Monthly Archives: June 2022

A Sabbatical by any other name

It started with a leaf. I looked at a sprig of leaves I’d picked up as part of my 100 day project and knew I could almost spend six months creating work inspired by it. I also knew  that very rarely in my creative journey did I do anything remotely like that!! And then, last April, I found myself journalling about a sabbatical. Like just about everyone in the world, I had/ have the peri-COVID blahs (I’m not sure if it was Adam Grant’s languishing or Austin Kleon’s dormancy) and some kind of intervention was required. I realised while I journaled that we had nearly been in Canberra for seven years and this prompted me to ponder a sabbatical (seven years…get it?)  So I researched what a sabbatical could look like; and thought about what MY sabbatical might look like. There is a LOT out there on the internet and you can google it! However, a couple of really thought provoking links are here and here. I knew I was on the right track though when, bugger me, Brené Brown  announced that she was taking one! I took this as a message from the universe that I was on the right track. Good enough for Brené, good enough for me.

Sabbaticals used to be common for academics who would go overseas and pursue their own research interests. (Or have affairs with their research students as one of my friends told me referring to her dad!) But they (sabbaticals, not randy academics) actually go way back to Judaism and agricultural practices where fields would be allowed to lie fallow. I need to lie fallow. And like a field lying fallow, I need to be watered, weeded and enriched while I am lying fallow! Maybe even growing a totally different crop to normal. I will stop this metaphor while I am ahead.

There are all sorts of sabbaticals and, surprise surprise, people will happily take lots of your money to help you have the best/ most effective/ most fulfilling/ most spiritual one. But the one I need is not one that anyone else can dream up. My sabbatical is for me and needs to take into account my circumstances, my needs and my life.

And so it will.

It starts in July, will last 3-6 months which is to say, 6, and writing my blog more regularly might well one part of it. A long break from all but essential (aka Samunnat ) social media definitely will be. I am stepping down from over two years as Trove Chair in August and I have negotiated a leave-with-reduced-pay arrangement with my employer (easy when you are self employed). Travel is often associated with sabbaticals and mine is no different. If the gods are smiling I plan to be in Nepal in October/ November. I will still be creating and teaching but doing a bit less of it and I’ll work on projects that are spontaneous and heart directed. And possibly in the garden.  My sabbatical will evolve and it will not be one huge While I Am Not Doing The Usual Thing To Do list! Watch this space. I’d love to hear if any of you have done something similar!!

Do not be afraid to disappear, from it, from us, for a while and see what comes to you in the silence. Michaela Cole (I found this in Austin Kleon)

If you are looking for something wonderful to read every now and then, I love Sage Bray Varon and I love her thoughtful blog This Creative Habit. She poses questions that make me think about my creative process and my life and that’s a good thing. She hasn’t actually mentioned a sabbatical I don’t think but she easily could.

The photos I’ve used for this post show some of the creative projects or sources of inspiration that I want to spend a bit more time exploring! Or just one that makes me happy to think about!

One hundred days of Mt Ainslie colours

I am not even going to comment on the gap between posts. Nor will I say that perhaps I will post more often again. ( I might) It is what it is. I have missed you. I long for the days of more engaged, sincere connection that I get here than I do on Instagram or FB. I feel my days there are numbered…so…maybe….just maybe….I will post more.

Just over three months ago I decided to participate in #the100dayproject on IG. I have resolutely resisted this in the past; watching instead as diligent, disciplined souls made bowls, brooches, did yoga, whatever for 100 days. Not my bag I thought. Enough shoulds in my life without adding more I told myself. You can’t do that; you will fail said the inner critic. Then the effervescent Tracy Holmes bounced onto IG and embraced the challenge.

Maybe I  could choose something super easy.

Who follows me anyway? No-one would know/ care if I failed.

Maybe I could make it work for me???

I decided to combine two passions…colour and my walks in the bush around Mt Ainslie. For 100 days, I would

  1. go on a walk;
  2. choose something I saw on my walk; and
  3. mix that colour only using the primaries of Cyan, Magenta and Yellow +/- black (K)  or White as needed and freely share that recipe with anyone watching.

The accountability of  having to share my recipe would help me to get out there and walk. That ticked the exercise box. The practice of using just the primaries (you could do one of Tracy’s courses to help learn about this!) would be fabulous practice and ticked the creativity box. And anything that makes me walk mindfully and notice stuff is good! My kind of spirituality!

And I would be sharing. I remember being tiny bit aghast the first time I saw someone selling colour recipes for polymer. I couldn’t understand why people would BUY someone else’s recipes when making colours was so fun and, for me, such an integral part of my creative expression and process. I sense a lot more possessiveness and ownership of stuff on social media these days. There’s a whole other post to be written about this but I guess I was reacting to this…wanting a bit of a return to those early, heady, exciting days in the development of polymer clay as an artistic medium when people shared rather than sold their discoveries. Obviously, there are TOTALLY times when when an idea or technique is ours and shouldn’t be copied or repeated without permission and acknowledgement. I myself ask people to pay for classes! But I see a lot of people on social media getting snippy about someone copying their technique when their technique was being shared on polymer forums 30 years ago. End of rant.

I made all sorts of preparatory good enough statements to my IG follower about how I was human and would miss days and make mistakes. I was essentially lowering everyone’s expectations. And setting realistic expectations for myself. A very useful life strategy! And off  I set.  I was totally unprepared for how many people would be interested in the journey and encourage me along the way! People even beyond the world of polymer were following…telling me how much they looked forward to my daily photo and recipe. I missed days and the world kept turning. I made mistakes and no-one hated me. And now I have got one hundred (+) fabulous colour recipes and a palette of colours from my place…a place that grounds me and welcomes me and nurtures me.

La, enough for now. Feast or famine. It has ever been thus. Love you gentle reader. Enjoy the colours. Email me if you want the recipes!!