My Mother’s Legacy: Looking Forward, not Back





This year’s newsletter has been a series of “Life Lessons”, in tribute to my late mother. They are lessons that have served me well as I apply them to mediation.  

Both trial and mediation require a little “time traveling”.  At trial, the lawyers ask the jury to fix their gaze upon a particular moment when an event occurred that caused their client to be damaged or caused a disruption in business or their lives.  It is very much a retrospective exercise.  

At mediation, the clients are asked to shift their perspective from the past to the future. In most cases, both Plaintiff and Defendant arrive at the mediation eager to put the dispute “behind them” and to ensure that their future is one which doesn’t include the hurt and the expense and the anxiety of the present conflict.  Often, I point out at the beginning of the day that I share their hope that at the end of the day, they’ll be looking at the conflict in their rear view mirror and saying, “Glad that’s over!”

My Mother knew this intuitively, too.  She always had something to look forward to. Within just a few weeks of her demise, she was talking to my sister about shopping for a dress to wear to her great-granddaughter’s Bat Mitzvah (which was taking place 6 months later).  She pored over the menu and photos of the location we chose for my son’s wedding rehearsal dinner eagerly while still in rehab this time last year.  She was a classic planner.  I now see that it was quite deliberate that she made certain there was something to look forward to every day, every holiday, every occasion and every season of her life.  Whether it was a party or travel plans, she looked for reasons to make plans long into the future.  I suppose it kept her from dwelling on whatever had occurred that was negative in her past.  Still, it was an ever optimistic and an awesome way to live.

And so, dear readers, I close my year of my Mother’s Legacy, not because she did not have at least two years of lessons to learn by, but because I am taking her message to heart.  Next year, I look forward to sharing a series of Settlement Strategies on “Success in Mediation Based Upon Lessons Learned in Pre-School”.

I wish you and your dear ones a joyous Holiday season, one marked by peace, tolerance and wonder.  And I look forward to serving you and together making 2018 our best year yet!

Jan Frankel Schau
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