October: During This Month—Domestic Violence Awareness Month—Consider What Factors Contribute to a Healthy Relationship

Healthy Relationships in a World of Trump vs. Hillary
By Leslie Ragsdale Fisk, of South Carolina Legal Services

With news reports crammed with hate crimes, bullying, riots, and terrorism, why are we surprised that people hurt their family members?  Even the 2016 presidential election is being called the most divisive in history.  October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  What better way to fix the angst in our world than to start at home?   This blog post will discuss ways to have a healthier relationship with your significant other, how to teach your children to have healthy relationships, and how to encourage your clients to have healthy relationships.

Everyone is going to encounter disagreements with others.  If you cannot peacefully resolve disagreements with the people you love, how can you expect to peacefully resolve disagreements with those who may have a different religion, race, sexuality, or political view?   South Carolina has consistently ranked among the worst states for the numbers of women killed by men.   The Violence Policy Reports are released every Fall and rank the states according to the numbers of women killed by men, per capita.  This year’s report, which was released on September 20th, lists South Carolina as #5 in the nation for the number of women killed by men. Violence Policy Center, When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2014 Homicide Data. Sadly, this is quite an improvement.  
2013 Report:  1st
2104 Report:  2nd
2015 Report:  1st
2016 Report:  5th

Why in our State, do so many people kill the people they love the most?  Governor Haley developed a Domestic Violence Task force in 2015.  The task force has utilized surveys, data, public hearings, and personal testimonies from Survivors to discover the answers and solutions to our shameful problem.  Government officials, advocates, and law enforcement are implementing systematic changes.  But real change must occur in homes as well.

The short answer to why men kill more women in South Carolina has to do with traditional gender roles, gun violence, alcohol abuse, and a history of keeping family matters private.  But even in the states that have ranked far better than we have, there is vitriol among the citizens.   Violence is bad for our children, our health, and our economy.  How can we improve?

(Click here to continue reading)

Healthy Relationships Around the Bar:

Sean Cobourn, of Cobourn & Kyriakakis LLC
"Healthy bodies and relationships can be achieved through teamwork and physical exertion.  Sean Cobourn and Jennifer Kane on the summit of Mount Rainier in August 2016.  The air is thin at 14,410 feet!"

Lindsey Sink Dasher, of Krusch & Sellers  "Thankful to celebrate 5 years of marriage with my husband at the Ballantyne Spa this weekend. Nothing beats a day or two of relaxation and pampering. #livingabovethebar"

Lindsey Sink Dasher, of Krusch & Sellers
"Thankful to celebrate 5 years of marriage with my husband at the Ballantyne Spa this weekend. Nothing beats a day or two of relaxation and pampering. #livingabovethebar"

Tamika Cannon, of South Carolina Legal Services  "The photos were taken after a night of fun with my husband. Roller skating is great exercise and date night allows us to invest into our relationship."

Tamika Cannon, of South Carolina Legal Services
"The photos were taken after a night of fun with my husband. Roller skating is great exercise and date night allows us to invest into our relationship."

September: Enter the “Just for the Health of It” Video/Photo Contest

The deadline has been extended to 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 9, for the "Just for the Health of It" photo/video contest! Therefore, you have additional time to submit your photos and videos for a chance to win an Apple Watch, Fitbit or fitness prize pack. Tune into Facebook on Monday, Sept. 12 at 11 a.m. for a live drawing of the winners. See below for contest details. Contact Jasmine Smith at livingabovethebar@outlook.com with your questions.

These are the winning photos from the Just for the Health of It Photo/Video Contest! They were selected from over 150 submissions in a random drawing on Monday. 
1st: Stefan Feidler (Apple Watch)
2nd: Kaitlyn Swicegood (FitBit)
3rd: Tommy Dingle (Fitness Prize Pack)

The #LivingAboveTheBar Committee thanks all Bar members who participated!

August: Enter the “Just for the Health of It” Video/Photo Contest


The deadline has been extended to 5:00 p.m. on Friday, September 9, 2016.

