The Art of Re-Resolution

I began my academic year with a list of “New School Year’s Resolutions,” but I have a confession to make:  I secretly doubted my ability to keep those resolutions.  The list was just so long.  I ferretted them away in the back of my mind, vaguely recalling them now and again with mild shame and defeat.

So you can imagine that I was pleasantly surprised when I looked back at that post from four months ago, finding that I’d done a better job than I realized of maintaining those goals.  I suppose I’d internalized them more than I thought. 

But I wasn’t perfect.  So now that 2011 is really here, I’ve decided that, rather than making an entirely new list (I mean, what was wrong with the old one?), I’ll reflect on pre-established resolutions.  What can I improve?  What have I accomplished?  To that end, here are my re-resolutions: 

  • Be present.  I took on additional class this year, and I’ve found that having more work to do and less time to do it presents a different challenge on the way to this goal.  On good days, I just surrender to the marathon that is teaching six classes in a row.  Other days I find myself distracted by the grading and preparation that needs to be done, and I can’t focus on being in the moment.  I can do better.  The key, it seems, is just accept the chaos.  Embrace it!
  • Read aloud.  “Grover Dill and the Tasmanian Devil,” The Princess Bride, A Christmas Carol…I read them all with my students, to my students.  So fun.
  • Take my classes outside more.  Um, yeah.  I can do this one a lot more.  I think my creative writing class would especially benefit.
  • Take care of my body.  I had a little mid-semester dip in October on this one, but overall I’d say I earned a solid A-.  Even over the holidays, I managed to get to the gym and go for runs.  I could probably cut down on the comfort food a little, but I’ve been prioritizing fitting in some fitness and it’s paying off.  Do I look the way I want to?  Probably not.  But this isn’t about how I look; it’s about how I feel.  And I do feel pretty good.
  • Take care of my mind.  This resolution is two-fold, and I’ve done better on one part than on the other.  I’ve found a yoga class/instructor that I love, and when I make a specific point to get to that class my week always feels brighter.  I just feel more at ease.  Writing has the same effect, but I’m afraid that I haven’t had enough QT with my journal.  It does help to have great writer friends and coffee dates with those friends, but I hit a lull in my writing this fall/winter.  Thankfully, I think I’ve made a breakthrough recently, and it seems that my calendar will be opening up significantly in the New Year.  So the writing looks promising. 
  • Celebrate Austin.  This is another one that I need to work on.  Of course, it partly depends on my “saying no” (see below) to some things, and “yes” to others.  Balance, balance, balance…
  • Resist the urge to over-plan and/or plan too far ahead.  (See above, “be present.”)  This is so hard for me, but I actually think I’ve improved. 
  • Publicize BookPeople events and speakers to my students.  I love that place and what they do, and I know that many of my students would fall in love with it like I have —  Unfortunately, I’ve found my schedule to be in unfortunate conflict with  BookPeople events recently.  I’m cautiously optimistic that this will change in the New Year.
  • Do the best I can with what I’m given.  I think I’ve managed this one pretty well so far.  But as the infinitely longer spring semester kicks into full stride, I have to keep this goal in mind.
  • Teach units and texts that I’m truly excited about.  Our curriculum changed this year, but I’ve managed to stay true to what is right for me and my kids, while working within those constraints.  With yet more changes coming down the pike this next spring, I’m going to continue to focus on this resolution. 
  • Be disciplined and efficient with my time.  I don’t know about the efficiency part, but I have been disciplined.  I’ve managed to let go of certain things, prioritizing what I feel is most important. 
  • Say no.  I’ve been pretty good about this one, but I want to modify this resolution.  There’s an old saying that “10% of the people do 90% of the work.”  That was definitely true of me for the first five years of my teaching career.  And again, while it’s uncomfortable for me, as a team player, to back off those responsibilities, I’ve found it incredibly important for my mental health.  What I would like to do better is say “yes” to the social things.  I have some amazing friends here in Austin , and I need to make a better effort to spend time with them…Even if it’s a Friday night and I’m so tired that I want to lay on the couch with my hand in a bag of Doritos.

So there you have it.  My Re-Resolutions for 2011.  Is it cheating to recycle an old list?  Maybe so.  But it’s my list, after all!

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