Anatomy of a Sea Change – from Law & Shoes to Yoga & Shoes

In the Australian vernacular a sea change occurs when when city dwellers head towards the ocean and coastal towns to start a new life. This all sounds quite idyllic surely?  Except that the real definition of sea change is a bit less dreamy and soft – not surprisingly as the phrase first appeared in The Tempest:

ARIEL [sings]:
Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell

"Full Fathom Five" Jackson Pollock 1947

Making life changes is never easy.  People will doubt your motivation and your integrity.  You will receive a lot of knowing smiles and comments that ‘you will be back’ mark their words.

Somehow by doing what you want with your life you are diminishing theirs.  Strange that.

Anyway, here it is folks. I am finally aligning my physical, spiritual and mental life.

Bakasana आसन Crane Pose - Photograph Copyright Neelesh Kale Photography Sydney 2011 for Tiaki Education

Arm balances are not about strength or about force but about balance, belief and bubble filling.

Yeah, I could land flat on my face but at the moment the absolute focus required to leave the past behind and move towards an unknowable future makes me feel intensely, undeniably alive.

Parsva Bakasana - Photograph Copyright Neelesh Kale 2011 for Tiaki Education

Now the trick will be to stay calm while the last of the wild winds of change blow around me. I feel fairly powerless to avoid being buffetted around, battered and bruised. But hopefully, with time I can be like the little bird in this story

Ṭiṭṭibhāsana टिट्टिभासन Firefly Pose - Photograph copyright Neelesh Kale 2011 for Tiaki Education

Finally here is a column that I was asked to write for the Alternative Law Journal (reproduced with the kind consent of the publishers below). These are pretty much are my last (written) words on the subject of my sea change. If you want to hear more, you’ll just have to come along to one of my yoga classes.

Writes of passage

Before I became a lawyer I used to love writing. There are a bundle of little bound notebooks of various sizes sitting in packing boxes in the garage as I write this. In each are sketches, photographs, slippery bits of paper with random words taped or stapled in place — a poem here, an overheard conversation on the train scribbled there. At the time I wrote these things I had no idea what to do with it all.

After I became a lawyer, I did a lot of writing. I wrote long, complicated letters of demand. I wrote statements of claim, briefs for barristers, affidavits for witnesses. Now and again I would write the odd legal article or paper for a partner whom I worked for. I co-wrote a couple of legal textbooks — a few articles on my own. While I slept, words snaked round my dreams with villainous intent. With so much of my waking and sleeping time taken up writing and thinking about writing, I no longer loved it.

When I moved to Australia, I was taught yoga by a barrister. For the first time in my life I managed to quieten the words that jostled around in my head at 3 am, at 4 am, at 5 am. I became obsessed with my yoga practice as antidote to the busyness in my life. Being a lawyer, however, I not only wanted to practice yoga, I wanted to read about it. Research it. The first blog that I ever read was a daily yoga practice journal called Days In My Lives written by a doctor starting out on his Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga journey .

Dr OKRGR’s intense and sometimes punitive Mysore yoga practice gripped me. If he fell on his head trying to drop back into Urdvha Danurasana, I could literally feel his shock, pain and frustration. I was impressed and moved that someone would choose to share so much of themself so publicly and openly.

Not long after I started reading Days in My Lives, I became pregnant with my son, lost my job and a bit of my sanity for a while. After my son was born, any reading and writing that I did was minimal. For a while I enjoyed sending little home-made cards with handwritten episodes of my life with The Child Who Would Not Sleep to family and friends at home, with pictures. Like scrapbooking, the little home-made card is a fuzzy, feel good stick to beat yourself around the head with. After a while I realised that my son was not keen on his mum having a hobby that didn’t involve swings and slides. Then I found myself back writing legal things before too long and so I stopped writing again.

If it had not been for Twitter, the writing hiatus might have been permanent. Something about writing in short, sharp bursts of conversation and listening to debates and discussion bubble up over everything from the best cup of coffee in Sydney to how to best wake up the rather foul smelling person who has just fallen asleep on you on the train inspired me.

It took one random question on Twitter from a blogging mum of four to get me to move from writing 140 characters to 500 and more. ‘Why don’t you blog?’ Brenda Gaddi (aka @mummytime on Twitter) asked me. I couldn’t think of a reason not to blog and so I did. The only thing that I could think of to write about, however, was my shoe obsession. Nothing else about me was remotely interesting. I had a look around to see if there were any other lawyers blogging about shoes and couldn’t find any. I named the blog ‘Law and Shoes’.

I published my first blog post for Law and Shoes on 4 September 2009. It was two lines long; I managed to get a grand total of 12 distinct reader hits and two reader comments. One was my own. I was smitten.

