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  • Writer's pictureSpencer Bennington

How to Take a Guilt-Free Vacation

Hello hello hello and Ho Ho Ho everyone! Welcome back to Rhetorical Roundhouse, your number one spot on the internet for Aristotelian axe kicks, Socratic leg sweeps, and Burkean back-fists. Don't know what any of that means? Great, you're in the right place.

Last week I shared a video I had seen on Facebook as a way to start a discussion about the popular marketing ploy of "bully-proofing "a child through martial arts training . If you haven't seen that, please check it out and weigh in. Thanks to all those who contributed their opinions both online and in-person, it really helped me think through that issue thoroughly.

This week I have a couple of things to share. First, I'm happy to announce that we are fast-approaching the one-year anniversary of the site! Since I launched at the beginning of 2019 with the new year being my self-imposed deadline, I thought it would be nice to use this time of year as a way of both looking back and reflecting on some of the most popular or interesting blog posts from the year as a way of looking forward to some of the changes I hope to make in 2020. To do this, I'm going to begin recirculating posts on 12/20 and go for 12 straight days until New Year's Eve. These 12 days of Rhetorical Roundhouse will allow me to share what I think is best about the blog and get some fresh feedback from all of you. Finally, on New Year's Day, I'll start the new year off right with a big announcement of some of the major goals Rhetorical Roundhouse is aiming for in the coming year. I can't wait to share all this with you and work towards making this site into something much grander than I ever originally thought it could be. So be sure to check back on Friday to see what the first day of RR has in store!

My topic for today is related to all this end of the year kind of reflection. As a PhD student, I usually get two long-ish "breaks" during my calendar year. One is in the summer months, and one is from mid-December to mid-January. The reason I scare quoted the word "break" is because, as an academic, there really is no such thing as time off. If you're not teaching, or planning or researching or travelling for conferences, you should be thinking, inventing, writing, etc. These work tasks follow you around everywhere, even on vacation. So, this week I wanted to share my list of tasks I'm aiming to accomplish during my time off. What you might notice about this list is that it doesn't only contain work-related tasks. This is important.

One thing I've learned this year about myself is that I feel much happier and much more accomplished if I can look at a list and cross things off that I've completed. Similarly, I'm much more likely to prioritize an goal or activity if I put it on the list. Finally, I know it's important to create a balanced list, one that contains goals across major sections of my life--research, teaching, Tae Kwon Do, family, friends, me-time, etc.

So let's take a look, shall we?

Research Goals

✔ Revise chapter 4 of my dissertation by 12/12

Finalize Chapter 3 of dissertation by 12/18

Start outlining and writing Chapter 5 by 1/6

The research category may look like a lot out of context but the way this really worked is by me setting the most difficult deadlines early on. I told myself that I couldn't leave Tampa until I had a decent draft of my analysis chapter shipped off to my director. As you can see, I made that deadline (even though it meant a couple of 10-12 hour days of writing). What tasks I've brought with me truly are manageable ones as my Chapter 3 (methods) was already drafted before I conducted my study and just needs revising with small additions to account for the coding work I did. And creating an outline for my chapter 5 (implications) is something that I can do in a 1-2 hour block of time one day. In actuality, these goals are very manageable.

Teaching Goals

Read 14 chapters from the student reader I'll be using for my new class in the spring

Lesson plan for weeks 1-4 for new course

Set up Canvas Shell

The reading goal sounds more intimidating than it is. I packed sections of a Routledge reader so I could make sure to read SOMETHING that I'll be teaching in the spring semester every day that I'm back home in Danville. This roughly means reading a chapter every day for about 2 weeks. Note: I'm not going to be crushed if I don't read all that I packed. Instead, I'm trying to form the habit of reading some of this teaching material every day to create a balance. If I stay on this track, lesson planning for the first month of the course will come naturally and, as I do this, I'll type these ideas formally as part of my Canvas shell. These goals all align and, while they take some time every day, I shouldn't have to spend more than an hour a day thinking about teaching.

Athletic Goals

30-60 minutes of cardio every day

Body weight exercises (pushups, situps) every day

20-30 minutes of stretching every day

So far so good on these. As I've been in the New River Valley area since Thursday, I've been surrounded by my Tae Kwon Do family and, as usual, pushing my body non-stop every day. When I get to Danville, my workout options are a little more limited, but I still have access to a treadmill and enough floor space to stretch. Given that I've been experiencing back pain recently, this is about all I should be doing in this cold weather anyway. Again, my physical goals only account for about 1-2 hours of my day, and these can be split up into morning and evening sessions.


Spend quality time with my TKD Family

Have a quiet Christmas dinner with Mom, Dad, and Lucy

Watch a dumb Hallmark Christmas movie with the fam

Ring in the new year with a wedding in DC

Why is this a category on the list? Because it's easy to forget sometimes how important it is to make time for the people you love. I hold the people in my life in high regard and I would never want my own work obligations or personal goals obscure that fact.

Me time

Read the Deadpool comics I packed

Read Paul Bowman's newest book

Play some video games every day

Meditate on my goals for the new year

For the same reason, it's important to build in items on the list that are strictly there to make you happy and relaxed. It is supposed to be a vacation after all :)

I'm happy to report that in the brief time I've been here, I've already accomplished some family/friends goals.

Got a little piggy custard bun and some dank ramen with Matt

Bowled a turkey with Sassie Cassie

Got to be a part of yet another Pil Seung belt testing and ceremony--Can Do!

And got to watch this goofball...err... I mean, Master Rupert, get "Baby" all warmed up and ready to purr.

So what's the point of all this? I just wanted to share a simple reminder that taking breaks is important. So plan your time wisely this holiday season. If you need to do some work, do it, but don't let it dominate your time. If you have personal goals, work on them, but don't let them take you away from the people you love too often. If you need personal time, take it, but don't be too selfish in this season of giving :)

As always, it's about balance here. Stay happy, stay healthy, and stay warm. I hope you find a way to thoroughly enjoy this holiday season.

That's all for today. Thanks for reading.


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