Attorney Well-Being: Birthdays

If you are a regular reader of Keen Living, you noticed that there was no posting last Friday on March 6th. My goal for writing on Keen Living is to post every Friday. I had hoped to post my article that I just posted today on expanding CLE topics, but it never happened. What happened? March 6 is my birthday.

This year was different though from most birthday years. I actually traveled out of state and took a mini-vacation. It’s unusual for me to be out of town for the actual day, and as everyone knows traveling can take a large amount of time both before and after the actual trip.

As the day of departure approached, I struggled with letting go of my goal of posting. I thought about it a lot. Could I post the night before I left? Could I post the night I returned? All of my thinking led to a realization, maybe I am supposed to celebrate my birthday by caring about my well-being and waiting a week on reading, writing, and posting. Maybe I should breathe and enjoy this precious time and trip. This seemed like a foreign concept to me and one that was hard to accept.

All the years I practiced law in the federal government, I never purposely took a vacation day or “annual leave” (as it is called in the federal government) on my birthday. This week I started thinking, why not? I can definitely say looking back now that I never thought it was “worth it” to spend my precious days of leave just to give myself a break on my birthday.

Now, with my focus of writing on attorney well-being, I am thinking more and more about how important it is for attorneys to take care of themselves, to fill our personal well first, and give self-care a higher level of priority. There is a lot of rhetoric advising that if a person doesn’t actually give themselves personal attention first, they aren’t able to fully give their attention to others. It is true. Lawyers can’t give their clients their best without caring for themselves. A lawyer’s competence is dependent upon her own self-care in addition to her skills in the practice of law.

I am still learning the actual practice of well-being and attempting to meet the goals of “keen living.” I know that without a break once in a while, I can’t function. Literally! We are surrounded right now by such scary messages in the media regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, that we need to check in with ourselves. How am I feeling? Physically? Mentally? Emotionally? These are scary times, but we need to remember to breathe, take good care of ourselves, and try to celebrate life’s milestones – like our birthdays – still! I am just maybe making one big excuse for missing my first posting deadline, but really the more I am thinking about this, the more I believe that we should all celebrate our birthdays in support of our well-being as attorneys.

Now, maybe you can’t afford to take a full day off of work (or you are like I was and can’t justify it yet as “worth it”), but start with an hour! Put in to take one vacation hour off for your birthday. Do it for yourself. Do it for your physical wellness and take a walk or schedule a massage. Do it for your mental health and go grab a coffee, sit outside in the sun, and just chill. Do it for your emotional health and make a lunch date with a good, good friend. Sit and talk and savor your food. Know that you are going to be happier because of it. Our relationships and time spent with loved ones are one of the greatest sources of happiness in our lives.

We all deserve to celebrate our birthdays. It is a conscious choice to make it a special, memorable day. You deserve it. Make plans for your next birthday right now and have a happy one.

© 2020 Megan Davia Mikhail

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