Episode 45: New Adventure, New Opportunities–Holiday happenings and a few things about me

November 29, 2020

Good Sunday afternoon VFOT fans and followers…and a good Sunday afternoon it is. It’s the last weekend in November, and here in the Berkshires it was warm and sunny enough today to get out for a pretty good and pleasant ruck march, but more on that later. I was actually on a run earlier this week with my bride (more on that later too) and she made a suggestion about some information I should include in this blog, so I’ll be adding a new section and delving into a little bit of personal sharing and transparency starting with this installment. Stand by to get some.

Pro-Reading

I’m plugging away on Developing the Leader Within You (Maxwell, John, C. Developing the Leader Within You. 1993. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson). I have actually kind of hit pause on this one and moved in another direction. However, I’m still making progress on it and looking forward to finishing it.

As I shared in a prior installment, I participated in this year’s virtual IACP conference. During this several of days of training, I got to listen to keynotes by both Simon Sinek and General Stanley McChrystal. As a result of participating in these sessions, I decided to buy books from both of these influential authors. Even though I’m midway through Developing the Leader Within You, I decided that I wanted to start reading Team of Teams by General McChrystal (McChrystal, Stanley. Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World. 2015. New York: Portfolio/Penguin.)

Obviously, I’m familiar with the General and I’ve read a great deal about him. However, this is the first of his books that I’ve picked up to read. It was published 5 years ago, and I’m sorry that I haven’t picked this one up earlier. This is a tremendously valuable book. While it reinforces a lot of stuff that I’ve been doing and teaching, the way that the General and his co-authors formalize it and provide a language for discussing it is something that I’ve been missing. This is going to be of incredible value to me going forward. I highly recommend this one.

Other Reading

 I finished the new paper edition of About Face, by Colonel David H. Hackworth and the new foreword by Commander Willink. (Hackworth, David, H. and Sherman, Julie. About Face-The Odyssey of an American Warrior. 2020. New York: Avid Reader Press.) That wraps up that series.

Other Learning Opportunities

Last week was a regular work week and this week was a short week, due to the Holiday. During the 1st week, I had the opportunity to head home early on a couple of days, or to work from home. That presented a couple of different new options. On Monday, I got to start a new stretching and mobility routine. I really like this one and am planning on adding it into my work out a couple of times a week.

On Tuesday, we had a Supervisory Roundtable session with a group of my staff. Shifting these to a virtual format last month presented something of a challenge. To be honest, I’m not sure that these shouldn’t stay virtual going forward. It’s much easier for people to participate and stay engaged than it is when we attempt to put a dozen people in a large conference room and keep them all on task. We’ll have to take a hard look at that.

On Wednesday, I had a light day in the office. I had some training blocks from this past spring’s in-service rotation that I had neglected to complete. I needed to get them done before the next training rotation starts, so I decided to hammer them out. I’m happy to have them done.

I managed to get several jiu-jitsu classes in that week, after having been away due to COVID protocols for a while. I also managed to reschedule from Thursday/Friday classes from the holiday week to earlier in the week, so that I wouldn’t go 2 weeks without training. We got introduced to some new drills this week. That was fun and I hope that we keep utilizing these going forward.

Some Stuff About Me

So, C and I went for a short run on Thanksgiving Day. I’ll explain why in the “Fun” section. While we were running, I was actually feeling well enough to carry on a conversation. One of the things that we talked about was supplements that I use  regularly. I shared with her that since I’ve been using my joint health stack, that I’ve never had less difficulty with my post-operative shoulder. She replied, “that’s what you should blog about. Not only to share with other people, but kind of as a journal to remember changes you make. What works and doesn’t work.”

