Archive for October, 2014

 I was walking home from school the other day and was seized by a compulsion to duck into the local coffee shop/wine bar/book store.  As if pulled by a magnet, I beelined to the used section in the back (my favorite place, of course) and quickly came upon a beautifully illustrated book of Buddhist prayers and practices that I’d seen before but never purchased.

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Knowing I’d already found what I came for, I started venting to the guy ringing me up.  Something about, oh, whoa is me, this labyrinth of bullshit I am saddled with in law school…  And so on.  Just sensing, I think he realized why I was complaining.  It’s not that I truly can’t stand what I’m doing in school, it’s the dearth of other aspects to life, to learning and to consciousness that I find myself rebelling against.  And that was why I’d stopped by the store.  To re-charge.  Re-connect with reading material that feeds rather than crushes my soul.

The amazing part, which humbled me, honestly — was that he said I looked like “the embodiment of balance.”  I had my admin law book nestled under one arm with my new Buddhist practices book cradled under the other.  I was on my way home from the gym.  About to walk my steadfast pup.  And although scared about what the future holds, it seemed I was holding space in that moment just fine.

The moral of the story?  Remember to keep what warms your heart and enlivens your existence on you at all times.  Don’t let yourself get weighed down too much by the books that leave you empty.  And express your true feelings.  Ya never know what kind of affirmation will come back to you in return.

Piecing Life TogetherI came across a Huffington Post piece today that says “coloring isn’t just for children,” and that it’s a stress reliever for adults too.  No kidding.  Finally, a credible voice comes on the scene…

These are just examples of adult coloring that I do for fun, stress relief, and sometimes as means for visualizing my future, or what I need even in the present.

Sometimes it’s drawing pictures from pictures, sometimes it’s coloring drawings by others in, and sometimes it’s collage.  I’ll integrate objects like plants or seeds sometimes, grass even.  Ways to integrate aspects of my consciousness into a piece I can play with in front of me.  Mandalas are also a great way to play.

And, in law school (it always comes back to that) or for people who are trained how to think and perform in extremely prescribed, linear ways, this kind of processing can provide a lot of relief.  You still get to use lines.  You can be really strict if you want about which colors to use.  You can keep your structure.  But allow some creativity to also flow through!!!!

I was recently traveling to a friend’s wedding and got into conversation with some guy in the airport.  I’m not sure when it started, but apparently I’ve gained confidence in this whole talking-about-law-in-an-holistic-way thing (some affectionately call this an elevator speech).  I say this because after the flight when that guy and I exchanged goodbyes he handed me the Bloomberg Businessweek he’d been reading and referred me to an article, “Rethinking the World’s Best Schools.”  It was a feature piece profiling the renowned principal of a public Shanghai high school.

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-09-24/chinas-education-reform-push-extends-to-shanghais-top-schools

Principal Qiu is apparently a living a legend in China.  This is due to the phenomenal results he cultivates from faculty and students and the fact that he is attempting to change the very game he’s excelled at as an educator and principal.

To provide a little context, the article explains that while China’s suicide rate overall has been declining,

youth suicides have been climbing.  There are roughly 250,000 suicides and 2 million attempts per year, and the second-most vulnerable age group (after elderly and rural women) is 15- to 34-year-olds.”

Research has been published pegging 90 percent of urban Chinese students as being nearsighted by the end of high school.

Principal Qiu wants to maintain the academic results his students get already, but foster a more nurturing environment for, as he puts it, the ‘spirit of the mind.’  This is a major shift to put it mildly from the traditional Chinese classroom of the twenty-first century.  What we are talking about is a revolutionary thought: that creativity and individualism and diversity of learning styles and opportunities for expression are aspects of education that can bolster students’ performance on traditional types of exams, if they are given the support for these ways of approaching their learning.

The type of change that Principle Qui is advocating for is what I argue we need in legal education.  It’s about thinking holistically and allowing an artist’s spirit to be channeled through even the driest of material.  It’s about understanding and honoring our sense of humanity, and what makes each one of us unique.