balance · goals

Summer Sabbatical

Today is the first day of my Summer Sabbatical, and it feels awesome.

I’m starting a new job in late August, and my last day at my old job was yesterday. It feels like a giant weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. After daydreaming about a new job, one that is a better fit for my family, my lifestyle, and my goals, for months and months, I have found a new job.

AND – I am taking over a month off from working. A little break. A vacation. A mini-sabbatical from the grind of work life. I’m thinking of it as my Summer Sabbatical. It will be a time to rest, to reflect, to recharge my batteries. A chance to reset my system and to get myself ready for a wonderful fresh start.

Wow. I feel amazing. I can feel my body start to tense up at times, as if I’m clenching, waiting for anxious thoughts about work tasks and job hunting to come – and then I remember that those anxious thoughts no longer apply to my situation, and I relax and come back to the present.

WOW.

Now that I am getting exactly what I’ve wanted – new job, great schedule, six weeks off – I have a tiny little anxious thought. It’s nothing like the constant work-slash-job-hunting anxiety that’s plagued me for the past few months, but it’s there – this tiny little fear.

Because, if I now have everything I need to take some big steps toward my goals – WHAT IF I DON’T SUCCEED?

I am mostly excited, that’s for sure. But I also feel a strong sense of purpose. I want to use my mini-sabbatical time to achieve my goals. I don’t want to allow laziness, fear, or anxiety to keep me from doing what I want to do.

These are my big, lofty goals for my sabbatical:

  1. Finish my freelance writing course.
  2. Take care of EVERY SINGLE ITEM on my TTD list so that I can have a fresh start.
  3. Create a system for getting tasks accomplished and managing my TTD list (including general household maintenance) all year long.
  4. (This one is connected to #3.) Start setting aside some Sunday planning time – a little date with your planner to look at the week ahead and make sure that tasks/writing/running/meditation/etc are going to get done.
  5. Kick my caffeine/sugar habit.
  6. Exercise a LOT and form a GOOD exercise routine, one that I can maintain once the new job starts.
  7. WRITE. I am hesitant to set specific goals here. I might try to meet a certain word count whenever I sit down to write. I’d like to stick to my “write a draft of your novel by the end of the year goal,” but I’m  not feeling confident about which novel to write. I’d like to set up a regular writing routine, one that I can maintain once the new job starts. But really – this goal is just to WRITE and to ENJOY WRITING.

That’s it, for now. Seven goals. Seven goals that are more about creating routines for how I want to live than crossing things off of a bucket list.

This time is a gift. It’s partly a gift from the universe, and it’s partly a gift that I’m giving myself. I am so, so grateful.

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balance · growth · writing

See You At The Crossroads #mind #soul #heart

I don’t know how to say this without making it sound dramatic, but here goes:

I believe that I am currently standing at a crossroads.  

(I mean, I didn’t have to italicize it.  That was a choice.)

I’ve recently resigned from the job I’ve loved for four years, mostly because I realized that, due to a bunch of changes, my job was now bringing out the worst in me.  I want to spend my days doing things that bring out the best in me.

It-is-never-too-late-to-be-what-you-might-have-beenAnd I am realizing that I don’t know what that is.  After almost fifteen years of working, a graduate degree, dozens of personality/career assessments, I am asking this question:

What do I wanna be when I grow up?

What do I want to learn about?  What skills do I want to acquire?  What do I want to be better at?  How do I want to learn and grow?  This post is my way of sifting through all of these ponderings.

PART I: YOU KNOW YOU NEED TO QUIT YOUR JOB WHEN…

You know you need to quit your job when –

  1. You feel trapped.  At my old job, I started to  feel like I couldn’t leave.  Mainly because leaving would mean taking a pay cut, at least temporarily.  That made me feel trapped.  I have a family, and obv I want to take care of them and have financial security.  So how could I leave my (miserable) job and do something slightly less profitable?

I finally just had to realize that I wasn’t trapped.  I had to make a choice.  As soon as        I realized I cared more about my everyday happiness than my paycheck, I got my         freedom back.

