The desire to go home

Home

“Home is the place where when you have to go there, they have to take you in”.

(Robert Frost)

COVID-19 has turned a lot of life little pleasures into a HUGE deal.  Things we took for granted in 2019 quickly morphed into things we were advised not to do in 2020 and beyond.

The concept of going home on the surface is a rather benign thing.  The pandemic has made this a potential life and death decision—never thought I would say that, but it is true.

My Walk into the Future revolves around my adventures and travel to places I want to visit.  The one place I do not get to visit as much as I would like is home—Jasper, Florida.  I am not getting all nostalgic because I cannot visit my hometown.  My desire to go home centers around visiting with my mom and family.  I am sure there are other folks who make the decision to visit family or not based on a fear of COVID-19. 

The fear of being a possible transmitter of the virus is real and I do not want to be the person that brings the virus home. 

My hope is the vaccine process will allow everyone to get back to the things they love doing.  Happy to report my mom completed the two shot COVID-19 vaccine series along with an uncle, multiple aunts, and family friends.  Completing these shots gave everyone a sense of relief and a tangible sign things are getting better.  Fully understand there is more work to do with the vaccine, but this is a level of progress.

Got a chance to go home this weekend to visit with my folks.  There was nothing special happening this weekend, but it was an opportunity to visit family, relax and get some good food.  This was my first 2021 visit and it was great getting back to see the crew.  Most visits I have a long project to-do list, but my mom gave me a break this trip with no projects requested.  My brother laughed when he found out I had some free time without my normal project load.  I am sure there will be projects on my next visit but enjoyed not having to pull out a ladder, drill, or hammer to get things done around the house.

I will pull out my pressure washer on my next trip to get my annual house washing done.  I have pressured washed my mom and grandmother’s houses for the past 15 years.  It is time for that project to get completed—like to do this before the Florida heat and humidity return.  Takes me a full day with both houses but I enjoy this project because I get to see immediate results when I am done.

These things may not be huge to others but being able to work on projects, see my family and relax in my hometown are the things I love about going home.  COVID-19 has taken a lot of things away from us, but it has not taken the concept of HOME away from us.  We must remain smart and safe to keep everyone moving forward during this phase of the pandemic.

What do you miss about home?  When do you think you will be able to return?

Home by Daughtry:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bnX-6sJZBw

“Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition”.

(James Baldwin)

Success in Black and White podcast

Success

(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

“A podcast is a great way to develop relationships with hard-to-reach people”.

(Tim Paige)

The Walk into the Future blog has provided me with multiple opportunities to share my words, thoughts, and experiences with others. 

I started this journey in 2018 with an idea of the direction I wanted to go but had no idea the process would be so much fun for me.  The ability to be creative and explore adventures are two key elements that allow me to continue to produce content for the blog.  I love the comments, texts, and emails I receive when something I write speaks to others—I guess you can say I am finding my voice as I develop content.

One area that puts a huge smile on my face is when one of my tree branches reaches out and want to produce content with me.  My smile gets even bigger when the request comes from TWO tree branches! 😊

My tree branches, Darryl and April Lovett have a successful platform:  Success in Black and White. 

Proud of these two as they tackle issues others may shy away from, but they have fun as they do it.  Love the fact they move forward as a POWER couple; their energy is contagious and makes you want to get up and make a difference in the world.

They asked me to join them for a podcast episode and I immediately said yes.  Saw this as a perfect way to catch up with them and share a little bit of Walk into the Future with their growing audience.  Please note, recording the episode was more fun than I ever imagined—well done Darryl and April!

We were able to catch up during the podcast and cover a lot of content in the one-hour timeframe.  They asked great questions and were not afraid to follow-up for clarity.  The question that really got me energized was:  What is your calling and why are you passionate about it?

I have been asked this question in multiple ways but really enjoy the opportunity to continue to share my WHY.  My why is to leave everyone better than when I met them.  It took me a few years to put this down into a simple statement, but it has been with me for some time now.

