be grateful for boring / shaking from a lock down / Thanksgiving 2015

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for boring.
~ Katherine Bacher

Dear Precious Readers,

Some of you are parents/guardians to children. I am not a parent, nor a guardian to a child. However as of last week, I’m gainfully employed at a school. I’m not a teacher, but I am part of staff that interacts with students frequently throughout the day. Being a staff member, I’m now a part of a team whose responsibility is empowered to protect each person on campus daily. We’ll call this location “Work Base.”

They may have been short weeks, but they were more eventful than most staff members who have been there over 10 years have experienced in their entire careers.

Last week was a 4-day week due to several power outages as a result of major rain and wind storms in the Washington State area. This week was short due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Week 1

Mid-week, Washington State underwent a rain and wind storm so severe, some areas were reporting 119 MPH winds.

I’ll give you a moment to absorb that statement.

We’re not talking just some heavy rain and minor flooding. A girl friend of mine, we’ll call her *Adora, just bought a house with her guy a few months ago. A day after the storms finally cleared, it now featured a 3-foot lake in her basement.

Many areas were without power for several days, some for a full week. This included inability to use landlines, water, etc. If you’re a long time reader of this blog, you’ll know that I have a slightly higher than average level of paranoia, leading me to be a mild Prepper. Believe me, if I had just bought a home like Adora, I’d begin filling every nook and cranny with years’ worth of emergency supplies. I may even create an emergency bunker under my home, financials permitting. With a home, I’d grow from “mild” Prepper to Extreme Prepper.

Yes, I’m that paranoid over emergency planning. I have been First Aid/CPR certified since I was 15 years old (many, many, many years ago), and have worked hard to keep myself ready for any type of emergency without actually being a trained medical or tactical provider.

Work Base was closed for one day. The next day was up and running, although the power did go off temporarily for 10 minutes. Friday, there was a planned evacuation drill. It was then I realized my Staff Emergency Binder was out of date. After the drill was over, I turned in my binder for updating and was assured I’d have it returned on Monday.

The week finished out normally, all was well.

Week 1 concluded.

Week 2

This week was an interesting one. Scheduled for full days Monday and Tuesday, with today being an early release day for the students. In a matter of a few days, students would be released to their homes to celebrate one of Americas finest (and most notorious) holidays of gathering for food witnessing fall. (Or, as Week 1 indicated: FULL WINTER.)

Fresh Monday morning, I went about my business. Life as a newbie employee tends to be riddled with system access issues, phone setup, computer adjustments, meeting your co-workers, learning which coworkers to avoid, menial task-work since you have no understanding of policy and procedure of your position, and training. Lots, and lots of training.

In between trainings, I was handling a quiet task when a signal came over the PA system. The worst possible moment anyone could imagine came through loud and clear.

“May I have your attention please.
Teachers and Staff:
We are in full lock down.
This is not a drill.
We are in full lock down.
This is not a drill.
Please lock and secure all doors, cover windows…”

People flew out of their seats and offices as we instantly began emergency procedures. Blinds were shut. Lights were extinguished. Doors were secured. Any exposure for visibility from our area was covered with black paper and taped tight.

My coworkers and I moved those in our area to secure locations. Not a single word was spoken. The oddest part? The silence. The silence of the common areas. No students talking, no cell phones chiming, no sounds of a backpack shuffling as someone walks by, no sounds of people moving around coming through the ceiling from the floor above our heads, no sounds of movement outside.

We were silent.
The hallway and rooms were silent.
Our world was silent.

The following cycled over and over in my mind:

  • Be silent. Stay calm. Stay alert. Be ready to evacuate.
  • Protect the children.
  • Running through my mental checklist of First Aid/CPR and school policies of handling injuries during an emergency situation.
  • This is actually happening! Dammit! Of all days to not have my emergency binder! [Insert string of expletives of your choice here.]
  • I need to call Pilot when it’s safe.
  • Oh, God! Oh, God! I have to think about “When it’s safe!” When is that going to be?! Please don’t let this be the way I go! Please don’t let this be the way any of us go!
  • Tamping down the panic. Be silent. Stay calm. Stay alert. Be ready to evacuate.
  • Praying for everyone involved.


My cycle of thought was forced to continue in this manner for nearly four hours.

Again, I’ll give you a moment to absorb that statement.

