We’re back from the beach–Cape Hatteras (we barely outran the tropical storm), where we mostly ate cookies and swam, although we had the occasional outing to Places of Historical Significance. Where the boys mostly learned about…

…weapons. And so did the Warrior Princess.

I’ve occasionally had parents complain that the Story of the World is too battle-oriented. That’s probably due to the fact that I wrote it to educate my own testosterone-heavy band. And the Warrior Princess.

Anyway, I find myself at the mid-point of my sabbatical, and several of my friends have asked me if I’m enjoying it.

Hmm. Well, the report is mixed. On the negative side, I’m discovering that the time I carve out for writing each week does not remain unfilled if I’m not writing. Writing time is like a balloon. The act of writing (and for me, the existence of contracts and the legal obligation to meet deadlines) is the air that fills it. Without the air, the balloon collapses inward. So apart from the beach vacation, I can’t say that I feel as if I’ve rested. I feel as if I’ve done a lot of stuff which needed to be done, and HASN’T been done because I’ve been writing. Nothing wrong with this, of course, but I haven’t spent as much time sitting, and thinking, and reading, as I’d hoped. My life is more orderly, but my mind is no less cluttered.

On the positive side, I have enjoyed my evenings much more. I realize I’ve gotten into a habit of putting all the kids to bed and then thinking, “Can I rest now, or should I work some more?” Being the type-A Protestant that I am, the answer is usually “Work more.” I haven’t been giving myself that option–and it’s refreshing.

Even more positive–I am REALLY looking forward to getting back to the History of the Middle Ages. I’m restraining myself from just opening up the file and jotting down a few ideas, but I’ve been very tempted. So when October 1 rolls around, I’ll be glad to sit down to the task–and since I couldn’t stand the thought of it back at the beginning of August, the sabbatical is obviously doing the trick.

Showing 6 comments
  • Laura

    Susan — I visit your blog occasionally, ever since I heard you speak in Modesto last year, which is why I only now saw the post about your upcoming visit to Korea. How exciting! Just wanted to offer some advice you may find useful. (Or perhaps you already know all this!)

    Koreans go nuts over white kids, especially those who can speak a few words of Korean, and also they don’t have the “personal space” we do — my boys (younger than yours) got patted and hugged enthusiastically by women, boys, even Korean men . . . if you hand something (money, a book, etc.) to a Korean or are receiving something from a Korean, if you use both hands to hold the item (or if you touch your left hand to your right wrist) — believe me, Koreans will notice. They certainly don’t expect Westerners to adhere to Korean norms — I kept forgetting to do this, and the Koreans were always very gracious — but when I did remember, there was a real appreciation. (Not even sure how it manifested itself — a subtle relaxation? a twinkle in the eyes? a deeper bow??) . . . One more thing — when someone has performed a service for you for which you’ve paid (say, when you’re leaving a restaurant, a store, a tailor’s shop, a taxi), they thank you, and then you don’t thank them in return (as Americans might); instead Koreans will say “Su go ha seh yo” — literally, something like “Keep working hard!” I think it’s hysterical. Anyway, when my very Western husband would say this, Koreans would instinctively bow and mutter “neh, neh” and then do a double-take — Americans aren’t supposed to know about that!

    Looking forward to hearing about your adventures!

  • dangermom

    Well, yeah, there are a lot of battles, but we enjoy them. My older daughter had a great time in 1st grade drawing Sargon and a big pile of heads. My second daughter (also an Emily) can accurately be described as a Warrior Princess, so she’ll probably have a great time. She likes battles a lot.

    We’re looking forward to a visit from you in Sacramento! Be warned: there’s a big wildfire in the mountains and smoke is hanging over everything. Right now it’s less than 30% contained, so we can only hope that it will be over soon, but be prepared for gray skies and icky haze.

  • Melissa

    my 4 warriors love the battle oriented history!

  • Anita

    Battles are part of the sinful human nature. History is full of them. The Bible even has many battles in it.

    Enjoy your sabbatical and use the time to enjoy life. The books will come and even though I can’t wait for your next book, I think resting is what recharges the batteries and gets us thinking again. I know I always feel refreshed when my family goes on our yearly family retreat weekend.

    Oh, I have a warrior princess too! She’s 14 and she loves your books!

  • Evelyn

    I’ve been a ‘fan’ of yours ever since I stumbled across your book “The Well-Educated Mind” about a year ago and only recently came across your blog. The last week I’ve read through all of the archives and the journey has been tremendous. So much life and living compressed into a few hours of reading.
    Your blog has inspired me to continue my education in a more formal way. Just seeing your office with all of those books and stacks of paper and sticky notes made me come to the realization that that is where I belong. Not in your office 😉 but in my own with books stacked in dangerous looking piles and more sticky notes than wallpaper. You are living proof that one can go back and earn your PhD. (Congrats!) Thanks for being an inspiration and giving us a look at what your life is like.
    Take care. Enjoy your sabbatical.
    P.S. My copy of “The History of the Ancient World” just arrived today. Haven’t read any of it yet, but it looks pretty 🙂 I’ll be reserving space on my bookshelf for the rest of the series that is to come.

  • Josh

    Our family loves the battles (including our own warrior princess)!

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