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Respect

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Occasionally, as I did today, I look to a weekly Torah portion for inspiration about what to write. This sometimes triggers the recollection of something in my mediation practice that is worth discussing. Today’s post is the result of just such an exercise and “respect” is the word that came to mind from this confluence of thought.

The Torah portion, Va’etchanan (Deuteronomy 3:23–7:11), which I read this morning, repeats the so-called Decalogue, the Ten Commandments, which calls for respect in many ways: for G-d and the Sabbath, for truth, for parents, for life, for monogamous family relations, for others’ property, for satisfaction with one’s own lot in life, etc. I will leave it to rabbinic scholars to discuss the fullest meaning and interpretation of the Decalogue.

Yet, there is a custom about the reading of the Ten Commandments that is worth noting and sprang to mind for today’s purposes:

The congregation rises in respect when the Ten Commandments are read from the Torah.

In in-person mediations (which took place before mid-March of this year), I would try always to rise to greet a person entering the conference room. Today, with Zoom mediations that is not practicable, but I do try to give respect by saying that I will listen to all of the parties, empathize with them, help them to understand their predicaments and possible solutions, and respect their decisions (whether or not they settle).

Here, however, is the recent incident that came to mind today as I was thinking about “respect” in mediation practice:

In a recent conversation with a disputant dithering on whether or not to participate in a mediation, at all, as suggested by her opponent, I helped her to make her own decision by sharing with her the text of Rule 3.853 of the California Rules of Court, which provides:

A mediator must conduct the mediation in a manner that supports the principles of voluntary participation and self-determination by the parties. For this purpose a mediator must:

(1) Inform the parties, at or before the outset of the first mediation session, that any resolution of the dispute in mediation requires a voluntary agreement of the parties;

(2) Respect the right of each participant to decide the extent of his or her participation in the mediation, including the right to withdraw from the mediation at any time; and

(3) Refrain from coercing any party to make a decision or to continue to participate in the mediation

Thus, I gave this individual the respect of sharing our ethical mandate as well as letting her know that her participation is voluntary, as is any decision about whether or not to settle.

And the good news is, that after thoughtful consideration, and knowing some of the parameters of the mediation process, she consented to participate.

She may or may not agree to settle, or on what terms, but I will respect that decision too.

***
David I. Karp is a full time independent mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California. His website is at http://karpmediation.com.

*This post is marked “Advertisement” so as to comply with the State Bar’s Rules of Professional Conduct if applicable.

Risk Tolerance in Mediation

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This morning, an item in newspaper’s advice column – which I don’t usually read – caught my eye as I was folding the page to work on the crossword puzzle near it. (I love crossword puzzles and have written about them before. See, https://karpmediation.wordpress.com/2017/01/12/mediations-are-like-crossword-puzzles/ .)

The advice seeker wrote that, in light of the rampant pandemic, he or she was dithering about traveling out of state for a family reunion. The response quoted the idiom, “better safe than sorry” which suggested that the advice seeker should stay home.

Such advice struck a chord with me, both personally and professionally.

Personally, I recently made a similar decision, regrettably and very sadly declining an invitation for a similar event out of state this autumn, thus choosing safety over the possibility of infection whether likely or not.

Professionally, the response piqued my interest because it suggested the weighing of options, more risk vs. less risk, because risk evaluation comes up in every mediation.

In some instances, people do not focus initially on the risk that they might lose in court or arbitration and their emotional attitude drives the discussion. (“I know I’m right, or “I did nothing wrong;” and “I’m sure I’ll win.”)

To help them refocus on reason, not emotion, I might say something to the effect that “What we do in mediation is simply risk management. We do not know what the future will bring, i.e., what the outcome in court or in arbitration might be. You might be right in your mind’s eye but the judge, jury or arbitrator might disagree with you.”

I might even ask, “how much of a risk-taker are you?” Or, “if you go to Las Vegas, do you gamble there?”

These kinds of questions may lead to the discussion of likelihood of success, the unpredictability of the judicial process, even the possible irritability of a judge, juror or arbitrator, or their subconscious affinity for or dislike of a witness — even the litigant herself — or a position in the litigation.

And I sometimes add, “Your attorney cannot guaranty that you will win, as our Rules of Professional Conduct prohibit it.”

I won’t belabor this, you get the point, but the ultimate goal is to lead people to problem-solving and thus to avoiding the uncertainty and possibly emotionally or financially dangerous outcome if the dispute does not settle.

