences of training for my first marathon; I invested in a yoga photo shoot; and when I stumbled upon the opportunity to attend the Know Your Value Conference in San Francisco, I threw my own hat into the ring. 

With this Conference came another opportunity to show up. Not only to make the most of each day of the conference, but also to submit another application for the Human Performance Institute (HPI) in Orlando.

This conference was focused on health and fitness, and how your well being outside of work impacts your work performance. Aka everything I could have ever wanted. I was so determined to attend this conference it scared me a bit. It reminded me a lot of when I was so passionate about the cook off competition, that I knew I needed to reel it in.

But at the same time, there’s an invaluable bliss in admitting to yourself and others what you want, and how you will get there. It’s ephemeral- once you know the results of the goal, you can’t relive that state of unknown.

On the last day of the conference, we were sitting through back-to-back presentations of amazing speakers, inspiring entrepreneurs, and courageous story tellers. At one point in this, I realized I needed to come up with a plan- a reverse goal- of what I would do if I found out that night I hadn’t been selected for HPI.

I had tunnel vision for finding out the four winners, and I worried if I wasn’t in that 4% being invited to attend, it would jade my experience of the amazing weekend I had just been exposed to.

I asked myself, “What are you looking to get out of HPI? How will you achieve those things, seek out that knowledge, and create that experience for yourself even if you are not chosen?”

That’s the power in realizing how badly you want something- it makes it pretty difficult to just give it up.

So that night, we were blessed again by Mika Brzezinski’s presence as she did closing remarks for just our group, and announced we’d move onto the 4 HPI winners.

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The first video started, and the owner of it came up and took a photo with Mika, Joe, and the other organizers. I thought, Great! They’re going to play all the videos, and then we get to take a photo! I threw my blazer to the ground so my dress could really shine, and adjusted my hair.

“Okay, and onto our next winner,” Mika announced. Meaning…they’re not going through all the videos…that was actually the first winner, there is only three more. The next three were announced and none of those three were me.

In true optimistic fashion, I stayed close by just in case my video inspired them to take on a fifth participant.

Needless to say that wasn’t the case. This was a hard pill to swallow. The tears coming to my eyes were hard to swallow as well. Reel it in, Reed! No one else is reacting this way. Lose more gracefully!

A good friend from the Twin Cities Region, Melissa, who started at Comcast on the same day as me, talked me off the ledge by telling me it’s okay to be upset. It’s okay to not reel it in, and to have wanted something badly. Without knowing I had set the reverse goal for myself earlier that day, she assured me there would be other ways for me to achieve what I needed. My success didn’t lie just in that weekend in Orlando.

Reviewing the unchecked boxes I had on the last night of the Conference, I asked myself what I could do with the time remaining.

I introduced myself to one of the Executive Coaches assigned to our cohort, a major perk of attending Know Your Value, and he jotted down notes on my business card of what I was interested in.

Moments later, Melissa came over to introduce me to a woman from the Comcast corporate benefits team in Philadelphia, who was interested in creating wellness champions at the Region level. How much my eyes lit up assured her that I was as passionate about this as Melissa had indicated.

The most important boxes I checked that day were the two inspired by the loss I had been so scared of.

These moments took place at the time when I had almost counted myself out. Knowing myself, had I been selected for HPI, I would have zoomed past the executive coach and the benefits woman on my way to celebrate. This news made me pause, and realize I was in control of how to move forward.

I may have not gotten my picture with Mika, but I think this one of me standing on my own shines even more.

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Know Your Value

In early August 2018 I stumbled upon an opportunity on our internal website that made me do a double take.

When deciding to join a larger organization, I had been looking forward to exposure to different people with different experiences, and hoped to take advantage of the resources put into development.

