There are a couple of interesting projects being tossed around the blogosphere- One, the 5 things you didn’t know about me, and Ben from the Instigator Blog’s What did you learn this year? I decided to answer both here.

1. What I learned. I turned 40 this year, and while some women find it depressing, I found it a really freeing experience. This year, I’ve learned to let go (more) of worrying about what other people may think about what I do, and instead, concentrate on how I think and feel about it. My podcasts and blog posts have to meet my standards, not those of others- I am in charge of my creativity, and I am no longer afraid of it. I have learned to not allow myself to be put on hold, but take initiative and make my own future and opportunities. It feels great! 40 feels more like a birth of being a whole person wearing many different hats, rather than several people competing for center stage- being a mom, attorney, podcaster, etc. I feel like I now know myself better, and I like it.

I think the other big lesson I learned this year was to step out of the comfort zone and take risks.  You have to be able to recognize opportunity and grab it when it appears- be willing to say yes sometimes, when No seems easier and “safer.”  Walk through the door when you could stay standing on the threshold or fence, considering your options.  Live your life, rather than letting life live you.
2. The five things you might not know about me.

1. I worked for a small law firm right out of law school that did a lot of medical malpractice, social security disability and worker’s compensation work. I didn;t particularly like torts in law school but I thought maybe I was prejudging the practice- I found out I was not. While I was good at reviewing medical records, researching issues, and the like, I hated the aspect of the practice that seemed to take advantage of other people’s misfortunes. It seems wrong, especially when coupled with the fact that some people view law suits as an opportunity to win the lottery, not to compensate them for wrong that has been done to them. Many people don’t even see the difference.

2. I was a nationally ranked squash player in high school, and played on the Squash team at Penn during my first 2 years there, and I played flute in the Penn Band.

3. I was headed towards med school at one point, and then thought about a PhD in Biology, but turned down a position at Georgetown and moved to Florida. I took the LSAT’s, did really well, and ended up in Law School. The few years off did me a world of good.

4. The worst job I ever had was working for a guy at the University of Florida who ran experiments on tropical fish and mullets. He bred tropical fish- I had to feed the fish a special brine shrimp mixture every day, clean the tanks, and there were roaches and spiders that could have been hired out as weapons of mass destruction by the Defense Department. The science was just plain bad; the guy wasn’t very talented, and he was not easy to work for. I still occassionally have nightmares about those rows and rows of fish tanks.

5. I’ve had many mentors over the years, but my absolute hero has got to be Dr. Stephen Roth. Steve was head of the Biology Department at Penn and taught me so many things, ranging from how to be exact and precise in using language, how to really dissect information and look for the root basic cause, and how to not take yourself too seriously. When I told him I was going to try law school- a tough thing for me to say, after spending so much time in his lab, he said “If your choices in life are between getting a PhD in Biology or becoming an attorney, you really don’t have any problems at all.” I will always remember this moment, and how much it meant to me that he put all of this into perspective. And some day, I’ll recount the lab field trip to the shooting range.

(Steve’s cousin is the writer, Phillip Roth- they look like brothers, which always freaks me out a little in the book store when I see Phillip’s book jackets.)