I had big plans for those two 10-week breaks before I landed a job where they were a reality. I was going to scuba dive all over the world. I was going to rent beachfront bungalows for entire months. I thought about trying to write a book. It was going to be epic. Then I got married and had a kid. Bye-bye selfish dreams.
Now I have the time but don't have the time to enjoy that time the way I had planned it. These days when it comes to semester breaks I think in terms of "my work" and "their work". Instead of leaving my family and sitting on a beach I come into the man cave that is my office at school and fool around. Sometimes I get inspired and write a short article or apply to present at a conference. If an invitation to speak at a teacher training event comes up or some editing work is requested I can focus on that without having to worry about a class schedule breaking my concentration. Sometimes I try to improve a rubric for one of my courses or think of ways to make it a little better. These breaks are the reason why I have time to help volunteer organizations like KOTESOL. But mostly I don't work and that's what a vacation is really all about. It's about making the stress melt away and, if you have a job you enjoy, actually giving yourself the chance to miss it and hopefully appreciate it more.
It turns out that I don't like not having anything to do. I make work for myself but it doesn't feel like work because I like to see productive outcomes that are the results of my labor. MY labor not THEIR labor. When the new semester rolls around it's back to doing what I was hired to do and that's fine because if I enjoy the five months off I am afforded annually I'll be ready to get back in the classroom and get back to work.
When I teach job interview skills I include the question "How did you spend your last semester break?". I probably wouldn't hired a candidate who answered that they got drunk and played video games but someone who burned themselves out taking a full load of intersession classes and working a part-time job wouldn't be a shoe in either. Happiness comes from balance and that's what "my work" gives me. I have the option to do it on days that I am inspired and the option not to do if the well is dry.
What would you/do you do with all that time?