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Lessons Learned

Lessons from the 2012 Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

Photo by Crystal O'Hara

I completed my third half marathon this past weekend. My goal was to finish the race is less than 2 hours. I destroyed that goal & finished in 1:52 – 14 minutes faster than my previous personal record.

1. The Race Will Accept An Altered Liability Waiver.
I alter every liability waiver before I sign it. The race organizers wanted to avoid all liability, no matter what. I have no problem accepting responsibility if I trip over my own feet, but if they run me into oncoming traffic or a pit full of tigers, I want to sue them. This year, I wrote in a provision that stated that the altered agreement superseded all previous agreements. I’d never written in a provision & I was pleased when the race accepted it.

2.  KT Tape Is A Godsend.
I had issues with shin pain during training. I wore KT tape on my leg almost every day between mid-December & the race. It made it possible for me to finish my training with minimal discomfort. At the pre-race expo, KT Tape had a booth where they provided free tape jobs. I had them give me a fresh tape job on my shin & one on my left foot that had started feeling sore. I felt no pain in my foot or leg for the entire race.

3.  Stay In Front Of Your Pacer.
The organizers provided runners who maintained a particular pace for the race. Each one held a stick with a sign on it indicating what pace they were keeping. In my starting corral, there was a runner with a “2:00” stick. I knew I had to cross the finish line before him to accomplish my goal.

My friend’s dad suggested that I get at least a quarter mile in front of my pacer. My pacer was supposed to run 9:10-minute miles, but pacers aren’t human treadmills. They’re faster some miles & slower others. It’s best to get in front of them & stay there. Once I got in front of my pacer, I was afraid he’d overtake me. It kept me motivated to keep my speed up.

4.  The Back Of Your Shirt Matters.
In the past, I started the race with my friends who are faster runner than me, & as a result, I was passed more than I passed others. This year I had the opposite experience. I learned that the back of your shirt provides entertainment for the people running behind you.

Photo by Tyler Hurst

5.  Having A Cheering Section Makes A Huge Difference.
I saw my friends & family at miles 8, 11, & 12. Seeing the familiar faces & hearing their voices boosted my spirits. I remember being at mile 4 & thinking, “Only 4 more miles ‘til I see my friends.” After I saw my friends, thinking about them kept me motivated until I saw my next cheering section at mile 11. My friends humored my masochistic side by yelling things like, “Move your ass, Bitch!” In aggregate, I saw my friends & family less than a minute of the race, but having them there made a huge difference.

I also need to give a huge hat tip to the supporters who made multiple appearances along the route. They would be at the sideline to see their runner to go by, jump in the car, drive to another part of the race route, & be there again. That takes some serious planning & dedication. Even though they weren’t there for me, I appreciated their support in general.

6. Put One Foot In Front Of The Other & Believe.
I knew I was running faster than the pace I needed to finish the race in under 2 hours. The race clock at every mile marker helped me estimate my pace. Everyone around me was running so fast, & I had serious doubts that I could keep up my pace for the entire race. I took a risk & believed that it was possible to have such a strong finish. I nearly started crying at mile 12 when I saw that it would take a disaster to not finish in under 2 hours.

I was beyond pleased when I saw that I finished in 1:52 – average pace: 8:36. It still blows me away that I did so well. It’s a reminder that amazing things can happen if you give yourself permission to give it your all.

Sponsor A Law Kid – The Recap

Well, that’s all she wrote – Sponsor A Law Kid (SALK) is in the books!  I was petrified when I initially announced this program.  I didn’t know if it would be a success or if I would fall flat on my face.  I never could have imagined how incredible this experience was.  I wanted to share some final thoughts about SALK.

Photo by AJ Grucky

What Have I Learned From This Experience?
This experience taught me that sometimes your opposition becomes an asset.  I don’t think I would have had so much support for this program if I didn’t get such negative backlash initially from the legal community.  My supporters would have probably thought, “Cool idea,” and moved on, but because I was confronted with venomous negativity, they stood beside me and supported my idea and efforts.  SALK taught me that innovation will always be met with opposition and the best thing to do is to let the haters hate and focus on the task at hand.

