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To keep our law licenses active in the United States, most jurisdictions require that attorneys attend a certain number of continuing legal education hours every year. In Texas, that number is 15, and every year, I find myself scrambling to find an online course or webinar that I can watch or participate in before the deadline, so that my license doesn’t get suspended.

There are, of course, in-person classes as well, but I hadn’t attended one in years — like, years. The reason? Historically, they’re boring. And stuffy. And did I mention, boring?

But last week, as the deadline to get my hours loomed, it suddenly occurred to me that perhaps I should consider attending a multi-day in-person workshop. I mean, why not? It had been almost 10 years since I’d attended an in-person CLE, so surely things had improved. I go to conferences all the time — especially Mom 2.0 Summit, and ALT Summit — and I always enjoy myself. And besides, everyone knows that the best part of a conference are the conversations that happen between and after formal sessions, right? Actually attending one of these conferences — and meeting people in the evenings after the sessions — might be kind of fun. And since I coach executives and lawyers, who knows? I might even pick up a client!

So I decided to sign up for a two-day course last week from one of the state’s leading CLE providers, in downtown Houston. I even booked a room at the hotel where it was being held, so that if networking in the evening went late, I could stay overnight and wouldn’t have to worry about driving all the way home. By the time I’d dressed myself in my lawyer-like business-casual clothing and checked my bags into the hotel, I was almost excited.

Friends, there are not words to tell you how disappointed I was. First of all, let me be clear: the content was really interesting, and I actually learned a lot. (Who knew the medical marijuana industry was having such an impact on corporate law?). But the event itself was as excruciating as they’ve always been. None of the attendees spoke to each other, unless they were work colleagues and there was work to be done (I did casually chat to one young lawyer who sat next to me on the first day, but I think I scared her off — she was practically monosyllabic in her responses, and on the second day, she was nowhere to be found). There was no evening networking, and although one organizer told me excitedly that there was going to be an “ice cream social!” it turned out instead to simply be ice cream served during the 20-minute afternoon break, which people hurriedly ate before returning to the conference room. And at the end of the first day’s programming, everyone bolted.

But that’s not what disappointed me the most: with a few exceptions, I’ve not seen such poorly-delivered content in a long time. It’s astonishing to me that people whose job it is to communicate failed so miserably in their communication. Many speakers spoke in monotone, and way too softly to be heard. The slide decks that they used were completely illegible, filled to the margins with tiny writing.

Later, when I mentioned all this to a dear friend who is also an attorney, she chided me a bit. “I mean, Karen, you speak for a living,” she said, “maybe you’re being a bit harsh?”

I wondered if there was some truth to her comment, and for a few days I mulled over whether or not I was being too critical. In the end, I don’t think I was. It’s not that I expected to be entertained. It’s that in large part, the speakers looked bored. There were a few exceptions — a few lawyers who clearly were excited about their content, and passionate about what the law had to say — and they were head-and-shoulders more fun to listen to than those who seemed like they couldn’t wait to go home, illegible slides and all.

While sitting in that room, watching the speakers drone on and on and willing myself out of a stupor, I kept thinking about how lawyers are actually the most depressed profession in the United States. I find this really disheartening, mostly because even though it’s been a decade since I’ve practiced, I still hold the legal profession in the highest esteem — after all, any civil right you hold dear was probably won for you through the work of a lawyer. But the truth is that being beaten down by your job isn’t solely a problem of lawyers. After all, how many people do you know who hate their jobs, or who are completely stressed or burnt out?

The older I get, the more convinced I am that self-care is only part of the cure for boredom, stress or becoming burned out. (And make no mistake: I LOVE me some self-care and self-compassion. It’s what can carry you through the tough times, that’s for sure.) I think another huge part is ensuring your work has meaning and purpose. It’s clearly understanding what you’re passionate about, and having a mission: knowing how you want to change the world, or how you’re called to change the world. And then, understanding how your career can help you do this — even if your current job is merely a stepping stone to an ultimate goal.

