10 Questions for A Rocket Machine – Do-It-All Renee

It’s time for the next installment of my Heroes & Legends series. Today’s hero is my sister-in-law, Renee. Renee is pretty awesome. Awesome enough that Randy understands even if something happens between the two of us someday, I still get to be friends with her.

But I know lots of people that are awesome. The reason Renee is hero-like (a term that is making her uncomfortable) is because she can do everything with such a level head. I’m not exaggerating that she does everything. She has a successful career, a beautiful home, a happy marriage, four kids (FOUR KIDS!!), and still manages to run marathons. I have never heard her lose her temper, nor say a bad word about anyone. I really don’t know how she does it, but here are her answers to my hero survey. Hopefully it gives some insight we can all learn from.

The Joos-Mylotts Take the BrewersWhy do you think I nominated you to be the “hero” on my list?
Honestly, I don’t know. Hero is not an adjective I would ever use to describe myself. Although I’m deeply flattered and it definitely gave my self-esteem a nice boost the day you told me.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? Are you this person yet?
I’m still figuring that out. My career path has definitely become more of a journey rather than a destination and I think that suits my personality. Being indecisive with my career has allowed me to have a variety of interesting jobs in the private, non-profit and public sectors which is a really great thing. It also motivated me to get my master’s degree.

I currently have a great job that pays me well, provides great benefits and allows me to set my own schedule. It is a great fit for my life right now which requires a flexible schedule-type job. It may not be what I ultimately want to do but I’ll keep working on figuring that out and see where it leads me. I love art and I’ve always liked the notion of potentially having my own business so maybe at some point I’ll combine those two things. Or maybe I’ll be a book editor or a greenhouse owner (see what I mean about that indecisiveness thing?)

What is your favorite part of your life?
In no particular order: the morning when it’s quiet and I have some alone time to think, organize, drink some coffee, get my happy on and maybe catch a spectacular sunrise. When I’m exercising, especially with my kids and/or husband. I always feel like I can take on the world while I’m running or working out and sometimes I have my best aha moments (about work, kids, marriage, personal issues) when my brain is flooded with oxygen. Also, coming home to my kids. Nothing gives me a bigger smile than excited, screaming kids running to hug me when I walk in the door. Best. Feeling. Ever.

What’s the most annoying part of your day?
Late evening hours. I’m a morning person and have been for as long as I can remember, and sometimes I struggle during the evening when I’m more tired and my patience reserves are lower.

How do you handle a stressful day?
Preparing for it mentally ahead of time and knowing when I need to walk away or take a break. Whether that means taking a mommy timeout with my kids or leaving my desk at work to clear my head and collect my thoughts. A self-imposed break always helps me.

Biggest secret to your success: Knowing what success means to me. My definition of success is very different from my friends or colleagues and drastically different from ideas I had before I was married and had a family with lots of competing demands. I think the notion of success evolves with your life and means different things at different times.

What is the biggest “duh” thing you do the rest of us don’t?
Being aware of my weaknesses (and I have many) and continually working on them. Also, I do things that scare me. Some of the things that have made me the most nervous have led to my biggest adventures and best memories.

What was harder for you to accomplish than you expected?
Getting my bachelor’s degree. One of my weaknesses is that I like too many things and when I was in college I could never settle on just one degree or area of interest. It took me longer than four years to finish and I ended up with two different degrees and then I promptly got a job that wasn’t related to either one.

Also, to this day I still have problems relaxing. I’ve gotten better at it over the years, but I struggle with turning off my brain and truly kicking back.

What comes easiest to you? Does this help or hinder your awesomeness?
Directions, finding things, and multi-tasking. I don’t know if these things help or hinder, but having a good sense of direction has allowed me to be adventurous while traveling and going for runs and exploring all kinds of cities before GPS was even a thing. Finding things comes in handy at home both with my spouse and my children. For some reason my brain can always remember where I’ve seen toys, keys or other lost items scattered around the house. Multi-tasking is sometimes good and sometimes bad. I can get many things done at once, but there are times when I’d be better off focusing on one thing.

Renee, Randy and MaggieHave you had the same goal(s) your whole life or do they change? If they change, how often?
My goals are continually changing because life happens and things get messy and more often than not, things don’t go as planned. I used to write down my goals, but because I’m a little overzealous in my list-making/goal setting sometimes I’d get depressed when I fell short. Now I have a general list of goals that swirl around in my head…some short-term like getting more sleep, being better at finding joy in the small things, being present in the moment (especially with my kids) and carving out more quality time to spend with my husband. And some longer term like traveling to Europe with my children, learning how to play the piano, taking a ballet class and learning how to speak French.

What is your ratio of life-planning to life-happening?
I struggle with finding the right balance. I have more of a planner mind-set and I am always thinking of way too many things to do. Sometimes this hinders the “life happening” part so I try to rein in my type A planning brain so I can “let” life happen.

What else should we know?
It’s good to have a mantra/quote or several for that matter that you can pull out when you need it most. Some good quotes that work for me include:

  • Comparison is the thief of joy.
  • Mindful Adventure
  • Do the same thing you’ve always done and get the same things you’ve always gotten.
  • The way you talk to your kids predicts how they will talk to you
  • Go, go rocket machine!

Bonus question appropriate for the number – tell us a story of your most unlucky time.
This is a somewhat long answer to a relatively easy question, but I guess I’ve learned not to view instances or occurrences in life as unlucky or lucky. One of my favorite children’s books, Zen Shorts, has a parable about luck that speaks about this far more eloquently than I can, but it essentially says that luck or unluckiness is based largely on interpretation and many times things that are perceived initially as unlucky can turn out to be fortuitous down the road and result in really positive outcomes.

Many times my “unlucky” moments have ultimately led to the best outcomes or helped me learn deep life lessons or have given me a really great laugh or memory.

As an example, on our first trip to Europe, Brandt and I got stuck in the Detroit airport for 9 hours (uggh!) because of plane/mechanical issues which is definitely “unlucky.” However, they upgraded our seats on the next available flight and we got to fly first class on the second floor of a Boeing 747 all the way across the ocean which was totally lucky! We lounged in recliner chairs, ate like Kings and were pampered by the flight attendants. It was the best flight I’ve ever taken and definitely an awesome memory from our trip. On that same trip our luggage got lost and we ended up wearing some of my brother’s clothes around London for two days. Again maybe “unlucky,” but the pictures of us all in Dando’s clothes at various London tourist spots are HI-larious and another great memory from our trip!

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