This month, I had the pleasure of interviewing Veronica Singer, a successful business lawyer with Ratcliff and Company in North Vancouver, BC. Veronica was also the guest speaker at our March 29th Woman of Insight Event (where she moved the audience to tears and a standing ovation)
1. What made you stop and re-evaluate your life?
After I had my twins and I realized that I wasn’t going to have any more children, and that this was my life. Even though I had everything one was supposed to have (an excellent job, beautiful kids, good husband, house, cars etc. etc.) I realized that I wasn’t happy and that this was not the life I wanted. I didn’t know what I wanted at the time, I just knew that was not it – my life was not true to me.
2. What steps did you take to transform your life?
I transformed my life quite systematically, starting with what was easiest. I was not happy with the way I looked, I had gained weight and was not in good shape. So that was step one: diet and exercise. I lost quite a bit of weight fairly quickly, started running, and have now made exercise a daily part of my life. From there I looked at my spiritual life – I started meditating and practicing mindfulness – which I still do to this day. The next step was the job. Again, I didn’t know what I wanted, but did know what I didn’t want, so I started applying for whatever opportunities came along. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Ratcliff was a large and excellent firm doing meaningful work, all in essentially my backyard. I went from practicing what I called soul-less work to working in an environment where social justice is a concern, where the client’s motives are not primarily profit, but include long term community sustainability. This all tied in with the Buddhist teachings I was studying, and I found myself engaged in “right livelihood.” The final and most difficult step involved personal/family aspects – I realized that I was gay, and could not pretend to be happy in a life that wasn’t true any more. There was very much discussion, deliberation, thought, heartbreak, pain, and tears involved when 3 children and a very decent man are involved. But it has worked out, and I hope that modelling an authentic life (that may not look like that of their peers) is the lesson my kids will keep with them as they navigate their own lives.
3. How has your work changed on a day-to-day scale since you transformed your life?
Everything has changed. As my first meditation teacher told me, “If you stick with this practice, it will transform your life.” Living mindfully and with purpose affects every interaction I have, and every task I undertake.
4. How did this make you a better lawyer and business person for your clients? Did they notice a change?
I can’t speak to whether the clients noticed a change, but I have improved as a lawyer and business person by becoming: a better listener, more compassionate, less judgmental, a more focused worker, a person who can now find ways to engage with others on any level (which certainly enhances the lawyer-client relationship). I’m a more open and dynamic person who is willing to take risks and step outside her comfort zone.
5. How do you measure success now?
Is every single interaction I have with another person a positive one? Have I kept my word? Are my words, thoughts and actions consistent with my values? And if not – have I fixed it?