Civilian Mentoring Connection

Picture this: a room full of people and you’re waiting on your name to be called to find out who your mentor will be. Spoiler: I was chosen last. But sometimes they save the best for last because I was paired with an incredible woman we’ll call Big Booty Judy (BBJ). Don’t laugh yet. I had spoken to her via phone many times previously and liked her. Turns out she chose me. The rest is history.

Civilian Mentoring Connection (CMC 101) was something I volunteered for knowing it did have a substantial time commitment. Myself and approximately 10 other people would be meeting twice a week for several months, including meeting with our mentor as often as possible outside of these formal gatherings. Luckily, BBJ understands my job and what I do so we had a mutual agreement to get things on the calendar as soon as possible.

…and then we blew stuff up! Small exaggeration. They did visit EOD which I heard was a lot of fun. It’s been rescheduled a few times since so I’m just waiting my turn for the next time. We’ve also discussed workplace communication, email etiquette, TSP (thrift savings plan), and other things I probably slept through. Kidding! I love this stuff.

Big Booty Judy – is actually the nickname for my mentor’s black Corvette. At our first informal get together, she shared her naming convention with me. Somehow I knew then we were meant to be. She has given me much insight into the world of civil service and helped me navigate some tricky setbacks. If you ever have an opportunity for a mentor – get one! Promise. 14 weeks later, my mentor, Stacey, is still one of the best parts of CMC.

The tenants of civilian mentoring connection are Connect, Grow, & Inspire. Indeed it impacted me in each way. Connect – as I’m inherently a people person anyway, connecting with others is kind of my thing. I love being able to connect with people I work with so this opened up many doors. Grow – I learned more about what other squadrons, groups, and work centers do (and how it accomplishes the overall mission). Growth is multifaceted. Inspire – after two personnel spoke on their journey to complete their doctorate programs, it re-solidified my desire to go back to school. As I’ve already shared many times before. It reminded me of my dream and the different avenues to achieve it.

As our graduation day ended and I reconvened with my partner in crime, Heidi, she asked if I intended to complete CMC 102. Then she gave me a knowing smile and stated “I thought you had school! I thought we were taking a break!”, followed by her words “I’ll do it if you are!”

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I ask you –

Does your workplace offer any mentoring opportunities?

Have you ever participated in a program like CMC?

Share with me a recent graduation accomplishment!

Tricky Conversations

“The start of doubt is the ending of trust.”

In financial terms, this means our generosity is directly linked to our ability to believe we have all we need. But money really isn’t ours anyway. Growing up extremely poor meant money was just a pipe dream. I learned its value very quickly. As a result, parts of my brain, I believe, are truly changed in response to a constant fear of living without. Money is a worrisome part of my life – even though I have no need to be worried. My needs are covered.

Photo by Alexander Suhorucov on Pexels.com

Recognizing these 36 years are all I know and I can’t compare it to something longer, the divisiveness in our country is saddening. There aren’t many people I know who can just “be” around others without talk of political affiliation, religion, or world news. I’m not saying these topics aren’t important; I am saying they don’t define a person and I don’t care to label someone because of it. As I recently sat in a room of people who “assumed” a few things about me, (more than assumed, it was crystal clear they intrinsically believed I was just by showing up) many words were being thrown around as commonplace.

My intent was to listen. But when I was referred to as “them”, my unapologetic voice made its presence known. I am a me. Sadly, the person who I was responding to wouldn’t even look me in the eye. Zero acknowledgement. What I believe is not an ideology, as it was stated. An ideology is a belief system that underpins a political or economic theory. Political or economic. Faith (or religion as some may say) is not an ideology. I can clearly state my belief system and why it’s there; therefore, moot point. I believe we were created to protect life, but I also served to protect one’s choice.

Disclaimer: Fully realizing my readers were not there and it’s hard to describe the room dynamics whilst being very protective of the participants, I do my best to be inclusive and respectful. I think my point in sharing this experience here is to say you don’t know what someone is going through or where they’ve been. Conversations in the workplace, especially in the federal government, are tricky right now. Everyone wants to be heard. But, at the end of the day, we all remove whatever uniform we wear and we’re simply us. I stand behind my statement ‘You don’t really know what you’ll do until you’re in that moment.’ Either way, it’s not my right to judge and I’m incredibly thankful for this truth.

Lastly, please do some research on which amendments are which before you embarrass yourself. And…vote! Change starts with you.

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I ask you –

Have you had tough conversations lately?

Are you registered to vote?

