After a busy Fall semester, winter break greeted me with a much needed reprieve from the chaos of teaching and researching. Mine has been filled with family, twinkling lights, and maybe the occasional peek at the stack of revisions looming in a file on my laptop. Coming back from any break is challenging, but for some reason the return to work after winter break is the worst of them all. We have spent the last month celebrating “the most wonderful time of the year” and now January greets us with no festive songs or cheerful jingles, only max capacity inboxes and syllabi to be written. I’m already having shortness of breath as I think about diving back into my teaching and research. Since I’m having such a hard time transitioning, I thought I would ponder a few ways I might be kind to myself as I return to work – some new years resolutions, if you will…

Let’s start with the obvious, tackling the inbox. This week I’ve devoted some time to weeding through the thousand emails that rolled in over the break. As I fished through them, I put the tasks that need attention on a list, put dates on my calendar, and marked the emails as “read”.  I gave myself a day to do this, I put on some music, brewed a pot of coffee and met the email beast head on. Now that I’ve made my list I’m trying to remind myself to ease in gently. Our bodies quickly get out of sync while we are off for the holidays, so I’m trying to not plan on coming back and starting at the same pace I finished with. Right now I’m focusing on making a list, prioritizing my goals, giving the most important tasks the bulk of my energy and saving the others from another day. I’m also working to stay positive, it’s easy to let the post winter break blues get you down. When I was a kid, every morning before school my dad used to tell me “you decide if today is going to be a good day or a bad day, so make it a good one”. I’m channeling his words and trying to keep myself in a positive headspace by doing something I enjoy every now and then – I’m really hoping to get back in the habit of journaling! I’ve starting to think about keeping a small journal a month to document my year. This will give me the opportunity to start working on that new fun project I’ve been dreaming about – my journal, my greenhouse, my ABR syllabus (wait…). I’ve found the best way to combat my lazy, post-holiday haze is to start writing that new article or designing that awesome project for my students. The creative energy I derive from these scholarly and pedagogical tasks gives me momentum to tackle all the tedious parts of my job! Finally, I’m trying to remember that everyone else is having a hard time too. We are all trying to get back in the swing of things (that means my students too). So I just need to take a deep breath and give myself, my colleagues, and my students a little grace! Most of all, I hope this new year greets me with lots of publications, outstanding course evaluations, and some time to make a little artwork! 


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