I spent a year on sabbatical. It was before COVID-19. I decided it was time.
Time to refresh. Time to explore some new interests. Time to have some fun. And time to focus more intently on my eldercare responsibilities.
It was a year when the natural rhythms of life moved me from thrill to grief and back again. I learned to play mahjong, and I developed some wonderful new friendships as a result. I kept my brain sharp as I practiced game strategy and improved my concentration. I laughed about my mistakes and learned from them. It took me months to actually win a game, and some friends wondered why I continued to play every week when I never won. My answer – I’m learning something completely new……and I love that experience.
I took floral design classes and landed an internship with my city’s best floral design studio. To be immersed in the exquisite color, texture and fragrance of flowers from around the world was pure joy.
I hiked the mountains of Colorado where I could breathe in cool, clean air with hints of pine.
It was magical.
Towards the end of my sabbatical, I was involved in end-of-life care for my mother-in-law, Ella. Ella was 96 years strong, a long retired neo-natal nurse, and a proud member of the Cherokee Nation. She had been widowed for 17 years and lived alone in her home until 3 weeks before her death, at which time my husband and I cared for her 24/7.
End of life care is tough, emotionally draining work. It’s also a labor of love. With eldercare, there’s no positive outcome like a college graduation or wedding to celebrate. There’s only one outcome – the death of your loved one.
There was a silver lining, however. I was able to witness Ella share a lifetime of memories and stories. Some were beloved repeats……and others were new revelations about personal challenges.
Not one of Ella’s stories involved work. She never mentioned that bad boss, toxic colleague or difficult patient. It was all about her family, friends and her church community.
My learning in all this. . . . . ?
You only get one life.
To waste it worrying and suffering about your work life and all the thoughts and feelings that go along with that is to waste a precious gift.
You can go from surviving to thriving.
You can go from self-doubt to self-awareness and success.
Every Brain Needs a Coach.
Are You In?