A Big Law MUST read

I beg anyone who is in law, considering law, or knows someone in either category to read this article. And if not, read it anyways.

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“Though it’s only the beginning stages of trying to figure out why this happened, I came across a concept, maladaptive perfectionism, that combines unrealistic standards of achievement with hypercriticism of failing to meet them… Maladaptive perfectionists lack self-compassion.

I know “Big Law” didn’t directly kill my husband—because he had a deep, hereditary mental health disorder and lacked essential coping mechanisms. But these influences, coupled with a high-pressure job and a culture where it’s shameful to ask for help, shameful to be vulnerable, and shameful not to be perfect, created a perfect storm.”

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This article hits uncomfortably close to home for me. Those closest to me will immediately see why just from what I’ve quoted above. The truth is, in June of 2017, in an uncharacteristic move, I quit my Big Law job because I knew it was a life or death decision. Most times when I tell people that I quit my job, the response is “how millennial of you” or “oh, that’s brave.” In reality, there was no thought put in it aside from the sheer need to survive in this world. I wouldn’t fault anyone or anything, but I know staying in that environment meant the end of me. Maybe not in a month or even a year, but eventually.

For those of you that read this and this hits close to home, please believe me here. If your job is killing you, if you no longer feel like yourself, if you do not understand the point of what you are doing anymore aside from the fact that “it” has always been your plan, you do not have to quit, but it is OKAY if you do. No position and no prestige is worth your life. It will at first feel embarrassing, but that will fade. You will question yourself, but that will fade. Your friends and family will question you, but the importance of that in your life will fade as well. Do not let yourself and your happiness fade.

I am constantly told that “I’m going through a rough patch and this will pass.” I’m still putting things together, true, but I am so thankful that some sort of greater being took over my body and quit in June 2017. I wouldn’t trade that decision for the world. I also do know that there are PLENTY of jobs where I will thrive and, to be honest, fucking kill it, without the same life-threatening culture that Big Law can induce for SOME people.

By quitting a job, I made sure I didn’t quit in this life. Please love yourselves and trust.

https://www.law.com/americanlawyer/2018/11/12/big-law-killed-my-husband-an-open-letter-from-a-sidley-partners-widow/?slreturn=20181103231025

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Break

It’s funny. My first post ever was about leaving my lawyer job for a “break.” I had no idea how long that break would last, but I knew without taking it, without that leap of faith, my already broken self would crumble into smaller pieces until I would just disappear. Take that as you will. That was on June 1, 2017.

The year and some change that followed was difficult, as many of you know, but full of many moments of.. just living. Of experiencing. Of being capable of feeling again- the good, the bad, the extremely ugly. All of the things that I had suppressed through my immersion into work and avoided through conscious avoidance. All of the things that are worthy of human experience and deserving of attention.

At the end of August of this year, 2018, I not only broke again, I crumbled. In an undated journal entry, I wrote:

“I don’t know why I’m on this earth any more. I don’t know why I exist. There is not much difference between my physical existence and the pen that is slowly moving in my hand. I am here to help others, but by failing to help myself, I have failed to help others and in turn, no one needs me or wants me. I am used to me not wanting me. But to not even feel like my perishing would be a disappointment to one person, this is new. I don’t need to be needed or need to be wanted, but I need to have meaning. Otherwise, why am I still fighting for myself? What is there to fight for? I am certainly not the light of anyone’s life at this point, and if for some reason I should become that, this overwhelming sense of darkness that inevitably overcomes me will make them walk away. It always does.”

I went on. I called a friend to come over that night and she did. I brushed it under the rug.

I joined the Beto for Senate campaign just a few days later. Everything turned around. I was needed. I was helpful. I was productive. And for a little bit, I was the light of some people’s lives.

For a little bit, the stress of the campaign was the fuel that kept my life going. Not always graceful, I pushed through with pride and joy. Somewhere along the line, however, real life… “real me”.. made my light flicker and other people took notice.

In the end I remember all of the beautiful faces of the campaign. The potential voters, the non-voters, the volunteers, and most of all the gorgeous faces of my teammates. The fellow warriors. The shared faces of confusion, love and determination.

I don’t know how much to write here or to not write here, because I think sometimes writing things down in a public manner seems like a “vindictive” thing to do. All I know is some of the highest highs I had during the campaign.. surrounded by people who I felt understood me. For the first time ever. Part of understanding me is understanding my lows. My failures. But also my deep empathy for others. I fuck up. A lot. I also trust that people are good on the inside. I know I am good deep down. I may not be great to myself, but when I can be, I am great to others.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, one of my biggest struggles is understanding how someone so scarred could be lovable. I don’t mean always in the romantic sense, but in a more familial, friendship sense as well. I am beyond scarred. This is nothing new. When wounds have started to heal, somehow the stitches are ripped open. That being said, I have pushed and pushed to heal myself and move forward. I’ve done a pretty damn good job of it.

