Posts in Law Love Stories
Three tales about goals. Tale One: For the love of...

My battle with goal setting came to a head this past week. It sucked and it was amazing all at the same time. Well at first it just sucked. Now that my deepest battle wounds have been tended to, I am surrounded by new found lightness and power. So I want to tell you three tales. Three tales about goals. 

The first is about a slave. The second is about a golden-haired girl and three bears. The third is about a battle won by failure.

Tale One.

For the love of...

running, motivation, app

My phone beeped. Shit! This couldn`t be happening.

I glanced at my arm band. My battery was about to die. Shit! Shit! Shit!

I was no where near my goal of 30 km. My Nike Running App had just given me my stats. I was nearing 18 km and going steady. My pace was 5 minutes 22 seconds per kilometre. A good pace. I was just past the halfway mark of what would be the longest run of my life. I was feeling great. Confident I would achieve what I set out to do.

My phone couldn't be dying with 12 km to go. How would I know when I arrived at the finish? How would I know I had completed my goal? How would I know if I was keeping a good pace? And how would I be motivated to keep up my pace for all 30 kilometres without that voice in my ear reminding me each kilometre? 

I know, I know, its just a Nike Running App. And yes I have run without it. And yes I did map out my run before I started, so I knew where I had to end up in order to get in 30 km. But for a few moments it seemed important. It actually crossed my mind that I could stop at the nearest Starbucks and see if I could borrow someone's iPhone charger for a bit before continuing on my run (crazy, I know).

My phone died. I cursed. I stopped running and stood there for a moment. I took a deep breath.

And then the hilarity of my frustration hit me. I was really caught up in it. I began to laugh at the thoughts that had been running through my mind. I couldn't believe how much power I had given away to a little talking box strapped to my arm.

I called deep on my courage. It was time for me to take it back.

I started running. I stared into the hugeness of the ocean. I felt the wind. 

I focused my thoughts inward. I focused on my legs; I felt their strength propelling me forward. I focused on my feet; how they felt as they landed on the pavement, carrying my body with each step. I focused on my heart; I felt it beating, giving me life. I focused on the space I had created; I felt it expand and spread through my body. 

I remembered my why. I remembered what I love about running. I remembered the marathon I was working towards.

I remembered choice. I remembered trees. I remembered strength. 

I ran the remaining 12 km without record or reminder. It was no longer a have to. I just ran.

For the love of running.

xo,

Danielle

Image credit 1

Back to ME

I am me My name is Danielle Rondeau.

I am a lawyer, coach, and activist.  

I am passionate about living. I am passionate about getting to know myself, who I am, and what I love. I believe in seeing myself so I can bring my highest self and my highest contribution.

I am passionate about connecting. I am passionate about being seen and being real. I believe weakness is appearing strong, and courage is vulnerability.

I am passionate about wellbeing. I believe self care is the foundation of all life, all love, and all creation. I believe without self care there is no capacity to care for others.

I am passionate about health. I believe our health is our greatest asset, our greatest resource, and our greatest investment.  I believe without health nothing else matters.

I am passionate about dreaming big. I am passionate about inspiring and being inspired. I believe nothing is impossible, and the greatest fear we must step into is our own greatness.

I am passionate about being a lawyer. I am passionate about solving problems and being creative. I believe legal knowledge is a gift and law is a profession of helping.

I am passionate about writing. I am passionate about sharing stories, struggles, and successes. I believe every story has a life, and every life is a million stories that, untold, are lost.

I am passionate about helping. I believe each of us has unique strengths, skills, and resources. I believe we can survive only by helping and receiving help.

I am passionate about change. I am passionate about experimenting and learning. I believe everything is the way it is only because we choose it to be and something different is always available.

I am passionate about being a light. I believe we each have something to stand for. I believe by stepping into what we stand for we will transform the world.

I am passionate about gratitude. I am passionate about acknowledging and expressing gratitude daily. I believe gratitude has the power to heal and to provide.

I am passionate about laughter. I am passionate about bringing joy and play into life. I believe from the capacity for laughter flows the capacity for all else.

I am passionate about possibility. I am passionate about taking a step out over the edge. I believe we are always on the edge of the unknown, and the unknown is possibility.

I am passionate about life. I am passionate about dreaming life, creating life, living life, and loving life. I believe life is our greatest love and if you love life, life will love you back.

