Archive for September, 2014

A friend of mine just re-posted an article via Facebook called 25 Struggles Only ENFPs Will Understand — it’s put out by a blog called Thought Catalogue and, despite much skepticism of tests that “objectively” discern the vicissitudes of our personalities, I can’t deny these folks are on to something.

At my law school we have a leadership program that, up until now anyway, has largely been built around the use of personality types referred to in this article.  It’s Myers-Briggs to be precise (although there are a couple more we’ve taken that when I say their names they sound like venereal diseases — examples being a “FIRO – B” — I mean, really, wtf??)

Seriously though, I think the bad taste I developed for these tests stems at least partially from an experience I had just out of college.  A woman, whom I later found to be a staunch Republican of the Ayn Rand AND George Bush Jr. variety, literally pointed her finger at me on the street one day and said, “I see it!  Totally corporate, totally artistic!”  She then convinced me to come in for what would be two weeks of interviews enroute to my first ever salaried position.

I never even got to the point of being paid a real salary, as my probationary period as a light/industrial temp recruiter was, simply put, short lived.  I was told my footsteps weren’t “heavy enough.”  Not to mention it went quite unappreciated when I tried to give education and career consulting to some of the temp agency’s applicants (very poor folks whose job it essentially was to call us every day and inquire if we had any back-breaking work for extremely low pay that they could do).

I should have seen it coming, really.  I mean, when you take a personality test and your about-to-be employer’s secretary calls to say they need you to re-take the test because the results, basically, indicate that you have multiple personalities, well, it shouldn’t be too hard to see that you might not fit into the culture of that particular workplace…

I distinctly remember re-taking that test and seeing exactly where they wanted me to answer differently because it’s what followed, according to their logic, from the answer I gave in the previous question.  It was that ridiculous.

So when I got to law school and was asked to do the same kind of little dance, it felt pretty forced.  I felt uncomfortable. And pretty dubious of how well this sort of testing can steer us in terms of (effective) leadership development.

Alas, I took all my tests.  I listened to their lectures.  And here’s what I’ve learned —

1 – It’s okay to be “sensitive” and actively value compassion, even when you are studying (and I believe practicing) law.

2 – It IS harder to be sensitive and compassionate and function in the legal world, but it is also better!  It is what our system (and the world) needs.

3 – The same can be said for creativity and optimism.

4 – A persisting obstacle is the feeling of isolation that can come when what gives you energy is to be with people, but what allows you to work productively on legal problems requires being, or feeling, alone.  It’s a toughie…

5 – Self-care practices are key.  Especially if you are someone who is inclined towards feeling joy and gratitude even for the smallest of things, giving space for yourself to experience those things, even while you are “working” is ESSENTIAL.  Otherwise, you risk losing what feels most important to you on a fundamental level every time you engage in the level of focus that the study and/or practice of law requires.

6 – Because we are sensitive, creative people, innovating self-care practices that fit our physical, mental and emotional needs is something we love to do!  It’s an opportunity to ‘think outside the box’ and push ourselves to find forms of expression that burst what could feel like a prison, wide open…

Here’s to finding our way as un-lawyerly personalities and please comment if you have thoughts or feelings to share!!

Pigeon 1 Fo Yo Mornin…

Posted: September 24, 2014 in Videos, Wellness, Yoga
Tags: , ,

A fun way to start stretchin’ in the mornin’ & find flexibility in your hips — Don’t forget to do both sides & enjoy 🙂 ❤ Shoshanna

The G8 Summit has convened a social impact investment task force.  This body just published a report entitled Impact Investment: The Invisible Heart of Markets — Harnessing the Power of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Capital For Public Good.  It’s a treatise on what is needed to bring government, business, the social sector and foundations, institutional and private investors, and impact entrepreneurs into some sort of common platform for idea building and for action.

