Howdy. I'm Matt Todd. My wife and I have four kids and a dog,. I'm passionate about orphan care. I'm a die-hard fan of the Evansville Aces, the Indiana Hoosiers, and Star Wars. I'm trying to live life by the Todd family motto: "It behooves us to live!"

How I was Able to Share an Ice Cold Coke with my Office Teammates

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ShareIceColdFun #CollectiveBias

How I was able to share an ice cold Coke with my teammates #ShareIceColdFun #ad

As mentioned a few weeks ago, I recently made a career change. I left my job as an Instructional Assistant, working with lower elementary school students with Special Needs. Now I work with a nonprofit organization. I get to help adults with Special Needs find meaningful work in the community. I’m not going to lie. This was a bittersweet decision. I really enjoyed working with those kids. But it was also a no-brainer.

I’ve joined a pretty amazing team of Employment Advisors. I’m excited to work with them. And they’ve been very helpful as I’m trying to get up to speed. They’re a hard working, dedicated, and passionate group of people. It’s an honor to join forces with them to help change lives in our community.

I wanted to show my appreciation for the work my teammates do. They have been so patient and welcoming and accommodating during this transition. I also wanted to take the opportunity to introduce myself to everyone on my team. So I created a little gift basket to share, thanking them for making me feel like I’m already an important part of the team.

My quest for the perfect gift basket.

This Summer, the Coca-Cola™ Share an Ice Cold Coke campaign has returned. It’s bigger and better than ever before. They’ve added a thousand new names this year.  They’ve also added last names!

That’s right. Last names.

I had to include personalized Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Zero™, Diet Coke®, Coca-Cola Cherry, and Coca-Cola Life bottles in this gift to my teammates. It just made sense. So, I visited our closest Giant Eagle store, the Market District in Carmel, and went about grabbing some personalized bottles and some other goodies to share with my team.

Why a Giant Eagle store?

Have you seen their bulk candy and trail mix section?

Giant Eagle treats #ShareIceColdFun #ad

It’s amazing.

So I hit the road for my local Giant Eagle (you really should check out their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest profiles) on a quest to find some goodies for this special basket I’m creating. When I walked in the door, it was like the heavens opened up before me. There, right before my eyes, was the sea of personalized Coca-Cola bottles. It was right there in the cold drinks section at the entrance.

It was glorious.

So I grabbed the appropriate Share an Ice Cold Coke bottles of Coca-Cola. I went over to the bulk area and got a bucket of cheesy popcorn and created a container of trail mix. Although i probably could have spent another hour or two wandering through the store, I had other things to get done that evening. That’s what’s great about Giant Eagle stores. I love the layout. I love the products they have. And of course I love their bulk confections. I’m never disappointed when I visit a Giant Eagle store.

An appropriate gift basket for a small nonprofit office

Share an Ice Cold Coke with an office gift basket #ShareIceColdFun #ad

In addition to some tasty treats and personalized Share an Ice Cold Coke bottles, I wanted to give some things that were fitting for our team’s setting. It shouldn’t be a surprise that there are times where our equipment and supplies can feel cobbled together. Such is the nature of an organization like ours. Our time, money, and energy are focused on serving our clients to the best of our abilities. So, some necessities might become a little scarce sometimes.

I ran to a local discount store and found a few things that every office like ours must have. And I included them in my gift basket.  Our office has a refrigerator. It has a microwave. But it’s almost near impossible to find any eating utensils. So I included plastic cutlery in my basket. And speaking of the basket, I decided to use a stackable mail tray as the container to hold all of these tiny gifts. That will come in handy with keeping things organized. I also found some inexpensive buckets to add a splash of color to our office.

The nature of our work requires that we keep detailed records. There are timesheets and follow up sheets and sheets upon sheets upon sheets. Almost all of them require black ink. I don’t know about you, but it’s hard enough for me to keep track of my pens. It’s like they grow legs and walk away. Black ink pens are even harder to keep track of. So my gift basket included a package of black ink pens to support the cause. Because if we don’t have black pens, we cannot do our jobs effectively. They’re that important.

