Wednesday, January 11, 2017

We Schedule What We Value, Part II

66º ~ whooshing winds dominate, gray skies, spitty rain on and off for days, three days ago pipes were freezing all over Little Rock, such is winter in the mid-south

I continue to mull over the idea of scheduling and value. Here's my new "problem." I value a whole heck of a lot of things. In no particular order, here are many of them.

  • Chuck and George the cat.
  • My family in the area and in the distance.
  • My writing & revising time.
  • My poetry business time.
  • My collage time.
  • My friends in the area, in the distance, and online.
  • My students & my teaching.
  • My service to the literary community.
  • My service to the literary community and my university as the Director of the C.D. Wright Women Writers Conference.
  • My professional development as a professor.
  • My "chilling" time with Law & Order and Midsomer Murders and puzzles on the iPad (aka my go-to self-care time).
  • My contribution as an engaged citizen with my local, regional, and national communities.
  • My blogging time.

I began by numbering this list and then realized the whole point of this post is that the ranking of these items is ever-shifting. Every day, I have to re-assess what gets my full attention when, and I have to re-learn that it is okay to not give my full attention to every single item on the list at all times. The attempt to do so nearly led to a physical and mental breakdown in mid-December.

In the past week, I have been swamped with syllabi and panicking about conference prep and AWP being sooooooo soon. I have had to practice my meditation techniques and be very focused about considering what I value. If I do not give my students perfection, you know what? They are still going to learn basketloads from me and my classes. I have to learn to do my best but reign in my perfectionist streak so that a single syllabus doesn't take me three days to complete. I've also been better about managing texts and emails in terms of not responding the moment something comes in, because, you know what? I'm not a doctor or a diplomat managing life-threatening situations. Usually, if I get control of my perfectionist monster, I realize that responding even several hours later won't cause any kind of crisis. Having just turned 46, it's stunning that I'm still learning and re-learning how to be in this world, but I love the journey.

Also, on a high note, I set aside schoolwork all together on Sunday and managed to write a poem and create a collage. These two pieces are unique because they are not intended for publication. I wrote/created them in response to a handwritten poem a poet-friend sent in December. I think that poem may have a wider audience, but there was a line in it that haunted me and propelled me into writing a response. Once I'd written the response poem, I also new that I wanted to send this poet-friend a collage that responded to my poem. I had a great time doing both and it was invigorating to send them off on Monday, knowing that was their sole mission in the world. (True confession: I did take quick snaps of both on my phone, but otherwise, they are not recorded on my computer for any kind of revision or submission.)

I've never embraced the word-of-the-year tactic of framing a resolution, but this semester at least, I'm embracing the word "balance." (Please feel free to imagine me as a giant, pink elephant trying to balance on a tiny, purple ball, but remember that my hair is my best feature, so image that glistening and graceful.) We'll see how it goes.

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