agile academic 1.4 Michelle Dionne Thompson

Rebecca Pope-Ruark: On this episode of the agile academic podcast, I talked to Dr. Michelle Dionne Thompson: educator, coach, and former attorney who today works with lawyers and early career academics about self-care balance and the importance of rest. 

Hello listeners, welcome to the agile academic, a podcast for women in and around higher education and its first season. I talked with our special guests from all over academia, about a wide range of topics from teaching and research to writing and speaking to career vitality and burnout and everything in between. I’m your host, Dr. Rebecca Pope.

Thanks for being here today. I’m so excited to see you again, 

Michelle Dionne Thompson: And thank you for having me, Rebecca. I appreciate it. 

RPR: So as you know, we talk on this podcast about women in higher ed and women around higher ed. So I’m really excited to have you here as a coach. Um, and as a woman who’s been through higher ed in higher ed or around higher ed for, um, for a while. So do you want to just tell our listeners a little bit about yourself and kind of what you see your purpose as in this space? 

MDT: Sure, absolutely. So, um, I, wow. I’ve been around higher ed far longer than I care to admit. Um, right. Cause I mean, myself, I’ve been through college, I went to law school, I went back and got a doctorate in, um, history. I teach part time, but after I graduated, the job market had cratered.

I, I had to find another way forward, I just cause adjuncting while I like it. I’m good at it. Um, that, that just, wasn’t going to give me the, I, I, in this day and age, I hesitate to say anything about security, but it, it definitely didn’t give you the peace of mind, um, that I was seeking in, in my job prospects. So I formed Michelle Dionne Thompson Coaching and Consulting. And at the time I formed it, I was in conversation with many women who were talking about going up for tenure and having been hospitalized. Um, you know, writing nonstop, exhausted a friend of mine at who was, we’ll just call it research one has made or allergy problems. Right. And, and it just would have to fly to Ohio to get treatments about her allergies and was like, you can never talk to her because she was writing all the time because she had to get at this place two books, she doesn’t go up for assistant. They just go from, uh, you know, from assistant to associate associates, they go from assistant to full, right. So for years she’s been doing nothing but writing. And she says, when she’s done, if she gets tenure, if she’s done writing, wow, how do you extinguish the flame of writing for someone who’s so brilliant and so smart about what she does, right? It’s things like that, that I was like, okay, I have a role to play here.

RPR: So as you know, on the show, we like to kind of focus on four pillars, um, of, of what I think help us with burnout resilience and just having a kind of a vital career. Um, so purpose, compassion, connection, and balance. And you and I have talked before and talked a lot about the idea of balance. So I’d love to get your definition of what balance is and why you think it’s so important.

MDT: My vision of balance, you know, my, my coach talks a lot about sovereignty. Um, she talks about it in the context of money, but it’s that you are in control of the things that matter to you, right? We don’t have balance when we are working to the beat of somebody else’s drum. We have balance when we are deeply attuned to what it is, what it is that blows our skirts up, what it is that feeds our souls, if you will. Right. Um, we’re balanced when we can make sure that the vessel in which we work, our bodies functions so that we can actually carry out that purpose, that we’re deeply attuned to that’s when we have balance, I it’s not, I, you know, I do, I talk and I work with my clients a lot on productivity hacks and I don’t think that’s the core of it.

I think the core of it is just being, just making sure that we’re deeply attuned to what we want and hopefully what we’re here to do on the surface. I thought about that a lot after, um, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing. Right. I feel that, you know, I, yes, fabulous feminist, brilliant mind, did amazing things on the court. Um, pave ways for women in unbelievable ways. And she worked like a dog, but I think working like a dog, like she never complained about it, you know? And maybe she just, I think this just struck me as someone who just puts on a happy face just because you hang out with him.

