In Part One of this little series, I set off on a mission to have a dialogue about how we manage the stress of the demands of work life and — selfishly — part of that mission is hearing from others how the work | life | family | health “balance” is well-achieved. Christina Adams is one of my dear friends and one of Anna’s best friends as well. She never seems to get rattled by anything. I have rarely seen her stressed. Wisely, she also steadfastly refuses to switch positions with me at the law firm. -Andy
“Youga” and Stress
Once upon a time, I graduated from law school and headed off to my first professional job at a large firm in Atlanta, focusing my practice on commercial real estate. I fully expected that working on multi-million dollar, multi-state transactions for national and international clients would not be easy. I expected I might envy those residential real estate attorneys in their suburban offices where closings were simple and uncomplicated. Surely residential real estate would be neither intellectually challenging nor particularly stressful.
After my daughter was born, I realized there was more to life than commuting hours per day chasing down red-eyed, 80-hour work weeks. I left my position and enjoyed some time at home, working remotely on a few projects, but mostly working on being a mom. While I loved being home, reading Go Dog Go for the millionth time wasn’t exactly stimulating me intellectually. (“Look a dog party. A big dog party.” “Do you like my hat? No, I do not like that hat.” – Please don’t get me wrong, Dr. Seuss is a national treasure. But still . . .)
Enter, Ralph Walker.
Everyone who was anyone in Woodstock real estate knew the famous (infamous?) Ralph Walker. Real estate closing kingpin. Closing attorney extraordinaire. Gorgeous hair and luxuriant mustache.
But I digress.
When I contacted him to learn what the world of residential real estate was like and whether there might be a place for me in it, he graciously agreed to meet with me. But after an hour of amazing stories and jokes (“When I started doing closings so long ago I was so clueless I couldn’t even spell FHA . . .” yuk yuk) — interspersed with some excellent advice — he just didn’t have any spots open at his firm for me. So he directed me to this “new guy” whose firm was getting pretty busy and who might need an extra attorney around. The new guy — Andy Hartman – was a lot more handsome than Ralph and seemed much, much smarter. [Editor’s Note: the Editor reserves the right to make edits, which may be editorial in nature, and may not reflect the views of the Edited]
And thanks to Andy, I learned that I was COMPLETELY wrong about the nature of residential real estate. Simple? Ha! Not intellectually challenging? Ha! Not stressful? HAHAHAHAHAHA! There is a reason why we all agree that while T.R.I.D. may technically stand for the “TILA/RESPA Integrated Disclosure”, it equally means The Reason I Drink.
But also thanks to Andy’s wife Anna, I discovered a way to deal with the stress beyond (or before?) a glass or two (or bottle) of wine. Anna introduced me to the practice of yoga. Initially I was looking for a way to stop my knees from creaking and perhaps be a little more graceful (I never met a doorway I didn’t want to bump into – and not from that wine I mentioned previously). What I discovered was that an hour spent with an aging hippie telling me what to do and when to breathe was a huge stress reliever.
In that hour, I don’t make any decisions, answer any questions, take any phone calls or look at a computer screen. I’m so busy trying not to fall over (still not very graceful) I can’t worry about anything but keeping focused on following the directions of the instructor. And – bonus! My knees aren’t as creaky and I can touch my toes!
I can’t recommend highly enough taking an hour to do something active, not just for your physical health, but for your mental health as well. Personally, I prefer having an instructor who does all the thinking for me and an activity that doesn’t involve sweating (ick); but running, walking, weight-lifting, swimming, biking, team sports, martial arts or whatever you enjoy doing that occupies your mind and body can be a real life-changer.
When Andy asked me to write about what I do for stress-relief, I immediately thought I should do a little research, so I headed to Google to see about some statistics on yoga and stress. (You can find an excellent article about that here). Except in my haste, I typed “Youga and stress” into the search engine. Google immediately asked “Did you mean ‘Yoga and stress’?”
Actually, Google, I think in my case, “You-ga” might just be the better term for it.
— Thanks once again to Jerry King and JKing Images for the uplifiting, levitational work in bringing Christina’s story to life. May is National Photography Month, and we think Jerry is one of the best around. Next week Hartmanlaw attorney O’neil Supnick will take us into her twisted kitchen.