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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Flying in Mobile at the FOCUS conference

Last Friday I was honored to be among many phenomenal women to speak at the FOCUS conference.  The sessions were very powerful and intriguing. It was hard to pick just one to attend during the time slots. Fortunately, a few were held more than one. That led to my concern that very few people would attend mine since it was not a hard-hitting professional topic and I am not a familiar name in Mobile. 

I could not have been more surprised when the women started arriving and they did not stop. It was standing room only. We ran out of chairs. We were all crammed into that tiny room. It was magical. Being so close we could not help but rub elbows with those around us. We took an oath in the beginning not to repeat the stories of the those who were brave enough and dare I say comfortable enough to share their job stealers. We turned the cameras off. I had no idea what would happen within that room, but it was awe inspiring. The women bonded. The women shared. We laughed. We held our breaths in certain moments. We talked. We listened. We hugged. 

And we smashed the hell out of the pinata that was filled with 150 pieces of Dove chocolate because we were grown ass women and we want the good stuff. I could not figure out how to hand the pinata and Kendra forgot the bat so I laid it on the floor in the middle of the circle and we all went at it. Why? Because "Life would be a million times better if there were pinatas strategically placed throughout the day". It was just that simple. 

It was wonderful to see women come out of their shells to bash the pinata. This was so not the traditional workshop. These women dug deep. Some sought validation for their feelings. Others just needed to say their issues out loud just be heard. We accommodated them all. It was fun. It was exhausting. It was real. It was truly a workshop because we all worked. I probably needed the workshop more than any of them. I gave the kind of workshop that I needed. That in itself was powerful. And the fact that my friend Kendra introduced me and was my room captain was the icing on the cake. 

I would love to be invited back, but if not that is okay. I gave myself what I needed and a few other women benefitted as well. That was the goal and I achieved it. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Flying on task

There have been many changes at work. The massive layoff created a lot of stress and anxiety. Those of us left are torn. We are happy that we still have a job for the moment yet devastated by that loss for our colleagues. Survivors' guilt. It is difficult to rationalize and we probably should not even try. There is a plan and just because we are not privy to it does not make it less of a plan. We can argue the best practices of organizational management, but there would be no point. So like good soldiers we march on. 

I was in the midst of this turmoil of emotions when I was asked to conduct a workshop at a women's business conference in Mobile, AL. I had applied to be the keynote, but I will gladly admit that even I would have chosen the woman they chose instead of me! So now I had the task of developing a workshop that was drastically different from the topic and outline I proposed for the keynote. I asked for suggestions and the answer surprised me. They wanted me to do a workshop on joy. 

This is completely out of my comfort zone. I am used to doing workshops on empowerment, handling criticism with dignity and grace, networking, tooting your own horn, job searching, and many other work-related skills. Joy was not one of them. But maybe it should be since right now in my life joy was missing or at best overshadowed by 'stuff'. 

So while on my cruise I asked people what brought them joy and the entire workshop (at least a rough outline) came together. I am now excited to present this workshop and I will on Friday, October 19th. I am not using any visual aids. This will all be me conducting a full-on workshop where the participants will get their hands dirty while digging deep to figure out their individual joy mantras. This will be a no holds barred journey, unlike anything I have ever taken before. And it came just when I needed it. 

Now I am trying to figure out what to wear. I have decided to shop in my own closet even though I bought a pair of black patent leather peep-toe pumps from Ross for $10.99. Hey,  there was no line and there is always a line at Ross. And who does not need a pair of black patent leather peep-toe pumps? Joy is wherever we find it. Right?

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Flying after Alaska

A few days ago I went to Alaska. I am trying to finish my journey of visiting all 50 states. I now have 8 left. Yippee for me. Anyway, I went to Alaska. I had seen pictures of Alaska. But what I saw in person was better than anything I saw or could ever imagine.

I did something that I do not remember ever doing. I disconnected. I completely disconnected. My phone was only used to take pictures. I was unaware of anything happening outside of my immediate focus. I was completely obvious to the fact that one of my friends thought someone had stolen my car when she drove by what she thought was my house which was in fact someone else's house. Seeing that in a text message when I returned from Alaska gave me a quick heart attack, but by then the issue was resolved. I am blessed to have people who love me that much.

Back to Alaska. I needed the disengagement from my daily life. I needed to be away from my friends who lost their jobs, the unknown of my upcoming class schedule, unpacking the boxes in my now much smaller and smellier office, and many other things that had been percolating below the surface.

I craved the crisp fresh air. It had been a very long time since I lived in Washington and yet the memories came flooding back to the point where I questioned living in the south. And I love the hot weather. Maybe it is time for me to do something different, to be somewhere different, to meet someone different, to just be somewhere different.

Truthfully, I am not sure I could live in Alaska. It gets very cold there. But the beauty that surrounded me day in and day out was cause for pause. (Hey, the rhymed). I wish I had spent quality time learning about the First Nation people. I wanted to bring home a piece of native art or jewelry or the memory of a chat, but that did not happen. Perhaps next time.


