Judge Eleni Derke

Judge Eleni Derke, caucasian woman in jeans in t-shirt sitting on a rock next to the ocean

When in need of a quick recharge I…do some yoga poses. I especially like standing on my head, as that is equivalent to a shot of espresso.

My preferred method of exercise is…yoga, and walking at least 3 miles a day.

The first thing I do when I wake up is…make my cup of coffee and sip it while I catch up on the news online.

I am most productive during the day when I…am extremely busy. I use whatever time I can squeeze between hearings to finish projects had been sitting for a few days. But if I miss my morning walk before work, it is very difficult to get me going. I end up relying on Cuban coffee at work for the energy that I normally get from exercise.

The best advice I’ve received about balancing work and life is…to be sure that I am enjoying myself. If I get bogged down with too much work, I take a break and walk around downtown. I come back refreshed and with a new perspective.

Work and life don’t have to be mutually exclusive. My work is a big part of my life. It is never “living for the weekend” here. My job is an adventure and as long as I am continuing to learn I will continue to enjoy doing what I do. I can’t imagine my life without this opportunity to meet so many people from so many backgrounds and to apply the law to their situations.

Family time is never sacrificed and my kids learned from a very young age to respect this profession I call my work. I’ve included them in the process of judging, like waiting till all hours for a jury verdict and watching a motion to suppress hearing from the courtroom gallery. I am very proud of my children and the adults they have become and I have to give credit to the life my work has afforded them.

The one thing I would tell a stressed out and overwhelmed young lawyer is…take a deep breath!!! Allow your mind to focus on the breath and what the breath is doing to your body. This is a great way to quiet the chatter of your mind, which sometimes can become our own worst enemy. “Don’t believe everything your mind tells you!” Not my quote but I found it to be very accurate.

The situation is almost never as bad as we perceive it and with some time and distance we finally see it for what it truly is. Also, learn to forgive yourself. As a young attorney I used to beat myself up about so many things. If you make a mistake, learn from it, try to fix it and move on. It doesn’t help anyone to continue to feel guilty about it.

Every day I make sure to…count my blessings, let my family know how much I love and miss them (my daughter is at graduate school away from home and my son frequently works out of state), and get my yoga and 10,000 steps in.

I can’t go a day without…I can go a day without just about everything. I won’t feel myself though, without some form of exercise, yoga, hiking or walking.

The quickest way to ruin your career is…to quote two first ladies (J) “Your word is your bond!” Don’t go back on an agreement, ever! And be honest!!! Lies will always catch up to you and this is a small legal community. People don’t forget.

The most relaxing vacation I ever took was…visiting the island of Crete where I totally immersed myself in the beautiful environment and a yoga workshop for 10 days.