Reimagining Law and Life

reimagining lawLet’s face it, it’s hard to accept the reality of the world today. This may be why we are focusing on reimagining how things could be better. For me, taking an honest look at the cracks in society’s systems has been one of the greatest impacts of COVID-19 so far.

Back in April, the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism launched its Reimagining Law video series to explore how lawyers and judges are adapting to changing consumer needs during COVID-19 and beyond. This wasn’t the first time — and I’m sure it won’t be the last time – that my work at the Commission has not only caused me to reexamine the state of the legal profession but also my own life.

Life Reimagined

Parallel to the launch of Reimagining Law, it was about the middle of April when I too started to reimagine things in my own life. I think it’s fair to say I had a bit of “COVID immobility.” I wasn’t feeling great (thankfully this wasn’t attributed to COVID symptoms), but also wasn’t acting to change how I felt.

I was regularly tired, out of my routine, not focusing well, and becoming stir crazy from working and living in my apartment. I was attempting to keep up with my yoga and meditation practices as well as exercise, but I wasn’t feeling it. So, I just moved through life. After all, who is supposed to feel good about things when we’re in a global pandemic, right?

Lucky for me, my former yoga teacher Day Christensen started offering online classes. She too had recently reimagined her yoga practice and teaching style to focus more on functional movement and strength training. I worked with Day for about a month this spring. While my yoga practice started to get more regular, I still felt tired and depleted of energy. Day suggested that I try a fruit cleanse. I listened to her talk about the benefits of a cleanse, but thought, “No way. This pandemic is bad enough, why would I make it worse by only eating fruit?”

It did get me thinking, though. This virus didn’t look like it was going anywhere, so why should I put off feeling better until after the virus ended? And, if I’m being honest, I got into some bad habits with food, drink, and exercise before COVID-19 that were only getting worse. I had some cracks in the foundation, so agreed to try a fruit cleanse starting on June 1.

During this time, I began to reimagine a new way of being with a group of eight people led by Day online. During the fruit cleanse, I ate only raw non-processed fruit. Thankfully, this included things like peppers, cucumbers, avocados, coconut, eggplant, pumpkin, squash, zucchini, and tomatoes in addition to what we traditionally think of as fruits. The goal wasn’t to lose weight, but rather to let go of unhealthy habits and see and feel the benefits of clean eating.

No One Said Change is Easy

In the beginning, I fought it. No way was I going to do this for 30 days. I told myself one week. I managed to stick it out for one week but then convinced myself (and even told Day) that two weeks was enough. However, I couldn’t deny that I felt better. This and the support of the group motivated me to continue.

In the end, I stuck to the plan for 30 days. It wasn’t easy and still feels like a miracle. I learned a lot, like the importance of preparing meals at home instead of eating out so much and paying attention to how food tastes and makes me feel. I am less tired, have more energy, and am back in a routine of exercising and eating better.

I thought doing something like a 30-day cleanse during COVID-19 was going to be impossible. However, I don’t think I could have done it if we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic. I had less distraction as restaurants were closed, wasn’t socializing as much, didn’t have work events to go to, etc. I had more time and space to reimagine how I was doing things.

Reimagining Law and Life by Acting

Why am I sharing this? No, I’m not here to sell you on a fruit cleanse. Rather, I urge you to use this unprecedented time to honestly assess your overall well-being and the well-being of the legal profession.

What comes to mind when I say that? Are you unhappy with the trajectory of your career? Do you need more work-life balance? Is it time for the profession to move away from the billable hour? How should the profession use remote hearings going forward? Has COVID-19 made a bad habit worse? Do you want to get more involved in social justice issues? How can the legal profession work to better ensure the public’s trust in the justice system? These are ideas to get the juices flowing. Find what resonates with you and act.

Waiting until the pandemic is over is not the solution. We have a moment in time when the whole world is operating differently than before. The cracks in our foundation are more obvious. Let’s not miss this opportunity to reimagine the law and your unique and valuable role in it.

The Commission would like to hear how you’re reimagining law and life. Please share your thoughts with us and inspire others.

As for me, I need to get back to my fruit smoothie and yoga strengthening drills.

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Stephanie Villinski
Stephanie has dedicated her career to social justice and worked in public interest law for the past 15+ years. As Deputy Director, Stephanie is responsible for streamlining the day-to-day operations of the Commission in addition to supporting its education, law school, and mentoring programs. With a particular interest in wellness, Stephanie seeks to promote a healthier, more rewarding professional life for lawyers and by extension, better service to their clients. In her free time, Stephanie enjoys yoga, meditation, watching sports, and time outdoors.
Stephanie Villinski
Stephanie Villinski
Stephanie Villinski

Latest posts by Stephanie Villinski (see all)

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Stephanie Villinski
Stephanie has dedicated her career to social justice and worked in public interest law for the past 15+ years. As Deputy Director, Stephanie is responsible for streamlining the day-to-day operations of the Commission in addition to supporting its education, law school, and mentoring programs. With a particular interest in wellness, Stephanie seeks to promote a healthier, more rewarding professional life for lawyers and by extension, better service to their clients. In her free time, Stephanie enjoys yoga, meditation, watching sports, and time outdoors.
Stephanie Villinski
Stephanie Villinski
Stephanie Villinski

Latest posts by Stephanie Villinski (see all)

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