Sabbatical Weeks 7 – 10: Work, Travel, Rest, Repeat

It appears that I have taken a sabbatical from my sabbatical blog – whoops! But, never fear – there have been plenty of good things going on this month with regard to research, writing, and traveling so not all is lost.

March started off with the completion of the first round of my Oxford Bibliographies book chapter on “User Generated Content in Communication” – it was fun to revisit a topic that I worked extensively on while in graduate school as much has changed since that time. It is typical for me to only focus on the advertising side of things so this chapter was a nice change of pace since I had to include material from journalism, communication studies, public relations, and government communications. Now that it is submitted, the waiting game begins on the first round of revisions.

My reward for turning in my chapter was a trip to the Pacific Northwest and what a treat it was – hikes with waterfalls, Japanese gardens, delicious food, ferry rides, walks on pebbly beaches, and fun with family and friends. I got to see my first tsunami zone and take in the incredible views of the Oregon coast and completely fell in love with Wheeler, Oregon (pop. 414) – full disclosure, there was a hound dog named Birdie – who can resist that?.

Zen rock garden at the Japanese Gardens, Portland, Oregon

As March comes to a close, I will be working on the fourth round of revisions on a manuscript and fleshing out some new research ideas for conference submissions in the fall. The coming month will bring class prep for fall and time to rethink the projects and assignments completed in my Channel Planning course. It is always a challenge to keep up with new channels and how to integrate them into the planning process. Hoping to come up with some good materials after I dive down that rabbit hole.

In other news, Spring arrived in Fort Worth this week bringing birds to my garden, beautiful green leaves on the trees, blossoms all around the neighborhood, and lots of thunderstorms in true North Texas style. I am looking forward to digging in the dirt and planting some new perennials in the coming weeks – the garden center has definitely not seen the last of me for the season.

Lilies at the garden center, Fort Worth, Texas

Sabbatical Weeks 5 and 6: Finding my pace

Time has flown by the last week and a half – conference presentations happened – big decisions were made – research projects have continued to trudge along toward completion – yard work has been conquered – sewing room has been setup and organized.

The big news to report from here is that I signed on to become the next department chair for the Department of Strategic Communication at TCU and will start that three-year term in August 2018. It’s exciting and nerve-racking and a lot to think about so I have started ordering books, checking out online resources, and seeking advice from friends in these jobs – the preparation begins! I’m aggregating my online resources here – https://pinboard.in/u:lbrightphd/t:STCO-dept-chair-job/.

I have been continuing my digital wellness practices and have been reading more about this topic – during that effort, I found a few interesting perspectives to think about regarding research and teaching:

1) Running on fumes is no joke when it comes to trying to move ahead in your career – highlights why having boundaries is important in your approach to academic work: Why I collapsed on the job

2) In the last couple of years, I have done a little bit of research on privacy concerns and how they relate to social media fatigue as well as interact with consumers and their health data – this NYT piece talks about many of the same aspects and offers info on good tools to use: Limiting the influence of tech

3) I started teaching the year the first iPhone came on the market and have witnessed firsthand the shift students have made from being open and available in the classroom to being timid, closed off and immersed in their phones or laptops. Part of the problem relates to the lives they have created for themselves on social media and the pressure for perfection. This HBR piece talks about those issues and how to deal with perfectionism in the classroom – Perfectionism is increasing, and that’s not a good thing

4) I’m always looking for ways to get manuscripts together more efficiently – this is a hard sciences approach that seems promising and something I might try for my next project – Geo Cognition Laboratory Manuscript Writing Process.

I’m continuing my work on a book chapter on user-generated content as well as the final edits on a forthcoming piece related to social media fatigue and FOMO. Speaking of which, I had a blast last week talking to two different groups at the Texas School Public Relations Association conference about social media engagement, planning, and replacing the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) with the Joy Of Missing Out (JOMO).

Presenting about Social Media Fatigue at the Texas School Public Relations Association annual conference in Frisco, Texas (2/21/18).


I’ll be back next week with more on digital wellness and how my work is going.

Sabbatical Week 4: Go West …

This week took me out to El Paso to visit family, friends, and the mountains – it was good to be back in my hometown. Most people I know either love or hate El Paso, no in between seems to exist. As for me, I LOVE El Paso and all of the incredible things that the high desert has to offer.