Monday, September 17, 2018

Flying feeling 'less-than-my-usual-greatness"

Christian Fregnan
I cannot believe I have actually been away so long. In some ways it feels like it and in others it does not. So much has transpired. I was invited to be a panelist on the Black Women's Equality Day event. I presented my journey from a beneficiary of Civil Rights to a grass roots activist in a presentation called Pilgrimage to a sacred space: Commemorating Selma. And I am on tap to deliver a workshop on joy next month. And, I am going to Alaska this weekend! Then I will only have 9 states left to visit. Yes, I have been to 40 states including Hawaii. I have started back running. I am averaging 20 miles a week. My pace is slow, but I am covering the mileage. I plan to run another marathon, maybe next year. All that above was part of my best. And even I will admit that it is/was pretty awesome. 

And then...change. I understand the need for change in business or in everyday life. I understand the bottom line. I understand tightening the purse strings. I understand streamlining. I get it. I have been part of it. I have been laid off.  I have contributed to a plan to lay people off. It is not easy or fun. Many of my colleagues were laid off a couple weeks ago. We were not told the rationale. And we cannot figure it out. 

Things are different. Even before the layoffs the vibe changed. And I caught up in it. I did my best, but my best just did not feel like my best. I felt like I failed my students. I do not feel like I am on top of my game. 

Here's the thing: the game changes. Best is relative. It is different from day to day. Sometimes hour by hour. Dare I say minute by minute? The truth is that I was doing my best. It just wasn't the same best as last month or last year. And that is allowed. I am allowed to not be as great as I was. I am allowed as long as I do not intend to stay in that state of 'less-than-my-usual-greatness'. 

I do not plan to stay here. There are lessons to be learned here. I am doing my best to pay attention. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Flying with the birds

As I get older I realize that I must be very discriminate in the people I allow to share my breath. Not everyone has my best interest at heart. Not everyone wants me to succeed. And certainly not everyone should be passengers on my journey.

I learned some hard lessons. I had to politely remove myself from the orbit of some people. It was hard, but not as difficult as I thought it would be. don't get me wrong, I am the best cheerleader you could ever have. However, when I need the cheering and the same people were not there after I was just in their corner I began to pay attention. I do not mean tit for tat. I mean showing up and being present when showing up and being present is required.

And then I noticed that there were those who showed up and were present without the prodding. They were there because they were interested in being on my team and having me be a part of theirs. And honestly, those are the only people who I will go out of my way to make time for. Those people who show up. And that makes me show up and stand up a bit taller than usual. Just by being in the room their energies create an atmosphere of greatness. And who does not want to be surrounded by greatness? Who does not want to be part of greatness?

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Flying with Crumpled Doretha

I had not realized that it has been over a month since my last post. I will try to do much better going forward.

I have started back to running. Okay, maybe that is not a correct statement. Let me try this again, I have started back to running MORE. Yeah, that is it. That is much more truthful. I bought a Planet Fitness membership, the $10 one so that I could run on a treadmill. I gave my treadmill away because it would not fit in my house unless I put it in the kitchen. And that just seemed, well uncouth. Anyway, I would routinely jump on the treadmill and run three miles. I even went after teaching class at 9:30pm. I could go at 5am when I did not feel safe running alone outside.

Well, that abruptly came to a halt and I started running again outside. I'd rather run a slower three miles on the pavement than on a treadmill. Then I started running farther. On my birthday I ran six miles. I was supposed to run 5.7, but I hate raggedy miles so it became six. Then I increased to 8. yes, I can now run 8 miles. I am sure they are not pretty, but they are beautiful to me. I want to get back to running a 10 miler every week. And yes, I am missing my running crew in Charleston.

So, I am back. My knee is okay. I have greater mobility and can almost straighten it all the way out. It does not hurt so much except when I do not take rest days. On the days that I do not run I am still doing something like yoga, swimming, or walking. I need to rest. I feel guilty when I rest. And I know that rest is when the body rejuvenates. It is still difficult to do.

I now take pictures of my crumpled clothes after a run. Not after EVERY run because sometimes I run out of time or my clothes are sweat soaked to my body that taking a picture just cannot happen in a timely manner. But I do my best.

And it feels great to be able to leave my stuff on the pavement. To just flat out eat miles again.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Flying with Hamilton

I managed to get decent tickets at a decent price for Hamilton. No, not Anthony Hamilton. I am sure getting tickets to see him would be great, but I am not a huge fan. Okay, I rarely listen to his music. I heard he was amazing, though.

Anyway thanks to a few random acts, I saw Hamilton. I took my accomplice (every person needs an accomplice in life) and off we went to Atlanta. It was our first road trip together and it went well except that I would not stop for her to grab coffee. It was a road trip, I do not drink coffee, she was late, and she should  have brought a thermos with her. Fortunately my lovely aunt made her some coffee along with a great breakfast. At that point I think all was forgiven.

Hamilton was worth all of the hype. I will admit that I had to Google the play so that I would have some idea of what I was going to see. Yes, I am sure we covered Hamilton in elementary school and maybe high school, but apparently I slept through those classes because I remembered absolutely positively nothing. Sad to say that I thought he was on the $20 bill. Yes, now I know that is Andrew Jackson. I should have known that from all the chatter around replacing him with Harriet Tubman. I did not know that he wrote part of the Federalist Papers because I read them while working on my PhD.

The play captured my attention and now I know much more about American history than I ever did. I am now going to go back and read up on other founding members. I know I should know my American history especially since my degrees are in public policy and administration. Not sure how I missed most of it. Perhaps if there were more plays like this I would have been inspired to do more research on history. But then again, maybe not. At least now I will and I hope that many others will as well.