Now that Zoom meetings are a regular occurrence for so many people, we’re all getting a glimpse inside other people’s lives: their pets, their kids, their bookcases, their wall colors.
Lots of folks are enjoying these meet-ups with colleagues ‘inside their homes’ because it’s making their relationships closer, more intimate.
Until you & I have a chance to meet up on Zoom, I thought I’d get a little more personal — by telling you why I became an estate planning and elder law attorney. It’s a great question that I get asked a lot. I mean, it’s not everybody’s ideal career. It’s not super sexy. Estate plans don’t typically go down in the world’s fanciest restaurants toasted with champagne.
I’m not in this for the trappings. Let me tell you about what I am all-in for…
From a very early age, it wasn’t acceptable, safe or ‘good enough’ to be me. I was the ‘new’ kid in school. I was smart. (‘Wicked smaht’ as we say in these parts.) I wore glasses. I was chubby. I got braces when I was 13. My parents fought… a lot.
I remember my mother telling me that if I wanted people to like me at school I should be more like them and less like myself.
At report card time, I waited for my father’s questions about what so-and-so got for grades and inevitable suggestions that I be more like kids who performed better. I learned early on there was no value in being myself.
In junior high and high school, I finally found and was accepted into a group of nerdy, smart kids. It was a group of a dozen or so, nearly all boys and me.
My mother still tells the story of my 16th birthday party and how panicked she was at the thought of 13 boys and me in our basement television room. I didn’t have the words to explain to her then that these computer geeks were my brothers. I felt safer with them than with anyone else.
And yet while this group was safe and welcoming, it still didn’t feel quite right. I still felt like an outsider because I was busy trying to be like them.
Like any young teenager, I tried to figure out who I was.
People outside my newly found social bubble ridiculed me for being a tomboy and hanging out with boys. But when I tried to be more feminine, the pendulum would swing too far in the other direction and I’d be taunted for that too.
I experimented with neon clothes and the provocative ‘Madonna’ looks of the early 80’s. I still fondly remember loving the ‘fashion statement’ of a bandana tied around my wrist and a big paperclip through my pierced ear.
Somewhere along the way, my Inner Rebel took over. I imagine her now to be much like Jessica Jones of Marvel Comics fame. Brash. A soft heart protected by a whole lotta badass. Courage for days (minus the raging alcoholism). The outer armor of seemingly not caring about anything, yet really always fighting for the underdog.
My Inner Rebel convinced me to not try so hard and that it was okay to ‘go with my gut’. After all, what did I have to lose? I stopped trying to be like others and started making decisions based on what I needed to build the life I was supposed to be living. Spoiler alert: notice I used the words ‘supposed to’.
Now, don’t get me wrong. My Inner Rebel did a good job on my behalf. I graduated from MIT. I went on to law school.
I built what is by all measure a successful law business. And yet, there was something missing.
It. Felt. Soul-sucking.
I’d essentially built someone else’s law business.
I’d followed others’ blueprints and rules on how a law business was ‘supposed to be’ not a law business to support who I was. I’d unwittingly fallen into the trap of being like others instead of being myself.
It wasn’t fulfilling. I wasn’t happy. After all that hard work I was supposed to be happy for heaven’s sake! I was so very confused and felt very lost.
It all came to a head when my Dad got sick, and ultimately passed away from leukemia. Truly, there’s nothing like the death of a parent to get you to stop and take stock. It was a dark night of the soul that lasted years. I was grasping for anything that seemed like a solution to the lost-ness I felt.
It was as if I was living a life built for someone else. I was painfully aware that I’d built it myself and concluded I’d clearly done something wrong. I scrambled to fix it.
I joined a bajillion networking groups. I bought into super expensive coaching programs. Anything to find THE solution. And when I couldn’t find a solution, I stuffed down the discomfort with burgers and beer.
Somewhere in that process though, something changed.
In the way I had taken care of my Dad while he was sick, I started to see my own need for support. In and amongst all the continual pushing and driving forward I realized I had left behind nurturing and stillness.
I had ignored big, important parts of myself:
- The softer parts that didn’t fit into the ‘badass’ picture
- The needs that couldn’t be met while I was racing to the top
- The true value of accepting people and circumstances for who and what they are.
Over time I started to find balance. I was able to appreciate all I’d done and been in life, and also all I’d been taught to deny. The parts of me that I didn’t like or understand were just as worthy of care and attention as the parts that helped me succeed, drove me forward, and helped me create my law business.
All this is what’s brought me to a place of being able to see the value of everything in life. There were some super shitty moments. We all have them. Those times in life when we wonder why something is happening to us.
I came to realize though that everything that has come before is what made today possible. Good times. Bad times. They all add up to make today.
And that goes for the people we meet too. Everyone who has crossed our paths, influenced our direction, or even influenced the people who influenced us. We’re all connected in this way.
I started to appreciate the value of everything that had happened in my life. I started to see the contribution made by everyone I’d ever encountered. I started to see how it all fit together like pieces of a puzzle to form the picture that was my life in that moment.
Today I am still dedicated to seeing the value of the good and the bad stuff of life (yes, even now when we seem to be getting a bigger slice of bad.) I have a vision of a day when everyone acknowledges and experiences their worth in this way, thus creating a world where everyone recognizes their contribution – their essential piece of the puzzle – to the universe.
In the intervening years, I’ve been throwing out the rules of what I’m ‘supposed to’ do in my business in favor of what feels right.
Ingle Law may never be a million dollar law firm, and I’m okay with that.
That’s no longer the goal. As long as I can continue to love what I’m doing and who I’m doing it with, I will have reached the pinnacle of success in my book.
As an estate planning and elder law attorney, I get to show #TodaysModernFamilies – like you – how to benefit from legal planning tools you may have thought were for other people. These tools can be put to work for you and your family too.
They’re not reserved for the uber-wealthy, or the privileged few. You deserve the same peace of mind of knowing you and your family will be protected no matter what might happen, and no matter when.
Imagine working with an attorney who sees and treats you as a unique gift to the world, and not a dollar sign toward a quota. Estate planning and elder law require divulging a lot of personal stuff.
It demands tough conversations and unpleasant scenarios.
You deserve to have an attorney with whom you feel completely comfortable sharing the intimate details of your life. You deserve to know you will never be judged.
In fact, you will be honored and respected for all the good, bad, right-fit, wrong-fit, success and messiness that add up to make you who you are today.
When you’re ready to get started, let us know you want a Planning Goals Discovery Session. We’ll discuss your planning goals, and discover others you might not have thought about yet. And before we end the call you’ll know exactly what an estate plan could do for you and your family, and what it would look like.
You can apply for a Discovery Session by clicking on this link:
We normally charge $497 for these sessions but we’re waiving that fee through the end of September. Just complete the form to tell me a little about you (don’t leave anything out!) and you’ll get an immediate link to my schedule. I can’t wait to meet you!