Posts Tagged ‘alignment’

Wow, even WordPress’ Dashboard is different now that I’m back attempting to blog…

I am eating Trader Joe’s Thai Chili almonds over a 9 oz glass of Chardonnay at the Las Vegas Airport.  Truth.  So to speak 😉  It’s a far cry from where I was months ago when blogging about being an integrative law student was one of the lifelines I had holding me in check as I anxiously completed and then emerged from the nightmarish cocoon of law school.

The short story?  Ha.  I’ll try.

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It started last spring when I began meditating on my intentions and actively began envisioning how I could manage to make a decent living/improve my circumstances financially (and this definitely falls under the umbrella of “self-care” by the way).  I kept asking myself, almost in a chant, almost like a mantra: How am I going to advocate for policies I believe in AND support myself economically?  A quarter of a million dollars in educational debt I was (and am, thank you).  But beyond the debt, what kind of opportunity was I working on manifesting for myself?  What would be the texture of the “work” I would do in the world?  My goal has always been and continues to be service, making the world a better place — more specifically, helping to facilitate healing in the world, not war, not divisiveness, not convenience or expediency over thoughtfulness and integrity and cogency — not without connection between what feels to me, and to others, like what’s REAL for people and what’s IMAGINED TO BE REALITY for policy makers.  Hmm…  What does all of that mean?  And how does one even purport to hope to “manifest” such a proposition?

Well, I’m not great at telling stories in a linear fashion.  And although our lives creep by in years, which is a chronological measure of life lived, I’m not sure the actual telling of our life stories comport with this version of “reality”.  With that said (yes, you lawyers out there, consider this a disclaimer of sorts), I’d like to make this post the first in what will probably become sort of a collage depicting from various angles of time, experience and emotion what my journey since finishing law school has been and what I am projecting for it into the future…  This has basically been how a lot of HolisticToolKit.com has chronicled my path, but moving forward, I just thought I’d clarify that yes, this is my story.  And yet, no, it is probably not easy to follow.  LOL.  Rather, it’s something I guess I’d like to invite you, my dear reader, into.  That perhaps, is actually the purpose of this post.

I invite you to join me as I plunge into even deeper waters of finding out how law and an holistic mind, body and spirit can find not just overlap but a place of belonging in the world of social justice, in the world of corporate finance, and part and parcel for me, is how this occurs in the legal cannabis space…  That is where my journey has brought me and my triumphs, bitter failures and intimate gleanings from it will be what I write about for the next several years.

If you are down to share this journey with me in any way — by reading random blog posts, sharing them, commenting on them, seeing my posts on social media & offering a little smile even if all you dip into the waters of this crazy world of HolisticToolKit.com is a toenail — it is all good.  In the words of teachers and friends and mentors and collaborators I have come to love deeply, these sentences and paragraphs are being constructed out of the energy of solidarity, affection and a fierceness focused on facilitating critical reflection, compassionate acceptance, radical honesty, vulnerability as it bleeds into strength and, always, more love.

Namaste and more about the cannabis industry itself next time.

It’s funny.  I remember drafting some first posts on this blog where alignment was an organizing force for my writing.  To stay focused, I used anatomy drawings I sketched during my yoga teacher training years ago.  I had actually never been able to draw anything in a literal way before that training.  Anything I created artistically tended towards the abstract.  And for those who know me well, this is not surprising.  Yet, the concentration I was able to develop through my yoga teaching course allowed me to explore what it meant to have my body, including my brain, aligned.  Not just my thinking mind.  Not just the physical parts of myself.  But everything.  And amazingly, this allowed me to grow patience.  It allowed me, as I said, to focus.  It allowed me to draw figures realistically, and to express myself in a way that felt balanced (not overly expressionistic, but not frustrated in a sea of technicality).

Skeletal IISo I used those drawings I produced in such a balanced state as inspiration in law school.  I remembered what it felt like during yoga teacher training in order to connect with a state of mind/state of being that allowed for both the technical skills to come through and the emotion, the self that needs spaces of freedom in order to create.  I had to find that within myself because it’s not how I was taught to function in school, but I have to say it allowed me to take ownership of my studies in a way that both felt authentic for me and that resulted in grades I could live with (striving for As in everything regardless of how the process of preparing for those As feel has never been something I’ve been willing to accept, that’s just me).

