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Wrapping up 2022
Episode 2614th December 2022 • Academic Aunties • Ethel Tungohan
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2022 is about to come to an end, and with that comes a period of reflection for many of us. How is 2022 for you? How did it compare to 2021 or heaven forbid, to 2020? What lessons from 2022 will you bring with you to 2023?  In today's episode of Academic Aunties, we will wrap up the year and talk about the highlights and some of the challenges that we face. With us is Dr. Megan Gaucher, who is an Associate Professor at Carleton University in the Department of Law and Legal Studies.

Thanks for listening! Get more information, support the show, and read all the transcripts at academicaunties.com. Get in touch with Academic Aunties on Twitter at @AcademicAuntie or by e-mail at podcast@academicaunties.com.



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Transcripts

Ethel Tungohan:

I'm Dr. Ethel Tungohan, an Associate Professor of Politics at York University. This is Academic Aunties.

Ethel Tungohan:

2022 is about to come to an end, and with that comes a period of reflection for many of us. How is 2022 for you? How did it compare to 2021 or heaven forbid, to 2020? What lessons from 2022 will you bring with you to 2023?

Ethel Tungohan:

In today's episode of Academic Aunties, we will wrap up the year and talk about the highlights and some of the challenges that we face. And I thought, who better to talk to me about this than my really good friend, co-writer, collaborator and frequent Facebook Messenger, buddy , Dr. Megan Gaucher, who is an Associate Professor at Carleton University in the Department of Law and Legal Studies. Is that right Megan?

Megan Gaucher:

Yeah, that's right.

Ethel Tungohan:

Awesome. So, hi Megan . How's it going?

Megan Gaucher:

Good. Thanks so much for having me on here. It's, it's an honor. As I said to you before, I've been a big fan of the podcast for the last couple seasons.

Ethel Tungohan:

Woohoo. Well, I'm so jazzed that you're here, and I guess I'll just dive right in. So in the beginning of 2022, if you can remember, like 12 months ago, we were facing school lockdowns, right? Like I remember January starts and, you know, I was expecting that my kids would be able to go to school in daycare, but then the notice came that we all had to kind of shelter in place and they have to do online learning, right? So that for me was the beginning of 2022 and the end of 2022. It's funny, my kids are also staying at home not because of a lockdown, but because of R S V and things were chaotic this year for me. So how about you, Meg?

Ethel Tungohan:

Like how was this year for you? What was the beginning of 2022 like compared to the end of the year?

Megan Gaucher:

Well, it's funny cause I was trying to think back to the beginning of the year and I feel like, I mean, I don't know about you, but time has completely lost a lot of meaning in the last couple of years in terms of when things are, but I remember. Back in like December, 2021, thinking naively still that 2022 was going to be like different.

Megan Gaucher:

And I don't know what different was at that time, like I have no idea. But I kept telling myself, and I think it was a coping me mechanism to get through 2021 of like 2022 will be better and different and you know, things will go back to quote unquote normal, whatever that looks like. And then I vividly remember the first week of January, 2020.

Megan Gaucher:

And as you said, I was sitting there and suddenly I was doing Zoom school with my six-year-old now six-year-old again, and I was zooming with my classes again and we were in like this weird stage of another lockdown of whatever that was in Ontario. And I was like, it kind of felt like groundhog day.

Megan Gaucher:

I had this realization of like, oh my God, this is exactly the same as 2021. Like this is starting out the exact same way. And it took honestly some time to process for me in like January, February. Oh, it's not normal. It might not return to normal. And eventually my daughter went back to school, as you said, although that was broken up with, you know, illness.

Megan Gaucher:

We got covid in our house in the spring. And then going into the fall now kind of with, you know, with the strike days that we had, in Ontario and then also illness again, like it's, there's a weird revolving door. And so, Yeah, this year, I guess I would say like it started out a very sort of harsh reality wake up call for me.

