This is the year I turn 60. Earlier in the year, I started to ponder what I wanted for this new decade. Granted, we can’t control every aspect of our lives, especially at this age, but I wanted to create an intention for what can be a very special time. I considered taking a sabbatical, time to just “be.” I’d start it around my birthday, I reasoned.
During a meditation in April, though, the message was clear: start NOW.
What would a sabbatical look like? After all, I don’t have a day job. The kids are grown and on their own. Somehow the thought of a sabbatical from a life that’s already amazing felt, well, self-indulgent. Lazy. Selfish.
Still. Something needed to change. I needed to re-examine. Did I want to keep on writing, for example? For a few months my work had felt stale, exhausting, and no longer fun. The business of writing is something I have never enjoyed. So I decided to stop. For how long? I had no idea. I shipped two manuscripts off to editors, which got them off of my desk and allowed me to take a break.
After a bit of searching, I found the book Pause: Harnessing the Life-Changing Power of Giving Yourself a Break by Rachael O’Meara. Using this book as a guide, I set out on my new journey.
In the stillness and quiet that followed, I realized that I had ignored some annoying and sometimes disruptive health issues. Surprisingly, my first act of sabbatical was to seek a functional medicine doctor. This was easier said than done, so while I shopped around I changed my diet, removing gluten, dairy, and refined sugar. This brought some immediate relief, if not full recovery (yet).
Then I looked at ways to have more fun. I took a gardening class to further hone my skills. I took a botanical art class and started drawing for the first time in nearly 50 years. I signed up for cooking classes at a local restaurant. I read.
In the process, I discovered that I missed writing. By the time the first manuscript came back, I was refreshed and eager to write again.
These days my life looks much like it did pre-sabbatical, but in a sense it still continues. I have started taking social media breaks on the weekend. I am part of a meditation group that meets online every full and new moon. I make sure I take a break from exercise every week. My health and enthusiasm are returning!
As O’Meara points out in Pause, not everyone can afford to take time off. But even if it’s time to soak in a bath, or turning off the phone or television, or staying away from social media, we can all find tiny bits of time to unplug and rejuvenate. Even a few minutes of time to ourselves to rest can make a difference. Whatever happens with the arrival of this shiny new decade, hopefully I will take sabbatical rituals, big or small, along with me.
In what ways do you replenish and renew?