For some people, the idea of walking away from work (and being paid while doing so) sounds easy. Further, walking into what might be perceived as “vacation”—the fun and selfish part of work—is certainly something to be jealous of. (I would be too.) But, it is not so easy.
What exactly is a sabbatical?
A sabbatical is an opportunity to take a break from teaching and committee work and crisis counseling and advising and all of the little things that add up to a lot of time and a lot of work throughout the semester, every semester, year after year. The sabbatical is an opportunity to focus on research—the part of our work that is so often marginalized by the “have-to” work.
At more elite institutions, faculty get an automatic sabbatical that does not necessarily have a significant research project. At UMA, faculty propose projects and compete for three sabbaticals per academic year. I did not expect to get one.
It is an honor and a privilege to be granted a sabbatical. I am excited to focus on my research. Because my research-related release time has been focused on developing Interdisciplinary Studies and the INT program and major AT UMA, I am trying to be selfish in choosing what I spend my time working on during my sabbatical.
I already have a long list of projects, and many are carry-over research-related projects:
Any time now (or later) I will receive my proofs from McFarland for my forthcoming book, Girls on Fire: Transformative Heroines in Young Adult Literature. I will proofread and index my book. This work is a total nerd fest and I have done it in the past in the midst of hectic semesters. Now I can give it singular attention.
In January, I will receive feedback on an article I submitted about teaching American Studies through Octavia Butler’s work. I will have to revise this article for publication.
And some are projects that have been a long time in the making:
In March, I will complete the last of my 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher certification (RYT-200). I took my first training in March of 2005 and have chipped away at the training while also teaching countless yoga classes as well as workshops and retreats.
Some projects are the things I don’t usually have time for (namely, writing):
I will also be doing yoga-related research and blogging about my yoga research and training, as well as my other adventures.
I may re-write and re-imagine my Women and Fitness in American Culture book along the lines of my original idea, and with the support of my students—as a feminist fitness memoir and manifesta.
There will certainly be other projects and variations of projects.
So, clearly a sabbatical is exciting and rewarding and a privilege I cannot refuse. But it is not easy to walk away from the responsibilities that shape my days and nights, occupy my mental and emotional space, and reward and exhaust me. This work goes home with me; it makes me who I am.
But I tell my students how important self-care is, and a sabbatical is the crown jewel of self-care. And I am making the most of it—extending it before and after the spring semester, so even though I am not working, I will be working.
But, I will sabbatical. I will read and write. I will play in the snow. I will hike miles and drive miles. I will take yoga classes and commit to a daily yoga practice. I will finish projects and imagine new ones. For a few months I will try to avoid email as much as possible; I will try not to worry about the details left undone, the work left to my colleagues.
I will return rejuvenated and ready to dig back into the trenches, but I will take my time getting there.
I’ll be posting on Facebook and my website/blog: www.cultureandmovement.com.
The Rough Itinerary:
December 17ish-Jan. 2: cross-country trip, visiting family and friends and the Grand Canyon on the way to Palm Springs.
January 3-7: Palm Springs YogaFit Training (Yoga for Warriors/PTSD and Yoga for Kids)
January through March: Living in McCall, Idaho (snowboarding + research projects/writing)
March 10: Final YogaFit training to complete RYT-200 (Yoga for Seniors) in Portland, OR
April-July: Hiking and trail support on the Pacific Crest Trail (and teaching online summer school course and doing research/writing) from the Mexican Border to … 1,000 mile goal!
August: The Lost Coast, backpacking in Northern California . . . and then back to Maine for the fall 2018 semester!
Follow my adventures on Facebook!