Thursday, August 10, 2017

New Challenges

My Aunt is my hero for many reasons, one of which is her love of being active. She is 20 years older than I am and committed to keeping on the move. One way she does it is to enter a local triathlon in Denver, the Tri for the Cure. She's done it a couple times, and asked if my daughter and I would like to sign up with her this year. My daughter of course jumped at the chance, and I guess I did too, but for different reasons. 

I've been thinking about this a lot, and really the reason my non-running, never-been-on-a-swim-team self said yes is: I am not ready to give up taking on a challenge as a chance to grow. There is a big part of me that really just wants to lay down and sleep, a lot. Surely I have learned all I need to know to get by in life by now.  But there is also a big part of me saying, "Get off your ass, girl, and show 'em what you got."

I know I will never be someone who lives on 100% clean food and kelp smoothies, or someone who works out for hours every day. Triathletes of the world need not worry that I will threaten their PB times. Despite my best efforts, you will never look at me and think, "athlete." But I knew what I lacked in speed I could make up in endurance and the capability to buy cool new gear :-) 

My prep was no where near as aggressive as it probably needed to be, but the looming date did motivate me to do "something" whenever I could. It motivated me to take an open water swim clinic with people who looked like former Olympians and other things well outside my comfort zone.

The coolest part of the Tri for the Cure is that it is a 100% women event.  Every participant along the race course yelled "Get it Girl" or something similar as I huffed and puffed my way past. It was incredibly well organized and as soon as the race started I was comfortable that I was swimming/riding/running where I was supposed to.  

Am I going to do it again? I think so. I met my primary goal - I finished before the race organizers packed up and went home - but there is plenty of room for improvement.      

(Smiling because we had all finished, but also because we were going home to take showers, naps, and treat ourselves to Dairy Queen after dinner :-))

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Random Round Up (aka interesting distractions :-))

Ack! How did it become August already? Although really it's one of my favorite times of year. August can be ugly hot, but the pace of life seems to slow down quite a bit. It's a good time to rest up before September gets here and we're back in the whirlwind.

When it's too hot to be outside, here are some awesome distractions...

Loved this post from the Pioneer Woman about work on the ranch. "My girls have grown up on this ranch, and while they're distinctly feminine, they've gotten to experience a working world where there is nary a distinction between girls and boys." In between the awesome recipes (like this and this), there is great writing and beautiful pictures. Her Facebook page is an easy way to follow her.

I am reading Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, and really enjoying it. If you set aside the repeated theme of "Democrats awesome, Republicans evil," he has a lot of great things to say about working together. "At the end of the day, the Senate is like any other workplace. You don't always enjoy all of your coworkers, but you're far better off finding a way to get along with them then you are harping on the things you don't like. And being a successful senator is as much about being a good coworker as it is about being smart or well-versed on the issues or a talented orator."

I love the podcast How I Built This.The July 27th episode with Jonah Peretti (founder of Buzzfeed) is really excellent. The June 26th episode with Randy Hetrick, former Navy Seal and inventor of TRX exercise equipment, is great too.

And now for some complete brain candy, I am really enjoying the Who? Weekly podcast, "everything you need to know about the celebrities you don't." It's ridiculous and frivolous and makes me laugh out loud.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Time to Chill

I have a coworker that is a very nice, super smart person, but I can tell she just doesn't get me.  So I have been trying to strike up a conversation whenever I see her, to see if I can build a bridge.  The other day I asked how her summer was going, and she said she didn't have kids or a family, and her boss was always busy, so really summer was no different than any other time for her. Another misfire! Guess I'll have to keep trying.

But it got to me thinking - is summer just like any other time of year when your personal schedule isn't driven by the local school system?  

I have to respectfully disagree with my coworker, for a lot of reasons. Like summer casual (something to look forward to, my uniformed friends), less traffic, quiet work days where others in your office are on vacation, even quiet-er gym time, and lots of daylight so it's not dark when you get home. Certainly warm summer temps force you to slow down a little, find the coolest space in your house, and chill a bit. It's awesome!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Procrastination, My Old Friend

I feel like I am a person that can get things DONE, who can be counted on. The first page in my notebook is almost always a list. But sometimes I fall short. There is always something, way at the bottom of my list, that keeps getting posted to the next week's list again and again. My Aunt (who is a talented and prolific knitter) and I had a great conversation about this - that we feel like we are more creative when we have a deadline looming.  That seems counter intuitive, doesn't it?  We need structure to be creative.

