Shake it up

My sister has started drinking SlimFast shakes to lose a few pounds. Yesterday she said that after drinking them, her stomach was really talking! Looking at the bottle today, she noted that they were lactose and gluten-free which made me start to wonder what type of protein is in them. Turns out the ones she is drinking are made with whey protein which is derived from milk.

For as long as I can remember, I have loved drinking milk but milk does not love me. One of my favorite after-school meals was a tuna fish sandwich with a few plain potato chips, and a big glass of ice-cold, whole milk! Seems that milk intolerance is a family trait as my sister is impacted by it too. I’ve tried a variety of protein shakes with non-dairy proteins to include soy and pea proteins. Truthfully, I am not a huge fan of shakes, I enjoy chewing my food but have found shakes to be a good meal replacement option.

There are a number of types of protein powders, enough that even the pickiest shaker should find one to enjoy. I’ve been looking for a pre-made one to keep in the fridge for quick and easy access. According to this article, the Vega ones are the best plant-protein based options. This weekend, I’m going to pick up a pack and see how they do in terms of taste and keeping me full for a while. I’m excited about my weekend trial run!

Speaking of running, I’m off to check out some local trails…maybe I’ll even break into a jog to see how the old knee and lungs hold up. As always, to be continued…

 

7th Inning Slump

Ugh, it has been a tough week so far as getting out and moving is concerned. One of my biggest struggles is putting myself first when it comes to exercise. I fool myself with the early morning thought and plan that I will get to it after I’ve had a cup of coffee then when that doesn’t happen, at lunch which turns to I will get to it before dinner then after dinner… Before I know it, the day has passed and I have not exercised. Typically, I’ve gotten a lot of other stuff done just no exercise.

The other night I had a dream that I was running again. Fortunately, in the dream, I wasn’t running away from anything rather running for fitness and pleasure. It felt great. I woke up pondering if that was a sign that it was time to get back to it. Then I finished a book on Kindle and was looking for another in my library to start seeing that one of my unread downloads was A Beautiful Work in Progress written by Mirna Valerio, a unique and inspiring ultra-distance runner. The desire to run again is bubbling right at the surface – now to put desire and action together.

A good thing, health and fitness-wise that has happened this week, is that I have started a 12-week program focused on nutrition and movement aimed at women 40+. The first week has started with writing down foods consumed. What I have noticed is that I am sorely lacking in fruit and vegetable consumption! It’s amazing what we find out about ourselves when we start paying attention to our patterns and habits.

The building desire to run again plus the 12-weeks program hitting together will hopefully help to bring me out of this current fitness slump, moving me in a healthier direction which if the stars align and the gods are on my side will help me shed some of these extra pounds! To be continued…

 

Tooth Extraction

I don’t drink (a lot), don’t smoke…what do I do? I love desserts!

After most meals, I feel an overwhelming need for a little something sweet. Breakfast, lunch, dinner…doesn’t matter the time of day, the cravings are strong with this one. Truthfully, people who don’t eat sweets mystify me. I question their overall sanity.

Last night, my son and I went to a Chinese buffet for dinner. I made sure to save plenty of room let for these little chocolate cupcakes with funfetti on them…they are tiny and available at most any grocery store. I don’t buy them at the store but can’t resist them when we go to the buffet. This morning, I had two strawberry toaster strudels and put a little sugar in my coffee…

I have a rotten sweet tooth and I want it gone! I got it honestly from my mom who has a fierce one too. She actually hides sweets in her room along with green beans but that’s a story for another time. Whenever I ask if she wants something from a restaurant, her response is some sort of dessert.

Coupled with what I’m calling my genetic predisposition to love confections, my sweet, sweet Granny used to spoil us rotten with yummy treats. It was her primary love language.

Not too long ago, I had an appointment with my P.A. One of the topics was my entry into perimenopause and the fun of night sweats that have come at this stage of my life. Along with trying Black Cohosh as a natural treatment she also suggested that eliminating all sugar had proven helpful for some of her other patients in a similar boat. I must have looked at her like she had multiple heads because she quickly backed up in her seat, acknowledging that was a tough route and maybe not for everyone.

Today, the extraction process goes to a new level as I’m starting a 12-week program for women 40+ who want an electric charge to their metabolism. I have the shopping list in hand and the task of tracking what I eat. May the force be with me.

 

Motorcycle Mama

Since I was young, the sound of a motorcycle has always given me butterflies of excitement! I still remember when I was about 17 going to a Fourth of July festival where motorcycles circled the grounds. The distant low, rumble of them coming then the overwhelming sound and sight of them once they got to us was one of the most memorable things from that summer.

