Usually at this time of year, as the new semester gets underway and I reflect on my summer, I would do a solid review of my accomplishments and a retrospective on my successes and shortcomings with respect to my summer goals. As usual, I had a ton of (unrealistic) writing goals in addition to work on projects under contract and assessment activities for the two program I run. It should have been a productive summer.
On the surface, things were trending upward – my Professional Writing & Rhetoric program had finally become its own major rather than a track in another major, we had a much better handle on the second pilot semester of the Design Thinking Studio in Social Innovation than we did on the first run, Agile Faculty seemed to be selling well. I had ideas for several journal articles I could write across a variety of interests. I was participating in course design groups for design thinking and Honors. I attended a faculty writing retreat with my co-editors to get a handle on our edited collection which is under contract with a prestigious university press. I was planning a disciplinary conference with colleague-friends that we were really excited about. There were lots of things I wanted to do under the Agile Faculty umbrella from developing downloadable resources to starting a podcast. I had a lot to look forward to in May.
This summer, I finally hit my wall.
Very little of it happened. But this isn’t a post about not working enough, or feeling shame and guilt for not working enough (yes, I’ve been reading Brene Brown). This post is a celebration of not being especially productive. Of finally realizing that I don’t have to push myself over a cliff to be productive and professionally content. Of actually being OK with what I’ve accomplished and my right to take a break and work on myself. Of realizing I don’t really have anything to prove to anyone anymore. Of doing absolutely nothing at the beach for a week with my extended family.
This became a summer of self-care.
This became a summer of self-care, which was hard for the first few months, because I don’t know how not to work for an extended period of time. But I learned. I’m still working on it. I still need to figure out how to continue some of the self-care practices I implemented this summer into the rhythm of the semester. I write in Agile Faculty that we need to each be attentive to our own professional goals and the activities, work and home, that keep us vital faculty. This summer, I took my own advice and am a better instructor, colleague, and wife because of it. And now one of my goals is to get a (hurricane-proof) beach house, something different I can work towards as well as my professional goals.
How do you practice self-care?