Manning’s Story

How I finally ended up doing what I was called to do. Many of you are familiar with my story.  For those of you who are not here is the cliff notes version. When I moved out to Katy it was to get a new start after my best friend and mentor, Karen passed away. Staying in my old place was too hard emotionally because of all the memories.  I also moved to be closer to a support system with my church Parkway Fellowship.   

 Shortly after my move, I was laid off from my contract position as an e-learning developer.  Between her death and the job loss, my world crashed into what seemed like an abyss of trials, adversity, and uncertainty.  I fell into a “lost” state that could resemble a biofilm colony that has taken up residence in the sinuses.  If you are not sure what a biofilm colony is, it’s the white slimy sticky stuff that holds bacteria and infection in the body. I am sure you have sneezed or coughed some out at one point or another.   

 A biofilm infection is hard to get rid of.  It adheres to any place it can and will hang on at all cost.  They are resistant to most antibiotics.  There are natural remedies that can break through the biofilm such as Thyme, Rosemary, Melaleuca, Clove, and Oregano.  Although they are natural and effective, it takes a longer amount of time to heal especially if the infection is deep.  To those of us ailing, it can seem like forever.  However, eventually, the infection will clear, the body will feel better and  be stronger.  

 So how does my “career journey” relate to a biofilm infection?  

 The word “career” is a major pain point in my life.   My mother, ignorant but meaning well, early on would reiterate to me that I just needed “ to get a job.”. It didn’t matter what kind, who with, or what I was doing, I was to just “get a job.”  I would get a job, and it would not meet her satisfaction.  I would get another still not good enough.  And another.  And another.  To the point that I did contract temporary work for almost ten years.  Still not good enough.  She lived in fear, that I would not be able to provide for myself.  She worried for my stability, both mentally and financially.  Yet, the words continued, “just get a job.” 

 Words.  They can infect us or heal us.   

 My career has been colored with work as a graphic designer, web designer, e-learning developer, college professor, corporate trainer, administrative assistant, chiropractic assistant, retail sales and now, doing what I love swim training for adult beginners and triathletes.  I have moved in and out of corporate jobs, freelance work and back again.  

  Job recruiters had difficulty  identifying the right type of job for me because my job experience was so different and vast.  Often, I had one skill they needed but lacked the “other four” required for a certain position.  I would apply for a position, get called for an interview and then get denied because the job description changed or they discovered something about me that they did not like and changed their mind.  I have been denied more times than I can count.  Admittedly, I haven’t been one to job and stay in it for a decade.  I have been a victim of mismanagement, budget cuts, and bad leadership.   

 Someone put it this way to me. I am not designed to travel asphalt roads, and rarely will I stay on the sidewalk.  I find the unexplored paths more challenging, invigorating, fulfilling, and it gives me the opportunity to be a part of something bigger.  I want to be a part of something that will change a person’s life not just add credit to the bottom line.  

 I will never fit in a pre-fabricated box.  I will never fit into a pre-fabricated career.  

 It’s just not me.   

 In late 2015, I was struggling to move forward after losing Karen.   I am a longtime swimmer and felt a persuasive nudge to return to the pool and teach swim lessons.  I argued that the pay was low,  it was part-time and would not pay the bills, it required nights and working with a  huge volume of kids.  Don’t get me wrong, I love kids. The nudge kept coming getting a little bit more insistent until I finally gave in.  In February 2016, I got hired on by Jonathan Sims, at Lifetime Fitness – Sugar Land as a swim instructor.  

 It would not be long until I realized the trajectory of my “career” had been recalibrated to chart a new  but unchartered course. I was  at the starting line of a new path.  Jonathan understood me.  He recognized my gift. He fought for me as a team member.  He exemplified people centered leadership.  He built a collaborative, fun culture.   

 He became a signpost on my new unchartered path.  

 He knew “my why” and gave me permission to  be and do me.   

 Working in a pool environment allowed me to be loud, move around, have fun, be innovative and course correct based on what my student’s needed.  It gave me permission to smile, laugh, and enjoy life again. No day was the same.  I went home tired but energized that I had changed someone’s life.   

My students began to see an acceleration in  mastering  skills they had been working on for weeks.  

 Then came the adults.   

 Adults  that suffered with immense fear.  

 Adults that suffered traumatic experiences. 

 Adults that wanted to compete in a triathlon. 

 Adults who were swimming already but needed technique help. 

 Adults that had back, neck and knee injuries that could not do land based workouts.  

 Adults that wanted to lose weight.  

 Adults who had unsuccessfully taken “lessons” but still wanted to learn to swim well. 

 Adults that wanted to end the social handicap of not knowing how to swim. 

 There is an abundance of programs for kids.  However, very few specialize in adults.   As I worked under Jonathan’s leadership, I began to recognize the gap.  He recognized the gap.  I saw a deep need and an opportunity.  Flying in the face of “normal” I decided to continue to travel the unchartered route.   

 I was being “called” to be there for the adults.  I said “yes.” 

 This meant starting my own business, marketing and selling of my services, building a training client base all the while keeping a roof over my head and somehow paying the bills.   It has not been easy.  This was not the path I thought I would be taking.   

 I have had the “career biofilm” infection for a long time.  Way too long.  It’s adhesion to my soul, life purpose, calling is breaking apart and being expelled through every forward step I take.   

 I miss Karen everyday, and I have joked that her death was necessary for me to find my true calling.  It’s ok, you can laugh with me.  In all seriousness, God has used this situation to do some pretty awesome work in my life.  It has demanded  trust, required flexibility and adaptability, and willingness to try, fail and try again.     

 Next week, I will be taking the NASM (National Academy of Sport Medicine) CPT  (Certified Personal Trainer) exam.  Furthering my knowledge, and adding to my certifications so that I can serve my clients even better.  It will give me the capability to train clients in both a pool and dry land environment.  Pending successfully passing of my exam, I have a tentative offer to train at a local gym as their aquatics personal trainer.   

 If you are adult and want to learn how to swim.  You can.  For some of you, it might be a hidden desire.  You may be afraid for someone to find out you do not know how to swim.  I can assure you, it is nothing to be ashamed of.   I would encourage you to do it afraid until it becomes fun.  


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