Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Amazing Things About Me (for a change of pace)

There is nothing I cannot do or learn to do. 

I am not being boastful or exaggerating.  I am telling you what I have heard people say about me many times over the course of my professional career.  Now I could write out a boring list of all my accomplishments and skills and places I have worked in my lifetime, but you can easily read about those things in my profile.  I am going to take this opportunity to give you the exciting stuff, the real me.
It is important that I tell you all of the things I have done that are NOT in my profile.  I have worked in a toy store, a children’s clothing store, a junior’s clothing store, a fast food restaurant, a grocery store, the supply department of a large hospital, and the public library.  I have worked as a bank teller, legal receptionist, legal assistant, dance teacher, customer consultant at Xerox, babysitter (as a teenager), daycare provider (as an adult), legal document and trial transcript summarizer, medical transcriptionist, chemical dependency counselor, first grade teacher associate, on-site property manager (x2), landlord, general construction contractor, income/payroll tax professional, contract and proposal writer, paper craft artist and educator, drywall hanger and painter.

There are several ways to look at this list, but I am going to address the two that I feel are most important.  First, your initial thought may be that I can’t stick to anything.  If that is your opinion, I understand and I certainly don’t fault you if you want to stop reading right here.  The other way to approach this list is to think about what all of my experiences say about me as a person and as a professional.  Also, please keep in mind that I have never, ever been fired or let go from a job.  The following is a bullet-point summary (I LOVE bullet points) of the information I learned about myself when examining the list, and what I think you should take away from it.

Lisa Burkle
·         Highly intelligent, masters complicated processes quickly
·         Expert interpersonal skills and relationship builder
·         Expert writer and communicator
·         Enjoys and requires frequent challenges
·         Analyzes problems and written materials accurately and efficiently
·         Thrives on brainstorming and heading up projects
·         Completes projects successfully from start to finish
·         Creative and unique thinker
·         Able to operate a drill and hammer a nail
·         Talented wordsmith
·         Great sense of humor
·         Flexible, adaptable and exudes positive energy
·         Entrepreneurial spirit

So there you have it.  A little summary of me.  Please contact me anytime to talk about how I might be a good fit for your organization.  I have one caveat.  While I do find the topic of insurance fascinating and enjoy researching, analyzing and writing about it, I do not want to sell it.  Aside from that, I would love to connect with you on just about anything.

P.S.  Facilitate, staff, data, content, strategic, program, implement, achieve, instruct, lead.  Okay, now I have also optimized my summary by making it key-word rich.  I am creative, but also practical.

Cool bottle...

Monday, June 15, 2015

For the birds

If you walk into my office at work, you may notice that I have birds everywhere.  I never really noticed this myself until someone recently made a comment about how I must love birds.    Birds on the walls, bird figurines, birds, birds, birds.  This gave me pause and I thought for a minute and said, “Actually, I really kind of hate birds.”  Real birds.  This reminds me of one of my favorite children’s movie lines from Madagascar.    Melmin the giraffe said, “EWWW.  Nature!  It’s all over me! Get it off!”  (Notice I said one of my favorite “lines,” not favorite “movies.”  I don’t particularly like children’s movies and I don’t want any misunderstandings there.)  I had to look that quote up to be sure I had it right.  I cannot believe that movie was released in 2005!!  Anyway, the line really stuck with me and I love it.  Not that I don’t like nature, but there are some aspects of it that repulse me.  Like swimming (aka, submerging my vagina) in rivers or lakes. 

I have decided my love of birds is really only theoretical.  I love the IDEA of birds.  Real birds disgust me.  And they scare me.  And I am unbelievably allergic to them.  I can walk into a house and immediately know if the owner has a bird because I will instantly turn into that grade school kid with the constant runny nose and watery eyes.  The sneezing is non-stop until I get out and stay out for at least two hours.  Their beaks are pointy and gross, their eyes are beady, their feet have sharp little claws and they fly around unpredictably, especially if they are trapped in your garage.  I don’t understand why their poop needs to be white.  I understand the purple because of the berry eating, but I seriously don’t understand the white.

