Wishing you…in 2020

1-4-2020 by Lisa Melonçon

The last two years I have written a “wishing you” blog, and I found that they were quite a good way for me to orient myself to the new year. Even though academics seem to have a constant stream of reflective moments, the new year brings with it, well, the new year, and a new term.

There’s a comfort in this consistent way of looking back to look forward. So this is why my wish for you this year to invoke re-

The prefix re- means again or again and again. It is attached to so many useful words that can help us to move into 2020 with a purpose and intent. In reflecting on the past year (both professionally and personally), I realized that sometimes we have to build new habits, new ways of thinking, that require us to do things again. In part, thinking of terms re- I hope to be more intentional, which feels likes something I can control  in light of the world events.

Following are some of the re- words that I am centering in 2020, and I hope that you can be inspired by these and/or create your own:


In a job that often requires you to move away from family or friends, the idea of reconnection is an important one. For me it means to be more intentional in reconnecting with those that mean the most to me. Without doubt, I think we could agree that it is the people that make a life so being more intentional in making meaningful connections is important to overall well being. I like reconnect, too, because it also suggests that we can reconnect to parts of our selves or to habits to things that bring us joy. It’s a flexible re word that may help to prioritize the people, habits, and things that align with our priorities and purposes.

What parts of yourself do you need to reconnect? Is there something that you’ve let lapse that you want to reconnect with? Who do you need to reconnect to?


As I have written a lot about it, balance is something that many of us strive for and often times fail at. In many ways, I do ok with balance. But I do want to focus (ha!) on rebalancing some aspects of my life. If I’m thinking through ways to restore or correct my own balance that would mean ensuring that I have time and activities away from work that are also good for my emotional, mental, and physical health. This rebalancing of the body and mind is part of my goal for the year.

What do you want to rebalance? Where do you need to rebalance your activities? Is there part of your balancing act that needs specific attention?


It is not uncommon for us to get caught up in the day-to-day minutia of our jobs that we lose track of the bigger picture. The beginning of the year is a good time to refocus and to think through what we really or need in our lives. Focus is also something many academics write about when they struggling to accomplish tasks and goals. I am totally not immune to this problem so for me I want to refocus on those projects that mean the most to me–to refocus on aligning my job and where I spend my time with my own values and priorities.

Are you focused on those things that are a priority for you? Is your time being used on those things that help you in your job and bring joy in your life? Are there other things you need to focus us? If so, what will it take to focus on them?


While revision is a common practice in the writing portion of our lives, I would like to encourage us all to think of it not only in terms of the work, the writing, we do, but in consideration of all of our work lives. Here, for me, I am thinking of revising my work schedule to ensure that I can do the rebalancing. I am also considering revising what I am doing in the way of work, that is, thinking through the things I have committed to and determining if those need to be revised or to simply let things go.

Does your purpose and goals need to be re-visioned? Are you doing what you really want to be doing? Are your values in line with your work priorities? Does your own schedule need a revision?


This one may call to mind the great Maxine Waters and the meme of 2017 when she invoked the procedural line of “reclaiming my time.” I was struck recently by the need to reclaim some of my own time, but as importantly, to reclaim activities and orientations that have gotten lost or skewed. It’s not uncommon to let  day-to-day struggles or the larger world issues take up way too much energy when instead a reclamation can actually help you feel more in line with yourself and your life. My goal here is reclaim a commitment to some things that are important and vital, but I have lost track of because of life distractions.

What may you do with time you reclaim? What parts of yourself need to be reclaimed? (e.g., those hobbies you used to do). What spaces can you reclaim for playing, making, and thinking? What orientations and purposes do you want to reclaim?

Outside of the re- words I’ve chosen, there are so many others that you may want to think about in relation to your own planning for the new term and new year: rejoice, rejuvenate, restart, restore, regenerate, retrace, retry, review, remove, recall, or reconsider.

All of the re- words encourage us to go back again, which then means that going forward is next.

Wishing you health, peace, joy, and just your everything in 2020.

Bonne chance and bonne année!!











Summer Of

8 June 2019 by Lisa Melonçon

I recognize it’s been a while since I’ve posted. It’s been a long hard spring term. I took on some new responsibilities, and it took time to adjust to that. I hope to blog more here and in other places through the summer and into next year. I have missed the practice of writing in these forums and have missed interacting with folks.

