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self-care

Rob-tastic’s Back!

Reminder: Rob-tastic and I teamed up with Barbri to document and share our stories from studying for the July 2017 California Bar Exam.

Statue of Anonymous in Hungary
Photo by Rob McGee

After three weeks in Europe and Asia, Rob is back in the States and back in the office. He walked into the office on Monday upbeat and refreshed from his travels with lots of pictures and stories. Rob’s a history buff, and he said that “Hungarian history is about 75% fighting Turks and Germans, and 25% building statues memorializing those wars.”

He told me about the statue of Anonymous in Hungary, created in honor of the unnamed chronicler (or possibly chroniclers) of the earliest Hungarian history. According to local folklore, if you touch his pen, it grants inspiration and writing ability. Of course, Rob touched it. That seems like a good omen heading into a bar exam.

Rob Went on Vacation and all I got was this Shirt
When Rob was at the INTA conference, one of the vendors was making personalized “.Sucks” shirts for attendees. He had them make a “Studying.Sucks” shirt for me. No one studies for a bar exam because it’s fun.

Thanks Rob!

Side note: I don’t think this vendor’s first language was English. Rob’s pretty sure the vendor thought he asked them to make this tiny shirt for him to wear.

We’re Both Behind on Bar Studying
Rob and I have both been dealing with schedules and circumstances that make it difficult to keep up with the demanding Barbri schedule. Rob was traveling with only one Barbri book and relied on mostly online content to help him study.

Rob and I are like yin and yang this week. He’s energized and I’m exhausted. I’m still a few days behind the Barbri schedule, due to obligations to clients and needing to exercise some self-care. Studying for the bar is a marathon and it wouldn’t do me any good to burn out so early on in this process. I’ve had to take some time to get some much needed rest and relaxation. As one of the members of my mastermind group reminds me, “You can’t draw water from an empty well.”

This past weekend, I studied 8-9 hours each day, trying to keep up and catch up and hit the ground running at work on Monday. By Tuesday, I was exhausted again. I’m someone who tends to use mantras to stay focused, but I was so drained on Tuesday, my mantra was “Don’t throw up, don’t pass out.” Thankfully, by Wednesday morning, I had my mojo back and my mantra was, “Hold my beer.” (No, I don’t drink. It’s just a euphemism for “I’ve got this.”)

On the flip side, I’m working like gangbusters on client projects. Right now, due to all my obligations, I’m trying not to take on any new clients except those that fall into one of my niche areas of practice. For other prospective clients who need help from my firm, but not necessarily me, I pass along those calls and emails to a colleague with more available bandwidth.

The one thing that’s become obvious with this round of bar prep is there’s no time to waste. (Self-care is not wasting time.) There’s so much time and so little to do!

Strike that. Reverse it.

Self-Preservation for September

Photo by Devon Christopher Adams, used with permission

Photo by Devon Christopher Adams, used with permission

I was laying on my therapist’s couch the other day (yes, I see a therapist and yes, I lay on his couch), when I looked up at him and asked, “What the fuck is wrong with me?”

One of the things I love about my therapist is he will lovingly but bluntly let me have it when such a response is warranted. This was one of those times. He basically said that I am a perfectionistic, anxiety-filled, traumatized, recovering addict who refuses to put self-care above escapism and achievement. And if I keep pushing myself so hard, one of three things is going to happen:

  • I will have a heart attack,
  • He will be forced to hospitalize me,
  • I will learn to cut myself some slack.

Sometimes it’s hard to accept that I am human with limits, and even harder to accept that I am a human with multiple potentially terminal conditions. I have “muscled” through many of the challenges in my life to date, and unfortunately that is at best a temporary solution – survive for now and worry about the consequences and long-term effects later.

Well, now it’s later.

I’m at the point in my life and my recovery that not taking care of myself is probably not an option. I wouldn’t be surprised if I am one of those people who should be on a massage table or an acupuncture table once a month, not as an indulgence, but as a necessity. And it’s not that I don’t know about self-care; I just suck at consistently applying these principles to myself.

Did I mentioned that, because of our conflicting travel schedules, I don’t get to see my therapist again for nearly a month? It’s not that I can’t go that long without seeing him, I just don’t like to. Looking at it from an optimistic perspective, this is giving me the opportunity to take on more responsibility for taking care of myself and to rely more on my support system (because I also suck at asking for help too). I think this will also be a month of more – more music, more sleep, more gardening, more exercise, and more hugs – less mindlessness, more mindfulness.

A friend suggested that my default answer for the next month should be “No.” I appreciate her advice, but I know that can’t be a hard and fast rule. There are too many awesome opportunities, things that I really want to do. My challenge will be being thoughtful about the opportunities that I accept.

Day 58/90 – Playing Hooky

Day 58 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? I got to play hooky from work . . . sort of.

IP16 cropped

This is how playing hooky feels! Photo by Patrick McLeod from Ignite Phoenix 16 (Creative Commons License)

It’s probably more accurate to say work played hooky from me.

Today had a good start. I got to the office early and cranked on some client work, had a few networking meetings, . . . and then our file server went down.

No worries. As long as I have the internet I can get work done.

And then the internet went down.

I looked over at Rosie the basset hound and said, “Well, we’re out of here.” I loaded her up and headed for home. The internet was still working at home so I could still get some work done. It reminded me of how I worked when I was running my solo shop – I only went to my office a few days a week and I often got to leave by early afternoon when my work was done.

My therapist suggested that I need a vacation. I snickered sarcastically at that. He’s probably right. Rosie and I got out of dodge for a night last summer and it was immensely helpful for recharging my batteries. I think I might work from home tomorrow, have a more unstructured day, especially if the file server at work is still down. I can go for a run, do some errands, and work in pajamas if I feel like it. I think breaking up the monotony would be good for me.

I’ve actually been thinking about the concepts of time and how we as a society divide our time. How did we decide that we would have a 7-day week where we have a 5-day work week and a 2-day weekend? Why do we work 9am-5pm? I’m not sure this norm is necessarily the best thing for me. Don’t get me wrong – I need some structure to keep me on task, but it might be time to re-think my schedule a bit.

In case you missed it: Day 57 of the 90 Days of Awesome – I love when my work brings me joy.