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Quality of Life: Embrace the gray days of March

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Quality of LifeAs far as I can tell, March has no redeeming qualities. Of course, it’s the month for basketball and spring break, but beyond that, there isn’t much to recommend – especially if you are in Indiana. Since I’m a native Hoosier, my familiarity with March in other locales is somewhat limited.

But we should take heart. By the time you read this, we will have been lucky enough to make it through the Ides, and that’s a major accomplishment. Now we just need to claw our way into April. There are no magic bullets to assist us on the downhill slide of the month, but I have compiled some random thoughts that might provide new perspectives on how to survive what always feels like the longest month of the year.

For starters, it is interesting to note that on average, there are only six clear days in central Indiana during the month of March. So, when you gaze at the sky and see something the color of mop water day after day, try to turn it into a positive. For one, you are a lawyer, so you are comfortable with gray. The gray area is your home. You learned long ago that nothing is black and white. Embrace the gray.

Then there’s the fashion angle. According to the website “SHEfinds: What to Wear and Where to Get It,” “gray is the new black” for bridesmaid dresses in 2013. If a wedding is in your future, just look to the sky for fashion inspiration. (Although, keep in mind that while “dove gray” may be a mainstay in the fashion industry, I don’t think that “mop gray” is looked upon favorably in those circles.)

If you prefer to hide from March and the dreariness it brings, try to do so by doing something other than work. Spending too much time at work actually decreases your productivity. While it might be tempting to stay at work on gray, rainy, sleet-drenched evenings, it would be much better for you to get out of the office and do something else. Studies have shown that people with “knowledge based” jobs have roughly six hours of productive time on the job every day. After six hours, your brain starts a slow fade and your productivity drops fairly dramatically. Rather than filling a chair and pushing yourself for an extra four hours, even risking mistakes that you wouldn’t have made earlier in the day, both you and your employer would be better off if you went home, went to work out or just left to do something else for a while. Research shows that eight-hour work days are the optimum for most jobs.

Good old-fashioned spring cleaning is another option to lift your spirits and kill time in March. Out with the old. De-clutter your surroundings. Get rid of your stuff. Give it away. Make room for something new to come into your life with the advent of spring. Clutter weighs people down, causing tiredness and lethargy. Ridding yourself of clutter, both at home and at work, can actually provide renewed energy.

Plan to get more sleep in March – particularly in the days surrounding the change to daylight saving time. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, there are increases in car accidents, work-place injuries and heart attacks in the days immediately following the spring forward to daylight saving time. Disturbed sleep patterns and lack of sleep are the prime culprits.

Try to do something you enjoy in the waning days of the month. March is an excellent time to plan your garden. Get some graph paper, gardening books, your hundreds of Pinterest articles and photos about gardens, and get to work. Selecting just the right flowers and vegetables for your garden can provide a bright spot in an otherwise dreary month – and the best part: you can watch all of your creative plans come to life as spring progresses.

Perhaps some of these suggestions will make the remaining days of March easier for you – and if not – there’s always basketball. I hope your brackets are holding up well.•

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Jonna Kane MacDougall, an Indianapolis attorney, is assistant dean for external affairs and alumni relations at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law and a former law school career services director. A professional career/life coach, MacDougall can be contacted at 317-775-1804 or via email at whatsnextcoaching@gmail.com. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s.

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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