In so many ways, of so many things, I am weary. 2012 was a very full year, a year I spent much of feeling like crap and battling to get my diabetes under control, my med cocktail arranged properly so that side effects weren't worse than what they were supposed to be managing. I'm not starting 2013 feeling much better, though, although I am twenty pounds lighter, so yay diabetes meds.
I worked my ass off last year. I taught six courses in the spring, a maymester, and a course each summer session, and then I thought, hey, let's kick it up a notch and teach eight in the fall. It's a wonder I didn't collapse. Oh wait, I occasionally did and the summer and fall were survived by frequently napping. Thank the heavens for that or there's no way I could have done it. Add in hospice volunteer, civic club advisor and fundraising for the Noah Project, the Hope Fund, our college food bank, and more, and it's a wonder I didn't lose my mind. Plus, there was time spent with a relatively new local autism-focused group and the beginning of a college anime club in November that I was asked to be the faculty advisor for.
Hey, no sweat...and there's more, but I think it's clear that I am the queen of overextending. I don't often say no because if I can do it, I want to.
And yet, perhaps the biggest lesson of this year was one that I spoke less than a month ago to my husband regarding optional things and being able to say no--something that Lily listened alertly to and repeated to her teacher. It's a lesson my wonderful friend and rock Kathleen has spent nearly four years (I absolutely love that we're closing in on another anniversary of being friends) trying to beat into me from nearly two thousand miles away.
Optional things and the right to say no. Oh yes. This, if I were to have a New Year's resolution, is mine. Learning how to just flat out accept I am not superwoman and I don't have to be. I can say no.
I can say no to volunteering for some organizations so that I can volunteer for others, like the anime club, which my kiddos come to and adore, love, and long for the next meeting of.
I can organize volunteers and provide the persons for events without also volunteering for the event if it's physically too tasking. No problem. Learning that I can volunteer in one specific capacity rather than in every capacity is a good lesson to learn.
I can so no to drama on my facebook page, a place I really only want to be friendly on. I had already embraced that I could watch my friends' feeds without feeling the need to comment that I disagree with them or argue that they should believe how ever it is I feel--wtf--differences are what make life interesting, after all, and in most situations, live and let live is the right way to go. The biggest thing I've had to learn, though, regarding facebook is that I can hit defriend if it's just flat out irreconcilable differences--I'm not obligated to be friends with people on fb just because they are in the autism community. It's one thing to be openly inclusive of all viewpoints on the directory and another entirely to invite them into my virtual living room. And I can hit block if I have to, something my Lily manages to remind me of at least a couple times a year.
I can take time to enjoy my friends, go out to eat with them, visit with them, and that doing so is one of the most important "optional" things--in fact, it really is non-optional. My friends sustain me and nurture me, and I am blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life who care about me and mine. Nurturing those relationships is more important than a clean house, an organized closet, or a neat grade book.
I learned this last year, finally, that when I needed to sleep, I had the right to shut down. This is a lesson I promise to remember this year, as I have to admit the last two months of 2012 kept me so busy I forgot how important it was to take care of me and to get the rest I need. I really forgot why no was an important tool to have in my belt.
So this break, roughly three weeks off, wasn't a break for me. I didn't rest up. I didn't recoup. I'm not starting off the spring semester fresh and energetic. I admit that. December was rough with pockets of wonder and joy, but mainly rough. I taught a psychology course online, and am still interacting with students, so technically, there was no complete time off from work. January did not have a rousing start to it, and I can only hope and pray that my ginger boys will get over their UTIs with no complications. Losing Aphrodite was grueling enough. I go back to work Monday worn out, rung out, and feeling more than ragged.
But, and here's my hope, my faith, my belief: I love what I do, and I've chosen a busy load of seven classes, all composition courses, teaching texts and ideas that continue to resonate with me, that I continue to learn from. I smile at the thought of the 14th getting here, of meeting new students, seeing old students, and digging back in again to material that matters, to teaching students new ways to think and write about the world they inhabit. I don't have to be rested up for this. I'll get my sustenance, my energy, from the interaction with my students. I can't ask for a better way to really get into 2013 than the chance to work with eager and less-than-eager students, and all those students in between. I love the challenges of keeping students engaged and interested and I value the relationships that are built in the classroom and through volunteer opportunities. Some of my very best friends started as my students. How lucky am I that I get the chance to both teach and learn at the same time?
So, I am weary. I am. And I am saddened by losses, both real and metaphorical, but I am learning each day how to say no to the optional things I no longer want to participate in and how to say yes to taking care of me.
Not bad for someone nearly halfway through her forties. I was bound to learn eventually, right, Kathleen? :)
To all my friends, may 2013 bring you joy and peace. And may it bring me those, as well.