I do not use the words,“it’s better to be safe than sorry,” however (although I might think it), because each person has a different tolerance for risk.

And I must respect each person’s own risk tolerance in his or her own decision-making.

***

David I. Karp is a full time independent mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California. His website is at http://karpmediation.com.

*This post is marked “Advertisement” so as to comply with the State Bar’s Rules of Professional Conduct if applicable.

Mediation and the WorryBug.

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Legal disputes engender worry. Everyone knows this. And everyone worries. Mediation can help resolve worry, but let me first tell you why I write today about worrying.

Then, I will discuss how mediation can help banish the WorryBug.

The subject of worry came up the other day when my wife and I were visiting our three year old grandchild … and  her parents — our daughter and her husband — of course.  We were all wearing masks and socially distancing, shmoozing in the fresh breeze of their backyard.

Certainly there was some level of worry among the adults about the pandemic, which was discussed among us but only a little bit.

The real worry came from our granddaughter. I will call her Ethel. It is not her real name.

(Ethel is an oblique reference to a beautiful film my daughter and I saw and enjoyed together years ago, called Shakespeare In Love. In it, Geoffrey Rush’s character refers to Shakespeare’s so far “unwritten play commissioned [as] a comedy [and] tentatively titled ‘Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter’”.  See, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0138097/plotsummary . The idea of the play being called “Romeo and Ethel” made us both laugh, a lot, and I have never forgotten our shared experience. So I referred to our granddaughter, in utero, as Ethel, and do so here. But I digress.)

In the backyard the other day, Ethel, in close proximity at first to a tiny baby lizard, got really scared. Then she saw it move on the grass, on the cement patio, and ultimately climb up the stucco wall of the house. Ethel became terribly worried about the little lizard’s safety, and she was audibly and visibly upset.

That is when I heard about the WorryBug. I asked what it is.

It is a character in a delightful children’s book, called Don’t Feed The WorryBug by Andi Green, with which Ethel was obviously familiar. It can be read to you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JM27Zj04EOM

As Amazon.com describes the book, Wince, the main character is a worrier. “[W]hen Wince starts to worry, his WorryBug appears. At first the WorryBug is small and non-threatening, but the more Wince Worries the more his WorryBug grows. Don’t Feed The WorryBug is great story to start the conversation on worry and anxiety. We all worry, it happens, but the key is to not let those worries aka the WorryBug grow to the point it ruins your day.” See, https://www.amazon.com/Don’t-Feed-WorryBug-WorryWoo-Monsters/dp/0979286042 .

So, how does all of this relate to mediation?

When I conduct mediations, I know people are worried about their predicaments, and we talk about the worry.

They worry about: Will I win or lose? How much will it cost? Will I be ruined by the litigation, financially or emotionally? Will it negatively impact my business reputation? And so much more.

At the root of the worry is uncertainty about the future and the inability to control it. Just like any of us, the disputants do not know what the future will bring, and they lose sleep over it, become anxious, have stomach aches or other debilitating physiological effects. They imagine every possible negative scenario, and so much more.

Even the lawyers worry:  Have I taken the right approach? Will my client listen to my advice? Will I have to take the case all the way to trial? What if I lose? What if I win? Will I get paid? And so much more.

One way to resolve all of that worry and anxiety is to make the uncertain certain.

Mediation provides the opportunity to resolve differences and change all of the terrifying “what ifs” into an acceptable certainty. At the end, with a written settlement agreement, all of the uncertain future risks and costs go away. Everyone knows what the outcome is and understands each person’s benefits and responsibilities going forward. The dispute is no more; there is no more uncertainty.

It is then that the WorryBug no longer threatens to take over their lives and the disputants can go back to enjoyable experiences … like watching “Shakespeare in Love,” which I highly recommend, or other pleasant diversions.

Too, the lawyers can close their files, and move on to other cases not worrying about this one anymore.

And then they can help their other clients to manage their worries, because worry appears in every case.

And then they can bring those cases to mediation, where we mediators can help everyone manage the conflict and its inherent anxieties … and banish the WorryBug once again.

***

David I. Karp is a full time independent mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California. His website is at http://karpmediation.com.

*This post is marked “Advertisement” so as to comply with the State Bar’s Rules of Professional Conduct if applicable.

Seriously Avoiding In-person Mediations for Awhile

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It will not come as a surprise to anyone that, due to my age (66) and an underlying heart condition, I am extremely concerned about potential exposure to COVID-19.  Consequently I have been conducting only online mediations by video conference in the short term.