In the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to experience the beauty of what was and will always be the Beto for Texas campaign 2018. We made something big. We created something beautiful. And by we, I mean every single person who is a part of the community that did this. It was an honor.

One thing I didn’t expect was the feeling I have right now. Feeling lucky to have made new beautiful friends, especially post-campaign, but also knowing that their gorgeous kindness is likely due to the beauty within them, and not because of a light within me. The light within me right now is flickering, and I’m at a loss of what to do.

During the campaign, when I lost grace, I also lost a friendship I thought I’d have for my entire life. I still can’t wrap my head around it, and I still don’t know why it hurts so badly. I think it’s because I let the friendship in and I knew I shouldn’t have. I know myself and I know better. I know I most likely did something to cause distrust, but I also know it was not intentional. I can’t be angry about it, but I am confused. It’s strange when you aren’t able to even speak to someone to express something. All I know is the worst feeling in the world is feeling silenced and helpless. I have a pit in my stomach every single day. I can’t shake it and I don’t know why. I’m “stronger” than that.

This friendship lost, other factors in my life right now, I am once again not much more than that pen I have now misplaced. Useful when those who need it need to get something done, express their feelings, or simply have a means of distraction. Aside from that, easily misplaced and of no use when the ink runs out.

On the night before Election Day, I told the out-of-state volunteers and the staff my story of how the election saved my life- win or lose. It did. Somehow during the election, with as much as I gained, I lost so much more.

Here’s to hoping.

My Walden Pond

Growing up, there were two types of kids- the kids who opened their eyes under water and the kids who didn’t. These same kids also somehow seemed to be blessed with the immense and enviable courage it took to flawlessly master the high dive.

I, not surprisingly, was a didn’t. As a kid, despite my brother’s constant nagging to “just do it” I was the kid who did not open my eyes under water. Not even with goggles. I was too scared water would leak in. This led to a lot of near death experiences when my brother would confirm I did not open my eyes and subsequently try to “drown me” by holding me under in the deep end just to scare the bejeezus out of me. Additionally, this meant I was definitely not a swim team contender.

During the past few weeks, dealing with a break up has meant having a lot of time to refocus on me. I was focused before, but I think that’s something people who go through break ups say. “I’m finding me again.” “I’m putting me first”. “I deserve better”. “It’s better to be alone than with xyz.” For the record, I will never say these things about this relationship and never have. But life is life and things “happen for a reason.”

Anyways, with this free time I decided to invest a lot of my energy into working out. Working out has always been a way to cheer myself up when nothing else could, or at least clear the dark thoughts in my head. As part of my new exercise regimen, I decided I would learn to swim laps, and … I did! At first, I attempted to do the breast stroke in a way that could only be described as arms projecting out and about in sort of spastic Macarena and legs … scissoring? Either way, each day I added five more laps to my routine and with the help of some YouTube videos, was able to improve my technique just a bit and get up to 30 laps.

Despite my embedded sarcastic tone in the phrase’s last use, things did seem to happen for a reason, as I found myself being annoyed about having to fly to Boston for a continuing education course to keep up my law license. Somehow, however, my flight was just a day after said break up. So a day of continuing education turned into 2.5 week’s of Boston fun and escape. And it has been.

Most of my time during these past couple of weeks have been unplanned and spent spontaneously catching up with friends and wandering various neighborhoods and enjoying the beauty of Boston/Cambridge. The one must on my list, however, was a visit to Walden Pond.

Walden Pond, for most of you, is likely the physical written manifestation of Thoreau’s imagination and historic prose. For me, it is a beautiful escape that I never knew existed. Growing up in Houston, we did not have these natural beautiful ponds or springs to swim in. When I came to New England and discovered with awe the beauty of these natural treasures, I was hooked. I have visited Walden Pond several times over the years, and I knew it was a must during this visit.

Yesterday was the day. My beautiful friend who graciously let me crash with her for the past 2 week’s drove the 30 minute drive to Concord, where we finally turned left into the wooded parking lot and then crossed the street, walked down the steps and across the beach to our somewhat shaded (for her) and somewhat sunny (for me) spot we would claim on the beach. I laid down and it was just as beautiful as I imagined.

Now, I’m pausing here to tell you that there is no use of metaphors in the creation of what is to follow. Why, you ask? The experience was simply too beautiful to create a metaphor. It’s beauty was too true to be a metaphor. Too literal for comparison. It was the metaphor.