I considered putting the basket in the Break Room, but this is a gift for my team. So I sat it on a desk in the office that our team shares. Giving office supplies in a gift basket might be considered “out of the box,” but I thought it was a highly appropriate gift for my teammates.

I hope they enjoyed it. Because I know I appreciate them.

Share an Ice Cold Coke Gift Basket for my office #ShareIceColdFun #ad

Who will  you share an ice cold Coke with this Summer?

This is a major announcement for our family

Disclaimer: This is a relatively long post. And it’s not unlike a winding stream with other tributaries adding to it. But I feel like it’s important to give you the backstory to this announcement. If you can’t stand it and really just want to see what the major announcement is, just skip down to the “tl;dr” statement at the bottom.

Man Praying in Church
Free Stock Photos for Blogs at picxclicx

A career shift?

I was in high school. We were wrapping up our home Bible study with some prayer requests. A good friend of mine shared with our group that his dad had just lost his job. They were concerned. We all were.

I don’t know his whole work history, but I do remember that he’d taken on a few different careers during his life. He had training as an engineer and had graduated from one of the top engineering schools in the country. He’d had some jobs in that field. But I also remember that he ran a print shop at one point in his life.

Not long after my friend shared this important prayer concern, his dad was hired by our church. He had already been handling many of the organization’s administrative duties on a volunteer basis. Why not go ahead and start paying him? Made perfect sense.

He served on the church staff for more than twenty years. And now he’s enjoying his retirement.

I don’t know if he felt a wandering in his soul. I never asked him. Maybe I should. But I do know that my friend’s dad eventually found the perfect “fit” for himself. And it seems like all of his previous professional and volunteer experiences prepared him for his administrative role with my home church.

It started this past January. I started to get the sense that I was on the brink of a major career change. Maybe my career was about to make a major shift, not unlike my friend’s dad. I told my brother as much while we were driving home from Mr. Gerhart’s funeral. I could tell that things were about to change. And maybe I’d find that perfect fit that aligns my skills, experiences, education, and passion into one dream job.

That was just the beginning of this journey.

So, what makes me tick?

I’ve come to realize that I am not happy unless I’m working to serve other people. It’s my passion. My heartbeat. It’s what makes me tick. When I worked at Slingshot SEO/digitalrelevance, I was drawn to the nonprofit clients who were spending a considerable amount of energy and effort to help others. As I continued down that digital marketing road, I began to dream: “What if I could take these skills that I’ve honed and the knowledge that I’ve gained and used it to help smaller organizations who are helping other people?”

Free Stock Photos for Blogs at picxclicx

It was a wonderful idea. But it wasn’t one I could execute anytime soon. I needed something to pay the bills. So I cobbled together a couple of jobs. You might remember that I thought it was a little too…cliché…and predictable. Even after leaving the school to stay home with my son, I still wound up finding myself back in another Special Needs classroom less than a year later.

After looking back at my work history over the past decade or so, it’s become pretty clear that helping people and serving others. It was also clear that I wasn’t going to be able to retire at either the Christian retail store* or as an Instructional Assistant at a school. So I started looking for positions that would give me the opportunity to help people.

I had  a few interviews. Several, in fact. There was a local organization who brought me in for two separate interviews last Summer. I never heard from them again, even though they promised to keep me updated. I had another promising interview not too long after that. It went well. I thought it. Never heard from them again.

A brief aside:  How hard is it to send a simple rejection email after you’ve met with a candidate? If you can’t be courteous enough to let me know that you chose the other person, perhaps I don’t want to work for you. Or partner with you. Or support you. If you can’t handle the little things like a simple rejection email, what does that say about how you handle the big things?

