Monday, November 5, 2012

Conferences and Gratitude

"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us." -- Albert Schweitzer

My love of conferences is no secret. After all, it was an Association of Family and Conciliation Courts conference where I first taught yoga outside of my teacher training. But more importantly, conferences are about coming together and learning from one another. They are an opportunity to be inspired over and over again to continue to do the work we do. It is at conferences, especially good ones, where that spark can be ignited by others.

And this being November, the Is Yoga Legal facebook page has gratitude quotes and reminders every day. I am using this month as an opportunity to focus on gratitude and being grateful for the amazing life I am blessed to lead. Some days are, of course, easier than others, but I do not think it is an accident for my life that this year’s AFCC mid-year conference started on November 1. It was an opportunity to bring together the yoga world where gratitude has been one of the greatest teachings and the professional world. 

In many ways, I had no business going to this conference. It was a child custody symposium. With my current job, I have nothing to do with child custody evaluations. But I knew I had to go. I knew I had to be there amongst these amazing and inspiring people. And I am forever grateful I was there. Sure, I actually learned a bit that is beneficial to my work. I learned a bit more about children’s memories and processing as well as more statistics about child sexual abuse, but as important as that is to my work, the real gratitude came from just being amongst some amazing people.

I finally was able to articulate what I love so much about this group of people, and I finally was able to realize how important having a solid support is in our work. First, why I love this group of people. They are some of the most brilliant people I have ever met. I learn more at these conferences than any others. This group of people are at the cutting edge of the research and the innovations. But that’s not what I love most.

What I love most is the type of people attracted to AFCC. It is an interdisciplinary and international organization. This means we learn from each other in ways that are simply not possible in other organizations. But more importantly it means we have to leave our preconceived notions at the door. Lawyers have to be a bit less adversarial, and psychologists sometimes have to give answers (just to throw a few unproven stereotypes into the mix). 

But it even goes beyond that. This organization is full of people always willing to help. It does not matter if you are a student or a psychologist or the chief judge of a country, your name badge has your first name on it, and that’s what people call you. And every one of them seems willing to talk and be a support. One of the staff members said that when members call the office looking for help, she knows she can find the right person to answer, and that person will always answer. That’s just the way people in this organization are.

And no, I’m not being paid to promote AFCC. I am just that grateful. When I was in law school, people always said the most important thing to have in a career is a mentor. In yoga, people always talk about finding the right teacher (or sometimes use the word guru). There is no doubt that we cannot do anything alone, whether it is a legal career or yoga. The most important step is finding a supportive and inspiring community.

So, another conference has come and gone. But with it a deep sense of gratitude. I am not only grateful to the amazing people at the conference, the wonderful conversations, and the never ending support from people no first year lawyer would usually have the opportunity to meet. I am grateful for the reminder to be grateful.

Yoga has helped me understand how to bring gratitude into my daily life. It has softened my heart to be able to simply say thank you when that is what is necessary. And this conference falling as it did at the very beginning of November was an opportunity to stop and think about that gratitude, to think how lucky I am to have found this family (ok, for those who know, to have grown up in this family). As I said above, some days are easier than others to find that gratitude in every moment, but a nice refresher every now and then is just what is necessary. Happy November!

How are you celebrating gratitude this month?!?!


© Rebecca Stahl 2012, all rights reserved.

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