I am Danielle Rondeau.

I am light. I am possibility. I am passion. I am play. I am heart.

I am ME.

xo,

Danielle

What I've realised about goals and trees.

trees, goals, life I’ve been trying to figure out why it is that goals can have such a motivating, yet disempowering effect on my life and why is it that I can so easily turn what I love into an obligation, the moment I set a definite goal around it.

I’ve been talking about this with many people over the past few weeks and have received some great ideas, insights, and reflections. I want to share with you some of the things I’ve been thinking about.

Flexibility.

It is ok to choose to change our minds, redefine, restructure, postpone, or even quit completely at any time. We don’t have to place these things under the umbrella definition of failure. We can instead take back our power and choose them.

Constant conscious choice.

Each moment we are choosing. When we choose to do or not do something it is not because we have to or because someone or something is making us, it is because we are choosing to do or not do it. If we recognize that we are choosing our action or inaction in each moment we can see that the “have tos” and “shoulds” are really invented concepts, a giving away of our power, and an escape from taking ownership of our lives.

Empowered choices.

We can also choose a different attitude, a different way of being. A different way of looking at our choices. When we choose to procrastinate or to eat a lot of chocolate or to not go to bed early or to not do any of the many things on our to do list that will lead us to completing a goal (not that I do any of these things, of course), we can acknowledge that we are making a choice and accept it instead of being frustrated. We can choose to empower each choice in each moment.

Compassion.

Cultivate it. Let it in. This is closely related to flexibility and choice. Instead of fighting against our human needs such as sleep, exercise, love, and connection, we can allow ourselves the option of choosing what we need in each moment. We can have some compassion for the fact that we are human. We can hold our choices with love. We can cultivate a little more of that love for the choices that others make, and we can let others do the same for us. Compassion eliminates the have tos and instead gives us permission to be who we are and need what we need.

Trust.

More of it. Taking away rigid structure and adding some flexibility. Taking back personal power, and empowering each choice. Having some compassion for self and others. All of these things are impossible without trust. Trust in ourselves, trust in others, and trust in the journey. Trusting our choices and trusting that voice that tells us what we need makes room for a whole lot more flexibility and a whole lot less have tos.

Let it be.

Not everything can be understood and explained. There is no right or wrong way to do goals, or life (as I so hoped there was so I could figure it out and do it all perfectly). What I’m learning instead is that sometimes trying to figure it out is the problem. Sometimes exactly what we need is to not know the answer. Sometimes what we need is to not even know what it is that we want to know.

I’m learning that letting go of my desire to understand, control and predict my life, actions, time, and the future requires a lot of trust. And that the space that is created when I do is amazing. So I’m going to stop trying to figure it all out…at least some of the time. Breathe a little more deeply a little more often. Let it be.

Where does all of this leave me?

There is immense value for me in each of the above. Each of the conversations I have had with people over the past few weeks has chipped away at the lens through which I see goals, and more broadly, life. I’ve realized the way things are may not be. They may simply be the way I see them. I’ve found some flexibility and choice, more trust and compassion, and an openness that I was not previously in touch with.

Although I wish I could report that the above are the solutions to the problem with goals, I cannot. Not because the above are not solutions. But precisely because they are just that: solutions. Solutions only work if there is a problem to be fixed. And I no longer choose to label what I have been struggling with as a problem to be fixed.

Goals are not a problem to be fixed.

Life is not a problem to be fixed.

Through all of my conversations with friends, family, and colleagues one idea keeps returning. An idea that encapsulates something bigger; something mysterious; something incapable of being understood, fixed, or controlled.

The seed was planted a couple of weeks ago when I was out in Victoria. And the idea has returned twice more since then, in different conversations, with different people. In fact it came up in three separate conversation with three people who inspire me, who have lived and are living great lives each day, and who I am so grateful to have in my life as mentors.

The idea is this: trees. 

I have been thinking a lot about trees. I've always liked trees. I used to sit outside at my parents’ farm and draw trees when I was younger. I loved having dinners in the field during harvest under the big oak tree at the top of the hill on the home quarter. On my trip to Africa two years ago, out of all of the amazing things I saw, some of the most beautiful were the trees. And there is really nothing better than climbing a tree, or hanging out under a tree with a good book, a drawing pad, or an ipod filled with songs.

