Letting the Cat out of the Box
Let me explain.
On my third stop on my working sabbatical, there was supposed to be a second phase after Santiago. I was slated to run the program in Lithuania which equated to another four months of work. But, seemingly overnight, things took a hard-left turn when the partners decided to cancel the summer program to do a wise and necessary re-boot instead of forcing it. While the end of sabbatical was looming on the horizon for September, it came screeching to the forefront. I was suddenly out of work, scheduled to fly to Europe the very next day to work remotely before the program launch in Lithuania. Instead, I now looks like I'll be taking the longest route home from Santiago: Sao Paulo, Ericeira, London, Halifax, and then Vancouver.
You might think I’d be crushed with the unceremonious end to my soul sabbatical. But oddly, that’s not how I feel. Perhaps it is because I had a tingly, intuitive feeling in my gut last week that hinted there may be another twist in the plot (this gig has been full of them!). Moreover, I think I would be more unsettled if I had been planning another stop on sabbatical because it takes time to massage network connections to find someone who is brave and visionary enough to understand my working sabbatical and to imagine how they could take advantage of what I had to offer.
For the more majestic interpretation of recent events, last week I confessed to my mom that I felt I was done with sabbatical - noting that I thought I’d learned what I needed to for this phase and feeling excited to sink my teeth into something meatier and longer term. I also admitted to her that deep in the marrow of my bones, my body was telling me to spend some time at home in Vancouver (although I’m not sure whether that was just my desire for community speaking up in the face post-visitor loneliness). And then powf, it was happening. Moral of the story: Be careful what you say (or even think) because you never know how closely the universe is listening.
While feeling a bit wild and floopy on the inside, in general I am at peace. I am where I planned to be just four months earlier than expected. However, as a type-A who in remission who's identity is anchored in achievement, I noticed that I felt slightly more distraught about having to tell everyone because it has a niggling sensation like the F-word (failure) than the end itself of sabbatical itself. But the reality is, no one except for me (and maybe my dutiful family) can even remember the details of all my elaborate plans. Thus no one else is going describe this as a failure on my part.
After reading the all-staff email with the news, I immediately reached out to my “personal board of directors” to seek solace and advice, as well as bathe in their outrage and disbelief on my behalf. As I reframed and re-adjusted, I can almost hear myself at the front of a conference room, guiding a team through the Project Ecocycle reminding them that everything has seasons and the power is recognizing when something's time has passed and be able to let it go. Our lives are full of endings and transitions so the end of something is always the beginning of something else. And then slowly, I was ready to let a few more people in on the news.
With my cashflow like a drippy faucet, the work bit leaves me a bit nervous because it can take a while to find meaningful and inspiring work. But for now, I'm not panicking. I will lug my gigantic suitcase across the Atlantic once more to attend Wavemakers surf retreat in Portugal as planned. It is the perfect bookend to my soul sabbatical. It will end where it all began, in the backseat of a mini bus, trekking surfboards to the sea. The next couple weeks will also be a much needed opportunity to take time to think, talk, or simply stop and ‘be’ for a while to allow enough space to tune in, make adjustments and find the way forward again.
And if my optimism about the change wanes, I'll remind myself that if nothing else, sabbatical has been a masterclass in resilience. So in this situation, I think being a cat lady makes a lot more sense than you think. Channeling my inner feline, I will take a deep breath and wriggle through the free-fall until I land on my feet.
"So, I close my eyes to old ends and open my heart to new beginnings."
- Nick Frederickson
29/7/2018 06:25:16 pm
I was on sabbatical for a year about three years ago. At first, I had a hard time adjusting because I got used to my life teaching at the university. My day would always start by meeting my students and end with saying goodbye to them. When I was on sabbatical, I felt incomplete without my students because I love teaching so much. But I realized that I was blessed to be given the time to take some time off and do the things that would make me happy.
28/10/2022 03:14:38 am
Act box series. Coach mind challenge measure kitchen usually away. Conference such early.
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I'm Andi (hence the blog name). I'm a travel aficionado, passionate eater, tireless explorer of internet rabbit-holes, and amateur thinker. Join me as I give it all up (ok, that's a bit of an exaggeration) and go around the world on a mid-career "soul sabbatical" & year-of-learning to figure out what to be NEXT when I grow up. Won’t you grab a cup of chai and stay a while?
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