I live in a small college town in upstate New York. You don’t have to be around here very long to start hearing the term “sabbatical” thrown around quite a bit; as in “I am taking a sabbatical next year”. Sabbatical is defined as “a period of paid leave granted to a college teacher for study or travel, traditionally every seventh year.” As I have heard this announced by people at parties or on the street and as I have balanced toddlers on my hip or been on my way to pick up a child before going to grocery store, dry cleaner and post office, I admit to being a bit jealous of the sabbatical. The idea of having time to pursue your passion while recharging your batteries sounded wise, whimsical and wonderful. My husband, a minister, has had sabbatical time and has taken off to the Southwest to renew and recharge. He has a personnel committee looking after his needs and they don’t want their minister to burn-out because he is the caretaker of the flock.
“But what about me?”, I have often silently asked. Aren’t I a caretaker as well? Don’t I need a sabbatical? But taking a sabbatical for a stay-at-home mom who also is a retreat coach working out of her home seemed antithetical. I was at home, not facing down the stress of a workplace. I could lounge, eat bon-bons, watch soaps if I wanted. But I knew the truth. I had been leading retreats for women, businesses and organizations since 2006, I was integrally involved in a mission project helping women in Malawi, Africa since traveling there in 2008, I was involved in my church and community, and, most importantly, I was married, raising three children and responsible for the smooth workings of our home. Certainly a job like any other.
I realized that I needed to be my own personnel committee. So, in taking my request to “the committee”, I looked down the road at the upcoming year. 2011 promises to be a big life transition year for me. My daughter, our oldest child, is preparing to go to college in the fall, my father has stage 3 cancer and dementia and is not expected to survive the year and I am turning 48, which while not 49 or 50, is close enough to get me thinking about mid-life issues. I realized that a sabbatical would be the healthiest thing for me to do. I can’t leave and travel for months but I can intentionally create the space in my life to examine these issues, confront the emotions and navigate these life changing events proactively and with grace and courage. So I brought my request to my personnel committee and a six-month sabbatical was granted.
Meals will still be prepared, laundry will be done and the house will be in decent order. My family will be intact and loved just as fiercely as ever. What will be different will be fiercely loving myself as well. Much of what will be in my sabbatical is what I prescribe to the women who attend my retreats. Taking time for serious self-care (not just physical but spiritual, emotional and mental as well), scheduling solo retreat time, listening to what my life is saying to me and living my life with intention. I feel that I have always walked the walk; done in my own life what I advise others to do. However, these upcoming life transitions were demanding that I take time to create breathing space to best handle these new demands. Life is always changing and I am finding that new ways of being are needed for me.
Retreat Coach Linda Potter | Retreat Coaches Network