Screenshot 2014-09-23 11.46.33A quote at the beginning of the report comes from Pope Francis: “It is urgent that governments throughout the world commit themselves to developing an international framework capable of promoting a market of high impact investments and thus to combating an economy which excludes and discards.”  David Cameron, from the World Economic Forum in Davos (2013) weighs in as well, referring to the world’s “shared social and economic challenges.”

Particularly because of its reference to the “heart” of markets, this report, as I perused a post about it on Twitter, struck my interest.  Partially because I’ve become enamored with the concept of a heart in law and business — and appreciate the use of the word even if its practical meaning is yet to be very fleshed out (pun intended) or tends to ultimately be rendered meaningless as politics co-op what might otherwise be very meaningful (even if still “just” rhetoric).  But I’m also appreciating a piece Triple Pundit put out about this report, and want to riff off of that even more than the report itself. talks about what is really needed in order for this beautiful and lofty vision of collaboration to take root in our topsy turvy, hyper-capitalist world.  Marta Maretich shrewdly points out,

…in the dazzle of the report’s many authoritative recommendations for governments, policymakers an impact sector leaders, there’s a danger of overlooking a vital detail: real change doesn’t come from institutions or governments, nor does it come in the form of policies, manifestos or even laws. These things are necessary for the growth of our sector now, as the report neatly demonstrates, but they are just expressions of a more profound shift that will be needed if impact is to fulfill its potential.

Because real change comes from people, from the things they believe — their values — and from the decisions they make as a result of those beliefs.

So for me this report is a reminder that to get to the heart of progress, we must each be in touch with our own hearts.  Then our beliefs and our actions, our goals and our outcomes, can be aligned.  Then, we may have a shot at “real” transformation…

I am listening to a guest lecturer in my Child Protection class — she is explaining the constitutional framework for parental rights in the U.S., with an emphasis on what it takes to overcome the burden of strict scrutiny and take away a parent’s custody of his/her children.

What is interesting to me is this idea I keep taking away from both this class and my Family Law class: that what we are really (still) talking about are the rights of parents to own children as a form of property, as a form of chattel even.  This is the way women were conceived in our legal system and that of Europe until the 19th century with the advent of the Married Women’s Property Acts.  Now I am not advocating for a lower standard for taking children away from their parents — I am a big fan of constitutional protections for people’s fundamental rights, which I believe does include the right to parent as one sees fit.  That is not necessarily the same thing, however, as having a caregiver who is fit to be a parent.

The discourse around child protection seems to be geared towards the concept of how to secure safe custody for children once they are already deemed to be better off separated from their parents (or other legal custodians).  It doesn’t seem that we address the problematic constitutional interest undergirding the scrutiny we use to evaluate court actions seeking to deprive a parent of his/her rights.  That constitutional interest is actually the property rights of a parent played out in their, essentially, ownership of a child.  The constitutional right that is NOT created or protected in our system are the rights of a CHILD…

I will end here for today, but my ears are pricked for further information since finding that the U.N. actually endorses an “holistic approach” to child protection — meaning, the international community does what we don’t.  It recognizes the rights of children as being the fundamental right calling for protection.  Not the property rights of parents and THEN balancing that against the interests of a child.  It’s about children FIRST.  See the actual document and the Slate article below for more of a flavor of how American politics are in many ways set up to resist this type of change in paradigm…

When Life Gets Messy

Posted: September 19, 2014 in Inspiration, Reflections, Videos, Wellness

Today’s post is credited to Grace Johnston, one of my best friends and most discerning eyes (or ears, as the case may be).  Listen and enjoy courtesy of…  

What terrifies and excites me about becoming a lawyer?  Lots of things.  In the spirit of purging fear and inviting the new, here they are…

  1. the frustration of never being able to help people enough
  2. the frustration of needing to charge people $ in order to help them at all
  3. the prospect of engaging in work that is satisfying only to the extent that it is noble — in other words, not feeling effective personally because the justice system itself is so lacking in its effectiveness
  4. the prospect of being stuck in a practice that leaves me feeling drained rather than energized
  5. what excites me is the idea of innovating better systems, those using processes that integrate and reflect rather than ignore and diminish what is elemental about being human — namely our capacity for conscious change, for transformation on an individual and collective (thus evolutionary) scale
  6. it also excites me to envision my personal potential for transformation, on physical, mental and emotional planes.  It both overwhelms and inspires me to meditate on the ability I have to evolve.

