Black Lives Matter. Racism Must End.

“If you believe in a cause, be willing to stand up for that cause with a million people or by yourself.” ― Otis S. Johnson

We are vocally taking a stand against white supremacy, racism, and white privilege. We are educating ourselves to make us better advocates, to recognize and acknowledge systemic racism and white privilege. These issues exist in every sector, the law included. We will fight for equality, social change, and justice. We will do better. We will stand by you. One step, one action, towards a better future. The luxury of silence is over.

Founding Partner Anna Byrne started the firm with the goal of hiring people of different colors and ethnicities. “I have always been looking for and seeking ways to help lift those that might not have access to what I have had, whether through hiring, volunteering, choosing where to live, and where to open a business. I seek out and work with other professionals and diversity is a mindful part of that selection process. Walking the talk is very important to me and I would not tolerate anything else.”

We hope the following resources begin an educational foundation to set you in the right direction, to fight with us. This may just be a start, but we are committed to seeing it through, and invite you on our journey to a better world.

Waking Up White – the “101” book for white people.
Movement for Black Lives – the umbrella organization, including for Black Lives Matters, that gives us daily/weekly actions.
Showing Up For Racial Justice – specifically for white people to learn and organize in ways that don’t further harm and exhaust people of color.
From Privilege to Progress – the national movement to desegregate the conversation about race.
The 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge – a FABULOUS tool designed to push a person quickly up the learning and acting curve.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” by Michelle Alexander.
Between the World and Me,” a letter by a Black man to his teenage son about what being Black symbolizes and means in America today. By Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Anna: “Former U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe Shares Voice of Emerging Leader, Tessa Solomon”

Anna: Commit to the 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge

Noah: “Walking While Black – Garnette Cadogan on the Realities of Being Black in America”

Sidewalk chalk

Team member Audrey Gardner has been attending Black Lives Matter vigils in Watertown, MA with her family. Her recent pictures reflect some harsh truths and community responses – when someone tried to wash out the word “Black” from Black Lives Matter, and George Floyd’s name, other members stepped in to re-apply chalk. No community is immune to racism. To find out more information about how you can get involved, visit


Sidewalk chalk

Be Gentle With Yourself

My daughter is 7 months old and she loves to enthusiastically grab at people’s noses, cheeks, and hair – mine being no exception.  I calmly stroke her cheek and nose and tell her, “Gentle…gentle…you need to be gentle.”  As she has started to vigorously play with toys and shakes them painfully close to her face, or as she desperately claws at her ears for relief from teething, drawing blood on occasion, my ‘gentle’ mantra has quickly turned to, “Gentle…gentle…always be gentle with yourself.”

I often say things to my daughter that with proper reflection are what I need to tell myself.  And so, I have started saying to myself, on regular occasion, “Be gentle with yourself.”

I have found by replacing my thought of not being good enough, to being gentle with myself, brings a sense of calmness and light to upsetting or dark moments.

Flight attendants tell you with good reason to put your oxygen mask on before assisting others.  We need to be gentle with ourselves first, before we can be gentle with others.  For this new year, I challenge you on a daily basis to be gentle with yourself.  It is a not a challenge to be gentle with others, although this will naturally follow.

I am gentle with myself when I am exhausted and feel unproductive.  I am gentle with myself when I let my daughter cry in the car instead of rushing to the backseat to comfort her.  I am gentle with myself when I climb in the backseat to comfort my crying daughter because letting her cry was too hard.  I am gentle with myself when I can’t pump enough milk for my daughter to have at daycare and supplement with donor milk.  I am gentle with myself when I heat up soup for lunch because I didn’t have the energy or time to cook for the week.  I am gentle with myself when I have a beer or glass of wine.  I am gentle with myself when I am running late.  I am gentle with myself when I let the housework go to spend time with my daughter. I am gentle with myself when the weekend escapes me and I fail to call my parents.  I am gentle with myself when I look in the mirror and don’t see the same person I was two years ago.  I am gentle with myself when I am not the friend, daughter, or wife I want to be.  I could go on for pages about all the times, each day, I am gentle with myself…

Although right now I don’t have the energy for much, I do have the energy to be gentle.  As I become gentler with myself, I believe improvement and change will follow.  And at the very least, it will give my daughter the confidence to always be gentle with herself.