This opportunity far exceeded my expectations-

KYVOnce I read this a few times in a row on the edge of my seat, I jumped to how I could be a part of it. You could nominate someone or you could nominate yourself. I realized I hadn’t heard anyone mention this, which meant two things: it’ll be hard for anyone to nominate me if they don’t know about it AND if no one knows about it, they’ll only have a few applicants and they’ll have to pick me!

I took it as a sign that it called for a video and essays, both of which I love. I was going to nominate myself, and I’d rebrand it to “applying” so it didn’t sound so self serving.

From that day forward, I was ecstatic. I showed my video to anyone who implied the littlest bit of interest. I was no longer embarrassed I nominated myself, I was proud of the story I had to tell.

But if I could go back, I would have shared this with my coworkers from the start. When I found out I was accepted in October, there was a lot to catch them up on- I applied for this months ago, I’ve been nervously awaiting the results, I’ve been accepted, and here’s what it is. No you didn’t forget, I just never told you.

I have the most supportive team, but somehow the idea of sharing this “application” with my peers made me doubt whether they’d believe I deserved to go. Of course, this couldn’t have been farther from the truth.

More so, I wasn’t accepted because no one else applied- our cohort of 100 was chosen from more than 700 applicants.

It wasn’t until the week before the Conference that the weight of that set it. Following a housekeeping/logistics call with our cohort, one participant, Jamie set up a Facebook group for everyone.

Shortly after, another member, Jason, created an event to run the Golden Gate Bridge Friday morning. I was giddy. This was going to be a weekend of being surrounded by motivated, like-minded people, who are eager to connect.

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Friday morning, I met Jason and Katie in the lobby, excited for such a unique morning workout. I didn’t know that this would be one of my favorite memories of the entire weekend.

Jason asked if I wanted to Lyft to the bridge or run, and I confidently said, “Whatever works!” He asked if I was a runner and I explained that I did my first marathon this year. We decided to Lyft as a group, and on the way there, I found out Jason does ultra marathons, and his training schedule (which I pried to find out) includes Tuesday and Thursday half marathons and 30+ miles on Saturday.

He’s also notorious for having burpees for breakfast. Aren’t we all?

Ohh, I thought to myself, this is sinking feeling is how my sculpt students feel when I announce we’ll be doing a 5 minute plank.

As we started off on our run, Jason quickly ran ahead while Katie and I did a run-stop for photos- run workout. Jason would circle back to say hi and then would carry on. It wasn’t out of impatience or to show off, it was a genuine way to have a shared experience.

At this time, Brene Brown’s words came to me as they often do, one of the quotes she often shares and speaks to in her own life is, “Comparison is the thief of Joy,” Theodore Roosevelt.

While I wasn’t judging Katie or Jason, I had this little whisper of self doubt. I had the opportunity to focus on the back of Jason’s “Spartan” shirt running in front of me, or I could take in the scenery and know that just being there, I am enough.

This was the best prelude to the Know Your Value conference I could have imagined. It was an equalizer. Hours after finding out about Katie’s family, what’s on the horizon for her four boys, I found out she’s the Director of Research for the NBCUniversal Amusement Parks.

When is the last time you met someone and the conversation went in that order?

On the way to brunch, Jason mentioned needing to prepare for the wellness panel tomorrow. I didn’t know where to start- I couldn’t wait for this wellness panel! Also you’re on the panel?? No comparison, just joy. Instead, I was grateful for the time I had to connect with these two unique and fascinating individuals, and couldn’t wait to meet more of our cohort.

IMG-0304It’s hard to capture the rest of the weekend into words, which is why I have delayed attempting to do so in a blog post for the last month.

Not all experiences are meant to be reproduced. The words would lack the energy, authenticity, and company that made them come to life.

What I will share, are a few takeaways that stuck out as actionable for anyone-

    • “Come with a plan. That way I don’t have to figure out your life for you.” One of the hosts from the NBCU side shared this with us. It put into perspective the burden you are putting on mentors and your advocates when you haven’t invested the time to actively think about where you would like your career to go. It’s like handing them a half baked cake and asking, where do think we could serve this?

