Still at It

Painting, that is.

Writing, too, variously, though let’s be honest, it’s mostly tweaking, revising, entering contests, submitting to journals, opening up documents…and then closing them.

I’m weary, y’all. Burnt. Out.

I’ve been a university professor for 23 years, an administrator for 10. All of this without one of those magical, coveted things called a sabbatical which are only available to full-time, tenured professors (which is dumb and unfair because academia is dumb and unfair–a rant for another day.). I have always worked full-time but for the first half my career, I was not on the tenure track. Now that I am, the minute I was eligible for a sabbatical (at year 7), I applied.

The first year, my application was rejected. There are only so many to give out each semester.

The second year, it was accepted…but I had to postpone it for administrative reasons. It was supposed to be starting in, oh, about a month from now. Instead, it will happen in the spring of 2024 and I will spend the next year getting things as ready as possible for one of my marvelous colleagues to step into my straightjacket shoes so I can unplug from campus for an entire, blissful semester.

Maybe then I’ll get back to writing? I hope so. I miss it, truly. But the words seem stuck inside/between endless spreadsheets and Zoom meetings and oh my god the emails. (This is not about my students. I love teaching them.)

Is it any wonder my synapses are scrambled?

But painting is not stuck. Painting un-scrambles me in continually surprising and energizing ways. I am excited to paint almost every day. (Will I ever feel this way about writing? Did I? Is it even possible to?)

My son recently discovered he likes watching World Cup soccer. This is surprising. Shocking, even, to all of us living in this totally un-sporty home. But he’s delighted and I told him I was so glad he allowed himself to be open to discovering this about himself.

That’s what this year of painting has been for me. An incredible process of discovery.

I had no idea how much I needed it.

I can’t imagine my life, now, without it.

And I’m happy to share it with you here. Thanks for all your encouragement and support!

6 thoughts on “Still at It

  1. thelittleredhen says:

    Sheila, I am happy to hear you will get your sabbatical soon! I have seen your artwork your kids and dogs and garden on FB and all are incredible. I know it’s not 2023 yet, but almost. Wishing you a very happy new year and more. love, Shawna

  2. Beth says:

    Hi, I’m here via Dave Bonta’s weekly compendium, and just wanted to say that as a writer and lifelong artist I am always so happy to hear about people who love art returning to that love, especially when discouraging things happened to them early in life. Your paintings are beautiful, and I hope you will continue making them forever, and writing too.

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