walkway lined with trees through a snow covered landscape

It’s been a long fall. Somehow, it always feels like that to me and the final sprint to the end of the term, end of grading and graduation always seems a bit more hectic than intended…again. All the same, it’s a great time to reflect on what we really HAVE accomplished, what we can cross off the to-do list [whether it was done or didn’t really need to be there in the first place], and just to pause and breathe.

January will be here soon enough so, of course, it quickly becomes a time to think about what we will do to foster our own development and well-being in the year to come. One thing about being a member of the MSU community and its surroundings is that there is always something to engage in – beautiful grounds to walk [even in the snow!], arts and new museum exhibits to see, a constant flurry of exciting speakers and colloquia, as well as numerous research presentations and new work underway.

As we walk into December, though, I’m reminded of a favorite Robert Frost poem about the road not taken in part, because the traveler made a different choice than what was obvious and perhaps, more traditional. In a way, this can be the life of educators in the academy – keep your head down, do what is given and expected, and hope it is fulfilling. Yet, making different decisions large and small can pave the path to a journey that is meaningful and provides the sense of belonging for which we each long. As in the poem, choosing the “other” path requires some reflection and introspection. Just charging ahead without this reflection is what often gets all of us in sticky situations and feeling overwhelmed.

Perhaps instead of racing through that final end-of-the-term sprint, we can try pacing ourselves, allowing time to acknowledge others whose work and contributions to our lives matter, those who inspired us, mentored us, helped us be our better authentic selves. We hope that you take the time to think about what truly matters to you – the people, the activities, the challenges, the opportunities – and that these become a focus for you in the new year. See you in January!