Megan Gaucher:

And then I guess now as you sort of said like, some things have changed, some things are the same and still sort of processing. I feel like I'm like constantly processing everything that's going on. And I guess maybe being less naive going into 2020, three in terms of what, uh, what the expectations are for what that looks like.

Megan Gaucher:

But yes, it very much felt like, we were, you know, we were starting the hamster wheel over again with everything that had been going on and trying to sort of like, I felt like 2021 was like pushing through and just like motoring through and trying to make it to the other side of it. And then 2022 was a lot of trying to process and recover and figure out what is next and what's going.

Ethel Tungohan:

A hundred percent. So I all, I absolutely felt the way you did. 2021, you know, we were just recovering from 2020. It was all chaotic. There were a lot of like school stoppages, right? 2022 starts and then we get this like, you know, we get a wave of covid and so school shut down. But you know, as we, as we kind of recovered, right, I soon realized that you know, school closures or not, our kids are still getting sicker. Right. Like, and so, you know, I had to kind of harness the lessons I learned during the pandemic to just kind of adapt to my kids being sick and me having to kind of do all of the work stuff, uh, while my kids are like sleeping cuz they're sick.

Ethel Tungohan:

Right. So, yeah, I kind of feel like I still have PTSD from the pandemic . And so For sure. So for me, I'm also. What's next? What's coming next? We have a few trips planned for 2023, but a part of me is like, it prob like a 50% of, of, there's a, a part of me is like there's a 50% chance or more that those won't happen.

Ethel Tungohan:

So I, you know, we bought like trip cancellation insurances, and things like that.

Megan Gaucher:

No, it's true. And I think like all of this adjusting was sort of happening when two other things were sort of happening for me at the same time. I mean, one of them was, I felt like in terms of like the university, and I don't know what it was like at your institution, but I felt like in 2021 it was very much like we're all in this together.

Megan Gaucher:

We'll provide you all the support that you need, especially for those individuals who are sick or those who have young children at home. And I felt like 22, 20 22 was kinda like, eh, like we were there then, but we're kinda, you're kinda on your own now. So there was this weird thing of like the expectation of being able to juggle all the things that we had been juggling before, but without that sort constant institutional support. And then also I felt this weird mix probably, I guess halfway through the year, I guess when the, the warm weather hit of like alternate worlds of like sometimes felt things felt normal, but then other times they don't. Or like some people are saying the pandemic's over and then now people are saying, well, wait a second. It's not over and there's all these other things that are going on and these, these stresses that are real and, and health concerns that are real. And so it was this weird year of like feeling all these things, like you said, like processing this trauma and processing what it looks like. While at the same time, kind of feeling like institutionally, socially gaslit on a lot of different levels when trying to sort of work through all these different ideas.

Ethel Tungohan:

That's such a good point cuz I felt like in the pandemic. So 20 20, 20 21. There were a lot of messages from my institution and also other academic institutions highlighting, you know, we need to prioritize care. We need to slow down. Here are measures for people on the tenure track. Don't worry, you will get a one year extension, 2022 hits and even though some of my colleagues with continuing health difficulties because of long Covid says, look, we can't teach in person. We're still sick. Right? They have to go through this lengthy accommodation process to make sure that they can teach online, but even then, it's given grudgingly. So I do feel that 2022 was the year where institutions were like, well, sorry, you know, now we're back to normal. Now you've got to adapt and I think as you said, for me, it's kind of mentally trying to process what just happened cuz it all happened so quickly it seemed, do you know what I mean?

Megan Gaucher:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, I just found like it, it was this whole weird mix of things that were happening all at the same time. And you're right. And then also just reconciling, like going back in person, but then the reality of like, I can't come to class because I have, you know, someone second home, a little one second home, or I've been exposed, or my students have been exposed and they can't come to class.

Megan Gaucher:

And like, how do you navigate that, you know, one's virtual world while also doing the in-person stuff. So I think, yeah, it was a lot, like, it was just a lot of, as you said, like very much moving from survival mode to figuring out. How to do things next. And I mean, I feel quite lucky cuz I started my sabbatical this year in July.