So, I get most of my specialized supplements from Origin. The ones that I don’t get from them, are regular brands from CVS. The base of my supplement regimen is a joint health regimen suggested from the Jocko Podcast and Origin. Their suggest stack is Jocko Fuel Super Krill Oil and Jocko Fuel Joint Warfare. While doing my research, I concluded that due to a contraindication to Glucosamine Chondroitin I couldn’t take Joint Warfare, so I reached out for Brian Littlefield from Origin and asked him for a recommendation. He told me that the other active ingredients were basically Curcumin/Turmeric and that any highly pure blend of those 2 supplements would have similar benefit. I’ve been taking Super Krill Oil since about July of 2018 and stacking it with 95% pure Turmeric/Curcumin since July of 2019. Since taking that stack (and focusing more attention on mobility work) I’ve never had fewer issues and problems with my shoulder that I had operated on about 10 years ago. I also don’t generally experience joint pain after my long rucks.

In addition to that stack, I normally take Vitamin D3, a testosterone booster, a thermogenic booster, and a probiotic. I also, occasionally, take a sleep aide (Hypnos) that comes from Origin.

This Wednesday, I hosted a virtual Coffee with a Cop. While the session was lightly attended, we had some very productive conversations. During the session, I shared with the attendees, some personal truths that I’ve shared with many of law enforcement colleagues over the past several years. Basically, as I’ve spent more and more time over the past few years focusing time and attention on officer wellness, mental health and resiliency, I’ve become a big proponent of routine mental health check-ups for public safety personnel. Personally, I’ve come to the position that all public safety personnel, but especially police officers, should participate in mental health check-ups with at least the frequency of a physical check-up. Actually, it probably should be more frequent. I get my recommended physical annually. I usually see my GP at least 1 more time during the year. I get my eyes checked every year, my teeth checked twice a year, and see my dermatologist 2-3 times per year. No one ever wonders how often I get my mental health checked.

I’m not shy about sharing that several times over the past 13 years, I’ve found myself needing to reach out, through our Employee Assistance Program, for some counselling sessions with a local provider. For the past couple of years, I’ve done this proactively. I schedule an appointment with my therapist every 4-6 weeks…whether I need it or not. In 2020, it’s become more important than ever.

One of the strange personal developments for me since the start of the pandemic is that the longer this emergency has gone on, the more unresolved or suppressed memories I have been unearthing. Things that happened around me or to me when I was in high school and college that I hadn’t thought of in years have been surfacing in my dreams and daydreams. I’m not equipped to manage these memories by myself. I don’t think anybody is. I have no problem acknowledging that I’ve decided to rely on professional backup to help me navigate this. Calling for backup is what I’ve been trained to do.

That’s enough about that for today.

FUN

We’ve certainly had some fun in the last couple of weeks. Our 1st date night was takeout from Flavour’s. We need to maximize our meals from there while we still can. Dinner was followed by dancing, Icebreaker Cards, and starting to think about our goals for 2021.

Toward the end of the last reporting period, I discovered the series “The Musketeers,” from the BBC. I’m not ashamed to admit, I binge watched 3 seasons of that. Loved it.

On Saturday, after jiu-jitsu, C and I took a ride out to Balderdash Cellars to pick up our Fall Crate Club order and have a glass of wine on the lawn. It was chilly, but it was still beautiful.

On Sunday, I got a hard ruck in and when I was done with that, pushed through the end of About Face. That night, I got in the kitchen and made same amazing ribs.

To start the holiday week, I shifted my jiu-jitsu classes to get them in before the holiday closure.

For date night, we ordered takeout Asian and sat down to watch a movie. Since we’d ordered a pre-cooked holiday meal, we didn’t really have any prep work to do.

On Thanksgiving Day, after getting through coffee, C and I went for our T-day run. I’m no runner, but I like spending this time with my bride. We knocked out and easy 5K and got home in plenty of time to do what little cooking and warming we had to do. We had a wonderful holiday dinner alone, then we packed up some of all of the dishes, put them in my little red wagon, and hauled them up the street to my parents’ so they and my brother could also enjoy dinner.

Yesterday, we knocked out chores, then wrapped up the day with takeout from District and holiday movies.

Today, I let myself sleep in, did a little reading, then headed out for another good ruck. It was too nice a fall day not to take advantage. Now, while I’m writing this, I’ve got a pot of stock on to make some crab bisque tonight. Not a bad weekend.

Well, that’s probably enough for now. Time to get ready for a new week. Stay Healthy!

