The Undeniable Ruth Rotating Header Image

Day 24/90 – Freedom

Day 24 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? Seeing how much freedom I have in my life.

I love how genuinely content I look in this picture. Photo by Julia Kolsrud

I love how genuinely content I look in this picture. Photo by Julia Kolsrud.

I don’t mean to sound like I’m bragging, but my life is basically made of awesome. When I think about the ultimate goal of my professional life, the first word that comes to mind is “freedom.” Looking back on today, I’m on track to achieve that. In the long run, I hope to have the freedom and financial means to basically do whatever I want, but for now, I am very content with the amount of freedom I have in my life. I get to:

  • Hand select my clients,
  • Charge whatever I want,
  • Wear whatever I want to work,
  • Set my own hours,
  • Decide whether I’m working from home or in the office each day,
  • Run errands in the middle of the day if I feel like it,
  • Bring my dog to work,
  • Write books,
  • Speak professionally,
  • Write blog posts about whatever I want, and
  • Do whatever I want with my free time.

If that doesn’t count is awesome, I don’t know what does.

It is my life perfect? God no. It’s far from that; but given how happy I am, I know I’m on the right path.

In case you missed it: Day 23 of the 90 Days of Awesome – The Satisfaction of Helping People!

Day 23/90 – The Satisfaction of Helping People

Day 23 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? I got to help people!

Photo by Devon Christopher Adams - used with permission

Pictures of me working at my desk are boring. Here’s an image that embodies how I feel about my work. (Photo by Devon Christopher Adams – used with permission)

For those of you who don’t know, I’m an existentialist – a big one. An essential part of who I am is based on the idea that what I do matters. It’s not an ego thing, but rather a why-am-I-here thing.

One of the things I love about being a lawyer is that I get help people in ways that they can’t help themselves. I love being able to tell clients, “We can fix that,” or “We can make that work.” I see my job as being an educator about the law as well as a problem solver because most people don’t know what their rights are, how to protect them, or their options for recourse are when there’s a problem.

I work on preventing problems in solving problems in my work, and lately I’ve been putting in a lot more work on the problem-solving side. I spent a good chunk of today drafting and revising a demand letter for one of my clients, and it felt really good to know that this document may bring my client the resolution he’s seeking. I am both pleased and proud of the work I did today.

One of the benefits and challenges of my work is that it’s not about me personally; it’s about using my skills and talents to achieve my clients’ desired results. So there are times that I have draft documents and negotiate on their behalf in ways that I don’t personally agree with, but are not legally wrong. On the flip side, it also means that it’s possible to have a cordial relationship with the opposing counsel when both sides are acting as zealous advocates for their clients without their egos getting in the way. Those tend to be the fastest and the easiest negotiations.

Today was a good day.

In case you missed it: Day 22 of the 90 Days of Awesome – I took my Fake British Accent to the Verizon Store!

Day 22/90 – The British Accent Works

Day 22 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? Taking my fake British accent to the Verizon store!

Sometimes you want to sit on Evo when you check your phone. (Photo by Sheila Dee)

Sometimes you want to sit on Evo when you check your phone. (Photo by Sheila Dee)

My phones been on the fritz lately, so I stopped by the Verizon store on my way home from work. Whenever you check in at the store, one of the first things they ask you is your first name. Call me old-fashioned, but I think it’s presumptuous when a company assumes that they can call you by your first name. This is one of the few things I dislike about Verizon.

And, since I’m me, I’ve been rocking my British accent off-and-on all day – including when I walked into the Verizon store. When the clerk asked for my name, I’ve responded with, “I prefer ‘Mrs. Carter,’ if you don’t mind.” (I was inspired by Emma Thompson’s portrayal of P.L. Travers in Saving Mr. Banks.) Historically, when I’ve objected to the clerk entering my first name, they’ve looked at me strangely; however, with a British accent, the guy didn’t bat an eye and said, “No problem, Mrs. Carter.”

The clerk who assisted me was equally accommodating and polite. The Verizon clerks are usually wonderful when they are assisting me, so that wasn’t unusual. I did think it was very sweet that the clerk who assisted me walked me to the door and held it open for me as I left.

I don’t know why speaking with a fake British accent makes people more polite and accommodating, but as long as it’s working and it makes me happy, I’m going to keep doing it. (It works even when I don’t ask for stuff. Remind me to tell you the story about how I got a discount on sunglasses just because I was speaking with my accent.)

It turns out my phone’s processor is fried and thankfully I’m due for a free upgrade. I’ll be back at Verizon in a few days to transfer my contacts to my new phone.

In case you missed it: Day 21 of the 90 Days of Awesome – Resetting my Priorities with Help from Saving Mr. Banks!

Day 21/90 – Resetting my Priorities

Day 21 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? Resetting my priorities after watching Saving Mr. Banks!

I love this dog.

I love this dog.