Now that I’m thinking about bird poop, I remember that my oldest daughter used to get pooped on by birds freakishly often.  One time a bird pooped on her through the car window as we were traveling down the highway.  How does that even happen?  Seriously, birds pooped on her all the time.  Weird.  Talk about Nature!  It’s all over me! Get it off! 

Birds can be amazingly colorful, their singing is beautiful (mostly) and they are free to fly wherever they choose.  I can appreciate those things about birds, I just don’t really want to look at them or be anywhere near them.  Have you ever been to one of those walk-through bird exhibits at the zoo?  No thanks. I’ll pass.  I’ll just wait outside for you guys. 

And what about chickens?  Those things are absolutely disgusting.  They do not even have the redeeming qualities of being able to sing beautifully or fly gracefully through the air.  I enjoy chickens so much more when they are dead.  I love to grill up their carcasses and eat them and make omelets with their unborn young, but I don’t want to be anywhere near a live one.  I don’t even like THINKING about chickens.  They need to eat gravel with their food so their stomachs can mash it up.  What the hell?  Why can’t their stomachs just work right?  That really makes me question the efficacy of the evolutionary process.  Why did the chickens with teeth and properly working stomachs die out and the ones that need to eat gravel live on? 

Ponder that while you enjoy the following photograph.

Me and my custodian doing battle with a bird over a nesting spot.

Please note the title of my blog and my cover photo!  I just made the connection.  It was several years ago when I titled it and my sister made the cover design.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

So many people joke about having ADHD, but I have an official diagnosis now.  Here is a sample of two consecutive days my life.  A bit of background is required here.  As you may have noticed in my previous post, I applied to the Regents Alternative Pathway to Iowa Licensure program.  Much to my surprise, they accepted me.  Graciously.  Classes began June 5 and it is pretty intensely compact.  I was diligently working on Thursday because I promised myself I would not be THAT student.  You know, the one that always turns assignments in just in the nick of time.  The old me. 

On Friday I wrote the following email to my RAPIL cohort (that is what our group is called):
[I started off with a compliment about one of our classmates.  Not relevant here.]
Here is another little nugget for your enjoyment.  You may recall that yesterday I emailed you guys to ask about that CCC#1 review guide.  Well, in true Burkle fashion, I neglected to check your replies.  I spent a good number of hours writing responses to each one of those.  And there are a TON.  With two remaining, I checked back in to my email and saw a barrage of wonderful responses from you all that would have set me straight and saved me lots of time.  Last night I completed the ACTUAL assignment.  It was a full RAPIL day for me.
Having said that, I can tell you that I know the first section very, very thoroughly. 

As the day started on Friday, I was so looking forward to seeing my psychiatrist for follow-up.  I was very proud of myself two days ago when I received the reminder phone call.  “Ha!” I thought, “I am already on top of it.  It’s written on my calendar.”  I was going to get to talk all about my favorite topic…ME… and let him know how I probably need a slight increase in my dosage of ADD meds, particularly in light of my day on Thursday.  I spent all morning writing an absolutely fabulous linkedin profile summary about ME.  I even made myself laugh out loud. 

Next I went to a spin class with my daughter at noon.  On the way, I texted my son, “Where are you?”  After class I texted him again, “????”  He replied, “I’m at work.”  Oh, yeah.  He told me last night that he was working today.  I forgot. While at the gas station filling my daughter’s tank, I bought a couple of songs from iTunes that I heard on the radio and I checked my emails.  Oops.  Overdraft notice from my bank.  I bounced a check to my son’s basketball camp that I signed him up for AFTER the deadline.  Shit.  I stopped at the bank to transfer money and then emailed the camp director to let him know I bounced the check but that the money is in my account now.

Now I’m starving because I hadn’t eaten all day. Because I forgot.  But I am also thinking I need to pick up my kids from their dad’s house soon.  I called to tell them I would be there in twenty minutes.  I stopped at the Arby’s drive-thru (I hate fast food) and grabbed a sandwich.  While paying for my food, the cute guy taking my money was giving me the stare down and I could tell he thinks I’m attractive.  I am seriously questioning his judgment because I recently left the gym and I hadn’t showered in two days.  As I pulled away with my food, I saw him in my rearview mirror hanging out the drive-thru window watching me and waving.  No joke.  That gave me a little smile and I continued on my way.

