Do It All!

Wonder Women (& Man)

Molly: I thought I would change it up a bit and ask a question instead of John. One of the instructors in my family nurse practitioner master’s program sent all of the students an email in the first semester reminding us that we are not Wonder Women (all female class). Her point was that we can’t do everything: work, be a student, parent, spouse, friend, etc. and we would have to give something up in order to be successful in the program. I have often thought about that email, especially as a female professional in that I feel do need to be everything. This is further reinforced by the unrealistic portrayals on social media. My secret is being resourceful, delegation, and prioritization (aka not sweating the small stuff). I am open about getting the help I need (it takes a tribe), but I am still everything. My question for my three friends – Do you feel you have to be “everything” and if so, how do you do it?

John: Everything to who, Molly? You? Trish? Jen? Anyone else? Nope. Not anymore. The only respect to me that matters is self-respect. I know who my inner-circle is, I know who I value and who want to be proud of me; and I know who I don’t. We can do everything, we just can’t do it all at once. You always have to give up something, to get something, and some of things that I gave up, were self-loathing, self-doubt and limiting beliefs. If you want to be everything to everyone, you will fail miserably and most importantly, let yourself down. That hurts the worst. I was the world champ of that. I could’ve whipped Tyson in his prime. But realistically, I used to think everyone was watching me, but they are not, they are busy living their own lives. As they should. The only way I am busy worried about everyone else and I am not focusing on what I need to – learning, growing, bettering my skills; worried about me. I have said it once and I will say it a thousand times – when you work on improving yourself, the good things happen, but when you work on improving yourself, then good things always happen. I don’t have to be anything to anyone other than me. And my dog. Because when I come home, no matter what, he will lick my face. He loves me. Kelly loves me but most importantly, I love me.

Jen: No way! I definitely do not feel obligated to do or be everything to everyone. However, I do often feel other people expect me to sometimes. And other times I begrudgingly jump in and take over, because, you know, “me do it better myself…” Last weekend my husband bought some salmon filets to cook. He is not a chef, but he can make food that is totally edible. He’s always had issues with salmon for some reason though (once baked it in >1 inch depth of olive oil, splatter everywhere, never mind the mushiness…). Sunday night I was beat and the two of us were in a silent battle-of-wills waiting to see who was going to cook the fish. He finally walked into the kitchen, and with dramatic snail-like slowness, began taking everything out to cook. I walked in and told him I was exhausted and I was not able to cook or clean up; not something I often say when someone looks like they need help. I suggested maybe we should cook something different. He told me no way, and insisted he had it under control. I left him to it and went upstairs, expecting dinner in 15 or so minutes. About 45 minutes later, I went back downstairs to see what was going on. He had side dishes prepared and already cold again and was staring at the oven holding a pot-holder. I could see the defeat in his face and took the pot-holder away and fish out of the oven. It was still raw! He had the oven on 325 degrees as opposed to broil because, “the package it came in said to do that”. I flipped on broil, made some adjustments and in ten minutes I had everything reheated and the salmon fully done.  This is not meant to be a story about traditional gender roles or to jab at my sweetheart, it just happens to illustrate that my husband lacks experience with salmon broiling. My broader point is that there are times when I have an urge to do things because I am impatient, even when others are willing. So no Molly, I don’t feel I have to be everything, but sometimes I guess I just want to be (or something like that). 😂 

Trish: Molly, I do feel like I have to be “everything”- the one who has it all together, the one to take lead, the one to lean on, the one who is the “wonder woman”! I set such high standards for myself and I am my own worst critic when I realize I don’t have it all together. Just today I realized that I paid my monthly mortgage payment to my car loan holder last month. I use online banking bill pay and the two companies are listed one after the other on the pay to list. Bad news is- I got hit with a nasty late fee on the mortgage and good news is- I will outright own my car next month after I pay the last $479 left on the car loan. This mistake hit me hard mentally. Seriously, how could I have mistaken one company for the other. I’ve made over 48 payments perfectly to each of these companies previously! I pride myself on having it “mostly together” all the time and I don’t make mistakes like this. Today was a great learning lesson to me, that I have to back myself down on trying to be the person who has it all together all of the time and realize that mistakes happen, they can be fixed (sometimes with a nasty late fee attached), we learn, move on, and most importantly, that we breathe through the process and reset. Today, I am pressing the wonder woman reset button and waiting for my next great win and my next mistake.

