Work May Conquer All, But Rest Is Necessary

I don’t know about you, but since March 2020 it has felt like there are more days in my hours than hours in my days. I feel like I’m constantly trying to play catch up and no matter how fast I run I will never get there. COVID has changed the world in so many ways and its effect on scheduling and people’s overall health have really impacted how we get things done.


June 7th was “Oklahoma Day” according to the National Day Calendar. Oklahoma’s state motto is “labor omnia vincit” which means work or labor conquers all. This is taken from Virigil's poem Georgics and was meant to show support for Augustus Ceaser’s back to the land policy which encouraged Romans to become farmers.


I can hardly imagine the hedonistic and warrior like Romans becoming farmers but I can see today how the phrase embodies Oklahoma. We are a state of hard working people. We work the land through some of the toughest conditions to provide for our families and the country as a whole.


That kind of work ethic is something I’ve strived to embody throughout my life. I was raised by a single mother who worked two jobs to take care of us. We had very little support from my father, so I learned early on that self reliance was the best way to guarantee I had what I needed in life. However, in adopting that work ethic we often forget to allow ourselves the down time needed to regroup and heal. Just as the land lies fallow in the winter, to rest and gather strength needed for the spring crops, we too must lie fallow and gather our strength for the work ahead. This means we must set boundaries and protect our time with family and friends so we have time to recharge.


In the practice of law, it seems like there is never a time of stillness or rest. There is always a crisis that needs to be attended to. Yesterday, I started my day as most do with my text messages going off long before my alarm did. Early morning heavy rains caused flooding which delayed people arriving for work, so the first thing I had to do was put on my management hat to deal with that crisis of resetting and covering meetings. My non-essential plans for the morning were canceled as I quickly shifted to fielding client calls, covering for those who were stuck, and prepping for a hearing in the afternoon.


I spent the entire afternoon at the Courthouse arguing about what aspects of a married couple’s private life are relevant to proving whether domestic violence is occurring in the home. Just like we heard a bunch of recordings in the Depp v Heard trial, recordings, text messages, and even intimate partner contracts are routinely a part of the evidence in a case necessary to evaluate violence, parenting, and custody. After 5 hours at the courthouse meeting with clients and debating these issues I headed home for the day but I was far from done “laboring.”


At 5:30 pm, I started my car and immediately dialed the phone as soon as the bluetooth connected. While I drove north out of town on highway 81, I made the first of 5 calls before I reached home. When I got home, I quickly changed clothes, used the restroom and made call number 6 that I was already 5 minutes late for because I took those 5 minutes for myself. That call ended somewhere around 7 pm. I made three more calls and finally hung up the phone for the night right before 10 pm.


As I was walking into the bathroom to get ready for bed, I heard it go off again. I was tired so I just let it go to voicemail. However, it did not end with the first call. A client was rapid fire calling me at 10 pm. After something like 10 missed calls plus texts about an “emergency” I gave in and answered the phone. There was a problem, but nothing that necessitated blowing up my phone at 10 pm at night. There were no police at the door, no one had been seriously hurt, or was in danger of life or limb, there was just panic over something that happened earlier in the day.


The client was understandably upset and there was a lot of commotion in the background with someone yelling say this or say that. Every time I tried to explain I was cut off by what someone else wanted to say. They rapid fire called me because it was so important for me to know and the to get advice but they also wouldn’t let me speak. As a result the client couldn’t or wouldn’t hear me when I tried to explain what the next steps would be. Because I had been going since before 7 am, I was tired and my patience was short. I was not in the best place to be talking with the client. Because the client was in the midst of their issue they were also not in the best place to be listening to me.


My job is to help people in their time of crisis and I do my best to be available as much as I can to do that. However, last night I ate my meals while on the phone, I said good night to my children while on the phone, and ultimately spent some time with my husband while on the phone because that was the only way to fit all the days in my hours. I’d like to say this is uncommon, but it is often my daily routine.

Whatever kind of professional you deal with in your time of crisis, I encourage you to think before you make the after 5 call but also a call at 10 pm. Is this necessary? Is it important? Is it critical that we talk now? What am I taking away from this person by insisting that we speak now?


I’m a hard worker and I’m dedicated to my craft so I will never be a 8 - 5 professional but regardless of what shift I work, all people are entitled to down time, time to rest, regroup and gather strength for the next day and the next growing season. As we continue to work under the extra stress of COVID restrictions and play catch up due the constant rescheduling of court matters, please remember to take a breath and pause before reacting in anger to another party, before blowing up your attorney at 10 pm, or losing your cool over something small. We’re all in this together and a little grace and kindness to each other in the most stressful situations goes far to building better relationships tomorrow.

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Hi, thanks for stopping by!

Rachel Bussett is an attorney with 19 years of experience. She is motivated and inspired to fight for kids and all Oklahomans. 

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