Had an epiphany this morning.  (Sidebar: I used to constantly have epiphanies, like, every day – is that because I was in my twenties??)

Epiphany goes: Me in bed, letting sunlight stream across my face, lingering in the liminal space between starting and avoiding my day, and almost like light finding its way into a crack in my brain, I realized something.

All the different projects I’ve got going on right now, all the different environments I’ll be working in after graduation, all the different types of mode I’ll need to be in to see various jobs and projects through, they will all require me to be in character.  Not for the reasons I tend to associate with acting as a certain type of character though.  And not for anyone else – i.e. not for acceptance, not for legitimacy.  But for my own attention, for my own sake in attempting to organize what’s before me and execute each task in a way that fulfills expectations and feeds my soul, which underlies whatever character I may ever feel I need to invent…Screenshot 2014-09-13 16.50.25

It’s an ADHD thing I guess (again 😉  It’s about finding strategies that work for me in attaching to various projects for the purpose of engaging fully in them, and for the purpose of being able to pull my attention out (in another post I refer to this as having an Off as well as an On switch).  It’s not about making myself adapt in terms of identity to whatever is in front of me, it’s about finding an aspect of myself, a dimension in which I can exist and return to later, wherein I feel connected to whatever it is I’m doing.  And then, again, being able to pull out.  Finding means or vessels I guess for absorption and having a way out of the rabbit hole at the same time.

Don’t worry, at this point anyway, I’ve not considered coming up with names for all of these characters (although it occurs to me this could happen…).  Right now I’m just taken with this idea of connecting with a character in order to trigger my focus for a particular task.  Finding landmarks in a sense, so that I can conjure up those landmarks, the feelings for instance that come with working on a certain type of project, in a way that invites me into that space.  So it’s not focusing on the expectations of whomever I’m working for, which tends to make me anxious, that I can use as an anchor.  It’s the aspects of myself that come up in the process of working on that thing, and allowing myself to feel at home in those emotions, at home in those thoughts…


3L year has started.  I’ve re-shuffled classes, spent an exorbitant amount on casebooks that do little but make my eyes glaze over, and the fun has just begun!  In all seriousness though, there’s a difference in me now.  And it’s not necessarily a bad or sad one, as I often report from the dungeon of law school.

1398991_10201622950175624_3601028634142264250_oTwo images came into my mind the other day. First was of a mound of string suspended in front of my face. My arms were outstretched as I furtively tried to gather the whole thing at once.  There were feelings of fear here, anxiety, a sense of urgency I couldn’t unplug from.  The second came right after, and it was of this same string but in the form of an untangled line.  This time, instead of grasping for more than I could even fit in my arms, I simply picked up one end of it, and holding on ever so lightly, began to move forward.  I experienced a sense of peacefulness and stability from the second image.  It felt like I could trust that being where I was, or having pulled through however much of the thread as I was able to, was enough.  I didn’t have to keep reaching; I got this sense I was already where I needed to be.  Instead of feverishly pulling or reaching for more, I could rest in the awareness of where I was.  And from that place, just allow, rather than push myself, to keep moving.

I posted this on Facebook mostly to people’s puzzlement — what does it mean, charitable FB friends chimed?  I’m pretty sure it has to do with being in touch with what is closest to my core as a person.  And finding the delicate freedom that comes with ‘staying true’ to who you are while at the same time recognizing you’ve got to tow a line in this world.  As an obsessive seeker of truth this has always been challenging for me.  I’ve always measured my happiness by the degree to which I could ‘let go’.  Law school’s been tough because it’s forced me to ‘hold on’ for dear life.  Now, it seems, I am learning to find a balance…