Who are you? Self-awareness

Make Things Happen

“Self-awareness is the golden key to making life changing decisions and sticking to them”.

(Dr. Prem Jagyasi)

Dictionary.com defines self-awareness as conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.

Sounds simple enough but I like to explore self-awareness more when I conduct teambuilding exercises. Self-awareness is needed within the work environment and impacts how well the team functions.  We all bring different things into the work environment daily and need to understand how and what these things are.  I routinely ask the following question when I start the teambuilding process:

Who are you?

Take 2 minutes and ask yourself the question Who are you? multiple times.  Record each of your responses.  My examples to this exercise are:

  • Who are you?  Black man
  • Who are you?  Blogger
  • Who are you?  Leader
  • Who are you?  Running tourist
  • Who are you?  Son
  • Who are you?  Uncle
  • Who are you?  Mentor
  • Who are you?  Friend

Now it is your turn—answer the question and record your responses—I will wait! 😊

How many responses did you list to the question?

The answers may surprise people you work with and maybe yourself.  There is not a right or wrong way to supply responses to the question.  The major point is everything you listed enters the work environment with you daily.

This is an important point as we build teams and help staff members get to know others on the team.  I have used this teambuilding exercise multiple times to enhance the work environment and help with team growth. 

The point of this process is to allow team members to fully understand what they bring to work. It also shows a new level of self-awareness and how we interact with others.  This exercise enhances team awareness and shows everyone they have more in common than they thought.

True leaders can use this data to ensure they treat staff members as individuals and not let their self-awareness impact how they treat others. 

Example:  I do not have kids–this should not impact how I deal with a parent who needs to leave work early because of a sick child.  Some people in leadership positions make decisions based on their worldview only.  This is a horrible way to lead a team.

Authentic leaders understand how they are viewed and the impact this has on the team.  Self-aware leaders create more self-aware leaders. 

So, I ask again—who are you?  How does this level of self-awareness impact your daily interactions?

“What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself”.

(Abraham Maslow)

The grateful 5 (5 things I’m grateful for)

Grateful

“A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles”

(Pinterest)

Dictionary.com defines grateful as feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness; thankful.

Pretty simple concept and one to dig into a bit more.  I do a lot of reading and came across a blog article titled the Top 5 Things I am Grateful For.  The article and title are straight forward so I decided to try my writing chops to explore this from my perspective.

Family

Spend any amount of time with me and I will tell you about my family.  My family on my mom’s side consists of 5 uncles and 4 aunts.  The last time we counted I had 32 first cousins and 69 second cousins.  I know that last number has gone up, but we have not counted them in a long time.

This large extended family unit allowed me to grow up in an environment where most of my early friends were family members.   We did not add nonfamily friends until we started school because there were enough of us around to field our own teams in most sports.

I am grateful for having so many family members who go out of their way to look out for each other.  Seems like a simple thing but we spent most Thanksgivings with this large unit and enjoyed our time together.  COVID-19 put a halt on our large family get togethers last year but hopefully we can find a way to get the crew together this year—safely!

Friends

My Walk into the Future journey has allowed me to make some truly great friends.  Please note, I do not let a lot of people into my inner circle, so my friends are special people to me.  I have friends who are not cousins and I have known them my entire life.  We stay connected and get back together whenever possible and continue to grow our friendship.

I have friends I met while in the Air Force and we have become our own family unit.  I look forward to getting together and catching up whenever possible.  COVID-19 has put a halt to our running tourist trips, but I am sure we will get back on track in the future.  New Orleans is calling!

I met my best friend in the gym one morning as she bullied me to help her with the weights she was lifting—true story! 😊  Seriously, a simple gym conversation launched a great friendship, and we chat and catch up on life as much as possible.  See you on Park Avenue!

My tree branches are all friends I look forward to catching up with.  Could be a simple email, text, or phone call but love hearing how well my folks are doing in this world.  I enjoy seeing them exploring life via Instagram stories and pictures they share.  I live through them daily and enjoy seeing the growth of my tree. WE ARE!  Go Bucks! Go Noles! Go Gators!

Running

I found running later in life but cannot imagine a world without me putting in my miles.  The concept of running a half marathon was foreign to me in 2013 but now I run 6 to 8 half marathons yearly (pre-COVID).  I had no intention to run another half marathon after my first attempt because it took me three full weeks to recover.  Of course, I had no idea how to train, hydrate or recover properly—lessons learned the hard way! LOL.

