President's Message - November 2018
by Kim Berg, Esq.
“Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.”
~ Brian Tracy, Author
Certainly a fitting quote for the month of November in which our Thanksgiving holiday falls and, even more so, a fitting quote for us as attorneys, judges and law students. In our profession, we are continually striving to achieve something bigger and better for the clients who come before us and who we represent, as well as in the work we do with the WWBA to promote justice for all, regardless of sex, advance the social, economic and legal status of women through the law, and raise the level of competence and integrity in the legal profession.
I have always been impressed by all of the positive mental and physical benefits that people who are grateful realize simply by having an “attitude of gratitude.” This attitude remains elusive to many despite the benefits which are often spoken of by motivational speakers and authors. Having an “attitude of gratitude” is known to foster and solidify meaningful relationships and the benefits include better sleep, less aggression, increased empathy, improved self-esteem, being more forgiving, and possessing better coping skills. The effects are clear and thus we should all make a conscious effort to be thankful, not only on Thanksgiving, but in our daily lives. Being thankful is simple, although not always easy to do, and is one of the most overlooked free tools that we have access to each day.
As members of the legal profession, we are often surrounded by stressful situations, difficult interactions, competing demands, and resultant time pressures. Our physical and mental health is at stake and we must strive to maintain wellness for our own benefit and for those around us. As part of my belief in always trying to achieve “work life balance” in the various aspects of our lives, this year I formed the Wellness Committee to promote some of these concepts. Thus, I hope this month’s message resonates with you and that you are able to ultimately develop a perspective that permits you to have an “attitude of gratitude” in your daily lives as I truly believe you will benefit.
Speaking from my personal experience, I am often on the receiving end of other people’s expressions of gratitude toward me and my efforts on their behalves. This thankfulness certainly has a positive impact on my motivation, energy and drive to continue to do the work I do on a daily basis. I can literally recall as I write this countless times where an expression of thanks and appreciation made me feel good about myself and the efforts that I put in to the particular situation thereby giving me the drive to keep going. This could have been, for example, from various clients who have sent me thank you gifts, cards, or even a simple email showing their appreciation for the work I have done for them. I fondly recall the late United States District Judge, Hon. Charles L. Brieant, who always concluded with a thank you to counsel and clients for their preparation and attendance before him at conferences and trials. I am inspired in each of the martial arts classes that I take by our instructor ending the class with the directive to bow, show respect for and thank our training partner. All of these examples have built bonds, whether it be between lawyer and client or student and training partner, and have made my experiences more positive and motivating.
In turn, I try to pay it forward by expressing my appreciation to others – even to the complete stranger who holds the elevator door for me or the cashier at the grocery store. However, this most simple acknowledgement, just saying the two words “Thank You,” is just the beginning of having an “attitude of gratitude.” Not only in the month of Thanksgiving, but each and every day, we should not only take time to express thanks to others in our lives but also to take time to reflect on the things that make us thankful for the blessings we each have in our lives, whether that be our ability to work in a field that constantly helps others, our health, our families, our life experiences, our education, and yes even the people in our professional and personal lives for whom we are thankful.
Knowing the WWBA, I know I am not alone when I say that I have always been grateful for the positive impact that the WWBA has played in my life and in my career. Being involved in this amazing organization has certainly opened doors to important, influential, positive relationships and opportunities. I am particularly appreciative of my mentors, all of whom are WWBA members, including my law partner Jane Bilus Gould and Marianne Sussman and Kenneth Gould. I am thankful that they showed me the inherent value in joining and becoming active in the WWBA. I am equally thankful for their guidance, support and mentorship over the span of my career.
As President, I am especially thankful to the entire WWBA membership for allowing me to serve as President. You may recall at the annual dinner I spoke of the rewards that I have reaped by simply being a part of this wonderful group. This year has been extremely rewarding in that I have met and personally observed how the WWBA positively impacts so many people. Forging connections, seeing your efforts come together in the diverse programming we have, watching our new members take an active role in our chapter and at the state level, and hearing your stories of how the WWBA impacts you has been incredibly fulfilling for me. It is not only just our members who I refer to but also to those organizations that we cooperatively work with to provide much needed services to those in our community. For this experience and opportunity, I am very grateful and I thank each of you because I know that these memories of my Presidency will cause me in the future to reflect back in sincere appreciation for this time in my life.
Of course, the WWBA does not operate by its President alone. I am deeply indebted, to my executive board for their support, wisdom, guidance, and all of the efforts they put into making this organization run smoothly: Angela Giannini, Honorable Lisa M. Smith, Amanda Fried, Kristen Motel, Natanya Briendel, Sherry Bishko and Elizabeth Marcus. I am sure many of you are unaware of the continual communication between myself and the executive board, the roles that they each serve on various committees, their time commitment to attending both regular board meetings and executive board meetings, and the wealth of knowledge and creativity that we as a collective group contribute to the WWBA on a daily basis.
In addition, I am very appreciative to all of my committee co-chairs, Local Directors and State Directors. I know how much time, effort and work goes into planning, attending and seeing results from the time you put into your various roles. I could not have asked for more from the WWBA team. I am in awe of the calendar of programs and CLEs they have put together and the fact that we literally offer something for everyone, whether it be in the form of networking, wellness events, book club, theatre trips, seminars, continuing legal education and other programs. When this message goes to print on or about November 1st, our co-chairs will have put on 20 programs!!! Simply amazing and I thank you for all your hard work.
I am eternally grateful to Elisabeth Campos, our amazing Executive Director, without whom this organization would falter. Elisabeth is organized, efficient, and has implemented important protocol and uniformity since the time she became Executive Director a little over two years ago. She interfaces with our members, outside organizations, sponsors, board and the executive board. She keeps track of all of our deadlines, membership numbers, reports to WBASNY and other bar associations, sponsors, and our programs to name a few. She drafts and sends updates, agenda, emails, and notifications for all of our events, sets everything up on our website and publicizes for us on social media, handles all of our weekly updates and online calendaring, including registration. Thank you Elisabeth!
Of course, I am thankful for many people and things in my life beyond the Westchester Women’s Bar Association. I am grateful for having found my martial arts academy where I not only get the benefits of daily exercise (mentally and physically) but also where I met my boyfriend, made great “like minded” friends, and get to share something special and unique with my children who train with me. I am incredibly thankful for my parents, Scott, my two amazing children and the neighbors I call my “family” who are my support, encouragement, and foundation in all that I do. I cannot tell you how often I say the phrase “it takes a village” in the context of the fact that one parent cannot be the person who does it all for his or her child and my “village” keeps me going. I am grateful for the smiles and laughter they each bring to my life, for the support system they provide, and for the love they give me (which I readily give back!!).
I hope this message not only inspires you to utter two simple words, “thank you,” more regularly but that it further inspires you to develop a “habit” of being thankful and having a sincere attitude of gratitude. I wish all of you your families a very Happy Thanksgiving!