Megan Gaucher:

And so I felt lucky in the sense of like, I didn't have to think about some of the things I was thinking about before. But then of course with sabbatical came a whole other host of pressures and expectations and responsibilities that I've been trying to figure out in my head as I navigate the year and as I recover from all the PTSD that's involved has been involved in the last couple years as.

Ethel Tungohan:

For sure. And you know, one thing I wanted to ask you was, how's your sabbatical going? Like do you feel that you kind of got a sigh of relief? Are you sighing with relief? Because at least you're taking a break, or it seems as though you're also still doing a lot of stuff and you're getting pulled in different directions too.

Megan Gaucher:

Both, I would say. So as part of like the re recovery and the processing, I found that the first couple months of my sabbatical were very unsettling. And I think part of it was that I, I mean like so many people, not only in academia, but how so many of my friends and colleagues and family and everyone, I experienced extreme burnout at the beginning of 2022. Again from just pushing through for the last two years.

Megan Gaucher:

And I found that. Sort of when it came to a stop in July and I was able to sort of take the time to process things, a lot of my health stuff kind of came to the forefront in terms of how I was, how my body had. You know, not recovered and how my body had processed, internalized, all of this different stress.

Megan Gaucher:

So that was sort of one side of things that I was just like exhausted and done for the first couple months of my sabbatical. And then the second thing I found weird, and I think it's because, I mean, admittedly, when I had got this, Job. Way back when I envisioned my sabbatical, it was like, I'm gonna live in Europe and I'm gonna do all these things and I'm gonna travel.

Megan Gaucher:

And I'd heard all these amazing stories about people doing fantastic field work and just living somewhere different, doing all those things. And admittedly when I got to my sabbatical, I was like, oh wait, these things aren't feasible. I can't do all these things, both with a partner that is not in academia and works full-time, with a child that's in school.

Megan Gaucher:

And then also the pandemic in terms of not being able to do the travel and, and the field work that I wanna do. And so it kind of took me a couple months to adjust and get over and figure that out. And also just rest as much as you can rest. More so resting my brain than anything else. And I found that when I came back in the fall, I was able to start thinking about how I wanna do things.

Megan Gaucher:

But to your question, I mean, it's been restful to a certain extent, but it's also been really busy. And it's been busy in ways I didn't anticipate. And part of that's me not saying no to things. And part of that is is just me taking on so many things and wanting to do so many things and get things done.

Megan Gaucher:

So I would say so far, I mean we're at the halfway point now of our sabbaticals, I would say, like, which is nuts, which makes me stressed because I'm like, I only have six months. And then I'm like, but I still have six months. So, um, I think. Yeah, I say I would give it like I'm doing okay on sabbatical, but I'm hopeful that maybe I can figure some of these things out for the next few months.

Ethel Tungohan:

A hundred percent I think I was talking to Deb about my sabbatical, Deb Thompson, a friend of the pod who's been here a few times at Academic Aunties, and I was also facing health issues, right? Like, and one of the things that Deb said was, it's because your body is now at rest. You've been going, going, going, going, and your sabbatical comes and then you're just kind of running on adrenaline, you're running on fumes, and then your body's like, whoa, you can't do.

Ethel Tungohan:

And so a lot, a lot of people, according to her, a lot of people she knows get sick during their sabbatical too. Right? And to have this all happen, like part of 2022 was the sabbatical year, right? But if this also, as we said, a really, really weird year as well, like, because we're still kind of on recovery.

Ethel Tungohan:

So going back to 2022, like what are the highlights of 2022 for you and what were some of the challenges?

Megan Gaucher:

Oh boy. Well, I mean, a lot of challenges are things that we've sort of highlighted here. Like, obviously trying to figure out how to do my job while also being there for my family, while also having a child at home at certain times when she has had to be home. And just sort of navigating, sorry, my dog is barking in the background.

