Sabbatical Part Two Wrap Up

When I set out on this sabbatical adventure in September 2012, I laid out a 3 part plan for my year. Part Two, Winter and Spring, was to be about running experiments and trying on different ways to spend my time. That phase is coming to an end as Summer starts and the kids get out of school.

So, how did it go? What did I learn?

In terms of experiments, I ran quite a few. I certainly found ways to be busy. The list of what I did, and am doing, is long. I've included it at the bottom of this post for the record books. 

But I almost didn't include the list, because, interestingly, the experience of this sabbatical has made me think differently about it. The list seems to suggest that life is about accomplishments that can be put on a list. That "more is better." That I am somehow better if I have a longer list, or more impressive looking things on the list. Or that life is about rushing around trying to cram as much stuff in as possible.

I confess I still believe most of those things to some extent, and that's probably why I couldn't resist including the list below. Being driven to "achieve" is hard wired into me. The instinct to make lists and check things off is core to who I am. 

But this sabbatical has got me thinking, that maybe there are other ways of being. I'm nine months into my year off, and my mindset is starting to shift. Just slightly, but I can feel a difference. That's interesting. I'm curious about that.

The other reason I feel uncertain about this list, as a representation of my sabbatical, is because those things -- the types of things that can be put on a list -- represent only a fraction of what I did and am learning. Maybe even the least important fraction. 

Why do I say that? Because much of the experimenting happened in my own mind and my heart.

I experimented with what it felt like to be the primary caretaker of my children through the good times and the bad ones.

I experimented with what it felt like to not have a clear answer to the question, "what do you do?"  

I experimented with what it felt like to rely on someone else's earning power to pay the bills. 

I experimented with what it felt like to be guided by my heart and my passions, instead of someone else's priorities.

I experimented with having days that were agenda-free.

I experimented with making people a higher priority than work.

I am still experimenting and learning, about myself and how I want to live, about how I want my family to run, every day. And this feels like the most important work of my sabbatical.

I'm nine months in to my year off... where will it take me next? Can't wait to find out.


The Sabbatical List:
  • I trained for and completed a half marathon.
  • I joined a weekly meditation group on Friday mornings.
  • I experimented with being TV-free.
  • I document my family's weeks in a Project Life album.
  • I have a regular artist date with my friend Kelly. (Click here to see our first completed project, and here to see a page from my new Art Journal.)
  • I attended a 6 week Parent Discussion Group run by Project Cornerstone.
  • hike on most Thursday mornings, out in nature, with my sister.
  • I complete the monthly assignment from my One Little Word online class.
  • I started writing my first novel, as part of November's National Novel Writing month.
  • I subsequently signed up for a novel writing class through Stanford Continuing Studies to help me finish the novel I started in November.
  • I am learning about blogging, and try to publish regular blog posts.
  • I co-created a "30 Days of Thankful" album with my daughter, and a December Daily album.
  • I participate in the monthly meeting of the Silicon Valley Women Entrepreneurs.
  • I went "cash only" for the month of February.
  • took an online class called Letter Lab to learn some techniques for making my hand lettering more impactful and attractive. 
  • I visit with my parents once a week when they come to see the kids on Friday afternoons.
  • I took an online painting class called Flower Crazy.
  • I am conducting a candy making experiment once a month with a baker friend of mine.
  • I volunteer in my kids classrooms, and I took on little jobs like Art Coordinator, occasional Newsletter editor, and the PTO nominating committee. 
  • I did my first cleanse.
  • I attend a weekly yoga class on Wednesdays.
  • I go jogging every Tuesday and Sunday with a friend. 
  • I planted a garden.
  • I am remodeling my kitchen, and adding a half bath and laundry room.
  • Plus of course all the regular life kinds of things that take up more time than I expected... meal planning, grocery shopping, laundry, carpool, walking the dog, chauffeuring kids around, making dinner, planning trips, picking up the house, etc, etc, etc.  


  1. Wow, Laurel, I think this has been one of your most powerful posts yet. I absolutely love it, and appreciate it, and celebrate it. BRAVA, girlfriend, BRAVA.

  2. If it was not so organized it would seem frenetic. As it is I am super impressed. While "being" is as (if not more) important than "doing" I think I am with you in valuing doing. It must be in the genes. Dad