A New(ish) Year
Welcome to Week Ten of Once More, With Feeling.
EMOTION & MOTIVATION - Feeling and Striving
The dawning of a new year always provokes in me time-focused thinking, but this year has been particularly full of milestones.
In October my husband and I returned to our honeymoon spot to celebrate our pandemic-belated 20th wedding anniversary. In December we traveled with my parents, brothers, and their families up to Stow, Vermont to celebrate my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, which also prompted an elaborate social media blast of images from 50 years of loving, family, and celebrations.
Last weekend I also celebrated 20 years of twice-yearly retreat weekends with a remarkable group of women friends. In 2012 we had written letters to our future selves in 2022. Knowing myself fairly well, I anticipated that the letter would be full of questions about how particular goals had panned out, whether I had settled some interpersonal tangles that were prominent in my mind ten years ago, and what I had achieved.
Instead, I hoped that I was sleeping well. That I had slowed down and appreciated the snuggly years of my daughter’s childhood while they lasted. That we were still going on these retreat weekends. It was so unexpectedly kind, gentle, and patient with myself that I wept.
I’m a goal-setter and an optimist. I love opportunities for new beginnings, for starting fresh, for kickstarting new projects. But this particular year I have felt within myself and seen expressed across my social networks a desire for slowing down and for rejecting a cult of achievement in this third year of a global pandemic.
Provocatively, the writer Joe Pinsker asks — what if we stopped apologizing for our supposedly-delayed response to emails, requests, texts? What if we all just stopped being so damn available all the time?
This past week I made several errors in a row because I was rushing a bunch of responses to emails on a Friday evening because I didn’t want to have to apologize for a delay. Slowing down would have been better.
My primary new year resolution, then, is to slow down, do things well while tending to my own wellness, and to strike the phrase “sorry for the delay…” from my email vocabulary.
BE THE SPARK - Thoughts on Teaching and Learning
On that note, I’m not going to apologize for putting your hands on some excellent kickstarting-a-new-semester teaching resources after most of you who teach will have already started your semester. They are, thankfully, perennially good resources.
First up is this Twitter thread from my good buddy Josh Eyler, which (deservedly) went about as viral as higher ed social media gets. It is a treasure trove:
In the same vein, a New Year thread-gift from Maha Bali, with a focus on community-building in the classroom across modalities:
And finally, for anyone making decisions about hybrid versus online versus in-person versus HyFlex, this wonderfully thoughtful podcast interview with Robin DeRosa, who unpacks all the many complexities and contextual factors involved:
HIVEMIND - On Social Neuroscience & Our Synchronous Selves
Among several increasingly worrisome trends on the Joe Rogan Experience of late, the podcaster interviewed a supposed-expert who claimed that the idea that we were in a global pandemic which was best battled with masks and vaccines was an instance of “Mass Formation Psychosis.”
This is not even a term in psychology or psychiatry, never mind a term that is supported by research evidence. Jay Van Bavel, a psychologist whose body of research concerns social psychology and the psychology of groups in particular, took to Twitter to say so.
He referenced his new book The Power of Us (co-authored with Dominic Packer), which like my book HIVEMIND evaluates the evidence and concludes that our social selves (and the technologies that encourage them) hold both promise and peril.
Unsurprisingly, his thread hit the nerve of Joe Rogan fans and went viral, and Jay spent quite some time dealing with the aftermath…demonstrating the perils of taking our social selves onto social media.
It’s all complicated, folks.
OUR MONSTERS, OUR SELVES - Uncertainty, Challenges, Mental Health
Understandably, most attention to the mental health crisis among youth focus on the experiences of youth themselves. The New York Times recently took a different perspective, asking how clinicians are meeting escalating need—and how they are not.
In my upcoming book I consult some of these statistics myself, and they are truly frightening.
It is a beautifully done but frightening piece of journalism.
INCIDENTALLY - Get Your Cookies!
If you are persuaded that your own new year resolutions should be focused on slowing down and savoring life instead of ramping up productivity, then what better way to launch your efforts than with some Girl Scout Cookies?
If you buy them using this link, you support the future goals of my marvelous little niece pictured below with a cookie made by her beloved cousin.
My next newsletter will likely be focused on the topic of a workshop I’m planning for our Simmons University faculty and staff. I paste the description below.
It is one of the most challenging questions we’re facing right now in higher ed, and I don’t quite know the answer.
Maybe you do? Would love to hear it in the comments.