My stated goal for 2022 is to explore my first full marathon.  I am hoping COVID does not come back like 2020 and eliminates all future running events.  I am always looking for motivation when I run so training for a full marathon should keep me putting in the miles for years to come.  Trying to convince several friends to come race with me. Let’s go Laurens! 😊

“Running helps me maintain my ‘never killed anyone’ streak”.

(Pinterest)

Health

Happy to report I can eat and drink whatever I want.  My running and weight training programs help with this, but I am blessed with good health.  Running has not caused undue aches or pains and helps me maintain a healthy weight without counting calories.  My weight training provides strong muscle structure to keep me moving forward.  My annual physicals produce good numbers, and the doctor does not have to get onto me to eliminate anything from my diet.  Grateful to continue to age well! 😊

My Blog

Started the Walk into the Future blog without a clear understanding how it would impact me.  I thought I would just write a few things down and see if anyone wanted to read my words.  Turns out the blog has become an extension of me and gives me a platform to share thoughts, ideas, and adventures.  My writing process has slowed down as my work obligations expand but I am still able to keep 4 to 5 weeks of blog articles in my production library.  I would like to get back up to 8 to 10 weeks of articles in reserve in case I need to revise or update them before publishing.  Not sure how long I will continue to publish the blog but still have a ton of material to explore so hope you stay with me on this journey! 😊

Bonus:  My readers

Grateful for everyone who takes the time to read my blog.  Your positive affirmations always put a smile on my face and inspire me to work to produce better content weekly.  Thank you for following the Walk into the Future blog!  Well done!

What are YOU grateful for?  I welcome your thoughts!

“The struggles ends when the gratitude begins”.

(Neale Donald Walsh)

Walking with a positive work environment (Repost)

(Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

“Positive work environments outperform negative work environments”.

(Daniel Goleman)

Positive people make positive things happen is one of my favorite sayings to inspire people in my world.  I created this as a mantra when I enter a work environment to help my team understand the mindset, we need to get positive results.

I was introduced to Positive Psychology during my course work and it remains with me daily.  One premise of Positive Psychology is people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives.  This could be on a personal or professional level.  I like leveraging Positive Psychology within the work environment to show direct reports how our mindset influences work outcomes.

I mentioned in an earlier post, my daily response to how I am doing is to say fantastic.  This is not a way to hide my true thoughts or feelings but a way to energize myself.  I found by saying I am doing fantastic provides a new level of energy for myself and it can inspire others around me to join in on the fun.  The word fantastic is not used very often in daily life so it makes people take notice and encourages them to get on The Energy Bus.

Now imagine if you had a leader who was always negative and never had anything nice to say.  How would this person impact the work environment?  I am sure this negative mindset would translate to everyone in the work environment and would not be a pleasant place to work. 

Leaders must be cognizant how their energy (positive or negative) impacts the work environment.  This knowledge will go a long way to build a positive work environment culture to ensure positive things get done daily.  Sounds simple, huh?

It takes a while for this positive process to take hold within a new work environment.  The speed of this process can be enhanced when everyone is ready to engage.  One negative teammate can slow or aggravate the process, but this can be mitigated by the rest of the team pulling in the same direction.  A new initiative for me is to follow Rule #6 from The Energy Bus—I have a sign posted that reads No Energy Vampires Allowed in my office in a prominent location.  I will point to the sign when the tone of a conversation starts to become negative.  I welcome different views and opinions but look to negate negative tone, language, or interactions.  It takes time to eliminate the negative, but the goal is to move forward in a positive manner.  I struggle sometimes because I want everything to head in a positive direction but also know things take time. 

A positive work environment is a place where everyone can thrive, grow, and provide input.  We spend a large amount of our lives in the work environment and I strive to create a space where we can work hard, laugh, and enjoy the process.  Leaders who understand work does not have to be stressful create a space where productivity can be displayed daily.  I have worked in places where people dreaded coming to work and I made a vow to never duplicate these types of environments when I reached the big seat.  Well, I have been in the big seat for a while now and smile whenever one of my tree branches reach out and say they want to work with me again.

I am sure not everyone feels this way, but I have enough of these folks to form my own wolf pack.  😊 Still learning and growing but will continue to promote positive work environments because they are productive and fun.  Imagine that, fun in the workplace!  Guess Google, Microsoft and Apple understand what people want in the work environment.  I do not have ping pong tables, yet, but play a lot of reggae in my office.  Irie!