I have been trying to understand what it all means, why trees have come up repeatedly in my conversations about goals, and what I can take away from it all. And just this morning I realized I’m doing it again – trying to figure it all out.

I don't really want to understand trees. Trees are that something big. That something mysterious. That something incapable of being understood, fixed, or controlled.

So instead I've decided to write a poem. A tribute to trees.

A Tribute to Trees 

by Danielle Rondeau

Grounded and billowing in the wind.

Taking a stand for time.

Secrets untold.

Weathered and worn, not weary; withstanding life's storms.

Solid, and filled with space.

Deep rooted and wild.

Stretching upward, outward, and deep within.

Source of Life. Air. Shelter. Beauty. Power.

Growing, renewing, and changing.

Swirling experiences ring upon ring.

Dancing playfully.

Telling a story with wisdom and grace.

Strength. Peaceful sage.

Whispering and creaking; leaves rustling in the wind.

Homely and shaded yet open and free.

Supporting. Supported.

Growing, reaching, twisting, inviting.

Enveloping and encapsulating each moment.

Connected and present yet distant and aloof.

Wonder filled darkness.

Untamed creativity and passion.

Tall, bent, fallen, and spikey.

Beacon of inspiration, of hope.

Rough, tough, and rooted.

Majestic and musical.

Young. Aged.

Timeless.

Limitless.

Alive.

xo,

Danielle

 

What's New: Money, BigLaw, NewLaw, and Access to Justice

News I’ve been focusing a lot on personal development as the window to creating a life I love, and in the past few months my posts have reflected this. Although I believe wholeheartedly that living from the inside out has been the key to the happiness I have achieved in the past year, I’ve recently been feeling a little out of the loop when it comes to what’s going on in access to justice and the future of our profession. I haven’t really been keeping up with some issues that I hold dear.

So tonight, with glass of wine in hand… I decided to hit up Twitter to check out what’s trending in #BigLaw, #NewLaw, and #A2J (translation on the last for all you non-tweeters - #A2J = hashtag Access to Justice).

Here’s a recap of what I’ve found.

Things are going to get a little more serious, but first for some fun!

No way…

Life after BigLaw...as a galactic overlord? http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/lawyer-turned-galactic_overlord_leaves_biglaw_and_achieves_online_success/

Little league baseball coach sues his own 14-year old player: http://business.financialpost.com/2014/01/16/little-league-baseball-coach-sues-14-year-old-boy-after-helmet-thrown-in-celebration-severs-achilles-tendon/

Our legal system costs $80,000.00 to figure out who owns a monkey: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/ikea-monkey-mom-hit-with-80000-legal-bill/article16387973/

Legal Design Jam? “A legal design jam is an event where lawyers meet non lawyers and they together work on a legal document to make it over. Massively” http://lawyersareboring.tumblr.com/post/73504523608/what-happens-if-lawyers-meet-information-architects …"#law2025

Want to go to a Legal Design Jam in Milan? http://legaldesignjam.com/2014/01/07/milan/ 

Now for the money talk

Are lawyers who charge more actually getting less? http://www.economist.com/news/business/21594317-lawyers-biggest-customers-are-discovering-they-can-haggle-charging-more-getting-less?utm_content=buffer62bb7&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Is blogging a good way to build your practice? http://tips.slaw.ca/2014/practice/lawyers-to-blog-or-not-to-blog/

9 Ways Firms Find Cash for Partners - at their Great Peril http://www.abajournal.com/legalrebels/article/9_ways_firms_find_cash_for_bonuses--at_their_great_peril/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=daily_rss

How to start your own firm right out of law school: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-i-started-my-own-law-firm-right-after-law-school-2014-1?nr_email_referer=1&utm_source=Triggermail&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Business+Insider+Select&utm_campaign=BI+Select+%28Wednesday+Friday%29+2014-01-10&utm_content=emailshare

And some advice - 12 Most Common Mistakes By New Lawyers: http://www.temple.edu/law/tjstel/2007/spring/v26no1-mather.pdf

The future: BigLaw vs NewLaw

NewLaw NewRules by George Beaton - Looks like an interesting book! http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HCR98I4/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb

What I like to call "How to reframe a BigLaw experience": http://biglawrebel.com/2013/12/30/top-10-skills-from-a-big-law-stint/

