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Focus


Sunday, March 10, 2013

I have lost it. I need to get it back. Iím not sure where it went. Well, maybe I am, but I donít want to admit it to myself. Time for some self-analysis.

Have I said how much I hate self-analysis? All of my blogs are about self-analysis. Thatís why I donít blog all that often. I donít like kicking myself in the ass, although sometimes itís what I need.

What happened?

Well, for starters, Iím graduating from law school in 70 days. Thatís right, on May 19, 2013, I will be walking across a stage in silly-looking graduation regalia, shaking the hand of the dean, and accepting a rolled up piece of paper in lieu of a diploma that will come later in the mail. (They better spell my name right.) I will forever leave law school classes behind and enter the big bad world of bar review.

Fast forward another 72 days. After another round of intensive study, at 9:00 am on July 30, 2013, along with 1200 Ė 1500 other shell-shocked law school graduates, Iíll be sitting down for the first of five half-day sessions of the most grueling exam most of us have ever faced Ė will ever face Ė in our lives. At 1:00 pm on Thursday, August 1, 2013, I will enter my car and begin a two hour drive home that I will probably never remember. And then I will be done.

Done with a program at which I have been working full tilt since August 2009. Three and a half years of non-stop study, exam taking, work, and putting off family and self-obligations. This program was incredibly hard work, requiring the ultimate focus to keep up with, and was a true test of my time management skills. And I did it. Juggled it all, and performed at least fairly well on all of it. Managed to pass all my classes, if not with stellar grades, at least with average ones. Managed to hold down several different jobs, impress my employers, and gain lots of real world experience. Managed to maintain my household, with lots of help from my family. Managed to maintain my relationships with my family, no small part of which came from their infinite patience with me. Managed to maintain a workout schedule, even though it didnít help me maintain my weight.

I kept this up for three and a half years. One can only keep up that kind of pace for so long. And with only 142 days left until the bar exam, I have completely lost focus. So close, with the light at the end of the tunnel, itís gone. I suppose itís normal. Burnout. Senioritis. Call it whatever you want, itís the natural feeling one gets when one is so close to the goal but not quite there yet, and getting there still requires one last, big push. But many others have done it before me, and many more will come after. If they can do it, so can I. I must, because giving up is not an option.

I need to work on four areas of focus.

Fitness
This area is actually the easiest. I am swimming. A lot. At least twice a week, more often three times. I love swimming and it is the form of workout that makes me feel in the best physical shape and the most competent. I need to feel competent right now.

Now that the days will start getting longer and the sun is out again and thereís more light, I am adding running/walking back into my workout schedule. I have also taken up yoga, which I still donít know much about, but I am enjoying. I may figure out how to add biking back in too, but honestly, thereís no good places to ride around me. Itís either ride on the street, which can be dangerous, or ride on the bike trails, which are too crowded. So itís last on the priority list. My goals are to swim 120 minutes, walk/run 80 minutes, and do yoga 40 minutes every week. So far, Iíve managed to keep that up and since Iím used to it, I should be able to maintain this schedule going into bar study.

Nutrition
This area is a little harder. I gained back 20 pounds of the 50 I lost. I got careless and stopped paying attention. And itís been pure hell getting it back off. I changed my goal weight to a bit higher than it was originally, but even so, that last 10-12 pounds are proving themselves pretty stubborn. Iím sticking to my normal low-carb diet, eating mostly lean meats, poultry, fish and eggs, very little grain and dairy, and getting most of my carbs from fruit and veggies. It works, if I pay attention. And thatís the issue Ė paying attention. With all the other distractions, itís very easy to let the many temptations in my path get the better of me. I have to track everything, or Iíll be deluding myself into thinking Iím doing fine when Iím really not.

Study
Iím not. Iíve gotten really lazy. Of course, it doesnít help that I only have one class that requires no advance preparation. It will have a take home exam that Iíll have ten days to finish and submit. I am also interning at Juvenile Court, getting to know people, and doing research and writing projects. This internship is not graded, so all I have to do is show up for the required number of hours and do a good job, and Iíll get credit. Iíve already surpassed the hours requirement, even with six weeks left of classes, and Iíve already been told Iím doing a good job. I really like it down there, the people are great, the subject matter is infinitely interesting, and I love the Judge. But aside from the time I actually spend at the courthouse, do you see any motivation there to study? I sure donít.

