Roots, reggae, and hello 2021!

NYE

“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right”.

(Oprah Winfrey)

How do you celebrate the end of the COVID-19 impacted 2020?

Wait, do not answer that!  It was a trick question.

2020 was a year like none of us have ever experienced.  The year started off with a lot of us using the clever (so we thought) 2020 Vision moniker but that quickly dissipated as we saw how much the pandemic would change our daily lives.

So, the answer to my trick question above is the beach—Indialantic beach to be precise.

Decided to head to my favorite beach in Melbourne, Florida to spend the last day of 2020 on the beach so I could celebrate the first day of 2021 on that same beach.

I have written about the Indialantic beach before and how I enjoy the Tiki bar at the Crowne Plaza.  I have stayed there in the past but mostly just hang out there when I need a beach getaway.  I was happily surprised the Crowne Plaza still had rooms available so went ahead and booked so I did not have to worry about driving around on New Year’s Eve.  There were other hotels available in the area, but they did not provide the comfort of staying right on the beach. 

I wanted to send 2020 out with a bang so made sure to tackle the last day of the year and enjoy it as much as possible.  Of course, this meant I needed to get a great run in to celebrate the end of 2020! 😊  I got in a fast 5 mile run along Seaway Drive in Fort Pierce prior to leaving for Melbourne.  Love this route because I can stop at the halfway point and recharge while on the beach.  This is a great way for me to enjoy my run and take in the beach views. Yes, I made a beach stop prior to going to the beach. 

Made my way north on I95 to check into the Crowne Plaza and celebrate NYE on the beach.  My plan was to simply make it to the beach to relax, reflect and make some 2021 plans.  It appears a lot of other folks had the same idea for a NYE beach escape since people were everywhere.  I had to walk further down the beach to get away from the crowds to find a spot for me to work on my napping skills.  Happy to report I found that perfect spot.  Did a little reading, napping, and walking on the beach—the temperature was in the low 80s, so it was a perfect day to enjoy the beach.  The water was too cold for me but there were surfers and swimmers enjoying the waves.

Got a late lunch and fruity drinks at the Tiki bar.  The area was spaced out to ensure we had proper physical distancing while enjoying the atmosphere and great food.  I was able to catch a couple college football bowl games while at the Tiki bar and still enjoy the sound of the waves.  Great place to visit if you have never been to the Crowne Plaza in Melbourne.

The hotel had a live band scheduled to perform in the ballroom to ring in the new year.  This is a Crowne Plaza tradition, but I did not drive up to be inside when there was a beach so close.  My plan was to be on the beach when the clock struck midnight so I could bring in the new year with waves close by.

My timing was off a bit and I had to watch a couple episodes of the A&E show The First 48 to get me closer to midnight.  I did not want to head down to the beach too early because there is not much to see when seating on the beach in the dark.  FYI—I highly recommend The First 48—it is highly addictive. 😊

Made my way back down to the beach at 11:30 pm to count down the end of 2020 and ring in 2021.  I love the beach and reggae so decided to combine the two while I waited to celebrate the arrival of 2021.  I took a slight detour to listen to my favorite artist, Prince before switching over to Bob Marley for the rest of the night.  Here is one of my favorite Prince live performances on YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-0VbNXafDc

I went straight to my Bob Marley YouTube playlist to finish off 2020 and ring in 2021 with roots, rock, and reggae!  Luckily, we had a full moon on NYE and it really produced great images over the water.  I bounced around several Bob Marly classics as I waited for 2021 to arrive.  Decided to play this classic as 2020 ended and 2021 began:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USQsp_hI3Tw

Had my own little party right there on the beach as I enjoyed the full moon, beach, reggae, and my beer.  Could not think of a better way to say goodbye 2020 and hello 2021 than hanging out on my favorite beach. 

Started 2021 on a positive note and plan to leverage this Irie energy to make 2021 a fantastic year. 

How did you celebrate the end of 2020?  How will you make 2021 a great year?  Thanks!

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year”.

(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Yes, there are two Americas!

Protest

(Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

“What the mob did to our Senate Chamber today was an utter disgrace”.

(US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien)

Really tried not to write about what happened in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021 but the more I viewed the chaos and mayhem on Capitol Hill I knew the Walk into the Future blog had to say something—could not stay silent. 

The entire episode can be summarized:  I told you!

America #1

Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests in 2020 were met with uneven police and National Guard force.  Peaceful protestors who were mostly black and brown were physically moved, restrained, beaten, and arrested while in the streets of America.  The protests were focused on the many injustices committed against black and brown Americans.  The nation finally rose to say this kind of treatment of our people must stop.