I came across this great article and graphic from James Clear.  His words really spoke to me:

There is something important to note here. As soon as you cross the Action Line, the pain begins to subside. In fact, being in the middle of procrastination is often more painful than being in the middle of doing the work. Point A on the chart above is often more painful than Point B. The guilt, shame, and anxiety that you feel while procrastinating are usually worse than the effort and energy you have to put in while you're working. The problem is not doing the work, it's starting the work. 

So what am I stalling on? Organizing and filing all the paper work for a volunteer treasurer gig I have.

The good news is that I finished the other project I had been stalling on - sewing lots of patches on two new shirts for my son.  He's off to the National Jamboree today, so the looming deadline helped get me started. 
What do you do to kick start something you have been stalling on?

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

On the Bench is Where Character is Built

About 25 years ago, I was at my first assignment in Japan. The only other lieutenant in the squadron was the intel flight commander. We had the two busiest flights, but as the only lieutenants, we got ALL of the additional duties. He and his lovely wife Nancy were battle buddies for sure, as many great memories were made at that assignment both on duty and off :-) Spring ahead to today and that lieutenant is the commissioner of my daughter's rugby club, here in Northern Virginia. Amazing, huh? Nancy is an incredible interior designer (who's stunning work has appeared in the Washington Post), and they have four handsome sons. It's been so great reconnecting with them.

Their youngest son just participated in a national rugby tournament, representing Virginia.  It was a 0-0 tie until the last minute, and they won! So amazing. Nancy had a wonderful take on the excitement of the final game, Her words were so wonderful, I asked if I could share them:

Thinking about my son and his exhilarating finish yesterday and it's making me think. Most people go their whole entire lives without even having an opportunity like that - whether it's the game-saving home run, the last second shot at the buzzer, or being the star of the musical, hearing thunderous applause and knowing you, even for a few seconds, have the limelight. There's a lot riding on it, I mean, you could fail; and then you feel disproportionately responsible. But when you don't, and it all works out, the reward is so incredibly sweet. But most of us never even have that moment that could go either way. Most of us are supporting cast. Most of us ride the bench more than we want to. And I was never really in sports or performing, but watching my kids and their friends, I have learned one huge thing. On the bench is where character is built. It takes so much strength to be part of a team or cast when you are not the star, and especially when you know you never will be. You can't always control the luck of opportunity, but you can control your own character. So here's to the kids that show up week after week saying put me in, Coach. Here's to the dancers in the back row. Here's to the chorus member who will never be the soloist, the violinist who will never be first chair. You've got serious mojo and I think you are the bomb!

I've seen a lot of posts lately in the women officer forum I'm part of about concerns when being moved into a job that seems like a side step, and not a step up. The wonderful thoughts of my friend go for these situations too. Sometimes in life, your job is to take on the unglamorous task so that others can shine and succeed. You will learn so much in this role, trust me. Your teammates (family members, co-workers, fellow volunteers...) notice more than you realize. And you are the bomb :-)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Taxi Taxi

Yesterday my daughter and I happened to be driving home from downtown DC in after work traffic. As we creeped along, talking about whether we had time for her to go home before practice, I said, "Oh girlie, the years I have shaved off of my life stressing about getting to work on time and getting home in time to pick you and your brother up from day care."

She laughed and said, "Remember the time you picked us up in a taxi?"

I had completely forgotten, but the memory came back in a flash. Metro had stopped or was broken or something, and time was ticking, so I left the Metro station and jumped in the first empty taxi. It was probably already after 5, and traffic was particularly ugly. I had wanted the taxi to drop me off at the station where my car was parked, but it was getting closer to 6, the day care witching hour, and I didn't have cash to pay him. This was in the pre-uber, app, credit cards accepted everywhere days. There was no way I could have him stop at an ATM, then drop me at my car, and make it by 6. So I redirected him to our pre-school, and left him idling in the parking lot while I went inside to pick up my kids, Then I had him stop at an ATM, then I had him take us all back to my car. He must have thought I was crazy. I tipped him generously, of course.

It makes me smile thinking about it now, because even though I was likely very stressed, my kids thought it was great fun.  As young suburban kids, they hadn't ridden in many taxis, and they giggled over the adventure of it.

Laughing with my daughter over the craziness of Mom arriving in a taxi helped me remember that the ups and downs of parenting, the fuss and the worry and the joy, all average out to pretty darn good.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Congratulations! Now What?

