Travel in the Time of Covid-19

We didn’t want to do it, researched our options, but ultimately needed to make a trip from Dallas to Chicago and back.

My last day in the office was Friday, March 13th. My daughter, who is in her freshman year at Columbia College Chicago, got sent home early for Spring break and flew home on Sunday, March 15th. My boys, 7th grade and 10th grade, went on Spring Break that week and never went back.

We’ve been isolating at home and staying in place. My boys spend a week at my house, then a week at their dads. He’s been staying at home as well. We get our groceries delivered. We leave to walk the dogs.

I’ve had to go inside a store twice for meds, but I mask up, it’s in and out and I feel anxious for hours afterwards. We have a drive through liquor store for necessities. (LOL!) And about a week ago we hung out with friends at a local park (being careful to stay 6 feet away from each other).

But yesterday that all changed. When Columbia College Chicago shut down in March they told students to leave. To take what they could carry but leave the rest and vacate the residence halls. But a few weeks ago we were told we needed to get her things and be fully moved out by May 10th.

Reminder – we live in Dallas, her school is in Chicago. Here were our options:

  • Hire a moving company to enter her room, pack her things and ship them home
  • Ask someone who lives nearby to act as a proxy to enter her room, pack her things and ship them home
  • Drive to Chicago, pack her things and ship them home
  • Fly to Chicago, pack her things and ship them home

It was not an easy decision. Each one had positives and negatives. We looked at cost. We looked at time. We looked at exposure to ourselves. We looked at exposure to other people.

Ultimately we decided that flying to and from Chicago in a quick one day whirlwind trip to retrieve her belongings would take less time, cost less and expose less people than any other option.

So yesterday, May 7th, 2020, we set off on a strange trip during this unprecedented Pandemic.

Dallas Love Field
Security Line

With masks and antibacterial lotion in hand we got to Dallas Love Field about 6am on a Thursday morning. Normally there would be a couple of security lanes open and a small wait, but this morning it was sparse. We walked straight up to the TSA agent, presented our credentials, lowering our masks only for the ID verification) and headed over to the one lane open. There were about 6 people in front of us and we got through quickly.

If you’ve been to Dallas Love Field, you know the layout. You walk from security up a single corridor with bathrooms and a few restaurants/stores, then there is a left and right fork with about 10 gates on either side.

It was a ghost town. There was a Dunkin Donuts storefront open for coffee, but everything else was closed. Gates pulled down, signs on the entryways.

Our gate itself was pretty deserted. Not many people waiting. The majority who were there had masks on, but a surprising number of people did not.

Waiting at the gate in Dallas

They announced while we were waiting that in order to maintain social distancing, Southwest Airlines would not be serving beverages or snacks on our flight so we should get it while we could in the terminal. Then for boarding they boarded us in groups of 10. It was very organized and we were able to maintain distance.

Once on the plane, they had to rearrange passengers a bit to ‘balance out the weight’ – it was an 800 series plane and there were 34 of us on board to Chicago. Southwest is also blocking off the first few rows and last few rows of seats and asking people not to sit in middles unless you are traveling together. I was definitely impressed with their service.

Uneventful flight and landed at Chicago’s Midway airport. We love Midway – it’s good sized, but never super crowded. Good restaurants and easy to get around. When we de-planed I was again kind of shocked. It was 9:30am on a Thursday and the airport was empty. Like ghost town empty. No restaurants or shops we passed were open. It was surreal. Baggage claim had a handful of people. Weird.

We typically would take the train downtown to the Loop, but opted for a Lyft since it seems like it would be safer.

Got to her Residence hall super quickly – it’s on State Street, a block off of Michigan Avenue and in the heart of the city. The sidewalks were deserted. There were some cars, but zero actual traffic. On a weekday morning at 10:45am. In the middle of Chicago.

We were given just under two hours to pack her things and get out. They are being very strict about appointments to move out and timing and it was pretty stressful. But we got it done and were back outside walking for a Lyft back to the airport at 12:30pm.

Still barely any cars. An occasional person on the sidewalk in a mask, but deserted.

Back to Midway. Just like earlier it was empty. We checked our bags at the valet outside, then sped through security with maybe 10-15 people in line with us.

This is the area in between the three
terminals at Midway when you
pass through Security. Surreal.

Hungry at that point, we decided to find something to eat. At Midway we counted 4 stores open. One gift store. Two restaurants (for takeaway only) and Nuts on Clark (the popcorn store). Only one of the restaurants served alcohol of any kind. It was kind of a backfire, because with no other options, there were probably too many people at these places. Regardless, we were able to get some food and eat before we headed to our gate.

