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When the moment is right…

Sometimes it takes a while to get going.

On projects, chores, dissertations, etc.

And sometimes, the moment is just right, and with a spurt of energy, you create, complete, and chart out the next steps over a few hours and a few cups of coffee.

All before the kids awoke from their summer slumber.

The hard part, of course, is to keep going.

One step at a time, a few more research articles and chapters, and making sure you’ve read to exhaustion.

This note is more for myself than anything. Maybe it will help you in some way as you work on your list. Best of luck, and keep going!

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No one has a perfect week.

No one has a perfect week. Or a perfect day, for that matter.

What matters is the long haul.

The “keep going even though it’s a bit difficult.”

The drive to get it done.

An example:

Last weekend I competed at the national level in pistol shooting. It was a Friday-Sunday match, with 6-7 stages each day, and my squad was slated for AM, PM, and AM… not ideal. And what made it worse, the weather called for rain.

It rained all day Friday. And we started on the longer “field” stages with 14-16 targets, multiple steel engagements, and shots out to 25 yards.

It’s a competition, all timed, and the pressure’s on. I had a rough time getting started with good hits and missed quite a few of the longer shots due to moving too fast, being nervous, and wanting to perform.

Needless to say, Friday’s performance was rough. And my shooting partner got DQ’d after three stages for a safety violation. Bummer.

I spent the rest of that afternoon and that night getting my head right. I prepared for the next day of shooting. I imagined it couldn’t get any worse, right?

Correct.

Saturday saw seven medium stages (my favorite), and I performed at my career best. I had stage placements at 48th, 73rd, and 98th out of 500 shooters. So I was pleased as punch!

Lots of great shooters were there. Professional shooting teams from the Army, Marine Corps, and Secret Service. Sig Sauerโ€™s whole team and Team Beretta were all there. They are all professionals.

For some of those stages, I beat even the best. Luck, perhaps? Or just pulling out all the stops and performing at 100%?

It’s hard to tell. But I’m better than average.

Overall, I finished up in 245th place of 500. Sure, you say, what a mediocre placement… I think of it as being in the top 250 nationwide! And that’s with a few bad stages…

Doing anything over time is never perfect all the time. You’ll have some ups and downs. You’ll have just as many bad stages in the match of your life as you’ll have good ones. And every once in a while, you’ll beat the odds and kick it into high gear!

This is the second time I have competed in a sport at the national level. At 44, I’m not quite sure what’s happening yet, but it’s certainly something to write down for the storybooks. The other sport is orienteering. Both are individual performance sports.

It’s just you, your gear, and your skills. Alone. On the range or in the woods. You’ll be alright if you make it out of the woods in one piece and point the gun in the right direction. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The next time you have a bad day at work, a tough time at home, or something doesn’t go your way the first time, dust yourself off and try it again. Keep going. Line up your compass in a new direction, and take another shot at it. You’ll hit the right mark sooner or later…

Here’s to next week and your next project.

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So far…

“Did you have a nice summer?”

That’s the question I get when staff comes back in August.

“Sure,” I say.

It’s mid-June.

So far I’ve set up a district-wide phone system (new vendor, new handsets, new extension schema, etc.), presented at a conference, and we’ve ripped up all the asphalt around one of our school buildings.

So, yeah, so far…it’s been productive.


This coming weekend I’m competing in a 3-day national pistol match.

Next up is the dissertation proposal.

Wait. I should have said “vacation.” Or are those things the same? We’re about to find out.

Summer is just a way to keep track of time when it’s a bit warmer. The summer-equals-weeks-off-from-work is over… There’s always more to do. More projects, more challenges.

More stuff to get excited about.

I hate being bored.

So far, it’s been a nice summer.

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Breathing Room.

Breathing Room. A short story of summertime.

In the bustling town of Meadowbrook, nestled in the heart of a vibrant school district, the arrival of summer marked a special time for many.

