What I did on my Sabbatical: by Shelly Furuness

May 24, 2017
  1. Took an art class on drawing at the Indianapolis Art Center
  2. Documented my creative process
  3. Took a tennis lesson
  4. Took a swim lesson
  5. Created little paintings with oil paints and really liked it
  6. Saw Hidden Figures in the movie theater at 10:00 in the morning all by myself on a Monday morning
  7. Wrote a book chapter about teaching middle schoolers in an online environment
  8. Read about 20 books
  9. Got a tattoo
  10. Got a massage
  11. Saw a nutritionist
  12. Wrote weekly at CTS and had several wonderful lunches in the cafe there
  13. Attended a Writing Workshop on Flash Memoir
  14. Learned about Scandinavia’s healthcare and education systems
  15. Met new Journey Fellow friends at Waycross in Bloomington, IN
  16. Canoed at Sugar Creek
  17. Hiked at Turkey Run with those Journey Fellow friends
  18. Contra danced in a barn near a historic covered bridge
  19. Made a story stick to walk with
  20. Spent 9 days in Florida with my boys and in-laws for Spring Break
  21. Went to Universal Studios to explore the expanded Harry Potter World
  22. Took a glass bottom boat ride in a natural spring in Florida
  23. Hit golf balls
  24. Worked out with fidelity the whole semester
  25. Learned that the Indiana Department of Education loved our Middle-Secondary Special Education proposal
  26. Tried spin class again
  27. Loved water aerobics
  28. Watched an Atlanta Braves spring training game
  29. Started a blog
  30. Began a daily writing practice thanks to Bryan’s Boot Camp
  31. Drove my son to weight training all semester
  32. Meditated with Oprah and Deepak for 21 days
  33. Had brunch with my friends more than once
  34. Attended Birdman with a live drumming performance at Clowes
  35. Attended several One Butler Brain Project lectures with my boys
  36. Volunteered to review science textbooks for my boys’ school district
  37. Hung out at the middle school team meetings at the Lab School on Fridays from February-May
  38. Wrote an (almost finished) article with my friend and colleague, Dr. Brooke Kandel-Cisco
  39. Visited Stockholm, Sweden
  40. Visited Copenhagen, Denmark
  41. Visited Reykjavic, Iceland
  42. Rode a bike (without crashing) in Copenhagen
  43. Ate herring–multiple times
  44. Listened to newly arrived students in Vallentuna tell their stories of arrival in Sweden
  45. Had wine and cheese in the lovely home of my Swedish Hoosier colleague, Angelica Granqvist
  46. Got to know my Butler colleagues better by traveling with them for 14 days
  47. Soaked in the Blue Lagoon with a silica mud mask on my face and a drink in my hand
  48. Ate a salmon burger off a salmon wagon
  49. Tried Thai food for the first time
  50. Walked through Kronsborg Castle which is the setting for Hamlet
  51. Saw the “real” Little Mermaid
  52. Thought deeply about the restructuring of our College of Education and proposed some ideas
  53. Took a class called Writing Life through the Indiana Partnership for Young Writers
  54. Applied for and was granted a BAC grant
  55. Spent 13 days from 9:00-4:00 being a student in the National Writing Project at IUPUI
  56. Continued participating in the Writing Life and reconnected with a writing friend from high school
  57. Hiked 8 miles at Clifty Falls with my boys
  58. Fell in the creek hiking trail 2
  59. Didn’t teach the summer cohort for the first time in 9 years
  60. Celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary
  61. Co-wrote an article with Michelle Trainor for the Middle School Journal
  62. Took baby steps rethinking curriculum with colleagues that might enhance preparation of for middle childhood
  63. Learned that STEM grants require much more than a month to prepare
  64. Traveled back to the UK with Dr. Esteves, Bryan and 16 students
  65. Navigated the Tube in London
  66. Saw Twelfth Night at the Globe
  67. Saw Julius Caesar performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford upon Avon
  68. Climbed to the summit of Arthur’s Seat
  69. Participated in a storytelling workshop with a professional storyteller in Edinburgh, Scotland
  70. Walked along the dock where the Titanic was launch in Belfast
  71. Meditated with Oprah and Deepak for another 21 days
  72. Had my first pint of Guinness
  73. Walked along the Giant’s Causeway and learned about Finn MacCool
  74. Learned that the Peace Wall in Belfast is about keeping peace, not celebrating it
  75. Took time, breathed deeply as often as I wanted, and remembered my “why”

Books I Read During Sabbatical

May 4, 2017

Do Not Go On–Manuscript Draft by Bryan Furuness

Hillbilly Elegy–JD Vance

A Gentleman in Moscow–Amov Towles

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in an Age of Colorblindness–Michelle Alexander

