51. Sabbatical

WORK + LIFE

I should be working right now. I see the finish line, but I am sick and tired of working from early morning until bed. I feel completely drained in the evening when I try to go back to work after dinner. I can hardly wait until my nights are mine to enjoy guilt free. To read, journal, check-in with family and friends, write letters, skim magazines—anything but work. Now I just crave sleep because it’s the only alternative to working that I allow myself without guilt. Wrapping up BFD and finishing all our outstanding projects, (it has been more than three months already), has provided me with such a unique opportunity to observe and reflect on the way I’ve been living my life and the way I want to live my life. Most of all, I want the luxury of having the time and emotional energy to respond to life. I just got off the phone with my sister, talking about my niece and her precarious teenage self confidence. I hold good intentions, but I have not had the bandwidth to follow through and be there for the people in my life in a sustained and meaningful way. Yes, my nieces and nephews love me, and yes, I am a good aunt, but I would like to be able to do the extra things for people that mean the most. I feel like I’ve been living so fast I am only capable of experiencing life on a macro level and I’m missing the details that should be treasured. I’ve been gradually slowing down: sitting down at the table or outside to eat instead of eating three meals a day in front of my computer. I’ve been spending an hour, most mornings, watering my garden and quietly enjoying the early morning—the warm sun, the progress of my plants. Exercising. Sitting down before going back to work and just pausing for a moment.

 

I went to a party last week with a lot of new people and when asked what I do, I told everyone that I’m retiring. I waited a beat and then added that I’ll eventually come out of retirement, but I’m retiring at least for the summer. And I am. I’ve officially decided to take the summer off and recharge. I need to replenish my creative energy. I want to spend a summer puttering and dabbling and dreaming about how to design a life that works. I treated myself to a two hour spa pedicure this afternoon from this wonderful woman who specializes in natural foot care. I definitely think of my feet as my foundation, and love pampering them more than any other part of my body. The woman who worked on my feet was COO for a fashion designer, and although very successful in her career, was stressed out and tired of working so hard. She turned 50 and decided to reframe the question from “what do I want to do?” to “how do I want to be?” She decided that she wanted to help people. Going back and becoming a nurse was out of the question, she needed something she could transition to that wouldn’t require a huge investment of time or money. She used to care for her grandmother’s feet, so she decided to go to school and get licensed as a manicurist. She has lots of senior citizens for clients and a thriving speciality business. She rents a space in this very tranquil spa and feels fulfilled. I am so intrigued by her willingness to let go of any attachment to perceived status. This is the hardest part for me: not having something “impressive” to say I do when people ask. Interesting to note. It seems I am returning to the same theme I explored during my last transition—our culture’s obsession with accomplishments and goals.

 

So I am going to take the summer off, beginning next week, and catch up on all of my unfinished projects: the projects on my wish list and others I’ll think of. I’m going to explore and dabble and stay open to outcome but not attached so that my next path can unfold magically. I definitely want to write, but I am also thinking about how to put the proceeds from my house sale to work for me. It occurred to me to view the profit from selling my house as if I won the lottery. The best part of buying a lottery ticket is to dream for a day what you would do with a windfall of money. It’s not a mega jackpot, but I hope to walk away with a small nest egg, and I would like to figure out how to put my money to work making money. To grow a base savings so that I can write with less pressure. Have writing pay my bills, but use my house proceeds to build my savings. How to do that came to me while digging in the garden. I need to do my homework and vet the idea, but I had an ah-ha moment that I could make puttering profitable by investing in real estate—buying and fixing up homes, one at a time, starting modestly and trading up. I have an eye for creating space, I have key contacts to turn to as resources and I have excellent project management skills. I love the idea of a life that balances intellectual pursuits with physical work—writing in the early morning, playing house in the afternoon. I took the idea a step further and wrapped up all my interests by imagining that I would stage each home with select pieces on consignment from regional artists and artisans, (another network I can readily tap), along with renovated antique and flea market finds, then host an open home and garden gallery for a few months prior to listing the house. Without the pain and risk of being a retailer, I could have my own “Gardener” home store for a finite period. Of course, I could use the artists I work with and the entire experience as material for writing. …. The first of many ideas I hope to explore while on sabbatical.

 

BODY

I am exercising some and comfortable knowing that as soon as my work schedule lightens, I am motivated to bring yoga and walking into the center of my life. I began a modified cleanse this week to also begin the summer with a clean slate nutritionally and emotionally. I’m cleansing my body of alcohol, caffeine, dairy, sugar, wheat and extra salt. I want to feel light and energetic. My summer plans with my niece have somehow become a week in Mexico with just my sister. I can hardly wait. We’ve never vacationed together as adults—or for that matter, hung out just the two of us as adults. I am so thankful everyday for what a wonderful family I have and how much we share our lives with one another—all three generations.

 

CHICKENS

I may have inadvertently killed my unhatched chicks and I feel sick about it. I also feel stupid. It’s the perfect example of my speeding too fast through life. I didn’t have time to fully research this undertaking and in skimming the book to cover the basics I missed some key information and misread what I did read. I won’t know for another several days, but I’m going to be bummed if I messed with Mother Nature and botched a natural process. Not to mention, I’m not sure what I will do about my poor chickens that have been brooding for a month waiting for chicks to hatch. Fingers crossed. I am trying to let go, take the lesson and trust whatever is meant to be will be.