Originally published Dec 7th, 2018; Four Friends Molly Downhour, Patrician Graham, John Nocero, and Jennifer Rawley

Put Yourself Out There

Originally published on 10/12/18 on LinkedIN; By John R. Nocero, Jennifer Rawley and guest writer Ashley Heath

John: So Molly &Trish are still on the move and should be returning soon. Jen and I haven’t stopped though. We miss them but continue to put ourselves out there, especially with our connections here on LinkedIn. One of those we connected with is Ashley Heath, who is building her network here and contributing with us this week.

“When was the last time you put yourself out there?”

This got the three of us talking: When was the last time you put yourself out there? Like, I mean really, really put yourself out there? I attended a quality conference this week here in North Carolina. Among the myriad of great presentations, there was a chance to network. Usually, I reach out to others at these events, like some sort of glad-hander collecting business cards and introducing myself. This time, I did something different. I just hung back, chilled and let people come to me. It was very counter-intuitive, but it was the right move. It felt more like me. I felt if I could make one or two really good connections, then I had a productive networking experience. I put myself out there by stepping outside my comfort zone, staying quiet, but intentionally pushing my limits and that means I am growing closer to who I want to be. Letting others talk first is very scary. It is new, unchartered unfamiliar territory for me. But that is what forces me to grow, and when I did have interactions, , I was vulnerable, opened up and let others get to know me. I felt scared. And magnificent.

Ashley & Jen: When was the last time you put your full self out there? Any repercussions?

Ashley: I am not like John at all. I want others to talk first. I’m a person who stays fairly quiet in professional and networking settings. I don’t put myself out there, and even thinking about stepping outside of my comfort zone gives me anxiety. I have been on a job search for three years now, so I’ve had to put myself out there more in these past three years than ever. I’ve applied for roughly 70 jobs and have interviewed nine times, creating PowerPoints, scope of work plans, giving presentations, and I have yet to land a new role. Anyone who has gone through a similar experience knows how disheartening it is to work hard, be yourself, and truly put yourself out there to a world of strangers in hopes that they will accept you, just to be denied in the end. Still, I don’t give up, and I continue to put myself out there. I recently connected with John on LinkedIn and he encouraged me to try something new: put myself out there via LinkedIn to build my network. Since this was something I hadn’t tried before, I thought, “what the heck?” and went for it, full throttle. I began writing to people who are in roles I’m applying for or aspire to be in, I reached out to recruiters, I messaged alumni from my alma mater, and what did I get? Silence. I didn’t get a single reply. Even though it feels like I’m putting myself out there time after time and failing, I have learned a lot through this process. First and foremost, I’ve learned how to put myself out there and I have proven to myself that I can do it, even if it is frightening at first. I’ve discovered that there are several ways a person can put themselves out there, and I have accepted the fact that it isn’t always going to work out in the end. Most importantly, I’ve become more resilient, I’m no longer afraid to put myself out there, and I know that since I am learning from this experience, I haven’t failed at all.

Jen: I feel like I ‘throw myself out there’ in some way almost every day. I usually say I am ‘winging it’ and realize now that’s pretty much what I am doing. Thinking about a recent time I did this that was significant I keep coming back to writing. I have always wanted to write more, and it took meeting John for me to put myself out there more than ever before. I remember our first piece a few months ago, I sent him back what I thought was a draft and he published it right away! I cringed typo anyone?!?

Over time, it has gotten easier and easier and while typos still bother me, I have accepted them for sake of forward progress. This is out of my comfort zone, but it has allowed me to lower my stress and worry associated with writing. More recently, I took an even bigger leap and published my own piece. It was totally on a whim and emotionally driven from the experience. I hit ‘publish’ and snapped my computer shut before I had a chance to renege. It felt amazing! I am grateful for the experience and joy this has brought to my life. Everyone should find at least one thing today that they can do to move out of their comfort zone. Worst case, you will learn something new, even if it’s learning what won’t work for you. More times than not, I think you will find a greater freedom and renewed sense of purpose.

Dealing With Change

By John R. Nocero, Jennifer Rawley, Molly Downhour and Patricia Graham

John: I’m a fixed person. I like what I like when I like it. I get up at 4:59am. I am in my office by 6am. I leave by 6pm. At the gym, by 6:30, vigorous workout pre-planned from the night before. I am home by 7:15, for dinner, watch the Yankees, and then make my lunch for the next day. Saturday is similar to Sunday, with pre-planned routines. Needless to say, I love my rigidity. This goes for the majority of my life. I like new things, but when I am ready for them. My question to my other three friends is, how do you deal with change?

