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Be Like Elle in Legally Blonde

Okay, well maybe not literally, but in many ways being like Elle isn’t such a bad idea! Most of us have been underestimated at least once in our life. We have had our fair share of naysayers and those who may not come out and actually say it, but we know they are thinking it.

If you’ve ever watched the movie, you will remember the scene in which Elle told her career counselor she planned to apply to Harvard Law School. This is after she had been dumped by her boyfriend because she was too, well, blonde, and not serious enough.

Counselor: “Harvard Law School?”

Elle: “That’s right.”

Counselor: “But that’s a top three school.”

Elle: “Oh, I have a 4.0”

Counselor: “Yes, but your major is fashion merchandising. Harvard won’t be impressed that you aced History of Polka Dots. What are your back-ups?”

Elle: “I don’t need back-ups, I’m going to Harvard.”

Needless to say, Elle Woods, was accepted into Harvard. She didn’t appear to be the brightest crayon in the box, but she played on her strengths [as comical as those strengths are] and used those strengths to achieve the unexpected – not just graduating law school but graduating valedictorian of her class.

Legally Blonde

As fictional as the movie is, there are a few good lessons:

1) Believe in yourself; no matter what other people think of you;

2) Be ambitious, even if to everyone else your dreams seem far-fetched and unrealistic;

3) Be yourself;

4) Don’t take yourself too seriously;

5) Use the naysayers as motivation;

6) Be confident;

7) Work hard;

8) Seek the advice of the learned;

9) Don’t forget your common sense;

10) Don’t forget where you came from; and

11) Remember, humility goes a long way!

Until next time,

Christine

Turning Back the Clocks

I woke up this morning feeling quite overwhelmed! As the alarm went off, all the appointments on my calendar this week started spiraling through my mind. I immediately started thinking about the two depositions, two court hearings, and jury trial that was penciled for this week. I wanted to turn the clocks back to Friday. I rolled over and fell back into a slumber. Thirty minutes later, my second alarm for the morning went off, and it hit me! It was time to rise and shine; another week was here!

A part of my anxiety this morning was likely due to the several movie clips in my head at nights lately. I heard dreams, fantasies and nightmares quadruple during pregnancy – and oh were they right! In between my dream about being in my childhood home in Jamaica, and the one about being stranded in the middle of nowhere, was my dream about showing up for a mediation totally unprepared. Those dreams were unnerving, but reflected, in many ways, all the feelings and emotions controlling my mind at the moment. Feelings about being unprepared for our little one’s arrival and whether we will be good at this parenting thing are front and center and clearly dominating my dreams. Feelings about balancing the demands of our jobs with the new responsibilities that come with being a parent. I often wonder how parents find the time; it is not an easy job! This is certainly evidenced by the key piece of advice I get so often now: “SLEEP NOW, SLEEP AS MUCH AS YOU CAN.”

“Don’t sweat the small stuff” is another piece of advice I have gotten over the years from a very dear friend; one who manages to juggle so much and does it with such grace and style. It is a constant reminder, even in the moments I feel totally overwhelmed and powerless, to regain perspective and remember the big picture! At times, we get boggled down in the details to the extent we forget to focus on the important aspects of our lives; such as our health, our family, our friends!

Lisa Earle McLeod, in her empowering book Forget Perfect reminds us of the importance of “finding joy, meaning, and satisfaction in the life you’ve already got and the you you already are.” Her message is simple: forget perfect and start living! That means, doing the best we can, even when we feel our best is not good enough. It means stop worrying about every single detail because there are things in our lives we cannot control. It means living in the moment and enjoying the ride. I read that book, but I am still learning; constant work in progress!

Until next time,

Christine

6 Hours of Walking, a Water Taxi and a Shuttle Bus …

…equals one very tired pregnant lady and a tired husband, but a fun day was had by all. Today, Mike and I had one of those spontaneous, impromptu days that started off as a quiet, relaxing Sunday but ended as a “Sunday Fun Day.” It began with me looking out the glass screened door and thinking what a beautiful day it was, to Mike researching something fun to do in Miami. We had heard about the Miami International Boat Show, but it had slipped both our minds. Deciding that sounded better than a day on the couch with Netflix [though we thoroughly enjoy those Sundays], we got dressed and we were out the door.

Boat Show View of WaterIt was a magnificent day for an outing. The streets of downtown were jammed pack with people from all over the world. Some who came to the boat show to invest in a boat, or perhaps a yacht; and others like us who just wanted to sight see. I chuckled as I sat on one of the shuttle buses and saw the prices of the boats ranged from $1,000.00 to a whopping $5 million. Yes, $5 million for a yacht. But for some of us, that is merely pocket change.

Boat Show Yacht

Perhaps our most favorite part of the experience today was riding around on the water taxis on Biscayne Bay. It was as if we were tourists, visiting for the first time. I suppose we could technically still be considered tourists; it hasn’t even been a year. We didn’t mind the fact we had to wait twenty minutes in line to board. The trip up and down Biscayne was worth the wait. It was calming, yet riveting and the scenery was absolutely breathtaking. We even discovered a marina we had no idea existed. All in all, it was a wonderful way to end the weekend, and now we are both pooped!