Due to recent input (see below), I have had to give much more serious thought in the past few days regarding in-person mediation sessions in the longer term.

In short, I have decided to avoid them and not to conduct them for awhile, at least for the next three months, maybe longer.

As I have written before, I believe that mediation by online video conference is a much better way to go presently. See, https://karpmediation.wordpress.com/2020/06/12/is-mediation-by-video-conference-better-given-the-circumstances/

I am certain that there are others who are less nervous about it, but for me and for my wife, the prospect of my spending more than just a few minutes together with others, in person, especially in a closed conference room with possibly inadequate ventilation, is scary to say the least (not that I think the lawyers or clients are scary – I’m just fearful of contracting the virus.)

According to my daughter, a physician in family practice, “It’s serious, Dad.”

Fortunately, as I have said, I have been scheduling and conducting Zoom mediations in the short term, which the participants seem to find satisfactory, even enjoyable. (Outcome appears, so far, to be about the same as in-person mediations, vis-a-vis settlement or not.)

My worry crescendoed this week, after a request for an in-person mediation, when I reached out to a colleague about his current mediation practices.

He told me that his office is closed to the public and that he has been conducting only Zoom mediations, and will continue doing the same probably through the end of the year.

Shortly thereafter, for further input I contacted the program coordinator of the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Real Estate Mediation Center for Consumers (I am on its mediator panel) to see if C.A.R. is still not permitting in-person mediations.

Here is her response:

We advise you check your local news to verify if restrictions have been lifted. Below is our current messaging to our clients.

NOTE- revised 5/26/20: Due to COVID-19 restrictions, in-person mediations may not be permitted at this time and it is uncertain when they will be permitted to resume. In addition, not all parties, counsel or mediators involved in a mediation may be comfortable with an in-person mediation until a COVID-19 vaccine is available. [Most of our panel mediators offer online mediation services via teleconferencing and videoconferencing solutions.] We encourage the parties to consider these services to ensure a timely resolution to their dispute….

Local news is currently reporting a spike in COVID-19 cases and a possible return to stay-at-home orders. See, e.g. https://patch.com/california/encino/s/h68l6/worsening-outbreak-could-cause-return-stay-home-orders.

Also yesterday I read that, in addition to the risk from coughing, sneezing, singing or even talking in close-contact closed spaces, now there is a concern about lingering airborne transmission of the virus in closed spaces.

Finally, just last evening, I learned that Los Angeles Superior Court Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile issued a new General Order delaying trials as the COVID-19 pandemic continues unabated, ordering, among other things, that the Court will not set any Civil jury trials to commence before January 2021, although certain Unlawful Detainer (eviction) jury trials will be set to commence on or after October 5, 2020.

So, as you can tell from all of the input I received, I am not comfortable with an in-person mediation, not only in the short term but more likely for a longer term than previously anticipated, at least for the next three months if not longer.

And my wife isn’t comfortable with it either, which I have to respect for purposes of “Shalom Bayit,” i.e. peace of the home.

So, based on the above, I will continue online with Zoom mediations, only, to help attorneys and their clients resolve their disputes which otherwise will continue in suspense based on court unavailability.

And I will avoid in-person mediations at least the next three months, if not longer.

That’s the best I can do under the circumstances.

***

David I. Karp is a full time independent mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California. His website is at http://karpmediation.com .

*This post is marked “Advertisement” so as to comply with the State Bar’s Rules of Professional Conduct if applicable.

Having a Map for Mediation

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After printing out the directions to go to the Goodwill paper shredding facility near downtown quite some time ago, I got lost.  I don’t usually lose my way, but it happens.

Fortunately, in my car I had (still have) my Thomas Guide map book with me for Los Angeles County. Remember those? See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Guide . I figured out where I was and I got to my destination.

Okay, so the map book is over 20 years old but the layout of the streets doesn’t change so much over time. I still prefer using it.

The one time I asked for directions from the lady in my so-called smart phone, It gave me directions back to my home not to my destination. See, e.g., https://karpmediation.wordpress.com/2020/03/15/my-new-smart-phone/

Suffice it to say, it’s hard to program a real map book incorrectly.

In mediation, I use a map too. It’s not a street map, but a thought map. I use it to plan how to get to the destination, that is, possible settlement.

To make the map, I spend a considerable time preparing in advance for the mediation.