Clear about her purpose here. Right. I do this work because this is why I’m here. I think, I think she was here for the purpose of women’s liberation. And what was interesting about her approach is like, yes, the cases that came up that were clear like that, we would clearly think about women’s liberation cases, and everything pertained to women’s liberation, right. Copyrights pertain to women’s liberation, um, healthcare pertained to everything pertain to women’s liberation. And she worked in her purpose and that created the balance that she needed. That way she could see the value of her life. I, you know, I can’t imagine an 80 someplace saying I’m hiring a personal trainer. I can’t imagine it now. I’m like, I probably should. I’m not almost 52. I probably should get on that. But, um, right. She’s like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Like, you know, w you know, as a cancer survivor, this vessel needs to be tight, so I can do what I’m doing. Right. She wasn’t CIN lose track of that. And I think that’s actually, what’s what’s yes, the self care was clearly there. Right. But I think that’s really, you know, and she could be at the opera. Right. She could build the friendships, all of that was there because she was very clear about what her purpose was and what she needed to have in place to do a purpose. That was balance.

RPR: Right. We, I think we often hear balance in terms of work-life balance that you’re spending equal amounts of time on work and at home. And that’s such a false dichotomy in so many ways. And she is a great example of someone who’s passionate, bled into everything that she did into her relationships, as well as her work and her love for her community. And some of us are like that. And some of us aren’t, and that’s fine. 

MDT: Right. 

RPR: And not to compare my husband and I to Ruth Bader Ginsburg by any stretch of the imagination. But for my heart, my husband, he asked to have a hobby, right. He had, he has motorcycles and he has race cars. And, you know, he needs that for his brain. And we were talking the other day and he’s always told me I needed a hobby. And I’m like, you know, I think writing books is my hobby. Right. I mean, that’s what gives me joy. And it takes, you know, it is connected to what I do for a living, but I feel like I’m contributing to society. I feel like I’m contributing more. So when I’m writing and that’s, you know, that’s my purpose and that’s my passion, and it can feed into other aspects of my life,

MDT: But I’m, I’m getting clear that it’s my job to help, to help women to really key into their purpose, their passion on this earth. Yeah. And purpose and passion. Sometimes aren’t related to the purpose. The thing that you got to do, like you were here to do this and you’ve got to do it, you know, not all people are here, new, not people will hit that call no harm, no foul. And that’s why you have passion. But, um, but yeah, I’m hoping to really, I, cause I think it makes the whole work thing so much easier. I think it actually gives us a place, you know, especially in these, these times of deep scarcity, scarcity and precarity, um, which have always been scarcity, precarious, but

RPR: Okay, what am I writing obvious now?

MDT: Right. It actually makes it easier to figure out if I’m here to do, you know, whatever elucidate, um, inequality in the healthcare system. Okay. There’s so many contexts in which you can do that. It doesn’t have to be in the ivory tower and it doesn’t make what you’re doing any less valuable if it’s not in there. Right. That’s what, that’s what gives us balance.

RPR: Yeah. I think that that idea of passion is a mixed bag too. Right. We tell our students to follow your passion, but maybe you should be following your purpose. And those two things might not necessarily be because of

MDT: Keep you in your purpose. Right. All of these things.

RPR: Yeah. Yeah. And those are things you have to articulate to yourself every once in a while. Right. That you have to think about and have that kind of meta time with yourself too, to check in with those, whether that’s your core values or whether that’s that larger purpose. Cause those things can shift, but only if we’re aware and we’re paying attention to them. 

MDT: Exactly. 

RPR: Sounds like, yeah. What do you think the biggest challenge facing women in higher ed is today related to, um, balance and you coach with a variety of different women and women of color. So I’m curious what your take is on, on that as a biggest challenge?