The flight home was a 737 and there were around 40 people on it. Again, a mixed bag of people in masks, people without masks and one person who had on goggles underneath a full gas mask type thing with leather gloves. It was interesting. They weren’t as strict about boarding small groups in Midway but it was organized enough.

After another uneventful flight back to Dallas, we get to the most interesting part. After landing, they come over the loudspeakers of the plane and say there are Troopers who will be talking to us when we de-board. If we are essential workers we should have our papers ready. If we are catching a connecting flight just let them know, but if we are staying in Texas they’ll have some paperwork for us to fill out.

DPS Troopers
Self-Quarantine Paperwork

In the terminal there were 4 DPS Troopers in uniforms and masks. Because we have come from Chicago, IL and are staying in Texas, there is an order from the Governor that we must self-quarantine for 14 days. We had to fill out a form with the address where we will be quarantined and a phone number along with our ID’s and names. Then we were given some paperwork with instructions.

Basically we are not allowed to leave our residence for 14 days or interact with people at all. They are authorized to check on us, either by visiting our residence and making sure we are at home or calling us. We are subject of a fine of up to $1000 or up to 180 days in jail if we violate the order. (Apparently you can violate it if you are a salon owner in Texas, so I’m not sure how enforceable this is.)

We will be honoring the quarantine. My boys are staying with their dad for the next two weeks (not the Mother’s Day I imagined, but it’s just a day.) We’ll walk the dogs with masks on but stay home otherwise and monitor ourselves for symptoms just in case. Hopefully we were able to stay safe on our trip and avoided the virus.

We made it back home about 15 hours from when we left. It was a whirlwind trip that we will not forget. And one day, when my great grand kids ask about this time, we will have a story for them about our crazy travel day during the pandemic.

Stay safe everyone.

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In Case You Were Wondering If PTSD Is Real….

Sunday evening, just dropped the boys off at their dad’s. Hanging out with my daughter (who is in from college for the first time in two months), prepping some food and munching on goodies in the kitchen.

There is some lightning picking up outside and I knew we were in for storms.

But then it happened.

The Security System panel beeped loudly with an alert.

I haven’t heard that sound since that day. Since the day (almost 4 years ago now) that our house was hit by a tornado.

The alert on the panel said, “Tornado Warning”. Just what it said back on that day.

And just like that, my chest tightens. It becomes a little harder to breathe.

I start fluttering around. Looking for a live stream weather app on my phone so I can see what is up.

Refresh, refresh…page won’t load.

Takes deep breaths. Finds one that loads and starts watching and pacing.

Daughter is chill. A bit annoyed with me. (My coping mechanism is information and anxiety, hers is avoidance.)

Notices the current radar is showing the rotation pretty much right over where my office is. Seriously? Start hyperventilating a little. Feeling a bit overwhelmed.

Texts a few people. Gathers papers, laptops, dogs & flashlight and we go into our safe room. With shoes on. (ALWAYS HAVE SHOES ON WHEN SHELTERING!)

Obsesses over radar on phone.

Refresh, refresh…page won’t load.


Sitting in the shelter has helped though. Ok, shelter sounds more glorious than it is. I’m really sitting on the floor of our downstairs half bath. But sitting has grounded me. I can breathe again.

I think we have the all clear. For now.

Spends next two hours obsessively looking at social media, not wanting to see the effects, but not able to tear my eyes away. Feeling so terribly overwhelmed for everyone who is climbing over rubble.

Try to go to bed. Another storm hits. Power goes out. Can’t even…


Not sure this will ever get easier.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is real y’all.

And if you have weather rolling through, and they sound the sirens. Please, please, pay attention. Take cover. Put on your shoes.

And reach out to me if you need to talk. I most definitely have this figured out, but at least we can curse mother nature together.

Posted in Quirky Stuff, Thrive Tribe | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dreamforce WIT Diversity Scholarship

If you are part of the Salesforce Ohana, you are already aware that Dreamforce is the place to be each year. It is where we learn about new features and functionality coming to the platform, where we share best practices and how-to’s and hugs. Where we celebrate the successes of others in the Ohana-sphere.

This year, to one lucky start-up, Dreamforce can be a pivotal experience thanks to the WIT Diversity Scholarship sponsored by my friends at Spekit.

If you have or know of a start-up in the Salesforce space that is minority owned and ready for market this scholarship could be the step you need to get off the ground.

Share with those around you and encourage them to apply – submissions are due Monday, September 23rd! I can’t wait to hear who gets selected and hear about what awesome things they are bringing to the table!


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Instructions? Who knew?

My kids (especially the youngest) like to holler, “MOooooOOOMMMMM!” from downstairs and the other side of the house when they need help with something.

Sometimes it is a genuine need. Other times they are simply being lazy, but usually it’s because they are doing something they haven’t done before and don’t know what to do. Maybe it’s heating something up for lunch or getting started on a project or craft.

