As we move closer to the finish line for 2020, our faithful correspondent Nina Flax of Mayer Brown is back with an uplifting “list” to focus on some of the positives she’s experienced (here’s our last list from Nina):
It has been a while since I have written a list. I have, as I am sure many of you have, struggled with COVID and WFH. Every day, there is something new, ridiculous, sad, frustrating, amazing to add to the items that elicit an “it’s 2020!” response. Despite having been stuck on I-80 with my son in the car exactly when the LNU Lightning Complex jumped the highway and shut down traffic (perhaps the subject of a future list), I am extremely grateful today that I have literally and figuratively found my way through the impending wall of smoke to find these things:
Dinner with my son. My son eats dinner at 5pm, if even that late some days. I cannot explain it other than that is when he is hungry, so that is when he eats because we prefer him to not be hangry. Before WFH, I very rarely made it home in time to actually eat dinner together. I have made it a point to try to do that almost every day – force myself to take the 30 minute break to have that time. Sometimes we talk about high/lows, sometimes we go around saying something we are grateful for, sometimes we take turns doing mad-lib style storytelling, mostly we just sit down and laugh about something. I have never been happier. (Except for one day I remember before child where I never got out of bed and slept for about 12 hours in between watching TV?)
More movement. Before WFH, my close colleague and I would take breaks from sitting at our desks and walk in circles around our office building to talk through legal issues – conceptual or drafting – it really helped. With WFH, air permitting, you will frequently find me walking up and down my driveway while on calls. Moving helps me focus. Moving helps me process. Moving helps me be creative – professionally and personally.
Appreciativeness. Not grand gratefulness in a trendy mindfulness way. Being away from people has made me appreciate people more. And miss them. Before, I would go out of my way to write a holiday time card to each colleague that I had worked with or collaborated with over the year that I valued. Very personalized, very intentional. Now, I go out of my way to say thank you for the small things. Thank you for responding so quickly. Thank you for taking my call. Thank you for the follow up. Thank you for taking the lead. Thank you for your collaboration. This of course also applies to my personal life. Thank you for always being there for me. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Thank you for going to the grocery store. Thank you for getting the ridiculously howling dog to stop howling. Thank you for organizing this friends call. Thank you for passing along this interesting article. Thank you for the book suggestion. Thank you for checking in on my parents. Thank you for scheduling this outside, socially distanced playdate. Thank you for being you.
Knitting and Other Old Loves. This is more of a re-found. I picked up knitting in law school, but for whatever reason I stopped knitting before I met my husband. In the COVID-induced cleaning and house reorganizing, I re-discovered my needles. Then I found a great store, took my son and he picked out three colors. Side note: It was an amazing moment of pride that he picked colors that completely epitomize South Florida – citrus (bright yellow), tangerine (bright orange) and electric (a bright aqua). Second side note: I love the way that people name colors. My husband and I used to play a game where I would try to guess the name of a color (and often came pretty close). Back to the knitting point, my son now has a fantastic hat and matching cowl (if I do say so myself, but really, others have said so too). I am working on matching mittens and looking forward to giving knitted gifts to many in the coming months. For other old loves, I have picked up drawing and painting again in a way that I have not enjoyed since I first went to college intending to major in art and minor in chemistry (no, I have no idea what I was thinking back then; yes, I do know how I ended up here).
New Curiosities. There are many reasons that through this year I have felt more drawn to nature. I have been making fun informational cards about leaves, shells, flies and bees for my son. I have a list of nature books (of course, as an Amazon list) that I want to read. I have a nature journal. I have a stack of articles and studies from an amazingly supportive friend who has always been intensely focused on sustainability. I watched My Octopus Teacher as soon as I could and cried. I am feeling inspired.
I think I will pull that last sentence down to here – I am feeling inspired. In the face of all of the negative from 2020, my inspiration enables me to laugh that it snowed chocolate in Olten, to hug my husband, son and dogs enough to make up for all of the other hugs I am missing out on (I am a hugger), to deal with frustrations in different ways, to drive initiatives I feel strongly about, to focus on kindness and caring, to not compromise on expectations, to accept whatever may happen, to know that I can make a change, to know that I will survive. Maybe resiliency that I read so much about in the context of children is really about inspiration?
**End note: I promise that this time has not been all positive for me. There have been very hard negatives. Without those, I would not be here now. I am sure I will face negatives in the future. I am hoping this time helps me meet those challenges more adeptly, with stronger mental health. I hope the same for all of you.
-Liz Dunshee, TheCorporateCounsel.net December 16, 2020
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