On a rediscovery of self

At the moment, I find myself on study leave. I am at the three month mark now and I feel compelled to honour what this time has meant to me so far. I also felt compelled to update this blog at long last (it really has been far too long).

To have six months wholly devoted to research has been life-changing. It has allowed me the time and space to really focus on my work: on the projects which had been gathering dust, on more recent ones which needed plenty of nurturing, and on new projects which are full of possibility.

I am currently working with colleagues on projects encompassing how children and young people experience life in our communities, trauma-informed practices in educational settings, young children’s nature connectedness, and more. I have found myself returning to topics that mean a great deal to me, including the image of the child and how children are viewed/conceptualised and how we relate to them. I have had the chance to speak, frequently and deeply, about children’s rights and how critical their views and voices are. To say that these conversations are a comfort and an inspiration would an understatement; a vast one, in fact.

This time has been so precious in rediscovering who I am as a researcher and where I want my research to go: not only in these six wonderful months of study leave, but throughout this year and in the years to come. It has allowed me to (re)connect with colleagues who are truly inspiring and uplifting to work with. To spend time with them, to speak and write with them, to workshop ideas, and to invest in encouraging and supporting each other – well, all of that has been precious beyond measure.

As well as nurturing my research, I have had the time to rediscover and nurture other parts of myself. I am reading more often (books enjoyed this year so far include The Little Friend, The Sin of Abbé Mouret, House of Psychotic Women, and more). I have committed more time to creative writing and have devoted a great deal of that time to working through some challenging experiences and complicated feelings that continue to linger. Recently, I found out that one of my poems will be published in the coming months. I am thinking about sharing some of my creative writing here on this blog, because it feels like such a core part of who I am, and I would love to share it more openly.

I wanted to close this entry with a reflection on what it has meant to experience this rediscovery of self. I had hoped to find some way to draw these threads together and capture it in both in full and in brief. But it has meant more than I can say. In the months to come, I hope to share more of what I have been working on, both in terms of my research and my creative works. That second part is a big step, but the more I think on it, the more I feel it is a step which is well worth taking.

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