Summer Slow-Down: Learning to Relax

A beach with two people relaxing under a pair of palm trees

As my mom will tell you, I’ve never very been good at relaxing.  Since about sixth grade, I’ve been involved in all sorts of things.  As an adult, you will rarely find me sitting down when I’m at home.  I tend to spend my evenings and weekends working out, doing yard work, doing laundry or other chores around the house, attending a meeting or event, visiting friends, or working on some kind of project.  I pretty much never sit in front of a television, and my relaxation time is usually scheduled (e.g., yoga class, meditation group, occasional massage or mani/pedi).

Read more

To Accomplish What You Want, Write Down More Than Just Your Goals

A dirt road disappears into a tree line under a blue sky

Tracking time is one of the most universally disliked aspects of private law practice.  I don’t think I’ve ever met an attorney who liked having to log every client-related task in six- or fifteen- minute increments.  Tracking and recording your time is a pain.  But it does have its benefits, aside from being able to bill your clients for the work you’ve performed.

When I first left private practice and no longer had to keep daily time sheets, I noticed that I became less productive.  I chatted with coworkers more and took longer lunches.  I spent more time on projects.  These things are not all bad, but I realized at some point that I wasn’t checking items off my to-do list as often as I’d like, and I felt like I was losing momentum.

Read more

Reflections on Time and Impermanence

Still life painting of photos arranged on a tabletop
Neoma, 2005.

“We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one.” -Confucius

My second life began when I was twenty-six. I at once became keenly aware of how short life is, how it can end suddenly, how none of us is promised tomorrow. This realization was not triggered by a near-death experience or the loss of someone close to me. It came about in the aftermath of divorce, while struggling to build a life for myself and to sculpt an identity. It arose during months of counseling sessions, self-reflection, trying to lift myself out of the hole of depression. I read the words of Eckhart Tolle, echoing the sentiments of the Buddha and other wise people over the millennia: “the present moment is all you have.”

Read more

On Books, and My Attempt to Read More of Them

Three shelves of books

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how I’ve cut back on the amount of time I spend scrolling through social media feeds and reading articles online in order to free up more time for writing in the mornings and evenings. I’m also attempting to replace mindless phone-checking throughout the day with other more meaningful tasks — things like mindful breathing, short bursts of physical activity, and reading books. My overarching goal is to use my time more deliberately instead of impulsively reacting to whatever is aiming to capture my attention. Time, after all, is a scarce and non-renewable resource. To riff off Annie Dillard, how we spend our minutes is how we spend our hours, how we spend our hours is how we spend our days, and how we spend our days is how we spend our lives.

Read more