Can You Be Enough and Still Want More? Celebrating 100 Posts and 2 Years

I have been watching the clock today because I know I am supposed to write a blog post to be published tomorrow. It’s my 100th blog post and tomorrow (December 27th) is the second anniversary of the founding of the blog. You’d think the words would flow like the bubbles from a bottle of champagne, but they haven’t. After publishing my first book this November, I think I am a bit celebrated out. And, I have a work-related project that is occupying my mind.

As I was praying for an idea to come to me, one of my LinkedIn contacts did a post reminding the world in this season of goal setting and resolutions that we are all “enough.” It was a beautiful post with a message I endorse but I immediately thought “Rude! Not helpful.”

As I have written before, I am a self-doubter. On a normal day, I would have liked the post and said something encouraging. But on this day, when things were not going as I had planned, the post made my mind start to churn. “Wait,” it posited, “am I letting myself be enough by struggling to get this post written just because of some arbitrary numbers?” When I couldn’t answer the question immediately, it sensed weakness and roared “Were you letting yourself be enough when you started this blog?”

I bet you’re hoping that I refuted the voice with a bold assertion of my self-worth, but I didn’t. Instead, I did what I’ve learned to do when my mind is noodling away on a problem that seems unsolvable: I did nothing. That is to say, of course, that I meditated.

Over the years, I have learned that it is the best way to take care of myself because it lets the thoughts have space and bounce around until they settle down on their own. This may sound painful; at first it was. But experience has shown that it works. Have you ever had to get a knot out of a necklace? You don’t do it by pulling tighter on the knot. You do it gradually and gently by opening the knot up.

And when I sat with my mind in a jumble, it opened right up. Yes, the uncomfortable thoughts bounced around. Yes, my doubts danced before my eyes. But eventually they drifted away, and I was left with a few moments of clarity. In this lull, came the commonsense notion that being enough and pursuing goals aren’t antithetical at all. In my case, I didn’t start pursuing the goals that mattered just to me until I had realized after years of struggle that I was enough.

Though it takes effort and sometimes causes frustration, this blog isn’t an albatross of work for me. As I have written before, it’s fun, it lets me explore some silly and hilarious ideas, serves as self-care, and has helped me develop a community I never would have had without it. In addition, I didn’t start the blog to prove some point. Instead, I did it to celebrate getting certified to teach meditation and because I know my struggles with anxiety, overthinking and depression aren’t unique.

Beyond this, I don’t think there is anything that declares “I am enough” more than creating work of your own. Like a magician, you get to wave your wand and make something appear in the universe that wasn’t there before. Like a brazen, unruly woman, you get to boldly take up space on the internet and declare your truths to the world. And, like any parent who fiercely loves the beautiful, imperfect child they made, you beam with pride even as you share your story full of missteps, screw ups, fears, and misgivings.  

Of course, I have had to remind myself that “I am enough” by occasionally slowing down. I have republished or repurposed old content for weeks when I felt uninspired. I have learned tricks to create content quickly to just get the job done. I have learned to have faith that an idea would appear when I needed it. I looked to pop culture for inspiration to keep things lively. And, I even took a two-month hiatus from writing new posts when life changes and the creation of my book left no space for extra writing.

To my surprise, getting through those hard weeks didn’t make me feel less than. They inspired confidence and helped me reflect on the vast difference between progress and perfection. They reminded me that I am enough, not because everything comes easy to me, but instead because I don’t give up as soon as things get hard.

As we head into 2023, I hope that you are reflecting on the fact that you are enough. I hope you know that you don’t need to accomplish huge goals or amazing resolutions in the new year to be enough. But when you’ve got being enough down, I hope you celebrate it and share it with the world. I hope you let yourself thrive and take the weird paths your soul asks you to take. That’s what I have done these past two years. I’m so grateful I had enough faith in myself to do it and to all of you for celebrating it with me.

Want to learn more about mindfulness and compassion? Check out my new book, How to Be a Badass Lawyer, which is available on Amazon.