Megan Gaucher:

Um, and navigating all these different things at the same time and trying to figure out, figure out what is important to me still as an academic and what I love about my job, which has been a challenge. But I would also say that's one of the highlights as well, is that I felt like this year was the first year probably since. PhD that I actually have been trying to step back and think about what excites me as an academic and what, um, what I, what joy I get out of being an academic. And recognizing there's a lot of things that are not so joyous and not so fantastic, but I felt like I finally sort of have had some space to think about what I, what I feel is important and what's not.

Megan Gaucher:

And so one of the things I, I guess one of the highlights would be that, that has been really at the forefront for me this year and during my sabbatical, is that I am excited about my research again. And I think, like admittedly, for a while, I haven't liked what I'm doing for my research. I've liked it, I've liked it, but I haven't been as excited about it as what I was about my PhD work.

Megan Gaucher:

And I think a lot of that was trying to, or the pressure that I felt to. Do certain types of work, especially in an interdisciplinary department. And to do it in a particular, using a particular lens or a particular way of thinking. And I felt like it just wasn't the types of projects that I wanted to do.

Megan Gaucher:

And so I had this aha moment this year of like, oh, this is like, I like doing work on family migration. I love doing stuff on, uh, on marriage and conjugal, which is the stuff that I did in my PhD. And I was like, I need to go back to doing research projects. I love. And so this was the year I was able to start a couple big projects.

Megan Gaucher:

My one project on tourism, a collaborative project with you on grandparent sponsorship that I'm really excited about. And I just find like when I sit down and, and I do have the time and the space and the capacity to write, I'm actually excited for what I'm, I'm doing. So that's a definite highlight.

Megan Gaucher:

And then the other thing would be, that, um, I'm healthier now than what I was, and I feel a lot better. And I mean, again, when I sort of went into January 2022, I had just come out of a major surgery and didn't feel great. And now as the year has gone by and I'm feeling better, I realized how lousy I actually felt years and years and years and just sort of pushed through it. And so sort of focusing on my health. And I mean, to your point about Deb, I mean, I remember Deb had said something in one of the podcasts that you did about how basically, like none of this works if you don't take care of yourself and the institution's not gonna help you take care of yourself.

Megan Gaucher:

And so you have to be the one that's responsible for your own health and your own wellbeing. And I've tried to take that really seriously this year in terms of. Feeling healthier and taking care of myself and trying to set up boundaries, although they're completely imperfect and they are completely flawed half the time.

Megan Gaucher:

But what would you say some of your highlights are?

Ethel Tungohan:

Well, I think for me, well the 2022, when I think about it really sucked, right? , like for me it was awful. Um, like we began with the pandemic and it's still happening, right? But, you know, school closures made working difficult because you also had to do like online school for the kids. But the highlight was in terms of kind of career highlights, like, you know, my immigration book with Yasmine Abu-Laben and Cristina Gabriel, which was in the works for a long time, came out so professionally, you know, that's good. Professionally, I got a big grant. So again, super happy about that. But the challenges are the personal. Right? And one thing that you said that really resonated with me was when you were talking about health and prioritizing health and prioritizing your body and caring for yourself.

Ethel Tungohan:

Right. That's one thing with respect to kind of the health challenges I faced this year that I'm starting to realize is really important, cuz I think, you know, right now, you know, I just feel like, you know, because, you know, one of my autoimmune disorders flared up again, coincidentally, at the same time when during my sabbatical, I got, I got roped into really toxic work politics. Right. And you know, several weeks later, right? Like I did blood work cuz I had my annual checkup and they were like, oh yeah, your autoimmune disease- that came up again. And I'm like, wow, there really is a connection between like real life stress and your body, right?

Ethel Tungohan:

And that's something. That I've talked about before, but that's something I now really need to take seriously because there are health repercussions. But I don't know, and I've tried to, and I've talked to other guests in the pod about this, but Meg, how are you setting boundaries? I still... I still need to figure that out.

