Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Today I’d like to share a message posted recently on Facebook by my friend and mentor J. Kim Wright.  Her work as a Legal Rebel, her teaching & her writing, have been major, major sources of support and inspiration for me as I’ve moved through law school.  As graduation nears, I look forward to contributing in whatever ways I can to the sea change that is before us in the field of law.  So cheers — to collaboration and to leadership that has to do with clarity and expanded awareness, to peace and JUSTICE…  And the gift of being able to share…

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As a final semester 3L I think about this a lot — give a listen to see if you identify with this worldview or if approaching your legal career from a more creative perspective is something you might want to give more consideration to… Please also look out for future posts on this topic, including exercises aimed at facilitating tough conversations with your own self…

I am reminded of the lesson that stillness brings action for two reasons right now.

The first has to do with exams.  It has to do with allowing myself the rest I need to prepare mentally and emotionally for the roller coaster that is sitting in a windowless room for hours pouring every scrap of intellect you have into an assignment that feels removed from life and arbitrary yet so very crucial to the prospects of one’s future at the same time…  I have been practicing inner-listening like crazy.  I have been massaging my hands and feet like crazy.  I have been clearing internal space so that what must rise to the surface for the good of my academic standing can come.

The second has had to do with the recent grand jury verdicts that have come out of Ferguson, Missouri and New York City.  I have been hearing and reading the fear and agony these decisions are causing people of color in all of our communities.  And I have been voicing my own feelings of fear and utter sadness to others I go to school with — other aspiring lawyers.

Let us not confused silence with stillness, by the way.  Stillness has to do with deep listening, to our own pain and that of others.  Stillness has to do with humility — with the ability to let feelings like loss of control fill our senses and not repress them, but allow their brunt to be pushed upon our most visceral senses.  For this seems to be where the seeds of real justice are planted.  I imagine we, citizens of this country, are all reaching up right now.  Scrambling with hands and fingers clawing at the ground above us so we may break through the dirt and find light.  Find the ground where those seeds are planted and begin to cultivate justice that does not demand our patronage from the dark.  Again, justice from a place of light.  Justice from a communal, collective sense of truth.  One born from discourse and genuine democratic inquiry — aka the strength and the freedom to outwardly proclaim when people’s rights have been violated, or where people’s rights have been disregarded as if they do not exist at all.

My stillness is my contemplation of these images and of these fears.  My action comes from that space.  In work and in life.  For myself and for the health, for the integrity, of our world.

 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.


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!!!!

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!!

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…  

Well, something it seemed might never happen is happening — I am embracing goddess worship as part of my practice.  No, not part of my legal practice (as I haven’t one yet), but part of my personal practice that allows me to feel as strong and capable AND beautiful and shiny as I have the potential to be.

One sidebar before we go on: in light of the recent Game of Thrones epidemic, I imagine this post is pretty relatable to a lot of people, namely women. Heroines such as Daenerys and Sansa Stark are prime examples. Mine right now is Durga. She came to me through a recently published book by renowned meditation teacher and feminist scholar on yoga, Sally Kempton. She reveals Durga as a warrior for justice…

goddess_durga_slaying_demons_hc59It’s been a long time in coming I suppose.  For years my yoga practice would invoke occasional images of gods or goddesses from the Hindu pantheon.  And I’ve been able to stare at the ground or a wallpaper pattern or the sky, simultaneously feeling and seeing their aspects move and even appear to breath.  At first that ability scared me, but after enough tripping on mushrooms and spending hours on end in meditation it stopped bothering me.  It actually started to provide a sense of reassurance.  Like, okay cool, THAT is really how shit is working – my dumb-ass ego trip about being broke and having no direction in life is false.  Sweet…

Now I’m to the point where I can hold both aspects of truth in my consciousness — that is, the utter transmutability of our world and that finite limitations do arise or stay fixed when we allow our minds to limit what we desire.  I think goddess worship in particular has been intimidating to me because, besides the ego-trip of not wanting to be “that chick” it opens up possibilities for personal transformation that I was in a sense off the hook for before.  This is because visualizing the essential qualities of timeless human archetypes that have sustained cultures for millennia is a powerful, powerful tool.  Without tapping into this reservoir of knowledge (knowledge in a very felt sense) there is less for reason for me to be surprised by the limitations I set for myself.  By embracing this aspect of practice though, I allow myself no more excuses for actualizing the spiritual warrior I know myself, in a very fundamental way, to be.

Mitch Finch, a rising 2L, doing what he loves… Thanks for sharing 🙂

So I’m currently listening to a panel at a symposium being hosted at my law school this weekend.  It’s the second gathering of the Alliance for Experiential Learning in Law and I’m covering it for our school’s Law & Leadership Journal.

The current presenters are discussing their perspectives on experiential ed from other disciplines, from medicine to engineering to architecture.

One idea that’s come up from the architecture professor is that of studio time, and how in architecture school there is a blending of classes that teach theory and practice with the experience of being in a creative laboratory (a studio).  I love this idea because it’s how I approach my study of law.  See photo below, as it’s of my apt, which is essentially a studio space, where I can think and write, but also move around and play with multi-media materials for inspiration. IMG_0003

What’s interesting to me about this is an emphasis on the importance of creative problem-solving, a skill our presenter encourages before her students’ structural education comes in.  She believes that without the cultivation of creativity, the structural stuff, the more linear information (in law the doctrinal aspects) have no context for being applied in a meaningful, innovative way.

Another interesting area of overlap here has to do with the concept of design, and the almost sculptural way we could be perceiving our possibilities for practicing law — constructing new frameworks and building organizational capacities that support these structures, and that can be contained by these structures at the same time.  It’s about re-working what we’ve got by, in a sense, scaling to the outer-limits of our imaginations.

One more idea I love about this is the way such a model for studying law lends itself to collaboration, in that when we open ourselves up creatively we tend to find outlets for sharing information & perspective with others that might otherwise feel like info we need to keep for ourselves, or our clients.  Taking a more artistic approach to the study and practice of law seems to suggest we can find ways of communicating through these siloed ways of thinking and being in what people are realizing more and more, is an interconnected world.

PS Check out if this post strikes your fancy…