It’s Simple. Just Smile!

It is worth repeating. These times are TOUGH! There is a perfect storm going on and a lot of us are having a really tough time moving through the storm. What kind of storm? We have Covid-19 Delta variant and social media. Combine those two, you have a deadly recipe. How can you survive with so many factors going against you? Everywhere you look just adds more stress to your body. I have 3 things you can do that has helped me throughout my life. Based on the title, you might have an idea what one of those things are.

Number 1: get your endorphins flowing. Take a walk around the neighborhood, apartment complex, backyard, where ever you can. Studies have proven exercise (even walking) can improve your outlook.

Number 2: as silly as some may think this is, write down your thoughts. Write down your negative thoughts and positive thoughts. President Lincoln, having a disagreement with his war secretary Stanton, told Stanton to write down what he would want from Lincoln. Once Stanton was done with his letter, Lincoln told him to throw it in the fire without even reading it. When asked why he wanted Stanton to write the letter knowing he was going to throw it out, Lincoln responded essentially that he always feels better when he writes out his frustrations.

Number 3: this one is simple. Just smile. Go in to a mirror and grin from ear to ear until you look so silly it makes you laugh. The act of smiling ties into releasing your endorphins. When you smile, your brain releases tiny molecules that help combats stress.

Like most things in life, it takes time. Repetition repetition repetition. Don’t get too down on yourself. Always remember that life is a roller coaster. You will have your bad days and your good days. When in doubt, just smile.

Adapt to the times: Work environment

It’s May in 2021. We have been working remote (for the most part) for the better part of a year. It may have taken us a few months to figure out our new routines to be productive and comfortable considering the times we are living in. I know it took me some time to reorganize my living space, change it up 2 to 17000 times, and then change it again before I feel semi comfortable. The point is, most of us adapted because that’s how we, as humans, do. We adapt and overcome. Most of us have been indoctrinated in the notion that we have to be in an office in order to be productive and/or to collaborate effectively. The key word is effectively. Fortunately for us, we were forced to challenge that notion. Sink or swim. I believe overall we proved that we can be effective in flexible working environments as much, if not more than your traditional in-office environment. We have the tools to do so thanks to Zoom, Google, Apple, and Microsoft. We all know there are cases that prove otherwise but I’m talking about most cases.

Why would a company want to revert back to the traditional way when the year-plus study has shown effective work productivity? Is it because the leadership is part of an older generation? Not really a great excuse in my mind. Adapting has so many positive impacts. Studies have shown employees that have a flexible work environment are more attentive to their work. This is in part due to the drive to and from work. If you are trying to recruit the best talent in a populated area such as Seattle, requiring the recruit to come into the office daily is a big detractor. Why would a top tiered talent take a company that requires to be in the office over a company that offers flexibility? They wouldn’t.

I completely get those that want or need an office to be productive. I am one of them. I like the change in scenery from my home. There are days where I am super productive from home. The ability to have that work-life balance is a game changer. I am happy. I am happy to have the flexibility to go into an office OR go to my home office. If I am happy, that means the company is happy because I am performing for a company that cares.

My point is companies that have the opportunity to adapt to a flexible work environment should do so. Not just to appease the younger workforce but to respect this COVID-19 mutating virus. We are slowly getting vaccinated but herd immunity is not in sight, nor will it be in sight according to the experts. Here is to adapting to save lives and to build a great work environment.

The Toughest Question

What do you want to do? That is the toughest question I have come across. The question is so simple though. How come it is so hard to answer? In this context, I’m not talking about food or an activity. I’m talking about your career. Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years? What trajectory do you want to go? I struggle with these questions. I’ll give you a glimpse into why I struggle with these types of questions. Maybe it will spark something in you reading this or in me when I’m writing this. That is the beauty of writing, isn’t it?

Growing up in a broken home, those of you that can relate know what I’m talking about, I didn’t have the luxury of thinking about what I wanted to do. I needed to keep my head above water. At 15, I decided to leave my drug-infested home. I Needed to get a job to support myself. I don’t like taking handouts. Still don’t. Fast forward a bit, I decided to go to the military where I was told what to do and how to do it. You give me an order and I’ll get it done. You give me an order to lead a team, I’ll lead a team. I loved the military. It gave me a sense of family. I made a difference in the World. I got injured in Iraq, which ended my military service. It was a hard reality. After getting out, I needed to support myself while changing careers. I worked different types of odd jobs while utilizing the GI Bill because I needed to.

I’m at a point in my career where I have the option to WANT. But what do I want to do? I know I want to keep improving. I want to take the next step forward. Again, what does that mean? For me, I’m learning what makes me happy. It isn’t money. I can care less about how much I’m making. Having said that, I know my worth. What makes me happy is making a difference. Why do you think I’ve been in the Air Force and then Senior Living? I don’t like to be stagnant. If I’m not learning or improving, I’m not living. I still haven’t answered this question in detail though. The way I’m attacking this question is keep learning about myself. We all have that feeling in our heart when we know what is right and what is wrong regarding career paths. Some of us ignore it but deep down we know. I suggest taking a trip to your past. You might look back and start putting 2 and 2 together. There is no better teacher than time.

