Friday, August 29, 2014

Milestones


It’s mid summer; 2014 is flying by.  I can’t help but take notice of some milestones that have occurred so far in 2014; both professionally and personally.  A few that top the list are:

  • I celebrated my 25th year work anniversary with LSB in April.  It’s gone by in a blink of an eye. When I look back at all the technology changes and how much the bank has grown, I start to feel the years.  I absolutely love coming to work every day and am very grateful for the opportunity to work at LSB.
  • We’ve just completed our 1st week in our new Keota location!  This takes me to the above paragraph.  When I started in 1989, LSB had assets of 25 million and 8 employees.  With the Keota acquisition, we are above 300 million in assets and close to 50 employees.     Libertyville was the only location then, and now we are happy to be in and support 5 communities.  We are thrilled to be a part of the Keota community! 

  • It’s been a year since my diagnosis of Sjogrens Syndrome.  It is impossible for me to put into words what the last year has been like for me both mentally and physically regarding this diagnosis.  I know I am a better person today because of it.  It has made me stronger, more determined, better educated, healthier, and so much more.  I am doing great. J   

  • My nephew Wyatt, 10 years old, showed pigs for the first time at the Jefferson County Fair.  Although he had great success with his pigs, it wasn’t about the color of ribbons won.  Anyone who knows Wyatt’s story of his premature birth knows that he is a miracle worthy of its own blue ribbon.  He was probably embarrassed by the fan club of grandparents, aunts and uncles watching, but we wouldn’t have missed it for the world and couldn’t have been more proud.    

Here’s to the rest of 2014 and the milestones to come!

Lori Mitchell

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Devil is in the Details

I consider myself to be a “big picture” guy. Given enough time, I can usually come up with a viable solution to a problem. My shortcomings lie in the 238 intricate steps and processes that lie between finding the problem and actually getting it resolved. That’s right, I’m talking about the details.

After several years of self evaluation in this realm, I’ve come to the conclusion that patience or rather the lack thereof, is part of my problem. I want my tractor fixed now and I don’t want to waste a lot of time on the phone with the dealer, waiting on parts, tearing the tractor apart or putting it back together. I just have no patience for those things. But a lack of patience is just a part of my problem.

In a lot of cases, I’m just not particular enough. “Close enough for me” and “that’s fine for now” are big parts of my vocabulary. For example, on the rare occasions when I wash my truck, if I notice I’ve missed a spot or two it’s no big deal. I can live with a little dirt. I didn’t get it all but I got “close enough”. If I’ve already put the lawn mower away and I notice a spot I missed, I can guaranty you “it’s fine for now”. You certainly wouldn’t want me performing surgery on ya.

My daughter Audrey is the polar opposite of me when it comes to the details. Audrey will stick with a project until it’s perfect and I really admire her for that. Let me give you an example of how she and I differ on the details.

Just last week, Audrey entered a dozen of her home raised eggs in the egg judging contest at our county fair. She didn’t just grab any old egg out from under the hen either, no sir. She started saving those eggs three weeks before the fair. She selected them for size, shape and uniformity. She weighed them on our egg scale and I swear there wasn’t a gram difference in the whole dozen. The only problem was, she’d only come up eleven perfect eggs by show time. I was in charge of getting the eggs from the house to the fair grounds on the day of the show. I opened the carton marked “DO NOT EAT” and noticed she was one egg short. I called her and was very surprised to hear her say “just grab one out of another dozen and bring them”. I found what I thought was the perfect specimen (the first one I grabbed). I quickly put it and one of the originals on the scale. The one I chose was “close enough” in weight to the others and away I went.

On the way to the fair, I decided I’d pull a fast one on Audrey. I marked where I’d put my egg in the dozen. I popped the carton open and asked her if she could point out the one I’d picked out of that dozen. I knew I had her. All white eggs look alike, right? Wrong. It took her less than 10 seconds to pull it out and hand it to me. Once I regained my composure, I asked her how she knew? Evidently the one I’d picked out was slightly more “pointed” than all the others… Details!

Anyway, Audrey brought home a great trophy for her grand champion eggs, all because she paid attention to the details. Just scramble mine please, and if you get a little shell in them don’t worry, it’s good enough for me!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Father’s Day Without Dad

Yesterday was Father’s Day and it was the first time we celebrated it without my Dad. We tried to have a meal that he would have liked and actually he probably would have done the cooking.  We bought a cake that was decorated in John Deere colors and a John Deere hat.  We gathered at the farm that he loved and which he  tirelessly kept looking pristine.  Somehow this didn’t fill the void of him not being there with us.  

