Hot Chocolate

The Tuesday after Labor Day feels like the unofficial start to fall. Kids are back to school, the high temp is in the 70s all week and it started with a cold, rainy morning. I really wanted to wear an orange top to work today but it didn’t offer enough layering for adjusting to office temperatures. Guess that will have to wait until another day.

In our house we get one more thing around this time of year, fall allergies. They can beat up on us pretty bad. While I enjoyed two nights back to back of brewery patio music it was also a lot of fresh air to take in. For my son it’s football games and bonfire season. By Monday we were both miserable and sat around all day. It makes going back to work or school really hard when you have a Kleenex box in tow.

I made it thru the day with my stuffy head but immediately returned home (with my Kleenex box) for a nap. I was surprised when I woke to find that it is still day light outside. Today would be a great day to be waited on – hmm, that’s not going to happen. So I lay here thinking about what is quick and easy for supper. Instant oatmeal? Mac-n-cheese? Cereal? I guess I could be somewhat healthy and make chicken noodle soup. Yet it all sounds like work. I know one thing for sure, the Keurig has water in it and there is hot chocolate to be made! Enjoy supper. Fall is here!

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.