Knowing what you want to do is tough to answer. Sometimes, you might need to keep plowing through this adventure we call life in order to get to the point where we can answer that question. Once you have that answer, we go back on that journey to answer the next “what do you want to do” question. For me, as long as I’m helping others and making an impact, I’m in my happy place.

Remember Her Name

Amanda Gorman. Amanda Gorman. Remember her name. On January 20th, 2021, Amanda Gorman captivated the Nation at President Biden’s Inauguration. Amanda Gorman showed ALL of us the beauty of poetry. It is what we needed as a country. We didn’t ask for it. We didn’t deserve it. We needed it! It wasn’t just her words…It was her performance. Her body language, her tone, the way she used her facial expressions and hands.

After learning a little more about Amanda Gorman through her interviews today, I am MORE captivated than before. Her story is just beginning but it is so relatable. She is 22 years old, raised by a single mother, grew up with a speech impediment. She overcame a lot to get where she is today. So much respect for her. As someone that has also overcame challenges along with raised by a single mother, I know it isn’t easy. Amanda will go down as our generations Maya Angelou. I am ok with this! We need more poets to give us hope, to give us perspective, to educate us in areas we are not comfortable with. Amanda Gorman. You are a super nova. I will not forget your name and I don’t think many people will. Here is a one of my favorite lines in her poem. So powerful.

If we’re to live up to our own time
Then victory won’t lie in the blade
But in all the bridges we’ve made
That is the promise to glade
The hill we climb
If only we dare
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it’s the past we step into
and how we repair it

Amanda Gorman. You have a fan for life in me. I am going to make it a goal to follow your work. I have a good feeling we haven’t seen the last of you. Keep inspiring.

2021 Mariner Season!

Baseball is back! I can’t think of a Mariner season in the last 15 years that I was more excited about than this year. If the 2020 season was any indication, we are on an upward trajectory. Something that hasn’t been said in some time. We did have a few seasons in 2017 and 2018 where it literally came down to the last game of the season and it was out of our control. For the past 20 years…that is TWENTY with a capital T, we have been in a state of denial or impatience. We wanted our cake and eat it to. It felt like we were career gamblers. We kept cashing in our prized chips for a hand that COULD get us big money (a playoff berth). No matter how many times we lost, the desire was there. I give you Carlos Silva, Chone Figgins, Ritchie Sexton, I’ll even throw in Robbie Cano. Some of those years, we actually drafted fairly well. Who wouldn’t want Dustin Ackley. The best collegiate player out there. The big problem wasn’t drafting the players, it was developing them. Instead of developing our young talent, we broke them. I am convinced Dustin’s career would be much different if he would have stayed in the minors at least one full AAA season. I bring this all up because that is not what we are seeing today with Jerry Dipoto and the team he pulled together.

Why do I have an optimistic view this year? There are many views I am taking. Number 1, the AL West outlook is changing. Houston has a few strikes against them to predict a downward trend. They can’t cheat any longer for starters. Their top talent are leaving the scene of the crime. Springer is likely headed to Toronto. Who knows about Verlander. Altuve truly looks like someone that needed additional assistance if you know what I mean. They still are going to be tough due to their bullpen and pitching staff. LA Angels are just banking on veteran swag. I feel for Trout. They actually remind me of the Mariners in the mid 00s. Texas Rangers are in a rebuild mode. Let’s see if they go full rebuild or modifications only. Oakland I think will carry this division until the Mariners come up. You can see AL West teams are trending down or staying steady where the Mariners are coming off of a season that was strategic. We got to see our key talent get some important MLB experience.

How do I think the Mariners will fare this year? To be honest, barring major injury, I think you will see the Mariners solidify the 2nd wild card spot. This is going to be an exciting year. We will see Jarred Kelenic make his debut. We will see Logan Gilbert turn into the star we all hope. I also think we will see the last of Kyle Seager in a Mariner uniform. I love Seager. I hope he stays this season. If we can get some good talent for him though, I’m all for it.

My one hope for this upcoming season is that us fans can be at the ball park to root, root, root for the Mariners. Let’s all stay safe, get vaccinated, and enjoy the great game of baseball. Go Mariners!

COVID19 Vaccine Update

It has been over 24 hours since I got my Moderna Vaccine shot. Overall, I feel great. No side effects so far. I will say, my arm is pretty tender where they injected me. According to Moderna, the 1st shot should get you roughly 52% immunity after a few weeks. The 2nd shot is the real life saver. After a few weeks following the 2nd shot, it should boost up to 90% or higher immunity. That sounds great to me! I am so grateful to the men and women working these vaccination sites. The process was so smooth and painless. I’m seeing some of the videos of other vaccination sites such as the Disneyland site. Kudos to all involved. To plan and coordinate for thousands of people per day is no small feat. Yes, there are going to be long wait times but from what I’m reading, waiting an hour and a half is well worth the wait. If you are assisting with the vaccinations or testing and you are reading this, Thank You! I don’t expect to have any crazy symptoms moving forward but if I do, I’ll post them here.

