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By: Jamie Collins

A few days ago, I received an e-mail from my dad. It was one of those “forward” e-mails. You know the type; those randomly authored e-mails that make their way through cyberspace and into your in box for perusal or deletion. Now, normally, I’m pretty quick to delete forwards, but this one caught my eye. I’m certainly not taking the credit for the content, but wanted to share it with all of our fabulous readers at TPS!

Water glass

Here’s the e-mail:

A young lady confidently walked around the room while leading and explaining stress management to an audience; with a raised glass of water, and everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, “half empty or half full?” She fooled them all…

“How heavy is this glass of water?,” she inquired with a smile.

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz. She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance. In each case it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “and that’s the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on. As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we’re refreshed, we can carry on with the burden – holding stress longer and better each time practiced. So, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night… pick them up tomorrow. Whatever burdens you’re carrying now, put them down for a moment. Relax; pick them up later, after you’ve rested. Life is short. Enjoy it!”


Back to me:

Now, this e-mail struck me for probably the same reason it strikes you. It wasn’t the same old story about the half full or half empty glass. I always go with the glass half full mentality, and I’m happy to admit that, but I’m also pretty darn tired of hearing the fullness of the glass stories, overall. My glass was half full 5 years ago and it’s still half full now. In my mind, it always will be! What I like about this story is that it introduced a new way of thinking about every paralegal’s favorite “s” word (no… not that one) the other one – “Stress!”

As paralegals, we can undoubtedly relate to the stress example set forth above, can’t we? You know the one about how long you can hold “the glass?” Only in place of the [virtual] glass there is an attorney (hopefully, smiling), a pile of files, multitude of documents, barrage of personal requests, a phone with so many freakin’ blinking lights on it that you swear you’ve just entered the Las Vegas strip via some form of déjà vu. And then there are those 5-10 boxes for a big case now lining the perimeter of what used to be your office, but is quickly beginning to feel more like a virtual example of one of those invisible fence lines you’d run around a yard to keep a dog inside – only the dog is you – and the invisible fence is bankers boxes and big stack of black binders which are prohibiting your exit, whether that’s in a physical capacity, mental capacity or otherwise. Ha.

Is this you? At times, this is certainly me.

You have a trial – there is stress. Hopefully, that stress will dissipate over time, once the prep work is complete and trial is over. You have a tightly wound attorney in need of a project so fast that you would have to work at the same speed sound waves travel in order to accomplish the desired outcome – there is stress. You have so many countless piles of paper on your desk right now that you cannot readily recall what color the wood tone is beneath that ever-present wall of documents and files, which is now starting to closely resemble the Great Wall of China (law firm version) – there is stress. However, I would point out that while these are all very stressful situations in a paralegal’s life, they are temporary and fleeting moments of stress. They come and go. There are peaks and valleys in your legal landscape; and many weeks, a whole lot more of the former than the latter. Valleys, anyone? Not so much. We’re paralegals. We eat stress. You have a deadline? We’re on it. You need a confident person to step up and complete a project? You betcha. You need to accomplish the impossible? Oh yeah, that’s us. We do impossible. Legal miracle workers, standing deskside. You ring, we bring. You ask, we multi-task.

Maybe that jury trial will last a week (the prep will be hell-ooo my paralegal friends). Perhaps that stressed out attorney feels just as overwhelmed as you do about that looming, mission impossible project, hence his constant presence in your office and repeated requests for “mission complete” status. And as for the Great Wall of China (law firm style ) all I can say is – there is stress. This is something that we, as paralegals, have come very accustomed to. The stress comes and it goes. We come and we go (home…that is). If the stress did not dissipate, we would surely self-implode. Yet, it does dissipate. We do, again, find ourselves partially sane, sitting in our comfy “regular” offices, minus the Las Vegas strip style phone and invisible dog fencing. Overall, life is pretty grand.

So what’s the lesson here? Well…if you currently find yourself sitting before the Great Wall of China, with a crazy attorney or so many deadlines that you’ve lost count, and you feel miserable – tell yourself: “I can hold this stress for awhile.” However, if you find that you are experiencing this scenario all too frequently in your current work life and that state of perpetual misery is seldom fleeting, perhaps it’s time to ask yourself how much longer you can continue to carry the glass?

(After all, it is half full!!)


In parting, I’d like to share with you the remainder of the forwarded e-mail, which contains a few entertaining tidbits:

1. Accept the fact that some days you’re the pigeon, and some days you’re the statue.

2. Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.

3. Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.

4. Drive carefully… It’s not only cars that can be recalled by their Maker…

5. If you can’t be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

6. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably
worth it…

7. It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to

8. Never buy a car you can’t push.

9. Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won’t have a leg to stand on.

10. Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.

11. Since it’s the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.

12. The second mouse gets the cheese.

13. If everything’s coming at you, you’re in the wrong lane.

14. Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.

15. You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to
one person.

16. Some mistakes are too much fun to make only once.

17. We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and
some are dull. Some have weird names and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.

18. A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

19. Have an awesome day and know that someone thought about you today.

20. It was I, your [blogging] friend!

*Save the earth….. It’s the only planet with chocolate!*

A special thank you to the “random person” from planet Earth, who authored this story/e-mail, and to my dad for sharing it with me, so I could, in turn, share it with all of you!

We’ll see you next week, TPS readers! Wishing you a fantastic weekend…outside the fence.

[insert happy, smiling paralegal here]