The idea of a sabbatical has always been appealing to me--a paid leave to rest, travel, research, study. Education and religious orders understand the value, but the rest of our society is not so enlightened. Now in week 5 of my medical leave, I am grateful for the mental and technological break from a job that can easily consume.
In the weeks leading up to my leave, which granted is a result of having cancer and needing surgery not because I chose to use up all my PTO for my mental health, I prepped everyone for my need to be undisturbed by the daily stuff of work. And they have been incredibly awesome and respectful of that need. For that I am truly thankful. I'll be all the better for it when I return.
Here's what I've discovered in the intervening weeks.
1. WE have to set expectations and boundaries around our availability even in a 24/7 world.
2. Time to think is one of the most precious of gifts.
3. Nothing clears the head like a brisk walk.
4. People want to help. Let them.
5. It is possible to find time to read for pleasure.
6. The sun is a balm for many maladies.
7. Coffee in a pretty mug does tastes better than in a paper cup.
8. The smell of fresh basil in the garden makes my mouth water.
9. Flip flops > heels.
10. I wake up at 7:30 a.m. without an alarm.
So the trick for me is to remember these things when I no longer have the luxury of time. To remember what recharges my creative battery. Because perhaps the greatest realization is that I need to stay connected to my creative self. It's such an enormous part of my being, that I'm not fully myself if I don't create.
I would never go so far as to call cancer a gift, but what it has given me is perspective. So I've been playing around with ideas for essays, blog posts and, who knows, maybe even a book.
I just need to make sure--as the author Liz Gilbert says--that fear is not in the driver's seat of my creative bus.