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the adjunct academic on “break”.

June 16, 2016

It’s five days before the solstice but “summer” began about a month ago when juries were over and the last of the make-up lessons had been given. The breeze is blowing sweetly through the neighborhood and the distractibility factor is high, though it’s not ‘why don’t you go out and play’ that’s singing softly in my ear.  It’s ‘what’s next?’ and ‘where did I leave off?’ The last time I had a stretched out period of time to get moving on any of the big ongoing projects was January.  I know I have them somewhere . . the lists.

Dreaming up projects is the easy part.  

Dreaming up projects is the easy part.  It can be exhilarating.  The whole idea start to finish drops into the head, and the desire to see it through starts reeling out the potential scenarios that might lead to the proposed project’s completion.  It’s the follow through that gets dicey.  How much time will it actually take?  How much energy do I have?  Isn’t it ok to just rest on a couple of these unpaid days off?

The adjunct teacher/performing artist gets a paycheck for thirty weeks a year and is on ‘break’ for the other twenty-two weeks.  Our task is to leverage that break time toward any adjacent, or even radically different pursuits that could also support us financially and that nurture us as artist-teachers.  Either we get a summer job completely unrelated to our area of expertise, or we pull together enough self-employment income to enable time for the dreamed up projects.  Let’s save the thought that we could save enough during the year to support not working in the summer.  Should I be so bold as to speak to the blogosphere about that, I’ll file it under Adjunct Academic on finances.

Dreaming up projects is what creatives do.  

Thankfully, my music education taught me something about the composer Mahler that I have held dear for these past twenty-plus years of steadily sporadic employment.  The story goes that Mahler’s responsibilities as a conductor during the opera season were so engrossing that he made the conscious choice to limit composing to the summer months.  The music he created in those concentrated time periods is some of my favorite music to sing. Here’s a symbolic mentor for me!  I have kept a photo of Mahler on my piano for years for just this reason.

This summer is no different than any other.  I have the taxes on extension, archives that long to be sorted, new repertoire to learn, research related to singing and teaching, some performing coming up to prepare for, and some neglected house and yard care.  In quadrant II of my Covey time management grid I have new group and individual coaching programs to roll out, a CD in progress, and a jar on my desk full of other great ideas.  All of it is IMPORTANT and not-urgent.

This is my unpaid sabbatical – four months to do anything I want.  All I need is a little equanimity and organization to take the reigns from my imagination long enough to get rolling toward actualizing my dreams.  There’s no time but the present.  To quote Joni Mitchell, “It’s just in dreams we fly”.  Here on land, awake, we put one foot in front of the other.  It’s the only way to get ‘er done.