The start of summer has finally opened up some mental space and some material time for me so I’ve been thinking a bit about what to do. Summer should be in almost full swing for many and even the quarter term folks should be wrapping up. So it’s the perfect time to think about what we’re going to do with ourselves through summer. A couple years ago I wrote about the Summertime 3 Rs (rest, reorient, realistic planning) and it’s holding up well on what one should consider doing with the summer and how to approach it. (Though, now I would stress realistic planning even more!)

Academics approach summer with all sorts of emotions and feelings. Some see it as a time to truly rest; others see it as a time to get some writing done since they did not get as much done or any done during the academic year; others approach it with a sense of dread because of the lack of structure or a schedule; others have to find a summer job to make up for low salaries and/or the 9-month gap or if you’re an adjunct, simply to survive. And of course, outside of these big categories and the feelings associated with them, summer can bring on all sorts of other feelings too.

So there is no easy “answer” on a post to help people figure out what to do and how to be in the summer. Because of this, I’m simply going to give you a partial hashtag #SummerOf to think about. In other words, let this be the summer that you try and let go of whatever pre-conceived notions you thought the summer was supposed to be and simply let this be the summer of….

Recently, one of my favorite thinkers died. Michel Serres who has been called a philosopher, a anthropologist of science, an academic maverick, and a host of other terms passed away on June 1. I do believe I have read everything he has ever published, and much of it in French because I initially had concerns about how he was being in translated in English. In any case, Serres has long believed that the preposition, the unit of language that starts a prepositional phrase, is one of the most important parts of language and one that helps to do a lot of the work of expressing ideas. I was fascinated by this continual strand in his work because Cajun French people have so many problems with the “correct” English usage of prepositional phrases, and my entire educational career I was forever being corrected on my use. To add to that, I also have a tendency to overuse the prepositional phrase in my own writing, which can bury the action when you don’t mean to do that.** All this means is that I just adored Serres more because of his own fascination and emphasis with prepositions.

One of Serres’ big points about prepositional phrases is that they pre-position what follows. They provide a positionality and a specific emphasis to signal to the reader the idea that what follows can be quite important. The preposition is also relational, which indicates in what ways the phrase relates to other things going on in the sentence. In linguistics, we learn the relational aspect of the preposition, but for Serres, he means it much more than in a linguistic sense. He wants the preposition to also suggest a relationship between the words and the action they invoke. While I cannot do justice to Serres’ thinking on prepositions in this blog post, what Serres would likely appreciate is that he is being used as a jumping off point.

So when I write that I want this to be YOUR summer OF, the emphasis is on you and your positionality and what you want to follow the preposition of. And the emphasis is on you and your relationship to summer and what you want. This is key. Summer is often a time where academics can be more selfish and more focused on those things that are not part of the program or department or institution or a service obligation or what have you

I have two endings of for my #SummerOf. The first is #SummerOfFinish. Along with a few others, we are all challenging each other to finish up some projects that have been lingering way to long for all sorts of reasons. We settled on this challenge because we all know that if we an manage to finish something, it will improve our approach to work in general by giving us the much needed affirmation of getting something done 🙂

My second #SummerOf is #SummerOfLaughs. I purposely want to focus on activities and people that bring fun and laughter. It’s been a rough, rough two years for me for all sorts of reasons, and my soul and spirit needs laughter to rejuvenate. And laughter also means that I am most likely doing things that are not related to work, which fulfills the #balance objective.

I share my #SummerOf goals in hopes to inspire you to focus on you and what you want to do this summer. Position yourself, as Serres would say, in relation to your own life and goals. Everyone will likely insert something different at the end of #SummerOf but that is to be expected. We are each our own person with personalized goals and hopes and dreams. Focusing on those and trying to block out comparisons usually leads to better outcomes.

I want to encourage you to think through and ponder what you may want your summer of to do for you and your psyche and your health and your motivation and most importantly your joy .

Good luck in planning your #SummerOf and more importantly, best wishes in living out those #SummerOf plans!

Wishing you health, peace, and joy.


** so Lanham’s paramedic method has long been my go-to way to start to give action back to my writing. I love this so much that I link it here in case you need a reminder for your own prose or your own teaching (when students ask how to improve their writing).








