The college town where I live let out a large ‘exhale’ the day after graduation. I could feel it….A week after, once all of the stragglers packed up their cars and u-hauls, the town let out a ***sigh**** the size of the football stadium. So have I. While at yoga this week, the instructor, who is also a full professor, was also observing the collective sigh that the town makes once the majority of students leave for the summer. Don’t get me wrong, there’s tons of summer classes, camps, and other events but for the most part, the place returns to a beautiful, idyllic, town….The faculty finally emerge from their offices to head out for a meal, take time to say hello to folks, and aren’t answering emails on their smart phones at a vapid pace. While at lunch with some other faculty, we all ran into at least a dozen faculty that we knew. Everyone waits for the students to leave so they can sit, eat, and chat at a more leisurely pace without interruption. The faculty smile again and it’s not a forced “Don’t make me listen to this student for longer than five minutes” smile, it’s a genuine grin of “I’ve emerged from under my pile of grading, let’s make it a long lunch” smile.
Something else has happened. I’ve started sleeping again. Truth time: I’m wound a little tight. This semester was nothing short of twists and turns with my work, my students, and my least favorite thing: grants. Having started this job before graduating, the transition was also immediate so it took me a while to get my brain caught up to my professional responsibilities. I’m happy to report that the two are in sync (no, not the boy band) and a harmonious balance has emerged. After submitting the last large report to the funding agency, hearing the reports from the external evaluation folks, and settling on the unresolved issues, I started sleeping again. I usually sleep ok, but during the semester, seven hours is the norm and I’m up with the sun, no matter the day. I call it “survival mode.” Good for watching bad Saturday tv, not good for much else. My boss is headed abroad for a fancy faculty trip that he was chosen for–lucky guy–and when asked what I should do for him while gone, his advice included the following statement, “take it easy, keep the fires going, answer anything you want or ignore it, you need a break.” THANK YOU BOSS…. 😀
I don’t know if it was the finality of finishing the reports and other business or hearing those words that clicked for me, but whatever it was, I slept on it. I’ve been sleeping like a champion–9-10 hours a night. Apparently, I was in a deficit. I know it won’t last, but while it does, I’m going to enjoy it. I will take care of business the next few weeks and maintain my life, but I won’t be in such a rush to get out of the door in the morning, I won’t be reading emails at 11 p.m., and I most certainly WILL be rolling back over and sleeping for an extra hour. The frenetic pace will be back, I can always count on that, but I will enjoy the luxurious gift of sleep and some extra time while it lasts…..
As a new faculty, I know I need the time, the space, the renewal and before I go all “yoga” on you, I’ll stop right there. You know you need it too! Go enjoy yourself! Take a day, take a week, take a break, and enjoy your week!