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Dial down the intensity


I have been told by my husband that I like to fill my free time with events. He is right. I impulsively schedule meet-ups and play dates when I have any shred of energy or desire to do so. I enjoy it, but I rarely take time to recharge with my unscheduled time.

I have learned the last 15 months that I have to dial down the intensity of my enthusiasm. January 2012 is when the pain from my back kicked in. For most of my life I have dealt with back pain.  I know it's not just the physical structure of my spine that creates problems; I add my own level of trauma by wanting to go go go.

I didn't dial down the intensity until after graduation. If I had, I would have graduated late. Truth be told, taking the bar exam 2 months after a spinal decompression may not be turning it down either. I felt like I did; I put myself and family before studying but I probably put myself second.

As I continue month by month until now, I still need to work on dialing down the intensity. I'm ramping up to start my practice again, but I've made a lot of changes since last September. Today, I talked with three attorneys about my business ideas over coffee, lunch and an afternoon break. Then I couldn't stop the hamster from running about it all day; not putting anything on paper, only playing out different scenarios in my head.

At 4:00 today, I felt a tension headache coming on. No surprise, I had been on the go since 5:00a.m. with six hours of sleep. I left work and tried to dial it down. If I didn't, I was going to end up with a migraine. I listened to NPR on the radio and changed into sweats before picking up Graham.

I was still working on relaxing my mind as I walked into Graham's school. I consistently find myself enjoying the walk down the hallways. I smile as I see the little snow boots by kid's lockers and each child's name on their locker door. I peek in a room window as I pass by and mentally thank the teachers for dedicating their lives to the world's children.

I got to Graham's locker and mindfully opened the door. I gently pulled out his bag and coat. Uncovered the lion stocking hat that he has worn for two years, but won't fit into next year. And I found a vented pocket in his backpack for his wool mittens, still wet from playing in the snow at recess. I slowly closed the door and at the same time I thanked God that I was blessed to be there. In that moment, I was thankful for what I just did and for what I was about to do - meet Graham in his classroom, get a hug that nearly knocks me over, hold his hand and take him home.

That is where my "intensity" needs to go in that moment, at that time. Into loving and appreciating all my blessings and putting my focus there. When I get busy, I quickly take for granted what I have. As I closed Graham's locker, I thought of all the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting. The fact that those parents would give everything to be where I was.  On the day of the shooting, every parent held their child closer and were grateful their child was safe.  In day to day living, we don't give it much thought.

I don't think parents need to guilt themselves into giving every ounce of their time and energy to their child, but often parents who work full-time parent in their free time.  For me, I want to be mindful to conserve fuel during the day so I can be present physically and mentally for my child when I get home.

I don't want to be talking with my child after school while thinking of the last case I read for work. Or too tired from working that day that the only personal time with my child is next to him watching TV. Sure, both happen. It's human nature, but for me, I want it to happen less.

I want to spend my time on what matters most to me. Each part of my life includes important things, including work. If my work wasn't important, I wouldn't have subjected myself to the last four years of hazing, er, academic preparation. What is incredibly challenging is to keep focused on what is important. And not wait for a tragedy to remind me of it. To then later lose focus and repeat the cycle.

My intent moving forward after the bar exam is to find the right level of intensity to stay true to myself and God's plan for me. An important component of this is noticing the external forces that make me want to dial it up which pulls my focus away from my true self.

So I am going to keep an eye and my hand on my dial.

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