MDT: Wow. Well, 2020 has really changed that. I mean, I’ll put it this way. I think 2020 has elucidated, unless you weren’t paying attention, the challenges that women had all along. Right? So for people who have children, the business of… number one, we have a society that treats raising children as if it’s a hobby. It is not just a certain way to say it. Yeah. Right. We treated it like got a cute thing to do. Oh, you’re doing pretty well with it. It’s like, there’s not a dog, which is which, by the way, I own a dog too, that takes work and focus, et cetera. Right. But we treated it as like, that’s really cute. And if you’re a, if you’re going to get serious about life, you’re not going to pay too much attention to children. But now we see really clearly what it means to work in full-time jobs and manage young people and all the work that comes along with that.

Right. We’re getting, we’re getting like super clear. So I’ve seen articles that say that women have the amount of articles that have been submitted to journals by women have dropped precariously because of the time. Right? Like how are you supposed to watch the kids on Zoom? Write your thing. And apparently no one else could cook and clean and then no one else, no one else is around to do that. Right. And I’m seeing, so that’s, that’s one set of challenges. The other side of this for women who are not, you know, who are not in nuclear family, family situations, is that they feel tapped about. They’re like, they’re just like, why bother? Like does this matter? And they’re just sad there. There’s a lot of sadness and depression. And, and I think part of it is that society has given us, as females have given us the oppression, this is the, this is the horrible, this is the vicious circle that we find yourselves in.

Right? The oppressive has told us that our purpose, our purpose, the only purpose that we do, we have, if we show up with ovaries in a uterus is to have children and raise children on behalf of men. And the oppression that happens if we make those decisions is vicious and the vision and the oppression that happens to us, if we decide not to do it is vicious. Yeah. And COVID really just kind of amplifies this many, many times over, right. So, Oh, we can fix that. Send the kids back to school. They might kill us, but send us back to sculpt on the back to school. Right? Or, well, you should be able to, you should be able to get tenure because you, you’ve nothing else to do with your time.

RPR: Great. You’re on vacation. If the staycation you’re happy at home Because the unrelenting stress and children in the work and that intellectual capacity that none of us have anymore, really. And, and it’s, it’s, it’s striking to me how much we’re all in the same boat, but we’re not in the same boat. When we think about how all of our boats look a little bit different, maybe

MDT: I’ll look a little bit, I think they they’re, they’re they’re, they’re the, they might be structurally the same with a twist or something. You know what I mean? Like then, right. It’s how all of that happens. I think that, you know, I mean, I just keep seeing the statistics and most like 75% of the people who are tenured professors and the academy are men might be higher than that. Yeah.

RPR: Oh, I’ll check it out and add it to the show notes. 

MDT: But I think that has real implications for people who are contingent. Right. So scores of women, women of color in particular have been laid off from institutions of higher education because, sorry, we don’t have enough income coming in to teach you, but we’re going to play football.

RPR: Yeah. That’s how that got his decisions. We can question. Okay. And it is, it is in some ways pitting humanity against economy, um, and then different variations of what humanity means to people.

MDT: Exactly. Exactly. So what’s the what, like what, what, what, what’s the balance of that? There’s nothing right there. It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s impossible. I, I end up telling people, you have to write for 15 minutes at a time. That’s all you can do. That’s all you have the facility or the bandwidth to do.

RPR: Yeah. To find what works for you. Right. We’re not going to have the same processes as we do now. 

MDT: Exactly. 

RPR: You and I have talked about writing processes before and my pre burnout process is not sustainable as a healthy person. Now that I’m healthy. I can’t do it the way that I used to do it. It was too stressful. Um, and it, it doesn’t fit with who I am and who I value now. And I think we all have to kind of now is one of those times where we do need to take stock and say, okay, well, what does balance actually mean? Is it sitting in front of this computer 12 hours a day? Or is it sleep or is it thinking about a hobby or something else or spending time with the kids, whatever that is for you balance doesn’t necessarily mean this equal thing. That’s going to be equal every day. 

