At loose ends about my hairstylist

Apps make appointment-setting easier. Take StyleSeat, for example. My last two stylists have used StyleSeat, which allows you to schedule hair appointments at any time of the night or day without having to say a word or interact with another human being.

Unfortunately, although there may be an app for discontinuing your relationship with your stylist, that isn’t the way to go, in my opinion.

A brief history of the past 25 years

Regarding my hair history, the past 25 years is very uneventful for 22 of those years. Once I started going to Bonnie, I stayed. I was with her through both of my children being born, and through her being at three different buildings.

Then she moved to Nashville. Sigh.

At loose ends about my hairstylist

I went to one person right after Bonnie moved to Nashville. She was really nice (we are Facebook friends to this day based on one haircut), but from a hair perspective, it just wasn’t a great fit.

The next person I went to, I stayed with. I don’t recall how we got connected exactly, except that my daughter had used her.

We’ve been together roughly 2.5 years. We have had so many good conversations. We had enough people in common that we never ran out of things to discuss. She was with me through the death of my father-in-law and the death of my mom, through the years of freelancing until I got my full-time job. She recently showed extreme patience while trying to cut my hair as I juggled a small work issue that required an immediate response. Yes, I was that obnoxious person moving my head to exactly the wrong angle (for her) as I tried to deal with the work issue (for me).

Yet, I never got to the point that I walked out loving my haircut.

In December, I had an appointment with my usual stylist, but I had to cancel it because a work meeting came up.

By the time I tried to reschedule, she couldn’t fit me in. I desperately needed a haircut before leaving for D.C. to spend a couple of days at my work HQ and attend its holiday party. Going with shaggy hair was not an option.

I posted my dilemma to Facebook, and got several great recommendations. My friend, Mike (check out his pedicab business if you’re local to Tallahassee!), tagged Chop Barbershops as one of the options.

Chop Barbershop wasn’t high on my list as an alternative. However, I had been to one of their three locations last summer when I reviewed “Musicals on the Move.” Chop Barbershop was the location of the “Sweeney Todd” component of the event, so I got a glimpse of their environment and figured out that these people must be pretty open to fun (although “Sweeney Todd” probably deserves other adjectives than “fun”!).

At loose ends about my hairstylist
Photo credit: Erich D. Martin

I decided to check out Chop’s Eastside location, which was closest to my house. I discovered that I could book via their website and still not have to pick up a phone, so I persevered. I figured out who had availability that day. Then I looked at Instagram to explore the work of various stylists.

That’s how I ended up being Sean‘s client.

When I arrived for my appointment, I explained my situation — that I had a business trip coming up and needed a cut, but had been unable to use my regular stylists. I also explained the things I hadn’t been entirely happy with about my cuts in the couple of years I had been with her and showed him a picture of a time when my hair looked great.

People, he got it on the first try! There are a few small things that I want him to modify as we continue to work together, but I walked out of there truly happy with my hair for the first time since Bonnie moved to Music City.

(We also had a great talk, always a plus.)

Breaking up is hard to do

Now that I’ve found someone who does for my hair what I want, I needed to figure out what to do about the person I’ve used the last few years.

I don’t feel right ghosting her. There are several reasons for this. One of them is the fact that I love her story. She got a business degree. She may have even gotten a graduate business degree (I don’t recall). But after all that, she said, “I couldn’t turn away from the fact that hair is my passion.” I get that, and I think there’s a lot to be said for finding your professional groove (trust me — it took me until I was 54 to really get there, which doesn’t mean all the years before that were a waste…).

I chatted with a few people on Twitter about this dilemma.

My ever-resourceful friend Rachel shared this “Ask a Stylist” about how to change hairdressers in the least awkward way possible. It’s a good read, with plenty of thoughtful advice. Ultimately, celebrity stylist Mark Townsend recommended honesty.

And that’s what I’ve decided to do.

I just composed a note to her thanking her for the years we spent together and expressing my appreciation for all we’ve shared. As far as the hair, I just said I’ve decided to “go a new direction.”

I know how it has felt at points throughout my career when someone stopped using me with no notice or explanation. Sometimes, the notice and explanation don’t feel good, but they at least eliminate the mystery of not knowing whether my work was inferior or they just truly decided to do something different.

Even though there may be apps for breaking up with your stylist, this situation calls for a more old-school approach. Hence the handwritten note.