If I Could Go Back and Do It Again, What Would I Do Differently?
SALK went from a passing idea in my head to the initial announcement in about 72 hours.  I didn’t fully commit to the idea until about 12 hours before the blog went up and I wrote that post was written in about 20 minutes.  I wish I had had more time to completely flush out my ideas and proofread that initial post.  It was written very much in my stream of consciousness.  People who knew me completely understood what I was saying, but others who didn’t, took offense because they didn’t get it.  If I could go back, I’d take a little more time before making the initial announcement to make sure that I conveying the message in a way that would be better received by my readers.

If I could do it again, I would have announced SALK about 2 months earlier too.  It was hard work getting SALK going and soliciting sponsors in such a short period of time!

How Did I Find Sponsors?
I started out by posting the initial SALK blog and posted links to it on Twitter and Facebook.  I also made a post about it on the Phoenix Professionals Group on LinkedIn.  Then I made a list of all the products I use and the stores I patronize on a regular basis.  Unfortunately, I use a lot of national brands and chain stores, so they usually ignored my requests for sponsorship.

I looked for ways to reach out to some of these businesses in person.  For example, I had to get my oil changed in December.  While I was waiting for Toyota to be done with my car, I spoke with a marketing person at the dealership and walked out with a check and 2 more sponsored days.

I also reached out to every business that advertises in local magazines that I occasionally read and I sent emails to every major news station in the Phoenix area to see if any of them would be interested in running a story about SALK.  I was pleasantly surprised when ABC Channel 15 called back 10 minutes later asking if they could send a reporter to my house that afternoon.

What Was The Biggest Challenge?
The biggest challenge was creating quality content every day.  After writing blogs for 23 consecutive days, I was grateful for a day off.  Some days I wouldn’t get done with my school work until 9pm and I’d still have a blog to research and write before I went to bed.  If I did not know the person or company well, it took longer because I wanted to be sure that I wrote a thoughtful and accurate blog.

How Much Money Did I Earn With SALK?
I earned over $3,200 by doing SALK.  This includes the days that were sponsored and people who purposely overpaid the days they sponsored.  The total also includes Bashas’ Grocery Stores.  I asked them to sponsor a day, and they responded by offering a $1,000 scholarship.

Would I Do It Again?
Yes!

Should Other Law Students Do This?
Absolutely!  This was a great way to make a national name for myself in the legal community and to network with other professionals while offsetting the cost of my education.  Besides the fact that I was more tired than I otherwise would have been, there was no downside to this program.

With SALK, I offered every day for sale between January 1 and July 27.  That’s a lot more days than a typical academic semester, and thus, I had the potential to make a lot more money.  If I only sold the semester, I could only sell about 115 days, including weekends.  That would not have covered the entire cost of a semester of school.  If anyone wants to have their own SALK program, I suggest doing the math to see how much you might make if every day sold.

Thank you to all my sponsors who made SALK a success:  Darvin and Jane DeShazer, Amanda Ellis, ThinkGeek, Donna McGill, Vincent Cannizzaro, Debbie Walker, Camelback Toyota, Tyler Hurst, Henry’s Hope, Sara Shea, Tyler Allen, Michael Vincent, The Foster Group, Nancy Smith, Jana Knapp, K Royal, Jane Ross, Katrina Holland, Brand X Custom T-shirts, the Ferreira Family, Fred Von Graf, Bev Wolf, Sheila Dee, Bristol6, Two Men and A Truck, Pam Gibson, Michelle Diaz Cannon, Stephanie Green, Micah and Danielle Larripa, Aaron M. Kelly, Linda Day, Kerry Mitchell, Matt Hollowell, and David E. Mills.  I couldn’t have done this without you!

Please see all my SALK posts here.