Hope you have had a safe and restful weekend!

It Might Be That Time

Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. A few weeks ago, I began the arduous task of searching online for colleges to make my doctorate degree dream a reality. Perhaps it was just an off day because the only thing it did was leave me frustrated and resigned to not fulfilling that dream. I kept finding programs with projected completion dates near the 8 year mark. And the cost? Guess again. Even with tuition assistance, etc., it was beyond me.

Chalkboard = Dinosaur

Fast forward to end of last week when I attended a brief on how to make civilian programs work for you. You, the commoner. 90 mins later, I returned to my office with motivation, a renewed purpose, and some homework. Operation phD! Using TA in conjunction with the GI Bill should result in a reasonably affordable degree in T-minus 3 years. Doable. I might even be able to maintain my sanity and a slight social life. As long as I can write papers while we talk. That’s normal, right?

I’ve chosen a school, a program, and am in the process of finagling funding. Making military service work for me. Honestly, when I joined the Navy, I didn’t think it would be useful for obtaining another degree. For some reason I was under the impression it wouldn’t pay for anything beyond a master’s and since I already had one it wouldn’t pay for a second either. During eval season it was difficult for me to show I was progressing professionally outside of the Navy because my points were already full. So I said I wanted to learn how to whistle. And it did not go over well. My goal is to finish in 3 years or less…I even timed it not to interfere with anyone else who may be graduating. No show-stealing. Even though I didn’t quite get going when I said I would (by the time mini is 5 – she’s now 6), this is a valid goal no matter her age. Or mine. She will still get to experience mommy’s rapidly increasing number of gray hairs. And long nights of writing. Welcome to adulthood, girlie!

school supplies

The last time I went to school was over 11 years ago. I’m one of those complete whackadoo’s who really miss school. I love it! My master’s program was fantastic. All we did was write so of course. The feeling of accomplishing a lengthy paper or assignment is like an adrenaline rush all over my body. It’s figuratively my drug of choice. Drugs are very expensive. So I’ve heard. Anyway. I remember switching careers a year into the master’s degree wondering why I thought that was a good idea. Not only did I have to learn a new job but I also had to find time to write double digit papers on a new schedule. No big moves on the horizon this time – in fact I’m hoping this is the final straw I need to progress in other places.

Alas, I still can’t whistle. But I’ll have “Dr.” before my name so who cares.

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I ask you –

Who wants on my commencement guest list? Location: TBD.

Anyone interested in volunteering to teach me how to whistle?

Tell me your highest level of education! I want to share in your accomplishments.

Resiliency Revolution

Occasionally I accept as a compliment what people say when it fact it isn’t. That’s a you problem! For example, someone in my office stated “You’re always doing something.” I saw them smile as the words exited their mouth so, naturally, I thought it was a good statement. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. I have no idea. But it got me thinking – am I doing too much?

Credit: mytherapistsays via Instagram

My predominant belief is I should/like to give my time and effort to select things. In the Navy, we were encouraged to participate in everything. The problem here is you can’t give even 60% of yourself to 10 obligations. Hello, short stick. I chose (and often got dirty looks) for giving my time to 2-3 collateral duties. Those duties deserved my attention. Fast forward to the Air Force, the duties are called additional duties yet the volun-told status is still in effect. This is why… I take the initiative to cultivate and choose my own additional duties.

Introducing the Resilience Training Assistant (RTA). After a very involved two-day, interactive, emotional course, they felt I was qualified for certification. Yippee! I recognize resilience is a military buzzword; however, it is something I truly believe in because it can be used to reframe the culture of mental health stigma, as well as foster the conversations between military personnel both up and down the chain of command and within all branches. Yes, I know that’s a lot to ask. At the time of viewing the list of qualified personnel on base (nearly 40 people), I only recognized 2 of the names. TWO. Clearly there’s a problem because it means I didn’t know them from resiliency efforts, but from other duties.

Super incredible classmates!

The next hurdle is attending the Master Resilience Trainer (MRT) course at Maxwell AFB. Genuinely looking forward to a TDY. In the meantime, there’s a huge need to provide this curriculum to squadrons, groups, and all personnel. My vision is to ensure the word resiliency doesn’t go the way of other buzzwords, aka out of sight/out of mind. I want people to talk to each other when they’re hurting, when they’re struggling, when they need help. Billions of dollars a year are spent on (I’ll say it) completely useless things – why aren’t we spending money and time on changing culture instead? It costs nothing to empower others.