As the final bell rang, signaling the end of another academic year, the hallways emptied and the classrooms fell silent.

Students rejoiced, looking forward to the well-deserved break from instruction and education. However, for a dedicated group of individuals, the summer months were anything but a vacation.

They were the unsung heroes, the custodians and maintenance workers who breathed life into the school facilities and grounds during this annual respite.

As the last school buses disappeared into the distance, the facilities team led by Mr. Williams, the head custodian, sprung into action. They knew that the summer months provided a precious opportunity to carry out essential maintenance tasks that were difficult to accomplish during the bustling school year.

The transformation of the learning environment began.

Their first mission was to assess the condition of every classroom, hallway, and common area. With meticulous attention to detail, they inspected each nook and cranny, taking note of any repairs, damages, or general wear and tear.

The team developed a comprehensive plan to tackle each issue systematically, ensuring that the school would be in pristine condition come fall.

With paintbrushes and rollers in hand, they embarked on a painting spree, breathing new life into faded walls and chipped surfaces. Colors were carefully selected to create an atmosphere conducive to learning, and the once dull corridors transformed into vibrant, inviting spaces.

The team took great pride in their work, knowing that the aesthetics of the environment played a vital role in the overall educational experience.

Simultaneously, outside, the grounds crew led by Mrs. Rodriguez, the landscape supervisor, worked tirelessly to rejuvenate the outdoor spaces. They meticulously manicured the lawns, ensuring each blade of grass was perfectly trimmed.

Flower beds were weeded, replanted, and burst into bloom with vibrant colors. The playground equipment received a thorough inspection, and any necessary repairs were swiftly addressed to guarantee the safety of the students.

But it wasn’t just about making things look good.

The facilities team went beyond mere aesthetics. They delved into the intricate systems that kept the school running smoothly. They checked the HVAC systems, conducting preventive maintenance to guarantee optimal temperature control for the students’ return.

The electrical and plumbing systems were carefully examined, identifying and addressing any issues to prevent potential disruptions during the upcoming academic year.

Throughout the summer, the days were long and arduous for the custodial and maintenance staff. Their dedication was unwavering as they painted, repaired, reshaped, restored, and reconditioned the spaces in which learning took place.

Despite the physical demands of their work, they knew the impact it would have on the students and staff who would return to a clean, safe, and inspiring environment.

As the days grew shorter and summer neared its end, the facilities team stood back, admiring their collective efforts. The school, once tired and worn from a year’s worth of activity, now gleamed with renewed vitality.

Each room was a testament to their hard work and dedication, a space where young minds would be inspired, nurtured, and challenged.

Finally, the day arrived when the school doors swung open once again, and the staff and students returned. Smiles and expressions of awe filled their faces as they stepped into an environment that surpassed their expectations.

The custodial and maintenance staff, tired but content, observed from the sidelines, knowing they had played an indispensable role in creating a vibrant and conducive learning atmosphere.

As the school year progressed, the custodial and maintenance staff quietly went about their duties, ensuring the ongoing upkeep of the facilities.

But they carried with them the knowledge that the summer months were their breathing room, their chance to shape the physical environment.

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Simple. Syrup.

I bet you have one of those fizzy machines that make sparkling water. And I bet you add all kinds of stuff to it to make it taste like stuff you buy at the store.

Know what people like even better?

Fresh citrus, not from concentrate.

Here’s how to make some of your own additives and a recipe for a killer lemonade.

Simple Syrup (about 2 cups)

2 cups fresh, filtered water
1 cup white sugar
juice from 1 lemon
juice from 2 limes

Combine, stir over some heat to dissolve the sugar. You’ve made a syrup. Congrats!

Now, decant into some sort of glass bottle, and store in the fridge. Don’t worry about how long it might last. It won’t. You’ll need to make more soon.

Lemonade

Fill a tall glass with ice. Add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of your syrup. Top with some carbonated water from your fizzle maker. Stir. Enjoy!

