By Johanna Thibault
As attorneys, and especially as military spouses, we are particularly prone to creating a life full of “busy-ness”. It seems we are in a perpetual mode of fighting for our career and/or defining our self worth. For those of us that are full-time attorneys we work ourselves to the bone because it’s not just a matter of doing a good job – it’s that we need to be impressionable in that way that someone moving every couple of years needs to be in order to continue having a successful career. For the other full-timers, we might be overworking ourselves to make that decision to live separately from our spouses worth it.
Then there are those military spouse attorneys in the position where I find myself now. We chose our families over our careers and then found that securing that legal position was so much more challenging than we ever imagined while we relocate overseas or move across the country. As a result, we reach for everything we can to define ourselves and release the guilt that goes along with walking away from the legal education and career we worked so hard for. Simply put, I have completely forgotten how to say “no”; I have strived to continue my career for so long I’m scared to deny any and every opportunity presented to me. The result is that I now have five part-time jobs, a seat on board of a non-profit bar association, and a coaching position for my son’s soccer team, meanwhile running the household with two young boys and several furry friends (because my husband has a demanding job as an attorney as well).
I managed to create such a mania of busy-ness that I was in a perpetual state of feeling overwhelmed. Can you relate? I know that most of you can because this is a common conversation I have with so many of my friends. Quite frankly, we need to get ahold of ourselves and conquer this ridiculous state of mind or we might just kill ourselves in the process.
After years of being in this mode, it became pretty clear to me that I wasn’t very good at slowing myself down. I’m guessing many of you are the same way. It’s in our blood to push hard and to carry guilt for taking a break or “wasting” a day. This state of mind is incredibly unfair, and I made the decision that it was time for me to embrace the busy-ness and no longer let it own me this way.
The power of suggestion is a beautiful thing. What I quickly realized was that the feeling of being overwhelmed really was a “state of mind”, which meant that I needed to accept that my life was full rather than busy. The biggest change I made was to no longer talk about my busy-ness or to mention to anyone that I was tired. These conversations are quite frankly wasting precious time as it was literally stating the obvious. We are all tired and everyone can easily see how busy we are. Why do we need to give it more attention by talking about it?
That wonderful mind we have trained so diligently is very capable of doing all of the things we have signed up for. We made these choices because we knew we could handle it – of course we can!
For the first time in many, MANY years, I feel calm and focused. The only change in my day is that I don’t obsess about the busy-ness anymore. My five part-time jobs are still keeping me up until midnight, I still have to make lunches and care for my boys, and the furry buddies need constant attention. Don’t get me started on dinners and cleaning the house. What you won’t hear me say anymore though is that I’m “busy”. I’m not “busy”. I am just living my life; the life that I have created for myself.
Here is the small piece of advice I would like to leave for all of you. Embrace the busy-ness and feel the power of suggestion. Challenge yourself to remove any verbal acknowledgement of being tired or busy. Not only will you start to feel different instantly, but you will also notice how often others in your life say these things to you.
Give yourself permission to slow down. You can do it, I promise. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, feel enabled by the super powers you possess that allow you to conquer your day and all of its challenges.