As my sabbatical draws to a close I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on the past 6 months. In a nutshell, it was a productive, reflective and restorative time. I really needed this sabbatical, but didn’t realize how much I needed it until I was on it. I went straight from my PhD to a 2 year adjuncting gig, and then straight from that gig to my job at Brock. This trajectory involved two cross-country moves, a bit of upheaval in my personal life and somewhere in the ballpark of 15 new courses to prep. I was starting to feel tired and also a bit frustrated that I hadn’t been able to find the time nor energy to really sink my teeth into my new research project.
This past 6 months has allowed me to spend long stretches of time reading some of the key literature that informs my new research. And when I say read, I mean really read — I had the luxury of going back over important chapters, taking notes, and spending time reflecting on what I’d read. It has been years since I’ve had this kind of focused time for reading.
I’ve also taken some research trips to Boston and to New York. In both cities I found some amazing material to help support my new project. I returned home from my last research trip with a very clear idea of the direction I want to be taking this project in. This vision is vastly different than the one I had when I began my sabbatical nearly 6 months ago. I’m not sure I would have arrived at this framework had I not had this sabbatical.
In addition to this new research I think the single biggest thing that has helped to make this sabbatical a success was being able to stay focused on my work day after day. There have been very few days over the past 6 months that I was not at least reading and/or thinking about this project. Being able to stay in the research groove day after day is, once again, not something I’ve been able to do in many, many years. I know that my family would have liked me to come out and visit during the sabbatical, but I just felt that it was so important to keep focused and keep working. I don’t know when I’ll get another opportunity like this.
I realize that not all institutions grant their pre-tenure faculty sabbaticals, and I am most grateful that I work for a university that gets just how important this kind of leave time is.