First, Happy Anniversary to me.
A year ago in November, I was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. What a ride it has been. Thank God I feel pretty good and still strong. The medicine seems to be working.
Let’s go on to my tumultuous November. Some of you do not know that I work full time as a Town Clerk in Massachusetts.
I mostly love my job. I’m thankful for my co-workers, they are more than that, they are my friends and some I would say are my extended family. We are a team which is wonderful. It has not always been this way.
As we all know the Presidential Election was in November. For the first time Early Voting was introduced in Massachusetts and ran two weeks before the big one. This is a great convenience for voters and can help relieve the long lines on Election Day. For me it was added stress of the unknown. How many will come in to vote, do I have enough workers? Do I have enough space?
There is A LOT of preparation for elections, conferences, emails from the state, early voting ballots, absentee ballots, email ballots to out of country and military voters. Paperwork, paperwork oh my! This all happens BEFORE the BIG day on November 8th.
In the meantime we are still doing our day to day work, dog licenses, vitals and certification, meeting notices, answering the phone 100 times a day to the same questions “am I registered?” “Where do we vote” “What day is the election?” “What does Unenrolled mean?”
Wine was calling me every night and chocolate!
While early voting is taking place (close to 1400 voters came through) I still needed to prepare for the big one. My assistant (Deb) and I had to test our voting machines, prepare voting lists, pack the ballots. Affirmation notices, provisional ballots, street lists and of course the essentials coffee, tea and donuts!
In the state of Massachusetts, you can early vote however, your ballot does not go into a machine. After you vote, you place your ballot in a sealed envelope which cannot be opened until the day of the official election. What that means is the election workers have to check your name off on a voter list, unseal your envelope, and put it in the voter machine on the day of the election.
On the day of the Presidential Election it took 4 workers from 8:00 a.m. -6:00 p.m. to complete the early voting ballots and absentee ballots. Phew! Thank you legislatures! I hope they grow a brain and realize processing a ballot through a machine during early voting would make more sense!!
Some people who early voted were concerned we would know how they voted, really? Election workers are too busy to care how Ozzy and Harriet voted! Rip the envelope open, check off the name and pile the ballots up to go through the machine.
Before the BIG day came, I was already stressed and exhausted. I was eating and drinking all the wrong things and not sleeping very well. My back and neck was reminding me every day by punishing me with constant pain. One day I was so sad I cried to my husband that I hurt and was so tired.
When I was at work the following day, I was on the phone with Town Counsel who knew about my cancer. I proceeded to tell her I was stressed and was eating and drinking wrong.
She said “now is not the time to poison your body with the wrong foods and drink. You need to help your body stay strong and healthy to get through this”. I needed these words of wisdom. She was God’s Assistant to smarten me up! My eating and drinking got better but sad to say my swearing was at an all- time high.
The BIG day finally arrived, machines were ready, workers were alert you could feel the apprehension and excitement in the air. As we know, this was a controversial election and I was a bit worried.
It was a crazy busy day. Yes my body was screaming at me but I was in high gear and could not slow down.
There were over 3500 voters that day excluding the early voter ballots we had to process. Only ONE very irate man got into my face and my police officer had to assist me. It saddened me the hate this man vented over a minor issue. The day continued smoothly and I actually relaxed a bit and handed out cookies to the children in line with their parents.
Then it happens…..the fire alarm goes off! WTF!!! I look at the Police Officer and scream her name and she starts to evacuate the building. I Call the Hot line at the State House to notify them of my predicament. Fire trucks arrive, hundreds of voter’s are outside. The powers in the State House are barking at me that if it doesn’t get better, roll out the voter machines and let them vote in the parking lot!
Thank God, it was just the furnace! The firemen turned it off and we were allowed to enter the building and it was back to business. I so love my town! They accepted the situation for what it was and waited patiently.
I took a deep breath, told myself to breathe, said a prayer to God to get me through this day and I promise that I will rest my weary bones.
After the hand counts were done, the counter’s and I left the building at midnight and I proceeded to the Town Hall and made it home at 1:00 a.m. One very long day!
The following day you sort through all your paperwork. Call more newspapers, put things away and take another deep breath that it is finally over.
Thursday was a holiday so I rested in bed (as I promised my body I would). I look at my Town Clerks Facebook page and realize that I have been picked for a random audit for my Precinct 1 Presidential Election! WTF!!!!!!!!!
I climb out of bed, haul ass to the Town Hall and sure enough I get picked for an audit. In the State of Massachusetts it was voted by our legislators that after a Presidential Election 3% of the State would be randomly chosen for an audit. Oh lucky me!
My body is screaming at me.
I am at the office, crying my eyes out, my poor Assistant, Deb got to see me breakdown. I called my Town Manager freaking out that I can’t take much more and he might find me dead somewhere! He is on his way to work and will talk to me when he arrives.
In the meantime, I ask Deb to process some overdue death certificates that my Funeral Director in town has been waiting for and to have him pick them up. The Funeral Director arrives at the same time as the Town Manager, who hurries to my office to make sure I wasn’t dead! I needed that moment to laugh and lighten up on the situation.
So In a week I did a Presidential Election, Special Town Meeting and a Presidential Audit.
My body let me know what this stressed caused. I had my blood work done to start my Ibrance Monday, the day before the Presidential Election. My white counts were not good and I had to wait a week to start my Chemo treatment.
During this stressful time, I did not do my yoga which I regret. When I went to bed I DID listen to my Chakra Meditative music to sleep and I DID pray every morning. I was still off balance.
A Family friend suggested I call her friend Deb and request a Reiki treatment. I did this and I felt so much better! She worked with me for over 1 ½ hours! I needed this.
I left my treatment pain free, well balanced and wanting to learn more about Reiki. I have been studying how to self-treat myself with Reiki. I will explain this all in more detail in the future when I am more knowledgeable.
So what were the lessons I learned in furious November?
1. Stress can fuck up your mind and body.
2. Not doing my yoga and meditation caused more stress.
3. Healthy fuel is not Alcohol and candy.
4. I release stress by swearing.
5. I will be retired before the next Presidential Election.
Oh, and one more, though I was tired and in pain, I am grateful I could push my body and mind, stay focused and complete all the tasks that were demanded of me.
It’s a great feeling. So screw you cancer!