MDT: Exactly. It’s not gonna be the same thing Everyday. And like I realized that I’ve been, I’ve been on a, I’ve been on a mission to get my blood pressure down, like a lot, because if I get COVID, I’m not like, you know, Ronan, I go fight. That’s all I have to say about this. But, um, but I’ve been on a mission to drive down my blood pressure. And for me, that has actually meant taking in a lot less news. And when I think when I start to see my blood pressure climb, like, Oh, I’m spending too much, it’s like, right. That’s a balance thing. Right. It’s not the same all the time, but I’m at a point right now where I, you know, my partner keeps coming in. Oh my gosh. Yeah. Um, I can’t, I mean, I see, I see the headlines on Facebook and that’s good. I don’t, I don’t even wouldn’t know It’s about balance for me. Right. In so many ways. There’s nothing we can do anyway, before doom scrolling. 

RPR: Right. We need to take in what we can take in to make a difference rather than just kind of dwell in that space where it makes the inevitability of this stress even worse. Exactly. Different ways.

MDT: Exactly. And the, and the valuable work that’s so many of us are doing as scholars can’t happen. If we’re, if that’s where our attention is, right. If our, our purpose is completely undermined by all of that noise and that’s the purpose of it. It just makes you go, Oh, good. Look at that article. Let’s at that, look at that commercial for Jim Beam or whatever it is. Right. Maybe I should buy that now. Right. Like, right. That’s the whole thing.

RPR: Right. Right. Yeah. Totally agree. I’m thinking about, um, what you mentioned about your blood pressure and thinking about how wellbeing ties into balance. So what is your, what’s your wellness practice or your wellbeing practice look like?

MDT: It’s, you know, it’s interesting. It’s, it’s been similar components for years, but I’ve again, you know, because of COVID I it’s like ratcheted up. I’ve had to like really crank it up a lot. So I meditate every day, every single day. I I’m, I, I meditate. Um, and I can tell sometimes, and often it’s beginning to the point where it’s often twice a day. Right. Because after I meditate, my blood pressure drops like substantially. It’s like, okay, done. Um, so meditation is a big part of it. Prayer is a part of it for me. Um, I’ve ex I exercise daily because it helps to pull all of that stress off out of my body and move it, moves it through. Um, and I like to, for me, I like to do things that are very muscle intense, right. So I do Ashtanga yoga, Pilates.

Right. That, that, that really, it forces my body to not, house all of the anxiety that comes with these days. I worked, I, I worked, I decided to work with a nutritionist because I wanted my, the other thing that was problematic me was my blood sugar levels. Like I didn’t eat sugar and I didn’t eat gluten instill my blood sugar levels were pre-diabetic. I’m like, how, like, what else am I supposed to do? Right. Just really, really, right. So I hired a dietician and I’ve been on this, she’s given me a plan that actually works so well for my body actually don’t have cravings. And so making sure that I’m eating properly is a cornerstone of all of this for me. Right. Cause, um, so that’s been very, very important and I’ve been journaling like nobody’s business journaling have do a lot actually. And then I play with yarn. I love, I love to crochet and knit and I will take time to do that. And I’ve been reading and reading novels, or they can be non-fiction books, but just all of that is probably

RPR: Right. And, and all of that is kind of a mindful practice, right? Everything is engaging that peaceful part of your mind, even when you’re letting it out, right. It’s still it’s it’s and those are often the things that go first, right. When we’re stressed out, we’re burning out, it’s going to be sleep. It’s going to be eating well. It’s going to be motion movements. Um, and, and that’s certainly something that I struggle with and have to get over there.

MDT: I absolutely, I refuse. I refuse to have any of that give actually I forgot. Yes. Sleep is a big part of it. So when my slinky sleep gets jenky, I’m like, what’s not working. I will actually, I just wrote a blog post about this, right? For like three or four weeks. I noticed that like, I go to bed. It doesn’t matter when I go to bed, I somehow wound up with like between four or five hours of sleep. I’m like, this is not, no, this is not where we live. And I realized that the, that, that was a way that anxiety had reappeared in my life. Like it was really undermining sleep. I actually had to yell at my brain and say, I’m not working at two 30 in the morning. I’m tired. I’ve taught the body body, mind and soul me to sleep, shut up and to talk to the lizard brain that way. Right. For the first time in weeks, I actually got some sleep. So I really, so I real like the following day, I went to the acupuncturist and like anxiety, man, fix it.

