Learning how to be more thankful

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Last Thanksgiving I made a particularly strong effort to be pay attention to what I’m thankful for in my life and I found it to be such a great exercise that I’ve continued to practice this daily. It’s actually a form of personal meditation and I find that the more I realize I’m thankful for, the more thankful I become.

Believe it or not I’m not speaking ironically, those of you that know me outside of this blog and in the real world may be suggesting that I am speaking ironically but rest assured I’m being deadly serious. And no, it’s not because my latest case finished up recently and for the first time in years I have a few weeks to myself.

No. I’ve actually found a way to be thankful daily. What I’m realizing is that being thankful can involve so many things. I don’t only need to be thankful for the time I get to spend with my family or for the fact that I am live in a great country. I can actually be thankful for the very beauty of life.

I suppose many of you are wondering where this new found sense of self came from. To be honest, I was informed by a friend of the existence of someone called Eckhart Tolle who wrote the book The Power Of Now, and maybe some of you have heard of it. This man is German and previously was so depressed he wanted to kill himself until one day, it says in his book, that the extreme amount of suffering he experienced one night pushed him to consider the very self that he couldn’t bare to live with. Who was it, he asked. If he can’t live with himself then there must be something else that he isn’t living with when of course there is actually only one of us that exists.

This lead to his entire theory on the ego and it’s dominance on the human psych. I was immensely interested in his studies almost immediately due to my fascination in criminology and how the mind of  psychopath works. Perhaps these people are not just the existence of themselves but the very ego itself – the inability to feel any type of remorse. is this what someone who entirely lives through their ego is like? I mean, all the signs are there. They’re often accepting of of any type of criticism towards themselves. Maybe this is an example of the ego in it’s prime, and the very resistance of criticism is a way for the ego to prevent it’s own self destruction. This is too scary for me to think about because I know far too many people like this (and some quite personally, too).

Another book I was thoroughly interested in recently was The Celestine Prophesy. This book is an older but a goodie and until recently I hadn’t been able to pick up a copy of the book. I didn’t have the time. I also couldn’t gauge the right amount of interest to finish reading it. I finally accomplished this and I’m so glad I did. The story goes through a series of insights as discovered in a manuscript. The book then follows the main characters journey to Peru to discover the insights.

These books really found their way into my life in the right time. It’s funny actually that The Celestine Prophesy talks about coincidences – call me crazy but I have found this to be true. It’s just too coincidental that this book should fall into my hands the very time I need it most. Plus, I have someone in my life I was thinking about very recently. I couldn’t shake the thought of them and I had utterly no idea why they kept crossing my mind – I hadn’t seen this person in over 5 years. Who they are is not important. When I was on my way to the store I actually bumped into them without warning, even stranger they they said they’d been thinking of me recently too!

I don’t want to sound like I’m getting crazy on my readers – those of you that know me well enough will know that is simply not my style. However I do think it’s important to consider the beauty of our lives and just how we are living them. Is there a deeper meaning in things? Who knows. All I can do is be thankful for the moment. Be thankful for today, because as Eckhart Tolle says, this moment is the only thing we ever truly have.

The saving grace of reaching a verdict

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You’ll all be well versed to many of my complaints about working in the legal profession by now. Besides for the obvious day to day politics there are other things that make whatever you’re doing a part of your life. When you’re involved in legal disputes, they become your life. There is no longer a night where you can go home and relax by the television. No. Relaxation no longer exists.

When you’re a lawyer your life becomes about the case you’re working on. This is at least my experience. It’s incredibly rare that a single second will go by where I don’t think about the case I am currently working on. I am sure there are many lawyers out there that can echo this and perhaps sympathize with me. And then, I am sure there are others that can’t even begin to understand this. To those I want to say – I envy you. Teach us your methods. Please. I beg of you. It’s ironic actually that the same people that are reporting about increasing suicides among lawyers are the ones leaving us so stressed. Our cases are often highly publicized in the media and even when they’re not, they become the focus of someones life for that time.

This does have one advantage however. When the case is finally over, when a verdict has finally been reached, I can breathe a collective sigh of relief with other members my legal party. When the case does run into conflicts, such as the jury being unable to reach a verdict or there being some unforeseen event, the stress again piles on. The only time I truly have a break from the stress is the short amount of time between when a verdict is reached for the current case I am working on, and the time before starting another one.

And then the next case hits me and it happens all over again. Sometimes the anxiety this creates is exhilarating. I feel like there really are people depending on my skills as a legal professional to save their lives. And then other times, this anxiety is overwhelming. It can be extremely difficult to concentrate on anything other than the case in front of me, and sometimes this also works against me. I guess this is a personal fault more than anything. I am an all or nothing kind of guy. I either want to invest 100% of my time into the case I’m working on or I want to be working on something else.

