I always thought it was best to bloom where you’re planted. Make a choice for happiness, even if circumstances aren’t perfeSandra Reicksct. Still seems hard to argue against it. And yet, something’s been missing in living a life like that.

I’ve had several, very different jobs over the years, and I can say that I found happiness in all of them. Not happiness all of the time, but found happiness within the job.

I worked as a franchise director for a practice management company. Learned the legal language that went into creating iron-clad contracts and studied human behavior—what made people successful as franchisees and managers. I worked the farrowing house on our hog farm and dashed around helping 20 sows that were farrowing all at once. Felt a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day with lots of healthy and content baby pigs warming themselves under heat lamps. I worked as a director of religious education for six parishes. Humbled by the many faith-filled families I met and deepened my own faith, as well. And I work now as an owner of a small repair shop. I enjoy being in the company of dedicated problem solvers, which is what being a good mechanic is all about.

I didn’t grow up always wanting to be a franchise director, hog farmer, director of religious education or repair shop owner. Life happened to me, and I’ve tried to bloom wherever I was planted.

In the book, “Achieve Anything in Just One Year,” author Jason Harvey asks, “Did you throw your life into cruise control a long time ago, or are you actively pointing yourself in the direction you want to travel?” Funny thing is, I’ve been pretty happy with this life of mine that seems to be on cruise control. The tension comes when I think about what I’m not doing.

Blooming where you’re planted can provide comfort and peace when your situation truly cannot be changed. It can become a crutch, though, when you honestly admit that you do have choices and dreams in life. But just don’t do or attempt any of them.

There’s a cadet maxim I like that says..

Risk more than others think is safe.
Care more than others think is wise.
Dream more than others think is practical.
Expect more than others think is possible.

I’ve had moments of risking more than others think is safe and caring more than others think is wise—especially when encountering unjust situations. Pursuing justice is just something that’s core to who I am. But I haven’t really allowed myself to dream or consider what else in my life could be possible.

I enjoy reading, researching, learning and writing. (This was very helpful while I was obtaining a bachelor’s degree in communication arts and political science and a master’s degree in theology.) But the years—decades—have gone by without spending much time on it. And so this year I’m going to risk, care, dream and expect enough out of my life and do something with my passion. My interests ideally suit me to become a full-time and forever college student, but since that’s not practical I will content myself with simply starting a blog called, “Moving the Conversation Along.”

I’m an expert on nothing, but have opinions on everything—especially on matters of politics, religion and culture. I hope others will share their opinions and comments too, even if they don’t agree with mine. I really believe a silent, politically correct citizenry does a great deal of harm to our country. It’s refreshing to talk to anyone who cares enough to speak their truth as they see it. And once a dialogue is started we will, hopefully, find areas where we can agree and build from there. Maybe someday we’ll be able to show Congress how it’s done.

This feels pretty scary, so I must be living the maxim well. My life on cruise control has just officially ended. This will be the year of living intentionally!

Sandra Halvorson Reicks

14 thoughts on “About

  1. Ms. Reicks,

    I had the pleasure of reading your piece on the minimum wage that was reprinted in today’s edition of the Waterloo/CedarFalls Courier. As a long-time advocate of raising the wage, I wholeheartedly agree with all the major points you highlighted in the article. What’s especially frustrating about the issue in Iowa is that in all the states which had minimum wage increases on the ballot in last November’s elections passed overwhelmingly, including the Red states dominated by Republican legislatures.

    One last point: you really caught my attention when you mentioned Barbara Ehrenriech’s must-read “Nickel and Dimed.” When I read her book several years ago, I couldn’t put it down, and despite the fact it was written over 10 years ago, it’s even more relevant today. A suggestion….if you haven’t read it yet, another book written just recently on the subject is “Hand to Mouth” by Linda Tirado. Unlike Ehrenreich who is an educated accomplished author, and whose experiences in “Nickel and Dimed” were based on her one year “experiment” attempting to live on minimum wage jobs, Tirado is a lower-income mother who has struggled for years as a waitress trying to make ends meet, and some of the personal stories she relates in the book are heart-rending. I highly recommend it.

    Thank you again for your well-written piece.

    Denis Montenier


  2. Just another comment; I have been a Cedar Falls library member for a year and a half. Two weeks ago the very first book I happened to check out was “Nickel and Dimed.” Great book except she did not try to live that life very long; should be required reading for all of us? About 9 months after starting for the phone company in 1979, I enrolled in a local Dale Carnegie course. It was 14 weeks of pushing a shy, quiet me to get out of my comfort zone. (comes in handy when doing political door knocking) It should be required in early high school years. I started my Political Science degree in 1977 after Vietnam and finally finished by doing 5 years of part time classes at UNI; graduated in 2013. Thanks again.