 

    • “The only way you have a case for a raise is to increase your value to the company, no one owes you anything.” The VP of Benefits at Corporate reminded us of this, as he warned the 100 of us can’t go back to work on Monday and ask for a raise. He encouraged us to solve a problem for the business and track the value that adds.

 

  • “To know your Value, you have to know what you value” -Sarah Reed. Just kidding. I’m sure someone said some variation of this in setting up this activity. We were given a list of 100 values and asked to circle the ones that called out to us the most. From there we wrote our top 20 on cards and ordered them, and did the same thing again to bring us to our top 5. Regardless of the role I am in or the team I am on, I know I will add value through Passion, Creativity, Ambition, Mindfulness and Leadership.

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What also made this so difficult to write, is the overwhelming question of where do I go from here? How do I make sure this experience doesn’t become static?

Turns out, I needed to address that first, and wrote a post about moving forward from Know Your Value before writing this one on looking back. Stay tuned!

Wishing you a happy and healthy 2019, filled with opportunity and courage from Knowing Your Value!

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Dia Simms, CEO of Combs Enterprises (and started as his- Diddy’s- assistant)

Nigerian Cuisine and Why I’m Grateful for Foodie Friends

 

“Are you cooking?!” My manager interjected with concern and horror all over his face. So much faith in me.

I confirmed I absolutely was, and continued to explain that this group of adventurous friends has shaped me, and pushes me to continue growing. I’m grateful and excited to try something new with them again tonight. I also asked everyone to cross their fingers it all turns out.

This crew, or my Romies as we like to say, gets together about once a month and recently we transitioned that into a cultural dinner party. Because that’s how all 20-something’s have fun.

Emily kicked us off by teaching us how to make sushi (because she loves to make and eat sushi) and we rebranded that evening into a getting a taste of her Japanese roots. Clearly, we had to run with this.

Tamara followed, with Serbian delicacies often reserved for Christmas, which happened to be completely vegetarian. Their willingness to cater to my pescetarian diet is probably why we’re such great friends.

 

That meal included a cheese pie topped with greek yogurt and apple sauce, a chickpea and bean dish, and dessert of baklava and honey pie. All of these dishes had real Serbian names but due to our Italian tradition of drinking lots of vino, I don’t remember what they’re called.

Next, it was my time to shine. Allison is on deck with an Armenian dinner, so I was kind of dreading coming up with a vegetarian English/German menu, which is basically an oxymoron.

And then it occurred to me, my cultural dinner could be inspired by the roots my family has chosen- African. Advice from my dad and some in-depth googling brought me to our Nigerian menu.

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Peanut Soup

My loose interpretation of the recipe above included:

  • 1 tsp peanut oil
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 1 ½ lbs sweet potatoes chopped
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, un-drained
  • 1/2- 3/4 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • ¼ -½ tsp cayenne (I personally did probably 6 shakes of this)
  • 1 package chopped frozen spinach (defrosted and cooked)
  • ½-1 tsp salt

In a 4 quart soup pot, heat the peanut oil. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and diced sweet potatoes. Sauté over medium heat until soft, 5-7 min.

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Greetings from my sous chef!

Add the broth, tomatoes with juice, peanut butter, tomato paste, and cayenne. Stir to combine and bring the mixture to a simmer.

Simmer the soup, covered, over medium-low heat for 10 min. Using a potato masher, roughly mash the soup to break up the potatoes. (You are still looking to have some chunks, so a coarse mash is all you need.) Add the greens and simmer uncovered for 5 min.

Jollof Rice, a recipe I actually followed for once! I added chopped sauteed shrimp.