Be Safe, Keep the Faith, Do Good Work, 1*

Episode 44: New Adventure, New Opportunity (COVID scare and an Anniversary Celebration)

November 15, 2020

Good Sunday afternoon VFOT friends and followers. I can’t say “Happy,” because this has not been a happy week. I’m going to deviate from the normal order of things to focus on the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, and how close to home it has come again.

2 weeks ago, we detected an outbreak within our community tied to 2 gatherings. 1 in a private residence and a 2nd within a local restaurant. Early that week we became aware that several of our personnel may have been impacted by these 2 events. Within a couple of days, it became clear that my core staff and I may have been exposed via these sources of transmission.

By Thursday, I became concerned that if I had been exposed, I could carry the virus into the community, particularly into our dojo. I made the decision to withdraw from classes until we got a better handle on the possible exposures to protect my friends and teammates.

By Friday morning, I made the decision to switch back to remote work to protect the rest of our staff, and we were doubling down on our protective and PPE protocols. We spent the weekend working on internal contact tracing and awaiting test results. Fortunately, by the end of the weekend, 3 out of the 4 potentially impacted members had received negative tests. The 4th was in isolation and I was determined to have not been a close contact.

My Monday, I had been cleared to resume my normal duties. That included spending both Tuesday and Wednesday on the ranges, requalifying as an instructor and completing my required in-service. Thursday and Friday were normal busy days, during which C and I celebrated our 4th Wedding Anniversary.

By Friday, I was prepared to resume my normal activities outside of work, to include resuming training. However, when I contacted my Professor, she reminded me that due to reporting myself as a potential exposure, the dojo’s internal protocols required that I provide a negative test result before I could resume training. Unfortunately, based on the decisions we had made during the week, I could not qualify for a test through our internal protocols.

I reached out for a friend and requested a favor. By the close of business on Friday I was scheduled for a test. Then my personal paranoia and cynicism set in. What if I received a positive test result? I’d been in contact with many people and been to several public places. I was horrified. If my result came back positive, what was I going to do? How would I account for my movements and the people I had been around? I’d been disciplined about my use of face coverings and sanitizer, but still…the loading tables, shared ammo boxes, shared magazines, and training aids…there were too many variables. It was a long 28-hours before my results came back.

Fortunately, it was good news. My test came back negative, but still…it was a near thing. I should have known better and been more disciplined. Be careful everyone…stay well and healthy. These are frightening times.

Pro-Reading

I’m still working on Developing the Leader Within You (Maxwell, John, C. Developing the Leader Within You. 1993. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson). Slow progress on this one, due to a couple of trying weeks.

I’m making good progress on it and looking forward to finishing it.

Other Reading

I finished the audio version of About Face, by Colonel David H. Hackworth (Hackworth, David, H. and Sherman, Julie. About Face-The Odyssey of an American Warrior. 1989. New York: Touchstone.) on a long ruck. I’m still working on the new print copy.

Other Learning Opportunities

Last Thursday, I re-certified as a Use of Force Instructor with a new, updated train the trainer.

This Tuesday and Wednesday, as I said, were both Range Days. On Tuesday, I participated in the new Commonwealth Firearms Instructor recertification program. It was a good training day. On Wednesday, I was scheduled for Department in-service. It was time for our annual low-light qualification. This year the focus was on long-guns. It was a warm, rainy fall night. Hey, if it ain’t raining…we ain’t training!

FUN

Our 1st date night was over the border into NY for dinner at M&M’s Tap and Tavern. That was a nice night out.

I got 2 great ruck marches in last weekend. Increased the weight and held the mileage up over 6-miles. Both days were great Fall days to be outside.

On Thursday, we celebrated our 4th Wedding anniversary. We had a nice time.

Last night, having received my negative test results, we followed through on planned dinner with some work friends. We got to check out a new place down in South County. It was a refreshing way to acknowledge being healthy.

Well, that’s probably enough for now. Time to get ready for a new week. Stay Healthy!