Once bar review starts, I will be on a completely different schedule. The course Iím taking has a pretty strictly laid out plan of classes, pre-class prep, post-class review, and independent study. Itís available now, and I already have my books, but I have deliberately not looked at any of it yet. It starts around June 1, so after graduation on May 19, Iíll have 10 days or so to start looking it over and putting a schedule down on paper. That will include everything I need to do for the next two months, including sleeping, eating, working out and downtime. Yes, itís that intense.

Finding a job
I am not working right now, having been laid off at the end of November. I have been sending out resumes, with mixed results. I have had a couple of interviews, but no job offers. I have mixed feelings about finding a job at this moment. It has been recommended Ė by MANY people whose opinions I respect Ė that it is best not to work while studying for the bar exam because itís so intense. I have always worked, since I was 14 years old. I havenít been without a job since my second child was born in 1989. And now Iím unemployed and living on a student loan and my tax refund, along with a paltry weekly unemployment check. That is scary. So much so that I deliberately donít think about it, or I will fly into full-blown panic.

The Judge at Juvenile Court is known for hiring people she knows and likes, and I am hoping that I impress her enough to offer me a job after graduation, since I would love to work down there. It would be a dream job. So far so good; she has told me she likes my work, and sheís giving me more responsibility. It will be a question of whether or not she actually has a job to offer, or if she likes someone else better. If she canít offer me a job, at least I can hope to get some priority on the appointment list.

Barring that, I just donít know. I have enough business experience to hang out my own shingle. But there is SO MUCH competition. And the news is full of stories about law graduates who canít find work. It will be a matter of being in the right location, practicing in the right legal field, and marketing in the right way. I donít know which scares me more, the present condition of having no income versus the future condition of not knowing where the income will come from. Maybe both.

So, how am I going to get my focus back for the next 70 days? The 72 days after that leading to the bar exam are a different kind of focus and a different blog. So letís make this simple.

Fitness: Stick to the plan. Swim twice, run/walk twice, yoga twice a week. More if it fits. Without fail. And track it all.

Nutrition: Stick to the plan. Eat meat. Eat eggs. Eat poultry. Eat fish. Eat veggies. Eat fruit. Donít eat dairy. Drink water. Eat as little grain as possible. Track everything.

Study: Go to class. Outline over spring break. Go to the courthouse. Ask the Judge for more work. Impress her.

Job hunting: Keep sending out two or three resumes a week. Donít worry about it if no calls come in. Donít panic. Donít panic. Donít panic.

Simplicity is my friend.


How's that for simplicity?
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Member Comments About This Blog Post:
DEBORAHSPARKLES 3/22/2013 12:29AM

    Good for you! Glad you are keeping your fitness in there. Sometimes structuring a fitness plan first helps create a domino structure for the food before and after. The fitness provides the frame to curb eating patterns. Keep your refrigerator stocked with fresh fruits, fresh veggies with yogurt dips or peanut butter, and laughing cow light cheese.

For a treat, slice up an apple, put it in a microwaveable dish, covering it with a paper towel and then zap it in the microwave for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle it, if you want, with a little sugar or stevia and some cinnamon to dress it up. It's a healthy comfort food. And what student doesn't need some comfort in her final push of studies! I like it because it is quick and warming. Great for rainy day weather for which N.E. Ohio is known. I like to get my apple-a-day that way!

Lots of great schools up there! Wishing you well on the job search. It is phenomenal that you went back to school and are launching yourself into a new phase of your life now that your children are adults. That's exciting! Your maturity will give you an advantage. Your determination and energy are incredible. I agree with EastEndClam - networking is essential. Draw upon each and every resource from every parenting group or PTA to any place or worship you have attended to any volunteer position you may have held to any organization you might want to donate any volunteer time. Think untraditional.

The new Pope Francis is going to conduct the "traditional" Holy Thursday Mass at a very untraditional location -- at a juvenile detention center instead of the Vatican. Imagine how that may impact some disheartened youth! Where do you most want to serve? What unconventional places have you considered?

If you have a deep interest in Juvenile Law, are there any prominent non-profit organizations in the community that could use a woman of your talent on their Board? Community and educational non-profits always need good Board members and it can be a good channel to other opportunities. If you are going to hang your own shingle out, volunteering on a prominent Board will magnify your presence. It offers a great way to be seen and can link whatever interests you have to your future career.

Wishing you well in all your pursuits!


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KAB7801 3/19/2013 1:52PM

    It's easy to slip back in old habits and so hard to get back on track, for me even 2 days off shard getting back

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TKAYSMILES 3/13/2013 4:48PM

    It is so hard when we have been there and can't get back!! Don't be so hard on yourself though either. You have a very full plate. Just do your best and it will come!! You can do this!!

