I am one of those people who attempts 9,000 things at once, never completely knowing if I’m doing any of them well. It is who I am. Being still is difficult for me. For that reason, I hate manicures. I find it nearly impossible to just sit and do nothing while someone has hijacked my mobility. Therefore, my nails are atrocious. But that is another story.
Judge. Mama. Attorney. Wife. Stella & Dot Stylist. Daughter. Amateur Photographer. Sister. Wannabe Writer. Friend. Southerner. Christ-follower and church-goer.
Blogger? Jury is still out.
Yep, they are all me! However, I’m quickly approaching 37, and I only became a bunch of those in the last 4 years. I got started a tad late, but when I decided my path, I jumped in with both feet. Some choices were made deliberately, some unexpectedly, and others, well….one day I looked up and there they were. Any of this sound familiar? I hope so. I know I’m not the only loon out there who thinks she can do it all and do it all perfectly, only to find out that well, she can’t. At least not without having a well-deserved nervous break-down every now and then. And completely un-manicured hands.
I was a flounderer in my twenties. Flitted from here to there and back again. I started taking pictures for fun about this time, and thought I was good at it, so I tried to make a living out of it. No go. (Though I still love to take pictures and still sell old pictures I’ve taken. You can see them at http://www.zenfolio.com/visionscreativephotography) More on that later.) I taught school for a year right out of graduate school and realized that 8th graders were, um, 8th graders. Plus, I was still single and going out in the middle of the week. Fantastic school, exceptional kids and supportive parents, but I wasn’t fantastic or exceptional. I was, in fact, in way over my head. So, I did what any normal 24 year old, single, small-town Southern girl would do to escape the confines of a real job……I moved out of the country. To London, to be exact. Went from a town of 14,000 (give or take a few) to 14 million. Just a tiny leap. Best education I ever received (which is kind of a big deal since, all together, I have had about 21 years of formal schooling….and nothing against any of my alma maters, but London is tough to beat.) However, I only got to stay for about 6 months, because, well, my daddy told me he wasn’t going to deposit one more dime into my bank account. Wasn’t too keen on living on the streets of London, no matter how much I loved them, so I came home with a very sad face. (I haven’t been back since the spring of 2001, so that is just one more item on my list of things to do, and this phase of life will get some serious blog time in the future.)
After I moved back home, I held a number of jobs (some of which, I had held before) like waiting tables (in multiple restaurants), teaching school (in multiple classrooms), retail (in multiple stores), ect.., ect…, ad nauseum. I jumped from one thing to the next because I was bored, I wanted to make more money, I wanted to explore my options, I wanted to………do whatever I wanted to do. And I could. I was single, I was childless, and my rent was getting paid (most of the time.) So, I took full advantage of the no-strings-attached life.
But somewhere during and after this time, I met someone. (I realize up to this point, I have alluded to singledom, but evaded any mention of males and their presence in my life. Well, they were there. They just don’t deserve a full sentence in their honor. All of them put together.) The someone I met became my fiancé within 7 weeks (yeah, that’s another full thread), and in a little less than a year, turned into my husband. Bless his sweet heart. He had no idea what he was getting into.
So, one day at Piggly Wiggly, my whole life took a turn. Amazing, isn’t it? There you are, trying to figure out which brand of green beans to buy, and WHAM. A new direction. Who’d have thought it? On this particular shopping trip at my local grocery store, the Little Pig (not to be confused with the Big Pig, the “other” Piggly Wiggly across town that is a “wee” big larger in square footage), I ran into the Clerk at our local Justice Court. We chatted and she casually asked me how life was treating me, how my parents were doing, and oh…..what I was doing these days….and I told her I was looking for a job (again.) It was that conversation that led me to a) have a phone interview, b) have a real interview and c) become the Administrative Assistant to the County Prosecutor. And everything fell in to place. Sortof.
Back when I was younger, before teaching, before London, I had a fleeting thought that involved the words “law” and “school,” but it was just that. Fleeting. Flew into my brain for a brief interval and flew out again. Why, you might ask, such a short contemplation? Well, I’ll tell you the whole truth. I didn’t think I was smart enough.