I thought I was going to tell you about my hyper-productive day. I often call Sunday “Susie Housewife Day” because it’s when I do laundry, clean house, and do prep cooking for the week. Today was it clearly productive; I went running, finished grades for the class I taught this past semester, and washed Rosie’s car seat cover on top of my regular Sunday tasks. (I’ve been accused of being a “human doing” rather than a human being.)

At dinner time, I popped Saving Mr. Banks into the DVD player, thinking I would watch it for maybe an hour before getting back to work. Based on a true story, the interactions between Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson as Walt Disney and P.L. Travers was captivating. In their own ways, they each used the story of Mary Poppins to process their own life experiences with their respective fathers. How apropos that I watch this on Father’s Day.

At the end of the movie, Rosie started poking her nose into the blinds by the sliding glass door. This is her way of saying she wants to go outside to lay out and smell the smells of the neighborhood. I looked at my dog adoringly and said, “I can do one better.” I grabbed her leash and took her out for a bonus walk. I sat on the grass and she plopped down next to me, rolling onto her side for a belly rub. Watching Saving Mr. Banks reminded me of my priorities, including my promise to make Rosie’s life awesome.

Following this story was mesmerizing, even though I knew the ending. Their separate but mutual love of Mary Poppins was enchanting. I had to watch the whole thing.

Here’s a random thought I had while walking Rosie: My nurse says I have a touch of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder); my friend Peter Shankman has ADOS (Attention Deficit – Oh Shiny); Rosie has ADWTS (Attention Deficit – What’s That Smell?).

In case you missed it: Day 20 of the 90 Days of Awesome – I Love to Ride my Bike!

Day 20/90 – I Love to Ride my Bike

Day 20 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? Riding my bike!

New bike pic

I love my bike.

I love to ride my bike. It gets me where I need to go. It’s a good workout. And looking at the world at bike-speed gives me a much more complete picture of each neighborhood than when I’m driving.

This morning, I jumped on my bike and rode to the library to return and check out DVDs. When I’m not going that far and if I have the time, I’d rather bike than drive to my destination. I feel so much more free when I ride. I love the feeling of wind whipping past me as I zip along. It also make me feel like I’m more connected with my surroundings compared to when I’m closed up in my car with air conditioning and the radio blaring.

My quads could tell that it’s been awhile since I’ve done a ride but they settled in after the first mile. Today’s ride was 6 miles round trip. It was a gorgeous way to start the day. Every time I ride it makes me think that I should ride more and look into biking to work and training for an all-day ride.

I need to ride more often.

In case you missed it: Day 19 of the 90 Days of Awesome – Lunch with Julia!

Day 19/90 – Lunch with Julia

Day 19 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? Having lunch with Julia!

Two happy post-froyo faces

Two happy post-froyo faces

I met Julia back in 2007 (I think). She was a part-time receptionist where I worked while she was finishing up her bachelors degree at Arizona State. We hit it off instantly. I loved her fast wit. Unbeknownst to each other, we both applied to law school at the same time and got in. Getting through law school was so much easier having each other around. She is one of the people I turn to when I need a reality check or an energy boost.

Now we’re both lawyers. I love that she supports all my crazy ideas – like starting this blog, opening Carter Law Firm, writing books, and specializing in “flash mob law.”

Every few weeks, Julia and I get together for lunch, and by “lunch” I mean we go out for chocolate-covered frozen yogurt while everyone else is going to lunch. It’s one of my favorite things to do. We could gab for hours, but unfortunately we usually only have time for a quick catch up before we have to zip back to our respective offices.

In case you missed it: Day 18 of the 90 Days of Awesome – Wearing a Cotton Tank Dress on Hot Arizona Days!

Day 18/90: Cotton Tank Dress

Day 18 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? I beat the heat by wearing an adorable cotton tank dress to work!

Apparently I don't have any photos of me wearing my gray dress so here's proof that I own and wear dresses in general.

Apparently I don’t have any photos of me wearing my gray dress so here’s proof that I own and wear dresses in general.

I swear the cotton tank dress is God’s gift to professional women in warm climates. Cotton dresses are a staple in my summer wardrobe, especially since it’s been over 110 degrees in Phoenix every day this week.

Today, I went to work in a gray tank dress with a pleated skirt. It’s more comfortable than wearing shorts and a tank top. It was the perfect thing to wear to a business lunch with a fellow legal eagle. And I feel really pretty when I wear it.

I love this dress. Depending on what shoes and accessories I wear, it’s perfect for anything from a fancy garden party to an I-want-to-be-comfy day, and I always look like I’m put together. I opted to wear my little flats with it today so I could easily slip my feet out and pad around the office barefoot.

It was a bit windy this afternoon so I almost had a few Marilyn Monroe moments a la The Seven-Year Itch – but who hasn’t seen me in my undies?

In case you missed it: Day 17 of the 90 Days of Awesome – Being Productive Before Sunrise!

