It’s Monday and I Want to Break Something

If you start Monday morning feeling as if you want to break something, I can relate. Since Thursday, I have been preoccupied by an experience I had, and it makes me want to break something – I learned about the cycle that affects victims of the sex trade. On that day I attended a tour at a local organization, Rethreaded (http://www.rethreaded.com/). Other attendees were more informed than I was on Rethreaded’s local prominence from their 2013 One Spark award, but as Kristin Keen, Executive Director, spoke of the mission of Rethreaded, such an award was understandable.
It was, however, the testimony of one of the Rethreaded survivor employees that haunts me. Her story told of experiences with drug addiction and sexual violence no 20-year-old young woman should have to be relating. Victimization is not just Victim with “ization” tacked onto the end. By definition (dictionary.com) it comes from victimize, which means “…to dupe, swindle or cheat.” Being cheated out of adolescence, as she was, counts.
I had to sit down this morning and sort out my thoughts and feelings, make a call to action to my little universe.
Most of the fundraising events I’ve supported are tied to the search for a cure to some insidious disease. Being victimized can’t be cured. Early intervention may prevent individuals from becoming victims and there are so many worthy organizations fighting upstream.shutterstock_305458022-rethreaded
Rethreaded is downstream, offering job opportunities to survivors of the sex trade. Through the tour of their facility and a presentation by Kristin, I learned of the 5 career tracks available to Rethreaded employees: administration/finance, marketing, production, sales and inventory control. Try to imagine finding a job with a record of jail time, history of drug addiction or both. Now imagine the dignity you feel by holding a job. I’ve worked in the staffing industry and there is no better feeling than to provide a job to someone who feels no hope of being productively employed. Rethreaded is doing it.
Through Rethreaded, survivors’ lives are changed by hope, dignity and marketable job skills. Here’s my call to action: first – visit Rethreaded’s website and read a survivor’s blog or watch one of their videos to understand why I wrote this blog; next, when you think of shopping for the holidays, think of shopping at Rethreaded’s online or retail store. Your purchases create demand for product, which in turn creates job opportunities and changes lives. And we can help break something that needs to be broken.

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30 Days of Retirement (Sort of)

Retirement meant that I would be able to do what I wanted, when I wanted to, right? True up to a point. After a 38-year working life that required I follow a rigid daily schedule, I was finally able to check off an item on that list of things I would do when my schedule was my own.

Thunder and lightning kept the neighborhood entertained all last night and into this morning, while the rain fell intermittently. Overcast, rainy days always made me want to call in sick, brew another pot of coffee, and sit on my back porch to watch the clouds, rain and lightning, but I never did that, being too responsible to do anything but show up as scheduled. Finally, this morning, the perfect opportunity presented itself and I submitted to the temptation, 1 month after retirement.

Here’s the view – looking over the marsh towards the Intracoastal Waterway in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. 11796430_10202947554089540_6976141588407063430_nFor the locals, Mayo Clinic, Florida, sits opposite, just across the “ditch” as the ICW is affectionately known in these parts. You can see how gray and dreary it is today, but with slightly lower temperatures and a nice breeze, it’s a welcome change from the heat wave that’s been scorching us.

I write this to say, if you are struggling with a decision about making a big change, I encourage you to “Just Do It!” (with a nod to Nike). Leading up to this big change brought many fears in the late night hours as I questioned if I was making the right decision. My advanced planning paid off and, so far, the plans have fallen into place. The best part is that after 30 days in this new and evolving state, the incentives for retiring early and starting my own business are being realized: schedule flexibility, more time with my spouse and parents, and trying new things (the new business). The support and encouragement of family and friends keeps me motivated as I launch my freelance business writing service (Cypress Business Communications, Inc.). Working with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has been a huge help; if starting a small business is in your plans, seek them out at a local office or university to get ideas, assistance and support.

Whatever goals you have for making a big change, they won’t happen until you move forward. I’m no expert on how to make a big change, but I’m doing it and I have thoughts and ideas that may help you if you want to talk through what you are planning. Feel free to message me.

Seven Days of Retirement

Day 1 post-retirement: 5:00 a.m. internal alarm fired off. Although it’s Wednesday, it feels like just another vacation day. How much time has to pass before it feels real?

Day 2 post-retirement: 5:00 a.m. internal alarm again. Independence Day weekend approaching. Still feels like just another vacation day. Met with website designer/builder, which got my blood pumping for a few minutes, anyway. Starting a new business!

Day 3: Didn’t think about brushing my teeth until 10:00 – grooming habits already falling to the wayside. It’s the official Independence Day holiday, although the 4th is tomorrow. Lot of people off of work. When will I feel like I’ve really made a big change?

Day 4: Happy Independence Day! In pre-retirement a weekend meant get all of the chores and recreation done in 2 days so I could start the work week again Monday morning. For the first time since retirement I have felt like we could go out, watch the fireworks, and not worry if all of the chores aren’t done. Finally, it feels like there may be time to just live. This is more like it.

Day 5: Beginner’s photo shoot to test out retirement camera. A trip to Big Talbot Island State Park, known for “The Bone Yard” beach, where driftwood carcasses litter sections of the beach along Nassau Sound. Eerie and beautiful at the same time. More time spent “in the moment” instead of thinking about what I should be doing to be ready for work on Monday morning.OK

Day 6: Monday morning: a commute of only 12 feet to get to my home office (not in my pajamas)! Work a few hours on new start-up, sign up for a course to help with new business development, have lunch with my husband.This is more like it.

