Blunder In Judgement

It’s important for managers to remember that they are the leaders their employees look up to and, therefore, it is important to lead by example. I can’t help but find it fascinating how many leaders don’t realize that others are watching them when they demonstrate behaviors that aren’t exactly what they would wish to see their employees recreating. Here’s an example I unfortunately see multiple times a day when I’m at my office.

Just outside our building doors there is a large no smoking sign. There are multiple reasons for the placement of such a sign in that location. Entering or exiting the building you would have to walk through smoke, as well as, smoke in that area would enter the building itself if you were standing in that location. Despite the sign and just two examples of why that is a less than preferable area to smoke in, multiple times a day you can find a leader standing in front of it enjoying a smoke break. It happens five days a week and several times each of those five days. It’s almost comical to see someone smoking directly in front of an oversized sign that explicitly states smoking in that area is prohibited.

As managers walk in and out of the building they are greeted by the leader who is smoking in front of the no smoking sign. If I boil this down to basics, the managers are being greeted by a leader who is blatantly turning a blind eye to an explicitly stated regulation each day as they arrive for work. Some of those managers even happen to be the direct report of this leader, so it does make me wonder whether or not this is something that causes them to question the leader’s integrity when decisions are made. Authority might have been bestowed upon the leader in a corporate sense, but something even as comical as this could raise questions of credibility for decision making skills.

John C. Maxwell’s quote best sums up what should be happening in this case, but somehow isn’t:

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Photo courtesy of: www.quotescover.com

Hopefully at some point this leader will begin to know the way, go the way, and show the way. However, until then, I guess we’ll all have to battle our way through the cloud of cigarette smoke as we enter and exit the building throughout the day.

Back In My Element

There’s nothing better to me than being back in a dance studio. It might not be the studio I grew up in or even one I’m a regular at, but it always feels like I’ve returned home in a way. There’s something about it that just instantly relaxes me and makes me feel like I’m where I’m meant to be. Several years ago, I thought I would never again be able to do the one thing that brings me the most joy in life. I thought I would be resigned to sitting in the audience for the rest of my life and, as much as I enjoyed knowing I could still appreciate the art form, I knew that it would tear me apart to no longer be a part of dance in the way I have for more than two-thirds of my lifespan.

It brings me such joy now to know I didn’t have to give it up completely. It’s not often that I get to be in a studio and my body is by no means in the same shape to dance as it used to be, but I’ll take what I can get because the few moments that happen every now and then bring me such peace. In the studio, at the barre or in the center of the floor, that’s where I get to be myself. It’s where nothing else in the world matters except for the music and my movements at that moment. It’s where over two decades of hard work still, in fleeting moments, shine through and I get to see a glimmer of myself again. I know that there will be a day when I’ll lose the battle and the Fibromyalgia takes over, but until that day comes I’m not giving up who I always have been and continue to be deep down.

I’m proud of all the hours I spent working on perfecting my technique over the years. Not a day goes by when I have ever regretted all the things I gave up doing or missed out on because I had class or rehearsal. Dance was my life and I wouldn’t have changed that for anything in the world. It made me who I am today. It taught me to have the determination to push through pain, to never give up no matter how hard things might seem and that practice really does make perfect.

On a whim several months ago I bought a Living Social deal for adult dance classes at a place I drive by on the way to yoga all the time. This location happens to have a large studio downstairs constructed in such a way that two walls are windows right out to the street. Many a day I’ve sat at the stoplight watching dancers at the barre and wished it to be me. When I stumbled across the deal for that exact location I couldn’t help but whip it up. For months it has sat unused due to my work schedule, but on Tuesday I finally waltzed into the studio and enjoyed a class.

It seems as if it’s been forever since I found myself in someone else’s ballet class. It felt so natural to be back in my element. Things obviously aren’t the same as the last time, but it almost felt like a small accomplishment to know I’ve still got it. That part of me is still alive an well. An hour at the barre and I found myself on cloud nine for the rest of the evening. Can’t wait until I go back on Saturday. I’ve got three more classes to take before the deal expires and they can’t come soon enough! There’s nothing better than being back in my element.

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Another Stepping Stone

Sunday was another glorious day of weather perfectly setting me up for a successful run. To be honest, it was almost a tad bit on the cold side for my personal preference when running but I’ll take that over a sweltering Florida day anytime! In theory I thought the seven mile run the previous weekend would be a good indication as to how my body might handle the Lake Nona half marathon I was running on Sunday. I learned that there’s a massive difference in those additional six miles.

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Upon finishing the seven mile race I was able to go to breakfast, walk around a farmer’s market downtown, enjoy pie at a local bakery (because why the heck not after running for over an hour earlier in the day) and go plunder around some antique shops. It wasn’t until noon that I hit a wall and remembered that I’m not invincible. However, after finishing the half marathon on Sunday I was lucky that I could walk all the way to the car. I managed to make it home and eat breakfast before falling asleep, but only to wake up for lunch before falling asleep again. I accomplished 13.1 miles before 9:00 AM and yet ended up wasting the rest of the day sleeping.