When you understand this, then your work life has perspective. I think for those speakers last week who still find meaning and purpose in their practices, it showed — and it’s what made their presentations fun to watch, even in cases where what they were talking about was highly technical, and in some cases, way over my head. They were still a joy. And honestly, it has become my favourite thing about my coaching practice: helping people discover what it is that they want to do to make a difference, and how their careers can propel them in that direction. Because watching people get excited about they do is just a joyful thing to witness.

It’s what gives my work life meaning, without question.

I encourage you to explore your own motivations, gifts and mission — they could be the clues to how to add more meaning to your life and your current career, or even what to look for in a new career or employer. Here are a few questions to get you started — grab your journal and some time, and think about the answers to the following questions:

  1. What are you passionate about? What do you love doing? What kinds of things do you find yourself seeking out more knowledge about? What are the injustices in the world that make you angry?

  2. What legacy would you like to leave? When you’re gone, what are the things that you hope people say about you, or the impact on their lives that you left behind?

  3. What are you really good at? What do you know, deep in your soul, that you're good at? Is it throwing parties? Listening to friends? Cooking an amazing meal? Being still? Are you athletic? Are you artistic? Do you have an amazing math mind?

  4. What do people thank you for? This might coincide with what you’re really good at, but it might be something else as well.

“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose. ”
— Victor Frankl
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Alex goes to an incredibly tiny high school, so the entire school goes to prom every year, not just the seniors. This year, therefore, was Alex’s first prom, and she asked if she could invite a few friends over to get ready.

Because I know that they worked so hard, i decided that their time should be a little fancy — some canapés, and some fake “champagne” to toast the winding down of the school year (next week is the last week of school), before they got dressed. Because hard work should be celebrated.

We’re very lucky: Alex has a lovely group of friends, who support each other in so many ways. It was such a gift to watch them interact, to love each other without judgment.

And it was a great lesson that when you start feeling cynical about the world, spending time with smart, caring, switched-on young people can be just the trick to feeling hope and gratitude again. These kids are truly a gift.

Soundtrack: American teen by Khalid

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Oh, friends.

Look. This was a good week: Mother’s Day was lovely. The weather perked up. This weekend, Alex has her school dance and a sports banquet. It’s a good week.

But honestly? I’m not doing great today. There was some difficult news coming out of the American state of Alabama, affecting women in that state, and setting up a challenge to settled law for the rights of women across the country. And while that alone is enough to put a blemish on my day, for whatever reason, this has dredged up feelings of hopelessness because of all sorts of other reasons.

Because it’s this, on top of the fact that kids in this country take their lives in the own hands every single time they go to school, and those in power can’t seem to offer anything more to solve the problem than thoughts and prayers. On top of the fact that in this country people who look like me and kids who look like my daughter continue to be considered guilty until proven innocent simply because of the colour of our skin. On top of the fact that women and children at the border of this country continue to be treated like animals simply because they are looking for asylum. And this is just to start.

So the truth is that while my head knows that this was a good week (because of course, good things are happening all the time, every day, all around the world), my heart just can’t get it together enough to find the evidence to prove it this week. I’m sorry, lovelies. I’ll be back at it again soon, I promise. But for now, enjoy the image above of the wildflowers on the trail near my house. I took it with my smartphone — one of my tools of gratitude. And I’ll even challenge you to take notice of what your grateful for in your own lives this weekend.

Let’s meet back here next week, shall we? After all, someone’s gotta keep fighting for love and light.

Have a great weekend, friends.

Soundtrack: I give you power by Arcade Fire, featuring Mavis Staples

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It's the final episode of the Make Light Show! Since it's May, and graduation season, I thought I'd share my own commencement thoughts. They include attempted murder, a descendent of Gandhi, and hookers and blow.

What?

I promise, it’s worth the listen. Click here or the arrow below and enjoy (and click here for the show notes).

And of course, don’t forget:

1)  if you have a question or a challenge that you’d like tackled here on The Make Light Show, particularly if it has to do with adding purpose to your career or stepping into your calling more, simply email karen@themakelightshow.com, and you might just see your question answered on an upcoming episode;

2) if you’d like to work on your question or challenge with me one-on-one, coaching awesome people is my passion — so please, don’t hesitate to learn more about my coaching practice (and if coaching looks like something you might be interested in, my first session is free!); and finally,

3)  subscribe on iTunesAndroid, Spotify or wherever you listen to your podcasts -- and if you're enjoying the show, be sure to leave a review!