But I digress…

It was just a dream

A few months, a friend of mine told me about a position with a local organization that I might be interested in. She sent me the job description. At first glance, I didn’t think I was the kind of person they were looking for. But I believed this was the type of job I was looking for. And it really didn’t hurt anything to send them my resume. So I shot them an email. I didn’t really have my hopes up. I’d gotten my hopes up for other positions that I thought were a “perfect fit.” So I just went about my business, just doing what I do.

They called me in for an interview. Things went really well. Then they asked me back for another interview with the whole team. Things went really well. And in the midst of discussions with this organization, we moved out of one house and into another. And we were gearing up for the final push towards the end of the school year at my school.

Transitions!

Transitions everywhere!

Then, these dreams started popping up…

It has happened at least three times during the past two months. And each dream has pretty much followed the same storyline. For some reason, I’m back at the church where I preached for several years. Things are arranged differently. And a lot of people have passed away. You know how dreams go: It feels different. It feels the same. I know exactly where I am and I have no idea where I am, all at the same time.

All of a sudden, I’m expected to preach. I’m woefully unprepared as I try to piece something together last-minute. As I step on stage to deliver a cobbled together sermon, I wake up.

I think I know why I keep having this dream

It’s because of the transitions. When things get unsettled, I wind up having dreams that are similar to this. The dream keeps happening at this small church because of the interviews I’ve had recently. During my conversations with potential employers, I’ve discussed my experience in this small country church – both positive and negative.

Believe me, I’m long past having any hard feelings about what transpired. God made sure of that when He kicked me in the teeth a few years back. But I’m convinced that all of the discussions about my preaching experience, coupled with all of the life transitions that are going on, I kind of had to emotionally and mentally work through the direction my life is taking. And that has happened through this dream.

I believe I’m ready to announce the new direction for our family. No, we’re not adopting again. No, I’m not returning to the pulpit. And we’re certainly not moving again anytime soon. I have accepted a position with a local organization. I will be serving as an Employment Advisor, helping adults with Special Needs find jobs and thrive at their jobs. That’s right. I’m going to be a job coach.

And get this: I’ll also be taking over their digital promotions. So I’ll be overhauling their website and coordinating their social media efforts. How cool is that? I get to help people and take what I’ve learned about digital marketing to help a small, local nonprofit improve their digital footprint!

The streams, they have converged.

Of course, this isn’t anywhere close to anything that was on my radar six months ago. There’s a lot I need to learn. I realize that. That’s probably why I kept showing up unprepared in my dreams. But I know that whatever I don’t know, I’ll be able to learn. I’ll be part of a great team and I’m sure they’ll help me as I try to help them. Am I a little nervous? Sure. But I’m also excited beyond words.

Will I retire with this organization? I don’t know. I certainly hope so. There’s definitely opportunity for professional growth. And a few of my teammates have been with the organization for several years. There’s some staying power here.

tl;dr – I’ve accepted a position as an Employment Coach, helping people find and thrive in their jobs.

While I’m sad to leave my teammates and students in our Essential Skills classroom, I know they are going to have an amazing year next school year.  I’m very excited to kick off this next chapter in my life. And I’m looking forward to what will unfold over the next few years.

 

* Family Christian Stores recently ended its 85 year run and closed all 240 stores. Even if I’d stayed with them, it’s a sure bet I would not have retired as an FCS team member.

 

So what shall I do with @Just_Matt_?

No straight lines make up my life; And all my roads have bends; There's no clear-cut beginnings; And so far no dead-ends. Harry Chapin, All My Life's a Circle

One year ago today, I received an email from the HR Director, asking if I wouldn’t mind stopping by her office for a little “chat.” I knew what that meant. It was early Tuesday morning and very few people had arrived in the office yet. I knew exactly what that meant.

Less than an hour later, I was walking out to my car to get a box so I could gather up my belongings. It wasn’t a surprise, really. It had happened to a lot of people in recent weeks. In fact, I was starting to see a bit of a pattern. But it still left me a little disoriented.

I had just been fired.

