Thursday, August 23, 2012

Turning Over the Reins and Getting Enough Sleep

My second sabbatical begins.  This time, I am taking a full-year sabbatical.  (Last time, I just took one semester.)

Initially, I thought sabbatical began with the end of the previous school year.  But now, as I watch my campus begin to stir back to life in preparation for the start of a new academic year, I realize that the summer is the summer -- its own special season -- and it is only really now that my sabbatical, proper, begins.  It is only now that my life noticably changes -- that I find myself not doing things that normally I would be doing now, like finalizing syllabi, and participating in start-of-the-year events.  It is only now that it truly registers with my colleagues that I am not "with them" as they transition from summer into the start of a new semester.  They tease me with a pretended pretend-jealousy that I know is actually real, because I have felt it myself!  Real, but not malicious.  I am genuinely happy for my colleagues on sabbatical, and I know they are happy for me, but at the same time, they do wish they could be on sabbatical too.

Through the summer I have been working on my writing projects, but also relaxing more than usual, and playing lots of music.  I play with a community orchestra, and we have had a series of outdoor concerts, the most recent of which was last night.  We played as the sun set behind us.  This is the first concert of the season where it got dark enough before the end of the concert that we needed little lights on our music stands.  We turned them on for the last couple of pieces that we played.  It was also the first concert where it cooled off enough through the evening that my flute needed a little extra attention after long rests to coax it back into playing.  On the really hot days, the instruments stay warmed up and are immediately responsive!  We have two more concerts and a recording session before our season concludes.

This week I have had a series of meetings with colleagues to make sure that things will run smoothly during the year in my absence.  I am actually being replaced by one-and-a-half people, believe it or not.  One person is filling in for my philosophy teaching, and another person is devoting half of her work time to teaching my peace courses and coordinating our peace studies program.  Today I had my official meeting with that person to hand over information about our peace studies program, and so I finally feel free to immerse myself fully in my sabbatical now.

What is amazing to me is that since I have let myself slow down a bit and catch up with myself this summer, I feel well-rested and better organized again.

One of the most remarkable discoveries I have made is what a difference it makes to get enough sleep!  I have let myself sleep as long as I need to each morning.  It is not until now that I have grasped how sleep-deprived I must have been.  It is a revelation to me that you can awaken feeling well-rested, and have lots of energy throughout the day.  I highly recommend getting enough sleep!  It can make a profound difference to your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being!

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