What does health and wellness mean to you? How do you incorporate wellness into your everyday life? Think it over and get active: take your camera or smartphone and promote a heathy wellbeing. Challenge yourself to take your best wellness or healthy lifestyle photos or videos. Already have a video or photo displaying some form of wellness? That works as well. 

The Attorney Wellness Committee invites all members of the Bar to submit videos and photographs that promote wellness. Submit a video or photo for the purpose of wellness education and awareness, and you could win a prize! 

Participate now to inspire us and raise awareness! Three winners will be randomly selected and announced on September 12.

Prizes include: 
1st Place: Apple Watch 
2nd Place: Fitbit 
3rd Place: Fitness Prize Pack valued at $100

Videos and photos should highlight any of the following wellness topics: 

  • Mental Health 
  • Alcohol/Drug/Tobacco Use
  • Stress Management 
    • Journaling 
    • Hobbies 
    • Volunteering 
    • Meditation/Yoga
  • General Wellness 
  • Nutrition/Eating Disorders 
  • Sleep 
  • Physical Fitness/Physical Health 
  • Social Well-Being or Healthy Relationships 
  • Time Management

Peruse this website for content ideas.
Visit the ABA's Fit2Practice initiative at #Fit2Practice-Sleep or #Fit2Practice-Nutrition for sample videos.

Rules & entry requirements: 

  • Unlimited submissions are welcome and each submission qualifies as a separate entry!
  • Each video entry must be a minimum of 30 seconds in length. The videos should preferably include some explanation of any wellness demonstrations. 
    • For example: If you are demonstrating a push up, include a brief instruction on form.  
  • Each photograph entry must include a caption with a minimum of 20 words if submitted via email, Facebook, or Instagram, or 140 character count for Twitter. The caption should describe the content of the photo and how it relates to wellness. 
  • All videos and photos must relate to one or more of the wellness categories mentioned above. 
  • Contest entries can be submitted either via email to the Living Above the Bar Attorney Wellness Committee at livingabovethebar@outlook.com or via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
    • For tracking purposes, all submissions via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram should be followed by#livingabovethebar. Social media accounts and posts must be made public for the Bar to view your submissions. If you have any difficultly submitting via social media, email your post directly to livingabovethebar@outlook.com.

Contest entries must be submitted either via email to livingabovethebar@outlook.com or via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using #livingabovethebar by 5 p.m. on Friday, September 9, 2016Unlimited submissions are welcome! 

The Committee will randomly select three winners. Winners will be announced on Monday, September 12. All submissions will be included on the Attorney Wellness Website; however, the Committee will not sell submitted photos or videos or license them to third parties for commercial use.

Lindsay Joyner and friends beating the summer heat while hiking over 4 miles in Highlands on Whiteside Mountain and Devil's Courtyard.

Lindsay Joyner and friends beating the summer heat while hiking over 4 miles in Highlands on Whiteside Mountain and Devil's Courtyard.

July: Should You Take A Vacation?

Kaitlyn R. Swicegood practicing yoga.  

Kaitlyn R. Swicegood practicing yoga.  

Walk Away 
by Kaitlyn R. Swicegood

The power to walk away is an amazing tool.  For many of us that work under deadlines, whether self created or not, feel the pressure to get things done.  When I start a task, I want to get it DONE.  It’s the mentality of the checklist: for some reason it feels so good to take something off the list.  Perhaps it is that I lack a little patience as well. Sometimes it is good to buckle down and get things done, but sometimes it comes at a price.

When we work under time constraints, whether it is because we have procrastinated and face a deadline, or you just hate to have things lingering, things can end up messy.  They are messy in a physical and mental sense.  My anxiety ramps, and sometimes my work is sloppy.  It might be a positive that I am eager to get something done, and at the same time my work can lack quality in my urgency.

