Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The past is in the past

Someone asked me just the other day how long I had been practicing law, which took me a minute to calculate because it seems so long ago but yet just like it was yesterday. So it has been over eight years now I have been a lawyer. Where did the time go?

When I graduated I had pictures in my mind of what I wanted to do and where I would be ten years later. I'd still be working for the same firm for several years, building up my experience so that I could strike out on my own. I did not really picture myself with so many varying periods of experience at different places of employment. My resume' is a lot longer than I thought it would be.

Things do not always turn out the way you thought they should. God knows life did not go the way I wanted in the past. I would not say that I necessarily regretted the experience because I do not. Had I not worked as a family law attorney in a small firm, I would not have seen firsthand how to deal with clients, present yourself in court and prepare a case. Had I not worked with the state bar, I would not have the connections I do have now with so many attorneys in the state. Had I not worked for the Department of Child Services, I would have never developed the confidence, ability to think quickly on my feet and stress tolerance in court and out of court. I would not be as passionate about protecting children from abuse and neglect as I am today. I developed my desire to help others from that job, and that desire grew even more through my work at legal aid. Working at legal aid was why I now take modest means cases for clients who do not qualify for free service but yet are not able to afford your average attorneys fees. Had I not had the last work experience I had outside of the law, I would not have had the courage to take that leap and step out on my own.

See, today I am where I wanted to be eight years ago. This is what I was meant to do. However, would I have been prepared to truly take on this challenge? Probably not. All of those experiences brought me to today. Sure, those experiences were challenging and many not ones I want to relive. I could look at the past and go "woe is me, my past was so challenging. It is so unfair." It really does not matter, though, does it? It is in the past. Today is the present, and the decisions I make today will shape my future.

Those days when I felt sorry for myself, thinking I was a failure and comparing my progress to all of the students who graduated with me, do not really matter. I was not a failure then, of course, but there is no point looking at that period of my life and dwelling on the things that did not happen the way they should. Let go of the past and focus only on the present, making the future as amazing as it can be. That is where I am now, and for the first time in my life, I could not feel any more at peace.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

If you never try then you'll never know

I came across this quote the other day in my Facebook news feed and immediately shared it like I've done so many other times with other quotes that catch my eye. I usually don't think about them after I post them, but for some reason, this one has kind of resonated with me. This quote from Einstein embodies exactly what I hope to instill in my daughter as she grows up and into adulthood. Walk to the beat of your own drum. Don't do something just because everyone else wants you to do it, and that includes me as your mother. Even I don't know what's best for everyone, let along myself.

I admit I have been a crowd follower most of my life, and in some respects I suppose I still am. Most girls are as they grow up, going through middle school and high school. You want to fit in. You want to be liked, and you certainly don't want to be different. Honestly I believe that held me back. It kept me in my shell. I was the shy one, certainly not someone who would stand up in front of others. God, never in a million years would I have seen myself as an attorney. I could barely make it through the six minute speech we all had to give in 9th grade. Somehow here I am.

I did the same with my career. Yes, I decided I wanted to go to law school which was so far from what I would have pictured myself doing. I worked as an associate in a law firm. I was timid, scared, and I followed in the shadows of who I thought was so much better than me. Even after that job, I just kind of did the safest thing I could do. I was not about to take a risk. I would do what people wanted of me, or I did what I thought would just keep me floating just below the radar. It seemed to work, but I never really was happy.

That all changed as soon as I decided to say "to hell with all of this," essentially. I had enough of catering to what others wanted, and I took that leap. I am doing something I have always wanted to do. I have always wanted to be on my own like this, but I never had that confidence. I owe that confidence now in part to my husband who opened that door for me to walk through.

I hope that I can set that example for my daughter. I already see her colors shining through and her brash and confident personality at the age of three, but I want to do everything I can to let her see that she should keep being that person, being herself. However, I need to walk the walk if I'm going to tell her to do the same, and I simply was not finding myself being that example. I had to change that.

Am I going to succeed? Hopefully. Could I fail? Quite possibly. Could it be an awesome journey? Yes, it certainly will be. But if I never take this chance to pursue what I want for once, I will never know. So here goes nothing.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

How do you answer?

