I've been in sort of a weird mood lately. I've always done a fair amount of self-reflection, but lately I seem to have taken it to a whole new level. I've been super-introspective, almost to the point of withdrawing---from posting here, from keeping in touch with people, etc. Not that I've exactly become a hermit, and I haven't completely withdrawn or anything crazy like that, but lately I've really just wanted to spend time alone, thinking.
Part of this, I think, is mentally and emotionally preparing myself for the big life change that's about to happen. My due date is approaching. I'm excited, yet terrified. I'm ready, yet not. Almost everything is in place, yet I still feel vastly unprepared for this birth. I came to the realization the other day that I probably never will feel completely prepared for this birth, or for being a mom, and I have to accept that, no matter how uncomfortable it makes me. So a lot of the introspection has been around that.
Weirdly, the introspection has also spilled over into my work life. I've done a lot of reflecting on what I've chosen to work on during my sabbatical, what I've accomplished, and how that's been very different from what I set out to accomplish. The introspection, oddly, has also fueled this incredible burst of creativity in my work. The creativity burst is helping me find the energy to finish up some things and get them out for review. Today the creativity burst inspired an idea for another conference paper, which in turn can be combined with two recent conference papers for a journal article (which, unlike the journal article I'm currently struggling to get out, will not require a ton of work to put together, I think), which means that I could potentially have 4 things in the review pipeline at once. But the creative burst has a downside, too: there is so much I want to do in my research, and I know that my time is limited, and it's frustrating to not be able to get to all of it. Which I know is ridiculous: it's not like I'll never have time to do research again once my sabbatical is over. But I'm impatient. I see all these connections and paths in my work, and it's frustrating to not be able to follow them all at once. I don't want to prioritize; I want to clone myself and get it all done! :)
I've also been reflecting a bit on my department, taking advantage of my distance from the day-to-day happenings to think about things like department dynamics, what I want my role to be when I return, and department leadership. One thing I've realized is that I'm deeply unhappy with many aspects of our department's leadership. I've been trying to think creatively about how I'm going to deal with that when I return from sabbatical and maternity leave: whether it's better to work around it, with it, or confront it head-on and contribute to improving it. I don't have any good answers yet.
So that's where my mind's been lately.