Monday, December 14, 2015

One Courthouse Down; One to Go

Today was the first Christmas cookie delivery of the season.  150 dozen cookies handed in out in just over an hour at one of the courthouses at which I practice.  Yes, I make them all, with a little help from my elves.  Next weekend, I make another 75 dozen or so for my other courthouse.  It's really a huge job.  Part of it involves my sitting in my kitchen alone, making batch after batch of dough after a long day of work.  At times, it's tedious and it's lonely.  For the last three years, I have come down with a huge case of the flu after cookies are done.  There have been times when I wonder why I do it.  I considered stopping the tradition because it is just so much darn work.  I've come up with quite a few reasons why I shouldn't.  They're quite pertinent to the Trenches, so I thought I'd share them.
1.  I get to watch hours of my favorite Christmas movies.  I love the darn things, and otherwise, I could never justify watch "Christmas Vacation" six times in a year.
2.  I spend time with my friends and their daughters, and my daughter.  What great bonding time for all of us, and a great tradition.  We have fun, doing nothing more serious than counting minutes in the oven.
3.  I love seeing everyone at the courthouses.  I don't try a lot of my cases because I have a talent for settling them.  As a result, I don't see all the people at the courthouse who I've known for 20 years very often.  When I do, I don't get much time to visit with them.  Except at Christmas cookie time.  Then, I see them all and I spend a few minutes with everyone.
4.  I love making everyone so happy.  Christmas cookie time is the one time everyone is happy to see  me.  They all have their favorite cookies, and they love to tell me which one.  I try to remember from year to year.  Word goes through the courthouse when I arrive with all the baskets of cookies, and they expect me and follow me down the halls.
5.  The people I give cookies to have known me for a long time.  They were nice to me when I made mistakes in my younger days.  They deal with not so nice members of my profession and the general public, and yet they remain calm and cool.  They have a lot of balls in the air and make relatively few mistakes.  They are underpaid and overworked, and very few people appreciate all that they do.  One time a year, I like them to know I do.  Not for any reason but to tell them.

All of that is why I decided to change things up a bit.  I made the dough for three of the types of cookies ahead and froze it.  I made another of the cookies over the course of a week after work.  This year, the first round of cookies were finished a day early, and I actually got to bed before midnight.  My throat's a little scratchy, but I'm doing relatively well.  Keep your fingers crossed.  I think I found my work around.

What does all this have to do with the Trenches?  Life is all about choices.  A lot of life is tough, and yes, divorce is one of those things that is hard.  Especially at the holidays, it's really easy to focus on what is missing.  I admit, a lot is probably missing.  In fact, I would hazard a guess that almost everything is different.  That's sad and probably fairly lonely.  I know, it's not easy.  Remember, I've been there.  You can focus on what is different.  You can focus on how your traditions have changed.  You can see only how life isn't what it was.

 I'll let you wallow in that for a while, but I guess at some point, you'll get tired of it.  At least, I hope you do.  That's when you have a choice.  You can continue to rue what you lost.  Or, you can focus, not on the things you used to do, but why you loved them.   The point is to take some time and look deeply into what makes the holidays special to you.  What is it about the lost traditions that you miss?  Why?  Write it down.  Think about how else you can meet that need in you.  You like Christmas trees?  Reinvent the tradition, and get a fake one instead of real, maybe in silver?  You love the carols?  Join a choir.  You love the Hannukah food?  Make donuts instead of latkes. Life is full of changes.  Many of them are difficult and painful; divorce is one of them.  How you deal with those changes is up to you.  Do you stop doing the things you love because they're hard, or do you find ways to keep the joy?  Here in the Trenches.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Why Hire a Professional?

Oh my heavens! It's been a month since I posted.  For both of you who read the blog, I'm sorry I was gone without even a little explanation.  Honestly, I don't have one.  Life just got in the way of blogging.

I worked out with Daughter for the first time in a while.  She's been busy too.  As you know, she has been training me online for well over a year, even though she now lives in town (and for the time being, with me).  Because I'm what Gretchen Rubin calls an Upholder (to find out what you are, take the quiz here), I work out hard without anyone standing over me or reminding me.   I don't need outside accountability to do my workouts.  I've been going on my merry way every month with the workouts Daughter sends me.  She attaches videos to the exercises so I can see how they're done; I study them carefully.  Last weekend, she was with me while I worked out.  For the most part, I did fine, but for three exercises, she had me move a little to the left, point my elbows out to the side more, and lean into the move.  Those little tweaks made a big difference.  The exercises felt different. They were better and more effective.  I really felt the muscle work.  I used to create my own workouts.  Some of them worked fine, but I never knew if I was working all my muscles, or if I was working some to the exclusion of others.  Plus, I only tended to include exercises I really liked.  I could have continued to watch the videos and do OK, but working with a professional made a huge difference in my experience and my result.

For the first time in a few weeks, I was reminded again how life is so much like the Trenches.  Here in the Trenches, there has been a large rise in self represented people.  The internet has made it so much easier to find forms for legal documents and pleadings, so people think that if they just use those resources, they can resolve their marital issues and get a divorce.  I always tell clients that if you just need an uncontested divorce, most people are capable of doing it using the forms.  If all I did was fill out forms, and if all the practice of law involved was forms, most people wouldn't need a lawyer.  Filling out forms is not why people hire lawyers.  They hire us for our advice.  They hire us because we're professionals and we know what issues to look for. They realize that we won't miss an important issue in their settlement.  We know all the little things that can make a divorce settlement meet all of a client's needs.  We can be calm, dispassionate and forward looking.  We know what will work for the future, and what will only patch things for the short haul.  We know how to make the process run smoother.  We know what process will yield the best result for a client.  We can help a client soup to nuts, or just when they need a little tweak or advice.  Sure, they could do it themselves, but working with a professional can make a huge difference in the experience and result, and make the difference between hitting all the bases and forgetting to touch third base.  Here in the Trenches.