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JENKOP11 3/13/2013 10:56AM

    Focus is energy directed, right? I am confident you have the energy, it just matters where you direct it. I won't be pithy and assure you it will all be all right, but you are a determined person making the right choices for your health and your life. I do believe you will redirect your energy to the spots you want it in the most.

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EASTENDCLAM 3/12/2013 4:23AM

    Network, network, network. If the Judge can't offer something think of all the Judges in her sphere or the practicing Attorneys that appear before her That's a heck of a resource to mine. Hey, you already know that so I'll leave it as wow, that's a long road you've gotten down with responsibilities pulling at you from all directions. With that kind of focus and determination someone will be happy to have you join them.

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ARMONIA 3/11/2013 10:38PM

    Even if you hate self-analysis, it sure looks like you know yourself and know what your limits are. I can't wait to see what this next year will bring you!

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CALGALFOX 3/11/2013 3:54PM

    I think when you get down to that place where you've run out of time and now you have to push and crunch...you will. You're a fighter and it will happen. I believe in your strength. I think a plan is perfect when you don't have motivation...who needs motivation if you have a plan and can make it happen?

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ANAJAK 3/11/2013 3:33PM

    Simplicity and synchronicity. In my opinion which you may ignore willingly - if you are enjoying your last class and finding it relatively easy do the easy study route - you gotta rest up for the big guns in 72 no 71 days.

The schedule is what keeps me going. I am always logged into google calendar and its synced with my phone so my schedule is always letting me know what to do next. It tells me when to go to bed, when to chill, when to start making dinner, when to eat dinner, when to study for a certain subject, when to go to class, when to leave to bike to class - honestly if I could program it to tell me when to gpo to the toliet I probably would (but you gotta have some spontaneity haha). I even have a reminder to enter my weekly plan on a friday!! It honestly is the best thing SP taught me - planning - they maybe didn't see the OCD anajak coming but eh...

I'll be writing this blog in 2 years - you'll be an old hand by then :)

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PSMITH3841 3/11/2013 11:32AM

    Girlfriend, you have got this knocked!!!!!! You'll have your focus when you need it.....your mind and soul don't know any other way! I'm rooting for the court job, make sure you let the Judge know that is where you would like to be after you graduate, It could help...You never know. Hang in there Kiddo, you're a "short-timer" now, and I know you can do this...so do you! emoticon

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SEASONS_CHANGE_ 3/11/2013 11:06AM

    That picture made me laugh.

I just have to say how incredibly proud of you. You don't see it but you've come a long way baby!



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PKCTTS 3/11/2013 1:06AM

    There's no doubt you get it done - you just needed to hole up and bitch about it for a day or two, right? LOL We both no there is no secret to motivation - just get up and do the next thing on your list.

You've accomplished so much!

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HOWIEANN 3/11/2013 12:31AM

    I know it's hard, but you can do it. Try to give yourself a bit of a break, if you can, before the bar review starts.

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WOUBBIE 3/10/2013 9:14PM

    Maybe you haven't so much "lost it" as "misplaced it"?

"Where the heck DID I put that stupid motivation?!?!?"

emoticon

I think your plan (ie. stick to the plan) is really sound. You're gonna have to put yourself on auto-pilot and just cruise through all the craziness. You've come this far, though, so I'm pretty sure you'll finish. :)

Comment edited on: 3/10/2013 9:15:52 PM

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GORIANA 3/10/2013 8:16PM

    Wow. My shoulders tensed up reading all that. The yoga is a good move. Yoga always helps bring my shoulders down, maybe it will help you too.

Congratulations, and good luck on the next few months. It sounds like you are getting in a breather, now, while you can, in preperation for the big push. It also sounds like you have a handle on this...way to go!

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ANATASHIKI 3/10/2013 6:08PM

    ugh , I so not envy you! you made me remember my own ugly years when I was doing the same things. it went out all right in some miraculous way where I didn't have much contribution. first thing : breathe! do all what you can . try to do even what you can't ! kidding :P . you are alive and fighting. don't live into the future and don't let fear paralyse you. do all the things you have to do in the present. you will deal the future ones when they will show up.the job will show up too when it will be the best for you. try to control your nutrition but it's probably not the best time for dieting.some exercise should make you feel better. don't forget to be nice to you. these things won't kill you even if they look like they are designed to do that.pour your stress here , I sure made a lot of noise when I studied for my last ugly exam. it will be fine emoticon

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HAPPYMENOW58 3/10/2013 5:52PM

    You can do it!!!! keep your eyes on the prize!! You are almost there....

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