Tamara brought something similar to samoas from the always wonderful Minneapolis-based Afro Deli. Allison nailed her dessert responsibilities with this banana cake that I’m still dreaming of:

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And those cute African placemats? Those would be courtesy of my adventurous grandparents. It’s amazing to think that such a special Friday night in my Minneapolis home was inspired, created, and built by a couple, grandparents, and a single woman immigrating from Serbia, Armenia, and Japan; and a family in Wisconsin deciding to moving to Africa with their dogs could be exciting.

It’s creating traditions like these that keep those stories part of us, and remind us how much we have to be grateful for.

 

Wanderlust 2017- Twin Cities

If there’s one thing all my friends can agree on, it’s that my coordination on the yoga mat does not translate to the dancefloor. Regardless, I’m glued to any and all wedding dance floors, and have yet to see a shimmy that can rival my own.

So it was somewhat out of character when in Zimbabwe this January, I passed up the opportunity to join in on a large dance circle at our Boma, a traditional african dinner. It was a large circle that would alternate bringing one person into the middle, and some of these people were just amazing dancers. I worried about getting pulled to the middle and not knowing what to do, so I found a place to perch and watch with my sister.

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Place settings at the Boma

The spunky mother-daughter duo on our trip jumped in right away, and when the free-spirited daughter Wendy came back, I remember telling her with a bit of envy, “That looked so fun, it was really cool to watch.”

She replied, “Oh, yeah I wasn’t watching it- I was IN it!”

The words stung a bit, and stuck with me to become my one regret of my trip.

We could credit this to my rampant FOMO, or any cliche “I Hope You Dance” lyric, but it was something more. It was a clear moment where fear stopped me from having an experience I’ll rarely get again. Where I worried more about what strangers from the other side of the world would think more than my own desires.

I hadn’t thought about this in a while, but was reminded over the weekend while attending the Twin Cities Wanderlust event, the world’s only mindful triathlon.  After completing a 5k (part 1) on a scenic St. Paul trail, our 90 minute yoga class (part 2) was to start soon, followed by a guided meditation (part 3).
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Rather than starting the class right away, the lively emcee cued the DJ to play some party music and she was getting the crowd revved up on stage. With everyone on their mats, she was inviting everyone to start dancing- which is not something people are used to starting a yoga class with. I was bouncing around (another one of my signature moves) on my mat, when I noticed someone was invited on stage.

I mentioned to my coworker, Belinda, how fun it would be to go on stage. She encouraged me to go to the front so that if they called anyone else on, I would get to go. I think she suggested this partially to get me to dance somewhere else, but also because she likes to bring out a more carefree and bold side of others.

Thinking of the Boma, I ran to the front stage. The emcee asked who wanted to go on stage, and I fan girled hard. I was disappointed when she picked a group of three friends to come up,  but I knew me and my bad dance moves could break her down with persistence.

Once another pair was called up, I decided there was no reason I needed to wait for an invitation. If I wanted to dance on stage in front of thousands of people like a crazy person, it would be pretty pathetic to miss out just because I wasn’t called on.

So I ran up with them like we’d know each other for years.

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The view from stage, which I knew my words couldn’t do justice

It was unbelievable. I knew there was no space for overthinking like I did in Africa, or half-assed bopping like I did on my mat. So I just danced however I wanted. I was completely in my own element with thousands of faceless yogis cheering me on.

Until I recognized two of the faces, my best friends Alyx and Megan, who I also had come with moved to the front of the stage.

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A year ago, I was working up the courage to practice yoga in my sports bra. Truly. As an active meditation, I would wear a sports bra (instead of a tank top) to class and challenge myself to maintain positive self talk regardless of what was reflected in the mirrors.

Dancing on stage, in that same feared get up, in front of thousands, and being filled with the utmost joy and energy, that to me is the epitome of freedom.

In the yoga class that followed, we were reminded, “No more playing small, this is your time to live big.”

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Plank club- find best friends who also have this as their idea of fun

Wanderlust allowed me to see whether it’s a scenic 5k, a once in a lifetime dance party, a 90 minute flow with a live DJ, or an outdoor meditation, it’s all yoga. It’s a mindset. It’s saying yes, and allowing yourself to experience things as fully as you can.

