fitness and nutrition

Follow My Lead

I’d been on this mountain many times. I grew up in its shadow. One summer I worked at a restaurant near the foot of it and climbed it every afternoon when I got out off my shift. In peak shape I would scramble up then jog down. My fastest round trip was 28 minutes back then.

I don’t do it nearly as often or as quickly these days. I live 30 minutes away and my life practically never sends me in that direction. But I try to do a long bike ride every Sunday, so I pegged Stone Mountain for today’s ride.

There’s a hilly 5-mile loop popular with bikers that circles the bottom of the mountain. I pushed through that loop more than once before my legs begged me to stop, or at least to make a change.

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I still had time, so then, in a crazy last-second heat-addled decision, I decided to climb just like old times. I had my AirPods in, I was in the zone. A bit slower than I wanted, but I already had some miles on those legs so I wasn’t too mad. Just one foot in front of the other.

It’s not too bad a climb until you hit StairMaster hill. Suddenly the granite just kicks up from manageably rocky to sheer and steep. Like lean-forward-at-a-45-degree-angle-while-you-shuffle-up steep. I passed several people on the hill, taking breaks. My steps were small but I just kept going.

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Maybe 20 yards after the hill I needed a minute to catch my breath. I don’t usually need breaks on the mountain, but I listened to my body and stepped aside well off the trail under some trees for a quick breather.

I turned to look back at the view and was stunned when, instead of hazy skyline, I see 4 people walking directly behind me. They all stopped suddenly and looked up at me. I had never seen any of these people in my life. Two men, two women, staring. But from their pull off the trail and stunned looks, it was clear they had been following my lead. After about 10 seconds of awkwardness, they moved back into the path and continued toward the top of the mountain in two separate pairs.

It’s not surprising that I was oblivious to the people hot on my heels. Music on, mind adrift, solo exercise is my zone-out time. What I couldn’t understand is why? Why follow me? It’s a clear path with dozens of people on it. I do have that nerdy, friendly librarian look where people ask me questions all the time in all kinds of contexts. But this was a no brainer. Just keep going up.

Maybe it was my pace, I thought. Maybe I looked like I knew what I was doing. I will never know.

What stayed with me is that there are times when we are leading but we may not know it.  We may not ask for it.  We may not see ourselves as leaders.  But, at times we are leading nonetheless.  

Maybe it’s not a literal mountain.  Instead, it might be going public with struggles, with triumphs, with progress, with challenges. Just living your life on purpose is leadership. No title needed. A neighbor stopped me the other day to tell me I inspired her to get moving because she sees me out walking the neighborhood. My daughter’s childhood youth group leader recently messaged me from out if the blue to ask about CrossFit, after watching my changes.

The people following you may not know your whole story.  They probably have their own goals, even agendas.  It could be they just like your pace.  Or you look like you know what you’re doing.  

You’re leading even if people don’t tell you. Near and far, people are watching. Think for a moment. What are you leading them to?

challenges

A Cautionary Tale

The countdown is on.

A few weeks until summer ends and school is back in session…or is it?

My district ended last year with over 40 unexpected days of digital learning due to COVID-19.

Now it is 6 weeks later.  Numbers of cases that seemed to be trending down in my area have sloped back northward.  School districts are starting to try to make decisions about how they will open schools. Cue the special meetings, surveys, and plans (subject to change, of course). Also cue the opinions, the feelings, the exceptions, the arguments, the fears.

Colleagues have asked me many times throughout my career if I would want to become a school administrator.  My answer is always a fervent and unequivocal NO.  Times like this only magnify those feelings.  I don’t envy the public scrutiny that leaders are under in this seemingly no-win time.

I understand…

A significant portion of the economy depends on schools being open.

Many kids have their best access to food, learning, and social / mental health resources when they are in school.

Being taught (in person) by credentialed professionals is what we believe works best for most students.

At the same time…

Many teachers and school workers are themselves vulnerable to serious COVID-19 cases, or live with and care for other people who have those underlying conditions.

