The Simple Life

We all wish we had one.

I saw a beer commercial today that used the concept to sell beer! “The simple life.” Beer? Really?

Yes. We all definitely wish we had one.

But for judiciary interpreters in particular, and I really don’t know if I can pinpoint why, this is a particularly elusive dream. Making a living by morphing into a different person every day could possibly have something to do with it. Walking into a legal battlefield every day and standing in the line of fire for both sides while being a completely innocent bystander could certainly have something to do with it. Being surrounded by people who have no inkling of the complex mental gymnastics your work entails or the legal and ethical consequences of every linguistic choice you make every minute of every day could also be a factor.

Indeed, there is no simple life for us. Not while we are doing this for a living.

So maybe we need to have a plan, like scheduling time to do absolutely nothing. Or maybe scheduling—yes, put it on your agenda—time to ride a bike (or a Mini Cooper with the top down), paint a picture or change the color of your living room walls, play an instrument or a sport, go to the beach, the river, the lake, or a backyard pool… whatever helps you switch gears and forget for at least a little bit that you make a living by getting into other people’s heads so you can speak their words.

Take all of life’s complexities and put them in a little imaginary box under lock and key every once in a while, at least. They are not going away. They will still be there when you come back looking for them. But for those few precious moments, lock them up! Pretend you are not even an interpreter.

Trust me… you will not regret it.

Tips to get you going in the right direction:

Get in touch with nature. Get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Go somewhere with water: the ocean, a river, a lake, even just a man-made fountain if nothing else is available. Or watch the rain fall. Somehow this can be calming and focusing at the same time. (

Declutter Your Physical Environment. Physical clutter leads to mental clutter. First of all, clutter bombards the mind with excessive stimuli, which forces the brain to work overtime. Secondly, physical clutter signals to the brain that there’s always something else that needs to be done, which is mentally exhausting. As you declutter your physical space you’ll discover that your mind is also decluttered. (

Learn to Meditate. In essence, meditation is learning to focus the mind completely on the present moment. When you learn how to place all of your attention on one thing—such as your breath–, all other thoughts disappear. It’s almost the equivalent of taking your mind through a car wash, and having useless and unnecessary thoughts washed away. (

Laugh. Laughter has been proven to be the best medicine for relieving stress. It eases defensiveness, lightens your emotional load, and lifts stress off your shoulders. It brings balance to your psyche because laughter is presence. Practice not taking yourself so seriously and laugh more often. Really laugh. (

Get creative. As often as possible, connect with your inner child by exploring your imagination. Let curiosity lead. When it comes to opportunities to get creative, there are plenty: puzzles, coloring, drawing, singing, dancing, and even making a meal from scratch. The point is to get lost in awe and wonder like you did at five years old. When you achieve that feeling from a certain activity, keep doing it! (

Do something kind for another person. Make it a point every day to be kind with your actions, your words, and especially your thoughts. If you don’t feel genuinely moved to lend a helping hand or pass along a compliment, simply smile instead. That act alone is enough to improve your mood and clear the mental blockage between you and compassion. (



9 thoughts on “The Simple Life”

  1. Janis–Thank you for your thoughtful and well written article. The tips are excellent reminder of the resources that will help to refresh our creative juices.

    A pet is also a great way to get out of your own head and soothes the body and soul. My little Honey, a toy French poodle was a great help to me. She past away two years ago and there is no substitute for her steadfast companionship.

    Keep up the good work.

    Thanks, Nick

    1. Janis Palma says:

      Thank you, Nick. You are so right! I have two little ones myself and they are wonderful “therapy” indeed. And you know I am an advocate of rescuing and adopting strays so I am really happy you brought up this additional suggestion.

  2. Catalina Natalini says:

    I want to add this to the list:
    Put your cell phone to rest at least once a week! I do it at least on Sundays, and sometimes, if I am not working on anything urgent, I leave my cell phone in my office on Fridays after 6 p.m. and do not pick it up until Monday morning. You will be surprised how much this declutters your mind too!

    1. Janis Palma says:

      Great suggestion, Catalina! Just as long as your loved ones know you are “disconnecting” so they don’t worry if you’re not answering your phone. I’m sure that turning off your cell phone is very good for you on many different levels. Thank you for adding that.

  3. George Gage says:

    Very nice!

    1. Janis Palma says:

      Thank you, George. I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

  4. Damaris Lajas, says:

    Beautifully written. Thank you

    1. Janis Palma says:

      Thank you, Damaris. I appreciate the feedback.

  5. Ute Spengler says:

    You helped me again with these tips. Thank you so much.

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