Throughout that time, we heard heavy boot falls throughout the halls as police, K9 bomb sniffing dogs, and other task force swept the campus for further unusual activity and further potential dangers. Several times throughout this nearly four-hour period, police would check the doors and shake them. The sharp, sudden attempts easily took 10 years off of the lives of everyone in our space.

After what seemed like an eternity, the lock down was lifted and we resumed our “normal” schedule. A full remainder of 45 minutes of the school day. All faculty, staff, and students were accounted for and safe, able to return home.

There have been an exponentially high increase in school shootings. Pilot stopped working at Marysville the year before the Marysville-Pilchuck shooting. He has experienced lock downs in his career as well.

How do I feel about the experience (and Pilot’s past experiences)?

I am thankful for every boring day that passes in my life. People don’t always understand why I don’t have more adventures, preferring to stay home and read/watch TV/write/play video games. I am grateful for the uneventful. I am grateful that no matter our emotional state, Pilot and I always tell each other that we love each other, even in the middle of fights. Even the big fights. We acknowledge that we love the other person, even though we’re upset with them in that moment. It’s days like Week 2: Monday, that I’m thankful Pilot and I remember we love each other even during anger.

Monday was the second scariest day of my life. My takeaway from the experience is as follows:

  • Acknowledge Love. It’s OK to go to bed angry. Pilot and I do this all of the time. Sometimes a good night’s sleep and a clear head in the morning are easier to utilize and quickly resolve an issue. I say: Never go to bed without internally and verbally acknowledging to that person that you love them. Every day.
  • Be realistic. Know what your skills and limitations are. Your life, or someone else’s may depend your ability to be truthful about yourself.
  • Trust your team. If you can’t trust your team, you need a new team. I am fortunate to have a highly skilled, compassionate and reliable team, both at Home Base and Work Base. If you don’t feel this way, you need to reevaluate your teams.
  • There is no finish line for Preparation. A good plan for as many types of emergency situations that you can think of, including 2 additional back up plans, is key during an emergency. Also, think about your steps and movements post-emergency. Think about what type of long-term physical, environmental, and mental care you might need, and be ready to take those steps after the emergency is over. You can never prepare enough.
  • Be flexible. Be prepared to throw away your plan. You need to be able to adapt. Preparedness is about being ready in any situation, including coming up with a new plan. Emergencies don’t always follow A + B = C. Emergencies do what they like. You need to be able to have the right set of tools and skill sets in case the emergency doesn’t “fall within your plan.”
  • Everybody love everybody. The more we care for our fellow man, the better our world can be. I try to live by these rules (besides God’s law): Do something today your future self will thank you for, and do your best to leave your world better than you found it. This includes people, not just places.

In short? This Thanksgiving:

I am grateful for boring days.
Be grateful for the boring days.

Peace and love to you all.


*Name has been changed for privacy.

letting today be the start of something new

“Beginnings are always messy.”
– John Galsworthy

To quote a line from Craig Ferguson, “It’s a great day for America,” Precious Readers!

cant keep calm

After months (almost a full year) of searching, interviewing, and mini panic attacks, last week I was offered a full-time job! I’ve accepted this position and begin soon. I’m 49% anxious and 51% excited.

The point: excitement has won.


This position allows me the perks of a teacher’s schedule, without having to teach! What does this mean? This means, my day ends at 3 pm and I qualify for winter, spring, and summer breaks off. PAID. (Jealous, much?)

“But what about the commute?” you might ask. Commuting is the bane of my existence. I-5 is a nightmare, no matter where you’re commuting to. I-405 is worse now. For those who do not live in the western Washington area, you should be advised that I-405 has been under construction for… well, quite some time. They opened the HOV lane… with a toll attached for passage to use it. This basically reduced a three-/four-lane freeway down to TWO lanes, with the HOV barely being used.

For those on the East Coast, be advised that we West Coast-ers are newbies to this concept and are feeling the burn. Seattle traffic is notorious among locals and those who have visited our vast state. It’s not unusual to plan (at minimum) an hour to your commute into the city, or longer due to accidents, inclement weather, or a major event occurring in the area.

My new commute for this shiny, new job? Less than 5 miles from my home. I couldn’t think of a better schedule for a writer who still requires a full-time job.

Since I’m not published, I don’t have the ability to rely on any type of income from my writing. But I’m OK with that. I don’t write for the money. I write because I have characters in my head who scream to get out. I just happen to be told I should share my stories with the world. And, I’m working on that.