Yoga is an opportunity to celebrate being alive, and express gratitude for every part of your being.

We focus so much on being smaller, fitting a certain mold, and refining the edges that aren’t perfect. There’s no need to ask permission, show up exactly as you’re meant to today- whether that’s dancing your hardest, laughing (in my case, cackling) your loudest, and daring greatly in every way.

Give yourself permission to take up space, to be seen. I promise you, there’s nothing better.

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What survived of our body paint
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Guided meditation- Wanderlust 2017 Twin Cities

The Reed Way

“Do you travel like this, as a family, often?” We were asked again and again throughout our recent 19 day trip through Southern Africa.

98Early on in our travel group of 30, we were identified by our matching blue eyes. We fielded constant concerns of my dad and sister getting sunburnt (Lindsay later to be nicknamed “The Red Apprentice”). We made iPad crossword puzzles all the rage for long bus rides, and my dad’s commentary dubbed him the Assistant Tour Guide. Our harmonious cackles often erupted without a moments notice, as a preface to the next story we needed to share with the group. In short, it’s easy to tell that the Reeds are related.

Due to our family’s ties to Southern Africa, I wasn’t sure how being in a tour group of mainly empty-nester couples, a few families, a spunky mom-daughter duo, and a couple on their honeymoon would impact the trip and its importance.

When I first met our SmarTours guide Shaun, he didn’t strike me as having the energy I had expected from the group travel I had done as a high school and college student. As time went on, I found that instead of encouraging ice breakers or making lame jokes, his energy came from his passion for South Africa and his pride in sharing his life experiences- even when raw and unfiltered.

He took interest in my dad’s years growing up in Africa, and we built a strong connection with him by asking questions of him outside of the trip logistics. I think he could tell my sister and I had never read the trip’s itinerary, and we’d rather hear his stories than find those details out any time soon.screen-shot-2016-12-20-at-9-13-18-pm

We wanted to keep taking in what it felt like to be in this place we had heard about our entire lives. We never stopped springing out of our seats for roadside baboons or elephants (including me waking up from a nap because I heard “whale,” which turned out to be a rock).

One of my grandpa’s go-to sayings was, “You can’t pick your family, but you can pick your nose.” As right as he is, it was more evident on this trip that there were other people I didn’t pick as my own.

One elderly woman was not just happy to be there. The Chief of the tribe we visited interpreted her name as Pilis, so we’ll call her that. Rather than getting to know the local hotel staff, she barked out orders for two weeks and accused them of stealing from her.

She would play up her frail age (85- which is impressive) if it scored her some perks, and was miraculously a spring chicken at any time that something cool was a long walk away. Pilis showed her stripes early on by stealing Cape Town bumper stickers because she didn’t have any Rand, the local currency. Needless to say, she thought tipping was optional. Her self awareness was minimal if existent. She wondered what was all the hype about bug spray- “Are we were going into the woods??” Close, just dodging malaria.

113115Then came time to check out of our amazing Victoria Falls lodge; and we found out that Pilis had disputed her bill from a facial she had gotten the day before. She claimed the facial bruised her because it was too much pressure. By refusing to pay the $60, Lydia, the masseuse and local Zimbabwean, had to make that money back to her boss, out of pocket.

We were furious. I felt sick to my stomach as my friend Wendy relayed this story. Wondering what we could do, I realized I had the perfect amount of US cash in my purse to cover the costs and add a tip. I am notorious for never having cash, so it felt far from coincidence.

I could leave Victoria Falls ashamed of Pilis and her disregard of others, wishing I could change her. Or I could change the situation, now.

I went to the front desk and asked for my money to cover the elderly woman who had refused to pay. When it came time to leave, Wendy introduced me and my sister to the woman that had handled the interaction with Pilis. Unfortunately, the story gets worse.

