What’s On Your Learning To Do List?

pink tulips

The company I work for, Dealer Inspire, was founded on 5 tenets that we live, breathe, hire and evaluate our employee performance on — Communicate, Innovate, Learn, Be Transparent, Give.

My team knows my favorite tenet is Be Transparent, but Learn is a close second.

Last year our CEO challenged us to take our Learn tenet to heart and learn a non-work related skill. At the time I thought of all the DIY projects I had saved on my Pinterest boards and thought to myself — enough pinning, and screenshotting and texting myself DIY ideas…time to take action! I started 2017 with some kitchen renovations. (I’ll tell you more about those adventures in a future blog post). Today I want to share my adventures related to learning how to plant flowers.

Let’s establish our baseline. Last year I could not have told you the difference between annuals and perennials. That’s how in the dark I was. I decided every Mother’s Day I’d get a batch of annuals to decorate around the house. And each year I’d take on a new perennial project.

My family and I moved into our home just over two years ago. The previous owners did a great job of landscaping and planting flowers, but to be honest, the flowers aren’t exactly my style. They’re safe and on the neutral side. If we’re talking Katie —- we need to make sure we have pops of bright colors —- so that’s what I decided to do.

On July 9, 2017, my husband and Mikey headed to a race in Joliet. Oscar was out of town for the weekend, so Scarlett and I went for a hike “to get our outdoors on” and then I felt brave enough to go to the local nursery to buy some of the perennials I had been pinning. I called my mom and asked her if she’d come over and help us plant some flowers (because I had no clue how). She said yes! I bought more plants than I should have from the nursery, but by the end of the day we had them all rehomed in the ground. I learned what plants were best for full sun, partial sun, and shade. I identified which areas of our acre lot were best for each kind of plant based on sun exposure, need for water, access to the hose, etc. Todd, Mikey and Oscar returned in the late afternoon and helped us wrap up the planting and I felt so proud of all our work!

Typically I would have spent the day inside, researching perennials, making spreadsheets, pinning images and making shopping lists, but instead — I put the research aside and decided to jump in! So happy I did this, but also ironic that this is how I caught the worst case of poison ivy in the world (undiagnosed for several weeks!). I was sick for months and didn’t sleep for weeks. IT WAS SOOOO BAD!

A few weeks later, in August, Todd asked what I wanted for my birthday. By this time I was still up all night every night itching from the undiagnosed poison ivy. Something on Groupon caught my eye so I continued to search, looking for birthday ideas to give my husband. Well…in my sleep deprived state I happened to buy myself quite a few birthday presents from Groupon. I rationalized that my purchases would save Todd and Oscar time and stress of looking for a present for me. It turns out, I came across a great idea, but happened to go a bit overboard with my purchases. I bought a package of 50 tulip bulbs — purple. And then I bought a package of 50 more tulip bulbs in red. And then another 50 tulip bulbs in random colors, and then apparently another 50 tulip bulbs. Oops! By the time the tulips were shipped to our home, it was late fall and I was several months pregnant with Isabella. Given my history of high risk pregnancies and two encounters with poison ivy, someone other than me needed to plant these 200 tulip bulbs. (Sorry Todd! Thank you Todd! I love you!)

Fast forward 6 weeks – I had the opportunity to attend a conference in The Netherlands. Todd put me on a strict no tulip buying mandate. “We will have all the tulips your heart could desire come spring,” he told me.

Spring has come and now it’s starting to get warmer. Some of our perennials are a foot tall already! For the last week, I’ve seen the green parts of the tulip bulbs sprouting, but haven’t seen any bright pops of color — until yesterday!!! As I was pulling out of the driveway to head to a tball game, I saw one red tulip and one pink tulip and my heart rejoiced! We planted 200 bulbs….strike that….Todd planted 200 bulbs, because I was sleep deprived, and bought too much shit online, because I got poison ivy, which I caught because I took action on my learning to do list — to learn more about planting flowers. And now every day I get to walk around our property and look for new pops of color, being surprised by the different places we planted all these bulbs. This feels like Christmas to me — to be truly surprised and bask in the happiness of watching something grow that started off as just a random idea.

What’s on your learning to do list?


Katie Helgesen

Katie Helgesen is the Senior Director of Business Intelligence at Dealer Inspire, a fast-growing and award winning technology company near Chicago. Katie and her husband, Todd, have 4 awesome kids and love living in a small community centered on a lake in northwest Indiana. Baseball, t-ball, and soccer schedules are just a few pieces of Katie’s Mom Hustle. Her daydreams revolve around finding more “me time” and traveling. In real life, Katie keeps herself sane with naps, Netflix and eating out as often as she can.