**Pssst – that tiny white line on the horizon is White Sands National Park**


Some of the top spots during the trip included:

H&H Car Wash – Best breakfast in El Paso
Charcoaler – Good old fashioned burgers
Old Mesilla, New Mexico – Check out the Silver Assets store – best one there for jewelry
Chope’s – Get the relleno
Double Eagle Steakhouse – The best bar in Old Mesilla, hands down
Forti’s Mexican Elder Restaurant – An old family favorite

Next week I will be back to business … until then, I will be dreaming about the mountains and mountains of green chili!

Chope’s bar and restaurant in La Mesa, New Mexico on the back road to Old Mesilla.


PS – All digital wellness activities continue with success – more on that next time.

Sabbatical Week 3: Replacing FOMO with JOMO

This past week I transitioned back to my home office in Fort Worth and tried to stay focused on a few digital wellness tactics that I started while I was gone. I have been experimenting with these ideas for about two weeks now … with varying levels of success:

      1) Keeping my phone charging in another room overnight (in my case, in the kitchen instead of the bedroom)
      2) Not checking my email until 8 AM (or later!)
      3) Moderating my social media use by deleting the Facebook and Messenger apps from my phone
      4) Waking up to a cold nose instead of an alarm clock (highly recommended … and Oscar does this at 6 AM every weekday)
      5) Not checking anything on my phone before I get out of bed (# 1 has crushed this habit)
      6) Setting goals for the day before I open my email
      7) Turned off all obnoxious notifications on my phone

I was not surprised by how much keeping my phone away from my bedside table helped with things – especially getting out of bed in the morning, NOT checking my email immediately, and staying off of social media and news feeds first thing. In fact, my new rule is no technology before my feet hit the floor in the morning. The more challenging tactics have been to not check my email before 8 AM and to set my goals for the day before checking my inbox. I suppose the old habit of letting my inbox dictate my priorities will be a hard one to wrestle but worth it in the end. As for my social media use, it has been nice to moderate my usage and not have the FB apps on my phone – my outlook on life always improves when I step away from social media for a bit. In that regard, I am replacing the fear of missing out (FOMO) with the JOY of missing out (JOMO). Maybe in the future when we speak in text language “sabbaticals” will just be called “JOMOs”?

Speaking of the future, it arrived in Fort Worth while I was gone … Curbside groceries at Central Market and parking availability signs at the new shopping center:

Can’t decide if I am going to let someone else pick out my produce for me? Probably not.


Parking meters at the new Clearfork shopping area in Fort Worth.


And, finally, a few fun things that I picked up along the way:

The Olympics start this week – Lindsey Vonn reminds us to be fierce

Fun slogan from an Olympics ad – ABFTTB – Always be faster than the boys!

An insightful article about the new album from The War on Drugs – if you haven’t indulged in this one, you really should!

A few good ideas here for an upcoming presentation on website engagement

See you next week – LB

Sabbatical Week 2: Balancing research and relaxation

This week was all about getting work done on my user-generated content book chapter while making time for learning new skills. I have been working from my mother’s house in Florida so it has been nice to take breaks that include walks on the beach, trips to my favorite childhood restaurants, reading new books, and lots of crafting activities. It has also proven to be an excellent time for rethinking my routines and approaches to work, writing, and getting things done.

Here are a few fun items I have stumbled upon along the way:

Pointers for morning routines that help with productivity

Many ways to motivate yourself to write

How to optimize your office for healthy working conditions
(I am a big fan of Blue Zones and Fort Worth is a Blue Zone city!)

Interesting piece about George Soros and his anti-social media speech at Davos

Insights into social media bots and the “Follower Factory”

Tips on how to open up your heart chakra
(Bonus: you get to say an awesome Hawaiian word as part of it)

Learning about how to “Brave the Wilderness” from Brene Brown

Key questions to ask yourself:

  • Did I respect my own boundaries? Was I clear about what’s okay and what’s not okay?
  • Was I reliable? Did I do what I said I was going to do?
  • Did I hold myself accountable?
  • Did I respect the vault and share appropriately?
  • Did I act from my integrity?
  • Did I ask for what I needed? Was I nonjudgmental about needing help?
  • Was I generous toward myself?

These have been particularly helpful for me as I try to moderate my social media use as well as my phone use as I learn more about digital wellness.

And, for those of you that are curious about the crafting part of my week, I learned how to make a pattern, cut fabric, and sew a Japanese knot bag from scratch courtesy of Fran Bright (PS – I might have a new YouTube sewing star on my hands!).

First Japanese knot bag complete! And, it’s reversible too :).