Earlier today I found myself reading a story about a man in Florida who was arrested after he threw his five-year-old daughter off of a bridge to her death. The police officers who approached him as he did it said they thought they heard screaming as if the girl was still alive. I read this story, of course, after reading about the massacre in Paris at the hands of Islamic extremists of twelve people at a satirical magazine publication.

Reading about the father killing his child for no reason got me to thinking about the fact that this type of occurrence, while horrific, is becoming more and more commonplace. Maybe not commonplace, but more pervasive. Every day we hear about children dying from needless violence, so many times at the hands of their own parents, the people they are supposed to trust. To love. On top of that we hear about shooting after shooting at schools. Anytime I hear a story about a child dying from a situation similar to this young girl I come back to Newton, Connecticut. All of those children just murdered. Why?

So you can see my mind was going into happy places full of rainbows and ponies, right? But isn't that the point? The world is not all rainbows and ponies, and I am not sure if it is me, but it seems to just be getting worse and worse each year. What we thought was horrific and unthinkable last time pales in comparison to the newest tragedy. We are almost becoming conditioned to it in a way.

I remember when I picked my little one up from daycare the day of Newtown. She was still in the infant room, just happy and jumping in the room's bouncer. So happy and full of innocence. She had no idea of any of the evil that those twenty children faced that day. I wanted to hug her and protect her, tell her I would keep the bad guys away always.  She is too young now to know what is going on in the news but as she gets older and hears these things, knowing my child and her inquisitiveness she will ask "why?" "Why did this happen?"

I won't be able to give her a good explanation. What do I say? There are bad people out there? Do I tell her that none of those things will ever happen to her? I could and likely will tell her that, but I can't promise it. I want to. I want to do everything in my power to keep her in that little bubble she is in now where she think everyone is her friend and is a nice person. She is not yet three, so I still have that time. It just is not that much time.

What I will say is I will do everything in my power to protect you from what I can because I love you and always will. I just hope that is enough.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Settling for what's good enough

I will admit that I have been a "settler" before. I suppose I still am in certain aspects of my life. (Clothing, shoes look old and out of style - hey, eventually they will be back in style!) But I am not talking about the little things. I have settled for the big things. We are talking career and relationships. I am proud to say that I pushed back on this eventually, but it was not a quick process nor was it an easy one. It was one with a lot of tears, worries, almost ulcers and giving myself mono. It took me saying "enough is enough" and taking that leap. Often it took someone in my life pushing me off that cliff so that I could learn how to fly. And I did fly. Eventually.

Take, for instance, my love life. Post-undergraduate life and the breakdown of two very important relationships, I figured why try? Did I really need to be swept off of my feet? Did I need those butterflies or would Mr. Good Enough for Right Now suffice? I came back with a yes on that last question and settled for two relationships in a row with people I really did not love, really was not attracted to and really made absolutely no impact in my life. Looking back now they are both like blips on the radar. They happened. They ended. It sucked, yes, but do I find myself wanting to see how they are doing? No, I really could care less. The scary thing, however, was that at one time I would have stayed with them forever for fear of being alone. I would have said yes to marrying these two individuals, and I probably would have just lived my life going through the motions. Maybe I would come to really love them, but I doubt it. I would have done it because I did not believe I could find or even deserved better.

Can you imagine living your life with someone who does not really make you happy, someone who you look at and think "eh, this is good enough. I'm tired of looking?" At one point in time I was completely okay doing this. That was until I decided enough was enough. I was okay with being on my own until I did find happiness with or without someone, and met T and I realized that true love is finding one's counterpart in the heart of another. I learned what it really means to love someone, and I realized that all of those blips in the radar were just that. None of that mattered in my heart, and no way did I ever look at T and said "this is good enough." I chose not settling. It was so worth it in the end.

I recently did the same with my career.  After I had to walk away from a job that I loved so much due to financial reasons, I found myself thinking that I just needed a job that was a job and nothing else. I explored working outside of the law despite the fact that practicing law is the one thing about which I am passionate. I decided that I wanted a 9 to 5 job that did not involve practicing law, and I found myself saying it did not really matter if the job made me happy. All that mattered was it was a job, and I made money for my family. So I took the first position offered, and that could not have been a bigger mistake. It was miserable. The job was not what I wanted in life, and the person I worked for was simply one of the worst people I have ever met. I hated going to work, but I did it because I thought "hey, I'm not going to be happy doing anything really so just stick with this job and it'll get better." It didn't. Instead I felt trapped, and stuck to a situation that did nothing but bring me down. I settled. More so than I settled in relationships before. It took one last final straw for me to say "Hey, I don't deserve this. I've worked hard for what I have in life. I deserve better." And I walked away. I made the leap of faith I needed to make and took that step into the unknown, and now I have started my own practice and I could not be any happier. Since I took that step in September, I have not felt more at peace than I do now, and I could not feel any more satisfied in my job and in my life. Settling simply was not worth my happiness.

