BACKGROUND

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Step by Step

I have about four days before I get back on the treadmill of school. I will be taking two classes over the summer. I can't believe I am about halfway through my M.A. already. One thing I have been thinking about recently is how far you can get just by doing something a little bit each day. School is an example of this in that if you just keep taking a class here and there, you will eventually find yourself with a degree and you won't even know quite how you got through all those classes and credits. You just do it.

This concept applies to a number of things in life. We are often told to look at the big picture and that can be helpful, but if you have a project that seems insurmountable, take it one step at a time. Thinking about the big picture will scare you. Think instead of what you must accomplish today, this week, this month. That is all you need to deal with. That one step at a time thinking will get you a degree, significant weight loss, and anything else you want in life.

So often, people think they have to do everything right now. Well, you don't. Time is on your side and it's never too late to be who you might have been. I went to law school with people in their 50s. Do you think they thought "It's too late. I'm 55, I'll never be able to finish law school?" Nope, they took the plunge. The water may be icy at first, but you get used to it and before you know it, you are swimming to that far point that you never thought you'd get to.

Nike is on to something with their ubiquitous advertisement of JUST DO IT! Honestly, that is all it takes. Wake up one morning and sign up for one class, one gym, one volunteer committee. Untangle your goals one strand at a time. You'll be surprised at how quickly you'll find yourself on a smooth path, ready to face the next task.

A wonderful example of this is Betty Ann Waters. Her brother, Kenny Waters, was convicted in 1983 of murdering a woman by beating and stabbing her to death during a robbery in 1980. His sister, Betty Ann, knew that he was innocent. Her mother, a nurse's assistant, spent what little savings the family had on expensive legal appeals with no results. So his sister decided she would just do it. A high school drop out and unemployed single mother of two children, Betty earned her GED, enrolled in college, earned a bachelor's degree and graduated from law school. She did it all through 16 long years of studying by day and waitressing/bartending by night.

Her tenacity didn't stop with her education. She hounded the clerk at the courthouse and learned that a box of evidence from her brother's case was in the basement and inside that box was blood evidence from the crime scene. Criminal investigatory techniques had come a long way since the 80s and perhaps the most important innovation was DNA testing.

Betty Ann enlisted the help of the Innocence Project, a group that helps inmates challenge convictions with DNA evidence. The material was tested and her brother was not a match. This meant that after 22 years in prison, he was a free man. Why? Because his sister took it one step at a time and had the patience and tenacity to keep doing a little bit each day until the final goal was met - her brother walking out of prison a free man.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Up, Up, and Awake

So here I am awake at 1:42 a.m. I haven't been able to get back on a regular sleeping schedule in the last couple of weeks and I'm giving up on it for the moment.

I've been working on a divorce decree tonight and by so doing I have been assured, once again, that getting out of family law and into counseling is the best possible decision for me. I didn't mind family law when I was first starting out as an attorney, but now four years into the profession, I just can't see it as a lifelong thing. I am too practical and fair a person to deal with people in this field. Practical and fair don't blend with divorce because emotions run high and people want revenge, which automatically makes them impractical and unfair. Revenge is not a good motive for anything, it never ends well for anyone.

Still, I enjoy the law because there is so much you can do with it to assist people in getting a fair and reasonable outcome for their particular situation. I will always keep my law license active because every once in awhile, I come across people who just need to extricate themselves from an unfortunate situation with relatives, spouses, etc. I am happy to help those people get what they need. Those who want revenge though? They're on their own.

All that said, I am very much looking forward to turning the bulk of my attention to counseling. That is where I feel I can make a real difference for people. It's very rewarding to help someone reclaim their power and move forward to a more productive, fulfilling life. I'm excited about being a part of that process. I am almost halfway through my counseling program so it will be another year before I can start working in the field (outside of the practicums I have to do as part of the classes I take). If my previous stints in school are any indication, that year will fly by and I will be in the trenches before I know it!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Before 5 a.m.

So the other night, I went to bed really late - about 2 a.m. I was in the guest room because Dear Husband is a big time snorer and I need my rest. I usually start out with him in our bedroom and then move to the guest room when he's asleep since he falls asleep fast and I don't.

Anyway, Peanut and I were getting settled when my foot touched the bottom of the bed and it was wet. Upon investigation, I saw that Peanut had peed on the bed. She never does that! She's been house broken for a very long time now. I think it was my fault because when we went into the guest room, she didn't want to get on the bed and I finally made her do so. I think she was trying to tell me she needed to go out. Usually, she will whine and/or quietly growl if she needs to go out so I completely missed the signal.