I find it interesting now to realize that the intentions I am setting for myself now that I’ve left law school and re-emerged into the working world are reflecting a similar internal process.  I am observing where I am, what I am hoping for my future and what I need in order to be productive in the present.  I am conscious of the “hard” expectations my employer and co-workers have of me and I am conscious of my needs at the same time.  I am aligning myself with a balance point.  It’s hard to explain, but I can feel this in my body.  There is more length to my spine than when I do not pay attention to both aspects.  There is a feeling of emptiness not in terms of not having enough, but of being ready for more.  Even my tail bone is happy to feel balance between both sides of my bottom.  This may sound silly or insane, but from my perspective it’s significant.  My body is giving me signals as to how aligned with my goals and intentions I am.  There is no pain in my posture right now.  There is no tension I am holding onto in various areas of my body.  THIS seems to indicate alignment, both within my physical self and in terms of how that physical (also mental and emotional) self are aligned with the larger world I am moving within.

Does this make sense to folks?  It feels like discourse that is worth engaging in.

Dear Other Recent Law Grads,

It’s funny, how now that I’m in my thirties, now that I’ve joined a secret society (by this I mean the field of law), now that I’m starting to find even footing in life, I find more and more that what I crave is a sense of community. Sounds cheesy, right? Or like I’m pointing out the obvious? Well, hold on. I would like to share a bit more of my story.

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See, when I was younger (for some reason, the theme song to All in the Family plays in my head here — “thhhhhose were the dayyys”) I used to run away from whatever required sustained team efforts. I would feel frustrated trying to communicate enough to get everyone onboard with a certain approach to problem-solving or I’d recognize that who I was and what I had to offer wasn’t being honored off the bat so I’d want to call it a day. When I looked for jobs, I was able to find really cool fits — very cool if you ask me. But I always sort of kept in my mind this idea that these things were temporary, and that there was no way I could keep doing what I was doing for very long. Short attention span it seems. And yet, now I wonder, was it a short attention span all of these years or was there something missing in terms of how I was presenting myself to the world and what I imagined was possible to receive in return?

Cryptic, I know. But to bring this back into current focus, let’s take the precipice I am currently on. Having finished my JD, having decided I do not necessarily want to take the bar (at least right now), I have found myself in a place of major uncertainty. Where do I fit in? What is going to allow me to feel comfortable and valued enough where I can keep throwing down every day and feel gratified by the experience? (NOTE: if you don’t feel that this is an important element in the realm of employment, I warn you, you may not want to continue reading…) Conventional wisdom as we graduate law school appears to be this: now you are a lawyer; you have a community; you just have to find some job in that community and everything will be fine. Well I would like to say STOP — if you have found this to be the advice given by people in your life or the mentality demonstrated by your law school community or your local bar association, please, do keep reading.

I am finding that legal education has provided me with a platform from which I can assert even more strongly who I am and what I bring to any table (whether it is a table at a church amidst massive grassroots organizing, whether it is at the table of those who are attempting to found a progressive school, or whether it is at the table of big wigs in finance and industry — all of which are tables I have recently found myself seated). Law does not provide an easy plug-in for individuals who want to find for themselves niches that capitalize on who they are, their authentic voices and gifts. You may have to go outside of the “law community” if you want to find a nexus between whatever your interests in law are and the qualities and preferences that make you who you are.

The good news of course is that there are many lawyers who have realized this — that their ability to perform in the legal world is not tied to wholly identifying with whatever firm culture or bar association bullshit is most prevalent where they are working. It is not necessary to pigeon-hole ourselves in an industry where authenticity and creativity are feared or suppressed. It is actually possible, and I would argue desirable, to put out feelers when you are networking for individuals and organizations that feel like a fit for who you are. Find a sense of community and then be open as far as how your training and expertise from law school may be integrated into whatever culture you find gives you that feeling. Do not be afraid to seek that community or lie to yourself and assume you have found it simply because these are the individuals who would hire you, or because this is the firm that everyone in your family is impressed by you becoming a part of. Find what impresses YOU. Seek what and who inspires YOU and invest in that community. There is too much out there for us to be boxed in by whatever fears or narrow mindedness has come before.