A few weeks ago I came across a great post full of the kinds of advice I could have used way long ago when I was a brand new Air Force Lieutenant off to my first real assignment in Japan. The lingo might seem AF-centric but keep reading (for my civilian readers, a sponsor is someone assigned to welcome you and help you get settled in your new job/community).  Stephanie graciously agreed to let me repost it, because really it would be so helpful for anyone starting a new adventure.  Stephanie has a great new blog you should check out, Wilson Wonders.  Enjoy!

Greetings to all new Lts or first time movers...I wrote this for some people and decided to share (it is a bit long)...hope it helps:
When your sponsor sucks:
I hope that no one is greeted by his or her squadron poorly – but as a realist, I know it happens. I had a great person as my first sponsor (as we became good friends later) but she was a sucky sponsor.
My intro went something like:
1. I was left alone in a hotel in MT (yes – Montana)…knowing no one…not even told what uniform combo to wear the first day or where the office was.
2. I was getting paid as a SrA instead of a 2Lt for my first 5 months – without knowing what to do to get assistance
3. My household goods never made it to my base due to line change in who was responsible for moving it – so no one moved it and it sat in storage for 3 months at my home of record…
I could go on – but let’s just say I speak from experience of a sucky transition!
So first – welcome to our Air Force. It is awesome and amazing and it is also busy and sometimes frustrating – and that is okay.
As someone new to the Air Force – moving in and finding your way is a milestone event and here are some tips I have found (and heard of) for helping make this first move successful.
1. Do you have a sponsor? If so – reach out and bug them. Bother them with questions and make them do their job. Sometimes people truly get busy and mean well, but let the “fog of war (emails)” distract them from this additional duty. Make them stop and pay attention to you and learn what you need. Be your own best advocate.
2. Where do I put my couch? The home search is so unique and individual that you truly need to see what you need and can afford – but there are a variety of sites that can help you. Call the base housing office and they can help you with on base housing and off base housing information. Military by Owner is a good resource as well. I found my first place by whining at clothing sales about how I could not find a location to live – and the checkout lady referred me to her old landlord and he (and the apartment) were fantastic! I found my newest home online/with a friend checking out the neighborhood…and selected sight unseen (eeeek!) but at 14 years in—I had a better idea of what I wanted and did not want in a location. 
3. How do I fit in? As you arrive, take the lay of the land. Do not let anyone’s preconceived opinions dictate yours. Observe the unit the way it observes you and make sure you meet with your direct supervisor, your commander, AND the senior enlisted member who will be your partner in the success/failure of your branch/flight/etc. Stalk the webpage of the base and see what they post as news, what inspections they have completed – or are advertising are coming and (if married) – link you or your spouse to the spouses page so they have a network as well. Spouse/kid transition is an entire post in itself….
4. How do I get paid? Please check your pay and make sure you are getting paid correctly. If you are not –see the First Sgt. they can help you - they work for all Airman not just enlisted and want to help you be successful. Your commander can help in a big way with this as not take a loan on pay you are owed ( my opinion…but hey this whole thing is my opinion!). Make sure the right taxes are being taken out for your state of residence and if you are owed or owe something - make sure that is annotated correctly as well.
5. How do I make a good first Impression? Have your uniform squared away…haircuts and hair do…now is not the time to try that new “thing”…lol. Be you and show what you bring to the fight. Be willing to listen…be willing to listen….be willing to listen and then decided and do. You are not supposed to know everything and you will exhaust yourself if you try to know everything at once. You will become an expert at knowing who to go to, knowing what should be in your head, and knowing what books to reference – it will be fine.
6. Who loves you? Call your parents (or whomever raised you). Let them hear your voice and tell them about this career you have embarked on. You are the service’s biggest recruiter – your friends and family who see you on this journey will remember it as well. They also want to see you succeed.
7. How do I find my niche? Get involved in the community!! I joined my sorority via the Alumnae Chapter…so for the 4 years prior to that, I just worked in the community at large because I wanted to learn where I lived and I like to volunteer. If you have a passion, find the organization that supports it. If there isn’t one, start it. Go out and see the place you reside that may be totally different ( or very similar) to the one you lived in as you grew up. Different is not bad…its just different. Buy the right gear for where you live and press on…you have to create great stories to have great stories to tell later – and those don’t happen staying in your house and not opening your circle of friends.
8. What now?? Have fun. This is the beginning of a career. Whether 5 years, 20 years or 30…enjoy it. You will not only survive but thrive through the ‘turbulant’ move times and be a better leader because of it. Be a better sponsor than what you had…even if yours was great…and help introduce others to our force in a great way!