Tuesday, December 27, 2022
As a law professor, I find December a very confusing month. On the one hand, exams are given and papers are in, and grading them and determining course grades loom large. These activities consume inordinate amounts of time and are stressful, adding to the stress of holiday preparations (a real thing some of us do not acknowledge). And then there always is the need to work in medical appointments that did not make it into one's schedule during the fall semester. The negative energy can be overwhelming.
Yet, on the other hand, class preparation is done. Scheduling things gets a bit easier since class meetings are no longer happening. The many hours of grading even have some bright moments--moments in which you are confident someone really "gets it" (whatever "it" is) There is some joy in the gift-buying and wrapping, menu-planning and cooking, and certainly in gift-giving. And there is gratitude that those medical appointments are finally happening, and that any necessary follow-ups can be organized and implemented.
The little happy surprises are, however, the best--like the wonderful homemade gingerbread pictured above, a gift from a young woman I met almost four years ago because of a talk I gave to honors undergraduates on crowdfunding. She had this cool idea for a nonprofit, and I introduced her to one of our law clinic faculty members. (He got cookies, too!)
I try to focus on the little joys. They make a difference in my sense of fulfillment and productivity. I do not fully understand why. But I continue to pursue answers.
Along those lines, I recently had the privilege of participating in a campus leadership event that offered me some food for thought. I reflect on it in this blog post for Leading as Lawyers, the blog hosted by the Institute for Professional Leadership at UT Law (of which I am the Interim Director). The post is about lawyer leadership. Each of us as law professors is a leader. We are leaders in the classroom in our law schools, in the communities in which we live and work, and in our family and personal lives more generally. According to the research cited by the speaker at that event, choosing to be happy by focusing on enjoyment, satisfaction, and purpose, even in stressful times, is important. It can change the course of one's leadership and life (and the lives of others) in positive ways.
The cookies from my nonprofit entrepreneur friend (and those pictured below--with some of hers--that were made by one of my fellow Tuesday-night yogis in a special semi-private class I take at a local yoga studio) are symbolic. I enjoy cookies. They are meaningful representations that put a smile on my face. The represent the fulfillment of some of my current limited "wants"--sustained and deep relationships among them. And they are evidence that I understand and am pursuing my recognized purpose, which includes using my "corporate law powers" to help others. Yay for all that (and for cookies generally)!
I wish all much happiness and good fortune in 2023. Pursue enjoyment, satisfaction, and purpose. Take pleasure in the many fruits of your labors, including your relationships with students. Happy New Year!
[Editorial note: I have been trying to publish this on and off for the past day or so. Ultimately, I had to create this post on my phone, since my computer and TypePad do not want to play ball with each other right now. I hope this will resolve itself soon, since the photo editing function is not as nuanced on a handheld (or maybe I am just inept. Lol. Please forgive!]