Recap of the July 2011 Arizona Bar Exam

I survived the July 2011 Arizona Bar Exam!   I never want to do that again.  I’m grateful for the love and support of my family, friends, and professional mentors during this time.  I wanted to share my top 5 tips of what I’m glad I knew or wish I knew going into the test.

  1. An assortment of Jolly Rancher candies

    Image via Wikipedia

    Eat a Filling Breakfast: We had to be at the convention center at 6:45am on Day 1 of the test and we weren’t going to break for lunch until 12pm.  In the week before the exam I did a breakfast experiment and found that oatmeal made with ½ cup water, ½ cup milk, raisins, sliced almonds, and brown sugar kept me full all morning.  I was so nervous on both mornings of the test that it was hard to force myself to eat, but I knew that would be better than getting half way through the morning and being starving.

  2. Sleep:  I’ve heard it takes the body 2 days to feel tired after a bad night of sleep so the night that really mattered was 2 days before the test.  I often have insomnia, especially when I’m nervous.  I took a sleeping pill 2 nights before the test to ensure that my body and brain would get adequate rest.
  3. Take the Free LunchASU did a very cool thing and provided lunch for us during the bar exam.  It was nice not having to worry about getting lunch in just over an hour and having to deal with the general public.  ASU even humored a superstition that many people in my class have and provided Jolly Ranchers for us.  It was also nice to see some friendly faces from the school.
  4. Prepare for Arctic Conditions:  When the Arizona Bar Exam is in Phoenix, it’s held at the convention center, and it’s freeeeezing.  I heard about this and wore jeans, a t-shirt, and a sweatshirt on Day 1.  By lunch, my lips were blue and I couldn’t feel the tips of my fingers.  I asked a proctor if we could raise the temperature in the room and she dismissed my request saying that “It’s always this cold.”  For Day 2, I wore a thicker fleece and I was more comfortable, thought by the end of the day, my feet had started to go numb.  I should have brought an extra long-sleeved shirt, fingerless gloves, and a lap blanket.
  5. Do What Works For You:  When I’m running in a race and being passed by other people, I often remind myself that I need to run at my pace.  The same idea works for the bar exam.  It didn’t matter how fast or slow the people around me were going.  There was no need for me to freak out when someone finished and walked out of the room with an hour left on the clock.  All that mattered was that I was thinking clearly and answering the questions to the best of my abilities, and ultimately passing.
Standardized Test

Image by biologycorner via Flickr

I gave it my all on this test.  When I walked out, I had no brain power left.  Since the test, I have been sleeping a lot and slowly been regaining my cognitive functions.  I’m glad that I’m spending my first week after the test on vacation where I don’t have to see anything related to law school or the bar exam.

To the loved ones of people taking the bar exam:  The best thing my family did for me during my bar prep was to give me space.  From the time I graduated until the bar exam, my family never called me.  I occasionally called them to let them know I was alive.  They knew to leave me alone and let me do what I needed to do.

I need to give a special shout out to the woman who went into labor during Day 2 of the New Jersey Bar Exam.  She calmly finished her exam, walked across the street to the hospital, and delivered a healthy baby boy 2 hours later.  You are a phenomenal person.  I hope the labor pains didn’t interfere with your ability to pass the test!

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Warrior Dash Recap 2011

This past weekend my friends and I did the Warrior Dash in Florence, Arizona.  This is my type of race – 3.4 miles with 12 obstacles along the way.  It requires endurance, strength, and strategy to be successful.

(cc) Jeff Moriarty

There are two types of people who do this race – the serious athletic types who are focused on getting through the course as fast as possible and the types who are there just for fun who often do the race in costume.  I was the former.  Two of my friends were the latter: one dressed up as a Roman gladiator and chased my friend through the course who was dressed up as Jesus.  All of us had an awesome time and are already thinking about what we want to do for next year’s race.  I wanted to share some tips about things that my group was glad we did or should have done.