She was overjoyed that the masseuse Lydia was not going to have to pay, and explained that this ordeal had started right when she arrived for her facial. Pilis brought the clothes of her late son and offered them in exchange for the service.

Pilis got angry when Lydia refused, and reminded her that she lives in Zimbabwe so she could surely use these clothes.

The woman agreed with our horrified expressions and explained, “As Zimbabweans, we refuse to be pitied. We hold our heads higher, and we smile bigger for the next person. We don’t let people like her define us.

I was still heartbroken for all of the people who Pilis had hurt, but that I had done what I could in the Reed way. That we had been raised better, surrounded by true values, and taught to make a friend in everyone.

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When it came time to leave Victoria Falls, our Tour Guide, Douglas, asked me why I was crying, and after hearing the story, he said of Pilis, “She must have some troubles she carries on her back.”

I can’t point to Pilis to make a case for traveling in groups, but I can point to the community that was created with all of the others. There’s endless [positive] stories, adventures we could have never done on our own, and friendships our family will hold dear.

Their responses play in my head on a weekly basis. It so beautifully captures the spirit, pride, and will we saw in everyone we met during those two weeks. People, we wouldn’t have been able to meet on ground we wouldn’t have been able to cover if we weren’t traveling in this type of group.

We showed them our worst, and they still responded with their best.

It’s hard for me to picture this trip being just the Reeds, because whenever the group got to be sensory overload, we had solace in dinner for four, combining our rooms for happy hour, and staying up late to play euchre under the stars.

I can’t imagine how much Pilis’ stories of Africa will differ from the ones I heard growing up from my grandparents. But I can share my own, and encourage you, whenever possible, to go make your own.

En Route to Africa

I have been waiting to say those words for as long as I can remember. I have heard about Africa from every Reed family member, been surrounded by gorgeous artifacts, and admiring elephants since day numero uno. 

Finally, the bags are packed, the meds have been consumed for all of the diseases I’m dodging, and I’m wondering how many Instagrams a day is too many. Nine feels right to me.

In preparation for my family’s two week trip to Africa, I’ve been asked a lot about where I’m going, who I’m going with, why I’m going, and if I’ll remember not to pet the animals. 

The Where:

You know when your mom has it under control so you lose all sense of responsibility? That’s what we’re working with. What I do know is that we’ll be doing a safari, going to to Kruger National Park, and ending the trip with a visit to Victoria Falls. 

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Made this map just for you. And my own comprehension.

 

  • 4 days in Cape Town
  • 3 days in Hluhluwe
  • 2 days in Swaziland
  • 2 days in Kruger Park
  • 2 days in Johannesburg
  • 3 days in Victoria Falls

The Who:

My family loves to travel. Our big trips have mainly been to Europe, planned around when my sister was studying or living abroad in France, and when I was studying abroad in Rome. Without asking them, these are the stories I remember of their previous experiences with Africa. I have clung onto all of these stories for years as if they were my own, because in some ways they are.

My sister, Lindsay: She went to the Canary Islands when she was very young. The story I hear from this trip all the time is that my parents and grandparents were in their hotel room playing cards, while she slept in her crib in my parents’ room. At one point during the night, they heard a knock on the door, where they found little Lindsay on the search for Mom & Dad. We still don’t know how many doors she knocked on until she found the right one. 

My mom, Sheryl: Also may be referenced in these posts as SherBear, it’ll catch on one day. She’s traveled to Africa before with my dad, but I’m not sure how many countries she’s been to. One time, my parents were sleeping in a tent outside, let’s say in South Africa. My mom woke up to heavy breaths outside the tent, which she could hear and feel through the thin canvas wall. There was a huge lion standing outside their tent, my mom said her heart was racing, worried that it would barge in. Luckily, it kept on walking. 