I was able to dive a bit deeper while speaking with Darryl and April during the podcast.  My desire to help others started for me in high school.  I had a Guidance Counselor who did not even try to help me plan my life after high school.  I had several friends who got excellent advice from this same counselor, but she only told me to join the military.  We never discussed how to apply to colleges, how to apply for financial aid or anything about further education and the doors it would open.  Fast forward and I hold three degrees without ever having a student loan—so maybe it was a good thing my high school guidance counselor did not help me with the process. 😊

My why is driven by the lack of support I received from my guidance counselor.  I provide mentorship to everyone that crosses my path because I do not want them to have to struggle because I would not take the time to help them.  I wanted to make sure Darryl, April and their audience understood how important this is for me.  The passion I display when working with my tree branches and potential branches is because I want to help them grow.  Sounds cliché but it is something I live every day.

A funny but true aspect of how I developed my why is I do not remember the name of my high school guidance counselor.  Imagine, this lady fueled my passion with her lack of attention to my future and I do not remember her name, but she has allowed me to touch so many lives in a positive way.  Good things come out of bad situations.  Please note, I would not change a thing—I seem to be doing okay with this Walk into the Future journey. 

Discovered during the podcast episode April also considers herself a running tourist!  We got a chance to discuss why I run and the positive impacts it has on my daily journey.  Hoping we can all get back to running, exploring, and traveling soon—there are still races out there to run.

So, I repeat the question Darryl and April asked me:

What is your calling and why are you passionate about it?

Thank you, Darryl and April for allowing me to come on your podcast!  It was fun! 😊 Irie!

“Podcasting is great.  Total freedom”.

(Bill Burr)

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)

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

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas

(Image by Satheesh Sankaran from Pixabay)

2020 has been a tough year for us all!

The good folks from the Walk into the Future blog wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy 2021 New Year!

The challenges we endured in 2020 will lead to a stronger mentality as we get ready to have a FANTASTIC 2021!

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another”.

(Proverbs 27:17)

I hope the Walk into the Future blog has sharpened you in 2020.  Looking forward to another great year enjoying life to the fullest and sharing my experiences, thoughts, and adventures with you in 2021!

Thanks for walking with me!  Irie!

Merry Christmas!

Calvin

Walking and enjoying the Square Grouper (Ft. Pierce)

Square Grouper1

“It is life, I think, to watch the water.  A man can learn so many things”.

(Nicholas Sparks)

My Walk into the Future continues to look more like My Walk with COVID-19.

That would not be as catchy of a blog title so will stick with Walk into the Future! 😊  Again, the pandemic has slowed down the adventures but has not completely shut them off.  I remain careful when I venture out and take precautions to ensure I am not exposing myself to undue risks.

Most of my adventures center around the beach and shopping excursions.  These have proved to be safe and gets me out of the house for fresh air.  Will continue to find new beaches to sit on and enjoy the views on the Treasure Coast.  Still do not know why it is called the Treasure Coast, guess that will have to be a future blog article when I find out.

A favorite spot for the locals is Square Grouper.  Thought it was a clever name when I first heard it but Googled the definition to make sure I understood how the place got the name.  Turns out it is a clever hook and attracts a lot of people based on the name and meaning.  Yes, you should Google it to understand what it means. LOL.

My attraction to Square Grouper is it is close to Jetty Park and sits right on the Fort Pierce Inlet.  The location is at the mouth of the inlet before it empties into the Atlantic Ocean.  It is a great location to catch sunsets that seem to plunge directly into the inlet.  The Square Grouper is 95% an outdoor venue with two bars, a tiki hut stage, and a large outdoor seating area.  The plastic chairs are not comfortable but serve a purpose as you can move them around as needed.

Square Grouper2

The outdoor venue has been great to practice physical distancing while also enjoying some live music.  Most of the bands are local and only play for two hours—cannot say the bands have been memorable but they have been good enough to make a few people get up and dance.  There has never been a large crowd when I visited but everyone seems to enjoy the atmosphere.  I spoke with one of the bartenders and he let me know they typically got around 600 people nightly before COVID-19 impacted the world.  The crowds are a lot less than that now—the most I have seen there is around 50 people spread out around the outdoor seating areas.  A few brave folks will sit at the bar but not very many.  Face masks are still required to enter but do not know how long that will last since the governor has relaxed statewide restrictions.

A surprising aspect of visiting the Square Grouper is the food.  Typical bar staples but they use fresh ingredients and fantastic seasonings.  I have tried multiple items on the menu and have not been disappointed yet.  I have been a bit adventurous and explored menu items I would not normally get. Both bars are fully stocked but the signature drink is the Rum Runner.  Never had one prior to my visit to Square Grouper but now it is my go-to drink when I am there—try it frozen if you make it there.

