Adventures in Filing: My New Office Life!

Today it’s been one month since I started my new job as a clerical receptionist for a non-profit.

Turns out the combination of routine and variety is the perfect fit for me.

It’s given a stability to my life that was instantly a relief. I sleep deeper and easier now. Earlier.

Awake, I’m calmer.

I have a professional job with a reputable local company. It took skill and experience to land this gig.

I don’t dread being asked what I do or where I work anymore. In fact, I enjoy bringing it up.

Knowing that I secured this job entirely on my own merit makes me feel incredible and competent. My last job, a friend recommended me. But I found this ad online and quickly landed an interview because I wrote a great cover letter and believed in myself. I interviewed twice.

This company has high standards and has made an investment in me. I feel optimistic and secure.

I work for a company in line with my own values if social justice. I haven’t felt this at home since I was reporter, exactly 10 years ago.

I love going to the same office every day, seeing the same co-workers and the same clients.

I love getting dressed up everyday  except Friday, when we can wear jeans. I love toting my briefcase in.

I love having tasks that also get me out of the office too. I love the freedom!

I love that I play a vital role in so many small ways: answering the phone, relaying messages, connecting phone calls, printing out forms, emailing, helping clients sign in. Answering questions. Data entry, making reports and of course, filing.

I actually find filing to be relaxing. I get to have a little quiet time and stand up if I want a break from sitting. The repetitive nature of it lets me relax my mind and focus on a simple task.

I love that on my lunch hour I can pay bills or run errands.

I love that a co-worker’s healthy eating habits are a good influence on me.

I also feel more connected to my parents, as they are both professionals who thrived in corporate life.

My step-mother was an executive secretary for 30 years and retired well. She feels pride that I’m emulating her career path. I’m happy that this life is such a natural fit for me. As opposites in many ways, now we have something substantial in common again.

And this job is legit. After my trial period is over I can look forward to benefits, PTO, and the other trappings of working for  an established, thriving company.

I CAN TAKE A VACATION THIS YEAR??!! Whoa.

Best of all? I have WEEKENDS FREE now!!

After five years of working weekends and holidays, it’s such a blessing.

I can make long-term plans!!! And really, it’s like I’ve gained Fridays back because before I always worked all day Saturday, so I couldn’t go out Friday nights.

I am blessed beyond measure. Overflowing with gratitude.

Thank you, Lord, for this new job.

Graveyard Run: Epic FAIL!

Not every run is a good ‘un, as I learned the hard way tonight!

I was excited to try this new running/game app, “Run, Zombies!” A co-worker told me about it and it sounded so novel and Halloweeny, I thought I’d be obsessed.

Even more, I thought the most fun way to test it out would be to make the setting appropriate: a local graveyard. No, I didn’t go at night– I don’t need any broken bones tripping over a headstone.

It was my fault for :

A.) Dressing too warmly, with a light hoodie.

B.) NOT applying the OFF! first.

Hilarious that I’ve successfully run several times through woodsy areas at several times of day/night without any bites– but tonight I was getting dive-bombed by those little blood-sucking fliers.

I just showed up at cemetery nearby and decided to park my car, then walk the the side and run the perimeter. I turned on the app/game and suddenly there was a British voice narrating in my ear. I didn’t select any music.

It was fun, but also a a bit boring. Once I heard there were “zoms”– slang for zombies– chasingbloo me, but nothing happened. I’m not sure if they got me or if they just backed off quickly, but it wasn’t the drama I had hoped to motivate me to run faster.

I did run through some of the graves.

Strangely, I came upon the headstone of the mother of a former friend, with whom I’ve lost touch for a few years now. All the time I knew her, I’d never been to see it. I recognized her father’s name first. I knelt down and said a little prayer to her, and for her daughter and family.

But I was a total wimp in other regards. I didn’t even last a full mile– I was about .75 when I checked.  I was too hot and didn’t have a t-shirt underneath.  The skeeters were awful.

I headed home.

I’ll try it again! But with better planning.

Not sure if this game will grow on me, or if it’s too confusing for me to enjoy.

This is absolutely the worst run I’ve had, and the first that I just got NOTHING out of!

Any advice for me? With all the reviews this app has gotten, I’m sure there are some devoted fans of “Zombies, Run!”