It’s a note that may not technically be necessary in this situation, but it’s the right thing to do to avoid leaving loose ends.

12 posts that rose to the top in 2019

You can write more than 1,000 blog posts spanning a decade and still be surprised at which posts perform well and which don’t.

I’m sharing my top 12 posts of 2019 here, but two posts I wrote in earlier years, 10 Lessons from Lumosity and 6 Ways Our Marriage Resembles a Tree, still performed best. (They finally knocked out Get Groovy with Hippie Juice: Cocktail Recipes for Spring, which held the top spot for a long time!)

Remembering Mia

I am so thrilled that this post got the most views in 2019. I wish I hadn’t had to write it at all, but I love how so many people who loved Mia and her parents gathered around, in real life and here in the cyberworld, to support this family and help more hospitals get Cuddle Cots.

12 posts that rose to the top in 2019

Ration Challenge 2019: How Eating Less Taught Me More

Not only did participating in the Ration Challenge help me raise $634.14 for Church World Service and its efforts to help refugees, but it also helped me kick the caffeine and artificially-sweetened soda habit. I’m still waiting for flavored sparkling water to still taste like — something — but I’m healthier for the effort.

12 posts that rose to the top in 2019

3 Commercials That Don’t Make Sense

I guess writing about causes is *really* my favorite, but this type of writing is the most fun to me. I like trying to make sense of the world, and my blog is a main way I do that. If you didn’t watch the “Failing” video before, I highly recommend it. It’s so much better than the nonsensical commercial starring the same actress.

Guest Post: Being Your Own Medical Advocate

I’m so excited that this guest post by Hannah of Feeding Tube Fitness, who I met through a friend, was my fourth most viewed post of the year. Learning to advocate for yourself in a medical setting is challenging, and Hannah gives great advice. She’s also exceptionally fun and motivating on Instagram, so follow her!

12 posts that rose to the top in 2019

The Surprise of Early Menopause

I really enjoyed participating in this AARP Disrupt Aging campaign to help dispel myths about menopause. I’m sure one of the reasons it did well is because those of us participating in the campaign supported each other by sharing. It’s one of the reasons I love doing blog campaigns!

12 posts that rose to the top in 2019

Should Office Plants be Banned?

If we didn’t have cats who like to nibble on (and knock over/vomit up) plants, I could have whatever “office” plants I want since I work from home. As this blog explored, a proposed ban on office plants by the State of Florida branched out into an uproar (of sorts). It was also yet another example of how there is often more to the story with questions like this.

12 posts that rose to the top in 2019

Aging is Not a Hammer

I’m glad I started out the year advocating for people to see aging as a positive thing. I feel young at heart almost every day, and hope I’ll never devalue the importance of the wisdom the years have brought me.

12 posts that rose to the top in 2019

June News Developments That Made Me Say “WOW”

I’m so excited that this post made the top 12. When I first became an editor at SmartBrief, I wanted a way to share our open positions with people who might be good candidates. The first month, introduced the open positions by talking about my favorite stories that month. I thought I might switch to quarterly at some point, but so far I’ve stayed with monthly and it has been 16 months and I don’t want to change. It’s a good exercise for me every month to think back on what stories meant the most, and I like giving my partners a little extra social media boost by linking to them.

12 posts that rose to the top in 2019

“Be Pretty” and Other Lessons from Mom

This may not have been the post with the most views, but it was a tribute to my mom, so it deserves number one status as far as I’m concerned! Maybe my mom is hanging out with Mia in Heaven, and I can only imagine how happy it would make her to love on a baby girl.

12 posts that rose to the top in 2019
This look on her face captures who she was.

3 Tips for Better iPhone Food Photography

I had so much fun and learned so many great tips for taking better food photos from this evening (and tried to summarize them in the blog). Yet — I still take quick pix of my food so I can get to the enjoyment rather than applying most of what I learned. Anyway, any time I hang out with “the other Paula” is a win.

12 posts that rose to the top in 2019

Safety is the Deepest Gift of All

I enjoyed writing this post and I’m glad it did well. But dang it now I’ll have a “Shallow” earworm all night!

12 posts that rose to the top in 2019

3 Fabulous Women to Follow on Twitter

This was my response to the #WomenToFollow project developed by Rose Horowitz. Rose is a true champion of women, and I’m glad this post did well.