Law and Shoes has taken the place of my notebooks in the garage. I can use it to write about things that I have been thinking about and talking about for years. Or, I use it to take the place of my handwritten cards home and post copious pictures of my children getting up to no good. Best of all, I can catalogue my shoes and find ways to check them regularly to ensure that my husband isn’t chucking them out.

It started out as a blog about a lawyer’s shoe collection but through time it has become my journal — my opportunity for self-study and observance. When I blog, I simultaneously learn a lot about myself — that I can figure out how to use a blogging platform, create content, manipulate photos; that people enjoy what I write and that I can make people laugh. The blog has also become a medium for me to find blogs written by other people who have an even more deranged approach to footwear than I do. We enjoy each other’s company even though we have never met.

No-one out there is ever going to put me forward for a Blawg award. This is probably just as well because now my personal writing and teaching yoga is more important to me than the law ever was.

However, for those of you lawyers who do want to write about law whether in combination with fashion, fiction, book or film reviews here are a selection of my lawyers’ blogs for inspiration.

Blogs by Lawyers about the Law relating to Fashion

Fashionist at Law (Olswang’s) 

Law of Fashion (Charles Colman Law PLLC)

Blogs by Lawyers who love fashion

Corporette Fashion and Lifestyle Blog for Female Lawyers 

Law Fashionista

Lucky Cinderella

Siouxsie Law

Soshoemi 

Amicae Curiae

__________________________________________________________________

Have you undergone a sea change? If so, was it a positive experience or not? If you had the chance to do it all again what (if anything) would you do differently?

34 thoughts on “Anatomy of a Sea Change – from Law & Shoes to Yoga & Shoes

  1. Thanks for a great piece, and some spectacular poses! My sea change from commercial practice to academic practice came after only 18 months as a Lawyer in The City. When I returned to work at the same university I had studied at, I called my husband and said ‘I cannot believe I lasted only 18 moths in the real world!’ He replied without hesitation: ‘University IS the real world, most of the rest is illusion’. I never looked back.

  2. I am so proud of you! Leaving behind what is comfortable and understood and taking those steps into the unknown is scary. However, it is the scariness which ultimately brings such incredible rewards. The peace of mind, the happiness, the fulfillment…all of these things make the sacrifices and fear very much worth it.

    Case in point:
    I have a dear friend who I have worked with on a couple of shows. He has always had a dream of leaving Broadway and moving to the Cape to be an artist. He does amazing work, but he never fully listened to his inner voice. He never took the final steps away from a life that was comfortable, a life with a guaranteed, and very nice, income. He wanted that new life with a passion, just not enough passion to walk away from the known. Then, it happened. All the stars in his universe lined up, and I got the call that he was, indeed, leaving to pursue this dream. I was so sad to have to say goodbye to him, but at the same time I was filled with joy that he was living his dream. I was also feeling jealous that he was leaving NYC for something more, something that would fill his life with satisfaction and peace. I want to feel that satisfaction. I’ve taken life in NYC as far as I can. I’ve met all my goals, much earlier than expected. I am where so many others would like to be. However, it’s not enough. I know what I want, and I need to make it happen. Of course, unlike Julien, I have a husband to consider. I need to allow him to fulfill his time in NYC also. Still, we know what we both ultimately want, and I’m confident that it will come to pass. You reach a stage in your life when it all becomes clear. Inner peace and happiness is worth more than any monetary compensation.

    Finally, I was struck by 2 paragraphs that you wrote:

    “Making life changes is never easy. People will doubt your motivation and your integrity. You will receive a lot of knowing smiles and comments that ‘you will be back’ mark their words.

    Somehow by doing what you want with your life you are diminishing theirs. Strange that”

    These lines spoke to me because I have heard some people use these words in regards to Julien. They say “he’ll be back in September when he runs out of money”, or “he’ll be back when he gets bored making art”. Listening to these words, I finally took a good long look at the people who were making these comments. Invariably, they were made by people who were unfulfilled in their lives, bitter, sad, jealous. They were not so much saying what they believed about Julien, they were more making statements about their own more empty lives. Lives which didn’t have the magic of a dream to pursue, or a passion to channel.

    Just so you can see who I’m talking about, my friend is Julien Havard. He was Sutton Foster’s dresser on Broadway for 9 years. When Sutton won the TONY Award in June for Best Performance in a musical, she gave an emotional shout out to Julien. Watch the link, she wishes him well around the 2:00 minutes in mark

    And, there was even a link in the NY Daily News about him. Honestly, thanks to Sutton, Julien received the most amazing publicity he could have wished for.

    http://articles.nydailynews.com/2011-06-22/entertainment/29710646_1_dresser-caregiver-pop-art

    So, I say thumbs up, kudos, way to go, and many other enthusiastic wishes to you. Follow your dream, the rest of your life will be that much happier for it.