Right. Take it away. Right. But like, but those are the kinds of things, right.

You know, you just have to be very cute in, I’ve had to be very, very cute until my body to see what it actually needs. It’s very demanding lately.

RPR: The body will tell you, like, your brain will tell you one thing, but your body will tell you something else and what it actually needs. Exactly. I have all I have on my board, a sticker that says anxiety lies. Right? You have to talk back to yourself. And it sounds so silly when your therapist tells you to talk back to the, to the critic in your head or things like that. But a thought is a thought and you know, it, it’s just a thought and you can say, Hey, look at that thought, go by. Thank you brain for trying to protect me. Exactly. And then decide intentionally what to do or what helps you

MDT: Exactly the thing. A lot of times doing that. Cause like, okay. I, and I know, I know it’s not even, COVID so much anymore. It is the politics of the United States. I know that’s, what’s up. And I’m like, yeah, I’m not doing any or the country, any favors. I got it. 

RPR: Yeah. Well, it’ll be interesting to see him probably by the time this is released. We’ll, we’ll definitely be through the election. So it’ll be interesting to see how that changes or shifts or doesn’t shift.

I think it’s going to be a rough year. I think it’ll be rough until January 20th.

RPR: That is probably, I think we’re in for it. I think we’re yeah. We don’t even bumpy. Yeah. Yeah. So what are you telling your clients then your coaching clients, about how to, how to maintain balance or take care of themselves better? Um, you know, when, when work seems even more demanding because we’re all we, we thought we were too connected before and now it’s just, you can’t get away from it.

RPR: I just had two clients who filled, filled up, finished multiple grant applications. And I was like, excellent. So what are you doing next? Like, I’ve always asked then what are you doing next? Just not what’s the next academic thing you’re tackling. And like, how are you celebrating this? How are you going to take care of yourself now? Um, you know, in this particular coaching pod, I’ll call it. Um, there we have self-care check-ins like people remind each other, like it’s time to exercise. I’m going to bed. Um, I’m meditating this morning, right? Like these are the, those are actually very, very significant reminders for my clients. And I do the same thing with them. Like, it’s, it’s like, like I’m, I’m actually not worried about the writing. I think people will do it. They’ll they’ll do, they’ll do the things that are expected to do for their jobs. They won’t, they will put themselves last. And so I’m always like, how are we going to put yourself first here?

RPR: Right. And not a lot of higher ed does that. I mean, totally though. That’s totally not what higher and your PhD. And you’re like, where’s the parade? This was like the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And nobody seems to care. It’s a letdown.

MDT: It’s just horrible. It’s horrible. I noticed them when I defended the people who were there to help me celebrate it. I think all of them were not doctoral students. Every single one of them had nothing to do with my doctoral program. Like, how am I now that I think about them, it’s like, Ooh, right. What is that telling us? Right, exactly. We don’t take time to celebrate what happened.

RPR: Yeah. The celebration in who we are making sure are active in our lives. When these are focusing on that you can get so narrow focused that, you know, isolation is one of the first things to happen when you get stressed out or when you’re on the road to burnout, because you don’t want other people to know that there might be something going on with you. Right. You don’t want higher ed, doesn’t let you say, I’m not feeling well right now. And I need to kind of, or my balance is off and I can just step away, especially for a woman in higher ed.

MDT: Yeah. Or just stuff’s going down and you can’t, you can’t say that our students need us to do that. Right. Our students want us to acknowledge that they are happy. Like every, anytime students hear me say, we’re doing a lot of the say synchronously, cause I know you need that. They’re like, thank you.

