2012 got off to a very bad start. My oldest sister lost her husband after his 3 ½ year battle with kidney cancer. His brother died from kidney cancer a month later. It was the end of a string of family losses and crises that continually challenged my equanimity. I’ve written about much of this before, but now I’m looking at it after a fairly calm semester, and I’m just beginning to realize the impact that the last couple of years had on my career and productivity. It’s a good time to reflect on the past year, lessons I have learned, and issues I think will be important in the coming months.
It has become clear to me that I was running on adrenaline for the past year. I had way too many projects, I ran a half marathon in January, the marathon in February and a 10 miler in March. I had a lot of anger, grief and pain to run off. I’m still working out this year, but I don’t have any races planned, I’m skipping the 3M half marathon for the first time in years, and I’m trying to focus on spending more time with my husband and kids. That doesn’t mean I don’t have a lot going on — besides my regular job as a university professor, I’m on four nonprofit boards, many committees, and my big project Take Back the Trail is taking off after much hard work. I love working in the community, but sometimes I feel like I’m learning to breathe again. Sometimes I cry for those who have gone ahead. I hope to eventually work on a book about my mother and our relationship, but that will take time and more healing after her passing 2 1/2 years ago. I’m learning to have patience with myself and to try to not be so hard on myself when I can’t do it all.
In the next year I have a variety of goals, I’m becoming more politically active, particularly on women’s issues (check out our FB page Austin Women for Political Action ) I hope to finish a book manuscript or two, but I’m going to make sure I take time for those quiet moments that help to re-energize me. I almost never take time to watch TV, except for the occasional football game, so I’m going to pick one of the new series to watch on a regular basis — I just started watching Downton Abby with Mike. I’m going to try to see movies in the theatre more regularly, and not just kid movies. We are good at getting out to concerts, so we already have that outlet, and the regular date night.
So the main lessons I have learned over the past few years, is that you can live with heartache, it’s not good to drive yourself too hard, exercise is a good thing in moderation, and the most important thing of all is spending quality time with the people you love. Unfortunately none of us will be around forever, and watching my kids grow up and being a part of their lives is one of the most rewarding parts of my life.