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A sabbatical (or something like it)

If I said this once, I told it a trillion times: I have more days behind me than I have in front of me. I may have 10, 20, or 30 years left, or I may have two. All I know is that I’m 55, my dad died when he was 56, and my mom when she was 64. I have aunts and uncles that also died in their 50s and 60s and cousins that passed in their 30s and 40s. The only grandparents I met died before I could drive, and I never met a living great-grandparent. 

The numbers could be better. 

Whatever my fate, living a vibrant life has nothing to do with its length and everything to do with its width.

(Before I continue and tell you what happened, I’m reminding you that impulsiveness is one of my endearing qualities!)

Only a few people know this. In October, I quit my job. This is the first time I’ve taken an unpaid break from work. (I’d call it a sabbatical, but that would imply I kept my employed status.) A couple things: I wanted to see if taking a break…a pause…was all it was hyped up to be. Plus, it was time to step back from work so I could see where I was headed.

I intended to take eight weeks off and start my job hunt after the first of the year, but around six weeks in, I fell upon an opportunity. And, since I’m not entirely bonkers, I started a new job.

Weeks 1, 3, and 6.

I went into this…furlough…expecting it to open a magical portal of bright hope and life-changing experience (I pictured divine beings dancing as a red velvet curtain opens). 

Week one was good. 

Bliss. Heavenly bliss. Like a jar of creamy Jif. Zero dread. Late morning coffee. I ate whip cream from a can.

By week three, I had moved into Loserville. It’s not a great feeling have no reason. Double fisting whip cream from a can.

But, thankfully, I moved out of Loserville and got back on track by week six. Now I was doing the deep thinking I had planned on doing (the kind that is often elusive during the crush of the day-to-day). I was back to being blissfully quiet and mindful in all the moments. I was ordering in. Setting goals. Cozying up with my spreadsheets and planners! I was having revelations. 

Then an old colleague texted me.

“My company is hiring; you would be perfect for the job!”

Now I swear, I was fully committed to my original plan – a full eight weeks off which included all of November and all of December. I planned to show up in January with an updated resume, hit the interview train, and start a new job in February. (I guess mathematically, that’s 12 weeks.) I was fully prepared to play my edge until it scared me, but what happened, happened fast, and I had to make a choice. 

Monday morning, I emailed my resume. 

I was on the phone Monday afternoon with HR – being “screened.”

Tuesday morning, I was on Zoom with the VP of Digital.

I was putting together a mock strategy for a made-up client on Tuesday afternoon.

I was in the office presenting said-mock-strategy before a panel on Wednesday.

Thursday afternoon, I signed their offer letter.

By the time the weekend rolled around, I started crumbling. Likely it was the pool of silence hanging in the air after I signed that letter and I knew even inordinate amounts of food wouldn’t quell the onslaught of emotion that was brewing. 

What did I just do?? Did I just run to a new job, scared? Or did I think this new opportunity was truly sexy and desirable? Did I make the decision with clarity or with an opaque moment of desperation? 

I was supposed to be on pause. Rethinking. Redesigning. Recharging. Eating whip cream from a can. I had been off-center for so long that I knew I owed myself this pause, but I think I just blew it. 

But, in fact, I didn’t. The truth is, my decision was perfectly sane. If something is meant to be, there isn’t any right or wrong thing you can or can’t do. You just have to stop *f-ing yourself in the head over it. Instead of trying to justify why you should stay unhappy (or, paused), honor your desires and stop delaying YOUR TIME. 

I definitely desired this job for a lot of reasons. There’s enough about it that I can do with my eyes shut, while plenty I need to learn. It’s a title I’ve held for years, but the role has always been half-written. But with this company, I get to wrap up the ends (make them a pretty little bow of holiday cheer) and get ‘er done! And it’s going to be incredibly gratifying. 

Desire is the pimp juice of life. (Or is joy?) Either way, the end of my pause comes as no coincidence with the end of the year. I mean, with the end of the year always comes a transition. Some of us celebrate our past year’s accomplishments, while others lament it and hope for their own redo. I stepped out on a ledge (and self-medicated with canned whip cream, but, yeah).

You may be knee-deep in wrapping paper and slushy snow or wading through a puddle of confusion and regret, but here’s my end-of-year and holiday present to you:

This holiday, I hope that every gift you open brings that extra glimmer across your face that only the best gifts can bring. And while you may be opening a “thing,” I hope that your heart is the one gift you open with the most gusto. While you are filling yourself with savory morsels and sweet treats, I hope you are also feasting on the things that nourish and sustain your most perfect life. While you sing along to carols in your toasty car and draw hearts with your mitten hands on the foggy window, I hope you also whistle to your own little tune. For every old tradition, I wish you a new one. For every reindeer game you can’t figure out how to play, I wish you a game that’s all your own. For every Elf, The Land of the Misfits, and the little rebels who are Home Alone, I wish you radical acceptance, even if only you get it. For every Miracle on 34th Street, I wish you a miracle on whatever street, ocean, aircraft, or spaceship you happen to be on. And for every lesson learned in 2022, every disappointment, every accomplishment, I wish you a new year full of just as many “oh shit” moments, happy tears, sad tears, “*F-yeahs!” and visits to the drawing board. I wish you colorful lives where they all may “even say you glow.” Because, after all, none of us knows how many days we have in front of us. 

Merry Christmas! 

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