Resting on Laurels… And Rest…
By Monette Benoit, All Rights Reserved.
This article was originally published in NCRA’s JCR under my Beyond The Comfort Zone column.
Court reporters listen – a lot.
Recently, with detailed sharing from court reporters, CART providers, broadcast captioners, students, teachers, professionals, clients, consumers, sign interpreters, and family, I am wondering, where does one – in realtime – collect strength and wisdom?
How do we regroup when special moments continue to arrive?
To truly be present when people need full attention is part of our discipline, our training. The passion in our profession is deep and wide.
While tutoring and coaching court reporting students, novice and veteran court reporters, I listen to people who are now concerned about not being paid; individuals in counseling (for bipolar symptoms, anxiety and/or therapy – one person shared that their spouse “fell asleep during a session!”); adults who are moving; adults fretting about how to pay their utility bill or mortgage; fears about children, spouses, partners, and parents.
Many conversations have been shared from students when a speed class is not passed and additional semesters require additional funds.
Within a short period of time, I listened to individuals who contacted me immediately after a family member died. Multiple individuals are receiving chemo (various stages and diagnoses).
Scheduling an international CART, Communication Assistance Realtime Translation, job, I phoned a professional who answered the phone during their chemo treatment.
“No, I’m not busy,” was the person’s reply when I asked if now is a good time.
One woman shared about the death of her mother, then shared she has multiple sclerosis, ‘seated’ in her brain.
Another person shared details about spreading ashes of a loved one.
A friend adopted a baby. She wants to share. I want to hear happy details.
Privately, my parents were using multiple words to describe their multiple health conditions.
A client phoned the office, “Just send the information. We’re not even dealing with it now. We’ll stick it in the file, but we need it today, okay?”
Another client – after finalizing their job with me phoned to say, “We’ve gone with someone who is cheaper. But we’ll be in touch. You do great work. Okay?”
A reporter, who is a leader and assisted officials to realtime in courtrooms, is reaching for advanced NCRA, National Court Reporter Association, certification and contacted me. Thus, I replied as requested.
The leader, court reporter’s, reply to my genteel inquiry? “Yeah, right, as if you really care.”
I wrote back, “I care. I really care.”
The official, “I’m doing the best I can. I’ll just go and wing it.”
I responded, “Ah, the spirit of a person working full-time, seeking to advance skills. Never again will I open your e-mails while eating. I laughed so hard I almost spit on my computer.”
Then he added, “And I better not read about this in your JCR (Journal of Court Reporting) column!”
I waited to reply, “If I were to quote this (here) I promise not to ‘out’ you.”
Immediately, he responded, “Deal! Okay. Then you may.”
When we continue to hear that every moment, every stroke, every brief (or not-to-brief) form counts in our world, we may feel the wind around us.
How does this relate here?
One can turn to prayer, exercise, meditation, work.
Perhaps one may sleep more – or burn midnight oil to catch up.
Why reference laurels?
When I completed the CSR, NCRA RPR, RMR, RDR Written Knowledge Test Court Reporter Reference Textbook, I was teaching full-time with a 225 wpm (words per minute) homeroom. (I was also working to finish my B.B.A. degree.)
When I finished that first textbook, I swore that I would “never, never, ever do this again. Never.”
I used words “that almost killed me … doing ‘that’ and working full-time and finishing ‘that’ degree.”
When the new work product (the first textbook printing) was delivered, I put the textbook on the counter.
I had so many hours of work (and sweat) into this book that I wanted to remember (people reminded me to “celebrate”) this moment.
Mid-afternoon, before anyone arrived home, I called my cat, placed an open can of tuna fish on the floor, and poured a glass of wine.
Then my parents phoned. I shared that the text was finished, and my (then) mantra, “I will never do this again.”
My father, educator, psychologist, social worker, master of adult education, said, “Of course you will! You can’t rest on your laurels! You need to immediately begin on a workbook. This will be expected from you!”
In dramatic pose, wearing work clothes, high heels, and holding my mid-afternoon celebration glass of wine, I almost fell to the floor.
Voice pitched, I stammered, “Laurels? Laurels!? Where can I find me a laurel? I really want a laurel — now. Put Mom on.”
Mr. Emmett, as he is known in the court reporting industry, discussed advancing one’s skills and not resting as “people will expect you to continue …”
I discussed the laurel as in a sweet bay leaf or mountain laurel tree.
How does this relate?
As I tutor and coach listening to individual’s innermost thoughts and actions, I may share the “you can’t rest on your laurels” metaphor.
Sometimes it receives the same reaction I tossed overhand into the universe.
Yet often, the person listening says, “Oh, right …”
Then we design new, customized goals.
Speaking with my accountant yesterday, he said, “Some agencies swallow an elephant and strain the gnat.”
His point? “Get over it, Monette. Keep going.”
Later, I listened to a fraught (their word) person share emotional news; I listened with full heart and silently pondered that laurel and rest. Silent rest without phones, computers, without texting or IMs, long sentences, multiple words. Rest.
Later, I drove to the ranchers’ feed store.
I refer to the feed store as “my people” right now. Their history, knowledge, and strong spirit is refreshing and comforting.
The man at the register looked troubled; I asked if he was okay.
He replied, “Yes, but at the end of the day I’m a tired pup.”
I asked what he does to rest; he perked up, “I sit on the porch swing with a cold, long neck beer, and my dog!” Then he beamed.
When you read this, you may be prepping for recess; your family may have busy summer schedules, camp; maybe you are attending a state or national NCRA, National Court Reporting Association, convention with your peers. Perhaps you will be vacationing, taking a breath from daily details.
Last summer I wrote an e-mail to a dear friend (a pillar in our profession) asking when might be a good time to troll a question past him.
Instantly, he replied, “I’m on a beach in the Bahamas in my bathing suit with my laptop. Now’s a good time! Really! My family is in the water. They understand. How can I help you, Monette?”
I am determined that when the student is ready the teacher appears.
The teacher may be stranger, friend, foe, or four-legged creature.
Lessons are gifted when we least suspect new possibilities.
My foster child in the Philippines is attending a university.
I know she’s on a bus 1.5s hour one-way.
Foster children I have assisted have earned diplomas to become a teacher, a seamstress, and have continued their education.
There are also children that vanish with their families; I never hear if that child fulfilled their dreams.(When a family leaves without notice one never knows …)
I desired to know this young lady’s choice.
Seychelle’s letter in today’s mail contained the wisdom I needed to remain in the calm eye of hurricane in which I live.
“Recently, you were asking what I am taking. Presently, I’m a student with the university earning a BS in accountancy. This is really hard, but I’m trying to make sure I also deserve to be in the accountancy department.
“This summer vacation, I think I won’t have time painting the town red. I’ll have summer classes and give my attention in studying.
“But, of course, to relieve the stressful things that I do, I find time for me to be relaxed or read my books or take a nap regarding my condition. I’m doing good in a healthy body…”
Yes, from a pencil on the other side of the world the message is gently gifted.
She always writes, “Monette, take care of yourself, rest, and have fun.”
From her lips to our ears (and fingers while at our work), may this be so.
Resting on laurels? Yes, rest.
Today I put ‘rest’ on my “to-do list.”
Bring it. And a porch swing sounds delightful – sweet bay laurel leaf and mountain laurels are optional.
Monette Benoit, B. B.A.,
Certified Court Reporter, Certified Reporting Instructor, Certified Program Evaluator, Paralegal, Columnist
Multiple-Title Author of Books & Test-Prep for the Court Reporting, CART/Captioning Industry
Blog: Monette’s Musings, Monette’s Musings
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