Being Your Best Self
By Julia Obien, RPR, CMRS, CCR, CSR
Principal, Yom: Full Service Court Reporting, A Veritext Company
Posted with permission of the National Court Reporters Association. Originally published in the March 2020 issue of the JCR.
I will be 71 this year and am still working in the court reporting industry. It has been an honor and quite a privilege to have been a witness for the last 50 years to the evolution our industry has undergone.
I started out as a voice writer, working on workers’ comp hearings for about eight years, then back to court reporting school to learn steno. I graduated and, with a ready-made clientele from my workers’ comp days, began work as a steno reporter in 1980, joining Ernie Yamaguchi and Cheryl Mangio in 1981. We later became Yamaguchi Obien Mangio, finally morphing slowly into YOM and then joining the Veritext family a year ago.
But this article is not about me; this is for you, the working reporter — “the most important person in the room,” as some attorneys say. You are an officer of the court and are held to a high standard of ethics and behavior. That is quite a lot of pressure to work with through the years of your career, and I want to share what I can to help lessen that pressure, allow you to pace yourself and keep you feeling good while doing it.
Court reporting is a personal calling, a job that you are passionate about and have a true belief in your own abilities and talents to be successful. It takes a lot of that passion or grit or stubbornness to (1) graduate from a steno reporting school and (2) pass tests.
FEELING YOUR BEST
Your priority should be self-care, always striving to be in the best of health. If you allow yourself to get burned out, there isn’t going to be anything else left for others and for your most important goals. Exercise There are so many options when it comes to exercising. It’s important you find what works for you, something you can make a habit of and stick with. Usually, it isn’t one type of exercise, but many different activities that you love. Just keep moving — at least 30 minutes per day or more, if possible. Take the stairs. Walk briskly at lunchtime. Track your steps and set goals. My personal choice happens to be a Concept2 rowing machine each workday morning for 30 minutes. On a rower, you can stumble out of bed, sit on the machine and row with your eyes closed while pretending that you’re still sleeping. Believe me, you do wake up after you’ve been rowing for a few minutes.
Get enough sleep. Sleeping less than 7–8 hours per night is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, and there are many studies that show a strong link between short sleep duration and type 2 diabetes. If you need help sleeping, there are apps for that, too! The app I’ve used “talks” me through the exercise of relaxing each part of my body and then goes through some restful visualizations.
There is so much negativity, pessimism, and fear in our industry today. It is almost like a disease that is communicated by inaccurate social media posts and false news. Don’t believe everything you see in print. Find the truth for yourself from reliable sources. Listen to both sides of an issue and think logically. Be confident in your skills as a steno reporter. Stay positive. Lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise are important, but a good body of research links positive attitude with the number of years people live. One study involving 100,000 women found that women who were optimists were 30 percent less likely to die of heart disease than pessimists. The study, titled Optimism, Cynical Hostility, and Incident Coronary Heart Disease and Mortality in the Women’s Health Initiative is available at tiny.cc/8v20jz. Do what makes you happy. There is research that happy people live longer, so find the little things that bring you joy. Pet your dog or cat, take a walk, give yourself 15 minutes to surf online or watch your favorite TV show (recording them in advance means you can skip the commercials!). Make time for supportive friends, especially friends who can make you laugh.
A court reporter’s life is full of stress, especially today with the shortage in full swing in many areas of the country and gaining momentum in others. It means more jobs, more pages, more deadlines, and more stress. What can you do?
I love Oprah and Deepak’s guided meditations. Create an account on the Chopra Center Meditation website for free access to their upcoming 21-day meditation challenge
Physical activity and exercise produce endorphins, chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers, and improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress
Did I mention there is an app for everything? Headspace has been called the best mindfulness/meditation app for 2019 by several online app reviewers — including my daughter, who is a mindfulness expert. This app is perfect for busy court reporters who are always on the go. Some users have claimed they can feel the benefi ts from Headspace with their attention span, equanimity, sense of alertness, and the ability to deal with stressors in life. That sounds perfect for busy court reporters, right? It does require a subscription: $69.99 yearly or $12.99 monthly.
Plan for Stressors
One big one would be making peace with the commute to your job if you work in a community with bad tra c. Leave earlier to avoid being late. Learn a foreign language on the way to your job, or just listen to a good book or podcast. There is a large selection of audio books available if you have a library card, although you may have to wait a bit for popular books. But hey, it’s free! If you are impatient, sign up for an Audible subscription. The selection is larger and there’s no waiting. What other day-to-day stressors can you sidestep with a bit of preparation?
In addition to many other functions, my Apple Watch reminds me to breathe deeply and relax several times daily, as well as stand periodically.
Laugh A Lot!
Watching funny dog YouTube videos always cracks me up.
It has always been my personal goal to be the best I can be, whether that means being as healthy as I can or striving to be the best professional court reporter, mother, and grandmother. I wish you success in all you want to achieve. As I sign off, I would like to share a quote that is important to me, one that helps keep me centered in this ever-changing world of court reporting. I hope many of you will remember the gist of it each day:
“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself ; to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.” ―— Dalai Lama
Julia Obien, RPR, CMRS, CCR, CSR, leads YOM, A Veritext Company with the greatest depth of knowledge of any firm owner in the State of Washington. She started her career in the court reporting industry reporting for many years in contract work with the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals and other State and Federal agencies. With a growing clientele and a commitment to stay at the forefront of technology, Julia began working in the freelance court reporting market and went on to enjoy an illustrious career as a freelance stenographer and achieved many certifications. She was constantly in demand by clients because of her poise, attention to detail, professionalism, and dedication to customer service in the deposition arena. As YOM grew, Julia was called upon to redirect her expertise and energy to providing daily hands-on leadership and guidance to clients, reporters, and staff. Julia remains committed to adopting the latest technology, and sharing her knowledge with the legal community.