Day 7: End of 1st Week: Sent off a check to COBRA health and dental insurance, just shy of $1,100 monthly. Suddenly I appreciate the benefits of corporate employment a whole lot more! Then I remind myself that I’ve planned for this, yes it’s new and different (and expensive, but not as expensive as ACA), but it will be OK.

My favorite movie quote reassures me that I’ve made the right decision: “Everything will be OK in the end. If everything isn’t OK, it’s not the end” (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel).

Sunday, 6/28/2015 Trail Run Report

This week’s destination trail run, Nocatee Greenway Trail, was a first for many of the Jax Group Trail runners. And to top it off there were at least 5 newbies for this week’s run. Miranda and her friend (sorry, I didn’t do well on names), an invitee of Heather’s and a nice couple in the process of moving – all first-timers!
After the bug challenges of Nocatee Preserve the group decided to move to paved trail systems for the summer to reduce the chance of biting and stinging critters. We saw a couple of locals fighting off some biting flies but I didn’t hear of anyone in our group having bug problems this week.
The route chosen by the group was an out-and-back (not the original red trail loop); we opted for the wooded route and anyone who wanted to add on afterwards was encouraged to. Thanks to Carlos Irene for pointing out the options as we came to several intersections. It was a beautiful route – this is a keeper!

I won’t say anymore about the trail because I discovered my sister blogger, @starpulp, (aka Stacy Steiner) has already said it! Check out her post, with photos, of this trail, and be inspired to run on down to St. Johns County (pun intended)! Starpulp’s blog is at http://www.starpulp.com/2012/12/06/run-this-town-the-greenway-trails-at-nocatee/.

Sunday Trail Report – June 14, 2015-Guana River

Destination: Guana-Tolomato-Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTMNERR), 8 miles south of Jax Beach and 8 miles north of St. Augustine off A1A. Trailhead just beyond the dam. Trails are color-coded, there are restrooms, a water faucet and covered picnic area at the trailhead. Each trail intersection includes color-coded signs showing the way. The trailhead kiosk shows the various mileage options.
Weather: at 8:00 a.m. it was warm, about 80 degrees, humid, no breeze until you were right on the water.
Trail conditions and threats: The trails at Guana are flat and wide enough for easy passing. The group did the yellow-purple trails, giving us a little over 4 miles. The tree canopy caused blessed heavy shading in all but a short stretch of trail.
Soil was very dry. The first 1/2-3/4 mile was particularly sandy until leaf litter got heavier and the ground firmer. On a scale of 0 – 5 for toe-stumpers (roots), with 0 being none and 5 being the trails at UNF, I would rate Guana a 2.
Almost everyone in the group wore insect repellent due to concerns for ticks, mosquitos and stinging critters and no one reported any problems with insects.
I kept a watch out for poison ivy but never saw any. Pictured here, poison ivy is a vine that grows along the ground and up into trees, characterized by leaves that occur in groups of 3.poison-ivy-195123_1280 If you look closely on the right of this photo you also see one grouping of 5 leaves. This is another common plant in Guana and throughout Florida called Virginia Creeper and does not cause an allergic reaction.
The group agreed we should include Guana as a destination trail run again when the weather cools off. The salt marsh and maritime habitats provided beautiful scenery, with views of Guana River and the Intracoastal Waterway. For more information visit http://myfwc.com/viewing/recreation/wmas/lead/guana-river/things-to-do/ and http://alltrails.com/trail/us/florida/guana-river-state-park.

May I Have a Do-Over?

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This being the first blog for my life do-over. The website name may look confusing because I could not have a hyphen in the name. I wanted to use “Life Phase II” but it was taken. That’s what this blog is about: getting to mid-life and claiming the courage to take another course, take a do-over. According to Rose Tremain, “Life isn’t a dress rehearsal” so if your performance up to this point isn’t stage-worthy, it’s time to get a new gig.

Applying my background in project management, I organized my do-over by making a plan. Contacts I wanted to talk to, who I wanted to network with, who could introduce me, companies I thought I might like to work for in my do-over. I knew I needed a financial plan. Part of my plan initially included trying to become a social media whiz, but that fizzled out when I took an on-line social media course and decided it was too complicated and I would just go with the flow. A communications plan, which turned out to be the most important one.

For my communications plan I created a hierarchy of who I wanted to tell about my do-over and in what order. It started with my boss and company management. As I explained to them, I needed to create a whole new network of people that I didn’t know yet and they should understand why I was out broadcasting the fact I was looking for a new job. Once I had my employers up to speed, I started going through my networking list. It started with people I knew. I prepared my elevator speech, invited them for lunch or after work drinks and delivered my speech after pleasantries. Before we ended our tete-a-tete I asked who else they would recommend I speak with and if they would introduce me.  I built up my list of contacts and continued to reach out and deliver my speech.

I also told anyone who would listen. So imagine my surprise when the biggest break came from someone not even on my list! During a session with my sports massage therapist I mentioned the name of someone I needed to meet, but had not yet found a good contact. I almost fell off the table when she said she and her husband were best friends of the couple. She immediately sat down and sent an email to both with an introduction and description of what I was working towards. Within a few days I receive replies from both. What happened next may be for a future blog, it’s been so amazing.

I mused long and hard about whether to start this blog thing. Everyone’s doing it and I wasn’t sure if I had anything relevant to contribute. After I had listed at least 3 ideas I thought might interest someone, I took the plunge. The goal is to inspire others to take the step and hopefully give guidance on how to start. My do-over is a work in progress and it’s early days. I have a long ways to go, so more experience and lessons learned will follow. Any questions, comments or suggestions are appreciated.