Hoping the band lineup starts to improve since I enjoy live music.  Will continue to leverage the Square Grouper as part of my Walk into the Future.

https://squaregrouper.net/

What locations are on your adventure list?  What makes it a place you want to visit?  Thanks!

“On the beach, you can live in bliss”.

(Dennis Wilson)

 

The man in the mirror

(Image by athree23 from Pixabay

“We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience”.

(John Dewey)

I am always looking for angles to help keep my Walk into the Future moving forward.  I leverage available tools to ensure my growth provides a platform to make a difference daily.

Decided to conduct a personal Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats (SWOT) analysis on my 100th day in my role at Indian River State College.  We conducted an in-depth analysis of the overall office as part of our teambuilding program and to discover areas of growth.  This was a great step to help everyone on the team to see the things we do well and to collectively identify improvement points.  The SWOT approach is a great way to get a true operational picture IF everyone is truthful with their inputs.

I used this same approach to look at my work during the first 100 days to identify areas of improvement.  I strive to do a good job daily but did not want to have blinders on and not see the weaknesses, opportunities, or threats in front of me. 

I started this role in April 2020 which was thought to be the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Oh, were we wrong! My point here is most of my coworkers and direct reports were working from home when I went into the office.  My Human Resources onboarding was done via computer before I left Tallahassee.  There was not an orientation process, in person introductions or meet and greets to welcome me to town.  I fully understood this process and why but wanted to paint a complete picture of how I arrived on-campus. 

(Note:  I am still playing catch up due to how I entered the work environment—still learning things I needed for a successful transition.) 

My personal SWOT was performed to identify the things I needed to work on that I may have missed due to how I was onboarded. 

My strengths were easy to identify and transferred directly to this role.  My vision for the office, Authentic leadership, positive energy, communication and organized were a few of the strengths listed.  My career services background at multiple institutions was also listed and enabled me to hit the ground running even though the workforce was scattered and working from home.

The weaknesses I wrote down included lack of in-depth institutional knowledge, lack of in-depth division knowledge, on-line onboarding, and office interpersonal dynamics.  The lack of knowledge and on-line onboarding go hand in hand since I never got a chance to ask questions to learn more about daily operational procedures.  This did not stop me from making a difference, but I soon discovered I needed more information to continue to grow.  I used this new knowledge to reach out and ask more and better questions to ensure I fully understood how the college operated. 

The opportunities were plentiful, and I am excited to work them into the operation.  Teambuilding, robust training, virtual events, and enhanced officer interpersonal dynamics were a few of the opportunities I discovered.  The concept of virtual information sessions, appointments and career fairs were not everyday activities at the beginning of 2020.  The COVID-19 pandemic has forced organizations to find new, better, and exciting ways to connect with students, employers, and faculty/staff.  Excited to discover new ways to use virtual platforms to create a great experience for our customers.  The COVID-19 pandemic has forced schools to modernize operations and leverage technologies daily.  Currently working on our first ever virtual career fair—fingers crossed for an outstanding event!

The threats are present daily but can all be mitigated in some form.  The COVID-19 pandemic remains one of the largest threats since it can shut down the country again with additional spreading.  Universities and colleges have opened their doors to students again, but it only takes one major outbreak on a campus before operations go back to virtual learning only. 

Another threat is the possibility students will not engage with virtual programs or events.  A virtual career fair is a new concept for everyone so will be interesting to see if students will interact with this platform.  Discovered my new office has multiple areas we need to modernize so need to prioritize projects to ensure we are focused on the right things at the right time.  Sounds simple but this needs to be done to keep us productive.  Need to gauge employer interest as well for the virtual platforms.  Most employers have been engaged with Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google platforms to conduct daily business.  Getting them familiar with our virtual software should be an easy transition to help mitigate the threat.

Please note, I provided a snapshot of the SWOT analysis—there are other weaknesses, opportunities, and threats I will be working on to continue to grow.  This was an outstanding learning process for me and will look to leverage this approach multiple times a year to help my self-awareness in the work environment.

Have you ever performed a personal SWOT?  Would this process help you grow as a professional?

 “To realize the self is to be still”.

(Ramana Maharshi)

Poetic Friday

(Image by Ri Butov from Pixabay)

Knowledge (11/13/20)

The series of daily challenges presented

Provides a template to view

How to conquer the challenges?

