Accepting Lessons, Teaching Lessons, Seeking Challenges To Be The Best I Can Be


“Accepting Lessons, Teaching Lessons, And Seeking Challenges To Be The Best I Can Be”

By Monette Benoit
Copyright by Monette Benoit, All Rights Reserved.

Court reporting has professionals who truly rise to challenges. In 1995, after CARTing the national SHHH, Self-Help For Hard of Hearing, (now HLAA, Hearing Loss Association of America) convention with Deanna Baker and CART providers, my path changed. A doctor insisted on a procedure, which I postponed until after SHHH. (Then the doctor said she would close her office to take me by the hand if I did not go. Thus, I prepped.) I was adamant about details since I was scheduled to caption and CART an international convention with 28,000 teenagers for multiple days. Wakening in recovery, my world shook.

Head down, I phoned the person who scheduled my work. Humbly, I was clear that I needed help. He listened, replying, “Let me spin some plates in the air.”

Seeking assistance, I contacted professionals locally, then around the U.S. When Carol’s name was shared I phoned her home. Confidentially, I shared my situation.

We agreed that since I was a religious realtime court reporter I would caption/CART biblical classes and sermons. Carol would caption/CART performances and skits.

Carol arrived first-class. (All coach seats were booked.) When I could not find her in the airport, I had her paged. With gratitude I introduced myself to the smiling woman with her steno machine and tripod inside a beach bag. Immediately we focused to become a team serving others to accomplish this first-time event.

I desire to share Carol’s world. Carol Hill Williams, RPR, RMR, CRR, CMRS, CRI, CPE, is an inspiration, a true professional. Oh, we have the funniest memories. When I sought needed help, Carol accepted a new challenge.

Together we were unstoppable and delivered needed ‘words’ for deaf, HOH (hard of hearing), and legally blind who watched our open captions.

Carol: I love court reporting. In 1978 my mother told me about her jury service, and the person with the little machine. School was my first challenge. I learned to practice, finishing in two years.

How we made money then I will never know. We had no computers. We had an electric typewriter, electric note-puller, Dictaphone, carbons. After lining up papers, if you made errors, you yanked all papers out, started all over. If you weren’t typing your transcripts, you dictated or hired a scopist. My first computer was $20,000 – edit station only. We worked until 5 or 6 a.m., slept little.

I have a strong faith. God teaches me lessons for areas I am weak, surrounding me with people to help me. Initially, I worked for a wonderful woman, Jeanne Wiley of Cook & Wiley. Jeanne, having been president of Virginia’s association, encouraged reporters to achieve certifications, to get involved in state associations.

We need to become active in state associations. You meet court reporters, exchange ideas, associations grow. I worked as editor, secretary, treasurer, vice president, then Virginia president.

I passed my RPR and RMR. After two NCRA CRR attempts, I learned about beta blockers. With a prescription, gushing water from my palms and forehead subdued, I passed. Later I passed the CMRS and CPE.

I love challenges. I still break into a sweat and pace the floor until I arrive. My confidence has increased. I love being a freelancer: every day is different, every place is different, everybody has a story. Life is different faces with different stories, different speeds. I’ve also learned not to worry what tomorrow may bring. The more focused we are in the present moment, the more we appreciate what today is about.

In 1995 I was flown to San Antonio to work alongside Monette Benoit to provide captioning and CART for an international religious teen convention filling the Alamodome. I learned how to quickly add theological entries for instant translation.

I have always been a freelance writer, so 4 to 5 p.m. is the bewitching hour; your fate is sealed for the next day. You may be called to realtime an accident depo or weeks-on-end realtime trial with translators and expedited delivery.

I’ve had my own firm. It takes a lot to keep eccentric people happy. I also learned my values are not necessarily someone else’s values. Focusing on providing the best service I can is what really matters.

After two years in my business and both parents passing away, I needed a change. I wanted to move to a litigious city, one with beautiful weather, palm trees.

I moved to Miami five years ago – knowing no one. I searched for a firm that shared my values. I have been working for Tom Kresse of Kresse & Associates since. It’s a wonderful feeling to work for someone with a stellar reputation, who acknowledges hard work and goes to bat for the reporters.

Consumed with never having enough work, I balanced work and a healthy lifestyle. Then I visited South Beach wearing a one-piece suit, wraparound skirt, weighing 190 pounds. In an awakening moment, viewing women clad in less than almost nothing, I realized I had come to a fork in the road of my life; I had to change directions. The week after South Beach I found a gym. I laboriously dedicated myself to a rigorous exercise regimen, following a nutritionist’s diet.

After three years, I lost 50 pounds. My trainer’s wife asked if I would like to walk or run a 5 K, 3.1 miles. I decided to challenge myself. After the gun went off, I ran – finding a new love of life.

God puts the right people in my life at the right time. I found a running group I run with several times a week and lost 65 pounds. January 2008 I turned 50; I completed my first marathon, 26.2 miles.

Upon completion, I wanted another challenge. Athletes gather to compete in triathlons. My initial reaction was no way could I accomplish this feat, nor risk getting injured. After contemplation, I decided to try it.

I am blessed to have a four-time Olympic inline skater coach, KC Boutiette. He taught me how to swim and bike, run efficiently and how to push yourself out of my comfort zone.

This year I challenged myself. I completed two marathons, Miami and Chicago, a 120-mile running relay, Hood to Coast in Oregon, three sprint triathlons: .47-mile swim, 12.4 bike and 3.1 run; and an international triathlon: .6-mile swim, 26 bike, and 6.2 run. Next year I am slated to do two marathons, sprint triathlons, two half Ironmans, 1.2-mile swim, 56 bike and 13.2 run. And now I am a leader to new runners prepping each for their first marathon.

What have I learned through this madness?

Any goal is obtainable with the right training, dedication. My compulsiveness for never having enough work has never changed; I learned a balance is what really brings happiness.

I never would have made it without my Christian faith and letting those around me give me encouragement. I believe we have to share what we have been so graciously given. Even though what you may be facing seems like a giant obstacle, this too shall pass, and you will have grown even stronger because of it.

Instead of focusing on how I possibly can do what seems impossible, I focus on what I am doing now to become the best I can.

Monette: Often we are challenged, learning lessons.

Then we are blessed to meet new professionals, new life-friends. I continue to thank you, Carol, for ‘Stepping Into The Light’ in 1995 accepting new lessons, seeking challenges to be the best you (we) can be. Carol may be reached: chwmiami@bellsouth.net

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