Wanting to be part of the world of motorcycling, I stepped WAY outside my comfort zone to take the basic rider safety course which follows the curriculum set by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Though I have been fascinated by bikes for most of my life, I am the ultimate beginner having never even cranked up a motorbike before Saturday morning!

I was nervous and excited as we walked silently out to the range. I was ready to go – though also a bit apprehensive due to imagining myself flying over the handlebars or tipping the bike over with a leg trapped under. Plenty of people I know have at least one horror story about bike accidents. Certainly, it is a dangerous pursuit but also one gives a sense of freedom like few others. There is also an inherent notion of rebellion in riding a motorcycle which appeals to my wilder side.

It’s important to note here that I am not the most coordinated or graceful person. Learning physical activities is typically difficult for me even when I understand conceptually. Zumba, kickboxing, BodyPump, fast-moving yoga – I’m always at least 4 steps behind! One reason running appealed to me was because it is one foot in front of the other, consistently for a set period of time or distance – no quick changes or complex moves that involve your feet doing one thing, hands another, and hips yet a different one. I used to kickbox regularly and I LOVED it!! I made wonderful friends plus relished the feel of punching a bag and the sore, tired feeling at the end of a tough workout. It took me a lot of practice before I felt comfortable and could get through a sequence without screwing up but I did it with time and patience.

Approaching with caution, I hopped on my assigned bike.  As we proceeded through the class, the exercises got gradually more complex and challenging. I struggled to get through the slow, tight maneuvers such as weaving between cones and doing a figure eight. The friction zone often evaded me with my letting go or pulling in too much at the wrong times (yes, I stalled more than once). Rolling on and off the throttle often got confused. And don’t even get me started on the notion of counter-steering!

I tried hard and listened to my instructors, both of whom were excellent. At the end of the day, I did not pass the riding evaluation. A combination of nerves and the need for additional practice did me in. Truthfully, I’m okay with it and knew ahead of time that with my non-physical/kinetic learning style, I needed more time on a motorcycle before I could even fathom passing the evaluation. The instructor who told me I didn’t pass gave me clear and helpful feedback then welcomed me to come back to the class, feeling confident that with more practice, I would indeed get it.

The weekend was not a bust because I learned a lot, had fun, met some nice people, and got in a great work-out (bikes are heavy!). I’m going to stick with it because I am determined to figure out this whole motorcycle riding thing. It is just going to take me more effort and time before I can truly call myself a Motorcycle Mama!

Kindness as Currency

By John R. Nocero, PhD, MBA, CCRP, GCP, CC, ACB & Katherine J. Pryor, MPM

There is no doubt about it, being a project manager is a tough gig! If you are a project manager or have ever thought about jumping into the field, you may have heard it described as being akin to the task of herding cats – feral cats at that. There are competing priorities amongst often disjointed teams that directly impact the budget and timelines; the project sponsor is often guilty of expanding the scope without increasing the budget or timelines; and there is the ever-present issue of project quality and risk mitigation. On top of all that, there are still people out there who do not understand the role of the project manager and foster uncertainty as to the important and positive influence a strong project manager can have on overall project outcomes.

Unfortunately, many project managers are perceived as edgy and hurried people unwilling to listen. Other complaints have been that project managers will not heed their functional lead’s advice or take direction well, and are basically not kind or pleasant people to be around. This perception is especially strong with internal team members where many team members avoid interaction with the project manager. Does it have to be so? My answer is no. Jill Lublin, international speaker and author of The Profit of Kindness agrees. In her book, she discusses that kindness is a type of currency that can be successfully used in business relationships to foster better relationships thereby increasing a company’s bottom line.

It is possible to be an effective project manager AND a pleasant person with who people enjoy working. In fact, kindness is a critical trait for a strong project manager to possess. At the end of the day, effective project management is about relationships – relationships with internal teams, sponsors, any external vendors, and all other players who may present during the project life cycle. In order to build strong and mutually beneficial relationships, one must be somewhat likeable and being kind to those around us is a way to be perceived as likeable. The old saying, “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar” certainly rings true in the project management realm.

Relationships with internal team members are often the most strained because it is from those internal teams that the project manager must make the magic happen. Internal teams often feel overwrought and underappreciated therefore are most likely to protest requirements and timelines. Taking time to develop mutually beneficial working relationships with internal team members yields positive project results. A relatively painless first step for project managers is to slow down and listen to what is being said by the internal team(s). From these types of interactions, there is likely beneficial insight that helps identify potential risks; provides solutions to tricky problems; or introduces time-saving options.  If none any of those, at least it was a show of respect from the project manager to internal team member(s). Everyone appreciates being heard.

Overall, it costs nothing for a project manager to be kind but the returns for relationship development with internal team members are priceless.