So, I’m grateful, Precious Readers. Grateful for this past year to work on my first writing piece that might be acceptable for public eyes, grateful for a supportive hubby in Pilot who encouraged my pursuits, grateful to this new job opportunity, and grateful for being able to finally blend my Real Life with my Daily Life. As of this month in 2015, I truly believe the two concepts have become one.


(Hopefully, I didn’t just massively jinx myself.)

How about you?

What are your favorite perks for your job?

If you were forced to have a job differing from your dream job, what would you do?

What would you change about your job?

What would be your ideal job? How can you make it a reality?

taking care of business and working overtime! well… not anymore…

Television is not real life. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

– Bill Gates


I quit my job.

That’s right Precious Readers! I. Quit. My Job. But, I got another one.

Gotcha, didn’t I?

After approximately 11 years at my previous employer’s (7 years at that particular department) an opportunity that was almost too good to be true popped up. It’s a perfect fit blending everything I’ve learned (even my Copy Editing skills from college) and putting them to WORK.

If you haven’t noticed, I haven’t written much. Now you kind of know why.

After I went on a vacation, I had an interview at the New Place pop up. Do you have any idea what it’s like to go on vacation and then decide to quit your current job the day one is supposed to be returning from vacation?

I was a complete wreck. I lost sleep. Couldn’t eat. I felt sick and had terrible headaches. Worried all of the time…

But, wait a minute… Isn’t that what I was happening while working at said job? Isn’t that why I had gone on vacation in the first place? I had so much vacation time built up that I could easily have taken a week off and had plenty of vacation hours leftover.

Let’s take a look at vacations for a minute:

Pilot and I took an Alaska cruise for 7 days in July 2012.

That was the only vacation I had taken in 3 YEARS.

There’s something not quite right about that.

I reviewed the last 7 years. Even from the beginning there were late nights. We’re not talking about a 1-2 hours beyond normal work times. We’re talking about 4-5 additional hours each night.

Overworked, underpaid, stressed out, no personal life anymore. I was miserable all of the time. Add in the stress of a husband who decided to go back to school, and I was stuck. Completely stuck. Now I know this makes it look like I’m complaining about Pilot going back to school. But I am proud of him. I was happy to support both of us while he figured out what he wanted to do in life. At the time, I still didn’t have a clue for myself of the direction I was going in. So what’s the difference whether I was to stay where I was or get a new job?

Now that our married life has stabilized a bit, it gave me a LOT of time to think about what I wanted. I still didn’t have an iota. Sure, I knew I still wanted to be a writer, but that was an ambition I kept pushing down due to long years of conditioning being told I should do anything other than writing- or art-related.

Then I started this blog. Writing for this blog helped me tune into a large piece of myself that had been locked away for a very long time. Once I started writing for myself-

Sorry Precious Readers. As much as I love all of you and appreciate your support, this blog was started for selfish reasons. It wasn’t to share information to the world, it was about writing again, and practicing writing every day. The fact that I’ve gained a following – again a very hearty THANK YOU to each and every one of you! – is fortuitous and a luxurious bonus to writing here.

– I began thinking of other areas of my life that I had locked away. What about ambition? I really don’t have any ambition. As talented as I am at office work, working at a desk everyday is usually not what any child thinks about when they dream of their future.

Hi, I’m Katie and I have immaculate charting, data entry and collating skills. Have you seen my filing system creation ability? Whoo hoo!

But then I started thinking about my ultimate goal of being a full-time writer? How would I get there? How do I make that transition in my life without bankrupting Pilot and I and ending up in a refrigerator box?

Although, if I did have to live in a refrigerator box, I would pick one of those fancy ones with the French doors – the kind you have to shorten your countertop space just to make the thing fit. It would be the condos of refrigerator living!

Then, it happened.

An author I greatly admire, Ann Charles*, did it. She actually did it.

She had published enough work and made enough sales to be able to quit her job and write at home full time.

I have never been so inspired and green-eyed-jealous in my life.

Ann Charles* is actually a Washington local and writes hilarious mystery romance novels. You’ve seen me note her work on my Goodreads lists.

I started thinking about work/life balance. Sure I was working and making a paycheck, but did my current lifestyle meet my personal needs as a writer? Did it give me the time with my friends and family like I wanted? Were my bills getting met in a way that didn’t leave me scrounging for change in my couch cushions to buy food?

After taking some time to see if the theory of work/life balance existed for me, the answer was quite obvious.