12 posts that rose to the top in 2019

I’m linking up this week with Kat Bouska for the prompt “Share your top 12 blog posts from 2019.” And thank you to Vivid Image for their helpful post How to Find Your Most Popular Content Using Google Analytics.

12 posts that rose to the top in 2019

Please don’t call me Karen

People show disrespect for others in many ways.

In 2019, discord among people has reached new lows.

There were the horrific tragedies such as the 41 US mass killings in which 210 people died. Children are still being separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border.

To shift from the obvious and massive examples to the (possibly) trivial, can we talk about what we call each other?

At the risk of earning an “OK Boomer” from you, can I just ask that you call me (and every other human being) by the name they want?

Please don’t call me “Karen,” to my face or behind my back.

“Karen” has become the go-to for anytime a white woman loses touch with her common sense and perspective and seeks out the manager.

Please don't call me Karen

Here’s Dictionary.com’s take:

Karen is a mocking slang term for an entitled, obnoxious, middle-aged white woman. Especially as featured in memes, Karen is generally stereotyped as having a blonde bob haircut, asking to speak to retail and restaurant managers to voice complaints or make demands, and being a nagging, often divorced mother from Generation X.

There’s an assumption (often deserved, sadly), that a “Karen” action reeks of white privilege.

“Karens” ask for the manager when their food is lukewarm, when their tea is not sweet enough, when their perfect angels (children) are chastised when they are behaving in a way that endangers others, etc. (There are examples at Comic Sands, on Quora and on Reddit.) It’s possible the proportion of “Karens” rushing to get the grocery divider down rapidly is higher than the general population.

Although the woman referenced here and here really is named Karen, the letter to the editor of the Baltimore Sun about how Lamar Jackson should have donated to a charity rather than giving his offensive linemen Rolexes, along with its Karen-generating headlines, seems to be part of the Karen-verse. (Note: Among his charitable activities is Jackson’s $25,000 gift to the Blessings in a Backpack program last year.)

Please don't call me Karen

Here’s the thing. “Karen” behavior is egregious (usually — but also in this day and age when customer services has gotten so marginal, we all find ourselves in infuriating situations that are prone to bring out our inner Karens).

But cramming every middle-aged white woman with a bad haircut and a Volvo into the tiny compartment of a joke name only hurts us all.

Please don't call me Karen

Karen Cyphers Breaks it Down

This piece by Karen Cyphers (yes, she really is named Karen) is the one I wish I had written, to be honest. I love the way she delineates the history of this usage of “Karen” and ties in some research that tries to figure out if Karens really do get more aggravated than Dorothys, Janes and Marys.

Sarah Miller Tries to Break it Down

I didn’t love this piece as much (note the paywall, by the way), because of all the stereotypes and assumptions. “Karens are going to Karen. They are unstoppable. All they see are open doors. We should blame the Karens, but maybe we should blame the doors too?”

Names are More than Names

I wouldn’t call a black woman “Nia” (a relatively common name for black women) just because I didn’t have the mental dexterity to try to find out her correct name. If I had an issue with a black woman (or a woman of any ethnicity), I would hopefully have the good sense to try to resolve it using old-fashioned conflict resolution skills (while calling them by the right name).

The big conflicts in our society, I think, often have their seeds in the small choices we make.

If we don’t respect each other enough to call each other the right thing and refrain from stooping to stereotypes and memes, it’s possible we have already lost the battle.

What are printer brownies?

I am a pretty literal thinker.

Last holiday season, a colleague who works remote (vs. my organization’s brick-and-mortar office) and I were talking about the unique parts of being a remote worker. She said, “Even though I’m not in the office, when someone says there are brownies by the printer, I still look.”

ME TOO!

That’s how printer brownies were born at my office last year. (I shared them in our Slack channel for remote workers.)

What are printer brownies?

But 2019 calls for something more (plus I wanted to make brownies and Santa is craving brownies with his milk Christmas Eve night). Therefore, I added a task to my list for tonight.

What are printer brownies?

Why does it matter to serve “printer brownies”? It matters because 30% of US workers work remotely full-time (according to Owl Labs). Telecommuting is growing, with FlexJobs reporting a 22% increase in people working remotely between 2017 and 2018. Despite this growth, Owl Labs reported that “38% of remote workers and 15% of remote managers received no training on how to work remotely.”