2. You’re getting weirdly emotional when TV show characters are trying to find their bliss.

In the middle of all my job angsting, I re-watched the final season of Parks & Rec.  For much of the season, April is trying to figure out what career she wants to pursue; she’s systematically figuring out what things she likes to do and narrowing in on the kind of job she wants.  I found this fascinating and started working on my own list.  (See below.)

I ALSO re-watched the final season of How I Met Your Mother.  (It’s possible that I watch a lot of Netflix when I’m stressed out.)  During that season, Lilly and Marshall are arguing over whether to stay in NY so that Marshall can be a federal judge or move to Italy so that Lilly can work in the art world.  Lilly gets pregnant with their second kid, and she thinks that’s that – she can’t take her dream job because she’s having a baby.  And then, because MARSHALL AND LILLY ARE THE BEST EVER, Marshall has the exact opposite reaction – when he finds out Lilly is preggers, he says that they have to go to Rome, to make her dream come true, because she’s already given him his dream come true twice.  

I mean – this is all adorbs, no matter what.  But in my angsty it’s-too-late-to-have-my-dream-job state, it had me crying my little eyes out.  Because I am constantly having moments like Lilly, when I think to myself, “It’s too late to have your dream come true.”

3. You’re getting the Sunday blues.  For years, I’ve listened to friends talk about the Sunday Blues.  You know – that little stomachache or burst of anxiety that you get on Sunday evenings, knowing that the work week is about to start.  For some people, it takes the form of specific anxiety about a task or duty that needs to get done.  For some people, it’s more a more global experience, a sadness that you’re approaching the part of your week when you’re not in control of how you spend your time.

Yeah.  The Sunday Blues.  They suck.  And I had actually never experienced them until recently.  13707657_1238362109516765_6459843036848839193_nPART II: THE MOST INEFFICIENT JOB HUNT EVER

Once I decided that I needed a new job, I engaged in a manic job hunt that was an insane roller coaster ride.  I applied for jobs, was offered jobs, and then realized that I didn’t want those jobs.  I started making a list of things I wanted in my work:

  1. I want to work for myself.  NO BOSS.  I was catching up with a friend at Powell’s last year and started venting to her about work.  I explained that I didn’t love my current boss, or the previous boss, or the one before that – and a guy browsing nearby started laughing at me.  Because I guess if you’re struggling with three bosses in a row, maybe it says more about you than the bosses?  FINE GUY IN POWELL’S I SEE YOUR POINT.
  2. I want to do something that I am excited about doing.  Right now, I like what I’m doing – but I’m not totally psyched to go to work every day.  (And for me, it is 100% possible for me to be psyched to go to work every day.)
  3. I want less stress.
  4. I want to work close by home and Teddy and Tee.
  5. I want to have my own personal space – an office or an area that’s all mine, set up awesomely and beautifully and therapeutically.
  6. I would love for my work to be more active and more outdoorsy.  On my last day at work, I spent a good chunk of the day playing basketball with middle schoolers, and I’d forgotten how much I love playing sports with kids.  It’s pretty good therapy, if you ask me.
  7. I want to work for as little time as possible for as much money as possible.
  8. I want a flexible schedule that I make myself.
  9. I love working with kids – but I’ve also realized that I enjoy helping adults figure out what they want to do with their lives, what they want to be when they grow up.

I started making a list of things I am or strive to be, too: A writer.  A therapist for children.  A farmer.  A mommy.  A wife.  Peaceful.  Loving.  Kind.  Healthy.  Strong.  Graceful.  Faith-full.  Mindful.  When I start to feel lost or angsty, I look at this list.  I love looking at this list.  I feel peaceful whenever I read it.  This list has not yet told me exactly what my next step should be – but it’s helped me to clarify who I am and who I want to be, and that’s pretty cool.

PART III: THE TEMPORARY FIX

Without writing out every twist and turn of the last six months, I can jump to the end of the story: I found a new day job.  And I’m thinking about where exactly I want my career to go.  And I’m becoming braver about a) admitting that I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and b) actually putting my fingers on the keyboard and ****ing writing.

