ATL: How Birding Made Me A Better Lawyer

And why not

I start 2022 with immense gratitude for a transformational 2021. My first true hobby has transformed me. It has brought so much joy and love in my life that I want to spread the word. It has made me a calmer and even more caring human being, a better wife and mother, and a better immigration lawyer and advocate. My newfound love for birds is the love that I never knew before.

I recall being asked at various times in my life — “Do you have a hobby?” I used to say reading books, which became listening to books. Admittedly, I loved my transition into becoming an audiobook listener. I sewed. It was a short-lived interest. At the start of the pandemic, someone asked me: what do you do for fun? Do you have a hobby? I recalled thinking, “Who has time for a hobby?” I’m struggling to get through each day with all the responsibilities life throws at me as a parent, business owner, and lawyer. I suspect I am not the only one who feels that way.

But the question struck a chord. I hate to admit it, but not having an answer made me feel really un-fun. So, I tried to up my meditation practice which I’d developed a few years ago. I also thought mindfulness would bring me more peace. But with the kids at home, and with both my lawyer husband and me working from the house, finding a quiet space to meditate became a challenge. I started to wake up earlier to have my alone time. In this period, something magical happened.

I started to be awake and alert early enough to see the sunrise. I started to notice the birds flying through the sky against the beautiful sunrise colors and shades of pink, yellow, orange, and purple. One day, as I was working, I noticed the chirping of a bird outside. I went to the deck for a few minutes to watch it. I repeated this, for a few weeks, noticing the sparrows and finches, and others — just five to 10 minutes at a time.

Then I started to take photos with my phone. I wanted to capture the beauty of their wingspans, their colors, and shapes. Before I knew it, I’d upped my game to a digital camera because the cell phone images didn’t feel detailed enough. Soon, though, the small digital camera also felt inadequate, lacking the zoom capability I needed for the kinds of shots I wanted to get. The Canon DSLR camera was a great move and gave me far greater details.  But soon I began to feel like I needed a better lens for capturing images of beautiful birds I couldn’t get close enough to. The 600 mm lens that I settled on allows me to capture minute details that are 144 times in magnification.

This gradual transition happened over several months. Just spending a few minutes each morning on the deck watching birds left me feeling uplifted for the entire day. What I lost in meditation time, I gained in bird-watching. I was mostly alone, except for the birds. I had to be still to ensure they’d ignore me as I focused on getting the best shots.

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