What do you see as the benefits of a positive work environment?  How do you contribute to ensure your work environment remains positive?

 “Positive anything is better than negative nothing”.

(Elbert Hubbard)

Heavy is the head that wears the crown!

crown

(Image by Radfotosonn from Pixabay

“Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers to the false prophets”.

(Luke 6:26)

My Walk into the Future in 2020 was an interesting journey!

I am sure everyone who just read that last sentence can highlight how 2020 was a unique year to remember—good or bad.  We all had to adjust in 2020 due to COVID-19 and these adjustments impacted our daily lives.

One area I needed to adjust was how I lead an organization with COVID-19 work protocols–working from home, virtual meetings and having staff with preexisting conditions.  None of these things were on our radar when 2020 started but quickly became necessary talking points in early March 2020 for most of us.

My gravitation to the Luke 6:26 verse came about because even when I am doing great work, I continue to look for an angle to motivate myself to do more.  I am not a person to rest on my laurels but look for ways to motivate myself and team to do more.  Luke 6:26 stands out to me today because I am happy to report not all men speak well of me on my current Walk into the Future.

I do not make that claim lightly but have found a level of motivation, enjoyment, and humor in this fact.  Turns out the people who do not speak well of me are the people who are slackers in their daily work endeavors.  It is obvious I take a lot of pride in getting positive things done, correctly and on-time.  I have discovered people who do not take pride in their work, who are satisfied with the status quo or who are plain lazy are not fans of people like me. 

I enter new organizations with the mission to make a difference daily—amazingly simple concept but one I do not take lightly.  I have discovered in my new work environment there WERE several people who were not held accountable for their daily actions.  You cannot make a difference daily without being accountable, so these people hear from me they are not meeting my expectations. 

Please note, these folks work or worked in multiple departments, so it was not isolated to just one area. 

“Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult; whoever rebukes the wicked incur abuse.”

(Proverbs 9:7)

A funny thing happened when I identified we all need to be accountable in the work environment.  Some did not speak well of me!  Not saying that to be nonchalant or play it down but I heard someone say they could not thrive in a work environment with expectations.  True statement!

I wish I were making this up, but it is true.  Imagine being in a work environment and a staff member has an issue with being accountable to the team and overall mission.  I have been on this professional journey for 30+ years now and find this a terribly sad state of mind for anyone. 

Turns out the previous leadership did not value accountability as much as they should have.  It is amazing how much energy is needed within an organization to correct these type thoughts and actions.  There have been times new leadership has been questioned but The Energy Bus continues to move forward.  Great things are happening and staff who did not have a voice are now able to fully contribute.  The new energy is contagious!

I hope there are other folks who do not speak well of me!  My work speaks for itself.  I was promoted to Administrative Director of Advising and Career Services on July 1, 2021.  Must be doing something right, huh? 😊

We will continue to Walk into the Future and do great things!  Irie!

Believe Shakespeare perfectly sums up this episode below!

“Heavy is the head that wears the crown”.

(Shakespeare)

Make your bed!

Books

“Good order is the foundation of all things”.

(Edmund Burke)

My Walk into the Future allows me to pick and choose my adventures and some take me to amazing places.  Others find me rooted at home but still bring a level of joy and satisfaction.

I am an avid reader and love to find new books to help me as a lifelong learner.  My latest find was the book by retired Admiral William H. McRaven titled Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe The World.  

The title is simple enough and gives the reader an understanding of what the Admiral will cover in this book.

I love the fact the book is broken up into short chapters that are easy to follow and integrate into daily life for readers.  Admiral McRaven uses things from his life to help highlight the importance of how little things add up to make life move forward.

The book starts with the simple premise of why making your bed daily sets the tone for the day.  I understood this fact when I read the book but did not fully gain knowledge until I shared the book with a coworker who reads more books than I do.  My coworker assumes since I am retired Air Force the concept of making your bed was instilled in me during my time in the Air Force.  He was surprised when I told him I rarely make my bed because I did not see the importance of the act.  I am not a slob but making my bed happens when it happens—I did not go out of my way to make the bed before heading to work.

My coworker was shocked with my admission. I can be set in my ways but went back and read the chapter on making your bed to figure out what I missed.

I started making my bed DAILY after reading again to see if this simple act made a difference in my day.  The verdict is in—yes, it does!

This simple act appears to be a springboard for a productive day for me. 