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Why Lawyers Need the Big Magic of Creative Living

“You should read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.” This was advice from another lawyer, Jeremy Richter, after I appeared on his podcast The Lawyerpreneur where we talked about how we liked to write and make things and didn’t care if other lawyers thought we were “weird.” I like and respect Jeremy quite a lot, but I confess that I had assumptions about Elizabeth Gilbert because of Eat, Pray, Love (in truth the movie version of that book) and I ignored his advice. Months later, I wrote a LinkedIn post about the paradoxes of writing which said, essentially, that it takes time but makes energy, it is frustrating but somehow still offers happiness, and it is often lonely but provides a path to belonging. Another lawyer messaged me, asking if I had read Big Magic because my post sounded just like it.

This was enough to make me see the writing on the wall. I immediately checked Audible, found a remaining monthly credit, and started listening. Halfway through the 6-minute opening chapter, I saw even more writing on the wall: I was totally wrong about Gilbert. At this point, I am not even sure what my problem with Gilbert was, but in retrospect I think I just discounted her work because it was popular. After reading Big Magic, however, I wish more people, and in particular, more lawyers knew about it.

Big Magic is a series of mini essays on living a creative life. Some of the essays contain stories about Gilbert’s writing career, but many others offer examples of creative people from across the millennia, reaching all the way to those early humans who drew pictures on cave walls. While the stories are not chronological or even directly related, they come together at the end like random bits of fabric collected over the years to create the cohesive pattern in a quilt. This analogy is perfect for the book because Gilbert’s central thesis is this: creativity is an essential part of being human because it is the part of our humanity that gives us access to divinity.

By this, Gilbert does not deny that living a creative life is hard—even gut-wrenching at times. She devotes several of the essays, often comically, to discussing rejection, the pain that comes when the muse visits but then leaves too soon, jealousy, competition, and dealing with the worst critic of all: the one inside your own head. But she argues that it is still worthwhile, regardless of whether your particular creative pursuit brings you fame or fortune and even if it drives you nuts on occasion.

Why do I love this book so much? Well, because I have lived it. While I have not yet written a smash hit novel or lived the life of a professional writer, I have experienced firsthand the benefits that living a creative life can offer. It took me a long time to accept my own creativity and allow it to flourish. Like a lot of lawyers, I thought for too long that I should focus solely on my law practice. Then, I had to get over the idea that I was “wasting my time” if I put effort into projects that wouldn’t lead to any benefits. As it turns out, the benefits of my writing were pronounced for both my life and law practice, though the path that those benefits took to find me were often indirect. Ultimately, though, it was when I finally accepted the truth that my creativity exploded: I was going to write because writing made me happy and lack of attention and praise was not going to stop me.

There is a lot written these days about mental well-being for lawyers and professionals and for good reason. Many resources, and even those on this blog, attempt to help by offering to fit wellness practices into the nooks and crannies of our overpacked lawyer calendars. I don’t criticize this approach because it was how I started my own journey and because studies show us that a few minutes a day can make a huge difference for our minds, bodies, and even relationships. But, for my lawyer and professional friends, I hope that the quest for greater happiness does not stop once a daily habit of a few minutes of mindfulness or another self-care practice is established. Then next step, if you can afford it and brave it, offers rewards of a much greater magnitude.

Mindfulness practices can help lawyers and professionals find stability and even heal themselves in the midst of our stressful and busy lives. If we let them, however, they can also help us notice what we need to do next to grow and to create. As Gilbert posits, this is the birthright of all humans and it is essential for a happy life.  I know your schedule is busy. I know we are (still) living in a global pandemic. I know that nothing is certain right now or ever. But those realities don’t make happiness and creativity luxuries; they make them both essential. If this weren’t the case, those early humans would not have had the urge to paint on cave wells even as they faced the daily task of survival.

So, if you have a project in the back of your mind, maybe you want to write an article, maybe you want to refinish that piece of antique furniture, maybe you want to finally make one of those crafts you’ve been saving on Pinterest, I hope you will do it. If you need encouragement, to get over all the voices in your head that tell you it’s a waste of time, or permission to connect with your own spirit, go read Big Magic. Then go make stuff.

Are you a creative lawyer? By this, I mean do you make or want to make anything, including fiction, nonfiction, or even a podcast? You aren’t alone. Join the CLAW (Creatives. Lawyers. Artists. Writers.) Alliance to find a community of other creative lawyers. For more inspiration on this, check out the Instagram Live I did with CLAW member, Becki C. Lee, an IP lawyer and children’s book author.

Want to learn more about mindfulness and compassion? Check out my new book, How to Be a Badass Lawyer, which is available on Amazon.

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