Sunday, December 30, 2012

10 Ways to Enjoy the New Year

Most of the people I know work very hard and can be very serious.  Work, work, work!  Actually, even though this society is replete with lawyer jokes, lawyers are some of the hardest working people I know. We don't take good enough care of ourselves, and then when we "retire" it may be too late.  Here is what I want to do in 2013 and what I would tell others who want suggestions for the upcoming year:

1.  Listen to music you love!  Music is transcending. I have a new pair of really good headphones.  Music can lift even my darkest (and they Can get really dark) moods.

2.  Do something anonymously for someone else.  It's uplifting, but only of you expect nothing in return. 

3.  Exercise - nothing feels better, especially when it is over.  My husband and I have been going to spinning classes for over 5 years.  That is one way to beat the blahs.  Hike in new places. Move!

4. Read!  Read articles, books, fiction and non-fiction.  Learn new things.  Explore. Read junk, if you must, but just take time to read.

5.  Indulge in massages, mani/pedis if you can afford it. If you can't, have a friend rub your neck.  Let your body feel good. 

6. Have sex. (Caveat, I am not promoting promiscuity, but sex is good for the soul.) - My husband will be happy to read this.  

7.  Sing. I am a terrible singer, but I love to sing and I  love to sing loud.  Now, you may need to find a private place like the shower if you have fuddy-duddies around you (like I do).

8.  Say please and thank you. Tip well.  Send thank you cards. 

9.  Live in the moment. Don't wallow in regret or worry about all the things that could go wrong.  Appreciate your time now!!  You may be dead tomorrow. 

10. Don't take anything personally.  It's not about you.  When someone says something "about you," it's really about them. Separate yourself from what others say. Learn from it, if you can, and let it go.  

I hope all of you have enriching and joy-filled years to come.  Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Being an Honorable Person - 6 Easy Rules Reposted

I am republishing this blog posting from September, 2009.  The entry gets a lot of hits, almost more than any other. I am proud of this and wanted to repost, since we are nigh upon a new year:

I am going to take a little departure from talking about cases.  I have and have had many courageous clients.  It's the nature of my business that someone who wants to bring a discrimination case must have a modicum of courage.  These are not the types of cases for the faint of heart.  Today, though, I have been thinking about honor.  It is the courageous, honorable clients whom are the ones I love.

What is it that makes a person honorable?  An honorable person is one who is deserving of respect.  And who deserves respect?  Most of us, including me, have acted in dishonorable ways.  Dishonorable acts include lying, cheating, stealing, betraying, manipulating.  It's easy to be negative.  What does it take to be a truly honorable person, worthy of the respect of others:

1.   Speaking the truth even when it is unpopular, while avoiding needless unkind words;
2.   Being loyal even when it is tempting to be disloyal;
3.   Having empathy, especially with one's opponents and people with whom one has little in common;
4.   Giving with no expectation of receiving anything in return except the joy of giving:
5.   Standing up for what one believes in even when it is unpopular to do so;
6.   Truly being able to forgive others for just about anything.

I know this is a simple list, but it seems fairly comprehensive to me.  When someone needlessly hurts someone else or strives for personal power or personal wealth above all else, it is always a reflection of some underlying conflict in that person.  Unfortunately, people who are hurt by others oftentimes go out and hurt even more people.  Angry people hurt others, while oftentimes not meaning to do so.

So, how does this relate to the practice of law?  The practice of law is a microcosm of the act of living.  We have developed a set of rules with which to operate so that we don't destroy each other.  Law is eminently logical and practical.  People aren't.  It is possible to fiercely promote what one believes in or to defend one's person and principles without annihilating the opponent.  The fiercest advocate can be the gentlest person.  It is not easy to be honorable, but honorable people do not expect perfection.  They are ready to forgive transgressions. Living honorably is the key to being peaceful and content. Not ironically, the best advocate is the one that acts with honor.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


I am sure it's obvious, but we have to protect children. I really can't think of anything else. Parents want to protect children. We need to deal with mentally ill violent people in a better way. We need to take care of each other. I found out about what happened in Newtown, Connecticut as I was leaving the kindergarten class at which we volunteer. What happened to those sweet children in Newtown is almost too horrible to consider, but I can't seem to think of anything else about which to write.  Sweet, innocent children, just like  the ones we have all raised, are raising or hope to raise in the future.  We want our children to grow up to be beautiful, happy, caring adults. I am lucky enough to have seen my children grow to adulthood. The parents in Newtown are not.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Wintertime Blues and What's Important

I hate this time of the year. People spend so much money on shit that is meaningless. I suspect this consumerism stems from northern-living Caucasians attempting to stave off depression from excessive darkness and cold weather.  We lose sight in what's important. 

What is really important?  I am sure it is many different things to many different people.  For most of my clients, being courageous and furthering justice is of utmost importance. For a tiny few of them, I suspect revenge and anger motivate them more.  For me, sifting through the legions of people harmed, whether or not illegally, by actions of their employers to find the clients who want to do the right thing for the right reasons becomes increasingly important. When I choose my clients too swiftly and my instincts are bad, it takes a toll on me and makes it harder to focus on what's important. There are people out there who, for whatever reasons which could include a devastatingly painful childhood, broken relationships or whatever, have chips on their shoulders. For those clients, nothing is ever enough. They can no longer trust and believe they are victims time and time again. While they may have understandable reasons for being difficult, I no longer have sympathy for them. They drain me.  I know I am over-simplifying this, but clients who see themselves as victims have no personal insight nor compassion for others.  I am tired of representing people who have holes inside which are impossible to fill.

My job can be wonderful and rewarding, and it can be draining and depressing.  I don't like prima donnas.  Perhaps I don't like the competition as I can be very prima donna-like myself.  This "holiday" season seems to emphasize the materialistic nature of the self-professed "victims" I try to avoid representing. 

So, to get me back on track, I want to re-emphasize what is important to me (not in order of importance), so as to get a bad taste out of my mouth:

1.  Laughter - my brother put a Jim Gaffigan special on yesterday and my sides hurt from laughing.  I love laughing. 

2.  Children - the time my husband and I spend helping at a kindergarten class each week is one of the highlights of my week.  Last night I went to a hockey game and the children danced throughout the game to the music. Children are spontaneous, fun-loving, innocent creatures just like I want to be.

3.  Dogs- we have two sweet, caring dogs with distinct personalities. Dogs are loyal and unconditionally loving. They love you no matter what. 

4.  Family - Loving, caring family.  Family is what is most important to me in life.

5.  Working - Working at a job that I love most of the time for people that I almost always care about and with people, my partners and staff alike, that I truly love.  I don't know I will have the pluck of Gerry Spence to try a case in federal court at the age of 83, but I think I might. Shoot, I have another 23 years to find out.  

During this holiday season, with the increasingly diminishing sunlight and the impending freeze of winter, I want to remember what's really important, and find more reasons to laugh.