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Why I ended up in workers' compensation? - Natalie Torres

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By Natalie Torres, Senior Director of Client Solutions

Close your eyes and start to imagine the events that have made up your life. Now, what about those ones that stick with you that provide the opportunity for your real unfolding and evolution. When we examine our lives, we can see the events that ripped us apart and reshaped us through our choices. This is the story for the five best decisions I made in my life and that brought me to the workers' compensation industry. It's been five years already. Let's take it back to 2014.

It was April and we were making plans for the first Easter celebration as a married couple. Jessie and I love to entertain and were planning a big brunch celebration at our place. I went to call my mother to coordinate. This call changed everything. When she answered she said that my father had just passed out in front of the house and was being taken by ambulance to the hospital. It was a few days later we learned he had advanced stages of small cell lung cancer. There was nothing that could be done to save his life.

2014 felt much like 2020, a fog of great unknown and mystery, a strange sense of time, and deep contemplation of the meaning of life. New to my General Manager role, I tried to continue a spirit of service and excitement for my staff and guests by day while watching my father slip away by night. I continued in my work in the restaurant though my heart was somewhere else. I was helping servers bus tables on the patio in May when Jessie messaged that his grandmother in Puerto Rico had passed away. My grandmother and I shared a lifetime of love and memories together, but I was not there in June to say goodbye to her.

The best decision I made in my life was to marry my husband Jessie. As the summer carried on, I saw time and time again how lucky I was to share my life with him. We hadn't been married a year and he was just getting to know my parents. My mother who just lost her mother and was about to lose her husband in the same season. He barely knew my father but always acted like they were old friends. Jessie has such a special way of making everyone feel loved at first meet.

I returned-to-work after a short bereavement after my father died. On the first day back, I just had my team meeting in the kitchen, and I went up to check the door was open for lunch. I made an effort to personally receive the first guests of the day. When I took my place behind the host stand, and those first guests walked in, the feeling was overwhelming that this phase of my life was over. After nearly 20 years it was time for work that allowed me to serve others in another way. Though it took a few years after to realize that choosing to end my career in the restaurant business was the second-best decision I made in my life.

The next couple of months were rough. Without work to keep me busy I had all kinds of time
to recall the events of the summer. My father passed away in hospice, I could not get over that I just stood there and watched. How was I going to learn to live with this? Soothing yourself with Jack Daniels is not the way either. On November 14th Jessie took me to my first yoga class. This was a 105-degree hot Bikram Yoga class. I thought it was absolutely crazy the first week but saw quickly how much I needed it. The regularity of the same lesson, the discipline, the heat. The heartbreak and pain drip away in the heat. My studies have gone on for years now into other styles of yoga but dedicating the time for a personal yoga practice is the third best decision I made in my life. The more time I spent examining myself, the more peace I found in learning to live with the death of my father. The more time I spend on my journey inward, the easier it is to stay in the present moment with balance when the world goes sideways.

It was March 2015 and my job search was in full swing when I found the Workfinders USA
opening for a Research Associate. These advocates for injured workers were focused on
an examination of workers' compensation claims in preparation for vocational rehabilitation and successful return-to-work. Workers' compensation would be completely new to me but could see the place to share my love of creating experiences and service. I knew I was going to like Bill Tucker when he suggested my favorite coffee shop to meet for an interview. When we talked about the mission of the company and the work, I wanted in. The interview felt more like meeting someone I already knew at my favorite place. On March 13, 2015 I made the fourth best decision in my life and joined the Workfinders USA team and workers' compensation industry. This work is a blessing to join my personal intention and purpose of serving others living authentically.

The fifth best decision I made in my life is one I'm committed to every single day, to live life
with positivity. If I hadn't made a commitment to this in 2015, I probably wouldn't be writing
this story. It starts with reversing just one thought at a time. When a disrupting thought enters your mind, think of something lovely or look at something beautiful. One by one you start changing the way react to your thoughts. When things are really dark pull at the smallest shred of light, eventually the sun comes bursting through.

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Natalie Torres, Senior Director of Client Solutions - Natalie is a designer of RTW solutions to support the return every worker to good health and meaningful work. She conceptualizes and integrates RTW initiatives for Fortune 100 carrier, employer, and TPA clients. She works intimately with her partners to craft and direct case management strategy for Permanently Restricted and Transitional RTW scenarios, that encourage the return of all workers with injuries to say YES on their return-to-work journey.

Natalie designs and implements social media marketing strategies and creative content to support the advancement of the return-to-work mission while fostering the Workfinders USA philosophy. She develops and delivers national conference seminars, webinars, and customized RTW training sessions. She operates with the spirit of warrior and advocate for workers in the industry and community. https://www.workfindersusa.com/

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