The Changes Keep Coming

The year 2014 will definitely be one of the biggest roller coasters of my life.

I started the year out intentionally unemployed, as I had taken a buyout from my dead end job at a previous company so I could get back to working as an entrepreneur. My ex-girlfriend was pregnant with my child. My new dog, Ace, was shredding everything he could get his teeth and claws on.

I was definitely embracing the lessons I learned in Jon Acuff book “Quitter”

and the nine weeks of classes I took for Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.

I even found this amazing inspiration video that I loved watching over and over.

I was setting myself up for a great year.


Pregnancy is hard on women, hard on couples. It is especially hard when the couple is not actually together. They are just two people having a child together.

To say those last seven months of pregnancy were challenging was a gross understatement. There were times when I was threatened that I would never see my child. That he wouldn’t have my last name. There were times when I thought we were going to have to go Family Court to settle things.

We were both at fault. She was going through the normal pregnancy feelings and emotions. I had taken a job working graveyard shift as a poker supervisor. I hadn’t worked graveyard since I was a night stocker at a Hy-Vee in Marshalltown Iowa in the late 1980s. The 1-9AM shift, the pregnancy stress and the baby preparations all contributed to me barely keeping it together emotionally.

I was so ready for this little guy to come out.

Jace and Ace hanging out together on the couch.
Jace and Ace hanging out together on the couch.

Then things went from bad to worse. Little Jace Allen Harberts spent 49 days in the NICU overcoming a few health problems. It was tortuous. Driving up to see him twice a day to spend maybe 30 minutes each time then trying to plow through an 8-hour graveyard shift with him on my mind every moment.


In the last quarter of the 2014 things have gotten better. Jace is healthy and happy. He is growing up to be a beautiful, strong boy.

My relationship with my son is great. He is going to be a great man. We struggle at times because a 45 year old man doesn’t have a clue what to do with a four-month old baby when he’s all alone and the kid is screaming. But I walk him around, I beg, I plead, I cry along sometimes and we make it through.

Jace learning to watch football like a pro. Laying on the couch in Daddy's spot.
Jace learning to watch football like a pro. Laying on the couch in Daddy’s spot.

I set a goal to get off the graveyard shift by the end of 2015. Then a job opened with two day shifts and three swing shifts the week before Thanksgiving. I jumped at the opportunity and got off graveyard more than a year ahead of schedule.

My social life is still absent. It would be nice to have that special someone to share my joy with my son and my dog, but it apparently isn’t in the cards right now.

It has been a roller coaster of a 2014. It turns out, however, I am having a great year.

 

 

 

 

Don’t Be Afraid To Be The Black Sheep

The other night I was doing some research on unique business cards. I was looking for something to showcase my business skills and send people to my website.

I came across a unique business card for Jon Acuff. Mr. Acuff is an author I discovered in the past couple of months and a speaker I have watched in the Financial Peace University series presented by Dave Ramsey.

Here is his business card. It’s unique, in part, because his wife reminded him, “We don’t do boring.”

Looking at his business card and reading his wife’s comment reminded me of a conversation I had with a couple of friends at a casino bar two years ago. I told them that the appeal of Las Vegas to me was that you could be from anywhere and be anything. In this town, nobody really cares if you are different.

I am proudly a black sheep.

I have been the black sheep for as long as I can remember. I remember an arts and crafts project way back in kindergarten or first grade. We were all supposed to pick out a egg from a container. They were going to be hard-boiled and we were going to paint or draw on them. Too the shock of my classmates, I picked out a brown egg. I had never seen a brown egg before. I thought it was unique and different.

I am adopted. From a small town (population 2,700) in Eastern Iowa it is a rarity to be adopted. Whenever it would come in up in a conversation with my friends and classmates I would always get looks like I was an alien. I was the only person anybody knew who had been adopted. I never thought it was different.

Forest stopped running. What are we supposed to do now?
Forest stopped running. What are we supposed to do now?

When I was a teenager I decided one day to walk from my house to my grandmother’s house for no particular reason. Like Forrest Gump and his running I just started walking. Eleven miles from my house to my grandmother’s house two towns over. I didn’t take any water with me. I didn’t think about how far eleven miles was. I just put on some tennis shoes and walked all the way there.

When all my classmates went off to Iowa State, Iowa, Northern Iowa, Drake or some other four-year school in Iowa I chose to attend Marshalltown Community College. It was smaller, it was more affordable and I had opportunities to play baseball and be on the school paper as a freshman.

After two years at Marshalltown CC and three more at Northern Iowa (I was not the most dedicated student) I moved to Kansas City. Iowans take vacations to Kansas City. They don’t typically move there.

My entire family still lives in Iowa. My father and one sister live in the same hometown in which I grew up. My other sister and my brother live in towns not more than 30 minutes away from my hometown. They are happy there. I am happy for them.

I live in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson, Nevada. Iowans don’t live in Las Vegas. They might visit Las Vegas once in a lifetime.

I’m 44, and have never been married. One of the reasons I have had so many failed relationships has to do with how many women I’ve dated who just wanted to have a job, a family and go through a mundane life. I tell them I want to be a professional poker player. I tell them let’s rent a jeep and drive all the way to the Florida Keys with the top off. I say lets travel to Macau, Boracay and Spain. And their eyes almost pop out of their heads. They say they want normal. Then I find out later that those normal relationships they wanted instead of being with me failed. Because normal is boring.

I definitely don’t do boring and am certainly embracing my black sheep-ness.

It’s funny to me that the phrase black sheep is an idiom used to describe someone who won’t comply with the group or with society as a whole.

Name me one person who has ever achieved greatest by complying with a group? Different is memorable. Different sets trends. Different is the focus of inventors, architects, scientists and business leaders.

Don’t be afraid to be a black sheep.