There are lots more stats to show how much remote work is growing and the uneven nature of how people learn to work remotely. I had never worked remote until I started a several-year period of freelancing in 2014. Then when I got my current job (at a place where I had been freelancing), I was officially a full-time remote worker.

Of all the things I’ve learned about remote work (which are almost exclusively self-taught and not lessons I always learned well the first time), the biggest one is that connection matters whether you sit across from each other in a physical office or you only ever chat digitally with someone thousands of miles away.

That’s why when someone looks for the brownies by the printer, I try to help them feel more connected than disappointed.

What are printer brownies?

I’m linking this post up at Kat Bouska’s blog for the prompt, ” Write a blog post inspired by the word ‘task.'”

What leaders can do

“… everyone is employed for the things they can do, no one is employed for the things they can’t do.”

I read this quote in Leadership Lessons In The Age Of Technology by Sophia Matveeva, and I felt like a little beacon was shining out from the page, a little beacon generated by all the truth in that statement by Clive Punter of Outfront Media.

In her article, Matveeva asserts that “good leadership remains the domain of humans” amid a world worried about artificial intelligence taking over. For the record, I agree with her.

She also encourages readers to share the leadership lessons they’ve learned in their organizations.

They’re not necessarily from my current organization, but here are three leadership lessons that are on my mind. Although they’re not from my current organization specifically, they are informed by the fact that I started a second career after two decades in an entirely different industry. My current situation is also different because my first career was at a place where I was literally at its inception. In my current career, the organization had existed for 17 years before I arrived, so I don’t know every single development over its evolution (although I made it my business to try to figure out as much of it as possible).

Be a person others can trust

When someone can trust you, whether it be a subordinate, a peer or someone higher on the org chart than you, the benefit is that you gain a deeper understanding of interpersonal dynamics and organizational goings-on than you would otherwise.

Nothing erodes team unity like unauthorized sharing of others’ information. Nothing cements it like knowing personal concerns can be shared in confidence and sensitive organizational developments will stay protected until the time is right to see the light of day.

Don’t rely on digital communications

This is one thing that has really been on my mind in this new career. So much communication is handled through email and Slack. I know that comes with the territory in 2019. However, it’s so easy for intent to get lost in translation or misinterpreted.

I had a coworker in my previous career who was extremely terse in her email responses. (I don’t know where along the line in my career I heard “if an email has grown to 10 in the thread, it’s time to pick up the phone,” but it’s true and even 10 may be too much.) I got to the point with her that I would pick up the phone and address whatever the question was. Why did we take so long to get to the “real talking” point?

My current job is the first full-time job I’ve had that is a hybrid (a physical headquarters office with many of us being remote workers). I started as a freelancer, communicating almost exclusively via Slack and email (with the exception of a few phone calls with my coordinator).

As a full-time employee, I still interact with everyone mostly via Slack and email, but now there are video conferences as well, and the occasional in-person meeting. I have become a big believer in the power of meeting your co-workers in real life when possible, at least briefly. It just makes a difference to have looked someone in the eyes at some point and spent social time together.

I also always let the freelancers working on my newsletters know I am available via phone or Skype if they prefer that to Slack/email. No one has ever taken me up on that, but I hope it gives them some reassurance that it’s an option.

Leave room for the unspoken priorities

I often think back on the time I was given a lateral transfer at my previous organization that led me to report to a friend, and to no longer have any direct reports. I was a different subordinate after I had been a supervisor.

I had a new appreciation for the pressures an organization’s leaders face that may lead them to make inscrutable decisions.

When I learned in July that my current employer had been purchased, that put some developments in the preceding few months in better context. They were developments that didn’t seem obviously necessary or productive at the time, but they contributed to the adjustments my organization needed to make to prepare for an acquisition. I’m not advising people to avoid being inquisitive, but there’s a difference between being inquisitive and being resistant to change that doesn’t make obvious sense.

Be an encourager

Let’s get back to Clive Punter and the idea that “everyone is employed for the things they can do, no one is employed for the things they can’t do.”

I struggle hard with being critical of myself. My mind has been preoccupied over the past week with an error or two I made that I could have avoided had I slowed down, been more careful, approached things more methodically. I didn’t give the things I had done well equal time.