Honestly, I have no idea why. I always made good grades in all subjects except for anyone that involved a numeral. English, history, most sciences, I made solid A’s and B’s. I had a decent GPA in college. I had a better on in graduate school (to get my Master’s in English……wait, did I mention that I finished my coursework for my Master’s but didn’t write my thesis for 5 years? Oh yeah. Did I mention I did whatever I wanted to do in my twenties?). My parents were supportive of whatever I wanted to be when I grew up. No one ever told me I wasn’t good enough. But for whatever reason, I thought going to law school would be the equivalent of flying to the moon. Unattainable. Too ambitious for me. Never gonna happen.
But my work at the Justice Court changed that. I finally found a job that I loved, and even more, I found a job that made me want to learn more about the field to which it pertained. Most people hear the words “Administrative Assistant” and think “you were a secretary but you don’t want to admit it.” Well, in my case, I was and I wasn’t. I did some secretarial things, certainly, but I also attended every single case that my boss tried. I gathered reports for the officers on every one of those cases, and I read them. Sometimes I felt like I had actually been at the scene, and I came to understand the world of DUI’s intimately. I understood the process. I understood the possible outcomes. And “gasp!” I understood the law.
So…..then I got pregnant, and the next move I made I blame completely on hormones. I decided I WAS smart enough, I WAS good enough, and…..well, you know the rest. I decided I wanted to go to law school. I took the LSAT at 5 and 7 months pregnant. I was 32. The first time I took the test, I scored fine, but I wanted to try to do better, so I took it again. This time, I had carpal tunnel in both hands, so they were going to sleep as I attempted to fill in those dang little circles, I looked like a whale, and my dear son-to-be kicked me the whole time. When I got my score back, I had done worse. 5 points worse. That’s a lot on the LSAT. So I did what any 32-year-old-pregnant-crazy-girl-who-was-trying-to-further-disrupt-her-already-nutso-life would do. I parked it on the couch and cried my eyeballs out. The next week, I got my acceptance letter to law school.
So began yet another phase of life, one that was full of ups and downs and fears and joys and new friends and frustrations and well….anything you can think of. I gave birth to a beautiful, funny, smart, captivating, expressive, intriguing little boy (who is now 4…and he wants to be a farmer AND a lumberjack when he grows up. Hoping one of you can hook a sista up for her boy in about 20 years, as I’m certain someone out there will have the need to hire both a farmer and a lumberjack. Probably just one of you, but that’s okay. One will do.). He is like opening a present every single day. And, he is quite normal, despite the fact that his mama spent his first three years of life as a law student. Look for LOTS of posts on this. I think the question of the day was, for those entire three years, “How can you manage being a mama and a law student?” I have the answer, plain and simple, but I’ll explain in more detail in the future….I. had. a. lot. of. help. I have no idea how you do it without a strong, committed support system. I couldn’t have, and I doubt you could either. If you could/can/did, you are my hero, and you should be writing this blog instead of me. In fact, you probably already have your own with a bazillion followers, and your child is probably baby Einstein. Kudos. Mine is not, but I like him just fine. He’s a cool little dude.
So anyway, as I neared the end of my law school career, I decided I needed one more thing on my plate and let my sister-in-law talk me into becoming a stylist for Stella & Dot, a direct sales line of jewelry. I loved their jewelry. I loved their name. I needed money (and still do, and you should check it out at http://www.stelladot.com/marshastacey. Be prepared to fall in love.) So I signed up. Posts GALORE on this at a later date, but just as an introductory……it is such fun. I love it. I’m so glad I did it, and I hope I can do it for a long time. Direct sales is taking over the world, and I can directly connect this to my time in London as the only person as of yet to sign up underneath me to also sell Stella & Dot is my best friend I made during my time there. She and I are still as close as we were when we were following one particular band all over the city, and she is now my partner in this business. Full circle, friends. Full circle.
