Ease, Space, & Meaning
Today is the second week of my summer sabbatical, which I am taking because I was nearing burnout. I knew that I needed to make some deeper changes within myself — and I wasn't having very much fun — so I decided to make a radical change in my schedule and experience.
Watch the video or read the article to discover what I’m learning during this time of change and how it might help you have more ease, space, and fulfillment.
I'm learning a lot on my sabbatical and have had some surprises. I am sharing with you and hoping that it will pique some insights for you about how you're living and working.
The First Surprise – Ease is Not Easy
The first surprise has been that it has not been that easy to transition into “more ease”.
I’ve cleared my schedule of a lot of work. I'm still serving current clients, but for the summer I'm not doing much marketing or administration — all the kind of things that you have to do to keep your business going.
You would think it would be kind of easy to relax into more time off. But it's not as easy as I thought it would be.
Apparently, I really like to stay busy. I really like to work but it was burning me out because I need to rest. I need to take a nap almost every afternoon to rejuvenate my adrenal glands, because I've been in adrenal fatigue for a while.
What I've noticed with more time to myself is that feelings arise; things that aren't necessarily so comfortable come up. In the long run, of course, they will help generate the change that I'm looking for.
In the moment, sometimes it's really not that easy to have those feelings. Busy-ness was a great distraction from them.
The Second Surprise - Boredom
As I’ve gotten more rest and am feeling better, I also notice that I get bored.
Yesterday, I thought, “Oh, I’m just kind of bored: bored with what I'm reading, bored that I get in the bed every afternoon. I go to bed early every night. I'm just kind of getting bored.”
Maybe boredom is a really good thing. My coach has said, “Boredom or is it spaciousness?” Isn’t that an interesting way to think about it?
The Work I Have Taken On
Instead of working in and on my business, I am resting my body, exploring more feelings, and contemplating patterns, truths, and desires both psychologically and spiritually.
In addition, I am working with my 92-year-old mother to help clear out her house for sale.
She's doing well in Assisted Living, but it's time to sell the house. I've hired a “rented sister”, an organizer who likes to do downsizing. She's going to come and work with me a few hours every day next week. My brother is going to come and get the furniture he wants out of the house. That's all going ahead.
Of course, that brings up a lot of feelings, too. Although this is not the house I grew up in, my mother has lived in it for 25 years, and I've visited her there a lot. Deconstructing her home and her belongings reveals a lot of our family memories and remembered feelings.
A Third Surprise - Impermanence
Because I visit my mother quite often in Assisted Living, I am exposed to older people who are nearing death, may not have all of their faculties, or live in Independent Living because they want someone else to take care of home maintenance and cooking.
Stan, one of my new friends in Independent Living died on Sunday. Mother and I had dinner with him a couple of weeks ago, and he shared tall tales and distant memories. He went into the hospital on Wednesday, needed surgery, but couldn’t have it because of complications.
Stan died on Sunday surrounded by his loving family and his memories of a long life well lived.
His death seemed really sudden to me. Not knowing he had died, I tuned in to pray for him on Sunday morning, I saw a flash of radiant white light that spread out into the Universe. I think that was Stan saying, “I’m free, I’m Light, I’m outta here.”
If he had lived, his prognosis was not freedom and light, but long days of immobility in a bed without much hope of a great deal of improvement. I am happy to think that Stan is free now.
Another Perspective on Life
I am not a practicing Buddhist, but I'm reading a thought-provoking book by a Buddhist: Stephen Levine's A Year to Live: How to Live this Year as If it Were Your Last.
That may sounds a bit morbid, but it feels amazingly life-giving. Levine has been working for 30 years with people with terminal diagnoses and people on Death Row.
Levine wrote this book to teach about non-attachment to death, non-attachment to life, and non-attachment to the suffering of dying. Non-attachment allows us to know the truth of what this life is, and who we truly are.
I personally am not so afraid of death, but like many I'm afraid of suffering before I die.
I also noticed that I was afraid of life. I've been trying to protect myself, trying to stay safe from accidents and losses. I thought the way to deal with what life throws at me would be to defend myself — and I'm realizing through reading this book that that's not the way to live.
I'm opening to a more robust and more vital life.
Will You Contemplate This with Me?
I’m asking myself, “How do I have more meaning in my life?”
As I said before, I've noticed that I am really good at busy work; I will put my ladder up against the wall and start climbing – never asking, “Is this the right wall? Is this going to take me where I want to go?”
In this sabbatical, I'm looking at, “How can I create more meaning with the actions I take? How can I take actions that would lead to more meaning?”
Will you contemplate these questions with me?
How can I add more meaning to my life?
How can I take action that adds more meaning to my life?
Those are great questions to think about at the pool, by the lake, before a nap, or walking the dog! They may shape some of your decisions about what's next and what's right for you.
PS As a final note, thank you to the many people who wrote to support my taking a sabbatical. They told me, "Atta, girl" and how they're adding ease and space into their summer—whether it's taking Fridays off or going to the pool with a girlfriend every Thursday.
If you have space for more ease in your life, I encourage you to create it and enjoy it regularly. You deserve it!