Jan 04 Intermission Midpoint
When I began this midlife intermission, I had an ambitious list of goals and activities to fill my days. I had spent the better part of almost three decades hustling and living days that raced past in a blur. I looked forward to all I would accomplish…
Certainly, my community would feature me on the local website as the volunteer that was most devoted to the needs of the downtrodden. My closets would likely be featured in Real Simple and the Container Store would marvel at the organizational skills employed in my pantry. My culinary prowess would improve so dramatically that Southern Living would devote an entire section to my recipes –Grandmother would be so proud!
My list seemed completely reasonable and it was a foregone conclusion in my mind that I would do all these things and more.
And then I stopped and life slowly came into sight. I didn’t want to rush past moments. I couldn’t see the point in the blur anymore. Like a new pair of glasses, the view was so clear, so vibrant, I wanted to stare at my world for hours. My days felt like a warm blanket and I loved snuggling under the covers of rest and awareness.
If you had told me 6 months ago how little I would have accomplished on that list, I don’t think I would have made the decision to stop. I didn’t understand the point of meditation or mindfulness. I didn’t equate such lackadaisical daydreams with usefulness.
But I don’t regret one moment of those days walking across Spain or listening to my breath on a yoga mat because they are spectacular accomplishments that I didn’t know to put on the list. This sabbatical has not gone the way I planned and that is just as it was meant to be. I ventured into the unknown and I am reminded that it is not the planning or the knowing that matters. It is the living. It is the doing. It is in the glorious piddling.
One of my biggest fears of stepping away from the work that had meant so much to me was the circle. The circle of people, the profession that I believed in, the sense of community that you build when you work alongside good people. I had belonged to something I was proud of and if I left that behind, who would I belong to? I knew I belonged to my husband and family but was that enough to fill this place that I was creating by forsaking my work family? If I wasn’t the person they had always known, would I still belong to them even if I was sitting in a different seat on a different bus?
Brene Brown’s words from Braving the Wilderness pretty much sum up the last six months…
“True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.” (p. 40)
The cheerleaders, the friends, the companions – they didn’t shun this newly revealed version of me. They remained close by. They told me I belonged to them even more because they saw me more clearly. They felt they knew me even more. I was theirs just as before, perhaps more.
Equidistant from the Start and the Finish
This first half of the sabbatical was a de-robing. Casting aside the wardrobe that showed the world the person I believed was required and valued, that was considered successful and put together. Without those clothes, who would I be? Since I didn’t know the answer, I clung to those ill-fitting outfits even as I outgrew them. This first phase was about finding contentment in my real self, a time to get reacquainted with myself. It has truly been a time of rest and contentment. It was a settling. I am so thankful I discarded that list and simply piddled through the last 6 months.
But now I feel a stirring. This second half will be a time of rousing those new longings and passions. It will be a time to put life into action. To get on my way.
Who knows, maybe my closets will be magazine worthy some day…