Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A beautiful fresh snow is what I awakened to this morning. Lovely!

I started this blog as a way to document my sabbatical leave. For now I will continue to post about how I am keeping up on balance, downsizing, scholarship and other goals that I had during my sabbatical.  I recognize how fortunate I was to have that year, but, also as an academic how fortunate I am to have flexibility in my work.

I am already in my fourth week back. I know I will be in transition for a while, maybe the whole semester. I have excellent students and low class sizes, both of those make it easier for me to be back. I have made no excuses for not exercising and watching what I eat. There are a few days when my classes started at 8 am, meaning I am out the door at 6:15, exercise already behind me, to make the commute to campus.

I continue to try to maintain some balance in my life, too. My office is quite close to our campus Arboretum. Twice, I have taken a mile walk during our Chapel break instead of heading back to my office and doing more work.  I cannot believe I rarely did this before. The quiet of the Arboretum and the chance to hear the crunch of snow, the chickadees, the nuthatches and the cardinals is restorative for me. The beauty is that not a single other person was out walking during that time. Quiet and peaceful.

I am fortunate this semester to have a teaching schedule that allows me to be on campus three times a week most weeks. Before the semester even started I looked a head and planned some writing days. Last Friday and Saturday were two of those days. One of my papers is only 402 words away from being sent off to a journal. This particular paper started at over 15000 words. The journal limit is 10, 000, including references, tables, and of course text. This article is very close to completion. I have another one that is in the hands of the author co-writer right now and is also very close to completion. I hope to continue to set aside 4 or so days a month to write as the semester continues. My hope is to make some progress on the other 4 papers that are not ready for prime time.

I am caring for myself in other ways, too. For one, I stopped by intake of caffeine. I no longer drink coffee at all, nor any soda with caffeine. Being caffeine free is another step in trying to mediate my horrible migraine headaches. I can tell you that going off the caffeine was absolutely brutal. I had some of the worst headaches ever as my body withdrew from my addiction. It took my body about a month to get past those headaches, including a headache almost daily during my first two weeks back to work. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to wake up and go about my daily life sans headache. That is where I am today. My hope is that as I continue to become healthier and more fit that I will be able to stop all the medication that I take, even the preventive ones.

So far every weekend we have made it to the cabin. It is a retreat more than anything for me. I can cook, cross country ski, watch and observe the trees that are everywhere and just fill my soul with the beautiful, peaceful and enchanting natural world. I bought hubby a collection of Clint Eastwood movies for Christmas.  Most weekends we spend watching one or two of these fabulous movies, especially the later ones.  We saw “A Separation” last week at a theater. One of the most compelling moves I have experienced in a long time.

This weekend I will be taking small group of my students to a science conference in Duluth. We will stay one night at our cabin where they will briefly be able to enjoy the magic of it. I am excited.  It is the students who make it rewarding to be back at my academic life.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your day with me. TTFN, Michele