Train as if the Race was 5-miles Long:  The course was only 3.4 miles, but it was on dirt, uneven ground, rocks, sand, and mud.  It was much harder than running 3.4 miles on asphalt.

Do Strength Training:  When I saw which obstacles would be on our race course on the website, I was motivated to add push-ups, pull-ups, crunches, and squats to my workout.  It made a big difference on race day.

Wear Clothes that can be Destroyed:  The course might have dirt, sand, water, fire and/or mud on it.  Don’t wear anything that you’d be sad if it was ripped, stained, or otherwise destroyed.  This includes your shoes and sunglasses.

Expect Mud to Get Everywhere:  Regardless of your body type or what you’re wearing, you will be covered from head to toe in mud.  Expect to have it everywhere by the end of the race – including inside your underwear, sports bra, and shoes.  Be sure to trim your nails and remove all jewelry before the race to eliminate having to scrub mud out of small crevices.

Use Gear Check:  Red Frog doesn’t promote this enough.  They have an area where you can check a bag while you’re running the race so that you don’t have to worry about where you’re going to put your keys during the race or have to go all the way back to your car to get fresh clothes when you’re done.   You will want to have your phone, keys, plastic bags, a towel, a complete set of fresh clothes, and a pair of flip flops in your gear check bag.

Make Sure You Can Move in Your Costume:  One of the best parts of the race was the amazing people watching.  We had racers in crazy outfits – Oompa Loompas, Richard Simmons, German bar girls, and lots of people in capes, tutus, kilts, and wings.  Make sure you can run in your outfit and be careful not to snag your wig while you’re crawling under the barbed wire.  Regardless of what you wear on your body, be sure to wear proper running shoes on your feet.

(cc) Jeff Moriarty

Wear Underwear: You never know if the elastic in your shorts is going to snap while you’re crawling through the mud pit.  After the race, they have an area where they hose you off.  You may want to strip all the down to your skivvies to ensure maximum mud removal.

I was a little under-prepared for this race but I’m very pleased with how I finished.  My official time was 36:51:45.  I finished in the top 9% in my division and in the top 21% overall.

Thank you Red Frog Events for putting on such a wonderful event.  A special thank you to Monster for being on-site promoting their new Anti-Gravity drinks and their promoter who opened my beverage for me because I was too tired to do it myself.  I can’t wait until next year.

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Half Marathon Recap 2011

On January 16, 2011, I ran in the P.F. Chang’s Rock n Roll Half Marathon, my second half marathon.  I had a personal best of 2:06:18, nearly 3 minutes faster than my time last year.  This was, hands down, the most painful race I have ever participated in.

I started my training back in October.  I was pretty diligent about getting in my miles every week until mid-November.  By then, my school work had picked up and I had the decision to either go running or get enough sleep.  Not wanting to destroy my immune system, I often opted to sleep.  After finals, I went to my parents’ house in Northern California.  I packed all my warm running clothes so I could get back on track, but I soon learned that, “It’s cold,” was a viable excuse not to go running.  When I got back to Phoenix, I was determined to get back to running, but unfortunately my overzealousness caused shin splints.  In all of my training for this race, I did not run more than 5 consecutive miles.  Originally my goal was to finish the race in under 2 hours, but I changed that to finishing the race without stopping or walking.

I was careful to pace myself at the start of the race.  Even before I reached mile marker 1, my body was starting to hurt.  I did what you’re not supposed to do, and took 600mg of ibuprofen right before the race, and it didn’t keep the pain at bay.  My toes, knees, hip, back, and feet all hurt during the race.  When one body part would start to hurt, I thought, “Hang in there.  In a mile, something else will hurt.”

You-Can_Do-It
Image by Katchooo via Flickr

The best part of running the half marathon is the people watching.  I enjoy watching the people, reading their signs, and seeing the funny outfits the various cheerleading squads are wearing.  Every time I saw a familiar face or something amusing, it lifted my spirits.  I don’t think most spectators realize how much it means to the runners that they are there.