Having it all?

For 41 weeks and 3 days, I thought about, prepared for, researched, and dreamed about the  birth and delivery of my daughter.  I had a very thoughtful Birth Plan (you can read all about it here!).  I refused to allow others’ birth stories (good and bad) to effect what I envisioned for my own.  I honestly can tell you, I did not spend this much energy on preparing for the bar exam.  Every moment I was not working, I was thinking about and preparing myself for a natural, unmedicated birth.  I was well-aware of what could go wrong, but I chose not to dwell on those possibilities.  All of my preparation and planning could never fully prepare me.  For what you lack is the ability to foresee or feel the magic that is about to take place.

Here is the abridged version of my birth story, which is 9, single-spaced pages!  My plan was to give birth at the Cambridge Birthing Center with my doula, the on-call midwife, and my husband.  This was the plan when I went into labor, at around 9:45 pm, 9 days after my due date.  I labored overnight and slept in between contractions to prepare myself for the long journey ahead.  Early the next morning, my husband called our doula who he had been in touch with the evening prior.  When she arrived, she was able to check how far along I was because she fortuitously is also certified nurse midwife (and registered nurse).  I was 8 centimeters dilated.  (I allowed myself from time to time to envision birthing at home.  But I would quickly refocus and think of the birthing center.  I thought as a first-time mom that I would want to be in a professional setting, steps from a hospital. I also thought I would want to have a water birth, and ended up being completely repelled by thought of water during labor! However, if I was true to myself, birthing at home should have been my Plan “A” from the beginning.  But, sometimes plans turn out better than ever expected!)  After it registered that I was 8 centimeters (and 8 is very close to 10!), I said to my doula, “I don’t want to go anywhere.  I am not going anywhere.”  She didn’t skip a beat and immediately started preparing for a home birth, including calling on an additional midwife to support us.

My birth was magical.  I say that with all sincerity. My birth was MAGICAL.  I labored exactly as my body and nature intended.  I did not have an ‘easy’ or ‘quick’ labor (17 hours in total; 5 ½ hours of pushing), but as a first-timer I didn’t know what to expect. Time during labor was ‘wibbly wobbly;’ I had no concept of it.  I was in an alternate state of reality, charged up with perfectly balanced hormones that allowed me to rest in between contractions or push for long periods when my contractions never seemed to stop.  I pushed in every position imaginable, guided by my midwives and supported by my incredible husband.  Although my bedroom was light (as it was daytime by this point), it was completely dark in my memories.  It was like I was at the end of a very long tunnel.  I could kind of hear and see what was happening, but was not completely present.  I even said to my husband at one point, after really listening to myself, “I swear this sounds so much worse than it feels!”  Birth is very primal, and I was no exception.  It was the strongest and most empowered I have ever felt in my life.  And at the end of it, my sweet daughter entered the world.  Two hours later, it was just the three of us (me, my husband, and Tillie), snuggled up in bed with no signs that I had just given birth in the very same spot a mere two hours prior!  A perfect ending to an incredible journey.

Welcome, Matilda “Tillie” Artemis Dzialo!

Fast-forward 15 weeks, and it was time for me to return to work.  For all the labor preparation I did, it quickly became apparent that I failed to do any preparation for once she arrived, or my return to work.  No amount of reading could have prepared me for the physical pain I would experience hearing her cry.  Or the feeling I get when I watch her smile and learn new skills.  Or how even more deeply I fall in love with my husband when I watch them together.  Or the hormone rush I experience when I nurse her.