Client service will be the great equalizer. http://www.btibuzz.com/buzz/2014/1/14/global-law-firms-change-their-stripes.html?utm_content=buffer1d641&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Is the Law Firm Pyramid Collapsing?  http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/is_the_law_firm_pyramid_collapsing_biglaw_is_aging/

Is Mobile Technology Driving the Law? http://www.lawyersmutualnc.com/blog/is-mobile-technology-driving-the-law

Access to Justice

High Priced Justice - the CBA Access to Justice Report: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/editorials/high-priced-justice/article16193371/

Access to Justice in England - the Low Commission Report:

-  http://legalvoice.org.uk/topstories/legal-aid-commission-calls-on-next-government-for-another-50m-and-to-restore-legal-aid-for-housing/

http://thejusticegap.com/2014/01/low-commission-good-start-will-fly/

The Rechtwijzer justice platform: interesting approach to early resolution of legal problems from the Netherlands: http://www.openlawlab.com/2014/01/16/rechtwijzer-justice-platform/

Many of these articles highlight the unaffordable nature of legal services and the uncertain direction our profession is heading. All of this is not to get you up in a rant about how awful our profession is (although if you feel the need to rant, then by all means rant), or to paint a bleak picture of its future.  

My interest in these topics is just that: this profession is my future. It is our future. We will not survive in it if we do not try to understand its current state (including its shortcomings) and what efforts are being made and can be made to make it better. Awareness is the first step to creating the changes we want to see.

If, despite my good intentions, these articles get you a little stressed out, here are a couple to get you back to #AWESOME.

Stress Reduction

How cultivating focus can reduce stress levels: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mequilibrium/dealing-with-stress_b_4596925.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003

Is there something to that thing called meditation? http://reallifepractice.com/2014/01/the-one-thing-that-changes-everything/

Working out really does give you more time: http://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/work-life-balance-working-out.html?cid=sf01001

How a blind, deaf and arthritic dog taught a family how to incorporate well-being, wisdom and wonder: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-patricia-fitzgerald/pet-adoption_b_4607434.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003

Hope you enjoy getting "up to date" as much I have.

xo,

Danielle

The one change that has changed everything.

Manitoba, sunrise, beautiful, change, lawyers, create, life, love, happiness There is one change that I have made this year that has changed everything.

Although it is something I have been talking about a lot this year, it wasn’t until earlier this week when the profound effect of this change really hit me. It came to me at the strangest time.

I have been really busy at work for the past few months. Last month I even wrote a post about ways to maintain your sanity in times of busyness. While I had been practicing most of the things I had written about, rule #10 - the end date - kept getting pushed back.

I knew at some point there would have to be an end, but as November closed, and I took on December at the same pace, I began to wonder if I was a hypocrite. How could I be writing about maintaining sanity if I couldn’t even play by my own rules?

This internal conflict went on for a few weeks, as I balanced long hours at work with weekly blog posts, Christmas activities, spending some time with those who are important to me, and a year end meet up for TYS. There were moments when I felt I was failing at my own philosophy.

As I tossed and turned in bed this past Monday night drafting affidavits in my head (and then got up at 3:00 a.m. to do just that) I thought, maybe I am wrong. Maybe it really isn’t possible to achieve “balance” in this profession. Maybe if I want to be a great lawyer, I have to accept the fact that I’m going to be a little crazy; that work might get out of control sometimes and I might lose myself and things that are important to me.

And then it hit me.

Work wasn’t “out of control”. I hadn’t lost anything.  Maybe things were a little crazy, but I was enjoying it. I felt alive. I was happy.

I realised that I love getting absorbed in things completely. I choose to let myself get wrapped up in them. I do this in all areas of my life: in my legal work, in my blog, in all other projects I take on, and, more recently, in my relationships. I choose to allow myself to care deeply because that’s when I do my best work. That’s when I make my greatest contribution to whatever I am doing, and to others.

I looked back at my life the same time last year. I was very busy at work. But the feeling was different. While I was mostly enjoying what I was doing, work felt separate from life. It felt like something I "had to" do that was taking away from the time I could spend living.

Now work feels like time I am spending living. Time I am choosing to spend doing something I love.

