Summertime

We are currently in the midst of my very favorite time of year, that first week of the summer.  Classes are over, grades are in, and this college town, abandoned of undergraduates, is quiet once again.

Not only that, but the whole summer lies ahead.  There’s so much hope in that.  So much promise of all that can be accomplished.  I have lists and lists of goals and, right now, all are achievable.  If I want to write a dissertation, I can.  If I want to publish, I can do that, too.  If I want to prepare materials for the job market next fall, I can focus on that and reach that goal.  Yesterday I attended a workshop for two popular measures of childhood emotion.  Do I have immediate plans to use these tasks in my own research?  No.  But what I did have was a curiosity and the time in my day to feed it.

After a hectic year, I have a nearly-blank calendar full of long, uninterrupted days, during which I can achieve my goals.  I love that!

Summer, I believe, is also a good time for reflection.  Teaching evaluations were released to us yesterday.  It comes as no surprise to me that my positive, energetic, enthusiastic group of students had very kind things to say about me.  (If anyone from my department is reading this, one student reported, “She deserves a pay raise,” while another said “She deserves recognition”.  We certainly wouldn’t want to deny these students’ their wishes, would we? *smile*).

All kidding aside, I believe that these evaluations provide a wonderful opportunity to reflect and to grow.   The more I know about what students enjoy, the more I can cater my teaching to their needs.   It’s also extremely rewarding to me to know that all of those hours spent tracking down the perfect examples and the best video clips, all of that effort to make the material exciting and relatable, has paid off– that students appreciate the efforts and that they have learned from them.  That serves as incredible encouragement to continue my hard work in the future.

The summer, for me, is also about balancing priorities.  Even though my summer is currently a blank canvas, I reluctantly acknowledge that it is a limited amount of time during which I can accomplish a finite number of goals.  This blog post offers some unique perspectives on those ideals that we can give up in order to be more happy.  This happiness, I believe, can also translate to productivity.  The two, it seems, are often interchangeable terms.  I am happy when I am productive (and, thus, able to reflect upon my accomplishments) and I am productive when I am happy (and, thus, able to stretch beyond my doubts and fears to reach my full potential).

Still, I know that a little peer pressure can also generally spur me toward productivity, so I offer up the following:  This summer, I will, to the best of my abilities, strive to…

  • Write for at least two hours per day so that I may…
  • …submit, each month, one manuscript for publication in well-known peer-reviewed journals in my field.
  • Present at one international conference (and submit multiple abstracts for others).
  • Choose, with confidence, a dissertation topic.
  • Attend at least one of the many, many weddings to which I have been invited during this busy wedding season.
  • Exercise at least three times per week.
  • Make time, each week, to enjoy something new.  (This week, I learned how to make apple butter from a HUGE cast-iron kettle over a fire.  Next week?  Who knows?)

So here’s to a happy summer during which we are able to reflect, grow, and reach our goals!

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