Not only do I pour over the mediation briefs. If not familiar with them, I read cited cases. I speak to the lawyers. I think a lot about what I will ask the participants and what I will say to them. For in-person mediations, I arrive 30 to 45 minutes early, so I can think and plan and review some more. I write down notes for future reference, sometimes I even look at them. See also, https://karpmediation.wordpress.com/2017/04/27/preparing-well-for-mediation/

All so I will know how to get to the destination … settlement, if that’s where the parties want to go.

Even so, sometimes, because of the conflict, there is a rough and rugged road ahead. Sometimes we need to detour for a discussion that suddenly becomes important.

Or, an interesting side trip presents itself, and we leave the map to explore something that has newly appeared on the horizon.

I try not to rush the trip, but sometimes others are impatient, and we need a shortcut.

Or we have run into a fog, and need to wait for things to clear up.

Then again, sometimes a rest stop is in order, especially when people are hungry or angry, or simply “hangry” as my daughter would say.

Still I need to steer the conversation back to the goal of resolving the dispute … where my internal thought map leads.

Sometimes people don’t want to go there, and that’s okay. And sometimes we reach a dead end.

But on the whole, people appreciate knowing that the mediator, who guides the process, has a map that helps them to get to peace.

And sometimes they ask for directions or guidance to help find their way.

For a related simile, see https://karpmediation.wordpress.com/2019/06/17/the-off-ramp-of-mediation/

***

David I. Karp is a full time independent mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California. His website is at http://karpmediation.com .

*This post is marked “Advertisement” so as to comply with the State Bar’s Rules of Professional Conduct if applicable.

Is Mediation by Video Conference Better Given the Circumstances?

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Do I prefer in-person mediations? Absolutely!

But let’s be realistic.

Presently, we are living under the threat of COVID-19.

So which is better? Wait to resume in-person mediations? Have them now? Or conduct them via video conference now?

Ultimately, the decision is up to the parties and their attorneys, but here are a few salient facts which underlie the dilemma:

  • There is no scientific indication Covid-19 will disappear of its own accord.
  • Wearing a cloth mask does not protect you much if you’re in close contact with someone who is COVID-19 contagious. It may give you 10 minutes, instead of five, to avoid contracting the disease.
  • We can expect COVID-19 to infect 60% – 70% of Americans. That’s around 200 million Americans.
  • We can expect between 800,000 and 1.6 million Americans to die in the next 18 months if we don’t have a successful vaccine.
  • There is no guarantee of an effective vaccination and even if we find one, it may only give short term protection.
  • Speeding a vaccination into production carries its own risks.
  • The darkest days are still ahead of us.
    See, https://www.bluezones.com/2020/06/covid-19-straight-answers-from-top-epidemiologist-who-predicted-the-pandemic/ .

So, what’s best right now?

In March 2020, when the first “stay at home” ordinances came into existence, I, like many of my colleagues who also favored in-person mediations, reluctantly and skeptically endeavored to learn about video-conferencing as a possible alternative.

Despite my own inertia, I soldiered on to learn how to use Zoom for mediations. Three months later, I am feeling sufficiently proficient at it, and it appears to be both workable and preferable at the moment for me and for many others with whom I have worked and am working online.

Three months ago, my own reluctance to use Zoom had to do with fearing that I would not be able to read non-verbal communication well among the participants in the mediation.

This issue resolved itself with the experience of conducting a Zoom mediation. In fact, I could read the nonverbal cues that I saw on my computer screen. Not as well as in-person, but it was a close proximity.

Another issue for me was the potential inability to express empathy well, a necessary ingredient I believe in helping parties in distress.

For, instance, in an in-person mediation, I could pass a facial tissue to a distraught disputant who had broken down into tears, thus expressing empathy wordlessly.

I learned from experiencing online mediation that this is less of a worry; in fact, most people have their own facial tissues nearby at their home or office. And I can still express empathy non-verbally, as by leaning in toward the camera.

On balance, it thus appears to me that these potential downsides are not greater than the upsides of a video conference mediation, which include these benefits:

Timeliness, relative simplicity to schedule and conduct, less expensive, the feeling of relative safety in familiar environments (home or office), no travel headaches, and so forth.

There are some practitioners, nevertheless, who still prefer in-person mediations and refuse mediation by video conference, and that’s okay but not right now.

Although they, and I, are willing to wait it out, so to speak, in-person mediations may not be so soon. (I should point out, that, although I am an independent full-time mediator, I am also on the panel of CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Real Estate Mediation Center for Consumers (CAR), and, as of this writing, CAR is not permitting its mediators to conduct in-person mediations.)