I thought of my friend Amanda, now passed. She WAS obsessed with zombies. She would have loved this game. She would have been the perfect person to call and describe this misadventure to.

Tonight I learned I need to pay more attention to weather or at least dress in layers, and NEVER underestimate the need for bug spray.

I want to take another stab at this app! Maybe in another graveyard.

The Trails Taken

Today I ran after work, starting at 6:30. I had a somewhat frustrating day and knew this was the stress-reliever I needed.

I returned to yesterday’s location, but took a different route. It was mostly road– I recognized I was running the periphery of the forest from yesterday.

I made a decision again to just let go and try something new, though this time I was on a time crunch, and it would be dark soon. It was a bit windy and overcast– felt like fall!! How I relished that flirtatious breeze hinting of a chill.

This time, I happened upon a group of kids, who seemed to be having a race of some kind. Adults were standing near a stretch of road as kids crossed over and others cheered. I wanted to go where they were going.

I saw a newer friend from this year– turns out she’s involved with a kids’ cross-country team. Her daughter was in it!

It just felt like I was going the right way. My running app announced I’d hit my first mile and I kept going for a bit, but couldn’t resist the pull toward the woods.

This time I DID put on OFF! The last thing I need is a bunch of bites.

Ahh, a hill descending! I skipped down it precisely, angling to the side so that I didn’t fall or slide. And at the bottom, there was my uprooted tree again. I hauled myself up again and this time balanced across it without slipping. I was getting mud all over me– my shoes, hands, legs.

Glorious!

And then the climb back upwards. A short wooden bridge!

Today I had programmed a Prince track into my Pandora– so perfect. I got “Dirty Diana,” and “Jungle Love,” while navigating that tree and the hill and meeting the trail again.

I exited the forest quicker this time, and sensed I was close to getting back to where I began.

I was right– I saw my car but kept going because I wanted to get at least 2.5 miles. I had wanted three, but was already almost late for my plans and it was getting dark.

But 2.55 miles in 43:04 isn’t so bad! It’s only half my distance from yesterday but considering I started early evening after a full day’s work and didn’t have the sunshine, I think that’s pretty dang good.

The biggest change is that it didn’t feel so rough. I remember when I could barely breathe after that distance.

And I got in two runs on consecutive days.

I still had to walk a few little times. But my body is getting acclimated to running.

It’s happening! There’s no going back now.

And it totally worked. I was a little muddy, just sweaty enough, and smiling by the time I ended my run and got in my car to drive home.

I realized I didn’t need to talk out the things that had bothered me, or at least not all of them. Running just made me at peace and renewed my faith that tomorrow will be better.

Yay for endorphins!

I Will Run ( 5.01 Miles!!)

I hit my summer goal this afternoon, without even trying!

FIVE MILES!! Timed at 49:59, with an average of 9:58. Yeah, I’m melting my time down!!

It’s been 13 days since my last run, when I vowed I would hit 5 miles by this summer. And to my glee, I didn’t feel out of shape all. I started off running and kept it going. My legs didn’t hurt. I was full of energy.

Last night I went to a friend’s party in the city, and slept in this afternoon. I woke up and wanted to run.

I drove to the same spot I had run last time, and decided to just run amuck today. I stopped caring about how fast I was going, or even where I was going.

I allowed myself to just follow whatever trail I felt like, trusting I would find my way back eventually. I had nowhere particular to be this afternoon.

Without either water or OFF!, I set out to explore the woods.

On the way I saw two girls laying on a blanket near the river bank, facing each other and cuddling. High school, maybe college. Their ponytails were splayed  above their heads, and they were unaware of anything else around them. Ah, young love!

I came to a place in the woods with a big uprooted tree, and decided to climb it. My shoes didn’t have much traction, and it was clear myriad other trail hikers/runners had already scaled it. The tree was smooth, but I enjoyed finding footholds and hoisting myself up. I walked across the tree, balancing. I spied a fuzzy yellow caterpillar inching toward me. Then I balanced on a smaller root path across a little creek, and pulled myself up a hill by roots.

I got my shoes in the mud! Fantastic.

Two different girls, friends, were trying to take a picture together on that same tree. I offered to take it for them. They thanked me and I went on my way.

The trails were all so twisty I knew I’d never find my way back. But I wasn’t worried– I liked not knowing my path.

