Plan to celebrate

14 January 2018 by Lisa Meloncon

As we are all starting again—new year, new term—the perennial questions of how to better plan and organize our lives has started. The new year also brings with it resolutions of trying to shift or change workflows to achieve a specific goal or to create better habits.

The idea of starting again—the do over—is one of the best perks of this job because if you felt like the previous term was all out whack, you have the chance to make changes, change strategies, try something new, and even expand the things that did work.

However, there is no magic solution to planning, and the key is to find the thing that works for YOU. So the most important step is you have to be realistic in working with the schedule you have and within the framework of the boundaries that you’ve set for yourself.

Each term our schedule changes. Even if you’re really super lucky to teach at the same time each term, other commitments in your life are often variable—committees, deadline driven work (e.g., grants, chapters or articles, conference things), schedules of your family, etc. Many of these things have timelines that dictate the “schedule you have.”

The most common mistake that people make is to create their ideal, perfect world schedule and that, unfortunately, is just setting you up for disappointment. We all want to do all the things, which typically leads to trying to push too much stuff into our schedule. Nothing we can do changes the number of hours in the day. Thus, we need to ensure that we’re creating healthy work schedules.

Because here’s me saying the obvious out loud: this job is hard. Having had other jobs, I can attest to the fact that not only is this job hard, it comes with additional sets of stressors that other “normal” jobs don’t necessarily have. For example, much of this job is being told no, which can definitely temper positivity.

To try to make the job easier means that we really need to plan and more importantly, we need to plan to celebrate. “Huh?” you ask! Yes, you read that write. Plan to celebrate.

The pressures of the job (external and internal) mean that it becomes even more important to celebrate to celebrate our successes—big and small. As you’re planning your term and your year, I want to encourage you to find a way to celebrate your successes. Lots of advice out there on different ways to do this so I’m going to share three that can remind us of all the good things we are actually doing that bring us joy and make us difference:

Got it done list

We are so focused on the to-do list that we often forget what we’ve actually done. Every day or every week, try to make the time to write down ALL the things you got DONE. In this, I promise, you will be amazed.

To be clear, this means all the things big and small. It’s no secret that I’ve struggled a lot lately. Some days or weeks, one of my things to celebrate would be getting up. Some days that’s a damn big win. It can also mean a particularly good class or a great advising meeting or making it through the committee meeting that is not your favorite without saying something stupid. And it means bigger things too such as working on a revision or finishing a big committee report or getting something accepted.

The key is to actually schedule a time, to plan to write a got it done list and take the time to celebrate it.

Create a good things folder

We all have had that moment when a student from a class sends us the message about how impactful the class was or how they’re using the information they learned. You have to save those so create yourself a good things folder or a spot in Evernote or some other electronic place or actual folder where you could put the printed copy.

These come in handy for annual reports and such, but they are material reminders we can turn to when we’ve had a particularly difficult or trying week. This way when you need inspiration you can turn to you “good things” folder and inspire yourself and get a reminder about why we do this job and how fabulous you are.

Say it out loud

Share your successes so that your colleagues can celebrate with you. If you’re on twitter, send it out. Go on the Slack channel #celebrateit and let us know. Send a short note to your small group of colleagues.

If it’s a big thing, be certain to tell your chair, your program director (if you have one), and your dean. People are busy and they can’t keep up with everything. And if you truly can’t get over sending that email yourself, you let me know and I’ll do it for you 🙂

Or you can simply say it out loud to those closest to you in a quiet moment at home or in a phone conversation.

So as you’re planning your do over, rather your term, please plan to celebrate you and your accomplishments. I’ll be waiting to celebrate with you.

Wishing you peace, health, and joy


Wishing you…in 2018

31 December 2017 by Lisa Meloncon

One of the nerdy great things about this job is that we can read lots of things and call it research. For me, I have always enjoyed the expertise of early modern medical texts that were part actual medicine of the day, part advice book, and part collections of lore. These little books are easily some of the earliest forms of public health communication. As I was re-reading parts of these books recently (this time truly in relation to the J-O-B), I was struck by this line from Thomas Elyot, ca. 1534, “Ioye or gladness of harte dothe prolonge the lyfe…”

Merriam Webster gives three definitions for joy:

  1. a : the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires b : the expression or exhibition of such emotion
  2. a state of happiness or felicity
  3. a source or cause of delight

Joy in its many forms always reminds me of children. I so love watching their faces and expressions as they do things. If you watch closely, you can see their struggles and then the precise moment when they figure something out. It’s a magical moment. It’s a joyful moment. Children also have the innate and unconscious ability to simply be joyful, to find a “gladness of heart” in all sorts of things both big and small.

It has not been a secret that I have had, personally, a difficult year. Admittedly, joy has been hard to come by. But as I have worked toward rebooting my life, I was reminded of something that my father said many years ago.

His wisdom often found its release in pithy sayings and odd aphorisms. Some of these are legendary because he said them all the time. So for example, “if you’re gonna be stupid, you gotta be tough,” is a Joe classic. But others I remember not because of their frequency, rather because of their weight. After a difficult conversation many years ago, he asked a couple of pertinent questions, and then he looked at me and said, “let’s go make some joy.”

I have always appreciated my father’s connection between the material process of making to that of an emotion, state or source. To talk about making gives us back control over something that often times seems so far outside of it.

This is also the thing with children. They are experts at making joy simply through the process of experiencing the world with a passion and zeal of openness and exploration. A child’s courage and fearlessness is the foundation of their joy, and unfortunately, these things shift and change as fear weaves its way into our adult lives. Because as we get older and experience gets in the way, we often forget what that childhood joy felt like—unencumbered, full bodied, optimistic, and magical.

To embrace this part of childhood again…

So that’s my wish for each of you in the coming year. I wish you joy:

  • lots of joyful experiences with those dear to you;
  • lots of joy over your successes big and small;
  • lots of remembrances of joy in times of trials;
  • and lots of joyful moments that together simply make a life well lived.

Yes, in 2018, I wish you so much joy.


End of term list

16 December 2017 by Lisa Meloncon

Sometimes you have too many things to say that they all get jumbled up in your head. When this happens to me, I have to completely step away from it all and just let my mind work it out. That’s what has happened recently when I was trying to decide on a blog topic for the end of the term. (And hey, you wanna write something. Just email.)

I have a whole lot of thoughts about things that have been circulating about higher education and the world and women and well, you get the idea. But there are so many thoughts, I can’t find an angle to focus on. To try get me moving in the right direction, I did what I normally do, and that is, think in terms of a bulleted list that will fit on a sticky note.

I asked myself, “what would I put on a self-care list to remind me that things will be ok?” What phrases or advice would I give myself or others at times of high (work) stress, like the end of the term.

Here’s what I came up with:

And when I had written this list, I realized that each of these has been the topic of an existing blog. Maybe one or two will resonate with you and help ease you through.

These are good reminders as we move into the “break,” which is a time that can still remain stressful with holiday commitments or over planning our schedules (and then feeling disappointed when we don’t accomplish things).

Let me encourage you to be kind to yourself. Do fun things and focus on just being you.

Wishing you a peaceful and joyful end of the term.