I will not always choose to make work the part of my life that takes up most of my time, but in the past couple of months I have. And what makes it ok is just that. I chose it.

I now know my priorities. I know what is important to me. There are many reasons why work has been my number one priority these past two months, some extending beyond the actual work itself, to the people I work with and my goals for my own future.

These thoughts flooded my mind as I set out to draft affidavits at three in the morning on Tuesday, and I started giggling uncontrollably. (Those of you who know me well, will not doubt this is true.)

I could have chosen to care less. I could have chosen sleep. (And in fact I have chosen to sleep a lot in the past few days.) But at that moment I was choosing to draft affidavits. 

For some reason this was hilarious to me. That I could be happy at 3:00 a.m. drafting affidavits was a little hard to admit, as I thought, this surely makes me crazy.

But the truth is that it did make me happy. I was happy then, and I am happy now as I catch up on my sleep and spend a relaxing week doing Christmassy things with my family.

Life is all choice.

Whether you choose to be a passive player in your own life, or whether you choose to be fully engaged in creating a life you love. Life is chosen.

Life circumstances and the actions of others may be out of your control. "Things" may just happen. But life does not just happen. It is not “just the way it is”.

The way life is, is the way you see it. And the way you see it, is your choice.

I now choose to see my life as my own to create. That is the greatest change I have made this year.

Sometimes the things I choose may appear a little crazy, but the only thing that matters is that they are consciously chosen by me. I am accepting, and slowly embracing, my own unique craziness. And when I do I love all of it.

If I ask myself honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing about 2013. I wouldn’t go back and take out the crazy. I wish nothing more than to continue to live, and to love, this crazy life that I am creating.

I am looking forward to spending the last week of 2013 surrounded by family, friends, and lots of Christmas cheer. 

I hope 2013 was a year of much happiness and love for all of you. I will see you all in 2014!

Happy Holidays!

xo,

Danielle

2013 Young Lawyer Wrap Up Event Recap

reflection, reflect, 2013, year end, goals, vancouver What an amazing Wednesday night!

I had a great time at TYS Year End Wrap Up at La Casita this week. I am thankful that I was able to spend an evening with such wonderful people!

We shared some delicious Mexican food and margaritas as we looked back over the past year; how we've grown, the things that have changed, the things that we have learned, the things that we have loved, and the people that made it possible. We all had different experiences and everyone had an incredible story to share about life as a young lawyer in 2013.

We each had a chance to reflect on and share with the group the path our career had taken since January. Many of us had made some significant changes as we tried to find our place in a profession that can easily overwhelm and isolate, yet also be profoundly rewarding.

Some had changed firms, some had started their own firms; some had found a practice area they loved; and some had started businesses outside of the law. From first trials, to first time managing our own files or getting our own clients, to first exposure to the business side of law, and first experiences working with an incredible mentor, no experience was the same.

We talked about our personal highlights and favorite moments and shared a lot of laughs. Everyone had ups and downs, and each of us had something valuable to share. And there was no doubt that we had all learned more than we ever thought possible.

What was clear to me was that everyone was finding their way, and that it was so much better to figure it out together.

As for me, I ended the evening on a high. I was inspired and humbled by the stories shared by each and every one of you.

So THANK YOU to everyone of you who came out and shared a little bit about what made 2013 amazing, challenging, and unforgettable. And thank you to each of you out there who has supported me and TYS this year. You guys really are amazing. I know that much of the incredible changes I have made this year would not have been possible without each of you. 

Sometimes my heart is so full of gratitude I think it might burst. I cannot believe my good fortune to be surrounded by so much love and possibility.

I want nothing more than to continue to share ideas, create dreams, and build relationships with each of you in 2014.

Together we can find our way in this profession. Together we can overcome the challenges we face. Together we can move past the losses and share in the victories. Together we can create lives that we love.

So here is me saying a genuine thank you. To all of you.

If you have any reflections you'd like to share about your experiences as a young lawyer in 2013, please send me a message at any time, or share them with all of us in the comments below.

All the best with your year end reflections, and Happy Holidays!

xo,

Danielle

5 Greatest Lessons Learned in 2013

reflection, inspiration, year end, review, reflect As part of my 2013 year end reflections, today I am taking the time to think and write about some of the things I have learned that have changed the way I live.

