Last week of November

So. Welcome to the last day of November, the end of the penultimate week of classes, nearly the end of 2018. I hope all of you had the Thanksgiving holidays you needed to have. For lots of us some work, some play, some rest. That was true to me. A nearly ideal Thanksgiving day. I slowly cooked some favorite foods for Elizabeth and me. A friend dropped by and shared a bottle of wine. I read a lot. Walked the dog a lot. Went really slowly. I was thankful for a day just like that.

A short note today.

Two bits of good news about Liz.

First, she is part of a research team with collaborators at the University of Iowa (Communication Department and School of Nursing) who were just awarded the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies Interdisciplinary Research Grant for their project “Improving Listening Skills in Dementia Care: Equipping the Listeners of People with Dementia with Effective Communication Strategy.”

Second, she told me yesterday that she received the printed and bound copies of her book  The Ethics of Listening: Creating Space for Sustainable Dialogue. You can click the link and buy a copy for yourself or a friend. Perfect stocking stuffer, right Liz?

Hey as we approach the winter holidays it is time for our annual, low key, holiday gatherings.

This year we will host two department teas. We will meet on both Thursday and Friday to recognize that some of us are here on Thursdays, others on Fridays.

Just drop by. No pressures. No requirements. Just hang if you want. Chat if you want. Snatch a treat if you want. Or, if you have had enough of people by this time of year, then that’s cool too.

I will be pouring at least three kinds of tea (including jasmine pearls Andy brought me from China). We will have coffee. We will have pastries from Little Bird.

Thursday, 11-1 Break Room

Friday, 11-1 Conference Room.

I have attached here the draft of our six-year review.

Let’s pause for just a moment on this. You will remember that we formed three working groups and a steering committee in August. Many of you getting this email were on one of those groups. You worked hard. You gathered important data. You analyzed it. You talked about it. You described our strengths and indicated areas for growth. This is a remarkable document.

Thank you all so so so much.

I invite all of you to read the document and comment on it (go ahead and use the comment function and track changes). Send your comments back to me and Eliza.

ACTION ITEM

For those of you who are part of our monthly faculty meetings, this will be the topic of our meeting next Wednesday, 5 December  LSC 300.

All of you who were on working groups or the steering committee should have access to the SharePoint folder where we have stored all the data that lies behind the report.

We will work our way through the draft of the document over the course of the nearly two hours we have. Eliza will take her immaculate notes and she and I will work with those notes to draft the final report.

Folks, I hope you all make it through the next couple of weeks with some sanity, some reserves of energy.

I was chatting with Liz last night about how much most of us give to our time here in the department. We bring—I see this clearly—our best selves to our classrooms, our offices; to the meetings we are in, the projects we are committed too. As Eliza noted just this morning, each of you are models of professionalism. You get your work done well and on time (I am looking at you Kalie and Katie K with the proposal for VPR funds for General Service remodel).

The careful work on the six year review is another example of your dedication and commitment. And late last night I received and email from one of you asking for a change or two. You were kind, professional, and thoughtful. Man, what a great crew!

But Liz and I also talked about how we expend so much here, that sometimes we don’t take our best selves home with us. That in the places away from work we are sometimes too tired, too emotionally spent, to frazzled to really be present.

As we push through these very final weeks and look toward five weeks of break (or at least a different pace), I want to send you my very best energy. And my wishes for all of us that we take a bit of time for us. For our friends. For family that matter. A pause for beauty, perhaps (may I recommend Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden and their album Jasmine). An evening with a good book (may I recommend Tommy Orange There, There). An extra hour with a friend, a partner, a child, a parent.