My dad, Scott: The Africa expert, in my humble opinion. I had always heard stories of him being the only white student at a boarding school in Nigeria. On a recent trip, we visited where he wandered around Switzerland while his sisters were at boarding school there. 

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Fondue dinner in Switzerland- yes please

However, all the details have always been fuzzy to me. This may be because if you’ve ever gone on a big trip, people will ask you to “tell them everything,” but their attention spans tell you to “skim the highlights.” But I try to repeat the stories anyway, because they feel like home.

This brings us to the why.  

Why Africa? 

Apparently in eighth grade, I got to the bottom of this question. I don’t remember conducting this interview, so that’s why you keep the same desktop for 10+ years. Here is future B.A. in Journalism, 13 year-old Sarah with the facts (and notes from 2016 Sarah) on a project called My Family Story:

“For this project I called my grandma and had her tell me about her husband Jack Reed’s life. This let me learn more about my family, which I am very close with. I always loved my grandpa but I never really talked to him about his career or his amazing experiences. I loved learning so much about him, but I wish I would have done this 3 years ago, so it could be in person; my grandpa died of Cancer when I was 10 years old.”

Grandpa-isms

  • “When your retired everyday is like Sunday, except Sunday.” (I read this at his funeral and everyone laughed, but I didn’t get it for years)
  • “The k in knife is silent like the p in swimming” (Personal favorite)
  • “Finer than frog’s hair” (This was another where I would smile and nod)
  • “You can’t pick your family, but you can pick your nose.” (Still true)

“There are some people who follow their dreams in their careers and there are others that just settle for what they’re given. My grandpa, Jack Reed, never settled nor gave up. His dad was always interested in Africa, but never followed through, you could say he settled. (A little judgy for a 13 year old living in Mequon, WI) My grandpa shared the same deep interest of Africa and animals, but I wonder if he knew that he would be different; that he was going to follow his dreams.

In 1967 he was offered a Nigerian teacher education project employed by the University of Wisconsin. In Nigeria he would be writing the curriculum for teachers there. My dad and [his sisters] voted and decide they would agree to go, only if their dog could come. (ATTN: Friends, the dog-love is in my blood) When my Grandpa confirmed that would be fine, everyone was ecstatic, it was not extremely hard for the kids to leave considering they had done so much moving already. They had some doubts because it would be such a drastic change. 

‘We were curious of what we were letting ourselves get into, but more curious than doubtful,’ My grandma told me.

They moved to Nigeria in July 1967 working on the Nigerian teacher education project.  There he taught at the Amadu Bello University.  He enjoyed hunting big game there such as elephants. (This is brand new information. I think I purposefully blocked this out of my memory due to my love for elephants) His interest in animals and adventure resulted in lots of exciting camping trips, due to the world around them. The family saw Victoria Falls and would go to swamps to see any animal imaginable for the region.

They lived in Katsina, Nigeria for 2 years despite the food and water shortages, and having no phone or electrical outages. The first year in Nigeria my aunts went to the American School in Leysin Switzerland. My dad went to a primary boarding school in Nigeria where he was the only white kid. Because the school was close to home he came home every night and went back every morning like a normal school.

They lived on the edge of a dessert, so my dad would ride his horse into town and he would come back with chickens and other goods the villagers gave him. ‘All of the villagers loved the little white boy riding his horse,’ my grandma informed me. They came home after every year to see everyone back in Wisconsin, but never got severely homesick. The second year all three kids went to the International School of Ibadan, which was also a boarding school. They left Nigeria in 1969 and moved to Madison.