The flow I have been able to display at work came once I made the decision to start my day with a simple act of organization.  Taking the time to make my bed and organize before leaving the house for work or my runs puts me in a better mindset for the day.  I arrive at work with a mindset to organize and I can transition quicker once I make it to my desk.  This may all be a coincidence but the flow, production, and ability to get more accomplished came once I decided to make my bed.

This is a recent phenomenon for me but exciting at the same time.  The ability to make a difference daily is something I take pride in.  Making my bed appears to heighten my ability to get this done.

Let’s be clear on this!  I fully understand making the bed has not given me a new superpower, but it provides me an opportunity to cross off a daily task early in the day.  I view making my bed as the first win of the day and gets me ready to win throughout the day.  I love crossing things off my to-do lists and I can get this started before I leave the house. 

Therefore, making your bed is an important step for the day!  It sets the tone and establishes a foundation for success—give it a try and let’s see what making your bed can do for you!

What are your thoughts on the importance of making your bed?  How does it set the tone for the day?

“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned”.

(Benjamin Franklin)

Mastering College to Career—the mentor returns

Inspire

(Image by Bryan Stewart from Pixabay)

“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself”.

(Oprah Winfrey)

My Walk into the Future allows me to explore activities that I enjoy.  This concept provides me unlimited access to find new ways to make a difference in the world.

I understand most of my blog articles center on my adventures, travel and things that cross my mind (social justice, current events, etc.)  I continue to seek opportunities where I am making a difference and then decide how to highlight those efforts on the Walk into the Future blog.  Please note, I do not take notes when I am engaged in an activity—I try to sit down after the fact and then document my thoughts to share with my readers.

I received an email from Daniel Botero who is one of my tree branches.  Daniel’s name should be familiar with readers since he hosts the Mastering College to Career podcast, and I have been a featured guest 4 times so far.  Daniel has added an interactive mentoring component to his program and invites national guests to speak with his mentees. 

Mastering College to Career has grown quite a bit since I last sat down with Daniel in March 2020.  He continues to add value to college students across the country by helping them understand how to make themselves attractive to recruiters. 

The program helps colleges students LEARN how to build their online presence, resume, and mock interview skills.  Surprisingly, COVID-19 allowed Daniel to extend his program since he uses Zoom meetings to check-in with his students.

The email Daniel sent me was a request to join him via Zoom to speak with his students.  He did not provide a specific topic but wanted this to be a free form conversation so his students could ask me questions. My roles within Career Services at multiple schools was a targeted aspect of the conversation.  Daniel wanted me to share my knowledge on the correct way for colleges students to network with employers to ensure they are visible and viable in the recruiting process. 

I made sure to express being visible and viable is the key to transitioning from a college student to the world of employment.  This was a bit of a revelation for some of the students because they assume a degree means the transition will be easy.  This is a common thought of students everywhere I have been, but it is not true.  There are a lot of talented graduates at every college and university, the key to going to work is being visible and viable to recruiters.  Sounds simple but students without these key components are not on the radar of recruiters.  Daniel’s students were amazed by this statement and quickly wanted to know how they can gain an advantage.

I shared a quick story of a student I worked with at UCF.  This student had a GPA that was not high.  This student was not a U.S. citizen, so this eliminated them from certain organizations that refused to sponsor students for the hiring process.  This student was a native Spanish speaker so English was the second language.  These are three huge strikes within the on-campus recruiting process and the student in this example was not feeling good about the chances of gaining employment after graduation.  I met with this student, and he explained the things he PERCEIVED to hold him back from getting a job after graduation.  I developed the visible and viable concept while working with this student.

I told him he needed to identify organizations he wanted to work for and identify when they were on-campus.  He was advised to ensure that each time one of these organizations was on-campus, he would meet with them and expressed his interest working for them.  He was schooled on how to ensure the recruiters saw him as someone with potential and not worry about a low GPA.  Fast forward a bit and several organizations saw him as visible and viable and offered him interviews.  Not only interviews but this same student received 6 job offers prior to graduation—not bad for someone who supposedly had the deck stacked against him.

Can you guess the name of this student?  If you guess Daniel Botero, you would be right.  The person who learned how to be visible and viable is teaching his students the same skills he learned sitting in my office a decade ago—small world! 😊

The reaction of the students on the Zoom session was a renewed energy.  They needed to hear others have struggled with this process and overcame similar doubts.  Sharing my knowledge with the students provided a reminder they control their destiny—no one can stop a determined person.

