January 10, 2012

This is only my second full week as a full-time reporter. Yes, very exciting. But getting back in the game after 16 years is exhausting too. So when I saw my shrink this morning, I was relieved to learn that my feelings are normal. There’s even a special phrase to describe my experience.

Work hardening.

For those of us rejoining the work force after an extended hiatus, employment is about more than hard work. To succeed takes a level of endurance that I don’t have — yet. I’ve gotta toughen up, baby! There’s definitely a stamina required to wake up early every morning, go to a job and keep running for at least the next seven or eight hours. After that, there’s getting back home, dealing with chores and family, making dinner, washing dishes, unwinding for two seconds (is this why people watch TV??) and organizing for the next morning…

I’m sure some of you are rolling your eyes right now because I am such a wimp. Of course, some day, I will look back and laugh at myself. At the moment though, I am taking stock with renewed appreciation for both working folks and my 16-year break from the grind. Hopefully, the respite has fortified me for the mission ahead. Dammit, I can hold down this job, come up with meaningful stories, brandish cutting edge journalism skills and put my kid through college!

Whoa, where did that energy blip come from? Actually, I’m too tired to think of a witty transition that will wrap up this post. Plus, I just burned the carrots that I was cooking as a side dish for dinner. Well, maybe I can fill the space here with a definition for “work hardening” that I found online. It comes from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries website:

Work Hardening is an interdisciplinary, individualized, job specific program of activity with the goal of return to work. Work Hardening programs use real or simulated work tasks and progressively graded conditioning exercises that are based on the individual’s measured tolerances. Work hardening provides a transition between acute care and successful return to work and is designed to improve the biomechanical, neuromuscular, cardiovascular and psychosocial functioning of the worker.

Is that a scary chunk of words of what? My shrink says that the work hardening process will go on “for months.” And during that period, I should be prepared to feel “bone weary.” Ouch.

So that’s the new reality. Now I need to say ciao. Or make that “chow;” gotta throw together a quick dinner (stir-fried bok choy with tofu and quinoa). Then it’s off to an 8 p.m. public hearing on environmental issues. Afterwards, I will walk the dog before jumping into bed asap.

Because tomorrow is another day. xo.