RPR:  Yeah. And I was talking to some of my faculty fellows. Um, today we’re looking at Josh Eyler’s book, um, How Humans Learn and, and, and talking about the social nature of human humanity and how we learn to, and that, you know, a fully asynchronous leave me alone. It might be good for every once in a while. Right. But you’re still you’re, the community is necessary and you’re connecting with your students and they’re connecting with each other. And they’re, they’re practicing things that they’re excited about in the context of your course. Um, and that’s a whole different kind of learning experience. And you know, one of those, maybe we were tapping into some purpose, maybe we’re tapping into some passion for us. 

MDT: And for those students, You two did presentations. We were all like, we were live two weeks ago or something like that. I was just, I was gobsmacked. You know what I mean? Like clear that they took the time. What was clear to me is that they, they create a communities of learning that were not necessarily in the classroom. Right. So they went to colleagues and friends and parents and, you know, to maybe it was to figure out how to make tamales. Maybe it was to figure out what it was like to be a lesbian parent. Like all, all of these things that you could see that they pulled in other parts of their communities to create the projects for the class. And they were stunning. And as people saw these projects, as everyone in the class saw these projects, they completely reacted. Right. It was just, it was, I still, every time we think about it, I’m like, it’s my fund, my job, please. I can’t get up on. But like they were, were absolutely stunning. So the eighth, like to have the asynchronous work happen in community and then to bring it back to the class again in community. Right. I think it’s so important for learning. It it’s so important for me because who wants a little mini lecture on Zoom? I mean, I’m good at it, but like, no,

RPR: Right. Somebody once told me that when you lecture, the only person who gets smarter as you, 

MDT: I can say that. Putting these thoughts together here. It’s just, it’s habit. It’s best it’s it’s zest. And we have to make sure I keep, you know, RBG is what she keeps coming to mind. Like she had the things in her life that gave her zest, so, and she could, she could do the thing that she was going to do. And I think it does. I, it, it’s a terrible time. I, yes, I’m on board with that. And we really have to tap into what gives us the zest we really do. And I actually think we can actually accomplish much more in less if we are connected to that zest.

RPR: Right. And I think, yeah, the second key word, and that is connect, right. Is how do we connect to that values or that balance, or, or, or think about the things that we care about in relationship to each other, rather than in competition with each other.

MDT: Exactly. You know, th th the thing that the thought I had is it actually would be worth it. So Steve jobs, apparently in his schedule would have literally in his calendar stare at the ceiling that was in the calendar. And only his administrative assistant knew that that was there, but they, but they knew not to schedule anything that during a time. And he used that time to that’s where he could have his most creative moments. Um, you know, he just, he could just unwind and unplug it and just let his brain just do whatever it needed to do. And I think, and it’s hard to ask this of people who are so brain heavy, like, right. I mean, our minds have done our minds have done unbelievable things for us, right. I mean, we wouldn’t be in this position if our minds weren’t like fabulous, but I actually think it would be worth it for us as academics.

The other thing I’m going to say is when you’re, when you’re running a business, people talk about working on your business as opposed to in your business. So it’s not always upfront client work. You actually have to take time to actually make sure that the administrative administrative stuff is coming along, that you’re actually creating the vision that you want for your business enterprise. And I actually think as scholars, we actually need to take more time doing that, that we actually need to schedule Fridays as a day where I’m not doing anything forward facing. And some days that might be like, I’m sleeping in late and eating ice cream for breakfast. I’m there. That’s, I’m good. I’m there for that. But because I think, I think we’re so put through the ringer that we actually do. We actually do need that, but it also needs to be a time where we just stare at the ceiling. And I know that’s so hard for us, but, um, and I’m, I’m totally a team give me something to do, but, um, I think it is so important. That’s why I journal so much, right. Just to have the quiet, to just let, let, I don’t know, let our souls roam at the page and see what it see, where it leads us. So we can tap into what gives us that sass in that vitality, like in, it gives us time to say what’s working and what’s not.