This virus is still new and developing, so science is still catching up to understanding what it is, how it moves, and so on.

Our schools are mostly based on kids being close together and moving with organized freedom throughout buildings and surrounding areas.

All the money and power at stake make every decision a politically charged and controversial one.

Then there are the logistics questions that come along with schools opening…

How do kids ride a bus?  How do they have recess? Can they sing? Can they play sports? Will there be field trips or assemblies?  Anyone who has worked with elementary school kids knows that kids love hugs and playing together which often involves contact.  How do I police that? I can’t even start about the masks, or what happens when a suspected case pops up.

Will all the fun stuff just be stripped away? 

In the end, I know this:

No choice will make everyone happy.

No choice will keep everyone healthy.

No choice will meet everyone’s needs.

We will be doing the best we can given what we know, and know that what we know might change at any given time.  Not an easy position for any of us.

I went to a branch of our local public library recently.  They opened up the buildings a few weeks ago.  This gorgeous, light-flooded, award-winning building, created for people to congregate and spend time reading and learning, is full of caution tape to keep people out or at least moving.

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I’m not sure there is enough caution tape to insulate school kids and workers from what we are facing. Our best protections will be patience, good faith, positivity, resilience, flexibility and showing kids and colleagues that we care about them in every way we can imagine.

 

 

working women

Business Isn’t for the Faint of Heart

Holy smokes are you buckled in for the ride of your life? That’s pretty much what every business owner is doing each day they wake up in the insane life we live today. They buckle up for the crazy ride just like a healthcare worker. Ready to face the unknown. Ready to deal with defeat.

Don’t get me wrong business isn’t easy on normal days but these uncharted waters are not for the weak, inexperienced or underfunded CEO’s. A business owner during this tough economic climate has got to lead with confidence, control and commitment.

They must make sound decisions, fast. They have to think about their passion, their purpose, their drive, their team, their community and they have to take action in what seems like an instant. Profit is out the door for the most part.

Lives are on the line no matter what business you are in. There is something essential in everything we do, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Life may get paused but it can’t halt forever. Leaders need to face fears. Leaders need to help people around them. Leaders must rally the troops. Selfless acts in uncertain times show character in CEOs who step up when it counts. Troubled times will also highlight those CEOs who hide or make selfish decisions when the road gets bumpy.

Many good leaders will fail during this challenging time. And if they do fail, it’s temporary. A good leader will find their way to higher ground. It may take time, but one will build resilience and emerge stronger.

To all my fellow business partners, leaders, and colleagues, I applaud you. Those tough decisions had impacts, we know that. I also know you made the decisions that caused the least impact possible to your surroundings. If failure is lurking, embrace it. Failure is just an opportunity to rebuild, rebrand, rejuvenate your passion. Your power. Your footprint.

Business owners don’t get unemployment but they help file for their employees in this challenging time. Businesses may have shut down but still paid employees for as long as they could. Restaurants stayed open to feed people when they may have lost 90% of their revenue and not know how they will make their rent next month. Landlords offered shelter to those who didn’t have funds to pay when rent was due. So many selfless acts go on each day. Many nobody will ever see.

True leaders do without glory. They do what needs to be done and worry about what ifs later. That’s what they do even if it may just be the crumbling of their lifelong work.

I also caution you to be aware of those making decisions to financially benefit themselves at another’s expense during this pandemic. In troubled times this happens when a CEO may not see the big picture. Their short term decision may have long term consequences. Price gouging and hoarding may be two prime examples that come to mind.

Many may never see the crazy shit from the CEOs eyes. I write this note for those to catch a glimpse of the insanity. The burden placed on entrepreneurs who have heavy stakes in the business game. Many think entrepreneurs have it all. In reality they risk it all including the shirt on their back. Personal savings, home equity used as personal guarantees, and so on.

It’s a tough world for everyone right now. Be a nice human. Support your communities where you can. We will all survive this mess. Some of us may have battle scars while others may have bad hair. Either way the vast majority will survive. That is enough to be thankful for.