“If you’re self-aware enough to be self-deprecating, your IQ must be high!” – Will Lannon

We’re going to spark a revolution!

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I ask you –

Have you ever heard of Resiliency Training?

What are some buzzwords in your profession?

Tell me about a time you participated in a culture-changing curriculum!

How God is Better than a Cup of Coffee

Like the coffee pot that beckons me from the comfy confines of bed, He speaks to my soul, enticing me to return to Him. To share a cup of coffee and a chat early in the morning before the world awakens.

  • Don’t check email until you check your heart.
  • Don’t turn on the news until later in the day. I guarantee it will still be there when you’re ready.
  • Protect your mornings like you protect your coffee cup, just as He protects you.
early morning magic

His reservoir never needs refilling – He refills mine. His endless love is like a direct tap to the machine. It never runs out. Like the routine, the ritual even, of making my coffee exactly the way I like it, He requires no standard except to worship Him with my whole heart.

Appreciate the smell and body of a well-seasoned coffee cup, listen as it pours into your favorite mug, moving your hand slightly to stir in the creamer and sugar source, then raise it to your lips for a brief sip of your creation. He appreciates who we are because He created us, in is image, perfectly imperfect, wonderfully made. He listens as we pour out our praise and petition, our goals and dreams, according to His perfect will. He moves His hand within our life, making all things new, even us, making the trees and flowers grow. We raise His name on our lips, the name of the Most High, of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

As the day goes on and I find myself drawn to a caffeine fix to make it through the final push of the day, His word reminds me to pray first. He listens intently and watches all knowingly. My path is His will.

afternoon details

Before I came to Texas, someone amazing told me not to drink the kool-aid of the Bible belt. This person tops my daily prayer list. If only you knew how freeing it is to put your hope in a higher power, the highest power. There’s a spiritual element in everything we do and touch. I pray for God to touch each and every life, but even more for those to willingly come to Him, with an empty cup and a willingness to be refilled. He has an endless supply of love to give. It never runs out. You were bought at a price. Inflation could never touch the debt that has been paid for our life.

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I ask you –

How many cups of coffee do you drink daily?

How do you take your coffee? Sugar-free vanilla creamer and SF cinnamon roll syrup.

Choose one: making coffee at home or patronizing a coffee shop.

Producing Vision

“A vision clarifies purpose, helps establish priorities, motivates commitment, maximizes productivity, and fuels passion. A vision is a specific desire that God has for our future. It gives us a direction to head in. A vision grows out of a need that we see around us, something so strong we can’t get it out of our minds.” – Anonymous

He had a dream. I need a vision statement. As part of my (ongoing, yearly, monthly) goal to grow my blog not only into a widely read source but also into a business, a clear vision statement is necessary.

My friend Morgan from Oregon shared with me a booklet called Unravel Your Year. It’s free and available on the website. Basically, you sit for a few minutes or hours, drinking your favorite tea or whiskey whilst reminiscing on years gone by and how you can incorporate lessons learned into not being a complete idiot the next time. That’s the gist. By the way, it’s 59 pages. But who’s counting. Short story long, I’m doing it! Because what better things do I have to do with my limited time. Truthfully, I jest, but I really do want to use some self-discovery in determining where and how Running on Fumes can grow. There’s also that book still needing to be published. But I can only fry one fish at a time – the blog is the fish in the pan at the moment. No one says that, Kel. Stop it. I have been more intentional about using my planner(s) – one for home, one for work – to set tangible, mini goals. Granted it’s only mid-January.

I write with pens, too!

Focusing on the vision part. I believe there are big opportunities for me in 2022. There will probably be big setbacks, as well; that’s ok. Nothing comes easy. A vision is a lot like expectations. You can’t tell someone you have no expectations when asked, then, all of a sudden, have expectations needing to be met that weren’t clearly communicated when originally asked. Bitter much? Perhaps revisiting vision should be a regular occurrence.

I think this is why I’m enjoying the pages in the Unravel Your Year workbook – because each month of 2022 there is room for monthly reflections. It’s extremely easy for me to say I should revisit the vision portion, but let’s be honest…will you? Not without some reminders!

And, frankly, I love to write in whatever medium I can obtain; be it paper, computer, phone, napkins; I’m not picky. I just want to write.

Oh how that book publishing goal is staring me right in the face.

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I ask you –

Do you have a vision (statement or otherwise) for your blog, life, etc?

Any suggestions on writing a vision statement?

Tell me what you consistently find yourself writing on! Maybe yourself.