Megan Gaucher:

Well, I mean, like I said, I'm very much work in progress and I'm very much a hypocrite on all my boundaries. And I'm like, yeah, I'm not gonna do this. And then I end up doing this and my partner's like, didn't you say you were gonna do this? And I was like, yes, a hundred percent. And I mean, case in point, like I was just like, I'm not taking on crazy service work for a while because I did so much service work before I went on sabbatical.

Megan Gaucher:

And then now I've already agreed to be the graduate, graduate chair, chair of my department when I go back. Yeah. So like I have no bad, like I, I do, as I say, not as I do. Um, But I think in terms of the health stuff, and I mean, I think I, I, I mean we don't talk about this in our jobs in terms of like the mental health is one capa uh, sort of factor.

Megan Gaucher:

But we do talk about that, but also like the physical health that it takes, that a lot of this takes, and sort of the internalization of it in a lot of ways. I started my job right when I had my child. And so there was this continued push for me to show that I could do all the things and it wouldn't set me back, right?

Megan Gaucher:

Like, don't worry, I've got this all taken care of. It won't set me back. And I also was commuting, and I do commute regularly from the GTA to Ottawa to teach. And so it was all this go and go and, and not sort of recognizing the toll that it was taking because I wanted to show that I could do the job right.

Megan Gaucher:

And then it, and it was an issue. And I mean, I mean this is the perennial problem for so many academic parents, predominantly academic mothers. And so I know that, you know, this is not just me that sort of goes through all of this. So I think that, so all that to say is that like, I think that the boundaries I'm setting are not necessarily like, Saying no to everything and there's things I should say no to, and I still am terrible at it.

Megan Gaucher:

But recognizing what capacity I have and on a given day or on a given week when I have to take things on. And sort of stepping back and just being like, no, I can't do this because it's just impossible. Like I can't take on anymore. I'm being honest with myself about what I can do and what I can't do.

Megan Gaucher:

And I also find like, when I am honest with my colleagues or my friends when they ask me this, they also feel the same way a lot of ways. And then it's sort of like, um, And so I'm trying to sort of be honest with myself about what I can actually take on and what I can't take on, which again, wholly imperfect.

Megan Gaucher:

And I'm also trying to, you know, remind myself that things will still get done and remind myself that I don't even know how to remind myself that like it's not the end of the world if it doesn't get finished in that.

Ethel Tungohan:

Sure.

Megan Gaucher:

Like, it's not gonna be the end of the world if I don't finish that paragraph of this thing today cause I just cannot do it today.

Megan Gaucher:

Or if I had, like, if something else comes up, which I mean. it's very much a privilege of tenure and a privilege of a permanent job in a lot of ways as well. And I have been on both sides of it, and I didn't have that same ease and that same feeling, um, pre-tenure or when I was working as an adjunct professor for a few years, but, very much trying to listen to my body and listen to myself in terms of whether or not I can do those things.

Megan Gaucher:

And if not, trying to be as honest as possible. And if it is something I have to take on saying like, yeah, I can do that, but here is when I can get at this or when I have to do it. But again, I mean, I don't know. I, I mean you and I talk about this all the time in terms of, like I say, yeah, it's on these boundaries and I have all these things going on.

Megan Gaucher:

Um, so I don.

Ethel Tungohan:

You know what I mean? I think it's a constant struggle. But what you said about kind of doing an internal check, right? Being like, whoa, can I actually do this? Right? Can I do this right now? Is this part of my priority list? I think that's really important. Right? And one thing this year that I've done not as successfully as I would've wanted, was taking time before replying.

Megan Gaucher:

Yes.

Ethel Tungohan:

Cuz usually in the old, well in the old days, a few years ago, I just kind of respond instantaneously, but kind of pausing and reflecting and thinking, does this square with my priorities? I think that's helped a little bit, but you're right, like it's completely imperfect. I feel like there's still a lot I need to learn, but that brings me to 2023, right?

Ethel Tungohan:

So Meg, what are your intentions for 2023? Like what are your priorities? How are you going to heed keep heeding the lessons that we've we've talked about today.