When I read Punter’s quote, I thought of those things I was frustrated about. I reminded myself about the things I can do, that I do especially well. I had a freelancer thank me for the way I keep them in the loop. I coordinated our afternoon publication three out of five days last week on top of traveling to DC. I kept the balls up in the air that had to be there, and made a solid contribution to putting out a great product.

We need to encourage those around us whose inner monologues are heavier on what they haven’t done right and help them celebrate the ways in which they have been assets. This includes encouraging ourselves.

Leaders are trustworthy. They are direct when they need to be, understand the big picture and encourage.

They do the things they were employed to do.

Grateful Challenge 2019

It’s year six of my taking the Grateful Challenge! Inspired by Spin Sucks, the goal is to set a timer for 10 minutes and try to list 99 things you’re grateful for. (Here are the previous installments: 2018, 2017201620152014.)

Grateful Challenge 2019

This year’s installment:

1.My husband, Wayne

2.My daughter, Tenley

3.My son, Wayne Kevin

4.My dad, Seabie

5.Tenley’s significant other, Stewart

6.Wayne Kevin’s significant other, Patience

7.Wayne Kevin having an affordable, safe place to live in Daytona

8.Tenley having an affordable, safe place to live in Valdosta

9.Wayne’s job

10.Tenley’s graduate school and how goal-directed she is

11.Wayne Kevin’s job

12.MY job — the one I love <3

13.Having a fantastic supervisor

14.Having great co-workers

15.Having a job in editing, so ironic since it took me until midlife to be here (although everything happens for a reason, for sure)

16.Extended family

17.My new nephew, Paul

18.Travel!

19.My friend Dan — such a dear friend, seen not often enough

20.Two trips to DC this year

21.A trip to NYC this year ( 🙂 )

Grateful Challenge 2019

22.My SmartBrief partners — the International City/County Management Association (the other six to follow)

23.The Sigma Xi Scientific Honorary Society

24.The National Association of Social Workers

25. The United Nations Foundation

26.BoardSource

27.The National Emergency Number Association

28.The Reserve Officers Association

29.A new brief I get to work on soon: Business Transformation

30.My previous partner (among others): The International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association

31.Everything I’ve learned and gained by blogging for 10 years

32.The online community, which has lifted me up, supported me, irritated me (at times) and been more supportive than the word “online” would make you think

33.Parents who provided financial help over the years

34.My mom’s life

35.Our new realtor

36.The buyer of our house (no, don’t know who they are yet but they have to be out there!)

37.Live theatre

38.Seeing “Come from Away” in New York in January

39.Seeing Sara Bareilles in “Waitress” in New York in January

40.The New York Times Readalong Community

41. BroadwayWorld and review opportunities

42.Randi at the Democrat who has given me such great (tough) feedback about my Democrat reviews and still plans to let me review

43.Reading

44.The Spin Sucks crew (where to begin?)

45.Time with Gini Dietrich in July watching Hugh Jackman *live*

46.Laura Petrolino and how she gets me

47.Having a paid-off car (even though it doesn’t have air conditioning)

48.Not that I’m self-promoting exactly, but I’m proud of each video I made for SmartBrief and enjoyed the process. Here they are:

49.Libraries and social work

50.The 911 SAVES Act

51.Recharge your batteries by subscribing to the ICMA newsletter

52.This blog post I wrote about Hurricane Michael and kids having playgroups that helped them find hope again

53.This blog post about my favorite moments at the ICMA conference

54.Getting to meet Jake Wood of Team Rubicon at the ICMA conference

Grateful Challenge 2019

55.Turning 55 tomorrow!

56.Helping with social media for the Turkey Trot and getting to participate in the Turkey Trot tomorrow — I can’t run it anymore but I’ll be there!

57.A clean bill of health after my colonoscopy

58.The Ration Challenge

59.Getting off of caffeine due to the ration challenge

60.My faith

61.The life of my friend, Duane, who died last Saturday. He taught me so much; he’s gone too soon. I will always love you, Duane.

Grateful Challenge 2019
At “Fiddler on the Roof.” I was the audience; he was the star. 🙂

In keeping with the spirit of the challenge, I stopped at the 10-minute mark. I left all the blank numbers in, because I know are 38 more things for which I can be grateful. Here’s to filling in these blanks …

62.