“How do you deal with change?”

Jen: Dealing with change is eventually inevitable – we can either fight or slowly lose, or we can accept it and adjust accordingly. As human beings, we are constantly changing, even the most stubborn of us are doing it at a molecular level. Some changes are optional, such as electing to take a new job. Some are not, like when we are forced out of a job. At the core, resistance to change is rooted in fear. Fear of the known, such as knowing chemo is required to treat a cancer; or fear of the unknown, such as not knowing where you will live after an eviction. These fears precipitate the ultimate sense of a loss of control, which can be the hardest part for many of us to overcome, myself included.  Imagine for a moment a ballerina performing turns- they can be any type of turn, but I like pirouettes and fouettes best, so I think of those. (If you can’t imagine or haven’t seen these, click here to see- starts at 00:40).

This ballerina is in a constant changing motion, but she controls it in one big way (yes, I realize there are dozens of other controls in play, just indulge me for a minute). Notice her eyes are focused on a single place and it’s not until most of her body is already turned that she whips her head around too and refocuses. She repeats this each time because she is trained to find the same constant point each turn. If she were to let her head spin around at the speed of her legs, she would quickly lose balance and fall out of the turn. Having danced as a girl, I recall that missing my focal point for even a single turn could render me unable to find it again, leaving me dizzy and in the floor. This example illustrates how I navigate change, by exerting control over other areas of my life to stay grounded. I remind myself of anything that I can control, even something small, like choosing what I eat. By doing this, I feel less “out-of-control” and manage thru the changes. If I don’t, I eventually fall flat on my face. Of course, I simply jump up and pretend like it was supposed to happen, relocate my focal point and keep on spinning.

“…there are two types of change; change you choose and change that is forced upon you.”

Molly: I agree that there are two types of change; change you choose and change that is forced upon you. I like change and I recognize I can easily get frustrated with the status quo when I feel strongly there is an opportunity for improvement. I enjoy solving problems rather than applying temporary fixes and I hate waste (especially my time).

When change is forced upon you, I (like a lot of people) try to understand the rationale behind the change. Unfortunately, not all changes can be understood, such as a natural disaster or a terrifying diagnosis. As an oncology nurse, I have had the privilege of seeing so many wonderful people face the life changing diagnosis of cancer with courage and grace. Courage, grace, and determination come after denial, anger, and questions of why me. Supporting my cancer patients through this process gave me great insight on how I want to face change that is thrust upon me. I let myself experience the emotions as I feel that is a necessary step in determining my path with the change. Then I can decide if I want to fight it, embrace it, or maybe warm up to it.

Trish: Great question, John. This is a very interesting topic. As Jen mentioned, we are constantly changing and the world around us is in constant change. This change occurs with or without our buy-in, and ultimately, it is how we deal with the change that determines whether we are dealing with loss or control.  I like to think of this quote, “Change is a process, not an event.” Somehow, this thought process allows for the element of time. Time to get from Point A to Point B. Some people adjust to change with speed and grace. The speedy graceful people are at Point B smiling and cheering. Other individuals are resistant to change and fight very hard to maintain the current status quo. You can find these individuals still processing the fact that there is a Point B that exists, and heck no, they don’t want to get there at all…let alone get there with speed AND grace! I think I am somewhere in the middle, but more toward the person on the fast road to Point B. Why am I a “somewhat speedy and graceful” change acceptor? I Maybe I don’t like to feel a sense of fear and loss and focusing on the excitement of something new helps me manage the change. The concept of viewing change to be a process and not an event allows individuals time for consideration. This consideration may make a speedy graceful person slow down and discover challenges that need addressing before getting to Point B that they otherwise may have missed. Viewing change to be a process and not an event may allow a resister time to consider opportunities rather than be steadfast in opposition. The next time I am faced with change and feel like I am on the too speedy graceful side of the bell curve or I am too far to the resistant side, I hope to stop, take a breath, recognize that the change is a process and not an event and decide the best way to get from Point A to Point B.

