It has been an interesting few days. It seems I say those words often. On Saturday, I left Iowa for our new Florida home but this time I was alone and not on vacation. I had several purposes of this trip. I wanted to determine how well I would function from this location - for my home life, for work, and, as important, being alone without a true support system and all the pressing things on our acerage a mere 1,200 miles away. No lawn to mow; someone does that here. No garden to tend, there are stores where you BUY vegetables. No vineyard but there are a number of large liquor stores close. No pond - but outside my window is the Gulf of Mexico so seems to be a fair trade off. There is nothing here that is screaming for my attention unless I answer the phone.
I have allowed my life to be a constant stream of some type of communication. If my phone isn't ringing or buzzing, then a text is coming in. If I am not texting on one of three differnt apps, I am snapchatting someone a funny situation. If I am not snap chatting, I am e-mailing on one of several differnt e-mails or skyping. It is pretty crazy, it stresses me and will kill me if I allow it to continue. One thing about it, no matter where you are, people can get you and they have no idea of your location or what you are doing when the communication comes to you. Again, I am in control but, like most, I have allowed it to take a very big piece of my life.
So, I am in SW Florida to detox and get my mind straight. At this point, three quarters of the way in, it has helped but the hard work lays ahead of me. I am a great planner and good at thinking through things when I focus on them and invest the time. I am far from a great executer and, frankly, that is what counts the most.
So What have I learned?
About the place; this area:
I now know why they call this the rainy season. If you like thunderstorms, this is your place. Thunderstorms were not only invented here, this is where they are all made. I mean big, loud, scary thypes of thunderstorms that come out of nowhere and they are gone almost as quickly. In the summer, you need to be fully aware of how far you are from shelter. I was caught yesterday, on a beach, a long distance from my car when a thunderstorm came up and I was locked into pretty deep thought. I looked to the Gulf and saw a black cloud and a bolt of lightning came out of it with thunder immediately behind and it that caused me to jump a little. I turned around and quickly headed back but was caught in a dangerous position - exposed, soaked, and the highest point between the clouds and lots of beach. It was dangerous.
In the off-season, this place operates as a normal 700,000 people area - all the stores you can imagine are available, people are friendly but they keep moving, there is a fair share of older or slower moving people so you either give them space to operate or get irratated. Your choice. If they aren't going 15 in a 25 mph zone, they pull smack infront of you or they ignore the turning lane and then stop in the middle of traffic without a blinker. It is part of life here.
I learned how to manage the SW Florida heat and schedule walks around it, I learned you better not plan on walks early and late because mother nature is in control of that not you. I learned the sunsets here are like no other place (Key West-like) I have lived.
What have I learned about myself? Plenty. I learned how to peel potatoes with a knife (no potato peeler!), I learned how to make a latte without a Italian Esspresso Maker (mine died), I learned how to make potato salad, and I am learning how to control portions when I make a salad. Overall I have learned how to function without restaurants and bars to feed and entertain me. Honestly, it is a good feeling.
Down deep inside me, I have conducted a self inspection and not as happy about what I found as I should be. Recently I have started a charge to change things as I felt I was on the wrong path. I have gained but still have so far to go. I am trying to be a better communicator but need to focus on voice and face-to-face rather than some other two dimensional form.
I was in a customer's office the other day and they had a quote written on their white board that struck me
To Whom Much is Given, Much is Expected.
I often think about and have written about how lucky I am. I have been given so much. The quote grounds me in the understanding that, yes, I am blessed but with that comes responsibility. Responsibility to give back as well as put up with more "tests" than most endure.
- I need to focus hard on our kids, parents, and my wife
- I need to be softer, more tolerant, and a better listener in all of my relationships - have fewer answers - more listening
- I need to make decisions based on priorities
- I need to be less selfish
- I need and want to pray daily and have stronger beliefs that guide me
- I need to give more to people who have less - not necessarily monetary - time!
- At work, I need to do a better job of job focus, working on expectations, be more consistent, be a better leader, and be better prepared and look forward further