63.

64.

65.

66.

67.

68.

69.

70.

71.

72.

73.

74.

75.

76.

77.

78.

79.

80.

81.

82.

83.

84.

85.

86.

87.

88.

89.

90.

91.

92.

93.

94.

95.

96.

97.

98.

99.

100.

10 reasons you are enough, kid

I volunteered recently as a registrar/tabulator at an event designed to help children ages 8 to 10 demonstrate their proficiency in making consumer choices. The kids each had to listen to a scenario for eight minutes (with the help of supplementary material they had been sent in advance), then rank the products based on which one was the best choice given factors including quality and price.

I had registered the kids (teams of four), then as they completed sections of the activity, I added their scores to the scoresheet.

One contestant didn’t mark his answer on the score card that was turned in, even though he had kept note of it on his own documentation, as all the contestants had. That meant an automatic zero for one of four products.

As a side note, I see kids at things like this who I’m pretty sure are on a relatively straightforward trajectory to success. They obey the rules. They are well-spoken. They have listening skills that are developmentally appropriate. They are motivated by the idea of winning a trophy or ribbon, and also by the idea of either leading or contributing to a team.

Back to my “no-answer” contestant. Although I had been instructed by the contest moderator to give him a zero, his group leader had brought him forward and asked to let him record his score (which we did).

What followed was an exchange between him and his group leader that was tough to watch. It would be silly based on five minutes of interacting with a child and watching his interactions with another adult to put him in a box.

However, holding a degree in child development (yes, I’m now an editor so make of that what you will) and having raised two children, one of whom was (understatement) not a “jump through the hoops” kind of youngster, my heart hurt for him.

I don’t want to get into a verbatim replay of the dialogue, but “you’re in trouble” came up and “you shouldn’t have said no.”

Although this little boy’s future is unknown, here are 10 things I wish I could have conveyed to him that day:

You are valued

Your brain may not work the same as other kids, but that doesn’t mean it works in a bad way

Saying “no” is not always the right choice, but there are times in your life when it absolutely will be

Being “in trouble” is about the behavior you chose, not about who you are

I want to know what you thought about the product and which one you thought was best

I’d like to know about your life — what is your favorite thing to do?

I’d like to give you a hug (with consent of course)

I wish you were enjoying yourself

You’re not a loser (in fact, his team did place despite his issues — I’ll spare you the explanation)

You are enough

You are enough” gets said a lot lately. It makes for a good social media shareable image (and hey! there’s a new one for you at the end of this post!). It’s for a good reason, because so many of us struggle (whether we are children or adults) with appreciating our own strengths rather than beating ourselves up for our shortcomings, the real ones and the ones that are probably not as monumental as we let them become in our minds.

Some of these monumental, imagined shortcomings took root before we turned 11.

10 reasons you are enough, kid

I’m linking this post up two places:

Five Minute Friday, which had “unknown” as its prompt this week (and it took me far longer than five minutes to write this, for what it’s worth)

10 reasons you are enough, kid

Kat Bouska’s blog, for the prompt, “Write a post in just 10 lines.” I kind of fudged those directions to, but it’s OK, because I know I am enough (wink).

10 reasons you are enough, kid

TEST (FMF31 2019 Day 28)

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2019 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: TEST

“Don’t fall in love with Plan A.”

This statement was written on a little table card at a state-of-the-art public safety center I visited last Monday. The host had just told us about how the building was designed to foster collaboration. There were small areas with tables scattered all over the center, and there were whiteboards everywhere that could be used as part of discussions.

I assume these people are put to the test when a disaster happens and they must play their role, whether it be communications, dispatcher, IT or any of the many duties that have to be done.

The thing is, you can prepare over and over. You can train and drill, but you can’t always anticipate the change in events that will make your Plan A impossible or at least not preferable.

I felt the same after reading Five Days at Memorial, a book about Hurricane Katrina. The hospital had just done a hurricane drill. What they couldn’t anticipate was a triple threat: a hurricane, flooding and a power outage.

I seriously love procedures and following rules, so this situation would present a challenge to me. I know I’m not the one who would take charge, but I hope I would be the one to ask the questions to help people find a Plan B (if necessary) that increases productivity and potentially saves lives.

It is challenging to break through groupthink. It’s challenging to keep from succumbing to groupthink.