I have now been back at work for one week, and two days.  It is amazing how quickly we are all adjusting to the new routine.  I love my job and using a very different part of my brain than I had been using while on maternity leave.  My daughter is thriving at daycare, where she is exposed to music, culture, and other infants (Kaizen is part of the daycare’s mission statement!) But I miss her.  I feel like a part of me is missing when I am away from her.

The notorious Ruth Bader Ginsburg has famously said, “You can’t have it all at once. Over my lifespan, I think I have had it all….” I think about this often.  When I am at work, I am without my daughter and my identity as a ‘mom.’  When I am with my daughter, I am without my identity as an ‘attorney.’ As much as I both want a career and to spend every moment with her, I realize that is not feasible.  I had to make the difficult choice to return to work, and sacrifice countless hours and ‘first times’ with her.  But I know in the long run, this is right for my family. I was lucky that I had the choice of whether or not I returned to work.  I am thankful for a partner that would support me no matter what I decided.  I am thankful for a boss that was so supportive before, during, and after my pregnancy.

Returning to work was not easy.  My first day back was hard – harder than giving birth.  I cried, a lot.  But the second day was easier, and now a week and two days later, easier still.  It will be hard at times, but overall this is the best for our family.  I want my daughter to thrive away from us.  I want her to be exposed to more than I can offer.  I want to be a mom, and I also want to be a lawyer.  I truly love my job and my firm.  I truly love my child.

I have it all, but just maybe not all at once…and that’s okay.


I am a huge Doctor Who fan and I often think of time in the Doctor’s description as “a big ball of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff.”  Time is not linear.  Sometimes it is slow…sometimes fast…sometimes swirling…. Pregnancy and the 40 (plus or minus) weeks of it, reveals time in many forms.

The first part of my pregnancy was slow…anxiety provoking.  My husband and I suffered a miscarriage three years ago that marked us, deep into our cores.  Like a scar, you heal, but it never goes away.  I wear it like a scarlet letter at times, feeling damaged or that something is missing from our lives.  But most of the time, in brutal honesty, it is a beautiful, positive part of our lives because of how much it transformed us – made us grow, made us better people, made us want to live a better life for our child who didn’t get the chance.  We had to make that choice – die with her, or live for her. I needed to find purpose in the loss, and I feel so fortunate that I was able to do just that.

In the beginning of my pregnancy I feared the same thing would happen again.  As the weeks progressed and I approached the 11-week mark, the point where I suffered the miscarriage in my first pregnancy, I was filled with emotion and irrational, palpable fear.   Even though this pregnancy was completely different, I still could not help worry that in an instant, it would be over.  Time dragged on and seemed like the longest months of my life.

Once I hit my second trimester it was like time was on cruise control!  Speeding down the highway, no traffic, we sailed through the next months.  The end was still far enough away that it wasn’t a constant thought.  We didn’t have much to do to prepare and everything seemed like it could wait.  I plugged away with work and felt I could be pregnant for another year!

A few weeks into our third trimester, time started to slow again.  The end was in sight but still seemed so far away.  The excitement washed away the fear.  We still had a lot to do to get ready, but I remember thinking around 32 weeks “this past week was so painfully slow, and we have eight more to go!”  It just seemed like the last trimester would move at a snail’s pace.  And it did, for a couple more weeks…

Then we hit 35/36 weeks and the reality that in a month (plus or minus), we would be parents started to move time ahead.  The last few weeks have been flying by and now it just seems like she is going to be here in no time.  I am checking off the items on my list to prepare for her arrival.  Our birth plan is moving forward perfectly and our midwife and doula appointments are reassuring that we have every chance of the birth being exactly as we hope.  It is finally ‘real’ and the excitement can be overwhelming.  I can’t believe I will be 38 weeks tomorrow!