I passed several couples of men and women, mostly middle-aged, walking together. Some holding hands.

There were solo bikers, runners, people walking their dogs.

I stopped some of them to ask where I was– I knew somewhere in Shorewood. I asked how close I was to my starting point. I listened to their answers.

I asked God to guide me.

Just as I was really feeling thirsty, a red water pump appeared just ahead. I heaved myself on the handle and ice water spurted out. I cupped my hand under it and drank from it after several pumps. Refreshed,  I kept going.

My phone announced I’d hit my initial goal for this run– 2.75 miles.

This is the first run where I’ve fully let GO like that— no plan, no worries about pace.

I’m starting to trust myself.

I’m learning to let go of control.

I did walk probably the last mile or a little more.

Finally I came back to exactly where I’d started and my phone clocked at 5.01 miles.

I smiled and cheered for myself.

Also , a running friend reminded me of another 5K coming up– I am registered!

With my first race, I think I expected that I would magically transform into the perfect runner with all the adrenaline I needed on race day. But I was still me, still struggling.

The only solution is just to keep registering for as many 5K’s as I can, to keep myself in a perpetual state of training.

I’m up for the challenge!!

Sixty Compressions : Re-certified

At my new job, I’m going through training.

It includes CPR amongst several other relevant categories for my position. In several different scenarios where someone may lose breath or consciousness, or become wounded.

But this  training really struck me. I’ve done it several times, as a pre-school teacher and a social work staff. Years ago.

But this time, we really got into details.

We had to assemble our own practice mannequins, for one. I felt more competent, being so involved in the process.

I learned that the current standard for adults is 30 chest compressions, followed by two breaths–twice. So, sixty.

That you have to press down a full two inches, hard enough to make an impact. That you may crack a rib or hear otherwise unpleasant sounds– and that you just keep going until someone else arrives to relieve you, the person responds, the AED arrives, or EMT’s.

It’s a huge responsibility.

But I was proud to be taking it on.

This time I had to put together a mannequin head with a cardboard frame which connected to a plastic tube, and a soft plastic bag threaded through the tube to mimic lungs. I put a t-shirt over the frame to make it look more real.

I could feel the bag collapse and inflate. When I tipped the mannequin head back and blew air inside, I could see the “chest” rise. I could tilt back the chin.

The details.

I was intimidated to begin, but gained confidence as we continued the practice.

As I knelt next to my mannequin prop, and positioned my hands atop it, I felt the pressure on the bottom hand. Doing this correctly actually hurt me a little bit. I took off my mother’s ring (which I never do.) My watch and bracelet.

I noticed that just sitting on my knees and leaning over in order to do this, I was a little uncomfortable. It was a little harder to expel my own breath in that position, and I really had to exhale with gusto.

I used to be a casual smoker, and have since quit. I never bought my own pack– I’d just bum one occasionally. Now my lungs are fine.  I realized that if I was a current smoker, I would not be able to do the breathing part correctly. I would be winded myself.

It hit me then how imperative it is to be healthy not just for own health, but to serve others as well.

But my amateur lungs worked hard enough that that “chest” still rose with each breath.

I have the power to save a life. Wow.

We all counted aloud, quickly. We joked that it’s to the rhythm of “Stayin’ Alive!”

As for me, I just stuck with counting.

Then we each did our testing individually with the instructors. We all passed.

I was proud that I didn’t need any prompting to remember.

I was able to ensure the safety of the scene, ask for help, assign someone to call 9-1-1 and grab an AED, and complete my 60 compressions and two breaths quickly, on the first try.

I’m proud to have a job that entails this knowledge and trains me for it.

I’ve never had to use my training. But if needed, I now am aware how to respond:

“I know CPR. Can I help you?”

First Post-5K Run: Fall Down, Get Up

I ended up sleeping in today and missing Mass, because my legs were so sore. And maybe because my first 5K took more out of me than I was anticipating, truthfully.

I’m not sure why, because I’ve run farther than yesterday several times now. But I only had one other run that fast– and after that I waited probably three days to run.

What I’m experiencing is “the burn,” as I take it. It’s a sign that I did things right!

But this afternoon I redeemed myself by going for a run in a new place. I didn’t know the trail– I just felt like trying it.

I found a shadowy arch of trees covering a gravel trail. And I took a chance.

And for extra excitement, I DID NOT spritz on my OFF! Living dangerous, people.