I received about 20 LinkedIn requests from students in this session to connect for future advice on their journey.  I gladly accepted the requests and actively help these students anyway I can.  I found a higher level of satisfaction by volunteering my time to help these students. 

Inspiration Man continues to seek ways to make a difference in the world!

How do you reach back to help others?  Irie!

“We all need someone who inspires us to do better than we know how”.

(Anonymous)

Inspiration Man strikes again—Central Florida Economic Council

CFEC1

“Surround yourself with people who are only going to lift you higher”.

(UK Wired)

Dictionary.com defines inspiration as a divine influence directly or immediately exerted upon the mind or soul.

I have multiple Walk into the Future blog posts discussing superpowers and why they are important in our daily walk.  Here is one of my favorites where I introduce my readers to Inspiration Man. 😊

My move to Fort Pierce has allowed me to make a difference but it is more of an organizational difference so far.  We have adjusted work product and flow in my first 14 months.  It almost feels like a complete overhaul of the organization based on how we revamped our services, products, and delivery methods.  I did not expect this level of adjustment when I arrived, but we have made steady progress on modernizing our services and delivery.

The concept of Inspiration Man came up to highlight how I make an impact in the daily lives of others.  Inspiration Man has been doormat, but this all changed when I received an email from a colleague in Orlando who works with the Central Florida Economic Council (CFEC) and Christian HELP. 

Both organizations work to help people in Central Florida get back on their feet—job search, housing, food, etc.  My friend is the Division Director for these organizations and asked me to speak at their May 2021 Job Fair.  I did something similar 10 years ago and she remembered my positive impact on job seekers and wanted me to share my knowledge again.  She does not know about my alter ego, Inspiration Man but she was about to unleash the superhero on the Orlando area. 😊

I quickly accepted the opportunity to move the crowd and share information with job seekers.  The topic given:  Job Searching in 2021—How to Adapt. 

This was not a topic I had in my speaking library, but the challenge was to find a way to cover this information and engage with the audience.  They provided an article with a ton of useful information, so this was the foundation of the presentation.

I never miss an opportunity to help, and this process was exciting; research, building and then presenting information to people who needed to hear from me.

I made my way to Winter Garden on the day of the event.  Decided to drive over and then change at the venue prior to show time.  My friend greeted me at the door, and we took a little time to catch up on life.  She remembered the book I published in 2010 and thought I had another one ready to present to the group.  FYI—I have been working on producing an eBook on Authentic Leadership, but it is not ready for public consumption.  It should be coming later in 2021—get ready!

Inspiration Man made a quick dash into the dressing room to change into my superhero outfit for the day.  Trying to be funny with that—it was a grey suit with a power blue tie.

Headed off to do a quick microphone check and make a quick adjustment to my slide deck.  The event was held at Mosaic Church in Winter Garden, Florida and they have a fantastic audiovisual team.  Sound checks allow me to gauge the acoustic of the venue to understand how loud I need to speak into the microphone.  All systems go!

https://thisismosaic.org/

I took the stage after the host took care of some announcements and introduced me as the featured speaker of the day.  It is always weird to me when I hear someone introducing me at an event—I want to look around to see who they are talking about, and it is ME. 

I like to start my presentations by building rapport with the audience.  One member spoke with me before the presentation and shared she was having a hard time finding employment.  She mentioned a few things she tried but was having troubles.  This quick conversation allowed me to bring a real-world situation into my presentation and highlight I was there to help.  I speak with slides, but this does not drive how I present.  Slides to me provide a foundation but I am not limited to the words on my slide show.

I am a huge fan of Jocko and introduced this video to set the tone for the day: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdTMDpizis8

Diving into the presentation I covered:

  • Trends
  • Search parameters
  • Personal messages
  • Competition
  • Presentation (Elevator pitch)

Each topic came directly from the article they provided, and I leveraged this data to highlight how the current trends favored the job seekers.  We jumped into new job search parameters and ways to gain and keep an employer’s attention.  The personal messages centered on building a WHY statement.  Of course, I shared my WHY with the group to show how it can impact a positive mindset. 

The competition on the job search is really internal—preparing well enhances the client’s ability to connect with employers.  The presentation centered on creating an elevator pitch to helps a client standout in a positive manner.

The audience responded well to each topic and had a lot of questions for me during my hour with them on stage.  This was the most fun I have had in a long time.  Working with motivated people who want to learn and get better brings out the best in me.  I was intent on moving the crowd during this event and happy to report mission accomplished.

