Monday, December 26, 2011

The First Day

Tomorrow, I start a new job in which I will be representing children who have been removed from their parents because of abuse or neglect. 

During law school, I participated in a law school clinic focused on representing children in abuse and neglect cases. Since then, I have worked for the presiding family court judge who became the presiding juvenile court judge while I worked for her, another judge on the Arizona Court of Appeals, and done contract work for several family law lawyers. In addition, I just spent a year studying the role of lawyers for children and written a thesis about the topic.

I have been doing yoga for almost 10 years and seriously for more than five. I graduated from Yoga Teacher Training in April 2010, and I have been teaching fairly consistently since then. If it is not abundantly obvious from this blog, yoga means far more to me than asana and breathing. It is a way of life, and my years of practice have fundamentally redefined how I view each and every day. In the most general and superficial sense, yoga has helped me see life through a sense of adventure rather than a sense of fear.

So why am I so afraid to start work as a children’s lawyer? After all, as everyone keeps reminding me, “it’s the perfect job for me.”

Energetically, fear and excitement are the same. We do, however, interpret them differently. In many ways, for me, my first day doing this work is the first day I have to walk the walk rather than just talk the talk. More importantly, I have been studying and learning about children, families, abuse, and neglect for so long that now I know just how much damage can be done to a family by the lawyer taking a wrong step. I don’t want to be that lawyer.

So yes, I’m nervous. But I’m also excited. I get to work with some of my favorite people in Tucson. I get to live back in Tucson, a city I took a few years to love, and then missed terribly for the past two years. I get to be back with some of my favorite yoga people, those who first introduced me to the holistic world it has created for me. And in this economy, I get to work at all. I seem to have hit the jackpot.

This job means seeing some of the most down-and-out people in society, but it also means getting to work with them to better understand their situation and how to break free of it. This is when the yoga becomes most important. It is through yoga that I have learned to stop and notice the everyday beauty in the world, to not take anything for granted, and to be grateful each and every moment. Remembering to refill the yoga bucket is essential when so much of the non-yoga bucket will be full of discussions about abuse and neglect.

The yoga bucket will also be there to remind me that some days there is no right answer. There is, however, always a way to care. There is always a way to share your heart with a child. There is always a way to smile. Some days, that is the best we have to give, and often, that is exactly what is most necessary.

New Zealand was an amazing opportunity to learn about lawyers for children, to see a new system, and to talk to people who have done this work in one of the most progressive systems in the world for years. It was also an opportunity to see unmatched, and often untouched, beauty. Now it is time to put all these years of study and watching to the test. It is time to walk the walk.

So with fear and excitement bubbling together within me, I start a new job. I have a feeling there will be a lot of posts to come about the need for yoga in law.


© Rebecca Stahl 2011, all rights reserved.


  1. Good luck with your new job! I check in on your blog every month or two and always find it interesting and inspiring.

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