In August of 2008, I resigned from the contract position. My only child was about to enter kindergarten, and the commute to the firm was no longer viable given its proximity to her school. More importantly, I was beyond professional burnout. In fact, I had reached a state of apathy with the practice of law. New cases no longer intrigued me. Meeting with clients and witnesses had become as stale as old bread. Going to court and taking depositions were activities I found completely aggravating instead of exciting. When I left this firm I knew it would be my last foray into the private practice of law.
When the economy crashed a few months later, I was consumed with guilt about having quit my job. I could not have picked a worse time to go without income, although my husband, thankfully, had a stable, high-paying position and I had adequate savings. We were never in danger of losing our home or anything else of significance. Nonetheless, I felt as if I had bailed out on my profession at the wrong time. A few friends and family members echoed this concern, adding to my angst.
Whenever I found myself spiraling down emotionally, I reached for books and magazines that I thought could pull me back from the brink of depression. I took to heart anything that mentioned taking risks in life, following your dreams and pursuing your passions. One particularly profound statement came from Bahram Akradi, the Founder and CEO of Lifetime Fitness gyms. In the April 2008 issue of Experience Life magazine, Akradi shares the following:
“Sometimes, despite our best thinking and most earnest efforts to make something happen, it just doesn’t come together. We can’t always know why. Maybe it’s the karma or divine plan of life, maybe it’s some internal wisdom telling us our energy is better spent elsewhere. Whatever it is, when we encounter immutable forces that put the kibosh on our big plans, I think it can be a sign that it’s time to regroup and, as the brilliant Byron Katie suggests, cease our ill-fated ‘arguing with reality.’ This doesn’t mean we should give up on our dreams. It just means we should be willing to take a moment to rest, rethink and then recommence our efforts with a different energy, a different consciousness or a different sort of plan. One that sets our heart racing all over again.” [Experience Life, April 2008, Letter from the Founder, p. 10]
I also frequently reminded myself of that time-honored phrase, “do what you love and the money will come.”
Inspired by such writings and thoughts, I started writing my first book, a primer for law and college students which outlines the downsides to working in a law firm. That book, entitled “Firm Conviction: A Case Against the Private Practice of Law,” was published and is now available on www.amazon.com. I also started writing three other books, all novels.
The struggle to reinvent myself still requires encouragement from outside sources, but now, the outside sources influence me in a much more positive way. I thrive, for example, on comments from others like actress Bonnie Hunt, featured in the February 2009 issue of MORE magazine, that “You can go the route of the what-ifs and why-nots, or you can say, my life is exactly as it’s supposed to be.” Her comment mirrored the acknowledgement from Mr. Akradi that life does not always go according to our intentions or best-laid plans, and while we can obsess about why something bad happened to us, we can also decide to view it as all part of one’s divine plan to become something more, something better. For years I had deluded myself into believing that playing lawyer was my destiny. When circumstances beyond my control shattered that belief, I felt screwed, lost and hopeless. Yet what I thought was a mid-life crisis was actually a mid-life epiphany. Had that client not forced me out of what I thought was my life plan, I never would have achieved my dream of becoming an author.
I have always been a late bloomer. I married at age 38. I had my only child at age 42. When my brain recalls these late life events, I retrieve a past copy of MORE, find the “FAME AFTER FORTY” page and re-read it. It gives me hope and reassurance that I am on the right track.