Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Resolutions for the academic new year

I love a new beginning, and I am real sucker for the strategy of the clean slate.  Academic New Year combines both of these things and plus also has the added allure of new clothes (I mean, I cannot afford new clothes for myself-- just the kids--) and crisp weather and and all of the pumpkin things.

All of the Onward Project podcasts, which I love, focused on Labor Day this month and talked about how to enrich our work lives, which got me thinking about my own work.  I was particularly drawn to Happier in Hollywood's episode about weather or not our work should define us. As a white middle class cis lady, I thinkI have (chosen to be) been defined most prominently by my work as a mom which might be why it is so hard for me to let go of the idea of being a mom of small kids. Part of me is worried that when the kids are grown up, I will be depleted because they are my work.  I have made all sorts of career sacrifices and compromises because I am a mom, and I have also used motherhood as an excuse to not risk myself professionally or creatively.  It would be so much easier to just have another baby than to grapple with the reality of unrealized potential.

Sending Dorothy to kindergarten made me think of that 10-4 baby and all the ways my life would be different if it had stuck around, how these milestones would't seem so daunting/wouldn't be an ending.  I'd still be in the trenches of motherhood, a place where I know what I'm doing, at least sort of.

The first day of school, though, I had a glorious work day and got more done than I have since May.  I checked every item off my to-do list, and I worked on my book, even.  I could thrive under these circumstances, is what I am saying.  It has been 12 years since I had 8 child-free hours to work.  This new beginning might be miraculous.

In that spirit, here are 10 things I want to do to make my work day happier and healthier:

1.  Schedule a lunch or coffee date every week: WHY NOT, right?  Also, I think brown bags on campus can count toward this goal because while they don't check a friendship box per se, they are really fun and interesting
2.  Cultivate harmonious mornings: I don't have any on-campus obligations before 11 and am no longer trying to cram an 8-hour workday into the three hours Dorothy is in preschool. I have time to clean the house after everyone leaves for school-- and it only takes about 20 minutes to put everything back in order when there are no little people around.
3.  Write everyday.  I have a poetry dream that I might have time to make a reality.  I WILL FINISH MY NOVEL this semester. 
4.  Prep the night before-- anything I can, everything I can, etc.
5. Yoga every damn day, even 10 or 15 minutes is enough.
6.  WALK everyday for at least 25 minutes over the course of the work day.  I waste this much time staring at my screen.  I need to get out of the office and off my ass and MOVE.  I have said this before and never followed through, but my work day is WAY TOO SEDENTARY.  I think when I find myself drifting off and scrolling mindlessly through Facebook is when I need to get moving.  The Wisconsin winter is a terrible thing, though.  I might need to be a joiner-- there's a gym across from my office and 3 different yoga places in walking distance.  Maybe a winter membership? It would be pretty easy to keep a gym bag in my office and sneak across the way when I needed a pick-me-up, and this might be a good way to avoid the winter weight...
7. When the kids get home from school, CONNECT WITH THEM.  No phone (camera OK), no email.  No work stress.  I will have a whole day to work.  I can be a mom for 4 hours and work again after bedtime if I must.
8.  Bake for my TAs.  My dissertation advisor absolutely forbade this kind of nonsense, but I am an old lady now, so I can bake away.  Seriously, I am so old that even though I sign emails with my first name and call myself by first name, the TAs call me Dr.  What the what?  COOKIES, STAT.
9.   Invest time in things I will use again in future semesters.  Good slides.  Good rubrics. Good assignments-- you get the idea.  For the class I am adjuncting, I am typing both lesson plans and notes on things that worked and didn't work so if I teach the class again, all of that stress will be out of the picture.
10.  Buy the books I want to read with research funds and stay current in my field.  I did an excellent job of this last year and will keep going!  I read SO MUCH bell hooks last year, and if that's not happiness, I don't know what is.

Cheers to the 2018-2019 school year!

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