Under Pressure

Next week, my company will start bringing people back into the office. I’m part of “phase 1,” meaning that I’m expected to return to my office on campus on Monday.

I am terrified.

Coronavirus is still very real. The number of cases is increasing, (particularly in the county I live in). I do my best to wash my hands frequently, observe social distancing, and wear a mask in public. I’ve barely left the house in the past few months.

There is immense pressure to return to the office, but I’m torn. I could leave this company, or take a leave of absence and come back when things are safer. But then I’d be leaving a job I truly love and scrambling to find a way to keep the bills paid. Or I can return to the office (as I plan to on Monday) and put my health and the health of the people I love at risk. It’s a rock and a hard place indeed.

I don’t want to make it seem like I’m being thrown to the wolves. My company is requiring masks in community areas, and we are getting a solo office if we want one. I’ve learned more than I ever thought I would about the HVAC system we used—the company is improving the air filtration system and shared details about it with us. All of these things are great for sure.

But what about the elevators?

The break rooms?

The copy areas?

All it takes is one person.

One person being careless or showing up to work sick and all hell breaks loose. I understand that people want things to get back to “normal.” But unfortunately things probably won’t be “normal” for quite some time.

Honestly, things may never go back to the way they were.

When I return to work, I won’t be going to in-person meetings. I’ll be calling into meetings from my office, with the door closed and the window open.

When I return to work, I won’t be in a classroom teaching groups of 20-40 people. I’ll be in my office, training those exact same people virtually. I won’t be able to see their faces, but I can still educate them and support them.

When I return to work, I won’t drop by someone else’s office to troubleshoot an issue, or ask a question, or just say “hi.” I’ll be calling people, or using video conferencing—all with a sign on my office door telling people to call me instead of stopping by.

When I return to work, there will be no lunchtime gatherings with coworkers as we enjoy delicious food from the cafeteria buffet lines. I’m bringing my lunch every single day, and my own silverware too. I’m currently trying to figure out how I can bring enough water for the day so I don’t have to go to the water fountain or the break room for a drink.

When I return to work, it won’t be “normal” in many ways. As I think about it, there is one way in particular that will make going to work completely abnormal for me.

I’ll be scared to do it.

Eating Well and Helping Out #100HappyDays

Day 94:  Eating well makes me happy.  I’ve mentioned it a few times on the blog but for those who may not know, I’m a vegetarian.  (Fun fact:  July 8 was my one year veggie-versary!)  I originally became vegetarian in order to eat healthier and improve my lifestyle, but quickly fell into the habit of eating very unhealthy vegetarian foods.  (Another fun fact:  French fries and cheese pizza are in fact vegetarian, but they aren’t the best foods for you.  #TheMoreYouKnow)  I’ve also been working with a personal trainer, and he encouraged me to start a food diary to keep up with the number of calories and amount of protein I’m eating (peep this post for more on that).  Now I know it’s possible to have a delicious, filling dinner for under 700 calories!  (Final fun fact:  This does not mean I’m never going to each french fries or cheese pizza again.  A lady has to indulge every now and again.)

Day 95:  Helping out my company makes me happy.  I actually have *two* days in the office this week!  And I chose to spend two hours of each one not working in my office.  (That’s #assbackwards I know.)  Our annual company picnic is on Saturday, and I’m helping out with advance registration. Volunteering for this internal opportunity made me happy in a few ways:

  1. I get to spend time in a part of campus that I never go to.
  2. I met three really cool coworkers that I probably wouldn’t have talked otherwise.  (In a company of 9000+ people, it’s easy to work with folks you’ve never met.)
  3. I got to brush off my retail customer service skills.
  4. I got to pick up my own tickets in advance.
  5. I got a free t-shirt!

Throwing Shade, Writing Poems, and Saying Goodbye #100HappyDays

Day 73:  Throwing shade makes me happy.  Two of my very best squirrel friends, Kathy and Julia, love RuPaul’s Drag Race as much as I do.  We have a call every two weeks to throw shade on the current season (and also to catch up on life).  Hearing their opinions on the queens and latest life updates makes me so happy.

