My first class was a disaster.
The exercises were chosen, the stations were set up, and I arrived at 5:15 that morning, groggy from my 3:30 wake-up and two hours of sleep.
I looked around the empty gym, quiet from the night, chilly from the cold spring morning, and tried to calm the butterflies in my stomach as I prepared to coach the 20 people about to walk through the doors of what was then, Spurling Training Systems.
By the time the class was over, one person left with a bad knee, others looked bored, and still others were skeptical of "the new coach."
The class ended and I walked to the window, looking at the red sky of sunrise, wondering what the hell I'd gotten myself into.
Before the next class, one of the other coaches pulled me into the office to give me some feedback. From Doug. Who wasn’t there.
“He watched from home,” the coach said, when I asked how Doug was giving me feedback. “There are cameras.”
I walked out to the parking lot and called Sheila.
“I don’t know what the f*** I got myself into, but I'm not staying past April."**
That was two years ago, yesterday.
April 5th, 2016 marks the date of my arrival. It’s the date when I finally docked my boat after years and years of sailing around, trying different ports.
Remembering dates is a trait I inherited from my dad I suppose, who can tell you with ease the day he finished his four years of service in the Navy, the day he started in the steel mills, and the birthdays of hundreds of cousins and family members. (Yes there are hundreds..)
In turn, I can tell you that I got my driver’s license on October 19th, 1994, we adopted Rooney on July 11th 2008, and that Jamie Gillespie’s birthday is December 12th. (Hi Jamie!)
But perhaps no date is as important or memorable for me as April 5th.*
I stayed past April (clearly), but almost left for a second time that same summer. I loved the work, but the hour-drive and long days were wearing on me. It was a tough decision, and was teary eyed as I told my decision to Doug and the staff.
What happened next, was something I could have never anticipated.
Doug made an effort to keep me.
It was the first time in my professional life that I felt valued. Don’t get me wrong, I’d worked plenty of places where fellow co-workers and even supervisors valued me and treated me well. But few were in a position to do anything about it.
Every few months, I send Doug a text, thanking him for my job. It probably seems like overkill, though I know he appreciates it. But so many nights, on the drive home, I think about the long nights I spent keeping stats at sporting events. I think about weekend trips to random places in Vermont spending time away from my family.
I think about the day in 2011 when I was folding t-shirts at a retail Nike store wondering how, at 34 years old, I ended up here. I think about the 70 hour weeks at a local college, making 25k a year, making no impact on the world, and wondering if I was going to die in a job like this.
I think about the throws of anxiety and depression.
And that’s when I thank Doug.
I get emails like this.
I get to help people.
I get to help older clients feel more independent. I get to help younger clients (hopefully) enjoy the gym. I get to watch women and men do things they didn't believe they could do.
I get to work with people like Jayne.
I work with a staff of guys who are beyond their years (sadly, not in musical taste) in their passion for helping others and in their true love for clients and for each other. I work for a guy who works as hard on being a better person as he does on being a better businessman.
I get to see the world through the eyes of positivity, struggle, and humor.
I'm reminded as I write this post, that careers and relationships and good things are not always love at first sight. That even when you find yourself on the right path, there is still work to be done, brush to be cleared, and mountains to climb.
April 5th will never be just a date for me.
It will be the date that I came home.
And how lucky am I that I get to say that.
Thank you, to all of you. Who read my site. Whom I get to work with personally. Who support me in my struggles and let me support you in yours. Together, with positive energy and love and appreciation for each other, we get to move this world forward and shine a light through the darkness.
And we need that kind of light now, more than ever.
Thank you Doug, Josh, Chris, Trent, Melanie, Judy and Amy C.
Thank you to all of the clients I've had the good fortune to meet. To all of the clients who have become such good friends and the friends who trust me enough to be clients. For every facebook message you write or text that you send.
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** I bust Doug's chops about this all of the time now - as a business person, he uses the cameras to check on traffic flow at the gym, and he was watching because it was really important that our group training classes were successful. I told him to give a girl a head's up next time though ;-)
*Except the day I met Sheila of course...:-)