I feel like everything is in order, except for work.  Trying to get the last-minute things done before my departure are a challenge.  I have moments of minor panic thinking that I just need a few more weeks, just a few more weeks…it seems like time has swallowed me and I am just rotating in a giant circle never getting anywhere.  I am happy to have the distraction though.  Just sitting around waiting for her to come would not be productive.  I plan to work until I go into labor, and am very supported by my providers on this front.  I have been making plans past my due date, since statistically I will be late.

Time is currently wibbly, wobbly.  It will change when she arrives. Our daughter will have no sense of time, and I will be up when she is up, and hope to sleep when she sleeps.  Days will be slow.  Years will be fast.  I will try to live in the moment, but will surely wish away parts, and then long for others to hold still.

For now…I will hold on and let time take me.


My Daughter’s Television Debut

I recently had the unique and fun opportunity to be featured on NBC for a news segment on “Budgeting for Baby.”  Watch it here! Nora Yousif, CFP, Associate Vice President of Williams Investment Group, is a third-generation financial advisor, and is often featured on NECN’s Money Saving Monday segments.  She connected me with NBC producers regarding the segment.

I was featured as the expectant mother (with no mention of my professional background as it would cause too much complexity to the story).  I would happily just be a pregnant lady for the afternoon.  My husband was both relieved and offended after a scheduling conflict left him out of the segment.  He was billed as the ‘eye candy’ anyway – as if he has no grasp on budgeting or handling a baby since he is not physically carrying her.  I understand his mixed feelings.

It was surreal having a camera crew in our apartment.  I was not sure how I would feel having such a secret window into my life broadcast through the universe, but it was filmed very well and did not feel invasive.  It took over an hour to capture the few minutes on film.  I was directed on where to stand, how to walk, when to pick up baby clothes, asked to read a book in a chair….  They used a lot of insider ‘lingo’ that I was not familiar with, but could quickly catch on (all the terms now having escaped my foggy, pregnancy brain).

The crew, who was professional, accommodating, and made me feel so relaxed, entered my home and immediately went to work.  I was asked many questions that I am sure I rambled on and made little sense, but they were always supportive and made me feel like my responses were just what they needed!  Although we had little baby ‘stuff’ in the apartment at the time, they made me feel like everything was perfect and they could work with the items we did have.

I must say, it was a bit nerve-racking talking about myself!  I am used to discussing the topics of life insurance, money, estate plans, guardianships, etc., because I do this for a living.  But I am usually talking about other people.  It was definitely a different experience talking about myself. I felt a bit vulnerable and exposed.  But also, was made to feel so comfortable that I didn’t need to sensor myself in any way.

All in all, the experience was so memorable and I would do it again!  It will be most exciting to share with our daughter someday.  My husband already downloaded the broadcast to our home server so we can show it with her years down the road when the internet link is no longer working.  We created an email account for our daughter, and periodically email her when exciting things happen.  So, of course I have already emailed her all about the news segment!  It was her first television debut!  She was very well-behaved; I couldn’t be prouder of her. 🙂

Valentine’s Day Is All About L.O.V.E.

Nothing says “I love you” like naming someone the guardian of your child under your Will, right?  Not necessarily. The choice of guardian is such a difficult decision for many of my clients.  As I approach motherhood, I now understand the complexities involved with choosing the right person.

Fears of offending loved ones.  Fears of burdening loved ones.  Fears that this could actually happen.  Fears that I will make the wrong choice.  Fears that the person I nominate won’t be willing at the time to serve.  Fears of uprooting my child to a new town.

There are so many thoughts and concerns that go into choosing a guardian.  A common dilemma many of my clients experience is when they want to name friends over family in this role.  This path is a tough one and often leads to much conversation around their logic and thoughts.  Some of my clients will not even share their decision with anyone but me, because they fear telling the family member that they decided to choose their neighbor over him/her.  Others have the conversation but it is upsetting and can cause hurt feelings to both parties.

