I consider myself to be relatively well organized when it comes to work. I keep lists (I use Things synced between my Mac, iPad and iPhone to organize just about everything in my life), and I use DevonThink Pro Office to keep track of all research and most of my teaching resources. While my desktop (virtual and real) is not the tidiest, I know where everything is. So I’ve been looking forward to making the most of my efficiency this summer and make a serious dent in everything from writing to personal research projects to imageMAT prototype development to preparing for this fall’s job market. I never expected family emergencies to completely throw me off my game, but so they have. And while it has been at times by turns terrifying and exasperating, the experience of having to put my personal plans in abeyance has been an important lesson. 
My mother had back-to-back surgeries in May and June for completely unrelated but significant issues. The first, a shoulder replacement, required that she go first to a rehab hospital and then to have someone stay with her while her shoulder healed. Since I had just finished the spring term and submitted final grades, while my brother and sister have full-time office jobs, it made sense for me to drive up to Connecticut and stay with her for two weeks. Once she had got herself set up and able to get around, we agreed, I would head off to the DHSI in Victoria, BC, and from there to my convocation in Waterloo. But a coincidental (and ultimately fortuitous) visit to a neurologist on the last day I was staying with her ultimately revealed that she had a benign brain tumor that required immediate surgery. I flew home from Canada, did a load of laundry, dropped my dog off for boarding again, and flew back to Connecticut to be with her for the surgery and two more weeks of recuperation.
Luckily, the surgery was a success and Mom is doing remarkably well. And while I was home (and when she was resting) I would sneak off to do some editing or coding. But mostly I spent time with her. And I am glad I was able to be there for her and for my family – in a way I might not have been if I still worked in the corporate sector. Granted, things would have been different if this had all happened during the school year. But the whole experience made me take a step back and realize that while the work I do is important (to me, at least), it cannot replace or take priority over my family. And while I am now re-organizing my lists and plans in an attempt to get as many items completed as possible before the Fall term begins next month, if I needed to put this all aside and take care of a family situation again, there is no question which would come first.

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