Family Law. Human Excrement.

Human excrement.  That is where it’s at, my friend.  Human waste (AKA “crap”) is one of the things that propelled me into a career in the family law arts.


“Crap” has taught me virtually everything I need to know about divorce, child custody and much about life in general.  


This week, I will be sharing a bit of my expertise on the topic of “crap” with you.  But first, let me tell you how my journey into the realm of human excrement began.  (And NO, I will NOT be talking about being a baby or having a baby here.)


It was my first job out of high school.  I was seventeen.  


I began working for Cyprus Bagdad Copper Corporation, an open pit mining company, in Bagdad (Northern Arizona) as a summer intern.

The Sewer Plant taught me about life.
The Sewer Plant taught me about life.

Because I wasn’t yet 18, I wasn’t allowed to trek into the depths of the mine pit.  As a result, my first assignment was on the “townsite.”  What this meant was that I was one of the people responsible for maintaining the “beauty and cleanliness” of the town itself.


My work hours were from 6:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., with a half hour lunch.  I had to wear a hard hat, safety glasses and steel toe boots.  I drove around with another intern in a company work truck.  Unfortunately for me, the intern was the chick who had punched my lights out a few years earlier when we were in the eighth grade.


I was literally in hell.  I didn’t think it could get worse.  I was wrong.


Within the first couple days of work, we were informed that part of our job duties and responsibilities would be maintaining the “beauty and cleanliness” of THE SEWER PLANT.  Let me say it again for effect:  THE SEWER PLANT.  I swear on my Mother’s life.


As you can imagine, a million things were swirling around in my mind.  Most of these things involved terror.  And profanity.  Here are the G-rated versions of only SOME of the things I was thinking:


How is even possible to make the view of a SEWER PLANT seem “beautiful and clean?”


How will I make it through the next several months working side-by-side with a person who was once my friend, but who now hates me enough to physically injure me?


Will I make it?


I decided the way to get through it would be to focus on what I was doing in the moment I was doing it.  I was determined to do the best job I could.  I would leave that job being the best darn SEWER PLANT keeper the mine had ever had.


Much to my surprise and delight, working in the SEWER PLANT involved more than just raking dried pods of “crap”:


1.   There were weeds that needed cutting, so I learned to operate a weed eater.  I didn’t just learn to function a weed eater, but I became quite skilled at re-stringing a weed eater when the string got tangled or ran out.  I discovered I LOVE to weed eat and that there is something both meditative and cathartic about the violence involved with mowing down those angry, stubborn shoots of grass and bush.


2.  The SEWER PLANT also needed oleanders planted across one of its borders. The young oleanders were fragile.  Planting them with care balanced out the aggression I felt during my weed eating.  At that time, I never would have imagined the tiny one and half foot plants would someday grow tall and strong, blooming in beauty at the entrance of the SEWER PLANT.  I would be partly responsible for creating that gorgeousness in the world!


3.  I realized the importance of understanding my own limits and knowing when I needed “a break.”  Yes, I was in the northern part of the state, but the summers were still blistering hot.  The SEWER PLANT had no cover.  My bosses reminded me to rest and give myself the things I needed (like food and water) when I needed them.  These breaks gave me the energy and focus to carry on and do the best job possible.


4.  My experience was made much better by treating my partner with respect and dignity, despite everything that had happened.  Not letting my fear of or resentment towards her enabled us both to do our work.  Once or twice, I even had to ask her for help, and much to my surprise, it turned out ok.


So…how does my SEWER PLANT experience relate to you and your family law case?


Many who are involved in a family law case are going through seven different types of their own crap. They are getting crap from the ex or soon-to-be ex.  Crap from the lawyers.  Crap from the judge.  Crap from friends.  Crap, crap, crap.


Living through your own SEWER PLANT “nightmare” is bearable, depending on your view.  In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you can become a hero in your family law case, depending on your perspective.  If you need a little inspiration, read this week’s Hernandez Family Law Blog.  In it, our resident life coach, James Hoffmaster, talks you through Becoming a Hero Using Only Your View-Part I.  Don’t forget to leave us a comment here and tell us how you managed to get through your own crap to the other side — the side of flowering oleanders and no weeds.


So, in closing, I will leave you with these few things I learned from my own “crappy” SEWER PLANT experience.  I hope they will help you through yours:


1.  From the weed-eating:  It is OK to be angry.  Find a constructive way to channel your anger.  Write.  Cry.  Watch some MMA.  Allow the anger to happen. Once you do, it will eventually dissipate.


2.  From the oleanders:  Focus on the love you can give someone or something else.  You are strong.  There is someone or something out there who needs you. Maybe it is your kids.  Maybe it is a homeless person.  Maybe it is a baby bird learning to fly.  By showing the love you have to give, even more love will grow in your heart.  (←Tweet this!)


3.  From my water and food breaks:  Know your limits.  Recognize when you’ve had enough.  Call your best friend.  Sleep.  Eat.  Give yourself what you need. Before you can give to others, you must take care of yourself first.  (←And tweet this one, too!)


Sending you wishes for a beautiful and pure week!


All my best,



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