Well… it took me 26 years, 7 months, and 5 days, from the beginning of my career, to do it, but I finally did it. Yesterday, I was offered the role of Manager of Business and Cyber Resilience at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. Needless to say, I accepted. I had been in the interim manager role since March of this year.

I have to say that it is, both terrifying, and a relief. I believe I have done a good job, while in the interim role, and apparently, my bosses did too. I believe there were some things going on behind the scenes, of which, I was not privy, but it happened, and that’s what counts.

I can’t help but feel a little imposter syndrome setting in, but I think it will pass, once I settle in.

The most satisfying part is that I had the support of my team. They are, truly, the best team. They are a group of consummate professionals… diverse in backgrounds, experience, age, demeanors, temperaments, interests and I love them all. We make each other better. Simple as that.

All this said, I cannot go without saying that I believe God made this happen. I have prayed and continue to pray that I will not let this opportunity go to waste.

Cautiously Optimistic

Yesterday, I signed paperwork, making me the Interim Business Resiliency Manager at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. My first thought is, “FINALLY!”… followed promptly by “Uh oh, what have I done?”

In 1996, I started my IT career at a relatively small, but well-known, candy company, Brach’s Confections. At that time, I set a 5-year goal to become manager. 27 years later, I am now closer than I have ever been… as I probably should be, after 27 years.

One might ask, “Why did it take so long to even have the word ‘manager’ in your new temporary title.” The answer is, “I really can’t say, for sure.” The closest I have ever gotten to a definitive answer, from someone, using words, was back in 2015, or thereabouts. My, then director, now CIO, called me to her office and explained to me why I wasn’t getting an interview for a manager job, for which, I had applied. She said it was because I hadn’t logged enough supervisory years to qualify for the job. I cannot disagree. I had recently left an Operations position, where I had been a Team Lead for about two years, for the position on my current team, in Disaster Recovery… not a team lead position. I was applying for the same job, in which, I am now serving on an interim basis. The challenging part is that my current team has no team lead position, as it is a relatively small team and doesn’t require one.

I think this opportunity is a healthy mix of need, on the part of the business, experience, I have now acquired (nevermind, that I still had not acquired that management experience, for which, I was denied before) and new management above me, with whom, I have developed a good rapport.

When they get around to actually posting the new job, assuming I have done a good job, in my interim role, I will be permitted to, viably, apply for this role, in earnest and not have that “interim” tag.

I guess we’ll see how it pans out. I haven’t reached that 27-year-old 5-year goal yet, but I am darn close, and I am going to try my best. More later.

RIP Lola Bean

Continuing a terrible week for dogs in the Barber family, Taylor’s chocolate lab, Lola Bean, passed away tonight, January 25, 2023. The sweet girl’s free spirit got the better of her. I hope she and Cooper are running together in Heaven.

RIP Cooper

Heaven gained a new angel tonight. Cooper was born on December 5, 2017, and passed away on January 24, 2023, after a series of uncontrollable seizures. The veterinarians did everything they could, but in the end, the seizures were just too much for the medicine to handle.

All the vets worked diligently, kept us updated, and took excellent care of our boy. I’d like to give a special thank you to Dr. Hanie Elfenbein, who was there when we brought him in and when he crossed the rainbow bridge.

We love you, Buddy!

All Good Things Come to an End

Today, my boss of a little over seven years, told our team that he had turned in his resignation.

In all my years of being an IT professional, I cannot think of a boss, from whom, I have learned more about my chosen vocation. When Dave came in, he added structure to a disjointed program and gave us guidance on just how to do things better. We learned what mattered and what didn’t, pertaining to business continuity and disaster recovery. We learned how a good leader should and shouldn’t act. We also gained confidence in our skill sets, and really came together as a team.

I won’t sugar-coat everything. Dave and I butted heads a little, but nothing more than two adults with opposing views would, when they care about something. The important thing is that he, nor I, ever crossed any lines and were always respectful of each other’s opinions. He always had our back, and the proof was in the pudding. He was unafraid to do the right thing by us and we always felt “safe” under his guidance.

Personally, I feel like we got along well. Soccer not being the least of them, we talked about a lot of different things. As his subordinate, he confided in me about things and, I to him. It was a relief to me that all of our conversations did not have to revolve around work. I even bought my motorcycle from him. I got the pleasure of meeting and knowing his wife, Heather, who passed away during his tenure. I’m sure that was a rough time for him, and I hope he knew how we prayed for her, him and their children.

I know all good things come to an end and, at the end of the day, our team will carry on. I just wish I could learn more from Dave. I consider him a mentor and friend and I wish him well.

Congratulations, Bear!

I attended the wedding of my lodge brother, William Bradley Braswell, Jr. last night. It was a very nice, short ceremony and the reception was awesome!

