A Thank You Note to My Office By Elizabeth Teurlay

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Elizabeth Teurlay is currently a Program Advisor in Academic Services at Brandeis University. She earned her M. Ed. in Student Affairs at UCLA and previously served as a Resident Director at Boston College. Elizabeth enjoys staying involved in the NASPA Region 1 WISA & SAPAA KC’s and reading about all things Higher Ed. Outside of work, she is training for her second 5K and loves taking her dog Riley to the dog park. You can connect with her on Twitter at @eteurlay. 

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As I quickly approach my one year work anniversary at Brandeis University, I realize I have a lot to be grateful for. I enjoy my new role, my new students, and my new dog that came with the live-off life. But the thing I am most grateful for is lunch with my co-workers.

I have been fortunate to work in a few different offices that actively support employee wellness. During my graduate school assistantship I remember one entire meeting dedicated to office-friendly yoga. What a relief to find stretches that did not require a full change of clothes or mats! An employee health program at another institution loaded us all up with free Fitbits which drastically changed my mindfulness around movement throughout the day (my love for my Fitbit could be another blog post entirely).

My arrival at Brandeis came in a bit of a whirlwind; I was living off-campus and commuting for the first time in years, suddenly without my handy meal plan, after classes were already in full swing. Between unpacking boxes at home and unpacking academic policies at work, it was tough to remember which end was up. But I quickly found myself invited to lunch outdoors with the rest of my office. Even in the midst of the chaos that was the beginning of the academic year, my office chose to take time to sit together on the back patio and take in the sunshine.

As I got to know my colleagues, I noticed that lunch conversations rarely revolved around the campus issue of the day, but rather about hobbies and upcoming weekend adventures. We have a spin instructor who solicits tunes for upcoming themed classes, crafty folks who have taught me all about buying and dying yarn, and a bee keeper who knows more than I thought possible about honey. I also observed a pattern in the food. I was used to conversing with colleagues over dining hall burgers, pizza, and a collective weakness for soft-serve. But here, I notice a strong commitment to homemade items. We have developers of salad combinations I would never dream of, creators of every possible version of homemade pizza, gluten-free or otherwise, and a crock-pot aficionado who draws inspiration from around the world.

Just sitting with amongst these fine folks each week has had only a positive impact. After I joined a gym near my house, others were quick to share their gym pros and cons, from class suggestions to motivational techniques. Who would have thought I would enjoy a spin class so much? I’ve received book recommendations, museum exhibit suggestions, and tips to help the dog adjust to his new home. Challenging myself to complete a 5K had been on my bucket list for a long time, and when I shared my plan at the lunch table, I found others trying to hit 10,000 steps per day, training for a half marathon, and attempting their first 10K. Regardless of where we were in our individual fitness journeys, each was fully supported to reach his or her goal.

So I’d like to take a moment to say “Thank You” to my colleagues at Brandeis. You have really made me reflect on my health this year, both physical and mental. It’s because of this group that I have made more time to read for pleasure and bought an exercise ball chair. I love working in an office that supports one another’s health, whether by participating together in a color run or an office-wide frozen yogurt trip on a tough day. And I really do look forward to hearing about everyone’s next adventure over lunch.

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