Becoming a court reporter would have never entered my mind as a 20-year-old. At that time in my life I was playing piano up a storm and intent on graduation from college as a music major. Fast forwarding 32 years in a chance perusal of the employment section of our Columbus, Ohio newspaper, I discovered an ad for openings at the Academy of Court Reporting.
It was that time in my life when I felt like heading into a new challenge. Piano teaching over the years had somehow lost a bit of its luster, my husband and I were recent empty nesters, he had his own hobbies, and I was ready for something different. One caress of that steno keyboard at the school interview and I was hooked!
I could hardly wait for classes to begin, although I did wonder how I might appear to other students at 52, easily the age of most of their mothers. For that reason I tried a little harder. Having the dexterity of a piano player did give me a definite advantage in the initial months.
I absolutely loved my classes and going to school again. Graduation took a while with a few bumps in the road such as parent care giving. Eventually in September of 1998 with diploma in hand I was ready to apply for my first job.
I have my employers to thank for all they taught me, beginning as a green reporter with only a few months of interning to my credit. The main thing I learned through their example was maintaining a meticulous eye for error-free transcripts and commitment to completing every job within the delivery date promised. Meeting deadlines was inevitably stressful at times, but I loved my work.
As my experience increased I learned to loosen up a bit but never lost that slightly edgy feeling before a deposition begins. Upon entering every room for a hearing or deposition my ears are always attuned to extraneous sounds that might interfere with my concentration.
I have learned over the years to be almost invisible, a so-called fixture in the room. I stop the proceedings only when I have to, clarifying a term or name. The most connection to a witness I have ever allowed myself has been to offer a tissue in a highly emotion-charged setting.
However, as much as I have enjoyed court reporting, I have missed the give and take of personal interaction I had enjoyed as a teacher; and somehow that need has begun to surface over the past few years and demand my attention.
My epiphany came out of the blue. It began with taking down my mom's favorite recipes via steno as she began to age, then transcribing her stories I had discreetly taped over time. I thought to myself how much more I would enjoy transcribing life stories than the particulars of a traffic accident. Through the NCRA Journal (for court reporters) I became interested in the Veterans' History Project, a huge volunteer effort to save the stories of our veterans.
Through a friend I chanced to hear about a related project that immediately spoke to my heart and one that my training and skills could be put to an incredibly rewarding use. The name of the project happens to be Living Legacy.
When I contacted the people at Legacy Stories about becoming a Personal Legacy Adviser, they first asked about my qualifications to do this work. When I explained what a court reporter is trained to do, they were blown away. They said they had never thought about it that way and that court reporters would make excellent PLAs. So now they are adding our chosen profession to the esteemed list of professionals such as genealogists, estate planners, photographers, videographers, and journalists, who can be part of this world changing cause.
I really enjoyed your story. You never know where life will take you with the skills we learn on the way. What a great way to use your skills and talents!
Sharing seems to be the name of the game. Thus, I'd like to complete a package of "Fine Tune Your Writing" lessons and share them with Legacy Stories.org members. In order to do that, I need to obtain permission from the person who originally published the seminal series some 15 years ago. I've kept them in my personal files and have now scanned the 16-18 articles into digital format. Please let me know if a digital package will be useful and appropriate.