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This was a good week! Here’s why:

• Even though this week’s storms and flooding has put our family on edge, there’s no denying my tomatoes are loving the weather. Also, the rain is predicted to let up in time for Mother’s Day, and we have big family plans. It’s all good.

• Speaking of gardens and water, this garden-in-a-bottle hasn’t been watered in over 40 years, and is thriving. Great illustration of our planet, don’t you think?

• I don’t even think I knew black panthers were real, save for the awesome blockbuster film. But they’re real, they’re rare, and this photographer captured one with his camera. Gorgeous.

Four things kids wish their parents knew. Admission: I’m guilty of a few.

• No joke, this sounds like my dream vacation right about now.

The sound of millions of monarch butterflies. Magical.

• And finally, for today’s soundtrack, an oldie but a goodie: The Rain by Missy Elliott. Because seriously, this week’s storm has us on edge.

Click here or the image below to watch/listen.

Missy Elliott - The Rain [Supa Dupa Fly] [Video] - YouTube

Have a great weekend, friends. See you next week.

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A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to spend copious amounts of time with my war council — and I have to tell you, it was inspirational bliss. So much so, in fact, I decided that I needed to devote an episode of The Make Light Show to it: what a war council is, why everyone should have one, and how to cultivate a great one.

So click here or on the arrow below to listen (and click here for the show notes).

And of course, don’t forget:

1)  if you have a question or a challenge that you’d like tackled here on The Make Light Show, particularly if it has to do with adding purpose to your career or stepping into your calling more, simply email karen@themakelightshow.com, and you might just see your question answered on an upcoming episode;

2) if you’d like to work on your question or challenge with me one-on-one, coaching awesome people is my passion — so please, don’t hesitate to learn more about my coaching practice (and if coaching looks like something you might be interested in, my first session is free!); and finally,

3)  subscribe on iTunesAndroid, Spotify or wherever you listen to your podcasts -- and if you're enjoying the show, be sure to leave a review!

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This was a great week! Here’s why:

• I had a 3-hour lunch with a former boss I hadn’t seen in 10 years — such a joy!; Marcus surprised me with grocery store gladioli, and this weekend I’m going prom dress shopping with Alex. It’s all good.

There’s a brand new malaria vaccine. People, this is big.

I cannot get over the amazing decor of this home. I love a house with soul and meaning.

• If you’re a font geek like me (and man, am I a font geek), you’re going to love this font that adjusts as you type. So cool.

This artist makes insects and animals out of freshly cut flowers. I can’t take my eyes off of them.

• And speaking of nature, you know that feeling you get when you’re in the middle of the forest, and you look up at the tree tops? This photographer captures that feeling perfectly.

• And finally, NASA has come up with a list of the best air-cleaning houseplants, and Marcus needs to worry: I suspect our home is about to look like a jungle.

With that, have a great weekend, friends. See you next week.

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Sweet Karsen, who will be graduating high school this month, and is off to study to become a teacher.

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that it had been a while since I’d picked up a camera.

Happily, I’ve had the opportunity to pick up the camera a few more times since then. And I’m so glad that I did, because having these photographs allow me to tell you all that I’ve learned in the last few weeks.

First of all, you might have noticed that I didn’t post as much last week — that’s because I was attending the Mom 2.0 Summit, an annual professional conference for entrepreneurs who create online content. I’ve been attending this conference for over a decade, and every year, the conference is in a new city. Last year, when they announced that the 2019 conference would be held in Austin, I called my war council.

“I have a proposition,” I said. “I propose that a few days before Mom 2.0, you three fly in to Houston and spend a couple of nights with me in the new house, and then we’ll roadtrip to Austin. What say you?”

Incredibly, they said yes.

