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School’s Out for the Summer!

I have the privilege of being on a 9-month contract. In other words, it is assumed that I can do my job in 9 months—and, I am paid accordingly. In reality, I wouldn’t have obtained tenure, and then promotion to Full Professor, if I had worked only 9 months each year.

I am expected to meet my teaching responsibilities across fall, winter, and spring quarters—this I do. (I have the luxury of being able to live without the extra money from teaching summer courses.) Many students want to work towards their dissertations during the summer. The norms in my college have been that we support them with this—even though, in theory, I don’t work in the summer. In order to obtain tenure, I needed to produce novel information—conduct research and publish about it. During the academic year, while teaching and attending various meetings, I had few large blocks of time to immerse myself in scholarship—to stop and think. Summer and winter break were the best times to dive into my research.

And, I am a wife and mother. My daughter was 4 years old when I obtained my academic position. My personal narrative was since “I had my summers off,” I should make my spouse’s load lighter and provide my daughter fun, enriching experiences all summer long. So, summer was also a time of escalated shoulding on myself.

Until last summer, I have worked every summer. I have checked emails less often—but I have checked emails at least weekly. I have taken some weeks off, but I have been available to students and worked on research projects in between. I modeled and perpetuated the “work while you are not working” norm.

No more.

Last summer, I took 2 ½ months off. I did not check my emails. I did not meet with students. I put my research projects on hiatus. I honored my 9-month contract. The world, my students, and my passions survived my disappearance. Perhaps they were even better off for my being gone?

But, there was one thing that didn’t go on break: this blog. This summer, the blog will also go on vacation. I will spend my summer sailing. I will be journalling and thinking about the blog—its content and where it is going, where I am going. And, I will be resting.

Tricia Hersey, founder of the Nap Ministry, maintains that time away, which she terms a Sabbath, is a personal, spiritual, and political practice. Hersey writes,

My Sabbath is a personal, spiritual, and political practice. I stop to declare that there is enough, and I have done enough. How would we navigate our lives if we believed deeply that there is enough? I believe the Earth is also in a state of extreme exhaustion. Capitalism is not only wrecking our lives and Spirits daily but also killing the planet itself.

According to Hersey, it is through rest that we will heal and imagine our collective way out from under our capitalist, colonizing, racist, misogynistic grind culture.

I hope your summer is light and restful. I hope it contains few should’s and many joys. I look forward to picking up our conversation in September.


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1 Comment

cindy fornstrom
cindy fornstrom
Jun 16, 2023

Enjoy your very well-deserved break, Cynthia!! Happy sailing!

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