Feb 6

I’m seriously tired of the cold. The snow. And the wind. I’m trying really hard to find some good things in this miserable weather. I was talking with a co-worker the other day about winter. We agreed that it isn’t that we hate it. After all, there is still fun to be had in winter. I do like sledding and ice skating, snowmobiling and skiing. It’s just that with this particular winter, it has been too cold to be outside much at all. Going from my car to my office requires a sprint because the wind is brutal. By the time I get to my office door, I look like I’ve been sobbing. My eyes have watered up, my face is chapped. And I don’t think my feet have been completely warm since October.

Yes, this winter has been challenging. However, I did actually note a few things on my quick jaunts outside today. Have you noticed how when the sun reflects just right on the snow, it sparkles likes glitter? I love that. It seems magical. And there’s a tree in my yard that hasn’t lost all of the berries. They’re hanging like small little ornaments. It attracts birds, and a cardinal sitting on a branch against the white snow is a sight that’s always lovely to me. I’m also fortunate enough to work on a campus that has a park-like setting. There is a pond that attracts a large amount of geese, which typically roam the grounds at will. The buildings are separated by a creek and a large stone bridge and two smaller footbridges connect the sides. There are groves of trees and landscaping that includes a large amount of flowering bushes and native plants. In all seasons, it’s truly a beautiful place to come to on a daily basis. Of course, when something becomes the norm, it’s easy to forget how unique it may really be. Yet there are times I’m reminded. Like today when I was crossing the bridge and a bunny hopped towards me. Or the other night, when I was on that same bridge and the lamps reflected off the frozen creek and outlined the trees and rocks and nature, and the stillness of the setting somehow seemed alive.

As much as I’m counting down the days until Spring (42), I am thankful for the nature around me. Winter can beautiful, even the miserably cold ones.

Day 22

We had a reception at work today honoring our college president. He recently decided to leave the school, hopefully on his way to better, even more rewarding ventures. It was a lovely reception, with a lot of visitors from on campus and off. It reminded me of when he first came to the college, 8 years ago. We had a similar reception, although it had a different feel to it then. It wasn’t as bittersweet as it was today.

The work of a college president is, in all effects, a tightrope walk. Like any position of high authority there are politics involved. At a college, those politics are played out not simply on campus, but also within the community the college serves. The business of education is complicated and intense. It seems so simple on the surface; students enroll in school and faculty teach them what they need to know. But what do they need to know? And how much of it is necessary? Everyone has an opinion, and that’s when it gets tricky. Depending on the community, the what and how can fluctuate. Part of the duties of a college president is to work with the community to find out those needs and how the college can work on programming and funding to supply it. It was my opinion (shared by many) that our president did that well. But I’m biased.

See, I was fortunate enough to get to know him a little bit outside of his job title. I was part of the welcoming committee when he was first hired and from the beginning had an easy rapport with him. I found him to be approachable and welcoming as a person. He was the type who would walk through the halls and wave hello. Or stop by someone’s office and sit and chat for a while. More than once, he had sent me a quick note congratulating me on a job well done in a meeting or on a task. And he made it clear that if anyone had a concern or idea, his door was open. So once, I even met with him for career advice. I’m going to miss seeing him on campus. It felt like saying goodbye to a friend today. But I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to work for someone so giving. I hope he left knowing that he will be missed.

Day 8

I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I’m glad I’m back to work.

Don’t get me wrong. I loved the holidays. I loved having time off; I even said more than once that it wasn’t enough time off. But the truth is, I’m a much better person on a routine. Give me days with no structure, and I end up being completely unproductive. I started my vacation with a long list of things I intended to accomplish: wallpaper the family room, paint trim, organize the bags of papers in my office, practice guitar with the online lessons I bought, clean my bedroom, hang new light fixtures, install new faucets, and get caught up on tv shows. I didn’t even travel over the break, thinking I would be so involved in my house projects that it would be best to stay home.  I started out ok. I looked for wallpaper. But then I watched Netflix and got caught up on The Walking Dead. I stayed up late doing so and slept in late, knowing I didn’t HAVE to be anywhere. Once I started my day late and lazy, I had no motivation for dragging out paint or tools for hanging fixtures. So I watched more Netflix. And then moved on to the Hallmark Channel’s constant line-up of sappy Christmas movies that never fail to suck me in. I also accepted invitations to eat out for dinner and go to holiday open houses and plays. Basically, I wasted my holiday vacation doing nothing except whatever felt good at the moment. That’s not a horrible thing, I admit. I haven’t had that luxury in a long time. I also made some great memories with my children and friends. I don’t regret that.

However, I’m really a doer at heart. I have a strong need to be productive and useful. When I become physically unengaged, I find my mind turns a bit to mush as well. I’m not as focused and I begin to feel overwhelmed. My to-do list hangs over me and makes me feel guilty. Therefore, I’m glad to be back to the routine of a daily schedule. I’m sure I’ll complain about it soon; there’s going to be too much to do and not enough time to do it. But I’ll feel a little more balanced. It will be easier to go to the gym right after work than to leave the house to do so. I’ll know that I don’t have a lot of time to waste, so I’ll quit putting things off until later. I’ll use my weekend time a bit more wisely too. I’ll need to–all that time in front of the tv made me realize that I don’t like my tv cabinet. That will need to change. And the walls still need something, even if it’s not wallpaper. That means I’ll need to paint the walls. Of course if I change the color, I may need to change up some of the artwork…Yes. It’s a good thing I’m back at work. I have way too much on my to-do list already.