PSST!*

Everyone knows that things change, right?  Stagnation is not good and as reluctant as some of us may be to deal with change, it happens.  I for one, loathe the very idea of change.  Maybe because I spent the early part of my life ricocheting all over, sort of like the ball in a pinball game.  We lived here, then we lived there, then we moved back here.  I lost count of how many schools I attended before fourth or fifth grade.  See?  I don’t even remember when we stopped bouncing.  But even that was only a temporary respite before our mother came and took us back to live with her.  Then she moved us again.  At least that particular move was within the same county.  And heck, I got to attend the same high school all four years.  Progress I guess.

Fast forward umpteen years to 2015.  A few weeks back–maybe as long as a couple of months ago actually–I was promoted to “lead secretary”.  This amounted mainly to a new title as I was already performing most of the tasks the lead handles.  Life went on without much additional change.  I struggled to figure out a backup system for when one or another of us had to be out.  That might not sound difficult but I have one secretary who has 6 people on her desk on a regular day.  I can’t always expect her to have the capacity to help when someone else is out.  Another of my secretaries only supports one professional, but she doesn’t have the bandwidth to offer help either.  Her workload is hugely different from that of the rest of us and other than the occasional copying or scanning, she can’t provide much assistance.  Plus she works with attorneys in some of our other offices around the country which ties up her time.  (She has since asked to be returned to her previous secretarial group because she felt so bad about not being able to help us.)

There are now six secretaries in our group, counting me.  Each of us has at least 3 attorneys on our desk, most have 4 and as I mentioned, one has 6.  So if one or more of us is out – well, you do the math.  It can get crazy-aunt busy around here.  But I’d come up with a plan that seemed fair and, on paper anyway, looked like it would work.

Fast forward again to a couple of weeks ago.  I received a call from the HR rep who said the Director of Administration was sitting in her office and they’d like to see me.  Oh, and don’t worry.  Phew!  She could have led with that, right?

Big changes are afoot.  The firm has mandated that support for associates who are in their first, second or third year out of law school, be provided from a team rather than individual secretaries.  This announcement wasn’t supposed to roll out until everything was in place for its initiation at the beginning of May, but apparently rumors were floating about and a secretary brought them to the attention of the Administrative Partner (or the Local Poohbah).  LP met with the Director and the HR rep and they decided to make the announcement early to get the facts out there.  I never heard the rumors but I’m guessing they were way, way over the top if they inspired an early reveal.

As you might imagine, this wasn’t happy news.  To some of the secretaries already supporting those associates it sounded like a death knell.  Other secretaries heard translated “shared services team” into “secretarial pool” and cringed.  The Powers That Be in our local office are trying to spin it as positively as possible.  In making the announcement, LP started off by saying there would be no layoffs.  (They can learn!)  She then explained that our office had dragged its feet (so to speak) as long as it could get away with it.  We were one of the last large offices to switch to the team model.  Because there is no choice, we have to make this new model work, and hopefully fit into our Northwest culture in as effective a manner as possible.

Enter me, and four other secretaries in our office.  We are The Team.  Oh and did I mention I still get to be Lead for my group?  Whoopee!  

 

 

*Pretty Spectacular Support Team – my initial thought for a team name.  I doubt it will fly but it made me and at least one of the other secretaries smile.

Out with the old…

This post is in response to the weekly challenge Creation and Destruction and builds on my last post about how a lot of folks might be resolving to do some stuff because it’s a new year.  I pointed out that while I’m not the resolution type, I do want to make one change in 2015.  My goal is to move more.  So what exactly does that mean and how will I know if I succeed?

Clearly a snapshot of the old me is in order.  No, not an actual photograph, I’m anonymous remember?  Not to mention camera shy.  But in order to evaluate progress you need to know where you started, correct?  Well I’m starting from a sloth-like state.