So, for in-person mediation, which, yes I still prefer, we must wait.

But there are other issues for in-person mediations to be considered:

Masks hide facial expressions, which are so important in non-verbal communication and understanding.

Also for anyone like me with moderate hearing loss who depends hearing aids and reading lips for clarity, the masks are a hindrance.

And then there’s being together in a conference room, all of us breathing together … or coughing … or sneezing.

Still the issue is for the parties and their attorneys to decide, but at the moment I am leaning toward a preference for Zoom.

***

David I. Karp is a full time independent mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California. His website is at http://karpmediation.com .

*This post is marked “Advertisement” so as to comply with the State Bar’s Rules of Professional Conduct if applicable.

Three Tips for Newer Lawyers

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In practice for 40 years (25 years real estate litigation, 15 years real estate mediation), I was invited today to share in a videoconference for newer lawyers, some tips I learned from practice that I didn’t necessarily learn in law school.

Here are the three tips I will share:

1. Don’t be overly aggressive. You can advocate earnestly without being a jerk.

2. Follow your gut instincts. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.

3. Your reputation is everything.

There are probably more eytses (Yiddish for pieces of advice), but with these three, any lawyer will go far.

***

David I. Karp is a full time independent mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California. His website is at http://karpmediation.com .

*This post is marked “Advertisement” so as to comply with the State Bar’s Rules of Professional Conduct if applicable.

Things Fall Apart

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William Butler Yeats wrote “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold” in a poem titled The Second Coming.  It was a prescient statement considering the times in which we are now living.

I was reminded of this line as I sat at my computer today listening and watching an excellent webinar about the impact of COVID-19 on the recording and indexing of real estate related documents and other written instruments.

In very simple terms, COVID-19 has caused the Los Angels County Recorder, and others, to shut its/their doors to the public. Recording of deeds, deeds of trust, and other written instruments affecting real estate consequently must be submitted by mail, or in a physical drop-box if available, unless submitted via title companies. This may cause unforeseen delay and likely legal problems downstream including, but not limited to, establishing priority among recordings, constructive notice issues, and Bona Fide Purchaser/Encumbrancer status. All of these were emphasized in today’s outstanding webinar thanks to the speakers, Los Angeles attorneys Ryan Squire, William Larr and Anya Stanley.

That is not the only havoc in real estate practice being created by the pandemic. Purchase and sales transactions are probably stalled, perhaps giving rise to disputes over earnest money deposits in escrow, funding, timing of close of escrow, possession, and so much more. Landlord-tenant issues are arising now in both the commercial and residential real estate contexts, with people unable to pay rents or mortgages, and owners unable to pay their lenders. The list goes on.

Among other things, lawyers are now even examining real estate contracts to see if they contain “force majeure” clauses and if and how, in light of COVID-19, they may affect the rights and obligations of the parties to the contract. (“Force Majeure [relates to a] provision commonly found in contracts that frees both parties from obligation if an extraordinary event prevents one or both parties from performing. These events must be unforeseeable and unavoidable, and not the result of the defendant’s actions, hence they are considered ‘an act of god.’” https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/force_majeure . )

As things fall apart, the circumstances are not good for people encountering real estate related disputes.

Worse, the courts have been, and continue to be, shuttered (except for certain time-sensitive or emergency matters), with resulting delays that no one could have anticipated and perhaps cannot be tolerated.

Thankfully there are mediators and mediation service providers that offer an alternative method of dispute resolution that may be more expedient and inexpensive when compared to the cost and time lag of judicial resolution now imposed by the circumstances. Many mediators, like yours truly, have come up to speed with mediation by video conference, allowing for safer-at-home distancing and, at least to some extent, mirroring the in-person experience in mediation. (Personally, I am aware that at least two mediator panels (there are probably others) identify on their websites those mediators who will mediate online. See, https://www.car.org/mediation/consumers/socalmediators ; see also, https://www.mediationla.org/mediators/ .) These Zoom mediations are an additional tool in the tool box of experienced mediators.

The fallout in real estate practice from COVID-19 will be felt for a long time. To the extent that lawyers, their clients, and dispute resolution professionals and others, can work together to help resolve the consequential disputes without unreasonable delay, perhaps the impact of the pandemic will be lessened.

At least, that is this writer’s hope.

***

David I. Karp is a full time independent mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California. His website is at http://karpmediation.com .

*This post is marked “Advertisement” so as to comply with the State Bar’s Rules of Professional Conduct if applicable.