I typically respond with my favorite quote from Alice in Wonderland:

Read the directions and directly you’ll be directed in the right direction!

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Insert groans. I mean, really? Who wants to take the time to read the directions?

If you are like me, you have a lot of Salesforce Users (who you love almost as much as your children) who also have issues reading the directions.

But, let’s be honest, writing directions is hard. Keeping the directions up to date as your business changes and your system changes is even harder. So if your users say things like ‘What directions?’ or ‘Those screen shots are really old, is this the latest version?’, don’t feel bad. It’s a common struggle for even the savviest of Salesforce Admins!

And while I can’t help you train your children to read the directions, I can tell you about an app we found that can help you get your users the information they need about fields, objects, and business processes right at their fingertips while they are in the system.

And better yet – the ease of adding/editing/managing this information is second to none! If you haven’t heard of it yet, prepare to have your mind blown!

Introducing Spekit!

Spekit is a super fabulous female-owned and operated company formed because the two co-founders felt the same frustrations with documentation and decided to do something about it!

Spurred by low adoption of our new technologies (Salesforce), constantly outdated documentation, slow ramp-up time of new hires and lots of frustration we asked ourselves:

What if we could automatically track process changes in our applications in a centralized location and push training to our users, when and where they needed it?

Melanie Fellay, Co-Founder and CEO
Zari Zahra, Co-Founder and CPO

Spekit brings the documentation directly where your users need it while also making the documentation process itself SO FREAKING EASY!

Like, literally. I’m not kidding. You can be working in Salesforce and one of your users asks you what they should put in a certain field. With Spekit, and your two pointer fingers, you can hover over the Spek icon on your screen, click the edit button and pound out the information like a pigeon getting her dinner on!

Or even better, you can assign an Expert and let someone else (maybe the process owner) be responsible for the information presented to the user!

I could add lots of screenshots and stuff, but can go even one better on you – you can try it out for FREE! Yep – you read that right. Check it out and see what you think!

Now if we can just figure out how to apply this to our home and kids and we’d all be golden!

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Be The Salesforce Admin You Were Meant To Be!

So I’ve been a Salesforce Admin for a while, I’ve worked with other admins (salesforce and other system admins), interacted with admins in the Trailblazer community, FinancialForce community and local community groups.

There are so many awesome admins out there with some fabulous skill sets! I learn something through every single interaction.

One of the things that I think I excel at, is looking at the system and the processes as an extension of the business (and how we do business) as opposed to just being a tool that I administer.

A Salesforce Admin has all the skills to create new fields and objects, setup flows and process builders and sharing rules. They have all the skills to create reports and dashboards and add picklist values and more.

If you can do all those things, you can most certainly do the job of a Salesforce Admin.

But if you want to take your career to the next level. If you want to become integral to your business and really be an Innovator, you’ve got to do more than that.

You’ve got to understand the business itself. How your company does business, how they sell, how they engage with customers, how they do the things they need the system for. WHY they do the things they need the system for.

This way, as you are administering the system, you can ask the important questions – things like:

  • Why do you need this new field?
  • Who is going to fill out the field?
  • Where are they going to get the information to fill out this field?
  • Who is going to report on the data in this field?
  • How will the data in this field be evaluated?
  • When will they fill out this information?

It is easy to add a field. But asking these questions can help clear up/define a business process, guide business leaders about how their use of the system can either drive results or create unclear requirements and provide valuable input into data quality and data usage to enable an ultimately better use of the system as a whole.

When a user asks you what they need to put in Field XYZ, how do you answer? Do you give them the available values and send them on their way? Or do you explain the use of the field, describe the values that are available and provide guidance as to the importance (down the line) of what they put there?

To me, the answer to the above really shows the difference between an Admin and an Innovative Admin. An Innovative Admin has such a deep connection with the system and the business processes that the system supports that she feels it is her duty to explain (sometimes over-explain) the importance of the data to the processes.

I’ve worked with SysAdmins of other systems as we are integrating data and nothing irks me more than being told I need to send over a field value of ‘XYZ’ but they aren’t able to tell me what the field value does or represents. ‘I don’t know, it’s just required’ is the WORST possible answer.

Do. Not. Be. That. Admin.

By working to understand your business as a whole, the business processes and how the system is used to support that you become that magic combination of Admin, Analyst, Architect. You begin to see across the matrix so that when someone asks for something your mind can immediately see and trace the lines to the records and departments and processes that it touches. You can help to ensure that people aren’t working in a bubble, that people understand the inputs and outputs of the things they are working on and the effects of those, and ultimately become someone who is integral to your entire group!

And that’s when the fun begins!

And that is when a job turns into a career!

Posted in Salesforce Queen, Thrive Tribe | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments