Pets are Like Therapists but Still Considered Property

When I hug my family dog during a visit to my family home, I feel like he understands me. Life can be ruff but a family pet can make things feel so much better. He comes over to cuddle with me on the couch and gets in my face when I’m feeling melancholy. The more I study my family dog’s behavior, the more I see how much like a human he is. How then can the law still consider Leo a piece of property?

 

Plenty of studies show the therapeutic effects of spending time with an animal. According to the National Center for Health Research, “Companion animals may improve heart health by lowering blood pressure and regulating the heart rate during stressful situations.” Plenty of service dogs are allowed into hospitals to help ease the pain of the suffering patients. According to an article in Frontiers on Psychology, human animal interactions are proven to benefit human “…social attention, social behavior, interpersonal interactions, and mood; stress-related parameters such as cortisol, heart rate, and blood pressure; self-reported fear and anxiety; and mental and physical health, especially cardiovascular diseases.”

In New York dogs are generally considered personal property, See, Travis v. Murray, 42 Misc. 3d 447 (Sup Ct, NY County, 2013), citing, Mullaly v People, 86 NY 365 [1881]Schrage v Hatzlacha Cab Corp., 13 AD3d 150 [1st Dept 2004]; Rowan v Sussdorff, 147 App Div 673 [2nd Dept 1911]; ATM One, LLC v Albano, 2001 NY Slip Op 50103[U] [Nassau Dist Ct 2001]). However, the standard of “what is “best for all concerned” has been applied to determine which party should have custody of the animal, Travis v. Murray, 42 Misc. 3d 447, 461 (Sup. Ct, NY County, 2013). This factor is similar to the best interests of the child standard which is generally applied across the states in deciding upon child custody.

Although most jurisdictions refuse to extend child custody concepts to pets in their entirety, many have started to apply factors commonly applied to child custody such as the ‘best interest’ to determine the best placement for the pet Travis v. Murray, 42 Misc. 3d 447, 456-457 (Sup. Ct., NY County 2013). Nearby states have also deviated from the formerly strict view that pets are property, such as Vermont, Wisconsin, SeeMorgan v Kroupa, 167 Vt 99, 103, 702 A2d 630, 633 [1997]; Rabideau v City of Racine (243 Wis 2d 486, 491, 627 NW2d, 795, 798 [2001]. Alaska and Alabama  have gone so far as to award custody of an animal, SeeJuelfs v. Gough, 41 P. 3d 593 (Alaska Supreme Court 2002);  Placey v Placey 51 So 3d 374 [Ala Ct Civ App 2010].

However, courts have stopped short of considering animals to have the same rights or responsibilities as human beings no matter how human they may seem. New York denies that Chimpanzees have human rights Nonhuman Rights v. Stanley, 49 Misc. 3d 746 (Supreme Court NY County, 2015). In fact the owner of the animal still retains liability for the harmful acts of his animal Colombini v. Benitez, 2016 NY Slip Op 31829 (Sup. Ct., NY County 2016). 

Although the Courts have been inching towards recognizing that your puppy is more than just chattal, he does not have the same rights as you do nor does he have the same legal responsibilities.

Improve your lifestyle to improve your business productivity

Over the last several months I have made a few small changes to my lifestyle that have resulted in dramatic improvement to my productivity. I can thank Cameron Diaz for that. The A-List Movie Star is well known for her films ‘There’s Something About Mary‘ [1998] and ‘Charlie’s Angels‘ [2000]. She recently came out with two health focused books ‘The Body Book’ and ‘The Longevity Book.’

The Body Book: The Law of Hunger, the Science of Strength, and Other Ways to Love Your Amazing Body

 

I enjoyed reading both of these books by listening to them as ‘books on tape’ through the Audible smartphone application. Audible, an Amazon company, charges a $15.00 a month subscription for a credit towards any book you want or lets you purchase and listen to a book on occasion. Most books are available. I recommend taking at least a day a week to listen to books on topics that interest you and are not directly related to your field.

The Body Book gives an overall picture of the inner workings of the human body and how an out of balance body significantly impacts your life. Being health conscious, I assumed that I would know alot of the content already but I wanted to know what a movie star would do to keep glamorous. I learned that it was the small changes that mattered most. I learned in more detail about the importance of keeping my sleep, nutrition, and exercise in a proper balance and how just getting slightly off balance in one area can make a big difference. This theme repeats in the Longevity Book but with an extra insight into how our body’s change as we grow older. Both of these books are useful for everyone because they give a general picture of how aging and health impacts a human body and then give insight into how female and male bodies are different. Here are a few snippets of what I learned that you can easily apply to improve your productivity:

Sleep We all know its important but how can we get better sleep? Studies show we need on average at least 7 hours of sleep. I learned that circadian rhythms are impacted by sensors on our skin and just wearing a mask is not enough. It is important to buy blackout curtains to keep out the lights from outside which are keeping you awake. Also, remove all electronics with blinking lights from your room. I know this seems so simple that it’s almost stupid but I’m telling you that it made a 100% difference in my ability to fall asleep. Furthermore, many of us who run businesses are under a high amount of stress already, so it will help you sleep better if you cut out caffeine or at least downgrade the caffeine level to green tea instead of coffee. Also don’t eat late at night, your digestive tract needs a rest too. This made a big difference for me.

Water Water is the key to proper functioning of our bodies. It helps all our biological processes keep going and without it we die. It is important to drink a glass of water when you wake up in the morning so that you wake up. Make an effort to drink at least 8 glasses a day throughout the day and you will see an improvement in your ability to concentrate. You will also flush out any toxins that are in your system from not eating 100% healthy like we all should.

Nutrition Nutrition is important for our biochemical processes as well as concentration and mood. Having a depressed mood is actually linked to poor nutrition. The best diet is a mediterranean diet high in protein, vegitables and fruits with various natural oils like olive oil and Omega 3-available in salmon. It is best for you to meal prep your meals each week instead of eating out because you never know what your getting or how long its been sitting out. If you are feeling down, reach for a salad or make yourself a smoothie full of fruit and vegetables, not sugary yogurt. This has helped my mood alot and is a great pick me up when I feel like my concentration is waning in the middle of the day. When you make small changes in your habits each day you will see a world of difference not only in the way you look but how you feel as well. Women need to be cognizant that our natural monthly process drains nutrients from our bodies. We must be sure to eat calcium rich foods more than our male counterparts to supplement the loss of calcium from our bones.

Exercise  If you don’t exercise your performance will suffer and I can promise that you will not age well. But, you’re never too old to start! As we age we lose muscle mass and our bodies are less able to bounce back from that pizza we ate last night. It is important to fight the effects of growing older by making it a priority to take a walk in the morning or better yet hit the gym for some cardio and weights. Don’t try to do a 5 hour routine or else you will never go back. I only spend an hour in the gym. Do weight bearing exercises to fight the effects of loss of calcium with aging which especially impacts women.

Many business people are so busy, they let themselves go, believing that it’s worth the sacrifice. In the end you end up being the biggest loser. You cannot help other people around you if you don’t make it a priority to take care of your health. If you make small changes in your habits, these will add up and you will see exponential improvement in you performance which will last a lifetime.

Side Hustles – Distraction or Investment Vehicle?

If you are running a small business you have to get comfortable with the word ‘hustler.’ No, I don’t work at a white shoe firm but the important thing is that I make money. Besides practicing law I also have found it useful to generate income in other ways so that I don’t fall into the trap of running up a credit card bill in hard times. I have found that an occasional cash infusion from another source, other than my law practice Diana Mohyi Attorney at Law P.C., is less stressful than risking high credit card interest and a bad credit report. Some business people think that side hustles are below them. Sometimes you have to consider that humbling yourself may make the difference between having your own business and having a new boss.

The question does come up however, are my occasional side hustles a distraction from my primary business? Which side hustles can I be involved with which carry minimal distraction? I believe the answer lies in whether the side hustle ads value to your life and whether it can assist your progress. It is precisely the same consideration a business person should think about when considering a new client in their primary business. Will this client add value to my life in terms of money or other opportunities or increased experience in a particular type of project? Or will they be a pain in the butt. Here are a few side hustles you might want to consider:

FILM/TV EXTRA – I know. What am I doing offering myself as an extra when I have no plans–at the moment–of becoming a full time actress? Well it was fun and it helped me appreciate that running my business is fun too. In the spring I signed up for an appointment with Central Casting, a well-known casting agency with branches in New York and Los Angeles. All I had to do was show up, get my photo taken and sign common employment paperwork. I then waited for text messages to come to my phone asking if I would like to submit to various television shows. Eventually I signed up to be a gala guest on a well known series not available in a regular cable subscription. The benefits included two meals a day, getting my hair professionally done and meeting some interesting people from a different ecosystem than my own. After taxes I may walk away with a few hundred dollars. I loved this experience because it was interesting. I got to act and the experience helped me appreciate the opportunities my education and business have given me. For one, the opportunity to explore other realms which were unapproved of by my parents.

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing If you are a prolific writer you can sell your books without having to sign up with a publisher or get yourself locked into a self publishing contract for little or no royalties. All you have to do is create a pdf of your work and upload it. You can sell your books as Kindles exclusively or Amazon will print the book for readers who choose to buy a hard copy. The set-up is free and Amazon makes their money only when you sell books. They have different royalty programs depending on what you are comfortable with and offer paid advertising.

Ebay Sell things on the internet. If you are in a suburban town, you are comfortable with the idea of a garage sale. Sometimes people sell things at these garage sales which are worth alot more than what they are selling them for. Some examples are comic books and fine pottery or art work. The trained eye can spot such treasures. Sometimes you also have treasures hidden in your closet which you have neglected for years. Why not sell them and make some cash? If you sell second hand items the sale is generally not taxable. The set up is easy. Create an account, choose a category, upload photos and choose auction, best offer (if you are willing to allow buyers to haggle) or fixed price.

AirBnBThe world’s most reputable internet subletting community. Rent a room or a couch. If you have an extra bedroom or even a couch, you could make several hundred dollars for a basic apartment or many thousands if you have an upscale apartment. As long as the perspective subletters have several good reviews it is safe to allow strangers to stay with you or without you. You also get to meet some great people and who knows, a new client. I hear the experience is worth the minimal effort.

Side hustles can do more for your life than just add to your pocketbook. They help you see the world from a different perspective and may be a nice way to break up the monotony in your life.

Business Tip! Control Your State by Changing It

 

Try it, I bet you won’t smile 😉 [Austin Powers, New Line Cinema, 1997]

In my last blog post I discussed my experience with the fire walk at Life Coach Tony Robbins’ Conference ‘Unleash the Power Within’, which was held in Newark, New Jersey last weekend. This week I realized that I needed to start developing some techniques to change my state. According to Tony, the most important thing you can do is control your state. That is the only way you will meet your goals. Running any business, such a my legal practice Diana Mohyi Attorney at Law P.C., comes with ups and downs in income. Sometimes the dip is so low I cannot immediately see a way out of it. When I started employing Tony’s techniques to change my state, I realized a change in the direction of my circumstances and it can work for you too!

Number 1: When a negative thought comes into your head. Question it. Your bank account is running low and you start thinking “how am I ever going to get another client?” Instead of starting on a downward roller coaster of emotions, you should say, by doing what I did in the past to get clients and developing some new techniques by learning from experts in the field of marketing.

Number 2: Do something to lighten your mood. Try mimicking Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movie. Do it! I bet you that you will instantly start smiling because it’s absolutely absurd for a serious lawyer or business person such as yourself to do that!