Miami Dancing Lady in BackgroundMiami Boat Show Downtown

Until Next Time,

Christine

How Are You?

Do you really care to know? Or has that become an automated three word phrase we use without much thought?

On my way home this evening, I walked by a gentleman standing outside an electronic store with a cigarette in his hand. He smiled and asked “how are you?” I responded “I’m doing good, how are you?” “I’m blessed,” he said with a smile, “truly blessed!” Now, how was I going to top that? His question and response made me think about the significance of those three words, and how often we abuse them.

I have observed people ask “how are you?” But by the time I open my mouth to respond, they are long gone. They really didn’t care about how I was doing, so why bother? If all that was intended was a mere greeting, why not just say “hello!” That would suffice.

Last week I spoke with another attorney, an opponent. At the beginning of our telephone call I asked her how she was doing. She responded “I’m good, I won’t complain because no one wants to listen.” We both laughed at her comment, but the truth is, we are so accustomed to the phrase “how are you?” being used as a greeting in passing, we cannot possibly imagine there are people who ask the question and actually care to know the response. “Go for it,” I said,  “I can lend a listening ear today.”  Not surprisingly, she did not take me up on my offer.

Most of us, I am sure, are guilty of using the phrase like robots. We often hear people, but seldom do we take the time to truly listen. Sometimes we are in a hurry, or simply don’t want to be bothered. It is possible someone may need us to ask the question “how are you?” and really care to know the response.

Until next time,

Christine

No Habla Espanol?

Learn SpanishStating the obvious – it is hard to communicate with someone if you do not speak their language!

One of my first encounters at a mall here in Miami, was with an employee from a major department store who berated me because I did not speak Spanish. I walked into the mall to purchase something in the home department. Since this was my first time, I was not sure where to find the home department. I walked up to the first counter I saw someone standing to get some assistance.

“Excuse me, where can I find the home department?” The lady responded “Eh?”  I repeated myself, “where is the home department?” With a look of utter disgust, she retorted “No habla Espanol?” “No.” I exclaimed, “hablo Ingles!” I realized immediately we had a problem – she did not understand one word I was saying, and with the little Spanish I knew, I would not understand her. With that, feeling quite frustrated, I walked away and found the home department myself.

If you’ve spent a great deal of time in most parts of Miami, outside of South Beach, you would understand the reason Miami has been dubbed “South America.” I would have been less surprised at the question “No habla Espanol?” if I was in a small “mom and pop” store; but not a major department store. Shouldn’t there be a requirement that all employees speak English? After all, aren’t we in America?

That is in fact the position most English-speakers have taken. But is it necessarily the right one? I suspect your response to that question will be impacted by not only whether you speak English or Spanish, but also your upbringing, your background, and the way you view the America we live in today. Frankly, the most popular language in Miami appears to be Spanish, and the Spanish speakers are asking themselves (in Spanish), “why don’t they learn to speak Spanish?”

The end result is a significant breakdown in communication, no matter which view is the right one. I can tell you from personal experience, my lack of ability to speak and understand the Spanish language fluently has affected my ability to communicate with my clients. The majority of my clients are Spanish-speaking. I cannot pick up the telephone to give them an update about their case, or ask a simple question, without the assistance of my Secretary or Paralegal. Does this inhibit my ability to practice law, of course not, but it certainly impairs the process.

I could take the approach of “they need to learn English” or I could learn to speak Spanish. I have chosen the latter approach. Besides, being fluent in another language can only help me. So I am on a mission to not just learn the language, but to master it! With the help of a few apps and a few Spanish friends, I am well on my way!

Hasta Luego Mi Amigos!

Christine

Dare to Dream

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Almost thirteen years ago, August 2001, my pregnant mother and I boarded a flight from Kingston, Jamaica to travel to the big city of Atlanta, Georgia. Our final destination: Wesleyan College in Macon, aka Mac Town, Georgia. I remember the people at the airport giving my mother  a hard time; she was in fact, 7 months pregnant with my little brother. But there was NO WAY they were going to stop her from taking her daughter, her first born, to college.

You see, about a year before that I came up with the brilliant idea of attending college in the United States. My plan at that time was to attend college and then apply to law school to one day become an attorney. REALLY! [Toneille Raglan, Rochelle Gordon, and Samantha Burke can attest to the fact that we’ve been talking about law school decades ago under the tree at St. Andrew High School – ironically, we are all lawyers – for better or worst]. My mom didn’t exactly know how she was going to handle the financial restraints of sending me overseas, alone, for college. But we both stepped out in faith that day!

As happy as I was, I still vividly remember sitting on the airplane, crying. It was a mixture of sadness and sorrow about leaving my family and friends behind, and also fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of change! How will I manage on my own? How will I navigate in a foreign county? What will I eat? But I knew then, a window of opportunity had opened for me, and I would either seize it then, or spend my whole life wondering: what if?

Wesleyan College, my dear Alma Mater, had given me the opportunity of a lifetime! I had the chance at a New Beginning. And there I was: eighteen years old, young, afraid, and impressionable. But I had dreams. I had dreams of a better tomorrow and I used those dreams to formulate goals and I turned those goals into reality!

Dare to Dream, my Friends! Dare to Dream!