I feel like when you’re staring into the abyss of stress and anxiety — dealing with it can take you many places. As I hinted in Part One of this series, stress really started to get the better of me at times — so I started to study it a bit and I have spent the last year or so succeeding (and failing) at finding better ways to “handle it”. Anxiety can take you to darker places — but it can also take you — if you’ll allow it — to the gym, the yoga studio, or the kitchen! Read on . . . — Andy
Blowing Off Steam in the Kitchen
I am the newest member of the real estate lawyer team here at Hartmanlaw, but I am not new to the practice of law. I have always faced the challenges of stress in the management of a legal practice, coming from the field of “Family Law” – which is a broader term for a practice that (in my case) dealt primarily with the processing of divorces. Perhaps at a later time I could compare the different types of stress that these dynamic practices put forth. As you can imagine, what the lawyer might take home at night with her “emotionally” would be a little different within the two practices. But that’s for a different blog! For now – trust me when I say that the move to real estate was by no means a step into an “easy” or “stress free!” field of law.
And of course – it’s been said that everyone must have an outlet to handle the normal stresses of life. And because it is not yet my time to retire in a foreign country, like the infamous Ralph Walker has, I must find more practical ways to deal with the day to day stressors at Hartmanlaw. Most days here are truly a pleasure. I enjoy seeing young couples buying their first homes, beaming and full of ideas, their smartphones smoking with new Pinterest projects as we sign their documents. I am touched by the older people who are stepping into new phases of their lives and selling the homes in which they raised their families, eager to share their memories and of course where the spare key is hidden.
But there are some days where there is a lot going on — more serious stuff like wire fraud concerns and just the sheer volume of closings “back to back” — and I find myself running up and down the halls like Alice in Wonderland’s white rabbit. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and under-armored as someone new to the practice. I’m ever mindful of the clock, making sure everyone’s closing goes smoothly, taking calls, checking email, reviewing documents in between, and only very occasionally partaking in the smorgasbord of candy piled in front of me in these candy carts. By the way, those little candies make you bigger if you eat them!
Then I go home, completely tired from all this running, brain-using and not-candy-eating. But guess what!? No sooner than I get through the door, my kids are demanding food. “Didn’t I JUST feed you guys?”, I ask. They are not convinced — and not amused. I go to my kitchen and seek divine inspiration, the bolt of creativity that will sate them and bring peace to my house.
As I set to my cutting board and focus on the steps I will take to prepare a meal, a sense of calm comes over me. I naturally set myself into the process of creating, just like the generations of women before me, quietly humming over my work. I step out to my garden to gather some herbs (yes, really), taking in the fresh cut scents of rosemary and parsley and the smell of the earth itself. I have only to think about how the butter is melting in my pan — and the worries of the day melt away, too. Even if for only a little while, it is long enough.
I am blessed with being an artist at heart — with the ability to apply my hands to make something new. I am passionate behind a pottery wheel, but I (and you) can be equally creative and artistically inclined in the kitchen. And there is nothing quite so satisfying – centering even — as pursuing an activity you actually love, is there?
Soon, the little ones (and my patient, busy, equally stress-driven husband) are sitting around the dining table all smiles and a few of them are picking out the lima beans they don’t care for. And to be sure, it gets a little crazy in the kitchen, too. Sometimes cornbread burns, eggs curdle, and vegetables get tossed to the floor, but this creative time (and wine, to perpetuate the theme) helps me recharge and capture the inner peace that carries me into the next day.
O’neil’s cool and wry sense of humor has plugged in seamlessly and we’re lucky to have her here at Hartmanlaw. She graciously has played along for our edgy photo projects with Jerry King and JKing Images. May is National Photography Month and we are continuing to have fun using this forum to showcase our fun side and Jerry’s talent.