Megan Gaucher:

Yeah, I mean, I think you're right. I think there's, I mean, I'm not a resolution person, but I do, I feel like I've learned some stuff about my work that I wanna sort of carry into, 2023. So, as I said before, like, I mean, terms of my work, I'm very much trying to. Only take on projects, that I get some kind of fulfillment from.

Megan Gaucher:

And I don't mean that in terms of like career advancement. I mean that in terms of like, you know, that I feel like. Something has happened, like I'm contributing to something or I'm inspired by something or I'm interested in something. And that's not just research that can be teaching as well. That in terms of taking on different courses or what I wanna teach in terms of service, in terms of the service work that I do, the committees I agree to be on.

Megan Gaucher:

And I'm really trying to say yes to things, but say yes to things that I feel like are not just gonna drain every single bit of talk energy outta me or that are, that I know that are inherently toxic before I even step into them. And so I feel like I'm just trying to like, yes, I said like, not say no to everything, but say be more selective in what I say yes to, and things that I can get that from.

Ethel Tungohan:

So I love this notion of energy, right? Because I'm just having this epiphany here because there are asks I get where immediately I'm like, oh my gosh, this is like, I haven't even said yes yet, but it's draining me already. But then there are asks, like in our grandparents project where I'm like, oh my gosh, it's giving me energy.

Ethel Tungohan:

Right? So it's also I think, an important point that you make, which is that when you, when you assess this project, is it giving you energy? Is it making you excited? Right. Because I think in academia we kind of don't really talk about feeling an affect, but it is important, right? And that's I think something I'm learning how to prioritize in, in my career.

Ethel Tungohan:

So I really love that, that energy point.

Megan Gaucher:

Yeah. And I mean, you get those emails with those requests for whatever it is, and you're just sitting there and you can feel in the pit of your stomach. And you're trying to think of all the reasons why, like, you know all the reasons why you wanna say no, but you're trying to think of a reason to say yes because you feel like you should say yes.

Megan Gaucher:

Right? And so I'm trying very much to listen to that of like, I have only so much time and energy in a given day, in a given week, in a given month, and there's so many people. I wanna give that energy and that time too. And so many things I wanna give that energy and time to, whether it's collaborating with colleagues or friends, whether it's my graduate students that I supervise and I'm so lucky to work with, whether it's helping my undergrad students with, and so like there's so many things, whether it's my family, I mean, there's so many different things that I.

Megan Gaucher:

I want to give my time and energy to that. I want to take that into how I approach the my job. And so yeah, I would say that's one thing that I wanna do. And so getting excited about. Projects and saying yes to projects that I wanna do and letting go of some of the toxic, non fulfilling projects I'm a part of.

Megan Gaucher:

And I mean, you and I talked about this as well. I think just in our random Facebook chats about like, there's was a couple things this year that I was a part of that I was just like, it was sucking the life out of me and I was just like, I'm done. Like I can't do this. And it worked. It was such a workup.

Megan Gaucher:

Do that and to pull the shoot on it and bail. But then at the same time, I was such a relief afterwards. So really trying to like, like there's certain things you have to do in any job that you're just like, this sucks and I'm gonna power through and I'm gonna do it. But in the places where I have some choice, I'm really hoping to work towards steering in the direction of things that I get some kind you know, fulfillment from in some way, shape or form. So that's one thing. And I think the other thing is just from like from a work perspective and a research project perspective. So almost exclusively all my projects this year that I've been working on have been collaborative projects. Which I never did pretty much before until this year.

Megan Gaucher:

I've kind of been a so solo scholar in terms of the work that I do, and I've really gotten so much out of collaboration and I think part of it is just, you know, working with and being inspired by brilliant people that work in it. And part of it is probably from the pandemic of, you know, not seeing anyone for days on end and being up in this office by myself for most of the time.