Another common situation I encounter is when each parent doesn’t want the other’s sibling to serve and they end in a total standstill.  One parent wants one thing, and the other wants another.  If you are not on the same page as a couple, this can cause serious friction in the relationship.

I, myself, go in a circle when thinking about the right guardian choice.  I am lucky in that I have multiple candidates, each of whom brings something unique and wonderful to the table.  But I can’t choose multiple people, unrelated, and living in entirely different states.  I will need to make a final choice, and it is not going to be easy.  Someone is going to be hurt.  I like to approach situations with honesty and discussion so this will not be a secret.  But that approach is just not an option for some of my clients. My husband and I will have our final decision before I give birth to ensure our estate planning documents are in order before she even arrives.  It is never too early to plan!  And I have the comfort in knowing that as time goes on, I can always change my mind.

There are many considerations to give when choosing a guardian.  First, think LOVE.  Love of course is always a consideration!  The top in my book.  Do you love this person?  Do your kids love this person?  Does this person love your kids?  Are they going to love you for naming them, or secretly resent you?  On a most basic level you must have confidence that this person loves your children, and will love them just as much as you.  They are going to replace you in a sense and that is hard to accept.  But that is a good thing, and you want the person you name to become the parental figure to your child.  The love your child and the guardian need to share is crucial to both of their survival.

Four other factors of L.O.V.E. to consider: Location, Opportunity, Values, Employment.

Location, location, location.  An often-forgotten consideration is where does this guardian live?  Are they down the street?  Across the country?  On the other side of the globe?  If something happened to you suddenly, your children are going to be dealing with so much loss and heartache.  If they also must leave their home, leave their school, their friends, how much harder will it be for them?  Sometimes staying local is not an option, but it certainly should be a consideration.  If the guardian lives far away, would they be willing to relocate for your child?  Move into the family home?  Causing your child the least amount of disruption to their normal life and routine can help immensely in the grieving process.

Opportunity.  It is not a bad thing to consider the opportunities available to your child by naming one person over the other.  If the guardian is a world-traveler and speaks 5 different languages, think about the exposure your children will gain!  Be an opportunist when it comes to your kids.  If your guardian has connections to the best schools, this could play a key role in their success in college.  Or maybe he is versed in a musical instrument and can bring a new interest to your child.  Or maybe the guardian lives a completely different life than you, surrounded by diversity or salt of the earth folks that can give your child a different perspective on the world.  Opportunity as a concept is very broad.  Think about your own shortcomings.  You might find the perfect person to balance out what you have brought to your child, with what he is missing.

Values.  What are the core values of your guardian?  What is her parenting style?  What is her religious preference? What are her political views?  What is most sacred to her?  What values will she try to instill in your child?  Do you agree with them?  Are you concerned by them?  You want to ensure that the legacy you build and leave aligns with the guardian’s.  Are you fundamentally against guns?  Then maybe naming your best friend who happens to be married to a card-carrying NRA member isn’t the best fit.  Think of the values that surround your guardian as well – the values of each person your child will be exposed to under that person’s care.

Employment.  Your guardian’s job is something to also consider.  Is the guardian a traveling surgeon that requires her to be away from home the majority of time?  Then who is actually going to be taking care of your kids – a nanny?  Is that what you want?  Maybe you do, but maybe you don’t.  Or does your guardian change jobs as often as the seasons?   Is this going to add stress to the home life or set a bad example for your child?  Or is the guardian someone in a very stressful position that brings his work home with him – both literally and figuratively?  You do not want to gloss over someone’s job status or their potential path in life.  If you have given up your career to be a stay-at-home-parent, then it may be important that the guardian is in the same position.  Or maybe you have a very successful career and want your child to be exposed to the same.  In any scenario, give thought to exactly what your guardian does, and the time involved.  You want to be sure that he has the capacity to handle a child on top of a career.

