Retreat, Rest and Rejuvenate

BQZVnXOCYAAWDdNAs academics we are encouraged not to ever admit we are not working. No, truth be told, since graduate school we’ve been indoctrinated into the myth that we are and always should be working. This is especially relevant to those of us in the social sciences who live and breathe our societal laboratories.

This message [helpful advice/myth-making] we get from inside academia in the form of pressure not to take our earned holiday time and instead pump out the publications. This caution we hear when our internal recordings tell us “with a break from teaching you should be much more productive!” When we add to all this the commonly held assumption that we all “get our summers off” and the defensiveness perhaps characteristic of so many academics (myself included) it can make for a difficult decision to put the proverbial pen down and opt for summer fun and sun.

I admit it, somewhat painstakingly. I am an academic and I am on holidays! There I said it. I am taking a few weeks to rest with family and friends. Notice I did not say “off,” as there is always something that gets done (e.g. email here, read chapter there, conversation about…). And, those with children know all too well that family time does not come without its share of obligations, responsibilities and its own workload. But, I digress.

I am giving myself permission for self care. I recognize that I will be more productive on my sabbatical if I have actually retreated from my research and writing before forging ahead. I know if I allow myself to bask in the blessings of creature comforts which rejuvenate my mind, body, and soul, then, my work and my life will benefit immeasurably.

My name is Dr. Minaker and, yes, I am on holidays.


Care, Awesomeness, and the World Domination Summit


Do you want a life full of awesome? Do you care about community, adventure and service? July 5-7, 2013 I joined almost 3, 000 citizens from across the globe who, like me, care deeply about these values that the incomparable Chris Guillebeau has made central to his life project. I strongly encourage you to travel to The Art of Non-Conformity to learn more about how Chris and others are leading by example and living remarkable lives full of care and awesome.

At the World Domination Summit 2013 I saw my own passion for social justice and building more caring communities through meaningful connections “converge” with the dreams, goals, ventures and journeys of a multitude of amazing people. In our unique ways we all accept a spirit of adventure, are committed to service, and honour (honor for my American friends) community. I recommend you visit Chris’ partial re-cap of #WDS2013 to read excellent posts reviewing the incredible speakers and highlighting attendee “take-aways.”

The most important lesson for me came from Gretchen Rubin. She shared that she was giving herself permission to Be Gretchen. This had – in the words of Nancy Duarte – resonance for me. Of course, this means Being Joanne (not Gretchen) or others I admire like WDS Alumni Speaker Brené Brown or Sir Ken Robinson. This means listening to the stories of wonderful people such as Danielle la Porte and Jia Jiang (to name only two speakers who impacted me personally). This means accepting our shared humanity. It is also about appreciating not only their gifts and talents but valuing my own. I am giving myself permission to be what Darren Rowse would call multi-passioned.

In The $100 Startup Chris Guillebeau provides the sociological graphic below to illustrate a powerful concept – convergence. That life sweet spot where the things YOU care about or those YOU care for (passions) meet that which OTHERS care about and for.


I tell my students that “It is everywhere, so you can start anywhere.” Usually I am referring to a social problem or an issue that concerns a marginalized group. Whatever IT is for you – see it, find it, take it on. Never forget that we need not go it alone. I am grateful for my partnership with Bryan Hogeveen, who supports me and encourages me every day.

While I enjoyed listening to speakers and taking in the official workshops at WDS, I am taking away with me meaningful connections. I got more than Twitter handles or tweetables. I walked away thinking that I had found my tribe. My head knew it. More importantly, I felt it while dancing to 80s music in a courtyard at the end of the weekend with Lori-Ann Claerhout and Gemma Stone and Kate Northrup and Catherine Just and hugging the awesome Rita Chand (be sure to read her re-cap). My heart knows it too.

When your passions meet what other people care about the very best of – and for humanity can thrive.

With care,