I've finished four weeks of my final semester of teaching at CU, with eleven weeks to go. This is a stressful semester in a number of ways. In addition to my usual two courses for the philosophy department, I'm also teaching a delicious one-credit course on fairy tales for the Norlin Scholars honors program, so that adds to my teaching preparation and grading. With an eye toward the transition to my new career as a full-time children's book writer, I scurried about to get some book contracts lined up, but the deadlines turned out to be sooner than I planned. So I have two 25,000-word children's book manuscripts due by June. The full manuscript of my edited collection on ethics and children's literature is also due to the publisher by the end of March.
In addition, this semester I have four trips: to Chicago for the Central APA, to San Diego for the Pacific APA, to Warrensburg, Missouri, for the huge children's literature festival hosted each year by the University of Central Missouri, and a week of school visits in Michigan, which will take up the entirety of spring break.
Oh, and I also have my first-ever grandchild coming the end of this month; my son and his wife are living with me, so there will be a new little human being living with me, too, in a little more than two weeks.
So I told myself: okay, this semester will be stressful and demanding (though also full of wonderful things like writing, which I adore, and trips, which should be tons of fun, and a granddaughter, which all my grandparent friends assure me is one of the sweetest things that life can offer). I'm not really counting down the weeks of the semester because I don't want to count my life away. Okay, I am counting down the weeks. But mainly I'm counting them down to reassure myself that so far it hasn't been bad at all.
With four weeks behind me, I've gotten work done on both the edited collection and the second Nora Notebooks title and written the comments I'm giving at the Central APA the end of this month in Chicago. I've done a lot of reading for pleasure. I've had get-togethers with friends. I've slept for eight hours every night. I've been watching the Olympics. The only thing I haven't done is exercise and eat healthfully. (Oh, well.). So if at this point the semester turns hideously stressful and demanding, there are now only eleven weeks left of possible stressfulness and demandingness, rather than the full fifteen weeks of possible stressfulness and demandingness that I started with.
Eleven weeks isn't so much. If I squint I can see the light at the end of an eleven-week-long tunnel.
As a child I learned this poem that I still love:
The optimist fell stories
And at each window bar,
He shouted to his friends,
"All right, so far!"