Find Your Pace

I wrinkled up my brow, switched tabs on my browser, and opened up the lecture outline I was listening to. The instructor had completely lost me. Google, define domicile. What was this lecture even about? Subject-Matter Jurisdiction, oh yeah, I forgot. I was in way over my head and could hardly make sense of anything being presented. One thing was sticking: The instructor kept repeating how ‘testable’ this material was. Clearly, I would be listening to this particular lecture over and over again.

I was studying for the Multistate Bar Exam. Kind of. Actually, I was studying for my first year of law school, which hopefully will be starting next fall. And if all goes according to plan, on a part-time school schedule, my bar exam is five years out from now. The education app I had purchased was emphasizing 1L information that I would likely be tested on later when I took the bar.

Several years ago I began a new adventure, in addition to mothering foster children. I decided what the foster system needs is more dependency court personnel who understand childhood trauma. Not people who took a two hour class on Adverse Childhood Experiences and that was all, but really understood it. Even better, lived it. That seemed like a good fit for me, but there was one major problem: In order to work as a legal decision maker, one needs a law degree. At that point, I didn’t even have an undergrad in my name. I had some serious work cut out for me.

So, why would I be working so far ahead? As a mother of six, people often ask me how I get so much done in addition to the momming part of life. The truth is, there’s plenty of people out there who accomplish much more in a day’s time than I do, but that’s alright, I have my own pace.

I’ve been a distance runner for years now and frequently live life the way I train and race. My motto is this: A little a day goes a long way. I do a lot of my life as though I were at mile six of a marathon; slow but steady – never stopping – just pacing out the miles. I do cleaning piece by piece, a little here a little there, to keep up. I do mail and paperwork a bit at a time. I finished my undergrad by taking two courses a semester the whole way through the year, fall, spring, and summer, over the span of several years. I wish I could sit down and bang through an entire project at once, but as any parent knows, that method is rarely feasible. Interruption is to be expected and embraced. Life progresses differently when you have dependents to care for.

Back to the bar and my 1L year. I’m 100% new to law. 100%. My parents didn’t even attend high school. Their education ended at eighth grade. Everything I see, hear, and read relating to law is brand new to me. By beginning to familiarize myself with the vocabulary and major court cases now, I hope I can off-load a portion of the inevitable mental fatigue that will come with law school. I’m trying to pace myself now so that I don’t mentally crash next fall. In my spare time I have been using DuoLingo to learn some Latin, a language still very present in our legal system. If I get around to it, I might add French as well for the same reason.

When I started my undergrad, my university sent me a piece of marketing material that contained a picture from one of their graduations. I hung up the image and looked at it frequently until I had the picture memorized in my head. Then, whenever the going got tough, I focused on that image, the girl with the mortarboard. Someday, that will be me. I can do this. One assignment at a time, I am getting there. I am doing the same thing now for my next level of education. I am watching YouTube explanations of cases. I am reviewing 1L flashcards. I am putting images of doctorate level graduation attire into my head. I’m trying to pace myself now for a successful five year run to the finish line – a law degree and pass on the bar exam. I would be completely remiss if I didn’t mention just how vital my husband is to the success of my endeavors. This truly is a team effort.

With those thoughts in mind, onward. What can you accomplish if you set aside just a small portion of your day, every day, and stick to it?

Photo by Giammarco Boscaro on Unsplash.