Well, readers, at the risk of stating the obvious: it is May. Forget April showers; if you were anywhere near where I live this spring the snowbanks are only just starting to melt and we’ve all broken down and started talking to the crocuses. Suffice to say it has been a challenging winter.
In academic spheres May brings more than just flowers. Chances are, if you were teaching this semester you are finishing up grading or thanking the powers that be for having already finished your grading. You might be looking for work, preparing to write your MA thesis, scrambling to prepare for spring courses, or, in some cases, still finishing up semesters that were lengthened due to job action. Given that I’m based in the Maritimes and you *know* what kind of winter we’ve had, I’m willing to bet that whatever you’re doing, there’s a good chance you’re doing it with with the promise of spring outside your window.
But here’s the thing: as we have confessed time and again the end of the regular school term can bring exhaustion, apathy, disorientation, and tristesse for all sorts of good reasons. You don’t have to be a Nova Scotian survivor of the horrible weather, devastating budget, and introduction of Bill 100 to be feeling, well, done.
So let me give you a little bit of unsolicited advice: get out of dodge. Seriously, if you can manage it for a day or two (or three!) put an automatic reply on your email, leave your computer at home, and go. Where? Anywhere.
Last week, at the end of our ropes for all the reasons and more, my partner and I packed the dog into the truck and drove out to the shore. The weather was awful–rain, sleet, snow, wild winds–and our escape was perfect. We visited his mom at her home which perches by the sea. We sat by the fire and read, and the dog and I battled the elements to take walks by the ocean. Three days later we came back to Halifax refreshed. A change of scenery, a step away from social media, and some restorative and wonderful conversation with family; all of these things made the difference. And yes, it was basically a trip home. Nothing exotic or expensive, just a little adventure. The break allowed us, upon return to the everyday, to remember why so much of the quotidian is really very good.
I realize not everyone is as lucky as I am to have a partner whose family is so near, and with such a lovely place to escape to, but fear not: you too can take a wee adventure. I promise you’ll feel better for it. If you’re bound to where you are geographically, which is likely for so many reasons, why not choose a weekday as a weekend day? I mean it. What are the benefits of being in the academic sphere if not the flexibility of schedule? The very same 24/7 mentality that has us fretting about doing work all the damn time means that you’re probably able to switch Monday for Saturday. Or, if you’re daring, just take a bloody Monday off. Drink your coffee in bed with a novel. Walk the dog an hour later than usual and then take yourself out for brunch. On a budget? If it is a nice day go to the grocery, get some fruit and a baked good or whatever makes your tum excited and get thee to the park. If it is crummy out, go to your local library or botanical garden or art museum or a matinee. Do it! And then don’t go home and work. Cook dinner for yourself. Heck, invite a friend. Have a Monday-night dinner party! Or watch a movie on Netflix and eat popcorn for dinner. Whatever. Just get out of your normal routine, turn the notifications off, do NOT check your email until the next morning. There will be time enough to get into your routine, make your spring/summer research/work/teaching plans, and time will fly. For now, in this, the Friday-night-and-all-the-weekend-is-ahead-of-you-of-summer, just take a break.
Here at Hook & Eye we are going to try and take our own advice to heart. As we head into conference season (& several other things besides) we’re going to take a different approach to posting. For the month of May I will be pulling gems out of our considerable archive and offer them with a wee preface. Periodically, one of my stellar co-bloggers may be inspired to post, but we’re not going to put too much press on ourselves. There will be fresh material up each week, but not five days a week. We’re trying to take our own advice, you see.
In June I’ll post a collaboratively written year-end round-up and reflection as well as a call for guest posts and suggestions for topics for the coming year. We’re going to go on vacation for July and August, because even though we will undoubtably be working, we’re also trying to foster some of that life balance we talk so much about here.
So here’s to spring, dear readers! And here’s to wee adventures that get you out of dodge (or at least out of a rut or a routine) and ready you for the possibilities that spring and summer can bring. And, here’s a soundtrack to get you in the self-permission-granting mood.
Because come on, who doesn’t need Tracy Chapman on a Monday morning?