According to an article in Entrepreneur by Joe Robinson:

Time urgency kills attention spans, rational decision-making skills and, at its most acute, the body itself by contributing to factors that lead to heart disease.  People who feel chronic time pressure are twice as likely to have high blood pressure–even those in their 30s, a Northwestern University study found.

The other night I was working on my taxes, and wanted to get them done so that I could check that item off and no longer think about it.  Unfortunately, I was missing information I needed and couldn’t figure out how to access some things electronically.  Part of the reason I couldn’t find what I needed was that I had initially rushed in the original record making task.  Now, I wanted to rush through my taxes.

Earlier that day, I had made a plan to go to yoga.  In my time urgency, I skipped so that I could sit there and finish my taxes.  At the end of a few hours, I felt terrible.  I was yelling, cursing, and even getting teary.  I did not feel good my taxes were done.  I was more stressed than ever.

Tommy (my smart boyfriend), suggested several times that I take a break and go to yoga or just walk away and come back later.  My response: "WELL OF COURSE I CAN’T!  I HAVE TO GET THESE DONE!"  No, I didn’t.  My urgent desire to FINISH the task at hand and take it off the list ended up ruining my attitude, and making me miserable.  My taxes would not have been any different, had I walked away and taken a break for myself: in fact I might have had an easier time and done a more thorough job had I put it down and come back.

I accomplished nothing by forcing myself to finish with a sense of immediacy: except to create stress.

So here’s my suggestion: walk away, like I should have.

An article on Harvard Business Review about the Nine Ways Business People are successful includes taking five or ten minutes to do something you find interesting.

It doesn’t matter what it is, so long as it interests you.  Recent research shows that interest doesn’t just keep you going despite fatigue, it actually replenishes your energy. And then that replenished energy flows into whatever you do next.

Whatever you walk away from will be waiting for you when you come back.  When we are under extreme amounts of pressure, our work is often no good anyways.  Then, we are creating stress for no reason.

The next time you feel pushed to the limit to finish something within a time frame, walk away.  Walk away, whether its for 5 minutes, a few hours, or a couple of days.  It’s not really the length that matters, but the act of giving yourself time for you.

In the words of Kelly Clarkson, "Hey, hey, hey, hey. Just walk away"
Kaitlyn R. Swicegood is an attorney in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.  This blog post was originally posted on her blog at Legally Ohm.

June: Get "Fit to Practice" This Summer

Cedric Cunningham of Kinlaw and Cunningham, P.A. , leaving the gym and picking up a bowl of fruit.

Cedric Cunningham of Kinlaw and Cunningham, P.A., leaving the gym and picking up a bowl of fruit.

Cedric's plan to get fit to practice:
I try to go the gym either right before or right after work depending on my schedule for the day. I average about 4 days per week. I also try to stay busy or on my feet on the weekend by doing yard work, washing my car, visiting people, etc. I start my days off with eating either oatmeal or greek yogurt, followed by an apple as a mid-morning snack, followed by a decent lunch that usually includes a salad, another snack, then dinner hopefully by 7 p.m. When I exercise it's usually cardio or a fast paced weight lifting regimen. I've been at it since the beginning of March and I'm down about 18 pounds now.

Miles Coleman of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP, suggests My Fitness Pal. It’s a food logging site with both a free and a paid version. (The free version does pretty much everything you need.) It’s a relatively easy and quick way to log your food and exercise and see how many calories you’ve eaten for the day, how many grams of fat/carb/protein you’ve eaten, the percentage of your diet that comes from each of those macronutrients, whether you’d gain or lose weight if you ate like this every day, etc.

May: Taking Stock of Your Mental Health During Mental Health Awareness Month

Consider Your Sleeping Habits

Good Sleep Matters - by Michael Ethridge, Chair, Attorney Wellness Committee 

We are a sleep deprived profession.  Understandable, considering the nature of our work.  Almost every lawyer I know works notoriously long hours.  (A recent study showed that 82% oflawyers’ schedules are so demanding that their health is at risk.  When you work that kind of schedule, sleep is the first thing you give up.)  Additionally, the stress associated with practicing law is always present.  We take our work home with us, and the endless to-do list loops through our minds long after we turn out the lights.  Add to that mix the client dinners that don’t start until 8 or 9:00 (and involve copious amounts of alcohol) and you have all the ingredients for a sleep deprived profession.