Asha Dornfest

Christine Koh

Jessica Ashley

Asha, Christine and Jessica arrived Monday and Tuesday of last week, and it was a breath of fresh air hanging out with the three of them. I wish I could fully express how much I value the friendship of these three women, and how much I strongly advise that you get a war council of your own. We each live on opposite sides of the continent, and our work is very different from each others; however, we share the same values when it comes the work we want to put out in the world. Also, each of these women is smart as a whip, and their outsider perspective gives me ideas for my own work that I would’ve never considered for myself. Every two months or so, we get on a video conference to brainstorm ideas for our respective businesses; this time, we took the opportunity to have our “fempire” meeting in the 2-1/2-hour car ride to Austin. Thanks to them, I am absolutely reenergized when it comes to my work … in particular, around a new in-person retreat that I’ll be offering soon.*

So, lesson one: find a small group of people who you admire and whose work you admire, and cultivate a war council of your own.

The second lesson that I learned over the last week came, in part, from the clarification of my thoughts on growing up instead of growing old (which I share on this week’s episode of The Make Light Show), but also from an impromptu photo shoot I did for a high school senior, Karsen. I’ve only done a few senior photo shoots — like, maybe 4? and all of them the daughters of friends — but my word, they’ve been fun. There’s something about spending time with someone who is at the cusp of big things: university, or travel, or otherwise making their way in the big, wide world. Remember that feeling? I distinctly remember the summer between my last year of high school and my first semester of university as such a shift: suddenly, I felt more grown up (my parents seemed to understand that three months away from leaving home, it was time to loosen the apron strings and give me more freedom, since I was about to be on my own), a little nervous about what lay ahead, but oh. so. excited. There’s something about facing the unknown with determination, you know? It’s empowering.

Why not cultivate more of that feeling in our own lives?

It requires some intention on our part — it’s not like we’re in school, where the end naturally happens. It might mean seeking out new beginnings.

So lesson 2: follow the lead of graduating seniors and keep their sense of adventure and anticipation in your heart. It can really be the birth of some beautiful things.

* If an in-person retreat sounds like something you’d like to be a part of, be sure you’re signed up for the newsletter by scrolling to the bottom of this page and entering the information under the words “JOIN ME.” More information will be shared there very soon, and you don’t want to miss it.


Soundtrack: The best crew, by Tep No

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I’m just back from the Mom 2.0 Summit, and had an amazing time. I plan on doing a longer post synthesizing my thoughts, but one thing that stuck with me (from the panel I was on, talking about pivoting), was how age sometimes plays into how we talk about our futures.

I’m of the opinion that rather than growing old, we should focus on growing up. I explain it all on this week’s episode of The Make Light Show.

Click here or on the arrow below to listen (and click here for the show notes).


And of course, don’t forget:

1)  if you have a question or a challenge that you’d like tackled here on The Make Light Show, particularly if it has to do with adding purpose to your career or stepping into your calling more, simply email karen@themakelightshow.com, and you might just see your question answered on an upcoming episode;

2) if you’d like to work on your question or challenge with me one-on-one, coaching awesome people is my passion — so please, don’t hesitate to learn more about my coaching practice (and if coaching looks like something you might be interested in, my first session is free!); and finally,

3)  subscribe on iTunesAndroid, Spotify or wherever you listen to your podcasts -- and if you're enjoying the show, be sure to leave a review!

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View from my hotel room, Thursday, April 25th 2019.

This was a good week!

• First off, today’s post is a little shorter than usual, because I’m at the Mom 2.0 Summit in Austin. It’s really lovely catching up with friends, and the sessions are incredibly informative. I had so much fun on a panel about podcasting that included the amazing Kristen Howerton, Jen Hatmaker and Jamie Golden, and today I’m on a panel about pivoting with Jenny Lawson, Kristen Chase and Kathy Valentine. Great, right?? And here’s what else was good:

This artist unmasks cartoon icons to reveal which cartoon they really are. I find these weirdly hypnotic.

• Summer’s coming, and I love these tips on how to have a more joyful vacation.

Check out this art installation that looks like the moving waves of the deep ocean. So fantastic.

This Japanese retirement home is beyond charming.

• And finally, some couples use rice. Some use birdseed. Some use sparklers. This awesome couple used water guns.

With that, have a great weekend, friends. See you next week.

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