  3. Always look forward to reading your next article. About the recent article on HEALTH CARE COSTS–would like to see you discuss the major reason for escalating health care and prescription costs. Excessive charges by our hospitals and prescription drug companies (not all). . Recently a Cedar Rapids hospital installed an expensive diagnostic machine, much to the disagreement of two other hospitals in that same city who already had such equipment. Drug companies charge whatever they want to and so do some hospitals. Motto seems to be just charge the patient and insurance company whatever you want to.
    Hate to see it happen–but oversight is needed to contain these runaway costs by establishing guidelines or whatever else it may take. Health care costs in the U.S. are so out of line with the rest of the world. A comprehensive study is needed to get our health system working soundly.


    • Greetings Mr. Conway. There have been a couple of high profile cases where pharmaceutical companies greatly increased a common prescription drug making it unaffordable to many. It’s been on my radar to speak to this issue, and it’s good to know rising health care costs are on the minds of others. Thanks for your suggestion and comments.


  4. Sandra….the title…COLLEGES PROMOTE DIVERSITY——SOMETIMES….caught my eye as I made my way through the Cedar Rapids Gazette yesterday. I read it….enjoyed it…agreed with it as I’d witnessed….first hand….both my kids being influenced tremendously by liberal college professors AND, in my opinion, not in a good way! I reached the end and saw your information and was even more interested. You see, I was raised and educated in Lawler….then made my way to Cedar Rapids where I enjoyed a 40 year career in the insurance and financial services industry. Been retired for 10 years. Seldom make it to Lawler anymore as my parents are deceased and my only sibling who lived in Lawler died last October. BUT, my ears/eye’s perk up when I hear or see LAWLER. I’m very happy I came across your piece and have signed up to be notified of future. Good luck continuing to grow your business. Bill Kuennen


  5. Someone knows, in fact it is their job to know. But no one is saying anything because it is not in their financial best interest to do so.

    Every administrator in a school district knows the 7 revenue streams that feed their school district. There are 350 school districts in Iowa. The CFO of the school district certainly knows, the CPA that by law audits the school every year knows. Who doesn’t know – the cash cow public. They don’t want them to know. Obviously, they do not want the school board members to know. Hey, guess what? It is the primary job of the school board member to keep the school feduciairly responsible. I will stat that again in the different way (so as to bring it to your attention) The primary job of a school board member is fiduciary in nature. Read Iowa Code – it is there in plain English. You don’t know what you don’t know and the employees of the state (administrators, auditors, etc) are not going to tell you. They don’t even know what to ask.

    School board members are chosen by the people who elect them. Up until this November there was a special election to elect just those officials. They are hand picked by the school admimistrationa and duly voted into office by the teachers union and any one else who directly or indirectly gets a paycheck from the school district, i.e. contractors, spouses, voting age dependents, the gullible. No one else really cares or shows up to vote.
    What you need are some really hard nosed business people on the school board. A good case in point is Steve King who ran for Congress just because he was being bullied by his own unaccountable government. A government for which there is no accountability of due process to push back in such occasions. They just cease and desist and wait for another opportunity to milk the cash cow somewhere else.

    Now more directly to your situation where $900,000.00 was misplaced. You don’t misplace $900,000.00 This obviously was reserved by the school administration, the city council and the county supervisors as a bargaining chip for just such a purpose as bringing in a NONCONTRIBUTOR like Facebook. Or other nefarious purpose. See we have everything here gamed and under control – just like you/we like it. It is the job of the County Auditor to keep track of this money of which a good 55 to 60% benefits the schools. Of which 60% goes to school salaries. Of which only about 10 to 12% is fungable in the budget of the school.

    You talk about news readership? Well, they did not and probably would not report this situation – not truthfully in a manner that actually reveals the truth and offers answers. It would not get published/printed if it did. You probably did some surface due diligence for your article but I can tell you that you did not sound the depth of the problems – not at all.

    Legislation that made it to the floor of the Iowa House that would have begun to address this kind of situation was defeated last session. What does that tell you. The majority of our legislators do not understand nor do they care about school finance.

    This is not the end, this is not the beginning of the end. However, it may be the end of the beginning.


    • Mr. Campbell,

      Thank you for your readership and your feedback. Large school districts are entrusted with very large budgets. Ways to strive for continuous improvement in managing those budgets makes for a good conversation.


  6. Enjoy reading you common sense articles. Before I get out of bed each morning, I ask God to give me the strength to fulfill His purpose for me each day.


  7. Sandra, I appreciated your guest essay in today’s Des Moines Register. The pandemic is no more to blame for these school districts’ attendance crises than for the devastating health care worker shortages we are now facing. Don’t look now, but the convenient scape goat is leaving the building. Thank you for weighing in. Well put.


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