Unfortunately two other employees of the bank lost their father’s this year, so I wanted to share this poem as my blog.

 A death has occurred and everything is changed by this event.

We are painfully aware that life can never be the same again

That yesterday is over, that relationships, once rich, have ended

But there is another way to look upon this truth.

If life went on the same without the presence of the one who has died,

We could only conclude that the life we here remember made no contribution,

Filled no space, meant nothing.

The fact that this individual left behind a place that cannot be filled is a high

Tribute to this individual.

Life can be the same after a trinket has been lost, but NEVER after the loss of a treasure.

 
Paul Irion

So, just a reminder, please cherish your treasures.

Dena

Friday, June 27, 2014

Make a child’s day and mine too.

This spring I went to Drakesville to the Southeast Iowa Produce Auction.  If you haven’t been there, it is a fun outing if you like auctions. The local growers bring their produce and plants there to sale; most of them are from the Amish community.  You have to buy in large quantities, so a lot of the buyers are from local stores.
 
I have several flower beds for spring flowers and fall mums. Fall is my favorite.  The first time I went, I came home with 150 pumpkins.  Randy was so happy with me.  I always take the pick-up and this wagon that is the same size.  Last fall I went a little crazy.  I had to call Randy at work to help me haul mums and pumpkins home.  That’s half of the fun, trying to make it fit. That wasn’t the first auction I have ever had to call him from.

It is a coop association so there are people around that will help you load your purchases at the end of the day.  This spring I was done before the auction was over.  I was rounding up the things that I had purchased and here came two little guys.  They were about five, they had their little hats and jackets on without shoes, and they were so darn cute. They came up, looked at each other trying to decide which one was going to do the talking. I spoke to them, and then one said “Shall we help you?”  I told them that would be great. I had already loaded most of my stuff.  They moved eight flower pots to the edge of the dock for me. I think the pots were about as heavy as they were.  I didn’t have any smaller bill to give them a little tip until after I paid. I told them I would be back. I don’t think they thought I would be back by the look of disappointment I went and paid my tab and returned to find the boys. I gave them each a couple bucks, I turned to walk away, and I couldn’t help but look back.  They were comparing to see if they got the same amount. Their little eyes were the size of golf balls and they are grinning from ear to ear. It was so darn cute.  I was visiting with some friends, and when I went to leave I didn’t see them any more.  They must have earned all they needed for the day.

I can’t wait until fall is here to go again, and I’m sure Randy will be looking forward to it also.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Office Monkeys


Most people that know me, realize that I have a fascination with monkeys.  My IPad screen saver is a chimpanzee, I have monkey t-shirts, and I even say “monkeys” when I feel the need to say a profane word. 

Last year, right after Thanksgiving, I had an anonymous surprise on my desk.  It was a set of office monkeys, complete with office scenery.  Office monkeys are little plastic monkey figurines that are about three inches tall and are wearing business suits.  Some are on computers, a banana phone or taking a smoke break.  They currently sit on the corner of my desk and are a conversation piece for everyone that sees them.  They don’t always sit in their office scenario and quite frankly haven’t been there for a long time.  I tend to change what they are doing to suit the holidays or events that are happening.

During the holidays, two of them were dressed as Santa and an elf and the others were standing in line to see Santa.  They were carolers around a Christmas tree, re-created the nativity scene, and even wore ugly sweaters when the bank employees had an ugly sweater contest.  They have tried to escape on a Friday down the telephone cord hole in my desk and all held up signs depicting “Hump Day”.    They have even worn shamrock hats, wooed the female monkey with candy for Valentine’s Day, and dressed up like Abraham Lincoln and Uncle Sam for President’s Day. 

Most recently, they have been depicting the construction that is happening to the parking lot at the bank, including Hot Wheels cars courtesy of my husband and another LSB employee.  With the onset of the Memorial Day weekend, the monkeys are ringing in the summer by lounging in a pool and riding bicycles. 

Kids love to play with them and move them around.  Adults like to comment on what they are doing.  I enjoy the smiles that everyone gets when we talk about them.  I even have requests from vendors to send pictures of them when they change activities. 