At the end of the day, we are attracted to like-minded people and your guardian will be no exception.  You want to choose someone that is going to continue the parenting style you have already set in place, and give your child the life you want them to have.  And in the end, it all comes down to love

“Love is all you need.” ~The Beatles

My Birth “Plan”

I am a planner – it is not only what I do professionally, but it is the core of my personality.  It is no accident that I am due in May and have the summer off for maternity leave – with August being notoriously slower than other months as people enjoy their last days of summer.

So, it should be no surprise I have a fairly set birth “plan.”  As they say, “A goal without a plan is just a wish!”  In this context, though, I feel my goal of natural childbirth is a combination of both “plan” and “wish.”  So much of it is outside of my control.

I plan to birth at a birthing center with my husband, midwife, and doula.   I have yet to see a doctor during my pregnancy and if all goes accordingly to plan, will not see a doctor during my pregnancy.  The birthing center is practically connected to a hospital so I can easily be rushed over if an emergency arises (I say this because the response of “Your baby could die!” is a strangely common one).

I am fully aware that several things may derail my plan, including 1) if our baby is breach; 2) if I develop a medical condition later in pregnancy that makes me too high risk; or 3) if I just can’t stand the pain and want medical intervention!

What I find surprising is that the least supportive people I come across about my birth plan are women – and women who have given birth!  They often look at me like I have six heads and don’t understand why I would even entertain this thought of a natural birth because they only got to “x” centimeters and their pain was so bad they would have killed someone to make it stop.  Then the conversation inevitably proceeds to their horror of a birth story and how they just made it out alive – and that was with an epidural!  And this is not all women, of course, but enough to put a damper in my excitement over talking about my birth plan.  Ina May, the mother of authentic midwifery, eloquently described how discussing terrifying birthing stories is practically a national pastime!

True, I have not yet given birth.  True, I have no comprehension of the actual pain I will feel.  True, I have no idea the strength that it takes to give birth (let alone naturally).  The conversation of my birth plan usually ends on a positive note, “Well if you actually do it, then I will be impressed!”  I feel like people talk to me like I have just announced I will attempt to travel to Mars.  “Oh sure, Kristin…yeah, yeah, yeah…I’ll believe it when I see it…” THIS IS CHILDBIRTH!  The most natural thing next to death.  Women all around the world are giving birth naturally at this very moment.  Our bodies were made for this.  Unfortunately, natural childbirth has become a concept close to having dental work without Novocain.  Sure, you can have a cavity filled without it, but why would you want to?

I have several reasons for wanting to birth naturally.  I will not get into the state of our hospitals, insurance, and statistics for infant and mother mortality rates.  The most compelling reasons are specific to me and no one else.  Whatever birth plan a woman chooses, it should be accepted and supported.  I try to make no judgments of women who give birth at home, or through a planned c-section, or with the most medicine possible in a hospital.  It is the same reason I do not judge woman who choose formula over breastmilk, or go back to work versus staying home.  That is their plan and what works for them.  This is my plan, because it is what I hope will work for me.

Much of my attraction to a natural birth is that I don’t react to medication like others react. The epidural contains narcotics or opioids, and I do not play nicely with these medications.  I have had medical issues in the past that required prescribed narcotics.  I simply do not react to narcotics like others do.  For example, I didn’t know until I was in the middle of Lasik eye surgery that valium makes me completely speedy!  Vicodin, Percocet…forget it…I would rather just take Tylenol.  Once I had intravenous Dilaudid, which felt like an on-fire cement truck was traveling through my veins as an elephant sat on my chest.  When the tears started streaming down my face and a panic attack set in, the doctors had to flush me with saline to try and dilute the medication and get it out of my system.

I have a very palpable fear of how I will react to an epidural.  And I do not want to find out whether that fear is justified in the middle of what should be the most magical moment of my life.  I have heard epidural horror stories just like I have heard epidural wonder stories.  My sister, for example, had two amazing birthing experiences that included epidurals (and episiotomies – don’t tell her I told you! She is fairly private).  My sister would not have changed her birthing experience for anything and thinks of it fondly.