In case you were wondering, these are some of the thoughts that went through my head during the race:

  • You can do it… You can do it…. You can do it….You can do it…
  • Hang in there.  You’re doing great.
  • You’re almost there.
  • It’s only hard.

Around mile 10, I kicked it up a notch and started running faster.  I saw on the race clock that I was close to my pace from the previous year.  I wanted to try for a personal best.  I ran as hard as I could and I gave myself permission to collapse the second I crossed the finish line.

When I finished the race, I was in pain.  My joints hurt; my muscles hurt; even my internal organs hurt.  I went home and went to bed.  My friend came over to congratulate me after the race, and he could barely hug me because it hurt so much.

I’m pleased with my performance overall, but I definitely learned the hard way about the repercussions of being under prepared for a race.  Next year, I hope I can train more effectively and break the 2-hour mark.

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My Wardrobe Is On Notice – 1 Year Later

A year ago, I wrote a blog for Unchaotic about my year-long process to clean out my wardrobe.  I tied a piece of yarn around every hanger in my closet.  When I wore a garment, I took off the yarn.  At the end of the year, the initial plan was to get rid of everything that still had a piece of yarn on it.  This plan was based on the idea that if I had not worn something in a year, I’m never going to wear it, so I might as well get rid of it.

Initially, I was going to wait until the end of the year before I threw anything out, but as I started putting yarn on my hangers, I saw items that I knew I had not worn in a while and was never going to wear again so by the end of setting up my closet, I had at least 10 items that were already eliminated from my wardrobe.  Some of it went to charity and the rest went in the trash.  I did another similar wardrobe purge in June when I evaluated what I hadn’t worn yet.

On New Year’s Day, I pulled everything out of my closet that still had a piece of yarn on it. There were about 30 things.  I spent a few hours trying each garment on, remembering why I bought it in the first place, and asking why I hadn’t worn it during the last year.

There were two items that I did not wear in the last year that are wardrobe staples – my white oxford shirt and my black pullover sweater.  These are the type of thing that everyone should have in their wardrobe, and the fact that I did not wear them does mean that they do not have value in my wardrobe.  They could stay.

I also realized that owning wrinkle resistant shirts has made me spoiled and so I did not take the time to iron my other shirts, and thus I did not wear my other shirts for a year.  The ones that I thought I would wear if I did my ironing could stay.  I had a few pieces that I didn’t wear because I assumed that they too big after I lost weight.  After trying them on, I saw that they still fit.  They could stay too.

This project brought a personal issue to the surface that a lot of people have – I sweat regardless of the temperature.  This means I’m more likely to stain my clothes.  (It’s also one of the reasons why I didn’t wear my white oxford during the last year.)  I am one of those people who should never own a silk blouse because I will stain it the first time I wear it.  If I wanted to stop this from happening, I could pay a lot of money to have my armpits botoxed, or I can periodically throw out whatever I stain.  I’ll stick with the latter for now.

I’m glad I did this project.  I feel like I decluttered my closet and have a clearer idea of my personal style.  The garments that I decided to keep despite not wearing them for a year still have their strings on them as a reminder that I should consider donating them if I continue to not wear them.

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Reflections on Police Authority & Public Pranks

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. I am a law student. In accordance with ABA policy, this blog should not be viewed as legal advice. It is simply my experiences, opinions, and stuff I looked up on the internet.

I took Criminal Procedure this semester to learn more about the legal implications of participating and planning flash mobs and pranks.  While I was studying for my exam, I started to reflect back on Improv AZ’s encounter with mall security and the police last spring and if we should have done anything differently.

The stunt was simple – we had four agents wearing t-shirts that said “Coroner” across the front and back walk through a local mall carrying a stuffed fake body bag.  The purpose was to see the reactions on people’s faces as they contemplated if what they were seeing was real or a joke.  We were stopped and detained by security who called the local police.  The police spoke with us briefly, mostly struggling to understand guerilla theatre, and released us without citation.  Looking back, I think we could have done things differently.