Counter protesters did not understand or want to understand what the BLM movement wanted to accomplish.  We had a sitting US President identify peaceful marchers as:  thugs, criminals, people who did not love this country and agitators. 

America was built as told in our history books on people standing up and voicing their opinions on how to improve this country.  It seems every time black people want to march for rights, freedom, and equality we are labeled as less than.  Why is that?  America is America so we are told but it continues to be one sided and it appears my people are always on the wrong side of the issue, police club, police bullet, police beating, police knee on the neck, neighborhood watch with guns in a pickup truck, etc.  I could go on but believe the American picture has been painted by now.

Let us take a quick trip all the WAY back to June 2020—does not seem to be too far to travel, huh?

The former President of the United States tweeted:  Anarchists, Agitators or Protestors who vandalize or damage our Federal Courthouse in Portland, or any Federal Buildings in any of our Cities or States, will be prosecuted under our recently re-enacted Statues & Monuments Act.  MINIMUM TEN YEARS IN PRISON.  Don’t do it! @DHSgov.

So, when BLM protestors wanted to march for rights and against injustice they were tweeted at by the former President and threaten with prison time for something they had not and did not do.  Interesting concept, huh.  I highlighted the word ‘any’ from Trump’s tweets to show the level of hypocrisy we continue to put up with in this country.  It is beyond sad to live with the double standards America throws at us daily. 

“What happened today in Washington, DC is definitely not American”.

(French President Emmanuel Macron)

America #2

I could sum up America #2 with the word privilege.  I could also link video here of the former President of the United States and his family commanding so called patriots to march to Capitol Hill and demand the legal vote be overturned.  We should go ahead and call these people what they truly are:  insurrectionists. This was an insurrection—no other way to view what happened.

The US has a Constitution and the duly elected officials at the Capitol were following the words written in the Constitution on certifying the results from the Presidential election.  Not surprising Trump, his family and friends did not understand they could not just wish for a different election result and make the Constitutional process go away.

The privileged mob left their ignorant leader and marched down to the Capitol to demand law makers stop doing their duties.  I am sure a lot of these privileged fools thought they were doing the right thing and believed they could stop Congress from doing their jobs.  This mob mentality may also be an indictment on the American educational system.  History classes discuss the basics of the Constitution, but all Americans should know the checks and balances of the governmental process on elections.

It appears privileged people do not want to hear reason or logic.  They would rather feaster in conspiracy theories and then claim someone is taking their country away.  They must take it back!

Fast forward and the privileged Americans decided to storm the Capitol to demand the legal election be overturned so they can keep their President!  Let me repeat that, Americans stormed the US Capitol.  They fought, assaulted, and terrorized Capitol police who were severely outmanned by the privileged crowd of Trump supporters.  This mob then entered the chambers of Congress looking for elected officials to include the Vice President because they were upset with the election results, someone took their country and they wanted to keep their President.

CNN articles on the insurrection

https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/13/politics/notable-arrests-capitol/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/17/us/capitol-riot-racial-justice-blake/index.html

So, why do I keep using the word privileged?  Great question! 

These people stormed Capitol Hill, beat up police, hunted for elected officials and did not feel the need to hide their identities!  They ransacked the halls of Congress and took selfies, videos and some conducted interviews and did not fear people recognizing them.  No masks, disguises, hoodies, or anything to hide their identities.  Some stated the Capitol belonged to them and it was their right to be there—amazing things happen in America #2 for the privileged folks who live there!  They were not beaten, pepper sprayed, physically removed, arrested on the spot, flash banged, and no helicopters used for crowd control.  We saw all these tactics with BLM peaceful protesters. 

I presented a court argument in a post on August 27, 2020:

https://walkintothefuture.blog/2020/08/27/black-lives-matter-role-call/

A black man in Georgia (Ahmaud Arbery) cannot go for a run without being attacked and killed but a privileged mob can walk in and out of the Capitol?

A black man in Minneapolis (George Floyd) can have a cop’s knee on his neck for 9 minutes and 46 seconds but a privileged mob can hunt for elected officials in the Capitol and then go home?

A black woman in Louisville (Breonna Taylor) can be shot in her bed by cops with a no-knock warrant but Capitol police removed barricades to make the privileged mob’s path easier to get to elected officials?

I could go on with my 2021 trial, but the verdict remains the same:  guilty, guilty, and guilty!

One of my favorite scenes from the 1996 movie, A Time to Kill happens when Matthew McConaughey’s character conducts his closing argument to defend his client charged with murder.  In this scene he asks the jury to close their eyes and then he goes over why his client was charged with murder.