Enjoy the shit show of today.

celebrations, coaching

Growing Up Fast

They may not be fully grown but they represent a few of my maturing players. Many team colors over the years but the same great kids and lots and lots of memories.

I have known this group since they were in elementary school. I wasn’t their only coach but I was fortunate to have them with me for a few seasons, reasons, tournaments and so on.

We built strong bonds. We built trust. We giggled. We traveled from state to state many times and boy do we have car stories to tell. They got better in the sport they love. They had their glow up. Now they are in high school. Almost ready for college.

They are now working as volunteers to pass their knowledge on to the younger kids coming up in the ranks. Something they probably didn’t imagine when they first suited up in their lacrosse gear for the first time. This picture was taken in the state of Alabama about 5 years ago.

I have a front row seat in watching them excel as leaders on and off the field. They don’t get paid. They work hard. They are role models. From brace-faced young girls to whistle-blowing officials. These girls have grown up all things lacrosse. They are now choosing to volunteer in the sport that has afforded them so much. This gem of photo was a first 3 v 3 tournament in the Sunshine State back in 2016.

These girls may not see the value of what they are doing today but they are leading by example. Those they are mentoring and will later mentor others. They will springboard off this leadership experience as they head off to college. Their team bonding will crossover into the workplace one day. This keepsake photo was after a hard fought championship game in sunny South Carolina in 2017.

They are tomorrow’s workers. They have a solid foundation. They will be successful. I will enjoy watching them grow into greatness. How can I not include the toy soldier photo from a holiday tournament held in Georgia every year. One that is festive and full of crazy costumes and most notable is the cold temperatures and bad weather that comes with a December tournament.

This is why I coach. I love being a part of these girls’ stories and I love having them a part of mine. From costumes to travel and beyond the sport of lacrosse has bonded these girls for years. They are there for each other when times are challenging and they push each other when the need arises.

As many of my lacrosse girls approach adulthood, this is my big thank you for letting me be a part of your journey. I remember so many of my coaches throughout life and the lessons they taught me. I hope my players remember me one day and the memories we made.

So many hurdles for these girls and other athletes who had their seasons interrupted because of the Coronavirus scare. Uncharted territory. The closest reminder for me was 9/11 however none of these girls even remember 9/11 as they were not born yet. What a crazy reflection in this growing up post.

I now feel old and experienced in life having seen the Gulf War, 9/11 and now Coronavirus. Crazy to think my parents talked about the potato famine and I get to tell stories about the toilet paper famine.

This post is for my three musketeer trio and those junior coaches that paved the way before them. You know who you are.

inspire

Book Buddies

I’m on a small book kick. One that I can read pretty quickly based on the size and of course my attention span! Grateful that I have friends who are avid readers but also like to share books. I guess that makes us book buddies of sorts.

This time around I got Wolfpack by Abby Wambach on a book rotation. My kind of read. Short and sweet but potent at the same time. Pretty soon you will see a short and sweet publication from 2 CHX but we are not quite ready for its unveiling just yet.

A lot of time and planning goes into publishing a book. From the cover design to the binding to the words itself. Even if small, a book designed correctly will pack a punch. I’m putting the Wolfpack book to test as I write this blog and we shall see how it holds up to the 2 chicks test.

I would give this read a two thumbs up. For one it was simple. No big fancy words. Just short, sweet and to the point. I guess that style appeals to me.

Next footnote was the subject matter and the vantage point it mentions. It pretty much dialed into a post I wrote about recently called life’s penalty box. As an athlete, a coach, an author and I mom I could relate on many levels.

I had many takeaways which meant I learned something. It also reinforced my non-apologetic lifestyle I live. I will springboard off this small book and use it as inspiration for the current batch of youth I am working with.

A little book. A quick read. A thought-invoking book. Keep learning. Keep living. Keep challenging yourself. Inspiration is always around. Thank you Abby for sharing your triumphs and failures with the world. I hope my blog lets you know you made an impact today from a far. As March is upon us, I am feeling lucky I had the opportunity to read this little gem of book and share my thumbs up rating with all of my readers.