(Con’t…) I don’t remember the specifics of every time I have visited Walden Pond, but I do know that my time in the water is usually minimal and spent within the confined areas – not in the designated free swim area. The free swim area was where experienced swimmers could swim across the lake and back. Warning signs upon entry stated in no uncertain terms that those who ventured out were on their own. Well, yesterday when I grew restless in my half shade/half sun spot and read those words, only one word came to mind: “perfect.”

I walked into the water and kept walking. I kept walking until my toes no longer touched the rocky bottom and I was floating. And then I was “swimming” and then I wasn’t swimming, I was gliding. Flawlessly. I was being pulled towards what can only be described as the beauty of another world. Eyes closed under water, but open as I reached the surface with my eyes only on the beautiful clouded wooded horizon with the sun somehow coming through the trees in a way only seen in paintings. I now understood the term breathtaking.

Taking no notice of the distance I now was from the beach of the lake, I yearned with each scoop of water to bring myself closer to this masterpiece. It’s a freedom they write about in the classics and proclaim in the movies.

As I came closer and closer to the center of the lake, The most incredible thing was, I think, was the quiet. For the first time in my life, I felt peace. The only noise I could hear was the calming ripple of the tide interspersed with the sole voice of my own thoughts. There were no voices in my head but mine. No currents pulling me in different directions or pressure pushing me down. I was floating and I was soaring. For those minutes, however many, I was where I needed to be and it was majestic. I was floating towards the beauty of another world.

As the tide turned I noticed a woman about 10 yards away. I was no longer alone. There was an intruder. Without glasses I could not make out much of the contours of her bobbing face, but from what I could see, we looked eerily alike. No longer gliding, we both were facing each other with our confused heads bobbing in unison. My peace was gone and the beautiful moment though captured, was finite.

I suddenly became hyper aware of the fact that if I kept gliding, we would collide. She wasn’t moving, so it meant that I either need to change directions or stop moving myself. The tide quite literally turned and I turned with it. My eyes opened to the tiny figured on the beach and, struggling to find the energy, I swam towards shore. With each awkward stroke, more cries of babies could be heard and even worse, complaints from teenage beauties about their “flawed bodies.” My knee scraped a rock and I was forced to stand. My time, my moment was done. And I was incredibly sad. I am incredibly sad. And truth be told, this was this first time i had felt remotely sad since the breakup because I had felt it was the right thing to do.

My mind, just a few minutes before completely at ease was racing a mile a minute. That experience, what was it? How had it suddenly become so easy? Was this what the brain of a “normal” person feels like? Was this the outlook on life the prescribed tablet I take like clockwork every morning was supposed to give me but has failed to do so? Was this calm other people’s equilibrium or would it have been as incredible to them? You see, when you deal with mental illness, I think people forget that you have as many questions about how other people, the normal ones, experience life as they have about someone like me.

I sit here now, reading the notes I took right after the experience, full of hope that I could go back in the water and recreate the experience. I couldn’t. I didn’t.

I lied. But I came by it honestly, I promise. I did not set out to have a metaphor, but I suppose I’ve had a revelation in the midst of typing. Well, not a metaphor, let’s say a comparison. I can’t decide if I’m happy yesterday happened. I am filled with anguish today that I know that sort of experience exists and, though fleeting, I experienced it. Just as fleeting, it’s now gone. With my breakup, I am just as torn. Is it really better to have love and lost than to never have loved at all? I hate cliches, but seriously. Every other break up I’ve had, I’ve had so many major reasons to dislike the person, the relationship, etc. But this one, this person, we knew it wasn’t right in the end. But during it, the experience, it was beautiful. I might not have had perfect form, but I felt like I was gliding. I experienced a beauty and a peace that I did not know existed. And now it is gone and I don’t know if I’ll ever experience that again. With that experience comes new expectations and a different kind of unrest.

It’s easy to accept not having something when you don’t think it’s attainable. When you cannot experience it – never have, never will. Right now, wish I never experienced it. Wish I never glided towards the unknown without fear.

So what do you do. And please don’t tell me Bumble.

Arson

I had presented myself with warning labels, and even presented some malfunctioning activity to give signs of what may lay ahead, and for some reason, he still proceeded, albeit with caution.

I had been given reason to believe that I’m not good enough, and and hadn’t been, enough, from the beginning. He had not given me reason, but I knew it. It was preordained – I. Am. Not. Good. Enough.

Of course this is false and, of course, it is unreasonable, but throughout my young..ish life my truth has become clouded by perception. There were reasons to know it would not be, it never was and never could be.