In Madison he taught science education at the University of Wisconsin. In 1974 he and my grandma moved to Botswana employed by the Ohio University. He taught at the University of Gabarone Botswana, where he was the Dean of school education. My grandma and grandpa stayed in Botswana for 15 years, but still returned once a year.

africa
My kind of decor: Grandma’s hand-me-downs from Botswana & Nigeria

All three kids were in college or graduated, so it was just the two of them. They returned to Wisconsin in 1995, two years after I was born. ‘Me and Jack first held you when you were four months old, like a peanut,’ My grandma shared. (I read this how she says peanut. All the feels)

I knew my grandpa for ten years but with all the memories I have of him, that number seems unreasonably small. (I actually only have a lot of other people’s memories of him, but I always remember his joy and humor)

He was an amazing person who able to fix anything from toys to sorrow. He wasn’t very serious, except for when it came to his dreams.

My grandpa was the type of person where no matter what, around him you would have a great time. He did what his heart told him to and didn’t follow through with something that didn’t make him happy. This reflects his career choice completely and knowing all this information has helped me understand not only him but a lot of my family. It now makes sense to me why there is always a dog in all of our family’s houses. (Finally this mystery is solved) All of his qualities and traditions are great to pick up habits from, such as his loving nature.  No one would be settling to have Jack Reed as family or a friend.”

There you have it. Stay tuned for blog updates whenever possible and follow @rarahseed for all of the Instagrams of animals and sunsets.

Happy holidays!

The tenacious pursuit of this trip, the complete disregard for details, and the emergence of an 8th grade assignment with the answers to all of my questions puts the S in Scrappy

5 Things to Try in Stillwater

After an AMAZING staycation in Stillwater, I have much to share. Anyone who has gotten a live Sarah-Reed-story before, knows that I firmly believe in the more details, the better. However, with all of the self control in the world, I give you the top 5 highlights. Here’s where to hike, where to drink, and where to eat (aka the essentials): IMG_5210

Willow River State Park: We explored a six mile trail here that was the perfect mix of grassy plains, difficult hills, and overlook views. Best of all, it led to a gorgeous waterfall {option to turn around here if 6 miles isn’t your style} and a large staircase to overlook the waterfall. We also visited William O’brien State Park the day before, which was predominantly grassy plains but was still a winner.

Charlie’s PubBrandon and I had been to this pub in the summer, and enjoyed sitting outside on the deck. Right above it is the hotel we decided to stay at this time, Water Street Inn. While the decks nice in the day, the real party is going here at night. With live Irish music on the weekends, and an intimate bar setting for other nights, you can’t go wrong. Sunday night, we were the only people at the bar, so we got to know the bartender to make his favorite drinks. Ask for the whiskey smash and an old fashioned, you won’t regret it.

IMG_5191Maple Island BrewingCan I go here everyday? I had an awesome flight consisting of an ale, maple beer, IPA, orange creamsicle, and coffee stout, Yes to everything, especially the Maple bock. A full one may have been too much, but the unique flavor was a great treat. There were two musicians playing covers (shout out to their Jbieb’s Love Yourself), which added great ambiance.  If you’re in Stillwater over the weekend, saunter over there Saturday morning for me to check out the yoga class they host- beer included and proceeds go to charity.

Tremblay’s Sweet Shop: After resisting the urge to visit Nelson’s, we wandered this quaint candy shop and I’m still dreaming of going back. There were samples, which is always a good sign, and amazing handmade truffles, turtles, brittles, and more. My bag of treats was twice the weight of IMG_5192Brandon’s, and I still see no problem with that.

Luna Rossa: Not to brag, but I know good Italian. I didn’t choose this life, it chose me. You simply do not live in Rome for four months and leave without greater expectations for pasta, wine, and fresh ingredients. With that said, Luna Rossa was the perfect place for our anniversary dinner Sunday night. Absolutely recommend the spinach and mushroom risotto topped with salmon. Add in some chianti and tiramisu, and it felt like my second home. 

Overall, 10/10 on this staycation. Stillwater’s waterfront small town vibe gives the impression you’re much farther from the Cities, when it was only a half hour commute. This allowed us to make the most of the Sunday morning- Monday afternoon trip, and be present without any stress. Explore wherever you can, it is always worth it. Let me know what you try from this list, and share where else you go!