On a typical work day I’d curse the alarm clock at 4:30, which I had to move across the room so I wouldn’t hit Snooze over and over.  Once the morning routine was complete I’d drive the 2.5 miles to the train station where I’d stand in line for between 10 and 15 minutes until the train arrived.  I opt for a car near the elevator so when we arrive in Seattle I can take it up to street level rather than drag myself up the stairs among all the other lemmings.  With my bad knees I’m slow and I hate holding others up; that and I’m just plain lazy.

I then grab one of the many buses which run up Fourth Avenue and arrive at the office early enough to enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee and breakfast from our café.  I’m usually working during that ritual but it’s more casual than focused unless there’s an urgent “to do” waiting in my inbox.  Sloth-like me sits probably 80% of the day.  Enough that when I do have to get up, everything complains:  hips, knees, ankles, feet, neck and shoulders.

After work, I used to grab a bus back to the train station where I’d stand waiting for the train, or if it was already in the station, find a seat.  Once at home, we either grab a bite out or throw together something and eat while catching up on whichever show we’re following.  Either way, more sitting.

Weekends aren’t any better sadly.  Even when we go visit JD’s mother and sister we’re sitting in the truck for almost an hour.  When we arrive at their house we’re sitting again.  Mom is in her mid-80s and she doesn’t get around well any more so “visits” are in her tiny living room usually.  And of course we have to eat!  Then there’s the almost hour drive back, once more planted on our asses.  Often the most exercise I get on the weekends is doing laundry and walking out to get the mail we’ve neglected all week.

There you have it – the old me.

So, what does the new me look like?  The new me will be different, but may not look different at first glance.  This change is not about appearance.

One of the things which I want to change is my attitude.  I hope the new me will, if not bounce out of bed, at least no longer curse the alarm clock.  I’d like to wake up happy to face a new day more often than not.

The new me will also be more active – habitually more active because she wants to be, not because she has to be.  I’ve already taken steps in that direction, literally.  Several weeks ago I started walking down to the train station after work rather than hopping on a bus.  I’ve only missed walking once when I had to stay late and needed to get there quickly.

Today was my first foray into water aerobics at the Y.  I’ve wanted to try this class since I joined the Y but it falls during the work day, not before or after.  For awhile I tried to swim on my own before work but I’m not very disciplined.  Strike that, the old me was not very disciplined.  I couldn’t make that into a habit.  To be fair, I had to leave for work two trains earlier than my regular departure to be able to swim and get to the office on time.  That quickly got old.

I believe the water aerobics will be more successful because I’ve added some accountability to the mix.  Since it’s held during my work day I have to work a little flex time in the morning and I’m already here early enough to do that.  In addition, I use my lunch hour to cover the rest of the time.  So I bet you’re wondering how that makes me accountable.  Well, I had to advise my attorneys and the backup secretaries in my department of my new schedule and explained what I’m doing.  I certainly don’t want them to see me as a quitter, so I’m counting on that to help keep me going.  My current goal is to participate in at least one of the two classes each week.  I’d like to build up to being able to do both eventually but I’m not making promises my body can’t keep right now.

Besides flailing and jumping about in the water, I’m walking for thirty minutes (give or take) with a group of secretaries on the days I’m not in the pool.  They’ve been walking together for some time and I just joined in recently.  We all take the elevator to the lowest level of the building’s garage.  Starting there we wind our way up the ramp to the top garage level, turn around and retrace our steps.  Most of them do it twice at least but I’m only able to do one time up and down so far.  I’m sure that’s going to change the better I feel.

Does this meet the challenge’s criteria?  Who knows, but it was what came to mind after reading the prompt.  I’m working toward the destruction of the old me:  lazy, crabby, feeling poorly – and hoping to create a new me:  active, happier, healthier.

Now for those of you who follow me, don’t be worried.  There will be no posts about how everyone should do what I’m doing because it’s wicked cool and it will make you feel so much better!  Far be it from me to tell anyone what they should do; we’re all grown-ups right?  Do what you want.  That’s what I’m doing.

And to be crystal clear, I might lose the laziness (well, some of it anyway) but I promise I will hold onto the sarcasm and my slightly twisted sense of humor.  Have you heard the one about why God is definitely not a woman? Hmm?  Anyone?