Tag Archive for lawyers

Bumped off the treadmill of life

“Sometimes we assume that normal is the treadmill in the direction that we’re going. When you have this bump that takes you off your track, sometimes you realize, that wasn’t the path I was supposed to be on anyway.”

That’s what a woman lawyer told me when I interviewed her recently for an article for the Oregon State Bar Bulletin. It was a follow-up article of one I wrote for the same publication just before my move east, during the pandemic.

For the original June 2021 article, “Demands Drive Women to the Brink,” I interviewed a dozen Oregon lawyers (including just one man), about how they were coping with Covid. As might have been expected, all reported that their lives were in chaos, thanks to the unprecedented demands of remote work, home schooling, caretaking of youngsters and elders and at-home confinement of entire families during lockdown.

The update

For the update, I interviewed eight women. Nearly all reported major life changes since the pandemic. One got a divorce, one took early retirement, several switched to part-time work, and two stopped practicing the law altogether.

The woman who described her metaphorical bump off the treadmill had realized she was shortchanging her personal and family life by continuing to pursue her legal career. So she gave it all up and retired.

When I told the editor what I was hearing from the eight women, he was truly surprised. He had certainly expected resilience from these polished professionals, but the news that many of them had radically redesigned their personal and work lives came as a shock.

The take-away

The main point of the story was that most of these women reported that since readjusting their lives, they had never been happier. But until the pandemic turned their lives upside down, they hadn’t seen the folly of trying to maintain the status quo of a life that wasn’t satisfying to them.

I thought back to how I handled the pandemic and the lifestyle changes I made. Of course, it was no small thing that I left my birthplace to make a new home in the Midwest. Now I live next door to my son and his family, so in some ways it’s like I never left home. But the lesson of these Oregon women lawyers (and some ex-lawyers, now) is a good reminder to occasionally check if you’re steering your treadmill onto the right path in life — or if you’re due for a wake-up bump.