It’s summer. I bet you can make strawberry syrup, too. Or one that features mint or rosemary. You might even add a little gin to your glass…

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Stop yelling.

When you’re yelling at others and expect compliance, you’re so far up Shit’s Creek that you won’t even recognize why people aren’t doing what you say.

You’ve already lost the battle when you yell in anger or frustration. No one’s listening. Why waste your time? Or their’s?

If you can’t send a message in a measured tone of voice, don’t send it at all. Take a breath. Use a different strategy. Refocus. Try again.

Calm, cool, and collected wins the day. And hearts. And minds.

Only lunatics use yelling as a tool to communicate. No one follows a lunatic.


When your favorite team wins, you can yell all you want. That’s a different kind of yelling. But you knew that already!

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Are you ready?

Are you ready for what comes next?

Of course, you’re not. No one is.

But.

Are you preparing for what’s next?

Yes.

And that’s the key to forward progress. Prepare, adjust, move.

Again. Repeat.

The cycle of preparing, evaluating, tuning, tweaking, and making new plans never ends. It’s hard work. It’s not for everyone.

Life isn’t set in stone. There’s no predetermined path. You have to make it, walk it, and be ready to rumble in the jungle when a tiger appears.

Let’s hope you packed the proper tools.

Enjoy your journey. Prepare accordingly.

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Something about a bus…

I got my CDL (Commercial Driver License) in 1998, shortly after graduating from high school. I was hired at Kent State’s Campus Bus Service, and drove as a student all four years of undergrad college.

No doubt, one of the best part-time jobs available at the time, and with an employer who really understood the “student first” mentality. “Got a final to take? No problem. We’ll reschedule your shift.”

Driving a bus is not only rewarding in so many ways, it grants you entry into the world of professional drivers. A different crowd, to be sure, bus drivers and truck drivers speak a different language, get up earlier than you each morning, and know what it’s like to scrape the windshield in zero-degree temps before heading out on the route.

It’s a rough but rewarding job. And physically demanding, too. Maneuvering a bus takes skill, stamina, and eye-hand-foot-other-hand coordination of a different kind.

Bus drivers, particularly school bus drivers, know how to read the road, and operate their signals, brakes, levers, and buttons – all while driving in the dark, and with an extremely high safety record.

Driving a bus stays with you in your core, and ever since I started doing laps on the Campus Loop in a Gillig Phantom back in the day, I’ve been connected somehow to the profession. In my last year at Kent, I subbed for Stow and added my school bus endorsement.

Now I arrange regional ROAD-E-Os for drivers all over Northeast Ohio, flip buses on their side for fire training, and speak at conferences about transportation stuff.

I tell this story when people want to know…

When I started working in my current district, I “made the mistake” of letting the Superintendent know I had a CDL. When the Transportation Department needed leadership, I was chosen to pick up the pieces, and get it running right.

I drove plenty during that time – as a substitute when a drivers called off, taking athletic teams to games, and so on. I quickly learned, and got pretty good at, the office stuff, too.

Of course, it wasn’t a mistake. Just a new challenge. A new door to opportunity.

Routing, student management, state reports, inventory, fuel treatment, HR stuff, union grievances, driver development, capital expenditures, and so on… it’s certainly not a dance on roses, and it’s not glorious. It’s early mornings, late afternoons, and weekend coverage 24/7.

School bus drivers typically work multiple jobs, drive as much as they can, and do it all for little pay and no recognition. “How do the kids get to school?” I ask teachers all the time. “Not sure…”

In the past few years, I’ve started advocating at the state level, too, for our public school bus drivers. I’ve been active with the Ohio School Boards Association and hold a Director at Large seat with the Ohio Association for Pupil Transportation.

Sharing the message with others about what happens in the bus garage at 5 AM is no small task. School transportation is often treated as its own entity, tucked away on an island in the middle of nowhere in a school district or outsourced altogether.