Which leads me to the biggest challenge of my life. Last spring, about 3 months before graduation, someone put a bug in my ear and made me consider running for public office. At first mention, I laughed. Hard. Me??? Run for Justice Court Judge? Me? Am I being Punked? Once I got past the hilarity of the thought, and once I banished that same voice that told me I wasn’t smart enough to go to law school in my twenties, I walked a little taller, pushed my chest out a bit, and said to myself, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough…yeah, yeah.” No really, I thought, “You know, I’d be a good JCJ. A really good one. I understand the system backward and forward, this is my home turf, I have solid relationships with the clerks, the law enforcement officers, the defense attorneys, and my former boss, the same County Prosecutor. I would love to work with those folks again. And again, I can do this. I could make a difference in my community. I can give back to my home. This is a no brainer. What on earth do I have to lose?”
The fact is, I would have NEVER considered running for this position had it not been an open seat. The judge whose seat I would be running for was retiring, and he was a man I respected both on the bench and off, immensely. We had a good relationship when I worked in the court, and though I knew I would have big shoes to fill, I sincerely wanted to try. He was a fair, rational, common-sense judge. He was not only a judge; he was a farmer, too. As I said earlier, my son wants to be a farmer. I love farmers. And that particular farmer, sans law degree, was one of the best judges I’d ever observed in the courtroom.
So, I made a few, very select phone calls as I contemplated this harebrained idea. One was to him. The others were to some people I respected and knew would tell me the truth…..and I decided before I dialed…if one of them laughs, I won’t run. And none of them did. At least not to my face.
There I was. Mama to a 3 year old. Law school graduate-to-be. And now, a candidate for Justice Court Judge. AND, the bar exam loomed in the very near future. But I decided to just bite the bullet and try to DO IT ALL.
The long and short of it is, I won the election, and I failed the Bar. I wasn’t surprised that I failed the bar, but I was shocked I won the election. Everyone around me seemed to be the opposite, which still blows my mind. Y’all, I had such amazing (sorry to use such a “Bachelor/Bachelorette word) group of people around me, and they literally carried me through that blur of a summer that defined my future. It was, hands down, the most humbling time of my life.
It was also the time when I realized that I was NOT Superwoman. I honestly believe, however, had I passed the bar the first time around, I might have grown a head so large it wouldn’t fit in the Grand Canyon. There was a purpose, and I know God’s hand was in it. I had to look at my limitations. I had to see that I really couldn’t take on everything I hoped to do at the same time and expect to do it well. Some people can, I am sure of that. But not me. Not this girl.
So, after some training and tests and swearing in, I sat on the bench for the first time in January. There won’t be many posts about actual court time, because, well, I just can’t go there. I like my job. I’d prefer to keep it. So, though I will certainly mention it from time to time, as it IS my job and a part of my life, and a quite important one to me, I won’t go into details. Just not the forum for it. (So if you have made it THIS far, hoping for juicy court details, you can stop reading now. Though, I’m almost finished, so I am hoping you can push through…).
The only thing I will say right now about my judgeship is this: Micah 6:8. Thank you, Louis Field.
In January, I started my new job and started studying again for the February bar, and came home after it was over defeated and devastated. I would LOVE to post comments about that day, but I will refrain. Again, not the forum. BUT, I would have bet my entire life savings of 40 bucks that I failed. Got the results last month, and I was wrong, and for one time in my life, happy to be. I was sworn in by a Chancellor that I respect and admire and hope to be like in another, way more mature and wisdom-filled lifetime, and now am capable of practicing law. (Another aside….I am not going to give legal advice in this forum, either. Sorry to bum you out even further, if you came here for juicy court details AND free legal advice, because you are getting a double whammy. It’s okay if you hate me. I can handle it, and I’m sorry. I’ll message you directions to my office if you live in the area, though, and if I can help you, I’d be happy to represent you. I will also post links to blogs and website of some of my friends trying to get started. But, like most other working people, I charge for my services (and they do, too). I hope you understand. Student loans are a beast, and debtor’s prison doesn’t sound fun.)
So, this is me. Judge. Mama. Attorney. Wife. Stella & Dot Stylist. Daughter. Amateur Photographer. Sister. Wannabe Writer. Friend. Southerner. Church-goer.
Blogger? Jury is still out. Like everything else I’ve tried in life, we’re gonna see how it goes.
Thanks for reading, and I look forward to hearing about your challenges and accomplishments, struggles and fears, joys and concerns. Maybe we can wade through it all. I sure hope so. At the very least, we can have our nervous break-downs together.