Yet the moments in our lives that matter call for us to do exactly that.

31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes

Retrospect: Pace didn’t matter that much after all

I used to have a goal of running a 10-minute mile (to achieve a sub-30 minute 5K, which to be precise would require running a faster-than-10-minute mile pace). I’ve lost count of how many times I wrote about that goal, but here’s an example from 2010.

I had to set running aside for health reasons. It took me quite a while to make peace with that, but I’m getting there.

In honor of this week’s Five Minute Friday prompt (pace), combined with the Mama Kat prompt “list 10 things you love about the state you live in,” here are 10 places in Florida where I have run. In retrospect, although I’m sad about not ever achieving my goal, being able to spend more time on the road/trail may have helped me appreciate those areas more. Except for Tallahassee, which I left for last, they are roughly organized from south to north.

Miami Beach

When I went to Miami Beach for the Miami International Auto Show in 2015, I met up with @Koifla, a Twitter friend, for a run. That was my first trip to Miami Beach (hopefully not my last), and he brought me coffee he had roasted/brewed himself. What a great memory — both the company and the views along the beach.

pace didn't matter that much

Marco Island

Our family used to go to Marco Island when Wayne had to go to Environmental Permitting Summer School. Most of these trips took place before social media, but the last one was in 2009, so I do have a picture or two and a blog post. It was a gorgeous place to run (but so hot).

pace didn't matter that much

Clearwater/St. Petersburg

I have had several memorable runs in the St. Pete/Clearwater area, mostly involving my friend Diane. Our other friend, Amelia (from Gainesville) met us once in 2013 and the three of us shared a day of athletic activity. This particular day, we all ran to warm up, then Diane and Amelia went swimming while I ran some more.

pace didn't matter that much

Tampa

My social media memories have been serving up a very special walk down memory lane, the day Diane and I did the Lowry Park Zoo Run Run 5K in 2015. Technically, I was her guide (because she is visually impaired). That’s sort of an oxymoron, though, because Diane is a champion triathlete and if anything I held her back. We still had a blast.

pace didn't matter that much

Orlando

I have lots of great memories of running in Orlando. I had to go fairly frequently for work when I was with Healthy Kids, and also as Tenley was preparing for her Disney College Program. My biggest Orlando-based running memory isn’t very “Sunshine State” in nature.

When Tenley and I were there for her to audition once, I went for a run extremely early in the morning. It was also exceptionally cold for Orlando. Looking back on it, I see how deeply embedded in the running world I was to go out in that freezing weather. SO COLD. I like thinking back on that run, though, and reminding myself of the self-discipline I mustered.

pace didn't matter that much
PI can’t find the pic I took on the ridiculously freezing day, but here’s another fave from an on-property run. (Yes, I wore my Idiots Running Club shirt OFTEN, especially when traveling!)

Jacksonville

I have done a few races in Jacksonville, most memorably the Gate River Run. This 15K race winds through Jacksonville, with a memorable ending at the Jaguars Stadium … into which you descend after ascending the Hart Bridge. This 2013 memory, with so many great running friends, is a keeper.

pace didn't matter that much

Panama City

The only in-state half marathon I have done was in Panama City, The Biggest Loser half in 2014. Another race and location made memorable mostly because of the incredible company. (Pro-tip: Doing a half marathon with a min-pin makes your group the hit of the party.)

pace didn't matter that much

St. George Island

Our extended family used to vacation at St. George Island every summer. Each one is a treasured memory, especially now that Wayne’s parents are both deceased. There’s also an annual race at St. George, the “sizzler.” It is aptly named, let me just put it that way. But St. George is a beautiful place, and running there was always a treat.

pace didn't matter that much
I don’t love this picture. It’s shortly after I started running again and it doesn’t really showcase the beauty of St. George. But in full transparency, it does represent the fact that running is very much a journey and (cliche time) … every step and every mile count.

Prison

Our running club has had a relationship with Gadsden Correctional Facility since 2012. Even though I have to walk our races now, I try very hard not to miss a GCF event. They’re my favorites. The lack of scenery is made up for by the passion and the reminder that running is its own kind of freedom.

pace didn't matter that much

Tallahassee

I’m sorry I’ve ended up at 10 already, because there are quite a few things about running in Tallahassee I’d like to discuss. Since it has been on my mind as I’ve watched my running friends throughout the summer, though, I’ll note our incredible trails.

pace didn't matter that much
This pic doesn’t capture the difficulty of our trails, but it is a favorite! It’s at the end of a trail race. It became a key part of my efforts to raise money for Team in Training to run the New York City half marathon in 2015 in support of my friend Mary Jane.