I can say all I want about how this was a blessing in disguise and that I’m better off now than I was then. Those statements are true. And I probably said those exact things to people that day. Because I believed them. But this was still a rather significant change in direction for our family. And can I just say that this couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time?

A week before this event, we moved into a new rental.

A week before that, we had purchased a new (to us) van.

Two days after I was fired, Christy’s teaching job lost funding.

The day after that was the one-year anniversary of Dave’s passing.

Emotionally? I don’t know if there could’ve been a worse time for this to happen. There was all this excitement about new things like the adoption and the van. That excitement was mixed with sorrow and uncertainty as we didn’t exactly know where this road was going to take us. It’s kind of tough to know what’s happening next when both family members lose their jobs in the same week.

Of course, there never really is a good time to get canned. Is there?

Anyway, I promise I’m in a better place. Of course, I miss some of my former teammates. But I really do love my new jobs. And pretty much everything about my life is in a better place. A much better place.  So I’m not really carrying any emotional baggage like I did back when we moved to Greenwood.

Back when I was guest-posting and doing other digital promotion for my former employer, I had created a second twitter account. Y’all already know about @mattdantodd. Right? And y’all are already following me. Right? If you aren’t, you can go ahead and click on over there and do that. I’ll wait.

I promise. I’m waiting.

Done?

Good.

You might have known about @mattdantodd. But I’ll bet you didn’t know about @Just_Matt_. Well, now you do. And I’m looking for some input about what to do with this account. You see, @Just_Matt_ has kind of lost his way. I’d love to help him find his way back on track. There’s no need for him to end at a dead end. Is there?

So on this, the one year anniversary of my life taking an unexpected turn, I’d like to know what you think I should do with @Just_Matt_. Should I primarily promote this blog through him? I kind of do that already through my main twitter account. I’m really not sure what to do with him at the moment. But I’m open to suggestions. Actually, this is me begging for suggestions.

What should I do with this twitter account?

I could try to bribe you by saying the winning suggestion will get some awesome prize. But I really don’t have an awesome prize to give away. All of our extra money is tied up in adoption expenses right now. Remember?

I’ll figure something out. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your suggestions!

Oh, and that quote at the top of this post? Here’s the rest of the song. I think it’s kind of fitting for today. Don’t you?

I’m not myself when I’m hungry at work

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #WhenImHungry #CollectiveBias

I'm not myself when I'm hungry #WhenImHungry #ad

I love my job. I have talked about how difficult the job can be at times, but I really do love it. I had no idea how fulfilling this job could be when I signed on. I had no idea how exciting and humbling and awe-inspiring it would be to watch a student write his name for the first time. I get more high fives and fist bumps and hugs in one week than I did during my entire tenure at my previous place of employment. I love these kids. And I work with a great team.

I love my job.

And that’s why I need to be at the top of my game. I want to give these kids my best effort every day. They need my best effort. And that doesn’t happen when I’m hungry. Because I’m not myself when I’m hungry. I’m more like a grumpy, grizzly, grouch.

Hungry Face #WhenImHungry #adMy palms get all clammy. Beads of sweat start to form on my forehead. My stomach starts to grumble. My lips begin to tremble. And my eye begins to twitch. I’m rarely a happy camper when I’m hungry.

It doesn’t exactly create the best academic environment when one of the instructional assistants is distracted and coming close to going on a rampage because he’s hungry. So I turn to SNICKERS®. I’ve especially become a fan of the SNICKERS® Peanut Butter Squared.

SNICKERS® available at Kroger #WhenImHungry #ad

I can pick one up in the checkout line at my neighborhood Kroger. It’s the perfect combination of peanut butter, nougat, peanuts, and caramel covered in milk chocolate. Oh, man. It’s so good. And it really hits the spot. It’s the perfect snack for when I’m starting to feel smacked around by my hunger in the middle of the day.

It fits perfectly in my backpack so I always know where it is and I can get to it easily. And since two squares come in one package, I can eat one and save the other for later. Of course, I can eat both squares in one sitting, too. Either way, my hunger will be satisfied.