Going With the Flo

By: Jennifer Rawley

This past week, many of us have been impacted directly or indirectly by Hurricane Florence. In many professions, including healthcare, this means we must devote extra time and effort to preparation. I work at a specialty hospital in Durham, NC, where forecasts showed we were expected to get substantial rain and winds. Thankfully, the storm is slowly passing by and we seem to have fared well. Grateful as I am, it’s hard not to feel a bit guilty for our luck.  Reports continue to pour in about the immense tragedy that is still unfolding to our south and east. Nonetheless, the preparations and planning that took place, along with the emergency operations implementations, required great effort and teamwork.

In years past, I lived in Florida and have been thru several hurricanes and accompanying emergency operations. I have also managed thru a handful of extreme weather situations since taking my current position, so events like this week are not new for me. However, this is the first time ever that I felt any trepidation and believed there was a real potential for major impact. The eventual path and downgrading has been favorable, but the plans put in motion were the same on the front end.

I first started paying attention to the reports on Friday, September 7th. I didn’t get too excited right away; like I said, it wasn’t my first rodeo. Some of the storms I recall bracing for, helping with disaster relief after, getting hit with, or thanking the heavens I didn’t, include – Floyd, Katrina, Erin, Opal, Bertha, Fran, Irene, Charley, Matthew and Maria. As the details and path of Florence worsened over the weekend, I began mentally preparing. Starting on Monday, the first of several planning calls and meetings began and I left work with my head spinning. I thought about how many times in the past I had been complacent in these situations. As a non-management staff member, I often felt obligated to serve on the “A team” because I wanted to be seen as dependable and helpful. Usually, nothing major resulted weather-wise in our location, and it felt like a let-down of sorts. I was left questioning leadership judgement calls or feeling frustrated that I was required to stay for too long. It’s especially easy to become apathetic when similar scenarios play-out over and over. I’m not proud for feeling this way, but I have to own up to it and recognize others may feel the same.

I knew I couldn’t let my team fall into this type of thinking- I had to do something different. As reports of shortages of food, water, and gas in the area became first-hand experiences, a twinge of anxiety set in. I realized that at best, outcomes of human behavior and panic could make this week a challenge. You can’t put into words what it is like to pass by a dozen gas stations in a major city in this country and not be able to buy gas at any of them until you are faced with it. It doesn’t even seem real, especially when the storm is 5+ days away and you are nowhere near the coast. I started to worry what I would do if people ran out of gas and couldn’t get back and forth to work. Most of us do not live in Durham, we commute in from neighboring cities. (For the record, all our gas and food was replenished by Wednesday and has not been an issue since that I am aware of.) I was up late Monday thinking of how I might get the team engaged. I came up with something – it was super cheesy, but fun, and I hoped it would work.

I grabbed a dry-erase map out of my four-year-old son’s room on my way to the hospital on Tuesday. I printed off a low-quality replica of the Indominus Rex from Jurassic World and cut it out. I taped it to the map and used dry-erase markers to indicate the path towards the NC coast. Down one side I wrote in topics for our emergency operations kickoff meeting- food, supplies, communication, sleeping, etc. Down the other, I created two columns for the A and B teams respectively. The A team stays for the duration of the event and leaves once it is safe. In severe cases, it can be for days on end. The B team stays home during the event, and comes in to relieve A team once it’s safe to do so. Everyone in acute healthcare knows you have to be on a team, it just goes with the job. In my past experience, most people don’t want A team, probably because I’ve worked thru so many hurricanes that end up being uneventful to my hospitals. As such, I was expecting the same from my team.

Under the columns, I dubbed A team the “Stormtroopers” and B team the “Cleanup Crew”. I thought up silly unique code-names for each member of my leadership team and created individual tags to tape on the map. To maintain ultimate suspense, I hid them behind a piece of paper. I also loosely scripted a monologue for the meeting. At the start of leadership meetings, I am usually very nonchalant and conversational. This time was different. The team was silent at first as I rolled out the map and posted it on a corkboard. Everyone laughed when they saw the dinosaur in the middle of the Atlantic with a hurricane symbol across its midsection. With great effort to keep a straight face, and as much dramatic effect as I could muster, I started on my script:

“This is phase one real world, we need to bring everyone in. Operation Flo-Rex is now live. As you can all see from this technologically advanced diagram, the Indominus Flo-Rex is making her way towards us; determined to wreak havoc and leave destruction in her path. As of our most recent reports, she will make landfall around 2am Friday morning near Morehead City and we will likely experience strong winds by Thursday morning. This is a slowdown from yesterday, so she must have had a nap, but could pick up speed again. Our mission is to establish plans to operate this hospital safely regardless of what is to come…”