I’m still disappointed I never achieved my goal of a sub-30-minute 5K. However, look at all the incredible people I met and places I went. All of it was time well spent.

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week [obviously I completely fudged the five minute part tonight]. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.) 

pace didn't matter that much

3 Commercials That Don’t Make Sense

These three commercials have gotten under my skin. I’m sure each of us has some pet peeve about the way commercials misrepresent the world. Mine tend to be around inaccuracy and the assumption that we viewers are gullible.

Here’s my list:

Principal Financial Group’s “Dream Car”

This Principal Financial Group ad represents three generations of a family as family priorities change.

Observations:

This ad always feels sort of contrived to me. I usually think, “if Dad’s incredible job offer is worth missing his kid’s senior year, it must be pretty lucrative. Could he not help out here and help keep his dad’s dream alive while providing for his daughter’s transportation needs?”

(This commercial may also grate on me because I hear it more times a day than I can count. I listen to CNN streaming on my laptop throughout the day and whatever deal they have for ads, this one is queued up to play constantly, it appears.)

Also:

Why is the father asking if she can spend her senior year with the grandparents in front of the daughter? Could he not have held this conversation in private to give them time to adjust (and the opportunity to decline)?

But the scene where the grandfather and the granddaughter both are wearing face masks is adorable.

I did a bit more poking around and discovered some cool facts about Annamarie Kasper, the actress who plays the granddaughter.

For one thing, her Instagram handle (piranhamarie) is cute. I’m sure she doesn’t need our help, but her feed is fun to follow and gives an enlightening glimpse into the life of an actress at the front end of her career, so I still recommend it.

She is also a college graduate and a cellist. This is one of the most unique cello performances I have ever seen:

EverlyWell

EverlyWell (for anyone who has been under a rock or who watches zero television) is an at-home testing kit. It was also a Shark Tank winner. This is their ad for food sensitivity testing.

Observations:

My main “observation” is: I am skeptical. Turns out I have company in this skepticism.

StatNews calls the EW $199 food-sensitivity test “dubious,” noting its reliance on testing for immunoglobulin G, an immune protein, runs counter to findings and recommendations from the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology and the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

A TechCrunch reviewer found the $79 EW ovarian reserve test “fine … [but] it’s not very useful unless you’re thinking about trying to get pregnant in the near future.”  (And I realize I strayed away from the food-sensitivity topic, but I appreciated the thoroughness of this review.)

This is another one that I end up hearing so many times in a typical day. Apparently I am on the same algorithm as the YouTube commenter who said, “They play this commercial, every commercial break, on my streaming channels.. At first not so bad, but it becomes a cruel form of torture.. ” Like that commenter, I may not be sensitive to dairy, but I am 100% sensitive to overplays of this ad!

I am all for convenience and saving myself the annoyance of going to a doctor’s office and/or lab. I’m also grateful that our health insurance covers most of these types of tests for a reasonable copay. I just don’t see the medical rigor in many of these at-home tests to merit dropping a couple hundred bucks on them.

BrightStar Care

I could have written this entire post about this commercial alone. (But The Senior List did in Open letter to Home Care Companies- Stop with the Guilt Trip Already, so I’m off the hook because they saved me the work.)

Here it is:

Observations:

While I realize this is a very subjective thing to say, the images in this ad of health care paraprofessionals and professionals seem so perfect. Although we had some very competent home health care providers during the time Dad lived here, everything (in general) was messier, more hit-and-miss and required a great deal of oversight on our part.

The worst part, though, is that last line “Because Dad made us promise we’d keep Mom at home.” Decisions about caregiving in general, and about whether a loved one should remain in the home or go to assisted living, are difficult. They should be evaluated objectively in a way that incorporates factors including economics, what type of supervision the older person needs and what resources the grown children have with which to provide care.

It’s a tough enough decision as is. No one needs to be guilted by a commercial (although I realize — ironically — that the final line in that ad may make it more effective than it would have been otherwise).

3 Commercials That Don't Make Sense