When I set out on this sabbatical adventure in September, I laid out a 3 part plan for my year. The Fall was to be about recharging and adjusting. I planned to simply be open to the experience of change, and just rest, recover, and enjoy the freedom of more time.
I also set out just a few more specific goals, in the areas of Self Care, Creativity, Connection, and Documentation.
I think it's always a good habit to look back on goals when the period is up and reflect on how it went. What was accomplished, and learned? What wasn't, and why?
Well... The fall didn't turn out exactly the way I expected, though I think all in all I achieved my end goal of recharging and adjusting, just in a slightly different way than I'd planned.
I was a lot busier than I expected. It's amazing how much time it takes to simply run the household and take care of everything related to the kids. I took on a lot of tasks that I'd previously outsourced, and I underestimated the time it would take to get everything done. It was a rookie mistake that I'm sure all the stay-at-home moms in the world could have told me (and many did, though until I experienced it, I didn't really understand.)
I took on more projects than I'd planned. My original plan was to wait until January to start taking on projects (my "rapid experiments" phase, from my 3-part-plan). But so many interesting opportunities came to light, I couldn't resist them. More below on some examples. So, much of the "busyness" I experienced was totally self inflicted, I fully admit.
I didn't rest as much as I'd planned. But, I found that I was able to feel recharged without "resting" in the sense of napping and idleness. In fact, the few days I tried out napping and idleness, it made me antsy and anxious. I learned I like to be busy, and that I get energy from checking things off a list. (Or maybe I just still haven't unwound... and still need to figure out how to do that... time will tell.)
So, what did I do? This post pulls it all together. It would have been easy to zip right into planning for 2013, but I wanted to pause and appreciate the accomplishments and learning from the Fall before zooming ahead.
So, organized by my goals, here goes.
I ran every Sunday with a friend, culminating in our completion of the San Francisco half marathon in November. I loved having the deadline of the race to give us a goal and a destination. It was a huge motivator and a great experience. This one played into my "connection" goal as well, given the opportunity it gave me to spend time with my friend Cristina.
After that, I brought it down a notch but still kept active by participating in the "mile a day" challenge to walk or run at least one mile every day between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.
I really wanted to learn to paint, so I roped my artist friend Kelly into a weekly painting date. We each made a version of this wall art (shown above), and started an art journal. I loved everything about the art journal concept and definitely plan to continue working on this into the next period.
I read a book called "The Happiness Project" which is where I first heard about National Novel Writing month. It sounded like fun, and I've always harbored a secret desire to write a novel. I looked it up online and found that this once-a-year event takes place in November, which happened to be starting in a few days time. How could I resist? I signed up on the spot, and started writing my first novel. Though I unfortunately didn't finish it in the 30 day timeframe, I got far enough in to know that I want to pick this up again in 2013.
I attended a weekly meditation group on Friday mornings. This activity hit both my connection goal, because it gave me the opportunity to meet some amazing new people, as well as my self-care goal. To be honest, in the beginning, I wasn't sure if I was going to have the patience for the quiet sitting, but I ended up being completely surprised by how much I loved it. I would like to explore this more deeply going forward.
I really enjoyed the chance to spend time with my sister, who is also newly enjoying some extra free time, and we met many Thursday mornings for a hike in a nearby nature preserve. I loved that it hit on my self care goal as well. (I love feeding two birds with one seed like that.)
Finally, I joined and attended a Parent Discussion Group run by Project Cornerstone, which gave me a ton of ideas and inspiration in my role as mother. It also introduced me to some other parents and stay-home-moms, and I loved the opportunity to make some new connections there.
I found that there were many more people I wanted to spend time with than I had time to. Meeting people for coffee or for lunch takes a lot of time, and cuts up the day in a way I found hard to manage. (And adds calories I don't need!) I'm going to have to work on ways to fit in the connections I want to develop without spending all my time hanging out at the local cafes.
I went all-out with documentation (probably overdoing it!), and found I enjoyed it in several forms, including several scrapbooking-style projects, as well as old fashioned offline journaling, and of course this blog.
I kept up with a weekly spread in my Project Life album. I will be continuing Project Life again in 2013, as I found it to be a great way to keep myself focused on documenting and appreciating the little things that make life so special. It's like a gratefulness journal with pictures. An awesome practice that I highly recommend.
I co-created a "30 Days of Thankful" album with my daughter.
I created a December Daily album to celebrate and savor the traditions and merriness of December.
I kept up with my monthly assignments for my One Little Word online class. I got a lot out of this class, and my word "curious". I will be taking the class again with my new word, "expand." I recommend the class to anyone looking for a way to make a change or bring more focus to some aspect of their lives.
This blog turned out to be a great way to improve my technology know-how, my photography skills, and get a little extra practice writing. I also found that the blog helped to keep me accountable, with my weekly goal setting, and especially for projects like my Project Life album, where I committed to sharing my spread every week. I loved the accountability, and am excited about continuing to blog about my adventures heading into 2013.
On to the next chapter of my sabbatical. This next phase, from January through mid-June, is for more structured and purposeful experiments with how to use my time. I think I jumped into some of these experiments a little earlier than planned, so in some cases I will be building on experiments begun already. I'm also planning some new ones... More to come on that in a blog post I'm working on for the kickoff of Phase Two, coming in a few days.
If you've been reading this blog, I appreciate your interest and your support. I hope you've found it entertaining. Thanks for following along!