Day 74:  Using analogies makes me happy.  As someone who teaches adults every day, I’ve come to realize that the adult brain learns a bit differently than the child brain does.  So, I like to come up with fun analogies to help my trainees learn the new information.  The analogy I used this time?  Chip and Joanna Gaines from HGTV’s Fixer Upper.  🙂  A lot of my trainees said they had a “light bulb moment” after hearing that analogy, so I think I’ll keep using it!

Day 75: Being creative make me happy.  Speaking of teaching adults, I wrote a haiku for my class because they were so awesome.  They had great question and paid excellent attention during class, so I wrote them a quick poem to express my gratitude.  They really liked it!

Day 76: Weddings make me happy.  My boyfriend invited me to the wedding of one of his coworkers.  It was beautiful!  The weather was perfect for the outdoor ceremony, and the groom cried when the bride walked down the aisle (So sweet!).  I had a great time meeting the groom, bride, and other folks my boyfriend works with–and the cake was delicious!

Day 77: Reliving my childhood makes me happy.  I downloaded a bunch of sweet 90s music and it really took me back to “the good old days.”  You know–the days when I got summers off and didn’t have to pay bills.  Here’s one of the many songs I got–enjoy!

 

Day 78: Getting fit makes me happy. Today was my monthly weigh-in at the gym–and I lost 3.6 lbs!  I’m really working on lowering the number of calories I eat and getting enough protein in my diet.  Hopefully next month I’ll have even better progress!

Day 79: Getting rid of old stuff makes me happy.  Today I sold Raven, my old car. It was a bittersweet moment–that car was my college graduation gift and saw me through my first apartment, a move to Madison, and six snowy Wisconsin winters.  But now that I have Stella (peep this post to meet her) I couldn’t justify keeping Raven too.  The money I got from selling Raven will go toward paying down my credit card. (Not a fun way to spend the cash, I know, but #adulting)  I hope Raven’s new owners enjoy her as much as I did!

Raven

Ride on, Raven! Thanks for nine awesome years!

Anniversaries, Work Life, “…and a brand new car!” #100HappyDays

Days 40-41: New cars make me happy! It’s my great pleasure to introduce…Stella. She’s a 2017 Subaru Crosstrek and she’s ALL MINE. She’s stylish and, most importantly, good for these Wisconsin winters. Last winter I got stuck in a (pretty shallow) ditch and had to be towed out–I’m hoping Stella will get me out of those sticky situations if they arise in the future. 

Day 42: Anniversaries make me happy. One year ago, my boyfriend and I went on our first date. We’ve been together ever since, and I am so grateful for him. He lets me be me, which is something I’ve never had in a relationship. We make a great team and I’m looking forward to spending many more years with him!

Day 43: Doing new workouts makes me happy. Each month, my trainer comes up with a new set of exercises for our sessions. I really like learning new stuff, so this is always a fun time for me.  I’m sure my trainer gets tired of my constant questions about what muscles will be worked and if my technique is good though. 

Day 44: Coworkers who are also friends make me happy. Imagine my surprise when I go to leave for work and my garage door wouldn’t open! I couldn’t get it open manually and had to be at work at 8am, so I called my officemate. She came to pick me up and I truly appreciated it! She is an awesome person to work with and also a good friend, which is a tough combination to find sometimes. 

Day 45: Teaching camp makes me happy. I’ve been teaching classes to internal staff this week–we call them “camps”–and I have really enjoyed this group of campers. They ask great questions and even laugh at my corny jokes. 🙂

Being Happy #100HappyDays

Day 18: Being happy makes me happy. 

I know you’re like, “What kind of Inception shit is that?” 🙂 Further explanation is required, so awwwwwwwww here it goes:

Today I was working at the tech helpdesk for our customer conference. I spoke with quite a few coworkers, and two of them gave me the same compliment: “Every time I see you, you are so happy and energetic. I’ve never seen you have a bad day.” 

That definitely put a smile on my face because I have plenty of bad days. I’ve got a number of issues I’m battling right now, but I always try to treat people how I want to be treated. I always attempt to put positivity into the world because I believe you get what you give. Sometimes it’s hard to be upbeat, but I try. And I appreciate that people see the effort.