The irony that this is my only truth I choose to believe is not lost on me.

And so, I cashed in on my insurance policy. Burning up the possibility before undoubtably my strike of luck would end and my profits diminish. Fraud, is the technical term.

The Empty Docket

Every October or so I buy a new moleskin 18-month planner, usually in black – the flexible, bendable kind. It is my world’s equivalent to a new year’s resolution – except combined with the overly quoted “definition of insanity”. You know the one, the thing that guy says when he feels all wise and shit. “You know the definition of insanity- doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Well, my October insane resolution is buying a planner and expecting it to make a difference. If I just write things down, I think, it will be different. I will somehow transform into the person I want to be because I will have my to-do list right in front of me and I will make it happen.

Inevitably, like every new-year-new-me #goal, although I eagerly jot down and cross off item after item for a month – even two if I’m lucky, by the end of the year, my attempts become sporadic at best, and in the end, the planner becomes exactly what it is – an overly priced, leather bound collection of paper and I become exactly what I am – insane, at least by most people’s standards. 

I have never liked that definition of insanity – the one about doing the same thing over and over and expecting the same results. Because even though I don’t feel like doing a quick google search, I’m pretty sure if you google the definition of “perseverance” or “heart of a champion” or “practice”, you’ll find a description pretty dang close – but I guess hindsight is 20/20, right?

I can tell you right now that I know the definition of insanity, but that’s about it. I know it, because I am feeling it, and the feeling is absolutely indescribable. It goes something like this though – insanity is having done the same things over and over again, realized they didn’t work, and having no clue where to go from there. It is the realization that you literally don’t have one to-do list item, even a dentist appointment, to write in your under-used yet overpriced moleskin notebook, and even if you wanted to make up a list just to have the pleasure of checking off an item, you wouldn’t know where to begin.

Insanity is a feeling of helplessness like no other. Not the kind where my friends and family should be worried about me in a life or death kind of way, but the kind where I am worried for me in a having the life I wanted or living a life wasted kind of a way.

It’s pretty funny, really, I used to bill by the hour. A large number. Now, I seek to fill every hour. How can you work for 26 years towards a goal only to achieve it, take a wrong turn and suddenly you’re out of the game? But more on that later. All I can do right now is write.

A stranger at a bar a few months back (I know, doesn’t sound good) asked me if I could accomplish one thing in life that would really make me proud of myself, what it would be. I immediately said have a successful relationship and beautiful children and be a great mother. He nodded, he had a son, he said, and he understood. But he said that that wasn’t big enough. He asked what could do or create to make myself proud. Personally. I still think my original answer fit his question, but I acquiesced and admitted that I wanted to write a book. I always have.

He asked me what was stopping me. I said I wouldn’t know where to start. He said that isn’t an excuse. Start writing.

I think I wrote something on here that night, I don’t remember. Or maybe I wrote in a journal. But I know that I want to write. My docket is empty and my brain is full. But how do I do it? Is my story even worthy of telling? Beyond that, is it worthy of listening to?

Right now, I know one thing. My insanity is wanting a different result, but not even trying. I also know, that I’ve done a lot of trying and a lot of succeeding and a lot of failing. There has to be some meaning interwoven in my insanity.

Have any of you had experience with publishing? Advise on the business/how to break into it? If not, any words of wisdom or thoughts would be appreciated in comments.

Love always,

Lollie36291412_10211091456552801_2126267256882069504_n

the Smile & Nod

Smile & Nod is one of my mantras. It’s amazing how it works to accomplish so many things and yet nothing at all, all at the same time. Don’t feel like listening to a story? Smile & Nod. Don’t want to give an answer? Smile & Nod. Ensuring that the person across from you will never know what you’re really thinking? Smile & Nod.

For you, dear readers, I am giving you a look into the twisted maniacal mind of mine and 10 examples of the Smile & Nod in the past 24 hours. If this example involves you, be warned, you will now know the truth behind the Smile & Nod.

  1. “So what are you up to these days?”

Smile & Nod.

Now, this may seem like a strange Smile & Nod to you, but is, perhaps my favorite. Here is the philosophy behind this Smile & Nod: if I wanted to tell you what I was up to these days, I would tell you, and chances are, the fact that you are having to ask means that neither one of us prefers to be in this conversation anyways. I have a charcoal face mask waiting at home that I can’t wait to see my white heads stuck to.

2. “You look great.”

Smile & Nod.

I’m not sure if you’re lying, but I know I would be if I returned the favor. Whataburger sounds awesome right now. Wait, no! Tacos! Ugh, my work out class is in 20 min.

