4/4/13

Sabbatical Check-in: The Halfway Point

As you know if you've been following this blog, I'm taking a year off from my corporate career. Last month marked the halfway point of my year. It seemed like a good time to step back and reflect on what I've learned. It took me a while to write this post. The observations took some time to come together. But here it is, a summary of observations at this point in the journey.

I'm more relaxed. There's been an interesting and subtle shift in the past few months. It's been hard to put my finger on it, but I think there is a sense that I feel less driven to "accomplish stuff" each day. I'm still plenty busy, and still doing lots of things, but I'm more relaxed in the moments between activities, and overall. I'm not feeling the need anymore to set weekly goals and constantly measure my progress.

I'm driving slower. I have really noticed this. I feel like I'm rushing less. I'm less anxious to get to the next location, and more content to go slow and focus on the drive. Maybe the reason is practical: I bought a mini-van. It's large size and bulky dimensions don't exactly put one in the mood to zip around. Or maybe it's that I've gotten some of my routines down a bit better now. Getting the kids from here to there with the right outfit and the right snack seemed almost comically stressful and complicated at first, but I'm gradually getting the hang of it now. I'm more organized and more prepared for my days. I'm really trying to enjoy the journey, not just get stuff done. The "inbetween" time in the car is part of the journey. Maybe I'm stretching, but my slower driving seems to be indicative of these larger themes. It is resonating with me, anyway.

I'm feeling more connected to the community. Everywhere I go now, I run into other moms I know. We run in the same circles and share variations on the same basic schedule, so I guess it's no surprise. But when I was working, I never used to run into people I knew when I was running about town. Now I never go anywhere without running into at least 3 people I know well enough to stop and chat. I like that.

I'm experiencing a deeper sense of satisfaction in my role as mother. In the last couple of months it has really hit me that my most important job right now is to help my kids. Mothering has always been important to me, obviously, but I never had the luxury of as much time to focus on it as I would like. Mothering was always my most important priority, but also part of a long list of priorities competing for my time and attention. Gradually, mothering has been moving more to the forefront of my world, and I'm feeling more content spending my time that way. It's making a difference for my kids, I can tell, and that feels good.

I'm not missing work in the slightest. I didn't really think I would, but I wasn't sure. Plenty of people predicted that I'd be antsy and itching to get back to work. They thought I'd be "bored" at home. I've found my life to be anything but boring, and I'm busier than ever. Now, I must admit that I do miss the people quite a bit, as I was fortunate to have some wonderful colleagues and friends at the office. And I experience a few random moments of curiosity about how things are going. But I don't miss the back to back meetings, the feeling that I'm always being judged and evaluated, and the constant striving to be persuasive and align my colleagues to a particular course of action. The highs were high and it may be that I won't experience some of those big moments again in my new life, but I'm happy at this point to have given that up for a calmer life that is more self directed, more creative, and more connected to what really matters to me.

I remain certain that I have a contribution to make in some way. While on the one hand I'm more relaxed and moving slower, as I mentioned above, that has not translated into a slacking of my high level sense that I want to make a contribution beyond my role as mother. I'm still not sure what it is, but I'm pretty sure now that it isn't a return to the kind of corporate job I had before. And it may not take the form of a "job" at all. But I want to make my mark on the world, paid or not. I'm scared and excited at the prospect.

As I head into the 2nd half of my year off, I'm looking forward to continuing the focus on experiments, as I'd planned for the Jan through June period. But I'm also looking forward to starting to narrow in on fewer, deeper pursuits. There is growth and learning to be had from scattered sampling, for certain. But I'm looking forward to the greater satisfaction and fulfillment that deep focus and sustained effort can bring. For the moment, I think that's what's making me so interested in my novel writing project. More to come on the blog soon about how that's going and where I go from here! 

Thanks for spending time here with me today!

To read more about my sabbatical, click here, where I keep a summary of key posts about my year and running lists of what I've been doing with my time.


1 comment:

  1. Sounds like the sabbatical has been a wonderful thing -- refreshing to you, but also providing insights. You couldn't ask for more!

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