Megan Gaucher:

So having that connection to talk about these research projects in a, you know, in a meaningful, inspiring, exciting way has been huge for me. And so the collaboration side of things I think I really wanna take into next year, both in terms of my reach, research in terms of teaching. A couple of my colleagues and I, over the course of the last couple years have worked on creating courses together, like we're teaching different sections of it, but working together to create courses, which I never done before because as you know, I mean academics, this weird place where you're supposed to you know, hold on tight to your syllabi and not talk to anyone about it. And there's reasons for that. But there's also a lot of reasons to like be open to conversations about how other people teach and what they do and, and learning from them. And so collaboration and my teaching. And yeah, so I think that those would probably be the work things that I would take forward.

Megan Gaucher:

In terms of personal, I mean, again, which we've talked about, like putting my health, continuing to put my health forward because things don't work at work. Like I'm not a good prof. I'm not a good scholar. if I'm not feeling well, if I'm not myself and I'm not taking it for myself, I'm not a good mom.

Megan Gaucher:

If I'm not taking care of myself, I'm not a good partner, you know, a friend, all those different things. And so I found, like, I think it really hit home for me this year how much everything relies on me taking care of myself as well. What about you? What are you gonna take into the year?

Ethel Tungohan:

I think it's next year's gonna be the year of health and next year's gonna be the year of pivoting and doing things that bring me joy and I've, I've slowly been doing that. Right. But I think, like you said, one of the things that's hard is that it's hard to say no even when you know that the ask is bad and you look at the people involved and you're like, hell no.

Ethel Tungohan:

But still a part of me feels that I have to be like civically engaged. I have to be a good citizen. You know what I mean? . So I think it's kind of being a little bit more judicious about these asks, but really, honestly, Megan prioritizing my health and that sounds really corny, but it's true. Like, you know, this immune system thing, it's something I have to really work at to get better.

Ethel Tungohan:

Right. And I think that was a wake up call for me this year as well. As soon as toxic work politics came in and I couldn't sleep and, you know, I'm stressed out about this, that's when the health stuff, the physical health stuff kicked in. So I really think that mind body connection as hippie-ish as it might sound, that's really, that's so important.

Ethel Tungohan:

But as part of kind of prioritizing health and care, one thing I also hope to do is really just, you know, check out during the holidays. So my question for you, Meg, my last question is, you know how hard it is to check out, right? Like it's, it's, you have to kind of deliberately not check email, not do work even during the holidays, even when there a designated few weeks for us to rest. What are your plans for the holidays and what's your advice for our listeners who feel like, well, maybe I should at least spend like a few hours during the holidays to work because that's what we're supposed to do. What's your advice for people to unplug? How can you really unplug?

Megan Gaucher:

Well have kids because I feel like, I feel like um, anytime my daughter's home, like it's pretty much like, it's almost next to impossible to get anything done. And so I find like I, a lot of the time now over breaks, like things just shut down by virtue of things shutting down. Um, but we often forget that when you go into September, you've often had a few months of not, I mean, you're still working, but you have had some time to rest and recover. And between December and January, that break was fast and suddenly you're back into it and you are swamped with, you know, you're in the thick of teaching again and you're doing all these different things, and so, rest is absolutely important and I think we have to take it when we can get it in terms of what's going on.

Megan Gaucher:

But it's interesting. I'd always thought like, I mean, you're right, like it's such a weird, it's sort of this weird mix because like the academic work culture, like the toxicity of the academic work culture is you're like, you should be working all the time, right? Evenings, weekends, holidays and I'm learning slowly that that's not sustainable, first of all.

Megan Gaucher:

And that's not realistic. I mean, and it's not healthy. So all these different things. But I think that what's interesting in academia is I found, like I was always being told like at work that you need to get all these things done and you need to take those two weeks and maybe that's the only time of the term you get to do any writing or you have to get things out so you can get the other things going and, but then you also have, like, I had my family on the other side when I'd go home for break and being like, why are you working? It's the holidays. Like, aren't you off? Like, all these different things. So I kind of go of the, the mix of, you know, take time and it's important to take time and I think that shouldn't just be during the break. I think that we need to sort of normalize taking time when we need to take time.

