Recharging the Research Whisperer way

Photo by Andrew Benz |

It seems we’ve come to the end of the year, even though we feel like it’s barely been 2019! Could it be that time flew because we were having fun? Or was it because we were in a year-long frenzy of doing All the Things, and we’ve not had the chance to look up?

We think it’s probably a bit of both. We thought we’d do our good buddy Narelle Lemon proud and devote our reflections for this end-of-year post to how we are planning to cut loose from the work and renew our energy over the holiday break.

In Australia, universities have a set shut-down period (usually about a week or so, depending on when public holidays fall), and many staff take recreation leave to extend their time away.

Some academics don’t set foot on campus again till well into the next year; a lot of them are feverishly working on major grants and research writing throughout this time. Some colleagues have the bare minimum of a holiday and are back into teaching ASAP (whether it’s picking up summer school duties or international intensives). Some scholars have no academic work until the next semester – and no wage.

We are both in continuing jobs, and have the privilege of annual leave. Here’s what we’re aiming for.

Jonathan’s recharging plan for the break

Every year Sophie and I leave the city behind and spend that time between Christmas and New Year with friends just outside of Apollo Bay. We will stay with dear friends – the sort of friends where we can all laze around reading for half a day, with hardly a word said between us, and that is fine.

A lot of reading will get done. There will be crosswords and quizzes, epic games of Zombiecide and the new Melbourne Map jigsaw puzzle. The food will be amazing! If the waves get up, we may wander down to the beach for some body-surfing. Days of gentle ritual – I love it.

Some work will get done, but it will be strictly PhD work, as opposed to ‘get people funded’ paid work. I’m an early riser on holidays, and I’ll perch at the dining table early in the morning and work on my next chapter. When the others get up, I’ll tuck my laptop away – a discrete admission that this is generally considered a no-work space.

It is also largely a screen-free space. Not totally, but mostly. No disappearing into computer games for hours at a time. Disappearing into books for hours at a time is perfectly acceptable, though. No using Wikipedia to cheat at the quiz. The paper is purchased daily, on paper, not on a screen. It is really the only time of the year that I actually read the news. I leave my social media bubble just to engage with the world on my own terms. It is a very small world – just Sophie and I and a small group of friends. It truly is idyllic.

This ritual emerged long before I moved to Melbourne. My friends have been doing this since they were in university. Since that time it has evolved from shared houses and sleeping on floors to couples with kids and kid-free houses (ours is strictly kid-free – peace, perfect peace). Now those kids are growing up and starting to go their own way. It will be interesting to see what the next phase brings.

Tseen’s recharging plan for the break

It’s possibly symptomatic of my rather hectic approach to the end of the year that I have no actual plan for recharging. Things I have done so far: put in for a couple of weeks’ rec leave, and got anxious that I haven’t thought about presents yet. Er, that’s about it.

I’ve decided to take this blogging time to come up with my holiday break recharge wishlist, aka ‘things I’d really like to do so I should try to make them happen’ list. These are also things that my family tends to do over the holiday break because we all have time off; my family here means me, my partner, the kids, my mum, my sibs, their partners, and their kids. It is precious time to hang out and do fun things that we don’t normally get to do together in the average frenzy of a given school/ semester/ working period. They aren’t grand gesture things, and they’re often about discovering more about the place in which we live, and spending time with my closest people. Some of the items are more ritualistic than others. Family yumcha, for example, is something we always try to do over summer because… why wouldn’t you?

Recharge wishlist:

  • Wander around the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) for a day.
  • Watch terrible and good horror flicks throughout the hols.
  • Do a family yumcha.
  • Read, read, read.
  • Play Minecraft (with or without the kids) and build immensely well-stocked castles.
  • Icecream ranking challenge – try out lots of icecream places and rank our favourite flavours (my partner/ kids came up with this one – for my benefit, naturally [I am the least icecream-inclined of the whole family]).
  • Watch Jumanji: The Next Level. At least once. Watch the one before it again. Basically, watch a lot of Dwayne movies.
  • To spend a lot of time on the couch watching a series I’ve been wanting to watch all year.

Will do an update on this post in 2020 with how I went – for this kind of list, I’m all about the accountability!

Guest  posts for 2019

This was our 8th year of blogging with the Research Whisperer and, again, we were chuffed to have these wonderful guest authors contribute during the year. One of the enduring things about running this blog that we really enjoy is the always wonderful connection with members of the Research Whisperer community through our various channels, and particularly when they write for the blog. There is a lot of honesty, generosity, wisdom, and wit among you. We are grateful that you shared it with us all.

This is our last post for 2019! Our first post for 2020 will be on Tues 4 February.

Until then, we hope that you have a good summer, spent as you would like, with the people you enjoy, and doing things that bring you minimal stress!


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