Instead of talking about how we might be able to modify lifestyles that allow us to get more sleep, lawyers make exhaustion and sleep deprivation status symbols.  We celebrate young associates who work through the night or we brag about getting up at 4:30 in the morning to get on the road for a deposition.  In a culture that measures self-worth by productivity, we simply accept that lack of sleep is something that comes with the territory.  We make Ambien a regular part of our diet and 3 a.m ceiling stares become routine. We tell ourselves if you’re going to practice law, you’re going to rack up sleep debt.

The irony of our glorification of sleep deprivation is that there is probably no single greater performance killer than lack of sleep.  A recent blog post in the Lawyerist, quotes Harvard Medical School Professor, Charles A. Czeisler:

“We know that . . . a week of sleeping four or five hours a night induces an impairment equivalent to a blood alcohol level of .1% . . . We would never say, ‘this person is a great worker! He’s drunk all the time!’ Yet we continue to celebrate people who sacrifice sleep.”

There is amble science that demonstrates how lack of sleep undermines cognitive performance.  And when you consider that cognitive performance is pretty damn essential to lawyering, it’s science we should pay attention to.  Lack of sleep impairs your effective working memory.  It makes it much harder to focus and pay attention to details.  And it significantly diminishes our judgment and our ability to make decisions.  (Not to mention lack of sleep makes us irritable and not much fun to be around).

The only way we’re going to add more sleep to our lives is by making a good night’s sleep a priority.  We schedule time for those things that matter to us.  We will schedule time for good sleep only when we begin to value it.  So, the first step is to stop glorifying exhaustion, and begin to value a lifestyle that allows us to bring our best cognitive selfs to our work.  In whose world would it ever make sense to come to work and perform your job all day as if you were drunk?

Knowing you need to make good sleep a priority is one thing.  Figuring out how to actually get it is something else.  Everyone is different.  So what works for one person, might not work for someone else.  But here are a few things that scientists and researchers tell us can help:

  • Do your best to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.  Even on the weekends.
  • Develop a relaxing bed time ritual.  Condition your body to know that it’s time for bed.
  • Don’t make your to-do list just before you go to bed.
  • Don’t read nonfiction prior to bed.  (Nonfiction can be a little like drafting the to-do list.  It results in mental planning and thoughts about the future.  Instead, read fiction that requires present awareness attention.)
  • Get the room right—turn down the thermostat, hang thick curtains that block out all of the light. Also, assess your mattress.  If it’s 8-10 years old, buy a new one.
  • The writer Tim Ferris has several posts where he discusses hacks for better sleep.  Some of them sound a little crazy (like ice baths an hour before bed).  But they seem to work. 

The bottom line is sleep matters.  Let’s stop glorifying the sleep deprived, and start valuing a lifestyle that allows for good restful slumber.  We will be much better lawyers, and a lot more fun to be around.

Sweet dreams.

Michael Ethridge is the current Chair of the South Carolina Bar Attorney Wellness Committee.  This blog post was originally posted on his blog at www.lawyersinsearchofsoul.com.

Consider Your Physical Fitness

Chisa Putman of City of Rock Hill Solicitor's Office, Emily Brown of York County Government, Mariama Glascoe-Kirkland of Glascoe-Kirkland Legal Services, LLC   , and  Jessica King of Williams Mullen , enjoying a Zumba instruction.

Chisa Putman of City of Rock Hill Solicitor's Office, Emily Brown of York County Government, Mariama Glascoe-Kirkland of Glascoe-Kirkland Legal Services, LLC, and Jessica King of Williams Mullen, enjoying a Zumba instruction.

