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!