Besides my fear of the epidural and how I will react to it, I have spent the past few years focusing on my health, the food I eat, the products I use, and how to better myself physically and mentally.  I have connected to living life as naturally as possible, and what is more natural than childbirth? I am excited to feel so physically connected to the birth, and less fearful of the pain.  I think there are many techniques and support systems that help women give birth naturally that are crucial to the process.  This is not something I will be able to accomplish alone.  I will need my husband to set me straight when I beg for medicine.  I will need my doula to assure me that the pain is normal and that I am not dying.  I will need my midwife to encourage me to keep going when I think I can’t and every cell in my body is screaming with pain and exhaustion.  As they say, it takes a village to raise a child.  I think it also takes a village to birth a child.

Come May (if all goes accordingly), I will know whether my plan worked out or not.  I hope no matter what ends up happening that I am in the moment and embrace the process as it unfolds. If I am told I must have a c-section because my child is breach or in danger, then I hope to embrace that process and not let it ruin my birth experience.  I am trying not to be so invested in the outcome that my experience is ruined if it does not go exactly according to plan.  I am trying to be open and flexible, while holding on to my wish for natural childbirth.

So, let’s all make a pact.  The next time a woman tells you her birth plan, or that she plans to go back to work full time, or that she lets her baby cry it out at night, let’s all just be decent human beings and support that person instead of judging them (either secretly or openly).  We are all doing the best we can with what we are given.  Even if you don’t think I can handle the pain of natural childbirth, humor me (sans eye roll).  Let me live in my dream world while I can.  Believe me, if my plan does not work out I will have my own feelings to deal with and certainly do not need any added judgment.   Support, support, support.  It is all any of us needs.  (And a huge thank you to the many people in my life that have been so supportive of my plan. You truly make me believe this is not only the right choice, but possible!)

How I Kaizen’d My Way to Motherhood

“Kaizen,” which is the Japanese word for improvement, is a concept engrained in our firm’s culture.  All staff members are given a copy of the book, The Spirit of Kaizen, to read and implement.  We try to incorporate Kaizen into our weekly staff meetings, always noting we can improve office process and the client experience.  Although The Spirit of Kaizen addresses topics completely unrelated to law firms – like hospitals, airlines, and even losing weight – it is relevant to ALL areas of life.

The Spirit of Kaizen encompasses more than improvement, however, and breaks down those improvements into very small steps.  It touches on the psychological and physical reactions our bodies have to change.  We just don’t like it!  We rebel against change and often talk ourselves out of big accomplishments because it is too overwhelming for our brains to process.  But when we incorporate change in very small steps, we can trick ourselves into huge changes.

A basic example is someone trying to lose weight.  Telling the person to ask for half of their dinner to be placed in a doggie bag at a restaurant before they even start eating sounds like an easy task.  However, it is actually a HUGE step.  Start with leaving one french fry on your plate at the end of the meal.  Then try leaving three french fries, or if that is too much, one and a half…and so on.  Work your way up to removing half of the meal from your plate.  The small change is less daunting and can help ease you into your goal.

I think about that french fry often.  My husband and I have been together for 16 years.  We met young – me having turned 20 days before and him turning 20 days after.  He moved into my apartment as a replacement roommate so we have never lived apart.  We have grown up together and evolved together.  We are very comfortable in our lives as a couple with no one else for which to care (not even a pet or plant!).   We do what we want, when we want.  So the prospect of bringing a screaming baby into the mix was a completely overwhelming thought!  We have always entertained the topic of children – with either having them or not, and talking about how we would want to parent or how we wouldn’t.

As we began to age and realize our window was gradually closing, we needed to make a decision – yes or no to parenthood.  I found this decision to be completely overwhelming.  How could I ever say I wanted a child?  How could I ever say I didn’t want a child?  My mother would often say that I really needed to just figure out what I wanted – either way – make the decision and be at peace with it.