I was headed to get the kids and I glanced at the clock in my car. 1:43.  My appointment with my doctor was scheduled for 1:30!!!!  I made a quick u-turn, called the kids to say I won’t come until later, and then called the doctor’s office to tell them I had inadvertently missed my appointment.  The receptionist told me if I can make it in four minutes, my doctor will still see me.  No way.  But I headed there, anyway, to reschedule and leave him the following note:

Dr. H************ (he has a very long name),
My failure to show up for my appointment today says it all.  I was so looking forward to speaking with you and I had it written on my calendar.  However, I got distracted and forgot. I clearly need an increased dose of my medication.  I apologize for the inconvenience.  I have rescheduled for July 29 (first available) [47 DAYS FROM NOW!!!] and I am on the cancellation list. 
Respectfully and apologetically,
Lisa Burkle

Now if all of that doesn’t make your head spin, I’m not sure what would.  And I can assure you that not one bit of that was embellished at all.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

For you, Valentine.

[circa 2009] Yeah, I've been out for awhile. But, I'm back. I need to share these hilarious Valentine cards my son passed out this year. He is in fifth grade. My other kids were writing out their cards and Isaac said he didn't want to pass them out this year. When pressed for a reason, he indicated that he "hates doing all that writing." I remembered something I had seen online that would alleviate this problem. It's a photograph taken at an angle close to his hand. Then, we punched a hole on top of his hand and one under his hand. Stuck a DumDum through and they were good to go. No writing involved. After we made a bunch for his classmates, we really went crazy for his teachers. We dressed him up like Cupid and his teachers LOVED it!

Here's the thing about me, though. As you may know, I work at the school. So, of course, I had to mention the Valentine to all of his teachers in order to receive the credit and praise I so crave (and deserve-hehe). What's up with that? Sometimes I just think I am so funny. I mean, I really crack myself up. Isn't that pathetic? I do a lot of stupid stuff, too, that cracks me up. I will share these with you as well, because I am not shy about my personal foibles. NOTE: "Foibles" might not actually be the correct word to use here, because it refers to a minor weakness or failing of character; slight flaw or defect. My flaws are neither minor, nor slight.
[written 5/6/15]  So here we go.  I have made a goal to write for a half hour every day.  I actually started with the goal of an hour every day and that was yesterday.  I wrote for exactly zero minutes yesterday.  Therefore, I think my goal may have been too lofty, so I’m lowering it to a half hour.  And look at me go!  I have already started. 

I am going to begin with the story of my teacher intern program interview.   As is the case with many of my appointments, I was running late.  Time is elastic to me.  I always underestimate the amount of time a task may take me.  I was going to stop at the post office to mail my daughter’s graduation invitations and thought that would be a quick stop.  That turned into hand-stamping 46 envelopes at the postal counter.  Not an easy task, pealing all those little stamps off a sheet and sticking them on, particularly when you are a little jittery from your medication for ADD.  But that’s a story for another day.

 So, I leave the post office with 25 minutes to get to my interview.  No way in hell.  I had to make the call of shame to let them know I would be late.  She was friendly and seemed okay, yet I was still very nervous and stressed and jittery.  And almost out of gas.  I sped to Iowa City and about halfway there, my last bar was gone.  Running on fumes.   There was no time to stop for gas or I would be even later.  And I was the final interview of the day, so I knew they would want to get home.  I decided praying was my best option. 

I made it.  Parked my car in the parking ramp near the College of Education and tried to compose myself as I walked across the street to the building.  I didn’t want to be that crazy hot mess that rushes in all flustered apologizing up and down.  Nope.  Not me.  Not me at all.  Well…totally me.  But, I acted calm and collected and gave a very personable and professional thank you for waiting for me.  I apologize for being late. 