It’s an exciting time, but it’s also scary.  Because I am veryveryvery afraid that I don’t have the capacity or the talent to do everything I want to do.

PART IV: WHAT I WANT (I THINK?)

What I want keeps changing.  Which is one of the reasons I am planning to stay put for a while.

But, here are some consistencies in what I want:  I want a job that’s a little less mainstream.  I want to feel free to be my authentic self, at home and at work.  I want my WHOLE life to be an honest representation of who I am.  I want everything in my life to connect, to make sense in a simple and lovely way.  Therapy.  Writing.  Mommying.  Farming.

I don’t know how to get the things I want right now; that’s why I’m doing my best to stay still, to be in the moment, and to wait for guidance regarding the next right thing to do.

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anxiety · balance · mindfulness

The Struggle Bus Is Real #mind #soul

Oh, man.  I am definitely riding the struggle bus lately.967f0c589eb9b1e051bfda3412bd612d

Specifically, I’ve been experiencing an identity crisis related to my day job.

I’ve previously blogged about the ups and downs I’ve been having at work since Teddy came home.  For so long, waiting for Teddy took up all of my heart.

Now, Teddy’s home.  Tee and I are healthy and stressed-but-oh-so-happy.  And I’m trying to figure out what I want my life to look like.

I’ve come up with a few different things I’m looking for in my work life:  A shorter commute.  Fewer hours.  Less stress.  More fun and play.  An organization that is aligned with my values.  

I’ve always felt best when I was working with a group of people who felt happy, committed to their work, and inspired.  Genesee.  AmeriCorps.  Sigh.

So – I’m evaluating my options.  I’m deciding what my next move will be.  And I’m wondering, not for the first time, if I did it all wrong – career, 307grad school, jobs.

I once talked to a girl who’d decided to become a yoga therapist.  She was around 30 years old at the time.  She said, “I finish teaching a class, and I’m filled with energy.  I’m so grateful that I’ve found what gives me the most joy when I’m so young.”

Sigh, sigh, sigh.

I very much want to find work that helps me to feel energized and alive.  It’s possible that I just need a change.  Or, that I need to get back to my two greatest loves – working with children and creative writing.

So, I’m taking steps.  Applying for new jobs.  Going to interviews.  Trying to carve out time for fiction writing.

But – here’s the second half of my struggle: How do I stay mindful and peaceful in the midst of striving and change?

Transitions are always a challenge.  In my experience, it’s difficult to physically be at one job when your heart and your mind are out there searching for a new job.  Last week I felt a lot of anxiety for that reason.  I’m trying to recenter – to ground myself in the knowledge that I am, as always, exactly where I need to be.

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balance · self-care

How To Deal (Work Stress) #soul

I love my job.

But it is stressful.  Especially lately.  The hours are longer than usual, the environment is fast-paced, and there are a lot of different personalities to manage.  Pluself cares, there are a lot of difficult decisions that have to be made quickly.

It all adds up to me being a little more tired and a lot more stressed than I usually am.

I am a big believer in self-care.  I don’t think overworking and crashing into burnout is effective, efficient, or admirable.  However, when caught up in the day-to-day, it can sometimes be difficult to practice what I preach.

What do I preach?

  • Exercise and movement. For me, there HAS to be movement built into my day!  I stretch in my office – I bounce on my yoga ball chair – I take long walks with my clients.  I do whatever it takes to make my day active and energizing.
  • Taking a break.  A lunch break.  A meditation break.  A coffee break.  ANY KIND OF BREAK will do!  Anything to bring yourself away from the stress of work and get yourself to a more meditative place.947352_1029987067048050_6454292709751224466_n
  • Keeping your own pace.   When I feel myself starting to run around the building, it’s a sign that I need to slow down.  I literally slow my pace – I force myself to walk, even when I’m busy and feeling crazed.
  • Maintaining calm amidst chaos.  This can be incredibly difficult!  Especially when you’re dealing with the drama or chaos brought by others.
  • Leaving work at work.  No bringing work home – mentally or physically.

As always, it’s all about balance.  Here’s to returning to work on Wednesday with energy, enthusiasm, and a new commitment to balance and self-care!