Several folks waited to speak with me after and tell me their unique stories.  I listened and shared my contact information so they can reach out to me when ready.  I am happy to help them continue to grow.

Hoping to get additional invitation to help with CFEC/Christian HELP events again soon.  May be time for Inspiration Man to make another appearance! 😊

“Do not let yesterday take up too much of today”.

(Will Rogers)

One year in Fort Pierce

Fort Pierce

“Your life is a story of transition.  You are always leaving one chapter behind while moving to the next”.

(Anonymous)

2020 brought us a year of uncertainty and change.  Not the most prophetic thing I have ever written for the Walk into the Future blog but felt the need to drop that nugget. 

I celebrated the one-year mark of my move to Fort Pierce on April 13th and decided to look back.  I am sure I was not the ONLY person to move to a new city during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic but have not met anyone in my current circle.  Turns out I was the last employee hired by Indian River State College before a hiring freeze was imposed due to COVID-19 uncertainty and the onset of remote work for all college employees.

I remember when I was preparing to move from Tallahassee to Fort Pierce the thought kept coming up that maybe my opportunity to work at Indian River State College would be pulled due to the pandemic.  I called a few times to make sure I was still hired, and Human Resources kept saying yes.  Packed up the U-Haul, pointed it south and the rest is history—arrived in Fort Pierce without knowing the pandemic was about to get a whole lot worse than we expected.  It did not help the government kept telling people there was nothing to worry about—that dang U.S. government, they have never lied before, right? 😊

I never had a remote work schedule when I arrived—being new to the area, going into the office was my only interaction with other people. The limited staff in the buildings all wore masks and practiced physical distancing but going to work was a welcomed part of my day.  I could not imagine moving to a new city and then sitting at home all day without seeing anyone. 

True story—my entire staff was working remotely so I met my 11-person team on my laptop via a Zoom meeting.  Never thought this would be possible but 2020 made us find creative ways to get things done.  My initial staff meetings were all done via a virtual platform (Zoom, Black Board Collaborate or Microsoft Teams).  I love the functionality of Microsoft Teams and continue to conduct staff meetings with this platform. Most of the staff are fully vaccinated but we still have a few stragglers—hope to be able to get everyone together with physical distancing in the fall—fingers crossed.

I had to find new running routes over the past year.  Discovered Fort Pierce is not as runner friendly as Tallahassee or Oviedo so finding places to run safely continues to be a challenge.  I have two good running areas but would like more routes for a change of scenery.  I love running but still get bored if I do not have variety on my routes. Will keep searching for new places to run because I need to extend my long runs with my focus on becoming a running tourist again.  I have race entries for the following:

  • 2021 Rock n Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon / September 5, 2021
  • 2021 Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) Half Marathon / December 4, 2021
  • 2022 Rock n Roll New Orleans Half Marathon / February 6, 2022

Would like to add more races but need to build my long runs back up to 12+ miles again. 

My initial workouts in Fort Pierce were done strictly at home.  Most of the gyms closed due to COVID-19 protocols and I would not have ventured in even if they were open.  I stopped going to the gym before leaving Tallahassee because the gym environment is a prime place for close contact with others.  This close contact led to people spreading the virus so I invested in workout equipment so I could maintain my fitness levels from home.  Surprisingly, I stayed in great physical shape with home workouts.  I have slowly returned to the gym but only go two days a week now when I am in town.  I do body weight workouts (pushups, crunches, squats, etc.) in the mornings before I head to work.  I am happy with my results and will keep this up since it is working and a lot cheaper than having a gym membership. 😊

The beaches on the Treasure Coast provide me with great places to sit, relax and catch up on my reading.  Funny, I live about 10 minutes from a beach but find I must schedule my beach outings.  I run close to the water and stop to enjoy the views but need to do a better job of just making beach days.  I am heading to Melbourne tomorrow for an air show and will get an early start so I can stake my claim to a prime beach location to relax and enjoy the Blue Angels as they put on their show.  I plan to get to the beach more this year and keep taking beautiful sunset shots.

Time continues to move forward.  It feels like I just got here yesterday but it has been a year.  Most days seemed to be the same due to COVID-19 protocols but a year it has been.  Looking forward to new adventures in 2021 and you know I am going to highlight a few in the Walk into the Future blog! 😊

Irie!

“To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly”.

(Henri Bergson)

Spring break unwind

Spring break

(Image by Thank you for your support Donations welcome to support from Pixabay)

“Go where the wifi is weak and the sun is strong”.

