From the Director: December 2016

December 5, 2016 / By: Dr. Ann Johnson, Director of the Center for Faculty Development, Professor of Psychology

Once again, the trees in the quad are lit, as well as the big tree in ASC, cheery rejoinders to the early darkness and winter cold. It may be hard to notice the cheer, however, while dealing with the growing piles of papers to be graded, frazzled students, and colleagues just trying to hold it together while their calendars implode with appointment after appointment.

It’s been a tough semester. We’ve celebrated some good things (the two-year college) and also pursued difficult conversations about the curriculum, the election, hate speech, and more. In addition, there seems to be no end to the changes taking place at St. Thomas, and change can be hard. It always brings some kind of loss, even when the eventual outcome is exciting and positive.

Faculty Development expert Kerry Ann Rockquemore counsels self-care for faculty enduring tough moments, which really means forcing a little balance into your life by scheduling things that bring you happiness, peace, or relaxation. Block off some time on your calendar every day if that’s possible. Here are some suggestions:

  • On the St. Paul campus? Take 15 minutes to walk around the track, or on a treadmill in AARC. If you’re in Minneapolis, hike around the skyways.
  • Walk away from your desk and go down the hall and talk to a colleague.
  • Meditate (I have some extra meditation cushions in my office if you need one) or check out the meditation podcasts on the Wellness Center website
  • Engineer laughter into your day (You can check out a copy of Marx Brothers’ “Room Service” from OSF Library).
  • Listen to favorite music or contemplate a poem or favorite spiritual writing for 15 minutes.
  • Cat videos (something for everyone).
  • Review your “positive moments” file (if you don’t have one of these, start archiving notes and messages that make you happy; review on difficult days).
  • Designate at least one evening this week as a no-work zone and leave the grading for later.
  • What’s one thing you really love about your work but haven’t had time for recently? Block off a half-hour and do it.

In the words of poet John O’Donohue: “May you see in what you do the beauty of your own soul.” Wishing you rest and renewal, and a peaceful holiday season.