Getting to Yes or No was too overwhelming, too big of a step.  I decided I needed to Kaizen my way to motherhood – which I guess in and of itself in hindsight was a decision; but when I started this journey I was not sure “Yes to Motherhood!” was the outcome.  It started with how one goes about trying to have a child.  I decided that even ‘trying’ to have a child was too overwhelming.  I couldn’t jump in feet first.  I needed to simply leave one french fry on my plate and could not get half the meal wrapped up right away.  After “not not trying” for over a year (which took some small steps to get to), I became completely okay with this concept.  Our “trying” to get pregnant began to evolve over the months as far as the process and letting small changes in that process get us closer to the result we eventually realized we wanted.  I remembered years ago saying that I could never see myself using an ovulation kit.  This would just be too much of a commitment to saying yes to a child.  Well, implementing small steps eventually led to that idea being a possibility (it may have taken years, but we got there!).  We tried it and it worked!  We were pregnant the next month!

At 36, I am very fortunate that it was so easy to get pregnant. I am reminded of this fact when I read my medical file which describes my pregnancy as geriatric!  But people do not realize that it was not easy deciding to get to that step.  Getting pregnant is just as much emotional as physical and our journey has been long, winding, and bumpy.  But it led us to a beautiful place where we are expecting our first child, a baby girl this May.

I imagine I will also Kaizen my way through my child’s entire life.  Thoughts like “How will I ever be able to leave my child to go back to work?!” “How will I ever sleep knowing my child is out at night and driving a car?!” “How will I ever let my child go on a date?!” I tell myself: baby [Kaizen] steps.  I won’t have a teenager overnight so I will have plenty of time letting go to hopefully not be such a neurotic mess as I imagine I will be (a mess still, yes, but hopefully not a neurotic mess).

I will constantly improve how I parent through small steps.  There will be set-backs and unimaginable hardships.  But I will think of that french fry and try to break those overwhelming thoughts down into manageable tasks and changes.  I will re-read this blog entry and think – lady, you are crazy! You have no idea…All your thoughts and plans go out the window once you actually become a parent…But I shall revel in my ignorance while it lasts a few months longer…


“What Do You Do?”

From across the noisy table, what I heard, “What do you do?”

I then quickly blurted out, “I’m an attorney!”

This came after all-day discussions of my newly-announced pregnancy at a recent wedding.  People are so excited about babies and pregnancy, and let’s face it – it is arguably more interesting than ‘law talk.’

But I didn’t realize just how much it was wearing on me until I misheard the woman ask me, “What do you do?”

What she actually said? “When are you due?”

I was embarrassed at my response not because I am a lawyer, but because it appeared I was way too excited about it.  When in fact, I was just excited to answer a question that didn’t have to do with my growing uterus.

It reminded me of another attorney at my firm. She recently got engaged and commented on how people perceive this as one’s greatest accomplishment in life.  She wants to shout at people and say, “I am more than a soon-to-be wife!  I have accomplished a lot in my life!”

I felt like her in that moment – I am more than a soon-to-be mom!  I am a woman, a wife, a professional, a friend, sister, a daughter, a concert-going foodie, traveler, and so much more…oh, and I also happen to be five months pregnant.  This, I imagine, is just the beginning of my changing identity…

I hope to explore my ever-changing life as I approach motherhood, and after.  There will likely be times of tears, joy, and hardships.  I hope this blog brings some insight to myself…and may be helpful to others who will share in my journey…or maybe at the very least be entertaining at times.

We dive so deep into our clients’ lives during the estate-planning process or after a loved-one’s death, and they know nothing about us personally.  Although I will touch on some legal-related thoughts when relevant, this and the other attorney blogs at Eckert Byrne are so you can get to know us better.  Who we are – not just lawyers, but so much more.