1st COVID-19 Shot

Today has been a historic day. The obvious news of the 2nd impeachment of our President. The not-so-obvious is the COVID-19 vaccine distribution. I had the opportunity to get my first dose of the Moderna vaccine today! I work in the senior living industry. The excitement of hope is overwhelming. The hope that we can get our senior living residents safe and back to a sense of normalcy. As I’m writing, our communities are getting vaccinated. We aren’t out of the woods but its a great start to 2021 to end this pandemic.

As far as any side effects, I’ll be updated my experience every day. So far, I feel great. It feels very similar to any flu shot I’ve received in the past. My arm is a bit tender but that is about it. If you have the opportunity to get the vaccine, please do. If not for yourself, please do it for those around you. I understand the hesitancy but trust your medical community. The medical community care about health…not politics.

Some people are built different

You hear this statement quite often when you are watching sports, in particular. Some people are built different. DeVonta Adams, WR from Alabama is built different than other WRs in college football. I think he is gifted for sure and will go down as one of the best WRs in college football. Is he built different? Physically, nope. I think its more than that. I honestly believe anyone can be as good as the next person. It sounds cliché but there is a reason for it. You can do anything you put your mind to. Some times, it’s not about the physical attributes that sets you apart. That certainly plays a part in the whole picture. Let’s take Tom Brady for an example. I sports-hate Tom Brady. I still think he is one of the greatest QBs of all time…I still sports-hate him for what he did to my Seahawks. Anyway, Tom Brady wasn’t the most gifted athlete. He wasn’t even a starter in college until his 3rd year. What sets him apart from others? He has a drive inside him that not many have. He understood at an early age that he wasn’t the most athletic but he can supplement that with hard work. The secret to winning a competition is hard work, consistency, and repetition. The one thing I’d say to DeVonta Adams and other talented draft picks is stay humble and prove every day that you are the best.

This concept is not just in sports. You see it in the workforce. You have some people that were “given” the opportunity such as family or close friends; not unlike those who have pure talent in sports. They are protected assets. They didn’t necessarily have to grind to move up but know the right people. Then you have those who have to grind every day just to gain an inch. I’m looking at those in poverty and women. The moment those people get in a position they worked so hard to get to, you won’t find a harder working individual. Part of the reason is because in their mind, they aren’t supposed to be there statistically. Once you’ve been at the bottom and you climb your way out, there is no way you are going back. I’ll take anyone that has seen bottom over someone who was given the opportunity. So do you think people are built different? I think they journey defines the person. The beauty of a journey is that there is always opportunity to take a different path.

Talking to Strangers

If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading a Malcolm Gladwell book, please do yourself a favor. Historically, I have not been an avid reader. My eyes tend to get really heavy after a few chapters. I first read Outliers by Gladwell a while back. Ever since I finished that book, I was hooked by his writing style. During this pandemic, I needed to get my eyes off of social media and the news cycles. I came across Talking to Strangers at a local book store (they still exist!). This book got me thinking from the first chapter.

Gladwell takes us through history depicting ways we, as human-beings, perceive others we do not know. This is so fascinating. Think about some of the more known stories such as Neville Chamberlain’s relationship with Adolf Hitler. Because he had the opportunity to look Hitler in the eye and share a drink with him, Chamberlain thought he had knowledge the rest of the World didn’t. In the end, his relationship actually blinded him. As Gladwell cleverly stated, we tend to “default to truth” rather than facts.

I highly recommend reading Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell. It is one of the first books that I got “lost” in. I rarely go more than 10 pages without taking a break. I got through over 40 pages in one sitting. To others, that may be standard procedure. To me, that is a HUGE feat.

Working on your mental game

“Be water, my friend.” This is the single best quote I have ever hear. If you haven’t heard the full quote from Bruce Lee, take a look here. Why is this so important? Your mental game is just as, if not more important than your physical mentality. It’s always great to eat right and get your exercise but working on your mind can change your whole life. Over 40% of adults have experienced some sort of mental health event during these 8 to 10 months of the pandemic. That is scary! Unfortunately, we have many factors to blame. Social Media and isolation are two big factors. The way I interpret Bruce Lee’s quote is that we need to adapt to our surroundings and situations. “Empty your mind. Be formless. Be Shapeless like water.”

One thing I have practiced since I got out of the military was self-talk. As silly as it sounds, I am my own hype-man. Every morning I tell myself, “today is going to be a great day.” “You are going to do great things.” “I dare you to be sub-standard.” That one is a personal favorite. My old military training instructor would always say this. Bad things would come if we are sub-standard. The more I practice this, the more my subconscious believe it. I am essentially tricking myself into having a great day even if it isn’t on the outside. Next time you are in front of a mirror, look yourself in the eyes and just smile. Smile nice and big. Smile so big it makes you laugh on how ridiculous you look. The motion of smiling releases those important happy endorphins your body needs. I think we can all use some happy endorphins this year.