At the age of (almost) 34, I have my whole life ahead of me. Life is too short to just live in an existence that doesn't bring you joy. I know so many people that do just that, and I guess I want to say that I am living proof that it does not work, and there is a way out. You don't have to settle, and you don't have to please anyone but yourself. Most times what is "good enough for now" isn't what you truly deserve in your life. Take that leap of faith. It is so worth it.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Back to life, back to reality

When I was little, I dreaded the inevitable - taking down all of the Christmas decorations. To me it was taking down the magic of Christmas. All of the fun, all of the excitement, of all of the pretty and sparkly things around the house were put away in big brown boxes in our garage for another year. It also, of course, signified the end of Christmas break. Then came that dread of going back to school. I think we all can relate, right?

Now that I am older, it is completely different. We finished the fun task of taking the decorations down and getting back to normal while the little one slept. She was not happy, of course, with the absence of the Christmas tree in the morning, but her father and I could not be more excited that our living room looks normal again.

I love the holidays, and Christmas is and has always been my favorite holiday. It is even more so now that I have a little one in the house. However, the days off from daycare midweek do more than throw them off. Just this week she went to daycare on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday only to have Thursday off for New Years and go back Friday. Family time, which means lots of stimulation and lots of sweets, adds to the mix. My kid thrives on routine. She has since she was a baby. It is time to get back to the norm.

As I type this my child is screaming for Princess Sophia, socks off because she refused to wear them after drawing with markers all over her potty. Someone needs to get back to her routine and go back to school. And something needs to happen with all of these cookies and candies because if I get asked one more time for "just one piece of candy," I might lose it. Let's get back to life, back to reality.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Having fun - it is not just for the kids

Celebrating New Years with a child is definitely different from years' past. Half of the battle is staying awake until midnight. I do have to admit, in the three years since my child has been on this earth, this New Years was the only one where we managed to stay awake to watch the ball drop. That alone was quite the accomplishment for us.

This year we tried something new, an idea that was mostly inspired out of our work with our marriage ministry at church, specifically the retreat called  "have fun in marriage." Fun - yes, we have fun as a family and with our little girl, but having fun as a couple is not always easy. By the time the little one is in bed, we are barely keeping our eyes open long enough to watch TV past 10 p.m. Well, okay, maybe I am talking about me, but still...the days wear you out. It is hard to take a step back sometimes and enjoy each other and just have fun.

So I planned something different. We celebrated 2015 in clear high school style. Well, high school for one of us, that is. We played games, watched a movie, and enjoyed some pizza and some wine coolers. Yes, the girl who loves her dark beer actually consumed wine coolers. It did make me take pause to consider how I could have stomached multiple wine coolers in an evening as the sugar is enough to knock anyone out, but it was all in good fun. I wanted to go all high school and load up on sugar and caffeine, too, but let's be real. We are in our 30's. I am pretty sure that would be a bad idea.

Regardless, the point is we had fun. We had fun as a couple, and we did it in something so simple and so easy but yet It did not involve getting a sitter and going out for an expensive dinner, while yes, those dates are fun, too. The thing that made it special to us was that it was time for just the two of us to relax and just be people for once. Not just Mom and Dad or attorney and engineer. No work, no crying kid, just fun and silly fun at that.

I am not one to really do the new year's resolution thing. I do not want to set myself up to fail and see yet another aspiration fall away over too much expectation and pressure. That being said, though, I think having a little more fun is something we can all benefit from. I would not call it a resolution or a goal. It's more of a change of perspective and a reminder to take that step back. Work is not that important and just because we are parents does not mean we lost our identity as a couple in love. So I am promising to myself to make that extra effort to have more fun. Relax and do something that makes me laugh or makes T smile. Because in the end, it is those memories that are the ones that matter.