I don’t have it.

I have work… But, I have no life.

Something needs to change.

I need to change.

What Ann Charles has? I want that. I want it a lot.

It was decided right then and there that I needed to not make it a goal to just “find a new job.” I needed to find a job that gave me my life back.

My friend Obi-One-Pin-Obi (see earlier posts to learn more about her) had a position open at her company. I jumped at the chance-

Because let’s face it. The economy sucks.

-and guess what? The company liked me so much they called me the same day to offer me the position! They encourage a work/life balance.

No. Scratch that.

They encourage Work/Life Effectiveness. The CEO is a nationally-ranked Scrabble champion. The HR Director is a nightly stand-up comedian. The former CIO is a nationally-known golfer.


I don’t have to hide the fact that I’m an aspiring writer or the genre. They don’t care. They encourage it.

What is this mysterious spell they have on themselves? Oh, right. Happy employees.

Well, how do you like that? It turns out all of those years of no raises, not title change or anything at my old job – it wasn’t me. It was you.

After saying “Yes” to the opportunity (and pay, I might add) it’s been a whirlwind of adjustment and changes. I’ve been at the New Job for 3 full weeks it’s only getting better! The people are nice and the environment is good.

The thing that has probably changed the most is my approach to the job. I was able to start fresh and re-establish myself and my habits at a new place where no one (except my friend, Obi, of course) knew me. I can establish new ground of how this was going to affect me and my life. I refuse to let this one get the best of me. They will get my best work efforts, but I get to leave it on my desk and come home without a thought elsewhere.

I haven’t written Precious Readers, and please forgive me for not doing so, because I have been spending the last month prepping to leave and start work. I won’t go into the details, but let’s just say my ‘exit interview,’ if you can call it that, basically listed what my job description said versus the list of work I was actually doing. They didn’t match and my actual work greatly outweighed the job description.

My former co-workers were a little taken aback at how much I did for that office. I think it was something they all knew I did in the background, but I don’t quite believe it ever sunk in the sheer volume of work that I handled while employed there.

I think they realized they were a little screwed until the next person was hired to take my place.

After looking at the actual list up and down, the Higher Ups at my former employer’s realized the job description needed some (drastic) updating and the pay to increase.

Am I angry?

No. I have a new job that pays well.

Am I annoyed? Meh… I plead the Fifth on that one.

After a few frank discussions with Pilot-

Ok, maybe I did a mini-interview with him.

-I asked what changes he’s noticed in me and our lives since starting the new job.

His reply?

He noticed I was sleeping more, I was happier, had more energy and wasn’t stressed out.

He also noted I was treating him and others nicely.

Not “nicer.” Nicely. Hmm…

After a loving swat on the arm and an additional hour’s conversation about what exactly he meant about the “nicely” comment, we agreed that life has definitely changed for the better.

I come home and actually feel like I have time to enjoy the evening before bedtime. I get to spend time with Pilot before going to sleep. We actually have time to do things together instead of me waving a wistful hand in his general direction with a watery smile saying goodnight before crashing for the evening.

The most amazing change and piece I look forward to in the near-future? After three weeks of transition, I feel ready to write again. Not just for you Precious Readers, but also for myself. I’m finding myself inspired again and thinking of new ways to torture my characters. Plot points are falling into place. I’m reading a lot again.

Also known as: the voices are back. Just kidding! (Mostly.)

I’m very excited at this new phase. I’m

I see myself working at this new company while having the ability to come home and write. This company even encourages it. This job has given me 2 gifts:

Time and Energy

I come home after a long day ending it with a feeling of accomplishment and fulfillment. This last week as I’ve been transitioning from Trainee to actual Employee, I’ve been feeling like I can come home to fulfill my life’s purpose.

This New Job has given me the time and energy to write again. I couldn’t ask for a more precious gift. This job is another step in the direction of being a 100% full-time writer. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not until 5 or 6 published works. But someday. This job created the opportunity for me to even hope for a Someday.

Not really a point to this one. Only that I now understand why God slammed doors in my face or drop-kicked me out of some opportunities. He waited for this perfect opportunity to present itself to give me my turn.

Well Precious Readers, that’s all I have to say for now. I’ve been given back the hope of my, “Someday” and I don’t intend to waste it by sitting on my ass.

Books don’t write themselves, you know.

*The above post is 100% of my own, personal opinion and is not connected nor endorsed by Ann Charles.