With love and affection,

Shoshanna

This post represents a departure for me.  Most obviously, this is my first post since having officially graduated.  But it is also the first of a series of “conversations” I am beginning to engage in with law professors (from across the U.S. & the world).  Sometimes it will be presented in the form of actual dialogues, captured in real-time, mediated through remote devices.  Sometimes it will actually be in person.  And sometimes, often I expect, it will be in the form of responses I have to work of these profs, or reflections they have put into the world, ON their work.  On teaching.  On “practice.”  On “the law.”

I’ve chosen to begin this series by responding to a post recently published by Debbie Sanders of barexammaster.com.  Debbie’s personal narrative as far as what brought her to this field and how she currently contributes to it is inspiring.  But moreover, her blog posts are powerful.  They revolve around something seemingly dry and banal — bar exam prep.  And yet, what she offers is INSIGHT.  What she offers is TRUTH.  It is not stuff you need to empirically validate.  It is not stuff you need to commission study after study to prove or refute.  And that’s because what she says “rings true.”  You can FEEL it.

The post that turned me on to Debbie is entitled An Open Question to Recent Law School Graduates: Why are you taking the bar exam?  In it, the author reflects on her own journey to and through law school as well as the bar exam by noting: “the idea that some students did not elect their pursuit of a law degree, not, at least from some personal independent passion, was jarring to me.”  Yes!  Preach!  That is what the voice inside MY head shouted as I read this.  Tell it, because Lord knows that shit has plagued me since I began this journey.

In fact, the idea that not everyone came to law school in order to “fight” for justice was hard for me, on an emotional level, to deal with throughout my career as a student.  It triggered feelings in me of being “different,” of anger because how dare anyone not appreciate the social (or even spiritual) privilege of having their dharma turn into a career as powerful as one in the field of law?  What kind of a field was I even intending to enter?  What kind of cottage industry was law school if so many seemingly disaffected youth could be enlisting in these ranks with so little sense of political orientation or purpose?  What kind of a sham or cult had I finally succumbed to joining?  And that’s not even hitting on the pedagogical issues I have had with the status quo in legal education.

But I digress — what else has Debbie to say?  Well, point #2 of hers that I’ve globbed onto is this: “[E]veryone’s struggle is real. There is no qualitative difference between yearning for entry into an otherwise elusive “club” or pining for liberation from its confines. Everyone’s oppressor is real to them. What the struggle means to bar exam preparation is that anyone wrestling with why they are taking the exam will suffer in a way greater than the population of bar takers who want the end result. In that sense, the self-compelled student is the more privileged.”  Amen, lady.  That is what I’ve been sayin!!  To wit:

If I could spare a student from unnecessary pain at the threshold of the exam, I would ask them: “Why are you taking the bar exam?” If they cannot conjure any authentic response, I encourage them to reconsider, maybe not forever, but until there’s some clarity about the impetus.

Of course I appreciate this line of inquiry, as it is the very line I have found myself engaging in over the course of the past couple months.  But I also appreciate it because this is a BRAVE thing to suggest to students that they do.  It requires them to introspect.  It requires them to look within and conjure up the most honest responses they can.  And, it requires them to listen to themselves.  It requires them to act in accordance with what their authentic selves are seeking.  It requires them to, in the words of my yoga teacher Rolf Gates, who quotes the word of the gifted teacher Eric Schiffman (and before that Swami Yogananda), step more fully into the truth of who they are.  It requires them to lead THEMSELVES.  And insodoing, in requires them to be leaders in the field, whether they become barred lawyers or not.

See http://barexammaster.com for Debbie’s full post & comment on either of our sites if you feel so moved…

So most of the way through my run yesterday I started to feel my thighs come out of alignment from my hips.  I’d noticed the increasing tightness of my hip flexors already, but because I was feeling more relaxed than I typically do when I’m running (see earlier posts!) I was able to observe when this out-of-alignmentness began..Inner+&+Outer+Legs+-+2008

Suddenly it felt like my femur was rolling out away from my body on the left side every time I took a stride.  This is in contrast to earlier in my run when both thighs were moving outward in a more forward direction.

Being able to notice when exactly this begins to happen is big for me.  This means I can take corrective action when it begins rather than always play catch-up later once my hips and fascia lata have become sore.

To correct it, I brought my attention there, placed my hands and then fingers on the site of mis-alignment, and altered my speed.  I began to play with my range of movement…

That did not take care of the problem outright, but it did keep me from pushing through my pain to the point where future injury was being cultivated and into a place where observation and patience for myself — care — could happen.  I did not wake up feeling sore this morning, but rather, more aware…