References

Lublin, Jill (2017). The Profit of Kindness: How to Influence Others, Establish Trust, and Build Lasting Business Relationships. The Career Press, Inc. Wayne, NJ. USA

Weinstein, Bob (2017). https://www.projectmanagement.com/blog-post/27360/How-to-Use-Kindness-as-a-Business-Tool Retrieved 20 Aug 2017

 

Wildflower Lane

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to attend a creative writing workshop called “Writing to the Senses” which was jointly hosted by Authoring Action, Winston-Salem Writers, SECCA, and the Arts Council of Winston-Salem. We each got to pick out a piece of artwork from one of the Art-o-mat machines currently on display at SECCA (if you’re local, go check it out!). It was serendipitous that I found an artist who paints coffee and tea cups for Art-o-mat!
The experience was at once exhilarating and humbling. My writing style has always been fairly brief and has gotten more so as the years have gone on especially since the majority of my writing is done in the business world where brevity and clarity are key. Descriptors are not as important as saving busy professionals time by simply getting to the point – at least that is what I have been told.
What I took away from the night: excitement from learning something new and having my thinking challenged; a determination to expand on my use of imagery, to learn to paint the pictures I see in my head with words on the page; and a little piece of writing that I’m proud of as it is where I am now with my writing which to me is a huge thing because I AM WRITING.
Below is finished piece with scant editing from laying down my pen on Thursday when the bell rang. Time will tell if it is finished as is or will grow, I have a sneaking suspicion that this is only a start, the words will continue to roll around in my head and grow into a more robust piece of writing.

Wildflower Lane

Traveling leisurely down the dirt road on my bicycle, I smile thinking back on the jagged path that has led me here. It started with a hot cup of tea, pen in hand, and a simple idea. I knew I would find success if I quenched my own thirst for fulfillment and brought my scattered thoughts about love, loss, and life to the page. My hope was to enrich others through a book about finding contentment in who we are now – all the messy stuff that life throws our way and our all-too-human reaction to the absurdity of life. It all started with the idea that we are perfect and lovable in our vast imperfection.
I continued in the direction of my rustic goat farm where I will contentedly swing with my love on the front porch. Later that night, we look in the direction of the sunset, talking about the flowers we will plant in the Spring. Peace settles over us as the stars begin to twinkle. We have built our dreams on the backs of goals. Goals that required toil and sacrifice which is now gone with the wind as we peacefully sit together while the crickets sing their lullaby. On Wildflower Lane, we have found ourselves and will not be lost again.

Real Talk

I literally hate my job! This has been a common reframe and theme from me over the years – just ask any of my family and friends how many times they have heard me say it! One time, when I was still married, I apparently sat up in the middle of the night and yelled “I HATE MY FUCKING JOB” after which I laid back down being none the wiser of my outburst though my then-husband was understandably a little rattled.

I haven’t had the same job for all of these years and have had a couple that I actually liked. I also will say, that there are aspects of each of my jobs that I enjoy. For the most part, though, I am continuously dissatisfied with my work. Why is that and how do I keep landing myself in pit (job) of despair? Is there truly no escape from the misery?

pit of despair

I believe that there is a light and through a few things I’m doing now, to include writing this blog, I am going to get to it. At forty-something, I’m figuring out what I want to be when I grow-up. When I was little and more than a little feisty, I said that I wanted to be the President of the United States when I grew up – not headed in that direction anymore but definitely figuring a few previously unresolved things out.

First off, I love to write. I have stories and narratives playing in my head regularly. (I have checked, it’s okay and not something that is worrisome to my mental health care friends!) Whenever I have been in a position where I have had the opportunity to write – reports, business proposals, grants, newsletters etc. I have been ecstatic. I even get excited about writing complex emails where I need to explain difficult concepts. This all being said, I know that writing must be part of my career happily ever after.

Secondly, I love connecting with people and helping people connect with others. I have always loved the idea of building bridges. In one job, I had been working with struggling parents to get the resources they needed in order to better navigate the tricky parenting terrain – this made me feel useful and that I was making a positive impact on individuals and society.

Thirdly, providing support and helping people become the best version of themselves brings me a lot of satisfaction and joy. Even in my current (dreaded) position, I look for opportunities to teach or train others. I believe in the old adage about teaching a man to fish. Not only will he never run out of fish but he will also develop a feeling of being capable which is priceless and transcends one situation to impact many.

It has taken me a long time to figure out that these things I love and feel energized by are also my gifts that I have to share with the world. We are each unique in how we are put together from our looks to our thoughts to our unique talents and gifts; that is because the world needs each of us. It has taken quite a bit of soul-searching and positive re-enforcement from family and friends but now I am starting to understand the value of my unique combination of talents.

To that end, I’m developing a business plan that will combine what I have to offer and put me in a position to love the work I am doing. Stay tuned as there will be more to come!