The professor that was assigned the “greeter” position gave me a warm welcome and assured me that this would not be like a typical job interview.  It was an opportunity for three professionals from the state universities to have a conversation with me to determine if they think I would be a good candidate for the alternative teacher licensure program.  I would have an opportunity to ask questions.  “Please just be yourself,” she said, “we want to get to know you.”  Okay.  You asked for it.  I decided to be myself.

All in all, I feel I did a nice job answering questions honestly and professionally.  I later looked over the star teacher interview format they were using, which the interviewees knew about ahead of time.  I realized AFTER THE FACT, that I had answered almost all questions ON POINT.  Yay me!  About three fourths of the way into the interview, one of the interviewers gave me the following scenario, “Let’s say I’m a student in your class and we have spent a lot of time on a class community service project and we are excited about it.  The principal tells us we can’t do it.  How should I, as a student, act when I see the principal in the hallway?  Should I turn my head away from him?”  I looked at my interviewer and gave a shoulder-shrugging, both palms up, isn’t-it-obvious look and said, “Well…you flip him the bird!”

Bear in mind this is a nice, professional, well-mannered, middle-aged group.  But, while they didn’t guffaw at my terrible joke (although I thought it was completely HILARIOUS), I think they, too, thought it was hilarious.  I kind of half-heartedly apologized and said, “I’ll bet you haven’t heard THAT today.” They chuckled and said, “No, we haven’t.”  Back on task.

I left the interview feeling very pleased and amused with myself.  Just having had the experience was great.  I am really okay if they don’t think I will be a good fit for the program.  Something better happened to me in that interview.  One of the interviewers asked me, “So, Lisa, how many books have you written?”  I looked at him and said, “Zero.” He told me that I should keep that in the back of mind.  I should write a book.  I’m not really sure why he said that, but I feel he saw something in me.  He thought I had something to say.  So, I’m saying it.

I will leave you with the image of my glorious exit from my fabulous interview.  Remember the parking ramp?  Remember how flustered and medication-jittered I was?  I was chuckling to myself as I walked into the ramp.  I walked to where I thought my car was parked.  No car. I walked up the ramp.  I walked down the ramp.  Those damn ramps are so fucking confusing.  They go up, but not really.  There are ups and downs and in-betweens.  After about nine minutes, I called my daughter in a panic.  “I can’t find my car!”  She said it has to be there.  Try pushing your key button to make it honk.  So I did.  I could hear it honk!  As soon as I walked toward where I thought it was honking, I couldn’t hear it anymore.  Walk, walk, walk, walk.  Push, push, honk, honk.  Please don’t let any of my interviewers be parked in this ramp.  Please don’t let them see me walking and walking and sweating. And honking.  Horrible.

NINETEEN MINUTES!!!  I timed my fiasco because that’s just something I do.  Sometimes if I have an annoying teacher in spin class who talks too much, I will start to keep track of the number of seconds she can keep quiet.  When she talks again, I start the timer again.  Usually she can only make it about eight seconds before talking again.  Anyway, if you think nineteen minutes isn’t that long, try walking up and down a parking ramp for nineteen minutes in your dress clothes when it’s warm out.  And when you are now going to be late to your spin class because of losing your car in a parking ramp.  Let’s hope they decide I would be a good candidate to eventually teach your children in the public school system.  

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Letter to Troops in Afghanistan (by my son)

Dear Amercian soldier,

Me and my 5th grade friends are all hoping that everyone is safe and I thank you and your allies for fighting for our country.

I live in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and the weather here is fine. Just became spring here. School is doing fine besides being caught talking with my friends or getting late assignments, but I truly have been working on those types of things.

I enjoy playing outside with my brothers, and I play video games sometimes.

It's pretty hard to handle all five of my siblings (two brothers and three sisters). Not to mention raising my parents (I'm kidding on that one. haha!).

Well, I hope for all of you, and your allies, safety. I wish all my blessings to the American soldiers' health.


Elias B.

[While Elias certainly doesn't make it easy for me, I guess I will allow him to live one more day.]