Now, our Transportation department reports to me, and I work with a wonderful staff there that makes the day-to-day operations run as smoothly as ever. Even better, some might say, and I agree. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Our team connects with our principals and teachers like never before, truly partnering in student management and discipline issues, work with parents to resolve disputes, and accommodates for student needs each day in a way no one thought possible. We can always do more, and are always looking to improve. It’s a good place to be.

I can now leverage our drive team with other teams on campus to create experiences for our students, staff, and community members. Need a field trip with bagged lunches to-go? No problem…

At the heart of this operation lies our people.

You want something done with precision and skill on a rainy Saturday morning in the cold? Call a school bus driver. They’ll show up. They’ll get you where you need. Every time. On-time.

This year I’ve held a CDL for 25 years. I’ve driven thousands of hours (no joke) in Class B vehicles – the Gillig Phantom, MCI Coach Buses, and Bluebird, IC, and Thomas school buses. I’ve driven box trucks, the Army’s HMMWV, deuce-and-a-half, 5-ton, Bradley Fighting Vehicle, and yes, an M1 Tank… what’s next?

Once you can take the largest vehicle on the street around town safely, there’s nothing that can stop you. Literally.

I’ll never forget CJ screaming, “Are you sure it’s gonna fit!?” as we approached a small bridge on an even smaller country road somewhere in Portage County while on a bus tour with me. “I guess we’re about to find out!” I shouted back over the roaring diesel engine.

Interested? We’re always hiring. I’ll train you, too!

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I’m sorry.

Just say I’m sorry
It’s not the hardest thing to do
Just say you’re wrong sometimes
And I’d believe you ’cause I love you
Just say I’m sorry

Songwriters: Alicia Moore / Christopher Alvin Stapleton

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry life is tough.
I’m sorry you’re having a hard time right now.

I’m sorry your work sucks.
I’m sorry your boss is difficult to deal with.

I’m sorry your employees are cranky.
I’m sorry it’s hard to get things done.

I’m sorry there’s nothing you can do.
I’m sorry you won’t help.

I’m sorry the project is behind schedule.
I’m sorry to be out of energy.

I’m sorry the world is a difficult place to be.
I’m sorry you have to grow up in a world full of hate, distrust, fear, and greed.

I’m sorry, but you have to do it.
I’m sorry, it’s going to hurt.

I’m sorry that I’m sorry.
I’m sorry it wasn’t different.

There, I said it.
I’m not sorry I did.

I’m sorry I didn’t say it sooner.
I’m sorry you think I didn’t mean it.

You don’t have to feel sorry about it.
It’s ok if we’re different.

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Change of taste?

As we grow older, our tastes and preferences change, right?

Never liked beer? Now you do… even IPAs!

Didn’t care for social settings, and now you cruise a hotel ballroom during a cocktail reception like a pro?

Used to love drama, high energy, and now you’re more of a “latte in the morning person”? Sweet, to salty & bitter. Just like my mood sometimes…

Yes.

Our taste and preference changes as we go. From sweet to salty. From warm to cold. From “let’s go!” to “let me ask some questions…”

And that’s ok.

Think about what got you to where you are today. Those steps influenced you somehow, and of course, you’ll experience change just by doing what you do. Everyone around you changes, too. You have to react, realign, and retool.

You were probably told as a kid that starting the day with a hearty breakfast was the right way to go. And now it bothers your stomach, and you wait until noon. Some call that intermittent fasting. I call it a new normal. For me. And for the record, it’s different when it’s not a workday.

No rush. No deadlines. Just coffee and toast.

Embrace change.

Embrace your new preferences. And stand up to those around you holding on to levels of attachment that aren’t healthy for anyone. Be proud of the new you.

And guess what?

You get a new version of yourself each day. It’s up to you how you present it to the world, and how you utilize the latest update.

Wanna drive change faster? Try something new today… Could be a new idea, a new experience, or a new topping for your toast!