So, let us try a little experiment.  Close your eyes and imagine a mob being riled up and told repeatedly they were being lied to, things were being taken from them and they should march to the halls of Congress and take back what belongs to them.  Imagine this mob rushes the US Capitol, assaults police officers, hunts for elected officials and destroys federal property. 

Now, imagine this mob was black!  How many black and brown people would have died on January 6, 2021 if we did the exact same thing?

Now you officially know what privilege looks like!  Class dismissed!

“History will rightly remember today’s violence at the Capitol, incited by a sitting president who has continued to baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election, as a moment of great dishonor and shame for our nation”.

(Former US President Barack Obama)


Congratulations to President Biden!

Walking into 2021!

(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

“Celebrate endings—for they proceed new beginnings”.

(Jonathan Lockwood Huie)

Happy New Year from the Walk into the Future blog!

Grateful to continue to write blog articles to express my thoughts and document life adventures.  This blog started as a way for me to share with my friends and has evolved into a space for me to highlight a bit of creativity.  This blog also provides a place to advocate for social change in the world—did not have this in mind when I launched the blog but there is no turning back now.  My walk continues to expand so I am excited to see what new angles I can tackle in 2021.

2021 promises to bring new opportunities for us all.  2020 was a monster on multiple levels but there were opportunities for growth as well.

Happy to report I was able to meet all my 2020 goals except the number of half marathons I ran.  Of course, COVID-19 was the reason the race season did not happen, so I am not upset I did not meet this goal.

I am in the process of generating my 2021 goals and look forward to working towards them daily. 

My reading program increased in 2020 and I enjoyed exploring new topics and authors.  I see this as an area I can expand in 2021.  I fancy myself as a lifelong learner and reading keeps me engaged in learning new things and hopefully sharing these things with my tree branches.  Please note, I am always open to your suggestions for books so send me a few—thanks!

The Rock N Roll marathon series has 6 races projected for in-person competition in 2021.  My favorite race, the Nashville Rock N Roll half marathon is scheduled for April 25, 2021.  My 2020 registration automatically rolled over so I can run in the race this year if I would like.  I am not committed to running this or any race at this point especially if it means I must get on a plane to get to the race city.  Will wait and see how the vaccination process impacts the spread of COVID-19 before deciding on this race.  Would hate to miss Nashville two years in a row but this is the world we live in. The Savannah race is scheduled for November 7, 2021 and this may be a better option—we will see.

I will look at some smaller, local races to get my competitive fix.  I am sure Track Shack in Orlando will have some races I want to run—the OUC half may be on my race calendar again this year based on location and safety measures.

I began the process of creating an Authentic Leadership eBook in 2020.  Will look to put the finishing touches on this project in 2021.  Wanted to share a few leadership principles in a different format to see if others would be interested in this project.  It has been fun working on a new outlet for my thoughts and plan to expand the authentic leadership platform in 2021.

My leadership consulting is another area I want to expand in 2021.  My work in 2019 had me positioned for a huge consulting year in 2020 but we all know the impact of COVID-19 on all industries.  Will look to create an outreach program to reengage with organizations I have worked with in the past and generate new leads.  Virtual programming and meetings became common in 2020 and see this continuing in 2021.  This can lead to new ways to reach organizations and provide a consulting rebirth for me and others.  Fingers crossed!

I am sure there will be other goals to add to my list, but these are a few I will work towards in 2021.

What goals do you have for the new year?  How successful were you meeting your 2020 goals?  Thanks!

“Every moment is a fresh beginning”.

(T.S. Elliot)

2020 Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) Half Marathon

OUC1

“I plan on having such an epic run, Morgan Freeman should narrate it”.

(Runner’s World)

Running and racing has become such a large part of my lifestyle that I felt a definitive loss in 2020.

I will not harp on the COVID-19 impact on our daily lives.  There are more important things in this world than me traveling around the country and chasing people in my attempt to gain a personal record (PR) in the half marathon.  Everyone who reads the Walk into the Future blog or listens to me long enough know I love my PR attempts. 

My 2019 progress set the stage for me to run even faster in 2020 while tackling more races and new locations.  I targeted 7 half marathons to complete in 2020 with an incremental decrease in my PR time for each race I ran.  My goal continues to be to run the half marathon distance under 2 hours.  I will need to bring out the Benjamin Button affect again at some point to reach this goal. 

Luckily, I was able to complete the 2020 New Orleans Rock N Roll half marathon in early February before we knew the future impact of COVID-19 on the country.  I left New Orleans with a goal to train harder and get ready for the 2020 Nashville Rock N Roll half marathon scheduled for April—Nashville is my favorite race and city.  Missed seeing the sights in Nashville and line dancing at the Wild Horse Saloon.  Maybe in 2021!

