By Keisha Stanford • March 02, 2011•Writers in Residence
Two full months into the New Year, I can barely remember the holidays. It seems almost a lifetime ago, I was enjoying times with family and friends who I hadn’t seen since the last time I was home for the holidays. Since then, I’ve reviewed countless documents, prepared privilege logs, drafted motions, written memoranda, filed an asylum application for my pro bono client…well, basically, I’ve been living the life of a first year associate.
Though things have been a whirlwind since the start of the year, I did find time to make a few resolutions. I don’t normally indulge in the age-old tradition of making promises to recreate myself at the start of the New Year. Like many people, I find that most resolutions fall by the wayside after January. Then you spend the rest of the year either feeling bad about it or deciding what you will resolve to do next January. But this year, I decided to take the plunge and make a few resolutions for 2011. Since I am new to the resolution game, I figured I’d start small. I picked two things that I really wanted to work on this year, both of which would require some commitment and focus on my part.
First, I was banning the snooze button from my life. Almost every morning, I have a hard fought battle against the start of the day. I am just not a morning person. Some days I’d snooze once or twice with no significant delay in my morning routine. In fact, I had started factoring in this “snooze” time when setting my alarm at night. However, there were other days when I only intended to snooze for ten or fifteen minutes, and I would wake up an hour after my alarm. I’d have to walk and feed Geist (my dog), shower, get ready, get lunch together and run out the door (quickly tossing Geist a treat) – all after getting an hour late start on the day. Those mornings were unnecessarily frantic. And since I’d develop this terrible habit of negotiating with myself about whether I really needed to get up at 6:15 (or if I could actually sleep until 7:15 and miraculously manage to get everything done in 30 minutes), I decided that an all out ban on snoozing was the best way to go.
Second, I vowed to do some amount of yoga every weekday morning and to visit my old yoga studio at least once a month. I started practicing yoga over seven years ago. And while I have been pretty diligent about finding studios each time I’ve moved and making time for yoga in my life, I have never really developed a home practice. When I moved to the East Bay in August of last year, I left behind an amazing yoga studio in Mountain View that I had grown to love over the three years I’d spent in law school. I figured finding a new studio that I liked would be easy. I do live in California, and yoga studios are about as common as Starbucks in other places. But the East Bay seems to have a love for Bikram yoga, which I don’t particularly care for. After four months of living in my new place, I still hadn’t found a studio that I loved. So I decided that I’d work on developing a good home practice so I wasn’t at the whim of the yoga preference of my new locale and to making the 45-minute drive to Mountain View one Saturday each month.
So how did I do? For the first three weeks of 2011, I completely mastered the art of “no snoozing.” Each morning, I just got up, let Geist out, and then did 15-30 minutes of yoga before getting on with my day. It was as if my resolutions were working in tandem. If I actually got up when my alarm when off, I had time for yoga. All was going well, and I was certain I was going to beat the “Resolution Curse” and make it through 2011 resolved. So what happened at the end of January?
Work happened. I was assigned to my first big case and was completely overwhelmed. My hours got a bit longer, and I was exhausted at the end of every day. I was getting to bed later, which meant my struggle with the morning was back in full force. 6:15 a.m. is early when you get to bed at 11:00 or 11:30 p.m., so it becomes pretty unbearable when your bedtime shifts to 1:15 a.m. or later. Three weeks into the New Year, and I was back to my old ways…with one exception. Though I’d rediscovered the snooze button, I continued to fit in yoga in the mornings and I managed to make it down to Mountain View once a month to attend my favorite Saturday morning yoga class. Some weekdays, I could only manage to get in 7 minutes – just enough time for 5 Sun Salutation A’s and 4 Sun Salutation B’s. It doesn’t sound like much, but it was just enough to give me a moment before the day started speeding ahead at 100 miles per hour.
In February, I did a mid-month check in. I renewed my resolve to cut back on snoozing, though not with the same fervor that I had at the start of the year. I now negotiate the night before instead of in the fog of 6 a.m. in the morning. If I get to bed late, then I give myself a little flexibility with the start of the next morning…assuming I don’t have a meeting or a conference call. I’ve figured out how to get at least 15 minutes of yoga in each morning. I can do a longer practice on weekend mornings, and my two-hour class once a month makes up for the rest. It’s definitely not as much as I was able to fit in during my third year of law school, but work isn’t school and sometimes some is better than none at all.
I’ve also realized why New Year’s resolutions don’t usually last. Almost every week since the beginning of the year has been different from the one that preceded it. One week, I may get out of work consistently at 6:30 or 7:00. The next week, I may have to stay late to help out with witness preparations or to complete a last minute research project. Or I’m in on a weekend getting together a filing for my pro bono case. Whatever the reason, the life of lawyers can often be unpredictable and trying to approach every week the exact same way is nearly impossible. In fact, it might even be a recipe for disaster. So while I aspire to be someone who is always well rested and can jump out of bed at 6:00 a.m. ready to start the day, some days it just isn’t possible. For those days, I resolve to do the best I can and settle for 10 more minutes of sleep and 6 minutes of yoga.