Learning the following five truths has enabled me to become a better person, a better lawyer, a better writer, a better friend, a better colleague, a better daughter, a better sister, and a better girlfriend. These lessons have enabled me to fall in love with myself and my life, and with an amazing guy who I am so grateful to have in my life. Practicing these lessons has allowed me to create a life that I LOVE, and has given me the gift of being surrounded by people who inspire me on a daily basis to live with love, integrity, and laughter.

So today I wanted to share with you these honest reflections, and my gratitude for these lessons that have enabled me to make some profound changes in 2013.

1.       I am enough

This past year I have become more aware of the expectations I place on myself to be something other than, or “more” than, who I am.

I used to consistently define myself by doing; by achieving things, and crossing items off to-do lists. I would place so many expectations of perfection on myself that no matter how hard I tried, I would never get there. It was never enough. I was never enough.

I admit I still struggle with this from time to time - but more and more I am operating from a place of enough. I am learning that enough is the place from which all life grows. It is the place from which all great achievement starts and all great contribution is made. It is also a pretty amazing place to be.

Unrealistic expectations are easily fostered in our culture, but happiness flows from the inside out, not outside in. Only you can decide if you are enough. Nothing can make you, or what you have, enough. The secret is simply to allow yourself to be enough now.

This vital lesson can be summed up in two simple sentences.

You never get there. You are already there.

2.       Gratitude

Incorporating more expressions of gratitude into my life has been one of the most life saving habits I have created this year. I am much more aware on a daily basis of the many things I have to be grateful for than I was at the beginning of the year, and I have seen the profound effect this awareness has had on my overall well being.  

Taking a moment at the end of the day to write out a few things that I am grateful for allows me to step back from the busyness of my day and gain perspective on what's important in my life. Acknowledging for a moment how fortunate I am allows me to go to bed with my mind at peace with what is. 

Reflecting on those little moments from the day that made me smile also enables me to learn what truly makes me happy so that I can incorporate more of those moments into my life. Through this I have learned that those moments for me are moments of connection; moments I share a laugh or exchange a smile with someone, moments where I am able to brighten someone's day.

Expressing gratitude is incredibly powerful and I am so grateful for its presence in my life.

3.       Connection

Real connection. No games. No pretending. No masks of who you think you should be or who you think others want you to be.

Real connection is why we are here. Its what makes life worthwhile.

At the beginning of this year connection was something that I thought I had figured out. I thought I was pretty good at it. But as I began experimenting in search of what was missing in my life, I realised that to a large extent, it was connection. Real connection.

I realised that although I had all kinds of relationships in my life, I was often connecting in them on a superficial level. I rarely allowed the relationship to scratch below the surface. I couldn't bear to let others see the entire me. It was too real. But that's just it. It has to scratch below the surface to mean anything. That's when connection counts. That's when life moves to a new level.

Connection on a new level has been one of the most (if not the most) important changes I have made this year. It has reduced my stress levels; helped me to stop catastrophizing; increased my confidence, happiness, and my overall well being; opened up new opportunities; and has been key to finding that “something is missing” in my life.

4.       The common element: LOVE

These above three lessons have a common element. They have a shared current that gives them power. And that is love.

I am enough encompasses self love and love of what is. It means loving who you are and your current circumstances despite there being imperfections, changes you would like to make, and goals you would like to attain.

Gratitude encompasses the expression of love for others, for ourselves, for our circumstances and for our surroundings. It means feeling and expressing love for all that we have and everything we are able to give, receive and experience.

Connection encompasses love experienced with others. It is not restricted to romantic love, or familial love. I feel love for others in all aspects of my life, work included. It also encompasses connection with others through a common passion or love of something.

I bring LOVE into my life a million times more than I ever have before. I bring love to my each of my relationships, and I try to bring love into each of my actions. I even bring love into my work, which previously I believed was impossible.

To feel love in all areas of my life is a pretty amazing thing, and it is something I am no longer willing to live without.

5.       The common cause: vulnerability

All of these above lessons have a common cause, a common enabler. And that is vulnerability.

Vulnerability is essential to well being. It is the heart. It is the core of everything real and meaningful. It can be uncomfortable, but it is worth every minute. In order to love ourselves, express gratitude, and connect meaningfully with others we must be vulnerable. There is no other way.