…”Everyone will now be divided into one of two teams, you are either a stormtrooper or on the cleanup crew. Choose- but choose wisely, as there are pros and cons associated with each. Stormtroopers- here is your showcase: A fantastic adventure awaits you should you choose to bid on team A. For one, you get to be off, or work a short shift, on Wednesday. Then you get to come back to the hospital on Thursday and stay here, potentially for days on end, there’s just no telling. Fortunately, we have lots of goodies to keep you happy; such as the most eclectic selection of edible indulgences ever seen in this office before.  I personally hand picked each item out of shipping containers and boxes this morning at Target, with a few hundred other people…..” and I continued on making it sound enticing, with sarcastic details about hanging out with work friends and sleeping on air mattresses.

“Cleanup crew, here is your showcase: A super boring stretch of days awaits you as you get to work like normal this week, but extra hard, to prepare the hospital and set the stormtroopers up for success. As soon as emergency ops are fully deployed, you get to go home. Hopefully, you loaded up on all the yummy food and drinks like we did here, to get you thru the coming days. Charge your phones before leaving, because you just might lose all your electricity, water, wifi, and other fine things. It will be boring, and in your boredom you can think of your fellow team members having hurricane fun together at work with fully functional generators and running water….” and I went on to ensure it sounded like the lesser fun of the two ‘showcases’.

“Everyone has code names for this operation. If you do not like your code name, or find that you don’t identify with it, you may request a new one.”  More laughter, so I kept going.

I pointed to the two columns and asked who wanted to go first. They had giggled thru my script, but got quiet again. I pointed to my CNO since I knew he would be Team A no matter what, but also because he was supposed to be on vacation starting Saturday. I reached under the paper and pulled out a name and taped it under the first column, “Tango”. Everyone burst out in laughter and he shook his head and said, “touche”, because it’s an inside joke. Hands went up as we ran thru the names and stormtroopers were- Tango, Blue-Pill, Mobilizer, Aggelicious, Chaos-Muffin and Terminator. Cleanup Crew included Socialite, Special-K, Roach, Dar the Great, Puff-Daddy, Terminator and Chaos Muffin. All the names were either self-proclaimed or based on personalities or jobs. Blue-Pill is my pharmacy director whose last name is Blue. Puff-daddy is my respiratory manager- as in “take 2 puffs…” on an inhaler, etc. One of our interim leaders, who travels from Pennsylvania each week didn’t get assigned a team, but she got the name ‘Bug-Out.” Her rental for weeks now has been a cherry-red VW beetle convertible, and she is leaving, so I thought it made sense. I’m not at liberty to explain Tango, and I think Terminator origins would blow my cover, but you get the idea.

All in all- task accomplished in record time. No whining, no excuses, everyone on a team and happy to do it in under ten minutes- total success. After this, we pushed on to the serious conversations around the topics of staffing, shelter, food, drugs, supplies, dialysis, communication, providers, fuel, and others. Over the next four days we planned and executed a textbook emergency operations plan, with laughter and fun, but always with safety as our top priority.

It’s now Saturday, September 15th around 9pm. I am at home, as are most members of my leadership team. We are very lucky- but Flo-Rex continues to downpour on many areas close to us. We have had rain and wind, but for the most part nothing terrible. The A team stuck it out, and just when I asked if a hurricane could possibly move any slower, it dropped from 5 to 3 and then a 2 mph crawl! We were getting very tired, our endurance was up, and not much was happening beyond any other thunderstorm we might experience in a non-tropical fashion. In the end, I consulted with my colleagues at some other area hospitals and based on their input, the weather reports, and the fact that the hospital was running quite smoothly, I made the decision to send the A team home.

I hope they don’t think I made them stay too long, or not long enough. I hope they know I had everyone’s safety in mind- theirs, the other staff, the patients and everyone’s families. I hope that next time- and I know there will be a next time- they rise to the occasion to do what they do best- take care of our patients and each other.

I cannot express enough how proud I am of my team and the effort they have put forth with positive attitudes. I’m also very grateful to be part of a wonderful organization that allows me to be the type of leader my team needs and that supports me every step of the way.