SNICKERS® in my backpack #WhenImHungry #ad

I need to be able to give my full attention to the kids who are under my care when they’re at my learning station in our classroom. There’s no time to become a grumpy, grizzly, grouch. My time with these students is too precious. So there’s no time to be anyone but myself when I’m teaching them. So I can’t get hungry. Because I’m not me when I’m hungry.

SNICKERS® saves the day #WhenImHungry #adI’m definitely not myself when I’m hungry. Who are you when you’re hungry? Why not share it with the world? Enter the SNICKERS® “Who are you when you’re hungry?” contest by uploading a personal photo or video from your Computer, Facebook, Instagram or use the SNICKERS® Meme Generator to create something new! Voting begins at Noon on 5/11/15 and ends at 11:59:59AM ET on 7/15/15.

Be sure to check out more fun stories and recipes by visiting #WhenImHungry, too! You just might find yourself inspired. And you’ll definitely find ways to have your hunger satisfied.

 

Get rid of your stink with Irish Spring Signature for Men

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MySignatureMove #CollectiveBias

Get rid of your stink #MySignatureMove

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love my job at the local elementary school. Seriously. I love it. It’s challenging. It keeps me on my toes because something new happens every day. I couldn’t ask for better teammates to work with. I’ll be honest, some days are really tough. But it’s quite rewarding. That makes everything else worth it.

It can also be a pretty dirty job.

And there are times when I wind up taking some of that mess home with me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had food smeared on my pants or my shirt or my hair. And…well…how do I say this delicately? There are times when I have to deal with some stinky situations, if you know what I’m saying. And that stink can sometimes follow me around even after I leave the school. And sometimes I don’t even notice that stink until much later.

What is that smell #MySignatureMove

Truth be told, I’m kind of inclined to initially blame my son for the stink. He’s a teenager, after all. And he works out with the football team after school almost every day. That includes speed drills. So he sweats. A lot. Believe me. I know about teenage boys and body odor. So it’s easy to point the finger at him. But once I conclude that this unfortunate smell is not him, I try to blame the dog or the sewer or some poor unsuspecting neighbor who happens to walk by our house. I do eventually accept the fact that I am, in fact, the one who brought home the stink.

Once I discover that I’m the source, I know it’s time to do something about it.

A video posted by Matt Todd (@mattdantodd) on

Walmart In Store Photo #MySignatureMove

Made with natural ingredients, Irish Spring Signature for Men products are available at your local Walmart. The soap is a bigger cut, created with man-hands in mind. And the great new scents will help you banish the stink from your home.

Man sized soap for man sized hands #MySignatureMove

If you like smelling good and feeling clean, you need to give Irish Spring Signature for Men a try. If that doesn’t already convince you, maybe this will: Purchase one of the new Irish Spring Signature products and get $5 off a VUDU purchase! Take a picture of your receipt and then go here to upload your receipt. Next step, enjoy watching!

VUDU screenshot #MySignatureMove

It’s that simple. How cool is that?

Maybe you have a teenage guy at home and he smells…well, he smells like most teenage guys do. Or maybe he doesn’t usually stink, except when he’s playing sports. Instead of trying to figure out a way to dance around the issue, why not just give him some new soap? What are you waiting for? Get rid of that stink!

Soap and Body Wash #MySignatureMove

Or maybe your situation is like mine. You work at a job that has the potential of generating some serious stinkage. What are you waiting for? Man up and get rid of your stink!

Shower #MySignatureMove

This ain’t your Daddy’s Irish Spring – not that there is anything wrong with the original scent. But this is a new generation of body care products for a new generation of men. And when you decide to use it to ban the stink from your life, I’m pretty sure your family will thank you. Your neighbors might thank you. Your co-workers might thank you. Your goldfish might even thank you. And you just might discover your signature move.

#MySignatureMove mirror

Who in your life needs to banish the stink? Is it you?