3. “Let me get your number, I don’t think I have it anymore. We need to catch up!”

Smile & Nod.

We have knowingly lived in the same city for 8 months now and I think we know enough about each other through the inter webs. Save your iPhone memory. Is that how that works?

4. “So what’s your plan?”

Smile & Nod.

If I smile and nod long enough they might come to their own realization that I clearly don’t have a plan.

5. “Just free the nipple!”

Smile & Nod.

Just… why? Are your nipples inverted?

6. “Want a bagel?”

Smile & Nod.

No thoughts. Neck starts to hurt.

7. “I absolutely love your dog, I’m going to steal him!”

Smile & Nod.

You are not the first person those words but happy to make those words your last.

8. (Mid workout) “How’s everyone doing? Good, great, awesome?”

Smile & Nod.

I need to use heavier weights when we practice punching.

9. “See you at 3.”

Smile & Nod.

I guess 2:58 is when I’ll text the “sorry I’m running late!” message?

10. “Who’s a good boy!?!?”

Smile & Nod.

Why do I always think I’m the good boy when I ask my dog this question?!???

The pick me up

Now call me controversial, but I am in the “not all drugs are bad” camp. Of course, I am not saying that I advocate heroin or the abuse of alcohol, but some addictive drugs just aren’t that bad. Shaking your head?

Exhibit A: Coffee. Gotcha!

If you don’t think coffee is a drug, you’re fooling yourself. It is addictive, alters your mood, and if you’re like me, can cause withdrawals when you go too long without it. Not into my drug talk? That’s ok. I’m not sure I’m loving where this is going either. It’s just a way to start writing as I currently sip on my non-fat cappuccino turned 1% fat cappuccino because they ran out of non-fat, or so the barista very nervously told me. (For the record, I was more than gracious and willing to accept my 1% of fat)

Note: From now on, I will be saying covfefe because it is more entertaining and will create a spell check game for me as I write this.

Anyways, covfefe is one of those things for me that I “wish” I could quit drinking it, but at the same time, is it really harming me if I don’t? Yes, I just paid $3 for a cappuccino that I probably didn’t need, but it was delicious, it allowed me to use the wifi at these awesome local coffee shop (and it doesn’t hurt that the proceeds here go towards ending human trafficking), and gave me an activity. The boost of energy also doesn’t hurt. Plus, I could quit if I wanted to… Eventually.

The point of the matter is, covfefe gives me a sense of comfort. No matter where I am, the state of mind I’m in, or the state I’m in for that matter, drinking a good cup of coffee gives me a sense of belonging. Belonging to that moment in time and to my routine. When done right, it is a relaxing moment in time that is just for me. When done wrong, it is a rushed chugging of burnt shit that will likely give me a stomach ache, but at least gives me a bit of a  boost. I guess not as comforting, but still comfortably part of my routine as well.

About ten minutes ago, I was sitting here at this covfefe shop, talking to the barista (because let’s face it, I talk to everyone) and giving him my unsolicited life story. Part of said unsolicited life story included how I just finished my three-month stint working in-house counsel for a company and am now looking for a new legal position. He talked a little bit about his wife being from Maine and we bonded over the bitter cold of Boston. I took my covfefe with 1% milk fat and sat down at the bar to begin my job hunting research. About two minutes later, this beautiful woman close to my age looked over to me and asked if she heard correctly that I was looking for a job in the legal field. I said yes, to which she stated that her boyfriends firm is looking. I sent her my resume and our conversation changed to talking about different yoga spots.

This conversation with this woman (who is still sitting next to me.. #meta) was so comforting for my soul. After a rough Friday which spilled into the weekend, a strangers kindness, even if self-motivated, was just the boost that I needed.

The thing is, in today’s American world, I constantly feel like we are taught that we don’t need anyone else to have worth. That if you love yourself, you’ll do great, and love and support from others is an added bonus. Well folks, maybe we don’t need it, but it sure as hell doesn’t hurt to have it. Like covfefe, it’s comforting, it feels natural and it’s reassuring. When you drink a cup of covfefe, for me, it feels like my day might turn around. It gives me hope that this boost might be just what I needed.

The kindness of the beautiful woman next to me just gave me that same hope. In a way, it was a nod of approval that I belong in this “community” of humanity. As much as I was fooled by the last guy, this woman’s smiling face sent me the comfort I needed today. She may not follow through and I’ll probably never see her again. Human interaction is addictive. You might say I don’t need it, but I think it’s only natural that we seek approval from others. It’s just a matter of finding it in the right places. So thank you covfefe shop woman, for taking 4 minutes out of your day to give me your email address, some yoga recommendations, and a much needed smile.