I’m back at the blog- due in part to having a bit of space to write (Hello global pandemic! Hello quarantine!) but also because I was feeling the urge to start documenting, for myself, some big shifts coming down the pipe.
On February 26, 2020, I passed my Viva (Dr Holmes IN THE HOUSE!) — AND, on that very same day, I signed an offer for a Tenure Track Professor job. It is still unbelievable to me that those two things came together on THE SAME DAY. But they did. These two dreams, goals, thorns in my side…
I first got the inkling that I wanted to “be” in academia in 2009. Most of my life between 1992 and 2009 revolved around being a stay-home Mum. I did some professional gigs and maintained a private teaching studio throughout those 17 years but my main focus was the kids. But when the youngest was around 2-years old I starting thinking there was more I wanted to be doing. I remember the moment I saw the posting for the part-time position that would be my first job teaching at a university. I knew in that instant that that’s what I wanted to be doing. So, with only a BFA under my belt (and some professional experience to my credit) I stumbled into a part-time position at a small university.
My first class is etched in my memory. I had to teach private voice classes in a science lab. Certainly not what I would describe as a dream job, BUT— I just knew it was where I wanted to be- I loved the students, the energy, the curiosity, the digging into, the searching, the figuring things out… all of it.
Within two years of starting there, I began my MFA —a low residency programme that allowed me to complete my degree as I continued to teach. By the time I graduated, in true “go big or go home” style, I had already set my sights on a PhD.
It has been a looooooong, hard 7 years. There have been many MANY bumps along the road. These have included almost every roadblock that the “how to survive your PhD” self-help books have listed as things that may derail your studies. These include (but are not limited to) a death in the family, my husband’s battle with cancer, (all-clear for the last 2 years!) caring for my mother during her descent into Alzheimer’s disease, 5 other family member’s hospitalizations, a cross country move, juggling multiple part-time teaching jobs… oh, and did I mention I was living in Canada but travelling to the UK to attend university(?!) AND, is it no wonder that on top of all this I received a Revise and Resubmit result on my first thesis submission?
You know that; “Nevertheless she persisted””
Perseverance in the face of all the obstacles I faced (I didn’t even mention the ageism and sexism I was faced with) was, without a doubt, my greatest (and sometimes only) asset through the whole thing.
And so here I am. At 53 years of age, I am stepping into a whole new chapter. I am thrilled. I’m excited. I am maybe a little scared- but not too much. Mostly I am revelling in the opportunity.
I am ready to get going. One gift that I have been able to squeeze out of 7 weeks of quarantine is the time and space to prepare for this new chapter. I sort of feel like I’m living a kind of prologue right now. I’ve been focusing on readying myself; physically, mentally and emotionally, to charge ahead, full steamahead.