(Unknown)

Spring break 2021 has been circled on my calendar for awhile.  I did not have visions of a Jamaica getaway as I have in past years.  COVID-19 has adjusted the things we look forward to now.  I am hoping with the multiple vaccines available we will be able to get back to travel again soon.  I routinely scheduled my Jamaica trip around spring break but will continue to display patience as I wait my turn to get the vaccine.

Happy to report my mom, aunts, uncles and multiple friends are fully vaccinated!

I decided not to overbook myself for spring break and just unwind a bit.  My 2020 was overshadowed by COVID-19 and my move from Tallahassee to Fort Pierce.  Relocating during the height of a pandemic proved a bit harder than I ever imagined.  The physical process was simple to pull off—the mental and emotional aspects of adjusting to a new location, new work environment and new people while staying safe in a pandemic was challenging.  Proud of my efforts so far and look forward to continued growth with this process.

Spring break was my chance to reset a bit, kick back and enjoy life. 

Decided to head north and spend most of my break in my home town, Jasper, Florida.  I did not load my schedule so I took my time as I drove north.  Made my way to the Daytona Beach Outlets for some shopping on my drive.  The Daytona outlets are fairly new and I am always looking for some good deals.  I visited this same outlet back in November on my drive to the Smokey Mountains.  I did not find any deals I liked in the Nike or Van Heusen stores so I got back on the road.

Made my way to Jasper before sunset and caught up with my mom for my first day of spring break.  She is a traditional southern mom so yes, I had a large dinner waiting for me when I got home. 😊

I normally pressure wash my mom’s house yearly and decided to tackle the project while I was in town on break.  The weather in North Florida during March is very nice—no heat or humidity.  Pulled my pressure washer out of the shed and began the process of knocking a year’s worth of grime off the house.  My pressure washer began coughing halfway through the house cleaning process—thought it was just a spark plug issue so changed it and I was back in business—for awhile.  I have had this pressure washer for some time and it just would not go any longer.  Jasper is a small town and there is not a local small engine shop available to help with this issue.  Almost called it quits but wanted to finish this project since I started.  Made my way to Lowe’s in Live Oak to see what they had available.  Ended up purchasing a new pressure washer with 2800 PSI (pounds per square inch) which gave me additional power—equals less time pressure washing.

Got the new washer setup and cranked out the rest of the house cleaning.  The only drag when pressure washing my mom’s house is the two story aspect.  Yes, I have to get up and down a ladder to reach the portion of the house directly above her porch.  This happens to be the most visible part of the house and I cannot neglect it and still claim I cleaned the house.  Going up and down the ladder with a pressure washing wand in my hand was fun a few years ago.  Now, it feels like work but I got it done.

I decided to get away from my manual labor the following day.  Made a point to visit with friends and go see my favortie aunt in Live Oak.  I have not been able to visit with her in a long time due to COVID-19 but felt comfortable sitting with her for a bit since she is fully vaccinated.  We were able to catch up and share a few laughs again—felt good! 😊

My last spring break project was to pressure wash my grandmother’s house.  I normally have both houses scheduled to pressure wash during the same visit so kept the tradition alive.  The second house is not as large as my mom’s so it does not take me as long to complete.  This was a great aspect this year since severe weather was expected later in the day.  I was able to get the house washed and avoid getting caught in the rain that made it to Jasper in the afternoon.

I am happy to report I was able to complete a few projects while in Jasper, see family and sleep in daily on my spring break.  The time away from career related activities was needed considering the COVID-19 world we live in.  It was nice to disconnect from my work email and computer—not thinking about substantial activities was refreshing.

I know this does not sound like a typical spring break but it was exactly what I needed. Now it is time to find a beach and work on my tan! 😊

Irie!

What activities help you to unwind?  What are you looking forward to doing again?

“If traveling was free, you would never see me again”.

(Unknown)

Itching to race again!

Oviedo trail3

“Run because zombies will eat the untrained first”.

(Zombie apocalypse survival guide)

We all know COVID-19 wrecked a lot in 2020.  Our lives have changed and how we get things done may never be the same.  That is not a complaint but just a simple observation of how the pandemic impacts our daily lives.

One thing I got excited about in 2020 was the prospects of being able to run races again.  Most run organizations completely shut down their in-person races and pivoted to the virtual race format.  Took a bit to get use to but runners started signing up for virtual races to compete in the COVID-19 world.  I signed up and ran a few but it just did not give me the same competitive feel as the in-person racing. 