The trail was small, maybe a foot across? Or less.

And the weather was perfect– circa 75 degrees, overcast.

Meandering through the foliage was such an adventure! I was stepping through and over all kinds of plants and roots. I had the vague feeling I had been there many years ago, as a Girl Scout. I never made it past the rank of Brownie, because my troop didn’t have a leader and disbanded. I never picked it up again.

Twice, I tripped and went down. My first time! I ended up with a few little scrapes on my knees and thigh– luckily nothing else.

But both times I just got right back up and kept going.

“THIS is running,” I told myself. And I was convinced in that moment that indeed, my early hunch was right on: I am a sucker for trail running.

The best surprise was that my inner compass has advanced– I never got lost or panicked.  If I wasn’t sure, I was able to just slow down for a moment and be logical. Then I’d make a decision and proceed. I followed it pretty far through several places where it branched off and was able to remember and have the confidence to keep going.

I felt both safe and challenged.

Dirt, rocks, roots. I love it.

Near the end, it started spitting! As I’ve said before, that’s an expression my Grandma used for light rain. It was the perfect balance to the humidity. I smiled to myself.

All this lush life surrounding me was magical– I felt like the White Rabbit in “Alice in Wonderland,” scurrying around.

Except I wasn’t late for anything– I had nowhere else to be. It was perfect.

So instead of skipping a run today, I got back out there.

I hope to get to the point where running an entire 5K will be a no-brainer for me.

But one run at a time, one trail at a time, I’m gaining confidence and endurance.

My First 5K!! No Looking Back

I ran a 5k this morning. The 4th Annual Theresa Lang 5K, in my hometown of Joliet, IL.

I got to say that today! My first ever. I chose this one because I was friends with the woman honored in this race– it only makes sense that her event be my first.

I felt her spirit with us when I saw a young girl in the parking lot, a volunteer, totally jazzed with energy. She was yelling and dancing and positively HOPPING with joy. She just exuded fun. That’s how Theresa was, and why she is still mourned deeply by myriad people. That jubilant spirit is why she is worthy of this event.

FIrst, it is so wonderful to wake up early, run, and then go on with my day. Like it’s just part of my routine!!

My biggest fear had been that I would tragically sleep through the race entirely. But I made it!! I started with everyone.

Second, my experience was made so much better because my close friend Jennifer signed up to support me– so I wouldn’t have to run my first race alone. She’s invited me to other 5k’s this year, coming up soon. I think it’s so cool that this is a part of our friendship– something we have in common and can do together! Plus, it’s healthy.

This was only her third 5k, so we’re both beginners. And though she can run faster than me, she never left me behind. She stayed within 5 feet and slowed down if I was really struggling. She’d ask me if I wanted to walk or run. She was very accepting of my ability, which was such a gift. My original goal had been to run the whole thing, but I didn’t. However, I’m still proud!! I finished. And I wasn’t last!

Just having someone there with me made the race so much more meaningful.

I heard there were 140 runners signed up– online, it says that I finished in 42:18, 96th place. I’ll take that!!! And though a 5K is supposed to be 3.1 miles, somehow my Nike Running app calculated us at 3.42 miles? I’m not complaining!

When it started I was pretty intimidated– it seemed like most of the runners passed me up right away. But I took the advice of Jen, who told me to just run steady, that we’d end up passing a good amount of them who would be walking and etc.  And she was never annoyed when I had to slow down. But she would also encourage me to go faster.

When I had to walk or was losing motivation, I told myself I wasn’t allowed to look behind me. It didnt’ matter who was back there– it only mattered that I keep going!!

She also tried something out of her comfort zone– for the first time, she ran without music. She wanted to get the full experience of the other runners. I didn’t have music either.

And considering that I ran late last night and didnt’ get enough sleep, I think I performed extremely well. Lesson learned for the future: NO RUNNING the night before a race!!

I’ll continue running 5K’s, and I will continue to grow in ability and endurance.

Running is a skill and a passion for me.

Today is such a milestone!!

Probably the best was taking a few pictures after the race, with Jen and I, one of me alone with my arms in the air– holding that gloriously cold bottle of ice water. And one of me near the “Start” sign.

Theresa Lang’s 5K today marked the beginning of my official running life.

I’ve already got my eye on another next month!!