I officially started my summer sabbatical on June 9, left for Maui on June 11, returned from Maui on June 20, had skin cancer surgery on June 27, and it’s now July 8 and I feel like I have been on a three-part harmony of sabbatical time, including 1) Rest, 2) Recovery, and 3) Wracking my Brain.
I thought I’d share some of my sabbatical experiences in pictures.
First, there’s me — and more specifically my emotional life, which is all over the board.
Some days contentment and confidence are my friends and other days I rotate from frustration to sadness to exhaustion. I found it’s actually hard work being on sabbatical. At least the way I am doing it. This summer is not only for taking a break from bodywork sessions, but it’s a time for figuring out what I really want for my life and for my business, and figuring out what I really want is hard — hard like pushing-your-entrails-out labor. I am swayed by what I read, influenced by what people say, impacted by the financial realities of life, called to help, questioning my impulse to help, and laughing and crying and writing and making art and taking walks and starting all over again.
Second, there’s Walter — my husband, my partner in this life — who is taking a sort-of sabbatical this summer, too.
He’s a college writing instructor and is (mostly) not teaching this summer. He’s been a man of glorious action this summer, with a solid and impressive regimen of activities, from practicing his ukulele to walking around Greenlake to blogging to learning to ride a longboard skateboard. As I type this right now, I hear his three-chord strums and some singing. It’s a lovely sound and I admire how he is so committed to a daily practice of all he is wanting for himself. He reminds me that diligence, practice, consistency, and intentionality can feel so rewarding.
And of course there is Selkie, my sweet cat who just turned 11 in May.
Selkie is a loyal companion, especially in the realms of napping, finding comfort, and remembering playfulness. Selkie has a bed on my desk and often sleeps as I work, and when he feels I have been at the computer too long, he simply sits on my keyboard and meows in my face. Big hint taken.
Books have been my friends over this sabbatical for sure.
I can’t seem to finish one book start to finish, but rather I find myself rabidly reading various chapters in several books, rotating them, and circling back again while foaming at the mouth. I did read a novel all the way through while in Hawaii, which was a lovely break from my book-hopping with business and self-help fare. My sabbatical books have a special spot in my office just for them, and I thank them every day for just being there, even if I don’t crack them open.
Ah, so many questions! Soul-searching requires a lot of questions and frustratingly, not a lot of answers appear like a ka-pow! response. Here are some of my questions:
As an entrepreneur who has done bodywork for 11 years and who is also a writer, artist, teacher, mentor, coach, and [insert something else here I have forgotten], there is a lot to consider as I shape my business. The questions “what fulfills me?” and “what drains me?” have been essential questions for me and ones I think we should all ask ourselves. What enlivens you? What sucks the life out of you? Feel it in your body.
There has been art-making. Even on some of our hot, hot summer days, I have heated my plate of encaustic wax and gone to town.
I’ve been working on my own pieces, but also offering healing art sessions to those who want a “little a” artist experience. I LOVE introducing people to encaustic painting because the nature of the art form itself is so unpredictable that it’s easy to throw our inner critics out the window as we work. So yes, yes, art is my friend this sabbatical. Sometimes it is even my saving grace.
I have made sure to play this sabbatical, too. This picture is of our rubber ducky floating in our kiddie pool. A kiddie pool that cost $8.96. Simple, inexpensive pleasures are the best.
Interestingly, I’ve had so many social engagements so far this summer that I’ve been kind of exhausted, introvert as I am. But playing with friends and family has been lovely, especially with the kids and babies in my life who teach me about authenticity, simple joy, and curiosity. My little friend Tenley recently asked me, “If this is a kiddie pool, why doesn’t your kitty go in it?”
And last but not least, surrender has been my north star so far on this sabbatical. And oh yes, it is so so hard to do.
How do I surrender to this time off and allow what needs to surface to surface? How do I not force things? I have this finite period to “figure stuff out” and there’s (major) pressure there. Come September, my goal is to feel refreshed and to know in which direction I am going. How can I take action steps toward my goals AND surrender to life at the same time? It’s tricky business for sure, but my garden Buddha reminds me every day to breathe, let go of one thing that burdens me, and to surrender to the flow of the day.
So there you have it. There’s much I am exploring, discovering, uncovering, demolishing, rebuilding, and creating — and I will share more with you here. For those of you who have taken a sabbatical (or taken some time off in any form), what did you learn about yourself in the process? What was challenging? What was nourishing?