Day 17/90 – Starting my Day Before Sunrise

Day 17 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? I hit the ground running and got work done before sunrise.

Photo by Steven Shinn from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Photo by Steven Shinn from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

I’ve always been an early and easy riser. If I sleep in too long (meaning passed 7am), I feel like I’ve wasted half my day. I love how quiet and peaceful the world is during the early morning hours.

On most days, I make a to-do list. Whatever doesn’t get done on one day most likely gets carried over to the next. Anyone who knows me probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear that my daily to-do list has more items than I have time to accomplish during my waking hours.

One of the things on yesterday’s list was paying bills and balancing my business checkbook. I was too tired at the end of the day to do it so I opted to set my alarm clock for 5am and get it done before I went to work.

I love how productive I am first thing in the morning – fewer distractions and I’m probably too tired to do anything besides the task at hand. I felt satisfied to get so much done before breakfast, and it sets the tone for the rest of my day. I’m a big fan of the U.S. Army saying, “We get more done before 9am than most people do all day.” That’s my kind of life.

In case you missed it: Day 16 of the 90 Days of Awesome – Running in the Sun!

Closet Clean-Out 2015 Update

At the beginning of the year, I started my annual closet clean-out and I reversed all the hangers in my closet. The idea is that when I wear a garment, I’ll flip the hanger back when I put the item away. At the end of the year, anything that is on a reversed hanger is something I haven’t worn in the last year, so it’s an item that should be given away. This is something I’ve been doing for years, and every year I have fewer items and it’s easier to let go of things I don’t use anymore.

Part of my Closet - June 16, 2015

Part of my Closet – June 16, 2015

Last year, I thought I cleaned out a lot of my wardrobe, but when I moved last October, I challenged myself to replicate Ryan Nicodemus’ “packing party.” By the end of it, I had 10 boxes of stuff to give away and probably 2 of those boxes were filled with clothes.

A few days ago I stepped into my closet to assess how this year’s clean-out was going. The first thing I noticed is that most of my hangers have already been flipped back, which is a significant difference from past years. This is the smallest my wardrobe has been since becoming a minimalist. It might be the smallest it’s been at least since I stopped wearing a uniform to school. And I’m not going out of my way to wear things just because their hanger hasn’t been flipped yet. On most days, I decide what I want to wear before stepping into my closet.

I looked at the top of my closet and I noted that I have 6 pullover sweaters. This is a lot less than the 12-15 sweaters I used to have, but still – 6 sweaters?! What do I need with 6 sweaters?! Remember, I live in Phoenix. It’s pretty warm here most of the time. I took a quick glance through them and moved 2 to the charity pile.  It wouldn’t hurt to go through my jeans (I got a few new pairs for speaking engagements) and my accessories (which I rarely wear).  I definitely have more t-shirts and running shirts than I need, and I’m ok with that.

My annual clean-out isn’t about shrinking my wardrobe as much as possible. It’s about getting rid of things that don’t make me happy. I never want to feel uncomfortable in my skin, in my clothes, or in my home. When I get dressed, it makes me feel good because I feel comfortable and pretty in my clothes and I value myself enough to treat myself to fabrics that are super soft and garments that complement my personality.

I thought about challenging myself to do a capsule wardrobe – limiting myself to 33 items for 3 months – but I don’t think that would be much of a challenge compared to how I dress myself now. Instead, I’m going to continue my clean-out process and be honest about what brings value to my life when it comes to clothes.

Day 16/90 – Running in the Sun

Day 16 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? I went running!

Photo courtesy of Jeff Moriarty

Photo courtesy of Jeff Moriarty

I’ve decided it’s time to get back in shape. I want to increase my stamina and get some more muscle tone in my quads, back, and arms. Plus, I feel better when I work out on a regular basis.

Here’s my challenge: I live in Phoenix. It’s freakin’ hot here. It’s coolest in the morning, but that’s also when I am most productive in terms of writing and professional work. I don’t want to give that up, so I either have to get up even earlier than my current 5:15am alarm, or suck it up and run in the evening.

So today I took myself for a run at about 5pm. I set out to do a 3-mile run. Working out in the summer is not new to me, but it was a little brutal to go from barely working out to running in 110-degree heat. I had my sunblock, clothes made out wicking fabric, and I was hydrated, but it was still hard.

I didn’t realize until I was out there that my regular route is mostly in the sun. Did I mention I overheat easily if I’m in the sun too long? I ended up running 1.5 miles and walking 1.5 miles home. I was so hot when I got back that I grabbed my water bottle from the fridge and dumped it over my head.

I think running will become a regular part of my life again, but I will be relegated to running at sunrise, sunset, or running in the shade. I also want to work on my tone and flexibility with push-ups and stretching.

In case you missed it: Day 15 of the 90 Days of Awesome – Rockin’ my Fake British Accent!