This year I realized that there was a huge part of me that I had been hiding. I had surrounded myself with so many walls and I was terrified to be open. I refused to allow myself to be vulnerable with anyone.

As I gained courage to allow myself to be seen, I gained an increased capacity for love in all areas of my life and an appreciation of the power of vulnerability. I’ve come to believe that all of the changes I have made this year are as a result of just that: the courage to be vulnerable; to allow myself to be seen.

I’ve also come to believe that vulnerability is what true courage means. As Brene Brown has expressed, "Courage, the original definition of courage, when it first came into the English language -- it's from the Latin word cor, meaning heart -- and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.”

This quote sums up the core of the lessons I have learned in 2013: courage to be; courage to love; and courage to bring love into everything that I do. And it is with this new found courage that I intend to grow my life in 2014.

Live from LOVE and a life you LOVE will come to you.

xo,

Danielle

A Minute of Inspiration

inspired, inspiring, inspire, love, life, passion, excited Last night I was out at a Liberal Party of Canada fundraiser celebration of Hedy Fry's 20th anniversary of her election as MP for Vancouver Centre. I had never been to a Liberal Party event before and didn't really know what to expect. Honestly, I decided to go mainly to support my boyfriend, who is an active member, and to see what it was all about. I tried to clear my mind of all judgments and expectations (like it would be stuffy...and boring... and I wouldn't know anyone...). And I must have succeeded because this is what happened.

I was inspired.

Hedy Fry is an amazing woman who rightly deserves to be celebrated.

I was inspired by her passion and her love of life that shone through across the room. And I was blown away by the dedication she had inspired in the few hundred people who had gathered in her honour, and no doubt in thousands more who could only attend in spirit.

The night itself was great, with enjoyable music and entertainment. Yet for me, it served as a much more powerful reminder.

I was reminded that for anything great to happen we must allow ourselves to be inspired and we must act on that inspiration. Regardless of how fearful we are of putting ourselves out there, we must lean into it.

So today I am going to share with you the words that I was inspired to write when I got home last night.  And they are this:

All it takes is a minute of inspiration. An idea. I stroke of passion, a burst of confidence, of hope. The belief that you really can make a difference. That your actions really do matter. You matter.

What you do really does matter.

Of course it does.

We don't often realize the power of an idea, a word, a laugh, a smile, a feeling.

These moments are all around us if only we allowed ourselves to be moved by them. To be open. To be vulnerable. To feel a little more passionately.

Allow yourself to believe in what you believe in. Allow yourself to hope for what you hope for.

If you love something truly love it. If you love someone truly love them. That's where true courage lies. That's where true power lies.

In you.

Allow yourself to feel. Allow yourself to believe. Allow yourself to lean into the amazingness of being human because that's the only way anything meaningful happens.

That's the only way meaningful work happens. The only way meaningful connection happens. The only way meaningful change happens.

It's the only way you will contribute to this world all that you have to offer. And it's the only way you will love each moment of each day that you are given.

Don't try and tell me that what I'm saying doesn't apply to lawyers. Of course it does. Think about the last time you felt strongly about something. The last time you were excited. Passionate.

Think about the last time you were unstoppable.

Allow yourself to consider it. Allow yourself to believe in it.  Just for a moment.

Lawyers can live amazing lives.

Each of us can make a difference. And together we can create the changes we only catch a glimpse of in our wildest dreams.

Together we can create it. Together we can become, the future of our profession.

All it takes is a minute of inspiration.

xo,

Danielle

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Interview with Andy Clark Founder of Wellness Lawyer

health life law lawyer wellness well being love happiness Today I am writing a piece about a fellow lawyer, a fellow activist for the well being of lawyers, and someone who inspires me to continue to speak out about these issues, in the face of resistance and the response that it is impossible. Last Tuesday I had the privilege of Skyping with Andy Clark, a Canadian lawyer from New Brunswick, who, after practicing corporate law for 12 years, now devotes his time to helping lawyers everywhere to, in his words, create an extraordinary career within an extraordinary life. (How did you guess I would be excited about this!?)

Who is Andy Clark?

Andy is the founder of Wellness Lawyer. He writes a blog under that pen at www.WellnessLawyer.com. He is also a coach and speaker, and offers programs specifically designed to help lawyers create their ideal lives in this profession. Check out the Wellness Lawyer philosophy here and the two principles that underlie Andy’s definition of wellness here.