    Love to you,
    xoxoxo

    • Thanks Moira – it takes a long time for some of us to realise what or who we are in life. My mentor describes me as a casserole – someone who has to cook slowly over time and with love to become a tasty dish.

  3. PS: Good Lord woman! would you look at those arms? Simply amazing! My mid New Years resolution is to get myself to yoga class. Consider me inspired.

  4. Since arriving in Australia, I’ve gone from one unfulfilling role to another. The lack of purpose and direction in my working life really started to take its toll on my mental health, and I needed an outlet for my frustration, as well as a new focus and challenge.

    My friend suggested yoga, and I went for my first ever lesson about 7 months ago. I’m not flexible, my balance resembles a fawn on ice, but I’ve persevered, attending class twice weekly, and I think it gives me the mental and physical help I need to get through my working week.

    I learnt more about my body and mind’s capabilities through yoga, and I decided to start running – training which culminated in my running a half marathon in May.

    I handed my notice in at work last week. I have nothing specific to go to, just I knew I couldn’t do it any more. I read your blog with pride and emotion, knowing that both you and I have made the
    right decision.

    I will use my hiatus to practise yoga daily, start my running in earnest again and ultimately, to be true to myself.

    You are an inspiration, Megan and for that I thank you. I’m so happy for you.

  5. Yah for you. I have a dear friend who recently left a nursing career behind to expand her interest/obsession with yoga.

    She too had lots of lack lustre responses and now I understand a bit better why my encouragement meant so much.

    So all the best with you sea change may it be as fulfilling and wonderful as you desire.

  6. Wow this is great news Megan – I came on to Linkedin to refer someone to you for IP advice and I find you have done a runner and started your own business! I’d love to interview you for my Career and Leadership coaching program – Lawyers Moving On – its for lawyers like yourself who want to transition out of law. You will be an inspiration for many of my clients! Will be in touch, Fiona x

  7. Amazing yoga poses! I am really amazed!
    And I’m glad you are back! I missed reading your posts!
    I am sure you will sort whichever change it is out. You are a strong, intelligent and powerful woman – I think you probably heard this many times and honestly, I did too and I couldn’t listent to it anymore… but I say this now with the best of intentions, believe me!
    Ah, and beautiful, funny and very nice too!
    Sea change… well, I had many many in my life. People say I am unpredictable, and probably I am, since many say this. I think I look for adventure, I don’t think of myself as unpredictable. But anyway, if someone invites me to a trip to Brunei (just as an example), NOW, saying “you have 10 min to get ready and depart”, I would go.
    I guess this shows a lot, who I am…
    I decided to move cities and countries many times.
    Every change taught me a lot, no doubt, and I agree with your words about blogging. That taught me a lot as well, and I got to “know” amazing people, and I learned a lot from them.
    The biggest change, anyway, was last year, losing my parents. I am still figuring out who I am after that. That was THe change of my life. Not a good one. But it’s life.
    I hope you have a great week and I am so glad you are back, once more!

  8. Seven years ago, I left a lucrative but mind-numbing job at which I was terrible. As the Peter Principle teaches us, one is often promoted to the level of incompetence. Working within the traditional health care environment in the US meant I was in charge of 35 earnest, talented young people trying to serve people with disabilities, while the corporation which owned us squeezed them dry, sabotaged their dreams, and tried to compromise their ethics. I was supposed to be the company woman, but I couldn’t do it. Sick physically, and at heart, I took a leap into a private practice based on quality of life for those I serve, but with little financial remuneration. I do other work to pay bills, and this work to save my soul. We must all confront it some day: the realization that who we are must be fed, and cannot be silenced. I hear you.

    • “That who we are must be fed and cannot be silenced”.

      We can probably silence that internal voice for a while but somehow eventually it pipes up. If we continue to ignore it, something within us will slowly start to die. Hope.

  9. I was Caliban once in a production of ‘The Tempest’: “Be not afeard…” Seems appropriate given the timbre of this post.

    Beautiful, impressive poses, by the way. I wish I was flexible.

    Beautiful writing too. Don’t stop.

  10. Firstly: those photos are amazing.

    Secondly: YOU are amazing, and I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that you will make a success of your sea-change. And we’ll all be here supporting you, and reading anything you care to write for us 🙂

    • The best news for me was that you won your case. I wish it was always thus so. This is because you encourage other and in karmic terms, if you do good, good comes back atcha in bucketloads.

      Still drooling over the holiday photos so I am by the way.

  11. You have a blog award… on my blog! I think this is not exactly the kind of award that fits your blog, but it’s an amazing blog and I really wanted to mention you!

    • Denise – you and I will get a chance for one of those big bone crunching IRL hugs one day. I can sense it. Meantime – flattery is always appreciated! Good luck with things and I promise not to be such an occasional correspondent. Much love to you.

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