So I got up, stripped the bed and began washing the sheets. It took about three hours to wash the mattress cover, sheets, and comforter. I was up until shortly after 5 a.m. It's amazing what you can do when you're awake in the early morning hours:

1. Make a music CD for a friend.
2. Answer e-mail.
3. Post on message boards.
4. Eat a Popsicle.
5. Contemplate finances and think about how to make money.
6. Organize job listings.
7. Clean up the kitchen, do some dishes.
8. Play Facebook games.
9. Contemplate the weirdness of people (this one takes up a lot of time).

I don't recommend that anyone stay up all night on a regular basis, but if you have to for some reason, there's a lot you can get done. :)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Goings On

It's been a busy time for me ever since mid-April. I've been traveling a lot and have had a great deal of work to do with school. I was laid off from my job on April 8 so in the midst of everything else, I've also been job searching. I loved the job and the people I worked with and they seemed to feel the same way about me. I was taken to lunch on my last day and given some great compliments by my boss, so that helped soften the blow. The economy just stinks for everyone.

The weekend of April 25th, Dear Husband and I traveled to San Antonio for Fiesta and then the next weekend I drove to Victoria for class on Saturday. The weekend after that, I flew to San Antonio on Friday, my dad drove me to class on Saturday, and we returned to San Antonio that afternoon and attended a play that evening. It was Angel Street and was an excellent production! Sunday found us at the movies watching Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, which was really cute and worth seeing. Monday we had a nice lunch before I headed home on the plane at 5 p.m.

I am really glad to have this weekend off from doing anything. I will take the dogs to the park on Saturday and just enjoy my free weekend. More travel is in my immediate future though as my BFF, Britt, (of Swimming with Dolphins) and I are going to Las Vegas in June! I am very excited to see her and have fun hanging out in Sin City. And if you're wondering how vacationing is possible when one is unemployed, it's simple - Britt and I are both pretty good about planning stuff on the cheap seeing as how we've both been students since Socrates was alive. Viva Las Vegas!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Finality

I really need to get some things done this week. I need to finish two psychological reports and my final exam (take home) by Friday morning. That way, I can fly to San Antonio on Friday afternoon without worrying about all that work. I am spending the weekend with my dad. He will drive me to class on Saturday in Victoria while I sleep in the car. It's my last class of the semester and I am SO glad. That drive was getting to be a real drag. It will be nice to have my weekends back.

In the midst of trying to get this stuff done, I will be doing some other things as well including meeting my friend, Farah, to help her out with some law stuff. It's rough being a new attorney and I remember those days well. She asked me to help her get her feet on the ground in the whole law arena and I am happy to do it. It's scary being a new lawyer because you get very little help from anyone. You are pretty much thrown to the wolves unless you are lucky enough to work in a firm with a great mentor or you know an attorney who can show you the ropes.

I did our grocery shopping tonight and made a dinner with enough leftovers to provide lunch for me tomorrow so I can sit at my laptop all day and complete my reports. Taking a deep breath...OK, let's do this!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Roughing It

It was a rough day today. I didn't sleep well last night. In fact, I haven't slept well for the last few weeks so I was exhausted this morning when I got up at 6:30 a.m. to make the 155-mile drive to Victoria. Unfortunately, the exhaustion caused a headache so that just added to the difficulty. I was listening to a book on tape that I was really getting into, only to discover that the third of the four tapes was missing. Sigh. I made it to class though and gave my presentation, which went really well.

The drive back was really tough though. I was SO tired and despite having taken two Extra Strength Tylenol during class, the headache stayed with me. About 60 miles into the drive back, I pulled over into a gas station/mini mart parking lot and took a 20 minute nap. It helped A LOT! I was sweating like a pig when I got up since the heat and humidity is working up to full force these days and will be at its peak in the summer. Unfortunately, I was still tired (but not too tired to drive) and the headache was still with me so by the time I made it home, I was once again exhausted and in pain.

I went to bed and took a two-hour nap. I felt better when I woke up, but the headache was still there. I took two Aleve, Dear Husband made me some soup, and I had some sweet tea. That combination of things did the trick! I feel a lot better now, but I need to go to bed and get some more sleep. Tomorrow I should be 100% once again.