Letter from the President – March 2024

by Collette Leland, Winston & Cashatt, Lawyers
EWI of Spokane Chapter President

Raise your hand if you have way too much on your plate lately. Wow. That is a lot of us. I had a feeling I was not the only one feeling more than a little overwhelmed by life. No matter the industry, it just seems like there are not enough of us to do all the work that still needs to be done. And that’s not even counting all of our non-work obligations: family, exercise, community groups. When did “self-care” become on our to-do lists instead of something on our get-to lists?

I know I am not alone in feeling that all these gifts in my life are becoming burdens because of their sheer volume compared against the limited time I have to devote to them all. Honestly, why in the world do I feel that I’ve failed because I am limited by time just like every other mortal? Instead of just accepting the lack of sleep and stress that comes from too many obligations/blessings, I increase my suffering by telling myself that I have failed by somehow not finding time in the week to prepare for trial, mentor associates, make gourmet meals each night, call my mother, and hit the gym every day.

But, change is coming. Last week, I arrived home from work and realized that it was still light outside. Between the coming vernal equinox and our IT director’s mandate to log off my remote connection before 5:30, I had arrived home before twilight. It felt very decadent.

More than just the lengthening hours of daylight, however, I have remembered a trick that I learned when my children were small. Then, I was living outside Detroit with very little financial security, away from family and friends, in an unhappy marriage. I did not like Detroit. I felt very alone and vulnerable. I was waiting for my life to change, thinking that change had to come to me in order for me to be happy. The Buddhists call this state aversion. My aversion to how my life was, caused me to suffer more than I would if I simply accepted the fact that this was how my life was.

So, I started praying for joy. My life did not not change in any remarkable way, but my happiness and peace of mind returned.

The other day when I got home a bit earlier, I remembered the lesson of praying for joy. I may not be able to create the margin in my life that I crave, but it can change my attitude.  I am busier than I have ever been, which can cause stress as I fear that I am not adequate to the task. But, even if I cannot change my to-do list, I can accept that this is my life now and that all of these things that crowd my days are things I value. I can be grateful that I get to do them and I can accept—without judgment—the fact that like all other living creatures, I am bound by time.

Our Chapter and board are bound by time as well. Accepting our limitations has impacted the way we approach events and the asks we present to the Chapter at large. We recognize that all of us are feeling the pinch of a lot of work to be done, but fewer people to do it, and the squeeze of the competing demands of family, home, and self-care. Because of this, we are trying to focus on fewer events that are more closely tailored to our mission, and we are purposefully extending grace to ourselves and to each other.

This month, that has resulted in the decision to push our special business meeting from March to June.  The Board has approved proposed changes to our standing rules to clarify our process for approving new members, creating an additional procedure to recognize the contributions of existing members, and performing a little clean up. We believe it is important that you get sufficient notice to attend a town hall to discuss these proposed changes. Primarily as a result of my work schedule, we were not able to get the notices out soon enough. Watch for them in May.

In the meantime, please join us this month at Barrister Winery to hear inspirational community leader and advocate Kiantha Duncan. See Kiantha’s TedxSpokane talk here: Kiantha Duncan: A Perfect 10 | TED Talk. Come early to help fill string bags with treats to take to Regal Elementary for our first of two Reading Rallies of 2024 on March 25. If you have not participated in one of our Reading Rallies before, please reach out to Bridget Walden to sign up. Spending an afternoon with a group of students is a great way to change your focus from stressing over your to-do list to taking joy from your get-to list.