Happy 2017! It is crazy to think that the new year has begun (not that I am terribly sad to say goodbye to 2016) and that the spring semester will begin in earnest in just two weeks. This first two weeks of the year, the relatively quiet time when my children are back in school and before students return for the semester, is always a bit of a mix for me. I always have big plans for these first two weeks, plans to be more present, plans to get ahead so the semester is not so crazy, and the normalized plans to be better and healthier in all aspects of my life. Inevitably, however, these plans are rarely accomplished—or at least rarely accomplished in ways that make me feel accomplished. But this year I have another goal and that is to worry less about feeling accomplished and to spend more time enjoying the people and tasks that make me feel good about what I do.
So on the personal front, 2017 means enjoying time with my husband and children. It means planning our first trip to Europe as a family without stressing out (too much). It means treasuring the five-minute talks with my soon-to-be teenage daughter, and it means holding my firecracker of a youngest daughter close and reminding myself that her spunk will take her far in life. It means enjoying the ten-minute drive to the gym every morning with my husband—especially when that ten minutes is the only time we have to catch up on our days. It means cherishing the fact that my parents and my mother-in-law and her husband are healthy and living just five minutes away. It means appreciating my sister and the handful of friends who are always here for me, and it means taking the time to send a text or make a phone call so they know that those five-minute conversations are important to me.
On a professional front, 2017 has a lot of potential. I am teaching my research-writing course themed around Disney for the third time. The class changes each time my colleague and I teach it, but I think this year will be especially exciting. I am part of my college’s Digital Archives Research Group, and we are hosting a writing event for the university and the community that involves writing about items in our institutional archives. Kelli and I are incorporating this into our Disney class this semester, and I am looking forward to the challenges and rewards of archival research—even the low stakes research we are planning—with my first-year students. I am also teaching an online grammar class for the first time, and it has been a decade since I taught a fully online course. I am already nervous about having to create videos for the course, but I am looking forward to trying something new and to thinking through how I can make a subject and a delivery that most find boring somehow less so.
Another colleague, Rebecca, and I spent last year collecting data on using course contracts in basic writing classes, and we have encountered so many surprises in our research. We approached our data thinking about gender, race, and work, but we encountered desire and dissonance about grades in really unexpected ways. Writing about these surprises together was a highlight this past year, and I am looking forward to seeing how others respond to our work. And we have so much data, that we will soon be immersed in our research again. I also have an article coming out in Pedagogy this summer—an article I spent two years writing and one I really struggled to find the words for (props to all of my colleagues and friends near and far who talked through this one with me), so I am beyond excited to see it in print.
2017 means two conferences for me. I am looking forward to presenting on our course contract research in Portland, but I am especially excited about presenting at ISHR in London this summer. And ISHR means returning to the archives and rethinking my long-term research related to Mississippi, race, and what it means to be labeled a basic writer. The one sad part about this is that it means for the first time in years I will not be attending WPA, a conference that in many ways sustains me and reminds me of why I do what I do (shout out to my Hoo-Hahs).
I also serve on the board of The XLH Network, Inc., and this year we are launching a patient registry and Natural History Study. This is a huge move for a medical advocacy organization and with a new treatment on the horizon, it is an important step for families dealing with XLH. So if my social media posts become inundated with the acronyms XLH and NHS, at least you know why.
So, yes, 2017 is looking full, and I think I am ready for the challenges to come. More importantly, however, I am ready to enjoy the challenges and also to step back and breathe when necessary. Happy 2017, friends! Love more. Read more. Write more.