Megan Gaucher:

But also, I mean, if you need to write or you wanna write or you wanna do work, like, I mean, it's interesting, I had a conversation with one of my colleagues about this a couple years ago, and she was saying that like, as someone who doesn't live close to any of her family, like taking two weeks off is kind of not that exciting.

Megan Gaucher:

And she actually wants to spend that time writing and doing things that she's excited about because like she doesn't, she's lonely and it's a lonely time of year, and she doesn't wanna just be at home sitting around watching TV because that's what she's being told to do. So I kind of move the mindset of. Take the time you need, but also fill it with things you enjoy. And if it's enjoying writing, if it's enjoying reading, catching up on your reading, if it's enjoying, if it's not doing any of those things. I mean, I think that's, it's a better space to be. And then feeling the pressure of like, I need to get all these things done, or I need to completely take it off.

Ethel Tungohan:

That's a really good point. I think that's something, uh, that I saw actually there was someone on Twitter who, who, who tweeted about this. They said, look, like, you know, I actually do enjoy writing and I wasn't able to do that during the term. So, you know, maybe for me, part of my rest is actually writing, right?

Ethel Tungohan:

Like writing. My academic work, which I find generative and fun. So yeah, rather than kind of giving blanket advice, just unplug, disconnect, it's okay to kind of, you know, take the time to do work if that's what you really wanna do as well. So, yeah, no, no pressure here to do anything on Academic Aunties.

Ethel Tungohan:

Do what's right for you is what we always say.

Megan Gaucher:

It's true, and I mean, when I was an adjunct professor before I started working at Carleton, like I would be teaching four classes during the term and I got nothing, like, I didn't, like I had an r like R Andrs piled up or I had things that I wanted to get done and get into the pipeline before I started teaching again in January or before at least things started ramping up in like late January, early February, and so that was the time where I enjoyed you know, having quiet from email and having those moments like everyone else is working or not working in a way. And so, yeah, I kind of have the mindset of, like you said, like do the things that bring you joy, which again, I feel like I've been super cheesy this entire conversation, but like, I think that I'm on a mission to like recapture the joy of academia because there's so many bad things in it and there's so many toxic things in it, and I have found myself getting wrapped up in those things. And so for my own self and my own sort of sanity through all of this, trying to sort of recapture the things that I really enjoy about the job.

Megan Gaucher:

And it's so many of the people, it's, it's the work, it's the different things that I wanna do. And so, yeah. So back to the holidays of like, I probably won't be doing anything because I will have a six year old calling my name every two minutes while I'm trying to do those things. But I feel like if, if that's what people, if that's what's relaxing to you, then absolutely go.

Ethel Tungohan:

Awesome. Well, this was so lovely, Megan. Thank you so much for, you know, being part of this pod and, you know, I really enjoyed our conversation. Thanks so much.

Megan Gaucher:

Oh, thanks for having me. It's been great.

Ethel Tungohan:

When Megan and I were chatting after our episode, we realized just how similar our journeys were in 2022. Talking to her made me feel less alone, and I hope listeners, that those of you who have gone through similar challenges know that Megan and I are right there with you. Here's the 2023. Let's prioritize health set firmer boundaries and find.

Ethel Tungohan:

And that's the final episode of 2022 for Academic Aunties. We're going to be taking a break for the next few weeks for our usual winter hiatus, but we'll be back later in January with more episodes. You can get our latest updates on Twitter at @AcademicAuntie, or on Mastodon at AcademicAunties@mas.to. And please drop us an email at podcast@academicaunties.com.

Ethel Tungohan:

If you like what you're hearing, visit academicaunties.com/support to find out how to support this podcast. This includes becoming a Patreon supporter, which goes right into the production of this pod.

Ethel Tungohan:

Today's episode of Academic Aunties was hosted by me, Dr. Ethel Tungohan, and produced by myself, Wayne Chu and Dr. Nisha Nath. Tune in next time when we talk to more academic aunties. Until then, take care. Be kind to yourself and don't be an asshole.