Pause to reflect

5 March 2019 by Lisa Melonçon

Today is Fat Tuesday. Most folks simply associate today with a big huge party in the commercialized view of Cajun and Creole culture. But, Fat Tuesday, while an occasion for celebration before the Lenten Fast, also marks the beginning of a time of intense reflection.**

Reflection is a common term that we use in a lot of different ways in regards to teaching and research. We talk about being “reflective practitioners” (ala Schon) and incorporating reflection into our teaching practices and asking students to reflect on their own learning experiences. We use reflexive when we want to specifically talk about our positionality as a researcher within the research process. Reflection is a key component of understanding our work and how we can do our work better.

But it seems that sometimes we forget to turn that reflective lens onto wholeness of our lives. That is, we forget that we need to pause regularly, to reflect on our decisions and work practices. The goal of this sort of reflection is to ensure that we are matching our own values about work and life to the actual work and life we are leading. This sort of personal reflection is key to moving toward a better balance between different aspects of our lives and more so pushing back against the cult of overproduction.

Fat Tuesday is a marker for me. Not only does it start this personal and spiritual time of reflection, I have always used marker to pause and to reflect on my work life. While the date of Fat Tuesday shifts, it always comes at the time of the term when we start to feel a bit overwhelmed. It’s also conference season for many of us, which means airport sitting (or driving) time where you may have the space to think. And as spring is close by, people often start to at least dream of warm weather and summer projects. All of these things together make now the perfect time to pause to reflect.

To make the most of this reflection time, following is a strategy that may be useful:

Take an honest look at your current schedule

Figure out what needs to go and to stay and what you can reasonably do or get done. Ti seems pretty common that there comes a time in the term (every term 🙂 that we end up looking at our planners of to-do lists and we simply feel like we’re drowning in work (or the snowball effect) and there’s no way to get it all done. Often, though, if we take an honest look at the schedule, we realize that there is a lot on there that may not need to be done right now. That there are also things that can easily be delegated or set aside for another time. When I say honest look, this is necessary part of reflection in really considering what that task is and why you are doing it.

An honest full assessment helps you to prioritize those things that truly need to get done (be it research, teaching related, service or administrative related) and then figure out ways to get them done. Then, the schedule becomes more accurate and you can see more clearly what else you can realistically take on at the moment. This honest, realistic reflection on your schedule can go a long way in reducing angst and worry because it helps you prioritize.

And once you have a plan. Start implementing it from letting people know that need to know to getting through big projects via smaller tasks.

Look at your current schedule in light of your larger goals

The looking reflective process of looking at your schedule then should lead to a bigger reflective process where you consider your current schedule in light of your larger, strategic career goals.

We often times miss the forest because we are so focused on the trees. Now is a great time to re-align or work toward re-aligning your schedule and workflow with your larger goals. Are you doing things that make you angsty and depressed? Then now is the time to look critically and carefully at whether you need to continue to do those things. Go ahead and make adjustments or make a note or list that you’ll revisit at the start of summer. The goal here is for you to try and realign your daily life with getting to your larger goals. This often means considering on exit strategies for some things you may be doing that you need to let go of so you can open up more space for the things you want and need to do.

Integrate one new thing that is just for you

Research tells us that it doesn’t really take that long to build up a habit. One of the things that I’ve used the Lenten season for is to re-make a habit. By the end, whatever it is has been set into the mind and body as a routine and habit. You may want to use this opportunity to integrate a new exercise or an extra walk or an extra yoga class that you often think you don’t’ have time for. Or you could make the time to volunteer at a place that means a lot to you. Maybe start a new hobby or pick up a craft project that has been sitting dormant. Or plan to read more for fun or simply sit and watch tv.

The point is that when we take time to pause and to reflect we often can see how we can insert one new thing into life that can potentially bring us much joy and satisfaction.

I so hope that you can find the time and space to pause to reflect.

Wishing you health, joy, and peace.

Happy Mardi Gras!

**There are many different ways of interpreting the Lenten season. My view comes from the Cajun Catholicism that is mixed with a bit of voodism that is prevalent in the Cajun culture where I grew up. I make no claims of any sort of universality.