That's my theme for this school year. (Yes, I make "new year's resolutions" in September.) Here's how I see it working:
Shedding the burden of D's un- and under-employment. The relief I've felt at D's having a job is actually what started me on this whole theme. It's actually going to take a while to remember what it feels like not to be worried all the time -- worried about money, worried about D -- but it already feels like an enormous burden, one I wasn't even always conscious of, has slipped from my shoulders. And, having dropped the biggest burden of all, I started looking around to see what other burdens I could drop.
Shedding the burden of scrounging for extra money and feeling guilty whenever I spend any money. Clearly related to that first big burden. So yesterday I emailed the colleague who coordinates all of the standardized test proctoring at FGS and told her that I wouldn't be proctoring this year. It never paid all that much, but it was something, and I was desperate to do anything for some extra money. But getting to sleep in those extra seven or eight Saturdays a year is worth more than a little bit of money now! I'm also not going to do any tutoring this year, and my hope is that I either won't teach summer school at all or maybe will teach only one middle school class (because it does pay awfully well, so that doing one three-week class would pay for D's and my car insurance for the entire year. I may not be able to walk away from that).
Shedding the burden of perfectionism. My motto (as opposed to my theme, I guess? Whatever.) in the last couple of weeks has become "It doesn't have to be perfect." I often spend a lot of time and energy trying to move something (an assignment, grading, whatever) from "really good" towards "perfect" ... and I mostly think that this is not an effective use of my time and energy. My "really good" is often very good indeed, and I think I need to be more content with "really good" than I have been. I also adopted this motto particularly in light of the fact that it's my first year acting as department head and also my first year advising the student newspaper; in both cases, I am bound to make mistakes along the way, and I need to not beat myself up when that happens. In these cases, I may not even hit "really good," but good enough is good enough.
Shedding the burden of the book project. I appreciate everyone's supportive words about the FGS project! And yes, it would make sense to have two books, the fluffy coffee table book and the serious history ... except that the school actually produced a fluffy picture book just a couple of years ago, and it didn't sell at all! And if you're thinking that this whole book scenario really doesn't make sense in light of that fact, you would be quite correct. The leadership or lack thereof in this project really doesn't make sense to me, and I think I just need to stop worrying about it and trying to work within the increasingly odd and uncomfortable restraints. The book committee has a two-hour meeting on Sept. 23, and I'm going to show up and contribute, but if, as I fully suspect, all that comes out of that meeting is the promise of more meetings and more conflict, then I will walk away. I am feeling very much at peace about this decision, and my only worry was that the Librarian and Archivist would feel that I was letting them down, since they also have been committed to writing a real history of the school, but then yesterday the Librarian and I had a really good conversation in which it became clear that she completely agrees with my assessment that nothing is going to change for the better on the 23rd and also understands that I'm going to walk away if indeed nothing changes. So I'm feeling very good about that decision.
Shedding the burden of worrying about my identity as a writer. This one may take some more time for me to accomplish, but I want to include it on the list. For the last month or so I have had moments of feeling slightly frantic about what would happen if I walked away from the FGS book project and didn't have another project waiting in the wings; am I still a writer if I'm not writing? I decided that I would apply for a sabbatical and that I thus needed to have a writing project mapped out by October, which is when sabbatical applications are due. And then I shook myself out of that fretfulness. I think it's entirely possible that my writing brain is going to need to lie fallow for awhile. Really all that I want to do is to nest a little and to get used to feeling unburdened, and so it's okay if I have a year or more in which I learn how to just be, without always striving. I'm good with that (but will probably have to remind myself of it). I may take a Bard IWT workshop next summer ... ooh, and it just occurred to me that D. might want to take one also and that we now could do things like that together, which would be totally fun (although I'd want us to be taking different workshops). So in the meantime I'm not worrying about writing, which doesn't mean that I won't do any writing, just that I am shedding the burden of having to produce this or that to meet some artificial deadline or definition.
And finally, shedding the literal burden of a few pounds. I gained weight this past year, I think due to the combination of beginning to take birth control pills (to deal with my uterine fibroids that result in heavy periods that resulted in major anemia) and Lexapro, both of which have weight gain as a potential side effect. I'm glad that I started both of those medications, so I have no regrets on that front, but I am not happy about the weight gain. Last week I finally dug out of the back of the cedar closet my "fat clothes" from before I lost a good bit of weight three years ago, so at least I have something to wear to school, but I'm unwilling to accept this new weight (which is to say my really old weight) as my new normal. Fortunately, a dear friend and colleague is getting married in December and has decided that she'd like to lose a few pounds before then (she's already bought her dress, so she's not being unreasonable and starving herself to squeeze into a smaller dress), so we've decided to be weight loss partners in the next three months, which will help.
So that's the goal, and I'm feeling really good about this decision to shed burdens this school year!