RPR: It’s interesting that you say you’re, the team gave me something to do when you spend so much time focusing on meditation and taking care of yourself, you know?

MDT: Right. And I’m not telling you that’s easy. Like, but, but it’s like, but I know, like, I, I, I know what I’m like if I don’t Do it. 

RPR: And I think we have to ask yourself one question that that was, that I struggled with for very long, for a long time is who am I, if I’m not doing work. Right. So, so what is my identity? Because it, for a long time it was work. It was completely wrapped up in what the culture of higher ed had told me it was important. Right. And I, I bought that and I was playing the game as hard as I could, but I have, I lost myself. I didn’t know who kind of, I didn’t know. I talk about sometimes having a split personality because people call me RPR, um, when I was teaching and it was just a nickname and it’s, you know, I would joke about in the summer putting RPR to bed for awhile. But so it really did become this persona that I put on and she could do things that I was too tired to do. Oh. So, you know, kind of letting her go was a challenge, but it was probably one of the most liberating things I’ve ever done.

MDT: Exactly. Exactly. And we just, we need time to do that.

RPR: Yeah. And I think we have to have, that has to become one of our values, right? Yeah,

MDT: Absolutely. Absolutely. Cause it’s, it’s, it gets us nothing in the longterm.

RPR: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So what’s one thing based on our conversation, looking back on some of the things that we talked about, about balance vitality and wellbeing, what’s one thing you wish that all women in or around higher education knew

MDT: It’s okay to take time away. And I don’t mean go on leave. I mean, Fridays at two I’m out. Right. I don’t care what’s going on. Right. You know, sometimes, you know, and I don’t know who’s going to hear those, but sometimes that means that you’re going to say, yeah, I’m not teaching today. Today. That’s the, I’m going to send an email to my students and it’s going to be X, Y, and Z, because that’s, what’s going to have to happen so I can keep track of me. Like, yeah, it’s okay to take time away. And you actually don’t have to tell people you’re doing it. You just do it.

RPR: Right. I know people who have they’ll schedule time on a colleague’s calendar so that it looks like they’re busy so that they can do something else. Or, you know, a lot of people will do that for, for writing time to be uninterrupted. You know, you could schedule that afternoon. If you really feel like someone’s going to judge you, which is terrible anyway. Right. But put it, put it on your calendar, label it something. And

MDT: Once, Oh, you know, when we were face to face, I actually would scheduling for the students and for me a research day. So the student is the cause of the nature of what I would give students to do. I’m like, that’s your day, we’re at this part of the project. You’re going to work on that. You can come to the classroom if you want, you could do it at home, whatever. But that was a chance for like, I knew that once a month I could go, whew, they love it. And it worked for me. 

RPR: Right. Stuff like that fights back against the idea that like seat time is some actual measure of learning. It’s not, you know, they’re out there doing stuff they’re creating, they’re learning, they’re researching. 

MDT: And where I teach there a lot of working class students, right. So they’re working and going to school right there. Their lives are, many of them have parents that they are, they are parents. They have young people. I’m like, you need a day off too. Yeah, yeah. Or this hour, 15 minutes, you need that. 

RPR: And you can stare at the ceiling if you want, or you can meditate or you can shop, or you can go for a walk. 

MDT: Exactly what, you know, whatever. I plan it out in advance. Cause you need it. You know, and going to a conference is not time off. Unless you book the room two days ahead, you just stay there, whatever. But like, but like you really need that time. It’s okay to step away. 

RPR: That’s really, really important. Thank you so much for chatting with me today, Michelle. 

MDT: You’re very welcome. It’s my pleasure.

RPR: Thanks for listening to this episode of the agile academic podcast for women in higher ed. So make sure you don’t miss an episode. Follow the show on Apple and Google podcasting apps and bookmark the show page where you’ll find show notes and a transcript with each episode, you’ll find the show at the agile academic on Apple and Google platforms. Take care and stay well.

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