 

I’ve become a walking cliché

Cliche

A few weeks ago, I wrote a little bit about my new job with an elementary school in the area. Even though it’s a tough job and can be emotionally exhausting at times, I really do love the job. There was one day not too long ago that the whole day was one meltdown after another, followed by one blowout after another. And all I could do was smile. I just couldn’t help myself.

I know.

Predictable, right? It’s like I’m saying this because I’m supposed to say it. Much like an award nominee says “It’s an honor just to be nominated.” It’s so…cliché.

Cliché: A phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought…A very predictable or unoriginal thing or person. – Oxford Dictionary (emphasis mine)

Oh, but that’s not all…

I didn’t mention that I also have another job. It’s at a Christian bookstore. I know, right? Where else would you expect a former pastor to eventually wind up? Of course!

Oh, I’m still not done…

Guess what this Christian bookstore does with all of its earnings. All proceeds from their sales go to support ministries that primarily focus on caring for orphans and widows. Earlier this year, there was a stirring in my heart. I started to think that maybe I needed to spend more of my time and talents in a career that was about actually helping other people instead of merely helping other people make money. I realize that’s a bit of a false dichotomy, but that’s how I felt.

So, of course I’m working with kids with special needs. And of course I’m working at a store that’s giving away all of its profits.

It’s just so…cliché.

But I’m OK with that.

My dirty job

I have started working as an Instructional Aide in a Life Skills classroom at an area elementary school. Here’s what I experienced during my first week:

I’ve been hit.

I’ve been scratched.

I’ve been spit at.

I’ve been pooped on.

I was *this close* to getting thrown up on.

And I don’t think I’d have it any other way. Sure, it’s tough. And it isn’t for everyone. But I think this is the most fulfillment I’ve felt from a job in a long time because I have the opportunity to launch a life every day.

"I have become convinced that if God stands a child before you, for even just a minute, it is a divine appointment. You have the chance to launch a life, if you will. You never know when you are making a memory." - Wess Stafford, "Just a Minute" page 15

Yeah, it’s a dirty job. But I get to do it. And it might not get much better than that.

Remembering Melissa (fireworks)

Melissa and I were teammates at work. We were paired together as a tw0-person team shortly after I started working at Slingshot. We worked pretty closely together. I think it is safe to say that we became pretty good friends.

Melissa
I found this picture on my work computer today. It’s left over from our time as teammates.

One day while we were skyping each other, one of us lamented the fact that while Skype has all kinds of crazy emoticons, they don’t have a fireworks emoticon. We agreed that Skype needed a fireworks emoticon. So we created our own.

(fireworks)

This became our go-to emoticon when something was going really well and we thought it was worth celebrating. You know how some teammates have special handshakes or high-fives or something like that? This was our special high-five.

When she left the company, the emoticon changed a little bit. Every once in a while, I’d send her a message. “(fireworks)” – that’s all it would say. It meant “Thinking of you. Hope you’re doing well.”

Then, I discovered this about a month ago:

Animal bobblehead

This was a big deal. Melissa had told me on several occasions that she wanted an Animal bobblehead. We honestly weren’t sure if they actually existed. But we did know that the very idea of an Animal bobblehead was a pretty cool idea. So I let her know about it right away.

animal bobbleheads

After my post about my Chewbacca bobblehead, I had decided that I was going to go buy an Animal bobblehead and give it to her. I was going to do that this weekend. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to give it to her.

I was saddened to discover this morning that Melissa had passed away today. I don’t really know any details. I think it’s safe to say that all who knew her are still in shock. I know I am.

Don’t wait until tomorrow to do what you can do today. Life’s too short to put things on pause. Let your friends know you care while there’s still time. Hug your loved ones a little bit tighter tonight. Tomorrow is not guaranteed to any of us. So let’s make the most of today while it’s still called today.

You will be missed, Melissa. Sorely missed.
Shoot, you already are.
(fireworks)