Time to Grow

As we come to the end of the first week of April one might think this post is about an upcoming landscaping project or preparations to plant a garden, but no. It is still winter where I live and it looks to be that way for a while.

I belong to a group on Facebook and the post today focused on reflecting on ways in which you have grown in life and share a thought.

As I reflected on this past year my “growth” was three pronged.

1. Intellectual Growth. It started 12 months ago when I took a new job. There was a learning curve associated with the switch from private to public sector but I have loved the challenge and opportunity to learn and grow. In my new role I have also been able to further pursue an area of personal interest – organizational development and change management. I’m currently on course to obtain a certificate in this area by June 1 and have begun leveraging my knowledge and expertise.

2. Spiritual Growth. Following our move last year the construction consumed all remaining free time over the summer. Last fall I set a goal to find a church to join. After a few months of church “shopping” (or hopping) we found one and will formalize it in April at the new member welcome and service.

3. Physical Growth. The job change threw a curve ball into my life. Because I ended up commuting for months I gave up my gym membership and trainer. For the past year, other than our construction project, I’ve basically been a couch potato. That ended a few weeks ago when I joined a Cross Fit gym. I’m loving every minute of it. It’s hard getting back into shape – physically and mentally. It is a community of regular people who support and encourage each other. You aren’t there to compete with anyone but yourself and I push myself pretty hard. I guess the same could be said for the other two areas – honing a new skill or connecting to a new community. You have a stretch yourself.

I’m sore today, and tired. But, I’m going to keep going. I’ve made a commitment to myself to continue to improve and that doesn’t happen sitting on the couch.

Gratitude

I am going to start by saying that I love Minnesota and really couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. However, there are days when the weather can leave you frustrated and dreaming of a beach.

Growing up here you learn to drive in all kinds of conditions. I don’t consider myself an overly cautious driver, but a smart one, when it comes to winter driving. I drive based on the elements. Today was just an all-around gross day. It snowed all day and it’s warm outside which lends itself to slushy, crappy roads. As I watched the snow fall throughout today I knew the drive home would not be a fun one. I had plans to work out after work and that meant driving a half hour to get there. I decided to leave a few minutes early to beat the rush.

I was taking my time, driving at a comfortable speed and paying close attention to the condition of the road when I see a black Dodge Charger doing 360* turns down the middle of the highway headed straight at me. Thinking back, it wasn’t an “oh holy sh&$” moment but more like a “you’ve got to be kidding me” kind of a thought. Like, “how the heck do I avoid this?!”

Well, I didn’t. I was able to slow down and get as far over to the shoulder as I could without driving into the ditch. It just wasn’t quite far enough. Hey, the car is still drivable and I’m not hurt. Grateful.

That isn’t what prompted me to share this post on gratitude. It’s what came after. So the other driver and I got off the highway. It happened near an intersection so we were able to pull onto a county road, assess the situation, call it in and then sit and wait for a deputy of come and write up a report. Frustrating, yes. Annoyed, yes. There I sat. I love the saying “It is what it is” and that’s where I was at in my head. About 5-10 minutes into my wait while I was on the phone with the claims adjuster I had my gratitude moment. As I sat at the intersection with my hazard lights on I was witness to a second accident just a few hundred feet down from where I got hit. Only this one was bad, really bad. I just said to the adjuster “I have to go” then hung up and called 911 for a second time. As people pulled off and ran to the vehicles I began describing the scene. Traffic in both directions came to a halt. As the emergency vehicles started to pour in I knew I would be there for a while. I was no longer the priority. I grabbed a safety vest out of the back of my car and walked up the road to one of the officers, explaining my observations and situation. Then I went back to wait. Eventually they got to me and to the driver who hit me. By that point it seemed like small potatoes in the grand scheme of things.

Gratitude. I remember thinking that to myself repeatedly – it could have been so much worse for me. I got lucky. The timing was only different by a few minutes. The location was roughly the same. Today, I have an immense amount of gratitude. I drove away. The other two cars, did not.

Be thankful for what you have and who you are. If you don’t like it, change it.

Motivation

I follow Simon Sinek and get a quote in my inbox daily. The one I received two days ago had great timing.

“The hardest part is starting. Once we get that out of the way, we’ll find the rest of the journey much easier.”

I decided that I should make better use of my free time. Before I made my career change and moved I was working out with a trainer three days a week. I got to that point after working with a clinical nutritionist for almost two years. She said to me that my body has a “happy weight” and likes to stick within +/- 5 pounds of it no matter what I try. Even after months of working out with a trainer I gave in and said she was right, but I physically felt better.

Fast forward a year. I made the decision to challenge myself to 6 weeks of Cross Fit. What I chose came with nutritional instruction. The meal prep is very similar to what I’ve done before but with way more water. I am five days in and still motivated to continue. Thursday and a Friday I could barely walk my thighs burned so bad but I believe in the “no pain no gain” thing. After all, it’s been a year since I’ve been in a gym. The people there have been great, very encouraging. I understand why they call it a community. Nutrition and exercise have never been a problem for me. My issue is finding the right combination that works. I have hope that this is it.

Whomever said eating healthy can’t taste good hasn’t met me.

