Pursue Your Dreams
As the fall weather gets cooler and the leaves fall from the trees, I get more and more excited! This means snow will soon be here, and snowmobiling is just around the corner. It also means it’s time for my family’s snowmobiling safety checks.
Even before the snow comes, there is significant work to be done. We have to check over the snowmobiles, make sure all our gear fits: snowsuits, gloves and most importantly, helmets!
As my children grow from year to year, we buy new helmets for them to ensure they fit properly and we never snowmobile without a helmet, not even just going down the trail a little way.
My husband does a detailed inspection of our snowmobiles to make sure they work properly. These inspections include: changing the oil, checking the carbides (or blades on the bottom of the skis), making sure the track has no nicks or tears, checking the sparkplugs and making sure the snowmobile insurance is up to date.
You never know when you are going to need insurance, so making sure you have the proper coverage is very important.
A couple of years ago, my husband was in a snowmobile accident, and he wasn’t even going very fast. He was going around a corner at 20 m.p.h. when his ski caught a rock on the trail and the sled went over. Luckily, he flew one way and the sled the other.
The worst part about it was the kids and I were following him and we came around the corner to find him lying on the ground not moving. It was one of the scariest moments of my life!
He did get up and ended up hurting his knee a little, but the sled was totaled. When we calmed down a little, we called some friends to get us, then promptly called American Family’s customer service center to report the claim. Our agent called back immediately to make sure we were all OK.
An adjuster visited the dealership within a day, and we had a check within three days. My husband was back on a new sled in a week, and we were back on the trails good as new.
It’s important to prepare your snowmobiles and the riders. Go snowmobiling, but do it safely so you can enjoy the wintertime and all its beauty.
My wife and I can’t really draw. Our talents are elsewhere – mine with written words, hers with music. We enjoyed drawing at a young age, but our abilities didn’t keep up with our age.
So when our kids learned to draw, we sought help, buying these great books on how to draw. We practiced as a family for hours, hoping to give our kids a life-long skill they would appreciate more than we had. So far, it’s working. They both enjoy drawing and often use their free time honing their craft.
Drawing helps kids visualize more complex ideas. It’s why today’s school work often includes an artistic aspect.
My sixth-grade son recently drew pictures to represent several abstract terms, like technology and science. It was a way for him to better understand – visually and artistically – ideas that don’t often have an obvious image associated with them.
It got me thinking about how as adults, we don’t do enough drawing and visualization in our day-to-day lives. I think if we did, it would make a positive difference in solving complex problems.
Take dreams, for example. For many, it’s something hard to grasp visually. It’s also very personal, so talking about dreams makes some of uncomfortable.
Would drawing pictures help? I think so.
Give it a try sometime. Get your family or close friends involved. You’d be surprised at how – even if (like me) you’re not a talented artist – you’ll learn more about your hopes and dreams by drawing them.
If you need some inspiration, check out the American Family Insurance Draw Your Dreams contest. We’ve invited kids (13 and under) to share their dreams with us – in a visual way. Like Rachel’s dream of being a teacher and helping kids learn, which I’ve included with my blog post. These pictures will take you back to those grade school days when drawing played such an important part of learning.
Maybe it’s time my wife and I did our homework – and got out those how-to-draw books.
Editor's note: The American Family Insurance Draw Your Dreams contest runs through Oct. 28, 2012. Help your kids enter by visiting www.amfam.com/draw_your_dream. Entries must be postmarked by Oct. 28.
Celebrating fall in the Midwest means getting outside as much as possible before the snow and cold arrive. Picking apples, choosing just the right pumpkin and visiting corn mazes are part of the celebrations.
This year, our social media team decided to create a Corny Corn Maze Survival Tips video to celebrate this great fall tradition. This is kind of out there for us: traditionally, we’re not really funny. But we decided to have some fun and with the help of the fabulous team at Treinen Farms in Lodi, Wis., we created the video with practical tips.
Take a look, and let me know what you think!
It was July when we started working on this video, right in the middle of the devastating drought. Looking ahead to the harvest and reading about the impact it would have on grocery prices, we started thinking about the issue of hunger.
We decided we wanted to do something, and fortunately were able to expand on an existing partnership with the National FFA Organization and support their Rally to Fight Hunger. We could have just given them money, but decided to take this on as a social cause, using our Facebook community to help raise the money and spread the word about the impact hunger has on American families.
The support has been impressive. Our customers and other Facebook fans have left many positive comments thanking us for our support, and to them I say “thank YOU!”
They’ve put the social in this social cause, helping us to spread the word about the FFA’s great work.
Celebrating with a little bit of humor, addressing a serious national issue and watching people rally around a common cause. It’s been a good few weeks.
I like to garden, put vegetable plants and seeds in the ground and see what happens. I like to tend the plants, watch them grow, flower and start to fruit. I wait impatiently for a tomato to turn just the right shade of red before picking it.
So it comes as no surprise that I jumped at the opportunity to ask for one of the 56 10x10-foot plots in American Family's new community garden on the company’s National Headquarters grounds.
What did surprise me is what happened next.
I talk about the garden with anyone who has five minutes to listen. I explain how proud I am what we've built in just two years. I describe how the community garden is much bigger than a 10x10-foot plot. I show off photos of the garden, gardeners and the produce we harvest. I talk about the 377 pounds of fresh produce we donated to food pantries in the Madison, Wis., area this year.
We call it a "community garden" for a reason. Our community garden has 118 plots, but many more people are involved. I've seen husband-wife teams, entire families and small groups of coworkers work garden plots together.
I'm always meeting new people in the garden. We share seeds, gardening tips and recipes. Together, we celebrate that great big onion (a one-pound onion) and mourn together the loss of a plant or an entire patch of sweet corn (darn raccoons!). And I've met children who wouldn't touch a green bean but after growing them, can't get enough.
My involvement with the community garden is an incredibly engaging and educational process. Not only do I go to work each day, I visit my plot before or after work. I joined the garden committee. Then I volunteered to be a garden monitor. Now in our second year, I volunteered to co-chair the garden's leadership team.
The community garden is also part of American Family's overall sustainability efforts. The garden sits on previously unused land, making it productive. In addition to 118 individual plots, we planted six fruit trees that will eventually be harvested by community members. And being right here on the company's national headquarters campus, people don't have to drive far or out of their way to get to it because most of us tend our gardens before or after work.
The garden has also sparked my interest in writing about it, so I started a personal blog about urban gardening, where I encourage people to comment, share their perspectives and have gardening fun.
Josh Feyen is a social media specialist at American Family Insurance, where he also grows vegetables in a community garden plot. Josh writes about his gardening adventures in The Urbane Farmer blog.
This month, we introduced this public blog on our website called Dream Protectors, the American Family Insurance blog.
It’s a new place for us to share our American Family stories. In creating this blog, we were motivated by an internal blog we have, where employees and agents share their experiences and inspiration. Why not share the stories about how we take care of customers or ways we are involved in our communities with the world, too?
These posts will be an opportunity for you to get to know us better. From taking care of customers during a big storm (like after the Joplin tornado in 2011) to agents going the extra mile to help a customer cut down a tree, to our focus on sustainability and our support of community agriculture, it all paints a rich picture of who we are as a company, and what we stand for.
If you have any thoughts or ideas about our blog, I’d love to hear from you. Please drop me an email at email@example.com