Station Eleven–Emily St. John Mandel

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone–J.K. Rowling (for ol’ time’s sake)

One Hundred Demons–Lynda Barry

The Promise of Paradox–Parker Palmer

Turning to One Another–Margaret Wheatley (Re-reading from 2011)

The Servant as Leader, original Essay–Robert K. Greenleaf

The Case for Servant Leadership–Kent M. Keith

Teaching from the Heart–Sharon Draper

The Heart of Higher Education–Parker Palmer and Arthur Zajonc

The Wonder–Emma Donoghue

Let Your Life Speak–Parker Palmer

Hidden Wholeness–Parker Palmer

Show Your Work–Austin Kleon

Start with the Way–Simon Sinek

The Active Life –Parker Palmer

Just Mercy–Bryan Stevenson

Story of Creative Process

April 10, 2017

The link below will take you to a visual story I created to document what I learned about my creative process during sabbatical.

Story of Creative Process

Aren’t you too old for a tattoo?

March 14, 2017

 I’ve always been afraid of getting a tattoo–for lots of reasons. One reason being that it would hurt (and it did, a lot.) But, more broadly my reasons had to do with the fact that people always want to know the “why” and the “what” of your tattoo story…Why’d you pick that and what does it mean? Why there? What made you decide to get it? Until now, I didn’t have an answer compelling enough to satisfy me.

I think tattoos represent something very personal and intimate about how one sees the world. They are documentation of your thinking made visible to other people. A tattoo represents at least part of your identity. Even if the tattoo is located in a less publicly visible space, it shows others (and yourself) who you believe yourself to be or what beauty you see in the world. The placement of the tattoo is part of the story too. The placement is an invitation of sorts and an indication of whom you’ll allow to see that part of you.  The idea that a tattoo is a part of your identity, but only a part always stopped me from seriously considering a permanent representation. Self-definition and identity integration have been very important concepts to me, so much so, that I simply couldn’t imagine an image that would fully integrate enough parts of myself to show the “whole” me, and I didn’t want a permanently fragmented image projected to the world or to myself.

I’m 41 (almost 42) and I have become what I want to be when I grow up. I mean, I’m always in the process of becoming, but I’m no longer trying to figure out who I want to be. I know who I am. I know what I am called to do with my life. Now the goal is to be and to live a better version of myself each day. This spring of 2017, I’ve been on sabbatical and I’ve had the opportunity to read and think deeply about how to do that. So, I got a little tattoo, about the size of a quarter on my right wrist, left of center–a place I can see easily and a place you can see when I extend my hand to you in greeting. How will a tattoo help me live into a better version of myself each day you might wonder. Well, maybe it won’t, but it is a visual reminder, a touchstone, of the unifying theory working in my life–one I recognized as working in my life when given the time sabbatical affords me to stop, think, and reflect.

And now, I have an answer to the “what” and “why” questions of my tattoo story that satisfy me. What is it? What does it mean? Why?

It’s a Tree of Life with green, spiraling leaves within a blue circle. Why the Tree of Life? Because it is an image both sacred and philosophical. It is the sacred image at the alter in my own church, but it is also an image widely used in most religions, philosophies, and myths connecting all forms of creation. For me, the tree with the shape of the cross within it reminds me that I do have a calling, and while it is my calling, it is not a ministry. It is resistance and liberation. In Promise of the Paradox, Parker Palmer says, ” The older word for liberation is salvation…for its root meaning is “wholeness.” To be saved is to be made whole…The liberation of the cross frees us not for indulgence and ease but for the discipline of serving truth without fearing the contractions…But as I live in that resistance–as I acknowledge and confess it to myself and others–slowly my life is pulled open.”  The tree and the cross remind me of what I’m called to do and that I need to remember to be pulled open, not pulled apart, by it.

The green spiral leaves on the tree remind me that there is always a chance for renewal and new growth. The spiral shape is a constant reminder that our own growth has an outward ripple effect. And, the blue dots encircling the tree represent the many and the one bigger community(ies) in which I am rooted. Palmer reminds us that…“[T]here are circles within circles within circles, world without end. And his words remind me that we must always keep space open to invite others into community with us, even (and especially) those who challenge us. Palmer says, “In a true community, we will not choose our companions, for our choices are always limited by self-serving motives…In fact, we might define true community as that place where the person you least want to live with always lives…[C]ommunity comes as a by-product of commitment and struggle…community is a product of love in action and not of simple self-interest.”

There’s my tattoo story. What it is; what it means; why I got it. This tattoo is my public and visual declaration of who and how I want to be in the world. I recognize that I will fail to live up to this again and again. But it is my hope that any failure in what I cannot do will strengthen my discovery of what I can do and that I’ll continue to “learn that our gifts vary, with each person possessing some of what we need but no one possessing it all.