I’m home now, safe and dry, while many of my fellow colleagues are still serving time on their A teams because their B teams can’t get in safely yet. My eight year old daughter, Addysen, is patiently waiting for me to finish typing this. She painted an oil canvas earlier today she titled “The Calm Before the Storm.” She used another painting she found as inspiration because it reminded her of some scenes from the news this week of a calm beach with just a single person on it. Admiring her piece, I realized when we don’t have control over situations, like a storm, we can still stay calm and go with the flo. Even in the areas hardest hit, hospitals are taking care of patients thanks to staff remaining calm and being prepared. It’s what we do, it’s what we will always do.

God bless all those who have or will be impacted by this disaster, our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Originally published on 9/16/2018 on LinkedIN see it here
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After my initial post on LinkedIN things took a sudden turn. Monday September 17th we awoke to a tornado warning in Durham county and within an hour a second one. Thankfully we were all fine here but it was an unexpected jolt. At the risk of sounding cliche, the hurricane week was a breeze compared to the week after, but that’s life.  Thanks to everyone who pulled together to take care of patients and each other during this time.

Coming Out Slingin’

By John R. NoceroJennifer Rawley, Molly Downhour & Patricia Graham

John:    According to Goeke (2018), in the early 1960s, a Manhattan comic book company was on a roll. They had just created a slew of characters that quickly became popular among fans. But when they wanted to create yet another hero, they got stuck. They already created the strongest guy in the world, someone who could fly, and now were thinking, “What else is left?” As they thought about what to do, one writer looked up and saw a fly crawling up the wall. He thought to himself, “Wow, suppose a person had the power to stick to a wall, like an insect.” That writer was Stan Lee, and he created the best superhero Marvel ever made.

Spider-Man does something that no other magic savior can – bring the realm of heroes down to Earth. He’s a teenager in way over his head. If he doesn’t learn fast, he won’t be a very useful guardian. But the more he practices, the more he’s forced to sacrifice his relationships, even his dreams, to do what he needs to. Sound familiar? That’s the pain of anyone trying to accomplish anything meaningful. As a result, Spider-Man is the most relatable superhero of all time. This connection runs deep.

Question for my three friends: What was the time you were in way over your head but came out slingin’?

Jen: This week I had a reminder of a notable time I was in over my head – a home renovation. We sold our mountain home a few days ago, after owning it for almost four years. We purchased the property when it was in a decrepit state following a foreclosure. The house could only have been described as ugly; it had good bones, but that was all. We purchased it for the land it was on- 2.5 acres on the side of a mountain west of Asheville, NC. After diligently searching for months to find something, we were excited to make an offer and turn it into a cozy mountain home. We were also thrilled with the price tag which allowed us freedom to renovate without going bankrupt.

We spent the first several weeks making it safe to sleep in and the four of us stayed in a single bedroom and shared a bathroom for over a month. The kitchen, laundry, living rooms- every space, was completely torn out or otherwise non-functional except the master suite. My husband and I did most of the cosmetic work ourselves and we outsourced electrical, plumbing and dry-walling.  It felt like each time we would gain momentum we would have a setback. We struggled with hired help that would show up for several days and then suddenly disappear. Later on, we would sit on projects waiting for pay day. I made a major mistake with paint- I bought all semi-gloss instead of flat or eggshell and painted two massive living areas with high ceilings before I realized I could almost see my reflection (and every single imperfection) on them. Nothing about the house was square, therefore everything we did had to be modified to correct it. Not a single cabinet, tub, piece of molding, or flooring fit without effort. I worked full-time at the hospital thru it all and I recall many nights working until very late painting, installing floors, grouting and literally putting blood, sweat and tears into our home. We were both exhausted and there were days we could barely move from the work.

After about six months, we were at the point where most of the house was livable and within nine months we had it fully decorated. We left some work for future, specifically a fourth bathroom and the kitchen (which we had cosmetically upgraded but ultimately planned for an overhaul much later). We spent countless hours in the yard, which was much larger than we originally thought and overgrown. Each time we cut the grass, we would mow an extra row outward eventually realizing the property had once been magnificently landscaped. Once finished, we lived happily and comfortably until I had an unexpected job transition about two years ago. We had been undecided about selling it, but ultimately it was too far for a weekend getaway and we had to admit it. We listed it last month and had five offers in the first week.  It was bitter-sweet, but closing on the house, and this chapter of my life, has been amazing. I am so glad we never gave up, that we fought thru the challenges and finished the renovation. Now, we are able to take the hard-earned equity and move on to our next big thing! We don’t know what that will be just yet, but for today, it’s a sense of accomplishment and peace which is more than enough for now….and I think it passes John’s “coming out slingin'” test.