Managing the Conversation, Overseeing the Negotiation

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I had one of those typical telephone calls yesterday from an unrepresented person, not an attorney, dealing with a real estate dispute.

After the beginning pleasantries, the conversation went like this, more or less:

Are you a lawyer or a mediator?

Actually I am both. But I do not practice law; I conduct mediations as a full time profession.

I need some legal advice from you.

As a mediator, I can’t give you legal advice.

So what do you do?

When two or more parties are in a dispute, I convene and conduct a mediation. It’s a meeting in which I manage the conversation between the disputants (and their counsel if present) and I oversee the negotiation. I am not anyone’s attorney or advocate. I don’t judge right or wrong. I am a facilitator between the two sides to help both sides understand one another and to obtain enough information to make an informed decision about whether or not to resolve the dispute and if so when and on what terms.

You don’t decide the outcome?

No, actually people decide for themselves. I have no power to decide. On the other hand, I might use my knowledge and experience to help illuminate the problems, the practical realities, and sometimes some possible solutions. I help people understand the respective needs, interests and priorities, on both sides. I also point out the benefits of settlement: less risk and expense than litigating; certainty of outcome; reduction of stress, worry and so forth, sometimes protection of one’s health or reputation; all while keeping things private and confidential.

Why don’t you decide the outcome?

I’m not a judge or an arbitrator. I believe in people making their own informed decisions about what to do or not to do, but I help them along. Also, mediator ethics insist that I must be impartial, not take sides, and remain as neutral as possible.  So I don’t judge.

I still need legal advice.

My suggestion is to consult a practicing attorney. Then he or she can guide you on what to do, and maybe you and your attorney will thereafter participate in mediation.

Thank you.  Bye.

Bye.

***
David I. Karp is a full time independent mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California. His website is at http://karpmediation.com .

*This post is marked “Advertisement” so as to comply with the State Bar’s Rules of Professional Conduct if applicable.

Appreciating Unscheduled Time, Managing Stress, And Feeling Better

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Mayor Garcetti’s “Safer at Home” guidelines began on March 19, 2020, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. I write this on April 19 knowing that the guidelines have been extended to May 15, 2020.

Lots of unscheduled time has passed and more is on the way. A friend asked me this morning via Facebook if I have big plans for the day. My answer to him: reading, writing, taking a solitary walk, maybe a nap in the afternoon.

This piece fills the writing part of the day.

Life has slowed, as I’ve written previously. See, https://karpmediation.wordpress.com/2020/04/05/some-good-resulting-from-staying-home/

And, I’ve taken to heart some advice I read from the CDC about managing stress in this stressful time:

1. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories and social media;

2. Connect with others. Talk with friends and loved ones over the phone or via video chat about your concerns and how you are feeling;

3. Take care of yourself. Take deep breaths, stretch or meditate. Try to eat healthy meals, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep.

So, with my copious unscheduled time, I pay attention to the above, and to other personal interests as well, all of which I highly recommend.

For myself:

I work on my Masonic Lodge’s newsletter which I edit every month. I write for it too as well as for this blog.

I borrow e-books from the library and read science fiction or historical fiction.  I still enjoy reading and writing poetry from time to time.

I take frequent walks and pay much closer attention to my surroundings: the hummingbirds are out and fascinating to watch; many plants are in bloom; and so forth.

Yes, of course I still watch for business email and take phone calls during the weekdays to manage my mediation practice, but more pacifically because I know that the courts are closed and the pressure is off for litigants and attorneys, and business has slowed for all.  (So, I hope therefore that they, too, are beginning to appreciate unscheduled time.)

I do think that our outlooks will change as a result of the times and I hope that these times will help people to experience new feelings, as I have been feeling.  Like appreciation, creativity, compassion, relaxation, renewal, and a sense of personal completeness with less stress.

I am certain that, like me, others miss the social interaction of daily life, with family, friends and colleagues. So, as I do, I hope others will reach out via telephone or online to maintain and strengthen those relationships.

And I hope people will pay attention to their health; it’s a bad time to be among other people who just might be contagious.

So, let’s all take care of ourselves, enjoy life and our new-found unscheduled time.

Maybe as a society, we will feel better collectively.

I know I do.

***

David I. Karp is a full time independent mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California who sometimes write about subjects other than mediation. His website is at http://karpmediation.com .

*This post is marked “Advertisement” so as to comply with the State Bar’s Rules of Professional Conduct if applicable.

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