To be honest, if you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I haven’t taken a proper break in years. I’m really tired. I am starting to become resentful of having to deal with other peoples problems when my own continue to exist, however I’m not exactly sure how to go about properly tackle this issue in my life. Do I reduce my 80 hour working week? This would be incredibly difficult to do when you work as your own boss. There really is no one else to pick up the work.

I will say that the case I’m currently working on is a pretty clear cut one. Obviously confidentiality applies, but I don’t have someone expecting miracles. This is refreshing in a profession that seems to believe the more money you spend, the better your case will be. Although this does ring true it’s also one of the things I dislike about the legal profession. People believe that the law is black and white but the very existence of our court system gives evidence to the contrary. Good lawyers know this and this is how they win.

I’d love to hear from others that are working in the legal field and fail to detach from their work when they’re at home. It may make me feel less alone. Although I’m succeeding in my professional life, sometimes I really do feel like I’m failing in my personal life. Conversely I would also like to hear from those of you that work as lawyers and yet are able to detach themselves from work and home. What is your secret? Is there a magic formula that I am somehow missing?

I’ll update everyone about how the current case I’m working on pans out when it’s okay to reveal more details. Until now I’ll look forward to the verdict. Hopefully then I’ll be relieved of some of this stress.

Time needs to start moving at ludicrous speed and go

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I’ve set myself a goal this week of reading through some of the books I need to read for an upcoming case. There’s only 3 and I say only because this is considerably less than my regular That’s going through 3 very thick books of previous cases to find a precedent for my current case. To some people that may seem hard, but to me it really isn’t anything out of the ordinary.

I’m a busy person. It’s incredibly rare that I ever have any time to myself, besides for in between verdicts and some holidays, but I’ve got an even bigger problem. I over commit. This is such a big problem for me because once I’ve committed to doing something, I have to do it. It stays on my mind (although sometimes at the back bubbling away) until I actually find the time to get whatever it is done.

This leads to two other problems. The first is self neglect. Unfortunately I’m not looking after myself the best lately. The start of last year was excellent – I was regularly attending the gym, finding time to eat home cooked meals and even catching up with friends of a weekend. Now, I’m swapping breakfast for coffee, home cooked meals for granola bars and the gym for running from one court room to the next. It’s not healthy and the evidence of this is starting to show. I’m noticeably more tired lately and I haven’t been able to keep to personal commitments such as meeting friends for dinner.

And then there’s the second problem where people begin to see you as lazy and unreliable. I take a lot on and because it can take me time to fulfill commitments people often resort to thinking I am a lazy person, which couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m just busy. I’ve been implementing some strategies that have helped me to stop listening to people’s judgements however as it was really starting to effect me.

This month will be better. I plan to sleep in until 6am everyday (a luxury). I also want to get that haircut I’ve been putting off (not only because it’s time consuming, but it’s also expensive!). I also want to make it a personal goal to meet my friends for lunch at least once. You may even wonder how I find the time to write this blog. I don’t. I’m actually doing this while I am listening to an audio file of one of the books I need to read (you’ve gotta love technology). I guess I’m just a natural multi-taker, or someone who is destined to be perpetually busy.

Cue panic stations!

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I am in a state of panic. It’s almost October and upon searching for this years Halloween costume, I realized something. No, it’s not that I’ve wasted half my life defending people that I don’t care about. It’s more shocking than anything I’m yet to encounter in my day to day dealings with accused murderers, and it’s this – they don’t sell lawyer costumes for Halloween. This is how the conversation went:

Me: Hello, I was just wondering where you keep the slutty lawyer costumes?
Shop keep: Pardon?
Me: Oh, well I was just wondering if you have any lawyer costumes for Halloween?
Shop keep: Yes, I heard that, but slutty costumes!? Please! I mean, a nurse is a fantasy, yeah, but who fantasies about their lawyer? I don’t think I’ve met one hot lawyer before.
Me: I’m a lawyer.
Shop keep: Ah, yes, well… there you are.

This conversation wasn’t the only thing that had me lost for words. This was something that grabbed me by surprise. I was in shock. I cried. I laughed. I wasn’t sure what to think. After all, they have all the major professions. Doctor, nurse, police officer, clown – why not lawyer?

It’s okay, I thought. Maybe the fact is that no one sees us as a joke. But the again isn’t there something healthy about being able to laugh at yourself. I can laugh at myself – after my initial shock had warn off I had decided perhaps I could just go as myself.

To be honest, I didn’t really want to go to Halloween as a lawyer. I mean Halloween is about dressing up and I wouldn’t really be doing this if I went as myself (a slutty lawyer? Me? Never!). I just wanted to believe that some man, somewhere, was fantasizing about a seductive lawyer. And then I realized – no I don’t!