28 Nov Springshot Spotlight: Josefina Fuentes
We’re all wound together with strands of DNA containing unique genes and chromosomes that dictate everything from hair color to our idiosyncrasies. It’s these traits that differentiate each person from the other seven billion on the planet, but many of those characteristics are two sides of the same coin; traits that can be our greatest assets, but those very same traits often prevent us from slowing our pace every now and again. However, as learning and growing beings, we can choose when to give in to the guardrails of our DNA or we can choose to push towards homeostasis. For Josefina Fuentes, it’s that very DNA that perpetually keeps her in motion and has also allowed her to successfully navigate a career that would exhaust the average person, but it’s also that same DNA is being rewired to slow down and enjoy everything that she has worked so hard to accomplish. Now, blessed with a family that knows relaxation is the reward for a hard day’s work, she’s learning to live a life less hurried – but only just a little.
Josefina was born in California, but her family relocated to Texas when she was very young, where she found herself surrounded by large extended family. A native English speaker, Josefina quickly learned Spanish to communicate with her Great Grandmother, who would scold her if she attempted to converse in English. At just 14 years old, her work ethic took over and, to stay busy, she found her first job at a nursing home. She continued to work until she gave birth to a little girl in 1994. Never idle for long, when her daughter was just three months old, she began looking for a new job to support her budding family. It was then that Josefina started her long career at the airport, where she has now worked for over 20 years.
Her first position was cleaning inbound aircraft as a fleet worker for Alaska Airlines and, after five years, she became the lead for the rest of the cleaning staff. In 2012, she started a new contract as a ramp and fleet trainer. Josefina currently works security in the morning and then, later in the day, transitions to her ramp and fleet position. Having two jobs keeps her busy, and she enjoys filling in the gaps when crews are shorthanded. “I don’t like to stay in the office,” she says. “I like to pitch in wherever I can and make sure things are done well. There was one time when a plane needed cleaning and there were only two of us available. We knew that the work needed to get done, so we put our heads down and worked as hard and fast as we could. And you know what? That plane left on schedule.”
During the course of her career, Josefina and her husband of 23 years successfully raised four children and she is now the proud grandmother of six grandchildren. Josefina continues to work hard at the airport and, when asked about retirement, she chuckles. While her family is (gradually) convincing her to slow down, there’s no retirement date in sight. Though she spends the majority of her time working, she relishes in the time she gets to spend with her grandchildren and, as she puts it, “just hang out.” She enjoys trips to Chuck-E-Cheese to watch them play or attending family parties and events, and she’s slowly handed off party hosting duties to her now-grown children. But don’t, for a second, think that she’s lost her spark – at every family function, she’s there, and she’s a ball of energy who is ready for fun.
While she constantly makes time to spend with her family, she’s also taking a little more time for herself. She now knows not to spend too much time in the kitchen because, if she does, she’ll start cleaning. Now, she takes her meals into the living room to watch NCIS or any other crime-related shows. However, she’s still a multitasker, and she scours for coupons during her time off from work to ensure that she is always getting the best possible deals on items. Recently, by collecting Coke Rewards points from friends, family, and coworkers, she got a $100 pair of shoes for $2. Her husband used to tease her about her bargain hunting ways, especially when she called the corporate phone number during a shopping trip to Payless, but he stopped laughing when that call netted her a 25 percent off coupon.
This bargain hunting, hard-working, family-loving woman is learning the art of balance, and that DNA that has served her so well is slowly giving in to the occasional bout of relaxation. Recently, Josefina even took a vacation. She prefers to stay close and only travels for work training, so she spent her vacation at home, enjoying the company of her family. The things that are most important to her are within arm’s reach, so she sees no need to venture very far. However, once that week was finished, the DNA that briefly lied dormant came roaring back to life as she stepped back into her routine. She will continue to walk through those airport doors every day and will continue to come home to the family that she holds so dear. While she may put her feet up a little more than she used to, she still moves with the purpose of someone who wants to squeeze every last bit of goodness out of every single minute of the day.