When a police officer suspects that a person has committed or is about to commit a crime, they can conduct a Terry stop to briefly stop the person to ask what they are doing.  They can also ask for identification.  If they suspect that the person is armed and dangerous, the police can protect themselves by frisking them for weapons.   If the police find no evidence to create a reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred or is about to occur, they can’t detain the person any longer.

Mall Cop
Image by Mike_fj40 via Flickr

Mall security, however, are just people.  They have a job to protect the interests of mall merchants and the safety of other mall patrons.  It’s reasonable for them to confront suspicious behavior, but they have no more authority than Joe Blow Average.  I remember from Torts class that when shoplifting has occurred, they can detain the shoplifter for a reasonable time until the police arrive.  That’s a situation where the police know that a crime has occurred.  I think there’s an argument that they don’t have this ability when they concerns about suspicious behavior.

In some states mall security have government authority, but this is the exception, not the rule.  If they detain someone under the authority of their position without evidence of a crime, there’s an argument that they are impersonating a public servant or peace officer or committing unlawful imprisonment.  I think if we are stopped by mall security during a prank again, we will know that they can ask us questions within the scope of their employment, they can escort us off the private property, but without more than mere suspicion or dislike of our prank, we can probably keep walking if they try to detain us.  We also do not have to show them identification.  They can request it, but there’s no legal reason why we have to comply.

We have only been questioned by police once in the two years that Improv AZ has been in existence.  We are very thoughtful about planning our pranks to be fun and lighthearted.  The last thing we want to do is take the police away from fighting actual crime.  However, if we are stopped by police again, we have to provide them identification – especially with the police being hyper-sensitive to illegal immigration.  The police can Terry stop us and ask what we are doing.  If the stop becomes a lengthy conversation, we can ask, “Am I free to go?” and if the police respond negatively, we can ask, “In what is this pursuant to?” and see if they can provide a valid reason for our continued detention.  If we have purses or bags, the police can ask to search them, but without at least reasonable suspicion of a crime, we can respectfully decline their request.

I don’t want to give the impression that I am anti-police.  On the contrary, I support the police preventing and fighting crime.  I also support people exerting their Fourth Amendment rights.  It’s very rare for the police to be summoned to the scene of a flash mob for legal or safety reasons, and it’s important when that happens, that participants know what rights they do and do not have.

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MPRE Afterglow

I took the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam – aka the MPRE – this past weekend.  It must seem ironic that future lawyers have to take a test of the ethics of being attorneys before we can be admitted to the Bar.  Given that we’re going to be entrusted with our clients’ money, property, and secrets, we better know what we’re doing.  About halfway through the test, the reality that I will hopefully be a lawyer a year from now was pretty humbling.

I opted to take my test at Phoenix College instead of Arizona State University.  I took the LSAT there, and since that worked out well, I decided that that place has good mojo for me.  I wish I could take the bar exam there.  I also figured that there would be fewer of my classmates there, which would keep my stress down.

pencils

Image by hownowdesign via Flickr

Besides showing a photo I.D. at the testing location, we also had to attach a passport photo to our admission ticket.  While I was at Walgreens taking my picture I debated between making the cracked-out-on-caffeine face or the sullen I-love-my-job face.  I told the clerk that it was for a test, not a passport.  He responded, “Well, as long as it isn’t for anything legal.”  I opted to play it safe and make the I-love-my-job face.

Since our careers were somewhat riding on this test, a lot of people were nervous about not doing anything that would result in our scores being cancelled.  One guy in my room raised his hand and asked if it was ok if he got a cough drop from his pocket.  It was cute.

Taking the MPRE proved to me that going to law school has made me more superstitious.  Before law school I would carry my grandfather’s handkerchief and wear my grandmother’s watch when I was nervous.  Now I carry my grandfather’s handkerchief, my grandmother’s watch, and my grandfather’s rosary with me – and I’m not Catholic.