This spring, the 16th Circuit Young Lawyers Division hosted "Living Above the Bar- Fit to Practice, The Local Edition" in Rock Hill, SC.  The event was a full energy Zumba workout with certified Zumba instructor, Sandra King.  Participants consisted of attorneys and other local professionals.  The circuit chose to host the event as a way to develop and improve professional relationships and promote mental and physical fitness

April: Techniques To Make Wellness & Nutrition Less Taxing


Attempt a New Workout

For too long, I had fallen into the routine of working all day and not making time for my physical fitness. Finally, I made the decision to get back in shape, and I started working out at Workhorse Fitness, which is a newer gym off Huger Street. Workhorse combines a lot of the elements of CrossFit, but there is a great deal of personal training and personal attention. In just under two months, I have had a noticeable change in both my physical fitness and my mental health. The owner/head trainer is a wonderful guy who really does a great job of targeting the physical, nutritional, and mental factors that go into a healthy life.

-Bryan Caskey 


Run a Marathon

Evie Evans running the 2015 New York Marathon, at mile 16. Living Above the Bar! 


Volunteer Your Time
Todd Rigler, Stephanie Anderson, and Chelsea Clark refurbishing a domestic violence shelter damaged by unprecedented flooding.

January: Turning Over a New Leaf In the New Year

Harness the Power of Nature to Make Your New Year Better
By Jo Watson Hackl

What if sticking to just one New Year’s resolution could help make you healthier, happier, and more productive the whole new year long? Just for one week, try incorporating nature into your day and notice the difference. The changes you see are likely to motivate you to make spending time in nature part of your year-round routine. Below are a few reasons why, six ideas to get you started, and resources to help you along the way. 

Why should I spend more time in nature?
Simply put, our bodies are designed to respond to the natural environment. Just think of the energizing effect of morning sunlight, how a stroll as dusk begins to fall helps you unwind at the end of a busy day, and the peaceful feeling that comes over you in a forested setting. A recent Harvard Medical School Health Publication described a number of study results supporting benefits of spending time with nature. These include: an increase in Vitamin D levels, an increase in exercise, improvement in mood, improvement in concentration, and faster healing.  A University of Michigan study found that walking in the park or viewing photos of nature can help significantly improve attention span and memory. As busy professionals working under deadlines, we can all use these benefits.   

Six Easy Ways to Incorporate Nature into Your Day
A few simple changes can help make nature more a part of your day. Below are a few ideas: 

  1. Wake up with the Sun. As the days start to lengthen, let the natural light of morning help wake you up and energize you for the start of your day. Read more here.
  2. If possible, arrange your desk so that you have a view of a window. According to a study from Northwestern Medicine and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, people working in an office with more light exposure slept longer, got better sleep quality, and had more physical activity and a better quality of life compared to those with less light exposure. For more details, read Description of Results of Northwestern Medicine and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Study.
  3. Try walking meetings to get out of the office and connect with your colleagues in a natural setting. Read more about walking meetings here.
  4. Wind down outside after a long day at work. Spending time outdoors can not only help you, but can help your children also. The benefits to children of time in nature in terms of attention, focus, and healthy physical and emotional development are all documented in Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2008). Here’s a link to find this book at an independent bookstore near you.  
  5. Bring nature indoors with a fresh flower arrangement on your desk. Read more at Weathering Winter with a Flower Arrangement a Day
  6. Plan your weekend around outdoor activities. Visit a South Carolina State Park. Take a class to build your outdoor skills. One series I’ve taken (and love): Earthskillsllc. Try a new outdoor sport such as kayaking or canoeing.  A list of SC water trails can be found here.

As the days grow longer in the new year, this creates even more opportunity to spend extra time outdoors. I hope to see my fellow South Carolina attorneys in the great outdoors.  
Jo Watson Hackl is a corporate attorney at Wyche, P.A. She is so convinced of the importance of spending time in nature that she launched a free website resource, Outdoorosity.org to provide information and inspiration about the outdoors