Lifetime Learner

This past week I volunteered as a course facilitator for those preparing for their professional certification exam. I was also there a few weeks ago for another class. I chose the topics of HR Strategic Planning and Organization Development and Effectiveness. As a lifetime learner I am very passionate about strategic planning and change management and you can’t have one without the other. 

When I spend time thinking about these topics I feel very proud of all I’ve done in my career up to this point. To make the content relatable and easier to remember, you tie it to stories. We had some really good discussions in the two sessions I facilitated. These are my peers albeit at various stages in their career. It is exciting to think about the impact our profession has in business and all the opportunities that still lie ahead for us. 

In my current employment I have education benefits. Thus, of course I’m thinking about “what else” I could take on…a new credential. Any additional expertise I can gain raises my value and gives me more knowledge to share. I haven’t found any adjunct teaching gigs since I moved but I’m hoping that is something I will have the opportunity to do again someday. For now I will continue to raise my level of knowledge and look for opportunities to share my skills with colleagues and industry peers.

 

Make A Difference

The seasons have changed. We had a week of Indian Summer and now winter is closing in. The first snow appeared this past week and made things very messy. We don’t have our wood cut for the fireplace but we will get there. Our building is up. It isn’t fully enclosed but there are still things we can do to keep it moving forward. I think the windows and walk door arrive today. Yesterday was #MakeADifferenceDay and my dad and husband spent the day helping on of the neighbors gather up their hay bales and moving them so they in turn could help their dad with a water pipe issue. That’s the great thing about living in the Midwest – people helping people. My job was the food, something I love.  It probably helps that I love my kitchen and don’t mind spending time there. This afternoon we will regroup and run all our weekend errands. Time to get ready for the workweek. Things are never done but there is always ‘later’. 

Stand Tall

I am sure you can relate to this statement. “There are days when you can really feel the stress on your body.”

I am working hard at drinking more water and less coffee on a daily basis. I also set a goal of 10,000 steps at least three days a week. Sometimes that goal is challenging because my day job is primarily sedentary. After a few months into my new job I got a standing work surface. I had the same one at my previous company and loved it. My struggle has been that I get so busy at my computer or coming and going from meetings that I forget to put it up…and I am feeling the effects. 

Stress comes in all forms. I often operate at a high rate of speed. Demands for my time and attention have me juggling many balls in the air at once. I’m just hoping I don’t drop one. Friday is got in a few holes of golf. I was “checked out” for a short period of time. I felt rejuvenated. Today, not so much. I feel it in my neck and shoulders. It’s pulling hard. I am doing my best to stand up straight and tall and have to remind myself often.  I’d hate to get to a place when I can’t weather the storm. 

What Was I Thinking?

The transition to small town living has begun. I just finished my first week at a new job. It was the one element of my life I didn’t intend to change. It was just in the cards. While we had been planning our move for close to three years I had always thought I would stay in my current role and just transfer to a different location. That changed a few months ago when an opportunity landed in my inbox that I just couldn’t ignore. I told my husband that opportunities like this one don’t come around every day and if I don’t at least apply I will always wonder if I could have got the job.

That was a few months ago. It was a very robust interview process. The interviews consisted of a nine person panel from across the organization. I had two interviews with them, one of which required me to give a 10 minute presentation. My final meeting was with the Executive Director. That’s when I knew that I could definitely work here! When word came that they wanted to hire me I think I was in shock. While it was a job I wanted, I hadn’t prepared myself for having to say goodbye to my current employer. I had been there well over 10 years. I had grown to be friends with many of my coworkers. Nothing up to this point could prepare me for how hard this conversation was going to be. Very simply, it sucked.

Looking back now, a week into the new job, it all makes sense.  Over the past two years I had the opportunity to hire 4 outstanding employees and build a very talented team. My departure provided them opportunity to learn and grow. It was also an opportunity for the organization to learn and grow. I had been in my role a long time. I built the department. It took two people to replace me.

During the final four weeks I tried to write down all the things in my head. It wasn’t easy. I worked until the very last minute of the very last day. I didn’t even have time to think about my new job until last weekend. Also, over the past four weeks, I took two trips to my new employer to sit on an interview panel to select and hire an employee in my department. That was incredibly weird. While I didn’t even work there yet, there I was sitting in my new office and participating in panel interviews. It was a unique opportunity and said a lot about the awesomeness of the organization I was joining.

Last week I got a sassy new haircut and dyed my hair back to its original color. I was pumped up and ready to go on Monday. The first week has now ended.  I am super excited about this wonderful opportunity to use my strengths to help a new organization. I’ve jumped in with both feet. I had several people ask me this week if I was drinking from a fire hose. The Executive Director even added in some humor, stating “we don’t let anyone drown, we just give you a longer snorkel.” This is an innovative, dynamic, growing organization. Some of it is like déjà vu for me and I will get to use my experiences to help shape the best part of the business – I’m in the people business.

office

Additionally this week I survived seeing my husband five days in a row. I say that jokingly. We are calling this the ‘transition period’ before moving in to the same house full time. Not only will I see him three days a week while commuting for my new job  (yes that is unusual) but we will also have to work together a little. We start laying stone at the new house next week.

None of this would be possible if it weren’t for some divine intervention and the village that takes care of things at home for me. The countdown is on…only two months left until the move. Tonight, a toast…to all the movers and shakers making big transitions in life!