Number 3:  Move your body. Pay attention to the way your body sets itself when a stressful or unreasonable circumstance comes your way. Do you slouch? Do you tense up? You have to shake it off! Jump up and shout yes! go to take a walk around the block or hit up your gym. You can do power strokes with your hands and shout yes dozens of times in the mirror! You know you’ve got this, you just have to convince yourself. With the renewed sense of confidence you are sure to see the solution to your problem.

Number 4: Listen to something that inspires you! Tony Robbins and many other great motivational speakers like Jake Ducey, Les Brown and others post both short and long videos that you can take a mere 10 minute listen to for the inspiration you need to continue on with your day!

Running a business can be more painful than fracturing an ankle. But for those who do, the freedom to direct your own life is worth it. The key is recognizing that its the battle of your mind, not those around you, which is the key to success.

 

 

 

Business Success is All in Your Mind

This past weekend I attended Tony Robbin’s ‘Unleash the Power Within’ Conference. Tony Robbins is a world reknowned Motivational Speaker and Life Coach. Mr. Robbins has a created a multi-billion dollar company helping people learn how to use the power of their minds to achieve great things. He has coached some of the greatest minds of finance and business. He currently coaches Billionaire Investor Ray Dalio and has coached such notables as Princess Diana. Attending his event this weekend firmly reminded me that my ability to succeed in business has everything to do with what is in my mind. Running my practice Diana Mohyi Attorney at Law P.C. is my own personal chess game.

For the second time, I participated in Mr. Robbins’ famous fire walk. Participants use the power of their minds to walk accross hot coals burning at 2,000-3,000 degrees–without burning. As a reference, a hot stove reaches only around 670 degrees maximum. Although I had successfully completed the walk last year without sustaining life threatening burns, I observed that both my inner voices and the speech of my peers were my worst enemy in completing the task yet again. It was the walk from the stadium to the parking lot, where the coals burned red, which was the most critical part of my journey to success. I had to block them out. I intended to cross the coals this time without the sore feet and tiny blister I experienced last year. I firmly believe that it was my legal training that caused that. Similarly, being trained to look for the negative can be damaging to a struggling business. I knew my success depended on how I used my mind. This was my opportunity to prove that if I did an even better job at blocking out the negative voices, I would avoid any burning sensation whatsoever.

Right before I crossed the threshold was the hardest part. I felt the terror of my peers who started to panic when they saw the burning coals. They started saying ‘no’ ‘no’ but I screamed ‘yes’ ‘yes.’ I knew that if I did not block out their negativiity, I would fail. It was critical to push back the assault on my mind. I kept chanting ‘yes’ ‘yes ‘yes’ and swooshed my arms in the assertive position Tony had taught to us. I faced fear in the face like Tony said to and seemed to effortlessly glide accross the hot coals while chanting cool moss, cool moss to counter the apparent reality of the burning coals beneath my feet. When I reached the other side, my feet didn’t hurt at all and I had no blisters! What changed? My mind. The only reason I was able to cross the burning coals was that I was constantly telling myself I would succeed and actively blocked all the negative voices around me.

As a business owner, you will only succeed if you protect your mental integrity. If you don’t control your mind, you will fail in life and business. Although you cannot control what is in your environment 100%, you can control your mind by what words you allow yourself speak. Don’t express everything that comes into your mind. Fight the inner voices and the outer naysayers with a daily practice. Do not allow poisonous clients into your life or else risk losing everything you have built. Although this practice may be challenging at first, you will build a muscle that will strengthen over time. You will be able to give more value to your clients and your family. As lawyers we have a dangerous tendency to assume our education gives us superior knowledge. But just as we must constantly learn the law, we must take the time to learn about ourselves. We must realize that any barriers we think exist are really just in our minds.

PS: Yes those are my feet less than an hour after my firewalk on November 8, 2018. Warning! Do not try this without the guidance of a professional trained in this process like Tony Robbins!

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