- being mindful
- being quiet
- being with
- breathing fresh ocean air deep into my lungs
- considering the wisdom of my spiritual teachers
- creating memories of joy
- delighting in perfect peaches at the Des Moines Farmer’s Market
- eating handmade chocolates in Joseph, Oregon
- flying above the clouds
- gathering with my cousins for Kuz Kamp reunion at our family lake cabin
- getting splashed by my nephews as they jumped into the lake
- hearing stories of hope from a German friend
- hiking in the Wallowa mountains with a great friend
- holding a baby
- laughing with dear friends in a beautiful home on Cape Cod
- napping on couches and beds in the summer heat
- narrating Dr. Seuss’s There’s a Wocket in my Pocket to Zella at bedtime
- opening myself to moments of inspiration on a lakeside bench
- paddling down the St. Croix River with Seth, Zella and Yeti
- pedaling for hours on the Gateway, Sakatah and Cape Cod Rail Trails
- playing games with my family
- reading novels recommended by friends
- remembering who I am and the people who have loved me into being
- sailing and kayaking on Lake Francis
- shoveling dirt on an organic farm
- sitting on the top of a butte in the Zumwalt Prairie Preserve and enjoying the marvelous vista
- slowing down to hear the bird song serenade at Lake McKusick
- swimming, swimming everywhere
- teaching Zella how to float in the lake
- trying lobster for the first time
- waking up to the sight of goats and llamas out my window
- walking with friends under an expansive blue sky
- watching strawberry juice drip down Zella’s chin and arms at the berry farm
- witnessing my brother’s parenting prowess
- writing to clarify what I care about most
In sum, sabbatical has been a gift of time set apart for joy and for the expansion of my soul. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for those of you who made this time possible and for those of you who shared this time with me.
Not that I would want a three month break from being a mom. That is not what I am saying. I love Zella and enjoy spending quality time with her. Three months would be too long to go without morning hugs, tickles and silly giggles, beautifully illustrated picture books, shared fruit eating sessions, conversations about shovels and school busses, and making sand mountains at Teddy Bear Park.
This weekend was the first full weekend of my sabbatical, which means that I had three full days with Zella without the interruption of work. I did notice that by Saturday night, I was more exhausted than usual. I think it was the cumulative effect of just a few more twisty-turny diaper change wrestling matches, car seat in-and-out battles, drawn-out bedtimes and “Mom, I need you!” exclamations that did it.
I’ve come to realize that being a mom, in my limited two years of experience, requires a deeper well of patience and compassion than anything I’ve ever before needed. I think I have a fairly deep well to draw on, but when the well dries up during a particularly trying situation or at the end of a long day, it is hard to be the kind of mom that I want to be. I don’t want to be crabby, frustrated, and short with Zella. I don’t want to yell and scream and stomp off, even if that is what I feel like doing in certain moments.
I know I am not a perfect mom. No one is. Being perfect isn’t even the goal. But I do know that cultivating my spiritual life with intention helps me refill the well of patience and compassion so that I can be a loving mom on most days, even during my sabbatical.
Joy is eating the perfect peach. Those of you who know me well know that I love to eat fruit. Savoring a ripe, sweet, juicy peach is one of life’s greatest delights. For several years, I have had the idea to create a blog called The Perfect Peach. I set this blog up a while ago but haven’t had the time or creative energy to write on it. Now that I am on sabbatical, I thought this would be a great time to invest in this blog.
Sabbatical is, in essence, time set apart to nurture joy. When I think of the sweetness of the peach – its beautiful form, its colorful flesh, its uncontainable juiciness, its earthiness, and its simplicity – I also think of my hopes for this sabbatical time. During the next three months, I hope to live a little differently so that I might cultivate a deeper awareness of life’s simpler elements, create and enjoy beautiful things, and be renewed by tending to joy.
I hope to write on a regular basis about insights I have from savoring the sabbatical life. Join me if you like. I’d love to have some friends be a part of this journey with me.