For the past nearly two years I have found a "normal" schedule working for Valley Medical as a trainer teaching Workplace Violence Prevention. And also working for Kaiser where I teach Behavioral
Health Education (BHE) and assist in running the BHE department. Over time, I have created a routine that involves getting up very early in the morning, working out, driving (surface streets only) to VMC, leaving there mid-day,
driving to Kaiser and then heading home around 4:15pm. I'm not a big fan of getting up early in the morning, but I'm an even lesser fan of working late and driving through traffic to get home. While it's had it's
challenges, this schedule has generally worked for me.
The first major change came when we were asked to reduce the size of our classes at Kaiser. So, we called dozens of people to ask them to reschedule to later classes. Very quickly on the heels of this change however, we were asked to
cancel entirely our classes for three weeks through the beginning of April. Upon completion of that task, I was essentially told that my services wouldn't be needed until classes were back up and running. At Valley Medical Center which
is the County hospital, we also cancelled classes, especially since my classes there involve physical interaction for learning defense tactics.
For about a half a day, I thought I would be sheltering-in-place along with everyone else. I was contemplating all the projects I would have time to work on and maybe even apply for unemployment to tide me over. Then I saw an
email from management at VMC stating that all workers are essential and are needed to work.
When I signed on to teach Workplace Violence Prevention for the County, part of the agreement was that I would act as a Disaster Worker should the need arise. Well, the need has arisen, so rather than sheltering-in-place, I am
continuing to work at the county hospital. I'm not a nurse and am not in a position to provide care for the sick, however, I am able to help those who are helping.
My new "new normal" is drastically different than any schedule I have worked for many years. I signed up to work from 12p-8pm (the alternative I was offered was 5am start or 1am finish, neither of which I would be able to
sustain.) I now support the team of people screening patients, visitors and staff who come in to the hospital. At this point, I have no idea how long I will be working as a disaster worker and therefore how long I will be working this
schedule. However, because I am practiced in looking for the silver linings here it is:
Because of the shelter-in-place order, there are far fewer people on the road when I'm driving in to work. While I can still manage to find other drivers who drive by a different set of rules than I do, for the most part, this has
significantly reduced my stress level.
I am no longer getting up at 4:30am in the morning to get into work early enough to avoid traffic. In fact, because I don't need to be at work until 12p, I can sleep in as late as I like and still have time to work out and do some
stuff around the house before I need to leave for work. This means I am more rested than I have been for a very long time.
While parking is tight, I have been able to find a spot every day I have arrived at work. And when I get off, there is no traffic to speak of. So, all-in-all, I am less stressed, less tense, less harried and more rested. All of this is
good for me.
Because of the drastic changes in my schedule I am experiencing a very different way of living that enables me to imagine how my life could be different, how I might live and work differently. For some time now, I have been contemplating
retirement without a concrete sense of how I might get from where I am to where I want to be. This turn of events has given me a great deal of insight into how I might manage my life and my time to enable me to create a completely
different kind of life.
So, while I practice safe PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and self-care (this includes using essential oils) to the best of my ability, I feel options are opening up for me.