It has been waaaaaaay too long since I added anything to my travel blog. In 2016 we moved and I started a PhD program. I went full time year round–finally defending my dissertation in October of 2021. On top of being in school, there was Covid (as we all know). As a university teacher, that meant quickly pivoting to new teaching modalities and constantly managing classes where there were persistent absences, lots of sickness, and lots of accompanying anxiety and depression (some of it my own!). Throw in some nasty health challenges for BOTH Bryce and I….and well….we’ve been barely keeping our heads about water for years now.
This Fall will be different though, and I am excited to have time to blog again and write about traveling. We are living in Paris this semester while Bryce completes a sabbatical doing research at the Paris conservatory and archives, and we traveled a few weeks before the semester start date to get settled and into a routine. He is studying trombone pedagogy from a historic perspective as well as visiting schools and conservatories for a more contemporary view. France consistently produces some of the most proficient and skilled musicians in the world, and he would like to know more!
We have been planning this sabbatical for years. Bryce has been studying French since 2016 and his language skills are impressive. He took all of the classes available at BYUI and regularly meets with French teachers over the internet. So far, he is doing great communicating! I know a few phrases, and most people are patient and kind–especially if you greet them in French and smile a lot. 🙂 While Bryce works in the archives and goes on school visits, Ellie (our youngest, a 20 year old art student) and I will see as much of Paris as we can! We have already applied for passes to the Louvre and will go as often as her artist heart desires.
This is the first semester break I’ve had since 2002. Twenty years! I have taught every single semester–including summer–for years now. My courses have changed quite frequently, and all of last school year I worked an additional online teaching job for Century College in Minnesota (to help make this trip possible). I am very excited to be able to recuperate from the extra stress and unforgiving schedule we have maintained for years now. I plan on taking many photographs, writing about our experiences, and continuing research in my areas of interest. Next semester I am teaching Medieval Art and BOY OH BOY I should have so many of my own pictures and videos I can use! I can visit all the major French cathedrals of the Gothic era, and hopefully also visit the Romanesque cathedrals along pilgrimage routes. I have been encouraged to pursue publishing a book from my dissertation, and I will have ample opportunities for research and experiences that will support this endeavor. That said, I am not doing anything that I don’t want to do, or that will stress me out! This is not the time for that. Sometimes a complete about face is needed to get back on track.
My son and his significant other are joining us mid-September for 90 days and telecommuting for work. What a day and age! My other children are joining us as well for short stints (Christmas AND birthday presents, ha!). We have a very decent apartment with three bedrooms and a couch that converts to a bed. We return home just a few days before Christmas. I’m honestly a little nervous about being away from my own home that long (but we DO have full time live-in house-sitters, thankfully, though!), because I’m a bit of a homebody and like my creature comforts. All of those tendencies have been on hyper-drive the last few years with Covid, too! Time to break out of my comfort zone, proactively heal, and truly rejuvenate. This semester needs to be all about “leisure” as Joseph Pieper defines it. Not entertainment, not vapid distraction, but activities that truly feed the soul.
“Unless we regain the art of silence and insight, the ability for non-activity, unless we substitute true leisure for our hectic amusements, we will destroy our culture and ourselves.”Joseph Pieper
Here is my Ellie posing after a morning at the open air markets. More to come!