Speaking of Catholicism, a woman I met before the test had the best advice about what to do if you get stuck on a question.  She had practiced law in Colorado for twenty years and needed to take the MPRE to be admitted to the Arizona Bar. A judge told her, when in doubt, pick the answer that matches what a Catholic nun would do in the situation.

When I’m working hard on a project, I have a tendency to put my elbow on the table, rest my head on my hand, and put my fingers in my hair.  This had a tendency to counteract my hair product and make my hair fluffy.  I had some major fluffy hair by the end of this test.  I’m glad I checked the mirror before I walked out of the building.

On a related note, my sister took the MPRE this past weekend too, though I didn’t know about it until afterwards.  She is going to law school across the country.  Looking at us from an academic/professional perspective, you would never guess we were related.  I thought it was really cute that we took the same test on the same day, 2000 miles apart.  I hope we will celebrate passing MPRE scores for Christmas.

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Lessons from Grandpa Jim

My grandfather died unexpectedly when I was two.  I have no memories of him.  It’s seems odd that some of the ideas that often run through my head are the lessons that he passed down through his children.

Growing up, I simply accepted that I only had one grandparent on my father’s side of the family.  My grandfather was someone we rarely talked about, but I learned little bits about him over the years:  he was a Marine; he owned a ranch in Phoenix; and his favorite flavor of ice cream was vanilla.  I gathered that he was a fairly stoic man, and according to others, he would have been content to lead a boring life if it wasn’t for my grandmother.

My grandfather was only fifty-seven when he died of a heart attack.  I think it was easier for my family not to talk about him because when they did, they had to relive the pain of losing him.  About ten years ago, I got curious and started asking questions like, “What was grandpa like?”  From that came an outpouring of stories about this man and the lessons he passed on to his children.

  1. Life is Choices. This is probably the simplest and the most profound statements I carry with me.  It is absolutely true that a person’s existence is made up of the choices they make – where to go to school, what profession to enter, who to marry, what to do in frightening situations, etc.  Who I am is what I do and what I do depends on the choices I make.  This even applies to what I think about and where I put my energy.  The best part of this lesson is the fact that in every situation, there is always a choice.  Neither option may be desirable, but there is a choice nonetheless.
  2. Finish Strong. I practiced this lesson this weekend during a 5K race.  By the last quarter mile, I was hot, tired, and wondering why I ever thought running was fun.  Regardless of all this, I still dug deep and finished with as much speed as my legs could produce.  I hear this lesson when I get senioritis with school being almost over and when the end of a project in on the horizon and every fiber of my being wants to slack off.  This is the lesson I draw upon when I have to take a deep breath, ignore all fatigue and distractions, and tackle the task at hand.

When I think about the lessons from my grandfather, I feel like I am carrying part of him with me.  I literally carry a part of him with me too because I carry one of his handkerchiefs most of the time.  It’s comforting to think that I’m not going through the stress and challenge of law school alone, even on the days when I am completely isolated working on homework and projects.

Photo courtesy of the Carter family.

Three Questions of Communication

A few years ago I learned the best lesson for effective communication.  I don’t know who taught me this technique, but I am immensely grateful to them.  I learned that before I open my mouth, I have to ask three questions about what I want to say.

  1. Is it true?
  2. Is it necessary?
  3. Is it kind?

If the answer to all three questions is “Yes,” then I can say it.  If not, I have to keep my mouth shut until I figure out a better way to phrase my thoughts.

I had a job once where I often had to remind myself that it was inappropriate to tell people that they were morons.  Here’s how the questions tended to play out in my head:

  1. Is it true?  Yes!
  2. Is it necessary?  I think so.
  3. Is it kind?  <crickets>

And back to the drawing board I went until I could find a kind way to say what I thought I needed to say.  This approach keeps me out of trouble, especially when I have strong opinions.  It keeps my mouth shut long enough for my brain to catch up with my emotions and determine the proper way to express my ideas.

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