Monday, January 26, 2009

Time for a little Reflection

It was a gorgeous summer's day, I was luxuriating in my Friday off & happy in the anticipation of a meeting a friend for lunch on the terrace of our favourite cafe. We'd been sitting for only a moment when my friend leant over to me & with tears in her eyes said "Mills, I hate what I do." It was the proverbial 'Bolt right out of the blue'.

My friend, so strong & assured, so assertive & intelligent - the one we all look to for stability & strength. When things go wrong & we occasionally lose our way through life's great journey she is always, always there to pick us up. I was totally at a loss. Maybe I 'd misunderstood what she had just said, maybe I'd missed a couple of vital words - but no, as she uttered the words again, I knew for certain that this lunch was going to be very different from all the others we'd had over the years.

She did law, topping her class with distinction, then followed a rapid rise with an established group, culminating in a partnership. About 8 years ago, the chance to buy the practice on the retirement of the 2 Senior Partners saw her taking the risk & doing it. She worked hard, introduced new & innovative initiatives. Her business grew & thrived & expanded, her loving husband & gorgeous kids always by her side with their love & support - by all intents & purposes she had it all. There were overseas trips speaking at international legal conferences , accolades by her peers, a book on her expertise in mediation almost complete - my brain could hardly process her mind-numbing words.

But then the haze & fog of my confusion lifted & I began to understand & see what she was really saying. It was not the work per se she hated, it was the specialty she'd chosen all those years ago - Family Law. So many years of adversarial combat in court, watching people's lives unravelling in the most horrible ways, listening day in & day out to the vitriol & hatred & contempt that sadly so often goes with relationship breakdowns. She's not burnt out, or suffering from depression, isn't hormonal, nor is she going through a temporary crisis, she's just simply & totally over it - done, finito. I know her so well & that's the facts.

So now, the impregnable armour she's clothed herself in each day for so many years has been pierced & she's bleeding profusely. To cut a long story short, we talked for 3 hours & will continue to do so in the coming days. She is determined in her resolve to make a change in her life, but it has intense & multi-faceted ramifications. Her family are confused & worried, not knowing how to help or counsel her. She will do what's needed I'm sure of it, but it's going to be a hard few months. In her wonderful way, she has always ensured a balance in her life by developing strong & diverse interests outside of work. I believe she knows that one of these is where her future lies & with courage & conviction, she will follow her heart down that path.

For me, the big question here is "Do you love what you do?" And if you don't, if all the practical obstacles could be removed, what is it that would make you the happiest - & produce a life of great meaning, fulfillment & deep personal satisfaction. Yes, it's a little D&M for a Monday morning, but it's the question that's been spinning around in my head since Friday. If you'd like to share your thoughts, I'd love to hear from you. I think there'll be some fascinating comments - & if you've been a lurker at The Hedge maybe now's the time to join in - you'd be warmly welcomed.


  1. I'm afraid to say it, but doing flowers all the time is not my idea of fun or love to say the least. I can do it and it pays the bills, God gave me the talent, it is what I do. Some days it is really hard to create when I'm just not in the mood. Those are the days when I say "that's not my best work". I feel very guilty admitting all of that but to my close friends and family, it's not a secret. I love having a store and visiting with people. My crazy dream lately has been of moving to OZ, the claire valley and starting up an aquaponics greenhouse cafe. Crazy, isn't it? The only thing that truly stays the same is that everything changes. Love you Millie, HEidi

  2. Oh Dear Millie...I so know what you mean...I'm from a legal office in my old life, my Hubby works in the same area as your friend and sees it all also. This post brings tears...I do have the life of great meaning, fullfillment and deep personal satisfaction...but in my situation it was presented to choice!!! I have learnt so much from this...and continue to do so...but part of me wonders...what might have been!!! Your friend is on her pathway...with choices...I think many more lunches between you and your friend...and precious here for what has been written...Dzintra xx

  3. Millie, I have to say that, yes, I'm doing what I want to do. I've long believed that we're all put on this earth to help people. Not all of us are cut out to work missions in third world countries or in soup kitchens in inner cities. Instead, we can use our strengths and talents where our passions take us. That's why I've chosen a career in the nonprofit sector, and I love the organization I work for.

  4. Heides - I love your honesty & yes, your dream of setting yourself up in the amazing Clare Valley is fantastic. My mother cried tears of joy the day we moved there - it's such a beautiful place.

    Dear Dzintra - you are a truly amazing lady, I am constantly inspired by the way you embrace life so positively & meet the challenges each day with your sweet girl brings.

    Sandra, I so loved your comment. Yes, you are spot on & it's very obvious your work complements your life so beautifully. I think I'd last less than a minute in Calcutta with Mother Teresa's order (worrying too much about if I had the right colour lipstick to match the uniform!) but that doesn't mean that I absolve myself of caring & compassion. I just do it in other ways.

  5. Millie- Your friend is so lucky to have such a sweet and caring friend to share all of this with.
    I do feel that we need to love what we do day to day - or at some point it all comes to a head. We do at times get ourselves wrapped up in the monetary rewards of a job we do - but at what cost??? I wish the best for your dear friend and hope that she finds the the right path for herself- my Mother use to say so often- "when one door closes- another one opens". Actually a dear blogging friend just used this phase in correspondence today. So true. My thoughts to you and your friend.

  6. I'm sorry to hear your friend is in such turmoil but there does come a time when the strong winds call for a change, whether it's temporary or permanent. I believe there is a time for everything we do, including a limit and we know when that time has come. It's happened to me before in my previous career and I was devasted, but so many new doors of opportunities have opened up and I have discovered another career with passion I can't imagine living without, for now. She's lucky she has your shoulder to cry on.

  7. Great heart felt post Millie and I do feel so much for your lovely friend. She must do what she has to do - now that she has decided - and as a very resourceful woman she will come out well on the other side.

    I love what I do now and where I am, but it wasn't always this way - to change your life is the hardest road, so much easier to keep doing what you know, but once done the rewards are sweet indeed. Good luck to her and how lucky she is to have your wise counsel, xv

  8. I am a full-time mum at the moment - but I never planned to be (certainly not for this many years) and as time passes, I feel more aprehensive about returning to the workforce, which I need to do very soon for financial reasons.
    I am also conflicted on a daily basis whether my youngest daughter would be better/worse off in childcare given her recently diagnosed developmental problems. It becomes overwhleming at times.

    I feel for your friend - it sounds like she has inspiration though, and with friends like you and a loving family, I am sure she will be able to move onto the next phase of her life.

  9. I hope your friend finds her true north soon. It would be hard going having to deal with warring ex-partners all the time - not fun!
    As for me, I have a job in a government statutory authority in the health area. It pays the bills, the people I work with are fantastic, and the work is challenging.'s a very tough and complex business and I'd much rather be working in the decorating business in some form or own shop, interior designer, property developer..oh and I want to do it part time so I can also be at home more with my son! I don't want much do I?
    Hey by the way I recognise this picture! Its from Stephanie Hoppen's White on White - I know because I bought this book today!


And none will hear the postman's knock
Without a quickening of the heart.
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?
~W.H. Auden

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