Races 2 (Nashville) through 7 (San Antonio) were all canceled/postponed/terminated due to COVID-19.  Most of my running friends wanted to race but we knew eliminating the races was the right thing to do.  I still trained but not with as much intensity because I did not have a finish line to run across.  I wrote earlier about the virtual race process but never felt the same excitement racing against myself.  Could not make myself run fast without someone else around for me to compete against.

Fast forward a bit and my favorite running club, Track Shack in Orlando identified they received Orange county and City of Orlando clearance to stage the 2020 OUC Half Marathon in December with new safety measures.  I did not immediately sign-up but got excited when I discovered a real race was possible again.  I did a lot of research on the Track Shack race safety measures to make sure I would not be at risk during the event. 

The entire race experience was adjusted by the Track Shack staff to keep all runners physical distanced before and after the race.  We were required to wear masks prior to starting the race and immediately after crossing the finish line.  We did not have to run with the masks on but had to have them for the finish line.  Runners were lined up in corrals based on estimated finish times, but we had to stand on assigned markers on the ground before we could start the race.  Felt a bit weird but everything was done to protect the runners.

I registered for the OUC half marathon on October 15, 2020 with a race date of December 5, 2020.  This timeframe gave me less than a two-month physical and mental preparation window for the 13.1-mile journey in front of me.  Decided at this point to just enjoy the training runs and eliminate the thought processing of chasing a PR.  This concept provided me with a free mind and gave me the perspective that completing the race was the most important thing.  Thing #2 was to run the race and not hurt myself! 😊

OUC3

Race day

The Orlando weather was a bit warmer than I expected but the cloud cover kept the sun away which helped a lot.  I did not queue up close to the front corrals since I knew I was not going fast this year and wanted to let the faster folks go out without me in the way.

The new safety measures allowed about 200 runners to go out at a time, so I ended up waiting about 20 minutes before I made it to the start line to begin the race.

Mask off and I was back in my world of racing!  I am sure people wondered why I was smiling so much but the joy of running was there at the beginning.  My first mile pace was 8:50—which was not too bad considering my goal was to go out nice and easy.  Felt good so I kept running at this pace for a bit to see what I had under the hood this year. 😊

A fun fact–at the 3-mile marker while running through a downtown Orlando neighborhood I passed the house of one of my old on-campus recruiters from my UCF days.  He was standing on his front lawn cheering on the runners with his daughter.  Did not know if he would recognize me in my running gear but I was able to say hello to him and invite him to recruit students at my new school.  Please note, I never broke stride but was able to successfully network with an Orlando recruiter while running a half marathon. Completed a Zoom call with him the following Monday and he is excited to recruit our students in the spring semester—small world, huh?

Miles 3 through 8 were my parade through Orlando neighborhoods.  I waved at spectators who were out on their lawns to cheer for the runners.  I stopped at a pop-up table serving shots of beer as a refresher during the race.  I thanked law enforcement officials who were there for traffic duty.  You would have thought I was a politician with the amount of smiling, waving, and speaking to people I got done during this race.

Miles 9 through 13 were not as enjoyable as the previous set of miles.  Limited training also means my lactic acid thresholds were not built up as they should have been.  This means my legs started to hurt and it only got worse the longer I went.  I have been here before, so I was able to press forward but my speed and demeanor changed quite a bit.  The smile was gone, and I did not feel like waving at folks anymore.  Had to bear down and keep moving forward towards the finish line.  Luckily for me I was not chasing records and just wanted to complete the race while enjoying the process of running again.

Crossed the finish line with a smile on my face because I was able to run and compete again.  COVID-19 has beat us up in 2020 but it could not keep me from running in one of my favorite cities.  Mission complete!

The post-race area was sparse as part of the safety measures.  No beer, doughnuts, or music to enjoy this year.  We were handed a Publix bag with water, banana, granola, and our race medal.  That was it—no fanfare, networking and hanging around to cheer other runners on.  Run, conquer, and go home was the message of the day.

No worries, we had a great day to race and fantastic people to chase around Orlando again.

Fingers crossed that racing returns in 2021—I have a few PRs to set! 😊

What are you looking forward to in 2021?  Let’s make it happen!  Irie!

“You never realize how long a minute is until you are running”.

(Pinterest)

Poetic Friday

(Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay)

The storm

Round and round it goes

Sometimes fast, sometimes slow

There are days it feels like a merry-go-round

Others, things are more controlled

The depth changes at times like the wind

A howling force that seeks attention

Then the calm, as the eye of the storm hovers overhead

No attention seeking, just the process of moving forward

What has this level of depth and speed?

It is simple, the life you lead