How Wellness Lawyer started

Andy believes the predominant paradigm of health in our country is broken. Our heath care budget is through the roof, he told me, and you would think that would mean we would be getting healthier as a society, but we aren’t. It’s treatment focused rather than prevention focused, and it doesn’t work.

Andy took this belief, and all the knowledge he had accumulated through his research, and applied a prevention focused approach to wellness in his own life. He was practicing at a large regional firm in Fredericton at the time and as he began to see benefits in his own life he also began to see that other lawyers around him could benefit from the application of this new approach to wellness in their own lives.

He needed a forum to get his message out, so he decided to start a blog. He began writing about the importance of incorporating wellness into each aspect of your life and of doing some forward planning in each of those areas so that no aspect gets neglected. Rather than work life balance, his writing focuses on holistic integration.

The feedback he received was good. He began getting requests to speak at CBA events and law schools. He began coaching individual lawyers to help them develop and apply their own personal wellness strategies. (Which Wellness Lawyer still offers! Check it out here.) Andy also recently completed a book on the compelling business rationale for lawyers to adopt a wellness lifestyle. It is called Lawyer Wellness Is Not an Oxymoron: Why tomorrow’s top lawyers must embrace wellness today—and what you need to do to be one of them, and it compiles all of his amazing wellness knowledge conveniently into one place.  The book will be released in early November, and you can find out more about it here.

The importance of the message “Be Well”

To me the success of Andy’s endeavors came as no surprise because his message is vitally important.  It isn’t something we are taught as lawyers: how to plan for our own happiness and health. We are taught how to make our clients happy, but not how to make ourselves happy. We are told there are places to turn to when we hit our breaking point of unhappiness, but are offered few tools to prevent things from going bad in the first place.

As Andy explained, not only are we not taught how to plan for our own wellness, we also are not taught the importance of planning for our own wellness. What we are taught is to self-sacrifice for our jobs and our clients regularly, and to blow off commitments to ourselves and others in our lives in the name of work. We are taught that planning for our own well being is time spent, when in reality, Andy explained, it is time well invested.

This investment is something that, Andy argues, is becoming more and more important for lawyers to make. As our profession changes to meet client’s demands for efficiency and reduced costs, the high value placed on billing hours will decrease. What will be valued above all is effectiveness. And the only way to function most effectively as a lawyer is to be well. Investing in your own wellness therefore does not detract from time you could be spending building your career, Andy explained, it enhances your career outcome.

So how do we do it? How do we “Be Well”?

Once we are convinced of the value of investing in our own well being, the million dollar question becomes - how do we actually go about doing it? Do we hire a trainer and a nutritionist? Do we book a vacation? Do we go to bed an hour earlier? Do we take up a hobby we are passionate about? If you ask around, you will likely get a different answer from everyone you ask. So what is it that will make us well?

The great thing is Andy has the answer. Well, not the direct answer to your question, but the answer to where to go to enable you to answer the question for yourself.

Andy had been looking for an effective tool to assist him and other lawyers to incorporate wellness into their lives - and that is exactly what he found when he attended Life Book. You can read more about his experience here. Life Book gives you the opportunity to go through each of the 12 different areas of your own life, Andy explained, to get really clear on your vision for each area, and to make a plan for getting there, before putting it all back together in the end.

The main reason Andy immediately thought the Life Book Program would be perfect for lawyers is because it is practical.  “It breaks down that big thing that is life,” Andy told me, “and it is set up the way lawyers think.”  Life Book approaches life similar to the way a corporate lawyer would approach a large transaction or a litigator would approach a trial, Andy explained. You visualize the end, you break it down into manageable pieces, and you create a roadmap for getting there.

Andy’s enthusiasm for Life Book caught the attention of its founder, and together they have collaborated to create a Life Book life-enhancement program specifically tailored for lawyers. Lifebook for Lawyers. Pretty amazing, right!? Find out more about what the program offers here.

I am so grateful to have met Andy, and for all that he is doing to help lawyers live happier and healthier lives and I am looking forward to my own experience at Lifebook for Lawyers in the near future.

So I hope you will check out the Wellness Lawyer and everything he is up to – I bet you will find something there that is of value for you too!

And as Andy would say - be well!

xo,

Danielle

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