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Someone observed, “There should be a sympathy card for having to go back to work after vacation.”  I don’t know who first came up with the thought; now there are several versions circulating on the internet, some spruced up with images.  These creations sound like just the kind of diversion someone coming back to work after a break would pursue.  Anything to delay full immersion into the cascading stream of activities that is our normal.  Well, welcome back.  Stop in and say “Hello,” if you have a chance.  I too am trying to reorient and forge ahead into the new semester.

With that in mind, it’s a good time to remind us of some helpful basics as we get back to work:  Think Back, Look Ahead, Live in the Present.

Think Back

Build on last semester.  Recognize the ways in which your knowledge, your skills, and your training will serve you well in classes this semester.  Perhaps engage in a short mental review over the big ideas and even some key ideas from your training so far.  It’s helpful to connect your learning across various subjects, and it can be encouraging to recognize how far you have already come.  You made it—good for you, and go on to greater levels yet.

Look Ahead

picture of a calendarThink about the semester to come.  I recommend some calendar planning early on in each semester.  Use a monthly calendar to lay out key dates for exams, papers, major projects, and so forth.  You might also include your own key dates: a birthday or anniversary or Valentine’s Day you must not forget, doctor’s appointments, and so on.  Use a weekly calendar to lay out your typical weekly schedule: when are your classes, what hours do you set aside for study, when do you take care of household chores, exercise, etc.  Planning ahead will be a key component to success, academic and otherwise.

Live in the Present

image of a person concentratingLive the life that is directly in front of you with full attention to the moment.  The practice of mindful living enhances your wellbeing and helps your success.  Ease back into your work.  Don’t try to complete the upcoming semester in the first day or the first week.  Yet, do get going—complete something significant today.

A Final Reminder—Recreate Periodically

two cyclists riding on a bike trailRemember also to plan some recreative activities during the semester.  Arkansas Parks and Tourism maintains a calendar of activities around the state. The website address is   Many of the events are free.  You might visit art exhibits and juried competitions in Mena and El Dorado.  You might enjoy the monthly performance of music at the Garland County Library in Hot Springs.  During January there is an “Artists’ Garage Sale” in Mena where you can buy art supplies and artwork.  On February 8 Hope, Arkansas hosts “An Evening with Frederick Douglas” as part of Black History Month.  Eureka Springs has a pirate-themed Mayor’s Ball on February 10 as part of its Mardi Gras celebrations.  There are ongoing activities all around the state.

Welcome back, then.  Enjoy yourself and your loved ones.  Have a great semester learning and living.