It is all up to you

Life provides many opportunities to grow

The direction you chose, only you will know

Continue to strive through the growing process

Knowing that you hold the key to it all

The knowledge you gain

Helps to move your journey forward

And makes the challenges easier to maintain

Leading from a distance

(Image by FelixMittermeier from Pixabay

“Leading remotely makes the complex role of leading even more complex”.

(Kevin Eikenberry)

The year 2020 started with a bang for us all and the promise of a fantastic year. 

The term 2020 Vision was used to highlight the promise this was going to be the year where vision became reality and positive things were coming.

2020 has been a lot tougher than most of us would like but there have been positive things to be thankful for.  We must remember tough times now can lead to positive outcomes in the future.

One area of my Walk into the Future where I really needed 2020 Vision was after accepting my role in Fort Pierce and discovering my entire team was working remotely.  Imagine moving to a new city during a pandemic, taking over a work environment and meeting your entire team on your laptop.  Strange times but quickly discovered all my leadership training, speaking, and consulting experience were needed for me to make positive things happen.

I have read a lot of leadership books and written multiple articles on authentic leadership.  There is not a manual on how to come in on day one and begin to lead a remote team.  Trust me, I searched for that book for days! 

You always want to make a great first impression, but it is tough to gauge your direct reports via a laptop screen.  Things are progressing but I continue to learn new tools and techniques daily.  2020 Vision has morphed into a new mantra to remain focused and control the controllable.

Teambuilding

A first step to build a great team is to ensure teambuilding is a central focus to get everyone on the same page and moving in the correct direction.  I have written about several teambuilding exercises we have completed (MBTI, The Energy Bus) and the need to help each team member grow professionally.  We completed these activities in a complete physical distancing environment where staff members engaged each other via computers from separate offices.  Let’s repeat that…we were together via a Zoom like application (Blackboard Collaborate), in different locations, and working on our teambuilding activities.  Not ideal but it can be done.

Never imagined this was possible but got the 2020 Vision to try this and tweak as needed.  We have been able to enhance team dynamics and maintain our physical distance from each other.  I continue to look for interactive ways to engage the team using computer technology and ensure we have fun with the process. 

Work schedules

2020 Vision allows me to understand the traditional concept of work schedules went out the window earlier this year.  Not saying people do not have to work but the COVID-19 pandemic created a huge work from home dynamic.  Jobs traditionally done within the office environment were rapidly transformed to work from home.  This was a major change for everyone, and work schedules had to change as well.  Gone were the typical 8 am – 5 pm work schedules since people had to juggle work, childcare, home schooling and a myriad of other tasks daily. 

I learned quickly when staff needed time to take care of their home life.  Also learned the work from home mindset is not the same for everyone.  Some folks are just as motivated working from home as they were in the office.  I came to understand that some are not as motivated working from home—human nature kicks in for these folks.

My role has evolved to ensure everyone can use the technology we have available to complete work assignments.  We needed to create communication channels to check in without being overly connected daily.  I am still learning and evolving in this area, but we are getting things done.

Mental well-being

My initial thoughts for this section was to write about helping my staff with their mental well-being.  We do that daily but one aspect I continue to focus on is my mental well-being.  My workouts and running program are great escapes for me from the daily grind of leading a team from a distance.  This new world of work seems to always have someone trying to schedule a Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Blackboard Collaborate meeting—they never stop! ☹😊

Finally had to tell some coworkers to ask before just jamming a virtual meeting on my calendar.  This is a constant reminder the world of work has changed—mostly for the good but there can be a bad side to always being connected.  I work to connect with my staff daily to make sure they are doing well.  I do not email, call, or text them after work hours to model behavior that honors a true work and life balance.  Small steps!

I am still learning how to operate in this new world of work. 

What techniques do you use to not be connected all the time?  How has your 2020 vision changed from earlier in the year?

 “Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something”.

(Plato)

Poetic Fridays

(Image by H. B. from Pixabay

Life role

Living the life I lead

Let’s me see how mistakes can produce learning moments

Taking time to enjoy the world around

Produces the essence in this life I lead

Working towards goals, to fulfill this promise I need

Striving for perfection is what I bleed

There will be times when I do not reach my goal

The key to the life I lead is to find my role