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Baker's Dozen: How Do You Take a Breath?

Women's Initiative Newsletter

For this issue's Baker's Dozen, we asked our attorneys, "What do you do to decompress or 'breathe' during this difficult time?"

1. I do a few things to breathe these days:

  • Spend as much time as possible with my family doing the things we enjoy (cooking great meals, playing UNO cards, movie nights and eating a bunch of good desserts… We make a lot of "quarantine pies");
  • Focus on the positive as much as possible, which also means engaging in candid conversations about what's currently happening in our nation (specifically, with Black men); and
  • Set aside a few hours each week for "self-care" (reading my Bible, prayer, meditation time, hair and nails, catching up with girlfriends who are in my pandemic bubble). Also, it's my youngest daughter's senior year in high school, so I try to spend as much mommy-daughter time with her as possible – which is always based on her schedule.

Carmalita "CC" Carletos-Drayton, Shareholder, Memphis

2. I tend to disconnect and decompress listening to music. I pick a favorite (or new) artist, get someplace comfortable and escape in music. Some recent "breathes" over the COVID months have been Kacey Musgraves, Tom Petty, Stevie Wonder, The Roots, Bob Dylan, Janelle Monae, Robinella, Chris Stapleton and George Michael.

Timothy M. Lupinacci, Chairman and CEO, Birmingham

3. Like many others, my husband and I have taken up bike-riding. We take short rides during the week and longer rides on the weekends, traveling to nearby towns to enjoy their bike trails. Disconnecting from our phones, enjoying the great outdoors and sightseeing, all at the same time!

Phyllis G. Cancienne, Shareholder, Baton Rouge

4. I head to the mountains – to just be inside four different walls and breathe some really fresh, crisp air. Luckily, I only live an hour away, so it's a quick, easy but awesome escape.

Mountains in East Tennessee

Jennifer P. Keller, President and COO, Johnson City

5. Long family walks with our dog on nearby trails. It's a great time for our family to talk about any and everything and to reflect and walk in silence for periods.

– Kristine E. Nelson, Memphis

6. I turn off my phone and computer and escape reality with a night of uninterrupted TV binging. Pretty much any new show that comes out on Netflix, Hulu, Prime, Apple TV, etc. And then there are my go-to repeats, like Friends, The Office, Schitt's Creek, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and, newly added to the rotation, The Baby-Sitters Club!

Mary Wu Tullis, Shareholder, Memphis

7. After years of putting off regular exercise, I've started to exercise almost every day. One of the few things in my control during this time is my baseline health, and I need to be as healthy as possible because COVID can do a real number on folks who suffer from heart disease, diabetes, or obesity. The best therapy for me is to do something! I have devoted more than 150 hours to pro bono services this year to help support a high-quality daycare center in downtown Memphis survive during a pandemic. Leading up to the election, I will volunteer for "get out the vote" projects.

– Kavita Goswamy Shelat, Memphis

8. At the beginning, I read a lot of books, walked my dogs and exercised. When the English Premier League returned, my wife and I watched a lot of games. We are Liverpool fans and we are excited the season just began on September 12. It is a welcome distraction.

Mark A. Baugh, Shareholder, Nashville

9. My most fun decompression exercise this year was somewhat accidental. My wife and I have an eleven-month-old, so we don't do much, and we couldn't take an anniversary trip. However, we stumbled upon something we're going to try to do more often. On our anniversary, we stopped working mid-morning during the hours that we have our babysitter at the house. We took most of the day to sit on patio, go pick up food and have a relaxing meal. On Labor Day, our babysitter came by for a few hours, and we did the same thing. We're going to pick one or two days each month in an attempt to do this on a consistent basis.

– Jimmie B. Strong, Associate, Nashville

10. I find time to exercise either by running or playing tennis. These are great activities for me to clear my head and not worry about the stress of work, handling distance learning for our eleven-year-old, taking care of a one-year-old, and maintaining a household while my husband is going back to school.

– Juan Hernandez, Attorney, Jackson

11. Weekend naps. I'm following the advice of one of my all-time favorite T-shirt quotes: "This nap is not going to take itself."

Russell W. Gray, Shareholder, Chattanooga

12. I have been organizing everything. I have followed the Nashville-based organizers, The Home Edit, for years but now they have a Netflix show and it has motivated me to purge, organize and label everything.

Dena Sokolow, Shareholder, Tallahassee

13. Walk the beagles, or GLITTER…I glitter the specialty throws of my Mardi Gras krewes I ride in – sunglasses for the Krewe of Iris and cocktail glasses for the Krewe of Cleopatra.

Paula Estrada de Martin Ph.D., Shareholder, New Orleans



Baker Donelson professional admitted to the practice of law in Tennessee; not admitted in Florida.

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