I was more than happy to sign-up for a local 5k with new COVID-19 safety protocols in October 2020.  Felt safe with how the race organizers kept runners apart before and after the race.  The staggered starts for everyone allowed the runners to maintain proper physical distance and still enjoy the race process.  Felt good throughout the race and did not worry about safety once we got started.  The same protocols were in-place after the race—nothing was handed to us—everything was prepackaged and unopened (bagels, water, granola bars, etc.). The COVID-19 initiative should remain even when the pandemic starts to wane—the race world needed to look at food handling protocols and now we know there is a better way to handle after race activities.

The Track Shack running club in Orlando is one of my favorite run organizers and great people work there.  Track Shack made the adjustment to virtual races to keep people in Central Florida running.  I did not sign up for any of their virtual races but was excited to watch people send in pictures from their virtual races.  Track Shack continued to look for ways to get runners back on courses safely.

Happy they were able to get clearance from the City of Orlando and Orange County to bring back in-person racing in time for the Orlando Utility Commission (OUC) Half Marathon.  I have run this race multiple times and it provides a flat course that winds through downtown Orlando neighborhoods.  I projected to run the Rock N Rock Half marathon in San Antonio as my December race at the beginning of the year, but COVID-19 had other plans.  The OUC Half was a perfect replacement race and allowed me to run fast again.  I did not target a personal record (PR) but just wanted to get back out and race with other runners and enjoy the process.  Never thought running 13.1 miles would be something I craved but it is true—I am a runner now! 😊

Decided to get creative with my training program and expand my running options.  Fort Pierce does not have the same running trail system as Tallahassee or the Orlando area.  I can get some good runs in but mostly on sidewalks where I encounter traffic.  Never been a fan of running around traffic but make it work based on where I live.  I needed to get in some double digit runs so decided to look north and tackle one of my old trails in the Orlando area. 

The Cross Seminole Trail is one I have trained and raced in the past when I lived in Oviedo, Florida.   Made up my mind to just head back to Oviedo and get some training done on a shady trail without traffic.  Happy to report the trail was everything I hoped for and needed!

Started my run with the intent to get in 10 miles on the training run—5 miles out and 5 miles back.  The weather was 64 and sunny when I started my run—perfect October day to run in Florida!  Did not have an intended time for my run—just wanted to get out and put in work and enjoy the trail, weather, and the process.  The Cross Seminole Trail is a multi-use trail used by bikers, walkers, skaters, and runners.  It is always great seeing so many active people out enjoying the trail.

I was able to go out with an easy pace for the first 3 miles.  Got lucky when another runner joined the trail fun and passed me at a good pace.  Decided to leverage this to see if I could keep up with the pace—it is always good to have a run goal so decided my goal was to keep her within sight and potentially pass at some point.  Kept this process up for the next 2 miles and finally passed her at my 5-mile point.  Runners are a friendly bunch, so we exchanged runner talk as we both continued to get our runs in.  Turns out she was out for a 10-mile run to get prepared for the OUC Half Marathon too.  Small world!  She was also excited the OUC race was back as an in-person option.

I felt good at the 5-mile point so decided to extend my run a bit and set out to max out with a 12-mile run.  The cooler temperatures and shady trail had a lot to do with how good I felt while out for my run.  Kept pressing forward to the 6-mile point and then gave myself a slight break by walking for a bit before turning around to head back to the starting point.  Running allows an opportunity to take in the sights and sounds of the surrounding area.  Noticed a lot of new construction and growth in the area since the last time I was there.  My run took me from downtown Oviedo to downtown Winter Spring via the trail systems.  Great way to explore an area without worrying about traffic or getting in anyone’s way.

Turned around to head back after walking for about 5 minutes.  I was not in a rush so just enjoyed the weather, nature, and the trail.  Took several pictures of the trail on the way back so my return pace was more leisurely than the first part of my run.  No worries, 12 miles is still 12 miles! 😊

Will look for additional ways to enhance my half marathon training.  May try to leverage the Cross Seminole Trail again—will just have to determine the best day and time to head back to Oviedo.  Excited to have races to train for again!  It is a small step towards normalcy, but it is promising and will allow me to get my competitive fix again.

More training to do but I am headed in a great direction!

What do you crave for your sense of normalcy?

“Make sure your worst enemy does not live between your own ears”.

“Laird Hamilton”