Be Safe, Keep the Faith, Do Good Work, 1*

Episode 43: New Adventure, New Opportunity (C runs a virtual Marathon)

November 1, 2020

Happy Sunday afternoon VFOT fans and followers. This has been a crazy couple of weeks and even as I’m coming to the end of the weekend, I’m still exhausted. The upcoming week is going to be a bear. 25 years ago-last week-I took my Oath of Office and signed my appointment. I can’t believe I’ve been at it for a quarter century. Here’s to the next several years.

Pro-Reading

I’m making my way through Developing the Leader Within You (Maxwell, John, C. Developing the Leader Within You. 1993. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson). I think I finally figured out why I never bothered to pick this one up and read it, and I’m kind of embarrassed. As I said last week, I’ve ready many of Maxwell’s titles, and normally I enjoy them. This particular one came as part of a package of books that I purchased several years ago. I’ve read all of the others. I think that my reluctance to pick this one up was based entirely on…appearance. The version that I purchased looks more like a pamphlet than my other titles, and I think I didn’t take it seriously. That was a mistake. This is a very good title. I should have read it long ago. My mistake.

I’m making good progress on it and looking forward to finishing it…hopefully this week.

Other Reading

I’m also continuing to both read and listen to About Face, by Colonel David H. Hackworth (Hackworth, David, H. and Sherman, Julie. About Face-The Odyssey of an American Warrior. 1989. New York: Touchstone.) I’ve got the new book in hand for my regular recreational reading and the audiobook on Audible for my long rucks. I’m enjoying both formats.

I’ve also added some new podcasts to my rotation…including a brand-new one that my brother-in-law is co-hosting on Boston Sports. Check out Title Talk on YouTube. I’m not even a sports fan and I liked it.

Other Learning Opportunities

The past 2 weeks have presented some interesting training opportunities. Last Wed-Fri, I participated in the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s virtual training conference. I participated in multiple SimuLive presentations on a pretty cool learning platform and was very impressed with the quality of the instruction. It was really well done. The highlights included a keynote address by Simon Sinek and the closing remarks by General Stanley McCrystal.

On Monday evening, I added a new flexibility/mobility routine to my fitness regimen. I enjoyed it and am planning on working it into my routine more frequently. 

On Wednesday, I participated in a remote class on Crowd Control Tactics. This was actually the first formal training that I’ve had on this topic in my entire career. I’m kind of surprised about that.

On Thursday, my staff and I held our 1st Supervisory Roundtable session since February. It was refreshing to restore some sense of normalcy to our staff development work.

My calendar has been a little sideways for the past couple of weeks, so I’ve been a little bit off on my jiu-jitsu training, but I did get in 2 great sessions this week. Happy about that.

This afternoon, I started doing some work on a lesson plan for a new leadership class that I’m developing. I’m very excited about this project and will keep you posted on it’s development here.

FUN

Last week, we had our date night at Flavour’s. This was a bittersweet choice. Our friends, who own and operate this beloved establishment, recently announced that they will be closing before the end of the year. We’re heartbroken, but we support them and their decision. We’ll miss them when they’re gone. In the meantime, we’ll be spending time with them while we can.

Last weekend, we made a brief stop to visit some friends and celebrate my classmate’s 50th Birthday. He and I attended the Academy together, so he’s got 25 years in too. Congratulations Brother!

Sunday, I got a great ruck in. Added a few more pounds to my pack and got out and got after it. It was a beautiful Fall day.

Date night this week shifted to Tuesday because we needed to get some rest on Wednesday. We picked Tito’s…hadn’t been there since the emergency was declared. It was nice. When we got home, we added a new deck of prompt cards to our evening. That was a blast.

On Thursday, my beautiful bride and her co-worker ran their virtual Berkshire Marathon. We were up and out early to get them to their starting line for 0800. Of course, the weather didn’t cooperate. It was a cold, wet day to be support. However, it was colder and more wet for them. They crushed it. Great job C and A. Proud of you!

Friday and Saturday were Jits training days. I was happy to get back into some regularly scheduled training.

Well, that’s probably enough for now. Time to get ready for a new week.

Be Safe, Keep the Faith, Do Good Work, 1*