My son used to scare me when I got home from work by leaping out of the foxhole he’d dug in our yard. I miss those days, though I’m glad to say we filled in the foxhole before anyone broke any bones stepping in it inadvertently (nominee for person most likely to have done that = me).
I miss the days when he dug tunnels and canals and poured water all over. A filthy, dirty, muddy, mucky kid–that’s the mark of a good summer day in my book.
So when I tell you that I feel as though I’m now sitting in a hole in my backyard that I dug over the last year or two–not big enough to stand up in, just big enough to sit in–you should understand a few things.
1. I had a lot of help digging this hole.
2. It isn’t muddy because we haven’t had much rain AT ALL lately.
3. I’m actually sitting inside my kitchen as I’m writing this.
4. It wasn’t easy, digging this hole, but I’m very happy right now, sitting in it.
I could have, a year ago, or two years ago, or three years ago, applied for traditional funding for a sabbatical, and because I have a good project and because I write good proposals, I probably could be on a fully funded sabbatical this semester, teaching zero classes. The UW Colleges doesn’t have enough funding to fund very many sabbaticals, but it still funds a few (three this semester), and if you take one semester instead of a year, you get your full salary and benefits.
I took a full year ten years ago, traditionally funded. My husband and I figured out how to make the 35% pay cut work. It worked.
This time, for a variety of reasons, the traditional funding route did not appeal to me at all. (As I’m spending my MWF on campus teaching two classes, I continue to reflect on WHY that did not appeal to me at all. Will probably write about it soon.)
Instead, I chose the route of trying to raise my replacement costs. I’d hoped to raise around $24,000 before July 1 of this year, and if I had, I’d be teaching zero classes this fall.
It turns out there are parts of fundraising and being a grant-hound I’m good at, and then other parts, not so much.
But with a lot of help, I made it halfway, and I count myself lucky to be in a place where my dean agreed that the money I’d raised could “buy me out of” two of the classes I would normally teach, and where my business office geniuses figured out the logistics.
Teaching zero classes for a semester would be a terrific break and give me ample time for my project.
But teaching two classes instead of four is lovely. And it gives me a good chunk of time.
So, for example, today I get to go have lunch with a friend and talk to her about what kind of creativity workshop she might benefit from.
That’s my project–designing creativity workshops for businesses, organizations, and individuals. Right now, I’m in the surveying/needs assessment phase.
At the end of my half-battical (because I made it halfway, get it?), I’ll be ready to work with people to help them become more creative in measurable, useful, and wonderful ways.
Thus all my funders, all the people who helped me dig this hole–thank you.
One example I will have, henceforth, of BEING creative is the fundraising I’ve done, which is, of course, one of the big reasons I was so drawn to the idea of doing it.
Today’s creativity reading (I’m trying to get caught up on all the web pages, blogs, articles, and books I’ve put on my reading list) is “Twelve Things You Were Not Taught About Creative Thinking in School.” Several of them seem relevant to what I went through as I was fundraising–#2 “creative thinking is work” (yes, exhausting–I sort of collapsed from it in early July). #7 “expect the experts to be negative” was truer than I expected. I had a ton of support, but there are people who JUST DIDN’T GET IT, why I was not drawn at all to seeking traditional sabbatical funding. #8 “trust your instincts” is what I was doing, what I’m still doing. I don’t really understand all of why my gut was telling me LOUDLY to raise my own funds, but I listened.
#9 “There is no such thing as failure” is a comfort to me, as I tell myself that halfway is terrific. It doesn’t feel like failure, having cobbled together the $11,534 needed to replace me in the classroom.
And finally for today, #10, “You do not see things as they are; you see them as you are.”
And right now, I see myself blissed out in a hole in my own backyard.