Another lodge brother, James Grubb and his wife were in attendance also, along with several hundred others. Family, folks from Bear’s time in law school, Bear’s fraternity brothers, his school mate, from McCallie… yuck! Overall, it was a great evening, and I am proud to have been invited. Bear is one of the best people I know… a sentiment shared by anyone I know, who knows him. He is motivated, nice and just fun to be around.

I wish he and Kayla the very best and my prayers are for a long and happy marriage.

New Train of Thought

Back in August 2022, I bought a drone. Without going too far into it, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

It occurred to me a few weeks ago that the drone was a waste of money and, living so close to the airport, I was unable to fly it in the manner intended. As such, I decided to sell it. I was firm on my price and, eventually, someone bought it.

My next thought was, since this was my bonus money, “what am I going to spend this on?” My line of thinking was, with the drone, before too long, I would have to upgrade and drones are not cheap. I was interested in something I wouldn’t have to upgrade as much and something that might be considered a “life-skill.” As I thought about it, I harkened back to when I owned a guitar.

With my mind made up, I started researching. The website kept popping up and I found that this was probably the best online retailer for guitar-related things. It kind of caught me my surprise, but I found that I already had some preferences. For example, I wanted a guitar with a cutout, so I could get to those bottom frets. Eventually, I landed on an Alvarez AGE910 Artist Elite Deluxe Acoustic-electric.

I made the purchase and the guitar, with a few accessories will be arriving on 1/6/2023. I am excited. I have already planned out my initial itinerary for finally learning this instrument. I have made some additional purchases for some apps and website subscriptions and hope this will finally be the year I learn a musical instrument in a way that I can say “I know how to play a guitar.” It is one of my bucket list items, after all. 🙂 Wish me luck and discipline!

RIP Nikki

One of my oldest friends, Nikki, passed away on November 29, 2022. Nikki and I have had ups and downs as friends, more than friends and confidantes. It hurts to see her come to her end with so much life ahead of her. The picture below is how I remember her. Here is her obituary:

Obituary for Nicole “Nikki” Leigh Mills Hendrickson

Beloved Teacher Loved Adventure, Her Children, And Animals

Nicole “Nikki” Leigh Mills Hendrickson, 49, gained her wings on November 29, 2022. She was born on September 7, 1973, in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Nikki graduated from Hixson High School, grew up and lived on Signal Mountain where she taught at Sunshine Learning Center, and was a much-loved substitute teacher at Thrasher Elementary. She later moved to Cumming, Ga., and continued her love of education as a special education substitute teacher and paraprofessional, all while raising her children and maintaining a loving home for her family.

Nikki’s children were the love of her life. She was so proud of them. Nikki loved adventures and making life fun for Avery, Colin, Cay, Morgan, and all their friends. Nikki spent many days on baseball, soccer, softball, and flag football fields as the proudest Mom. Nikki also passed on her love of the equestrian world to Avery, helping Avery to achieve her dream of owning her own horse. She was a beautiful soul with an infectious laugh who loved her family and friends. She was passionate about everything in life, loved deeply, and worked hard to achieve her goals. There was no one quicker to spark an uncontrollable laugh or with more determination and grit. Nikki loved animals, including cats, dogs, horses, pigs, a cow, a mini horse, mini donkeys, and many other creatures. Nikki was beautiful and vibrant and will be missed beyond words; she was truly one of a kind.

Nikki was preceded in death by her parents, William “Bill” Mills and Susan Humphreys Burke.

She is survived by her daughter, Avery Hendrickson; son, Colin Hendrickson; stepdaughter, Cay Hendrickson Plaskett (Bentley); husband, Kevin Hendrickson; sisters Kelly Leiper (Mark) and Cori Mills Barber (Daniel); brother, Kevin Ray (Susan); aunt, Alice Humphreys White; niece, Morgan Leiper (Derek); stepmother, Debbie Mills Maple (Jay); stepsisters Nicole Pittard (Sam) and Gina Wright (Rick); stepbrother Chris Fincher; mother in law, Clarice Hendrickson; father in law, Charles Hendrickson (Linda); sister in law Kimberly Hendrickson (Tab Gray); several cousins and other nephews and nieces; close friend Greg Wilson; and dog, Pilot.

The family is comforted by knowing Nikki is at peace and surrounded by her Mom, Dad, and the hundreds of animals Nikki rescued or adopted over her lifetime including Shadow, Hampton, Snoop Dog, Chip, Brooklyn, Sadie, Foster, Goose, and Brownie. The family would also like to express gratitude to the multiple friends who have supported Nikki.

A Celebration of Nikki’s life will be held at the Mountain Arts Community Center, 809 Kentucky Avenue, Signal Mountain, Tn., on Wednesday, Dec. 28. Visitation is from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. followed by a service from 12:30 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. officiated by Pastor Caleb Pitkin of Signal Mountain United Methodist Church.

A burial for the family will follow at Chattanooga Memorial Park.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Humane Educational Society or the McKamey Animal Shelter in Chattanooga, Tn.

Announcement is by Chattanooga Funeral Home, Crematory & Florist – Valley View Chapel.