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The Non-billable Hours

Surprise!  No frosting.  No butter, no sugar, no Ghirardelli chocolate today.

Well, okay, here are some fun things I haven’t posted here:

Baking

Yes, I’ve been away from here.  And not necessarily because I’ve been busy at the Day Job, either.

That’s probably another surprise, huh?

I’m a lawyer, and luckily I’ve had a fairly steady practice since I got my license.  But in the last year, after making a big change in my work life, I’ve been very Not Busy.  Do you have any idea how bad it feels admitting that in writing?  So many of my friends are stressed to the hilt, barely able to keep one foot squarely in front of the other, maintain sanity, keep it all together.  And all the while, I sit here writing (and not sharing), reading, thinking, working out, teaching myself how to use Lightroom, sleeping far more hours than I’ll ever admit, and NOT billing clients.

A friend inspired me to let my guard down today, though, to see the good side of this and to share a vulnerable story, a potential sign of weakness, here.

In this last year, while I’ve been very Not Busy, I have found an amazing outlet for my time and pent-up intellectual energy.  Rather than pout about it, or take up areas of law practice that do not interest me, or beg Rick for more work, I used some of my vacant otherwise-billable hours to write an article for submission to a local YWCA publication.  My passion for the topic earned me an invitation to serve on the YW advocacy committee, and eventually the board, with some amazingly educated and experienced women leaders I cannot even believe I’m qualified to be associated with.   This morning at 7:00 a.m., as I crossed the bridge on my way to my first Executive Committee meeting downtown, heading east over the river, the sunrise behind City Hall was so lovely I felt awash with blessings.  (This is particularly strange, considering how much I generally loathe getting out of bed in the morning.)  The meeting was sparkling with energy, intelligence, enthusiasm and promise for the future of our community.  It was the best morning I’ve had in months.

In my downtime I’ve also done a lot of self-reflection.  This is a huge luxury that I should not be ashamed of, but somehow it feels as overly-indulgent as having ice cream for dinner.  As an exercise in self-reflection, Rick and I both took some time to consciously analyze our Four Core Values, inspired by a friend of mine who was sharing her journey with a career coach via her blog.  This was an incredibly enlightening get-to-know-you experience.  Everyone should do this at least once a year, and not in a vacuum, but with the people we’re closest to in life.

But the one thing I have not done with my available free time is spend it with a lot of random acquaintances.  During this time, which feels like some kind of major life transition for some reason, I’ve deliberately holed myself up somewhat, concentrating my energy on the handful of people I love the most.  During the course of analyzing my Four Core Values, at first I tried to say I valued “Friends, Family and Community.”  After considering that in more detail, though, I realized what I truly value is Connection.  Real, sincere, honest one-on-one connection.  This does not lend itself well to big rowdy Girls Nights Out, or large family gatherings, or networking events.  So I’ve enjoyed some one-on-one time with my brother and his girlfriend, my mom, Rick (of course), and a few select close friends, some of whom I haven’t seen or talked to in years.  Those connections make me feel completely alive and loved, even if they’re not always smooth daysailing.  The connections I have with the people who mean the most to me in life frequently bring me to tears, keep me awake at night, and distract me from the “more important” work I have to do on a daily basis.  I do not see that as a bad thing.

Friends

So this friend who inspired me to write today shared a vulnerable story on his blog.  We talked last week about the kind of business and partnership he sees himself in, and strangely enough, I gave him this piece of sage “legal” advice:  “You HAVE to love your business partners, almost as much as you would love your spouse.”  But if you read all over the web, you’ll hear that love and business are incompatible.  Profits, productivity, and growth are more important than love and relationships.  Why?  Is that right?  I’m not so sure.

Dogs

In this last year, I’ve had a lot of time to think, and hopefully contribute meaningful thoughts and ideas to a few worthy non-proft organizations and clients who are really looking for guidance.  Hopefully someday those thoughts will translate into productivity.  But for now, I’m just thanking my lucky stars that I get to be in this space and time, doing something I love to do (and sometimes love to hate!) with someone I love.  I cherish the random coffee dates I can have in the middle of the week with my friends and (usually-unbeknownst-to-them) mentors.  I thrive on the time I spend with community leaders volunteering on committees and boards.   If everyone had the quality of connections I have with people as interesting and passionate as the people I’m hooked up with, this whole world would be on fire with optimism and love.  So, I hope this year brings a good balance of Busy and Not Busy, and I’ll never again take my downtime for granted.

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About kozubalk

Lawyer by day, baker by night, full time creative spirit.

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