Molly:  Rather than sharing a story about myself, I’m sharing a story of a real super hero who came out slingin’. It was the summer before my senior year in college and I was a nursing extern at a children’s hospital. My patient was a 10 year old little girl, who had be set on fire by her father. I learned in morning report that her mother and brother were killed in the fire. She had already had 10 surgeries by the time she was my patient that day. My assignment was to do her full body dressing change. She had no legs beyond her knees, her arms were webbed for future skin grafts, and she only had one forearm with a few fingers. Her face was badly burned, missing ears, a reconstructed mouth, and only a few patches of hair. I was devastated by her suffering physically and emotionally and overwhelmed with my task. I didn’t know where to begin other than to gather supplies and pre-medicate her for the dressing change. Sensing my struggle, she tells me to start with her legs and work my way up. Her counsel was for me to go slowly, but steady and not to stop. She told me she would cry, but to keep going until I was done. She walked me through the whole thing and was basically taking care of me. Never mind the fact that I was there to take care of her! Once I was finished with the dressing change and had cleaned up, she looked at me and said, “I’m going bowling today, so you better pick out something cute for me to wear”. I was not about to let her down. We agreed on the perfect outfit which included me tying matching bows in her hair. I had always known I wanted to be a nurse, but this brave girl gave me the determination to come out slingin’ just like she did for me that day

Trish:   On somewhat of a whim, I bought myself a motorcycle. I didn’t go small. I bought a never-owned 3-year old, cherry red metallic, all chromed out 1731cc V-twin engine, 650-pound plus beauty that was smiling at me in the dealer showroom. She was beautiful, and she reminded me of my dad.

When I was young, my dad owned a red Honda chromed out motorcycle and he would take me for rides quite frequently. I sat on the back, holding on to him wearing my very own shiny helmet and we would ride and ride. I lost my dad over 7 years ago and not a day goes by that I don’t think of him. He taught me many things, but he didn’t get around to teaching me how to ride a motorcycle.

So, I got this gorgeous beauty in the garage (it was ridden home for me). I bought all the gear and I had to go classy, of course. I bought a shiny black helmet and black patent leather riding boots. I got the gloves, goggles, had a crash bar (uh- I mean, highway bar) installed and I was ready to roll. I studied the motorcycle permit book and passed my test on first go around. I signed up for the State of Georgia DDS beginner motorcycle training class and showed up all pumped up.

I was the only female in a weekend-long class of 10. I figured we’d be in class all day on day 1 and learn to ride on day 2. Nope. Brief introductions and then out to the practice tarmac. Helmet on, boots on, gloves on. Get on the practice bike. I followed along getting the bike started, learning the handlebars, clutch, throttle, and brakes. I was so fine, right up until I had to find the power band on the throttle and go. I realized that I was in way over my head at that point. I was too excited about the thought of riding all this time that I didn’t realize how hard it was to learn!! All 9 guys were already on their return route and I was still at the starting line trying to figure this bike out (a small-size 250cc Honda Rebel!) I was so scared and embarrassed. I had to learn to ride this thing! I had feel close to my dad again, to understand what he meant by the unique feeling it was to ride a motorcycle. The freedom and exhilaration. I was shaking, embarrassed, and scared after stalling the bike for the umpteenth time. Now the 9 guys were on their second to third return route. Despite the trainer’s patience and reassurance, I almost pulled that helmet off and threw down my gloves. But I didn’t. I took a breath, thought of my dad, found that power band, and made my way back and forth on the route. I graduated from the riding portion of the class with only a few points taken off for my slight out-of-bounds figure 8 and one wrong answer on the written test.

I got my official license a week later and came home and took my monster bike out for a 2-hour ride around my development. It was way easier to ride than the trainer bike and I got to feel “that” feeling my dad spoke of. I was way over my head at the time I signed the dotted line and bought that bike and didn’t realize it at the time. When the learning got real, I almost caved, but I came out slingin’! Two-finger throw to those of you who ride…

Originally published 9/28/18 on LinkedIN see it here