I’m proud of myself for making it through another half marathon, but even more proud that I did it without having to have someone else support my weight through the last several miles like my first half marathon. The kineseo tape on my knees has made a world of difference compared to the two knee braces I was using when I ran the last half marathon that seemed pretty much useless after my knee gave out. The last five miles was still a struggle with the pain escalating in my right knee, but I made it much farther than I did with the braces before that kicked in so I’ll call that a win in my book. Additionally, the pain subsides faster after the race then it used to before I started using the kineseo tape. That’s an added bonus since it means I bounce back in two days instead of a week or so.

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What you can’t see in this picture is that, despite taping my toes like I was ready for a war on the dance floor, my feet ended up a bloody and blistered mess again. I haven’t quite mastered how to make it through that many miles without my feet looking like I just danced a three hour ballet in my pointe shoes again. You would think after 20 years in that world that my strategic taping skills for my toes would have been enough to get me through, but I guess I’ve lost my touch. Looks like my dancer feet are back until I make it through the last race this coming Saturday and can give them a rest for a bit. I’m gave myself one more day to recover, but was in the studio by Tuesday night enjoying a ballet class. After all, if my feet are already a mess then why the heck not!

No Rest For The Weary

There are days when the phrase that keeps echoing through my head is, “why me?” Why am I the one facing this? Why do I have to be the strong one? Why can’t I allow myself to let down my guard? Then I remember it’s because I’m tough enough to handle the cards I’ve been dealt with strength, style and class.

Each new day with Fibromyalgia is very different from every day before it. Some days are much easier than others. Some days I almost forget that I’m not just like everyone else. That’s usually when it hits me. The pain, exhaustion and foggy brain hit and I’m humbled by the thought that for a brief moment I was able to pretend like I was “normal” again.

Last Sunday I did something I haven’t been able to do in quite a long time. Many hours before sunrise, I woke up and accepted my challenge for the day. Bundled up and out the door before 6:00 AM, I drove to my alma mata and prepared myself to conquer a goal. Shoes laced, kineso tape on both knees and showing my support for Livestrong I faced the University of Central Florida’s Distance Dare.

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I could have chosen the easy way out and run the 2 mile race or even only pushed myself to attempt the 5 mile one, but somehow my bravery when signing up pushed me to take on the 7 mile Distance Dare. Twenty-four minutes and 2 miles of straight running later, carefully paced out I must add, I crossed the first finish line. That left me six minutes to make my way over to the starting line for the second race. It was less than an hour later I somehow managed to cross that finish line once again after taking on an additional 7 miles.

Having not run that far since training and completing my last half marathon over a year ago, I found myself feeling invincible. Grabbing breakfast downtown, strolling through antique stores in Winter Park and soaking up as much of the fall weather as humanly possible sounded like the perfect way to push forward since it wasn’t even 9:00 AM yet. It wasn’t until after noon when my energy hit rock bottom and I found myself on a quick downward spiral. A nap for a few hours and I was back up and at it suddenly baking a key like cheesecake completely from scratch for the guys at work. I won’t lie, I made a few small samples to stay at the house as well because why the heck not enjoy a bit after running all those miles.

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The next morning I was sore from running, as anyone who just ran 7 miles would expect, but not debilitated. I went to the gym, to work and picked up life as if there was nothing to stop me. Yet four days later I am hit by a serious dose of reality reminding me that there is something that can stop me. The run, work and lack of extra sleep to recover caught up with me and now the pain has set in. However, I’m not about to let it take me down without a fight. I’ve got three more days until I hit the pavement again and take on a half marathon. Until then, I face two more rough days at work and refuse to let anything stand in my way of crossing that finish line 13.1 miles later on Sunday. Time to conquer another challenge and show Fibro who’s boss when it comes to living my life.

No Greater Sorrow

Dante once wrote,

“There is no greater sorrow than to recall happiness in times of misery.”

Nailed that one right on the head! I can say from experience that recalling times of happiness will only make you more miserable if you can’t get back to those happy times. Your mind will take over and quickly everything makes you view what you see in a more sorrowful light. It’s probably the main reason that misery loves company. Nonetheless, it’s Wayne Dyer that reminds us to…

“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”

…and C.S. Lewis said,

“What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.”

I’ve tried to open my eyes at times when depression is closing in on me and remind myself that the only way to change the situation is to take control of it. Sounds so easy doesn’t it? Just take the bull by the horns, right? Piece of cake! If only that were true. For those of us who can easily be consumed by our thoughts and/or fears at times, changing situations by taking control can be the most gut wrenching thing we consider doing.

Taking Mr. Dyers words to heart might be a bit easier to stomach. When we wake up in the morning we each have a choice to make. Start the day on the right foot and don’t let that choice fade away as we go through each moment, or start it off on the wrong one and let the cycle of misery continue until we have the strength to make a change. Whether it be work, friends, loved ones or life challenges in general that are causing our strife, we have a choice. The solutions lie in whether or not we are strong enough to make the right choice.

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