Sometimes when my day gets a little stressful, I just need to “monkey around” to realize that I shouldn’t take it all so seriously. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Color The Earth Run

Have you ever read a quote and thought about what it really means to you?  Well, the other day I read a quote that said, “Hard, is a mindset.”  As I reflected back on that quote I thought, “Wow that is so true”! How many times have I thought something was going to be hard and after doing it, it really wasn’t, but my mind thought it was going to be.  At the beginning of 2014 my sister asked me to join her in the Color Run in Des Moines this year.  I agreed and then days after accepting thought, “This is going to be so hard I will never make it”.  So, in Fairfield, in April, there is a similar run called Color the Earth run.  I signed up thinking this would be great practice for me to see how bad a 5k really is.  For weeks I have been walking and trying to prep myself for the day.  Well, April 12, 2014 came and still the morning of the run I was nervous and not sure if I was going to be able to do it.  53 minutes later I was finishing my first 5k! Granted, I did walk it but by July I will be able to run it!  It wasn’t hard after all, but my mind wanted me to think it was going to be.  “In the end, it is important to remember that we cannot become what we need to be by remaining who we are.”  Max Depree -  another great quote that proved to me that I need to overcome my fears of something new and try it.  I didn’t want to remain the person who had never tried to do a 5k.  I challenge each of you reading this to stop and think about something that you think is too hard and try to overcome it this year! 

Here is a photo of me at the end of the Color the Earth run.  What a great time!


Monday, May 19, 2014

My Path To LSB

Some time ago, I stumbled across the Libertyville Savings Bank’s blog via the links from the Keosauqua Sale Barn’s website.  Since then, I've periodically checked back to see if Blain had written anything interesting.  In mid January of this year as I was considering whether to accept a job offer to come to work at LSB, I came back to the blog page wondering, “what would I write my blog about?”
I was born and raised in rural Jefferson County.  My dad raised feeder pigs and sold livestock feed for most of my childhood.  I participated in the 4-H program in Jefferson County taking pigs to the local county fair each year.  As a kid on the farm, doing chores helped establish a work ethic that would help me be successful down the road.  It also instilled a passion for working with livestock that will be with me for a lifetime.  As I was finishing up high school in the late 90’s, the hog industry changed at a rapid pace.  Vertical integration within the industry pushed small hog producers like Dad out of business.  The vast majority of customers my dad sold feed to got out of the hog business as well.  My dad was bitter.
I vividly remember one particular day during my teenage years.  I was summoned from the house by my mother because Dad needed me outside.  It was a cold winter day, and I found Dad working on an automatic water that had frozen.  “What’d you need?” I asked.  Dad erupted into an explosion of anger and emotion.  He was having a bad day.  He went on and on, many of the words that came out of his mouth I can’t repeat in my story today.  He didn't call me outside because he wanted my help.  He simply wanted to express his frustration with his current situation that had probably been building for months or years as he’d sold hogs for a loss and watched his feed sales dry up.  He yelled and carried on, “You don’t want to do this when you grow up!  Go to college and get a real job, because there is no future in agriculture” were some of the exact words out of his mouth that day.
For as long as I live, I’ll never forget how upset Dad was that day.  When I graduated from high school in 2000, I headed to the University of Northern Iowa to get a degree and ultimately a job like he told me to.  I look back on my time at UNI and remember it for all the fun times I had.  As I reflect on those times I also realize I was lost as I worked aimlessly towards a “real job”.  Somewhere towards the end of my time in Cedar Falls, I started to think about what I was going to do upon graduation.  The decision I made gave me the direction I had been lacking as I worked my way through school wondering what I would do when I graduated.  I decided I was going to do what I loved, which was raising hogs.  I was still going to have to get a “real job” as Dad had instructed, but I knew he was very wrong about some of the things he said as he tried to influence my future years earlier.
As a young person I was very impressionable.  Dad’s influence impacted some of the choices I made such as where I would go to college.  When all was said and done though, his influence wasn't enough to overcome my love for the farm.  When I got home from college, I came to Blain and borrowed money to purchase my first sows, because I knew it was what I wanted to do.  I’d have to market the hogs I raised as show pigs to make things work, but I knew I could do it.  I also took a “real job” with a local manufacturing company that I’d worked for as summer help during my college years.  I worked 8 years for them in various roles within their Quality Control Department.  It was a great job for a company that has been highly successful.  I worked with a lot of very skilled people during that time.  Frustrating to me though, I also worked with a fair number of people that showed up only to punch the clock every day.  They didn't show up because they loved their job, but simply because they needed a paycheck to pay their bills. 

I am very excited to be onboard at LSB as their new Ag Loan Officer, working with farmers in SE Iowa.  Farming is different than any other industry/job.  People choose to farm because it’s what they love to do.  They eat, sleep, and breathe it.  I love the passion people involved in Agriculture feel towards the line of work they have chosen.  I don’t think there is an industry in the world where there are a higher percentage of people that love and truly care about what they do.  My path to a career in Ag Banking was probably a touch unconventional, but after a couple months on the job I feel like I've ended up in the perfect place for me.