Taking my bearings

Bearing (noun):
a) the situation or horizontal direction of one point with respect to another or to the compass
b) a determination of position
c) comprehension of one’s position, environment, or situation

A couple weeks ago, I made my big announcement; I had decided to go on sabbatical for a year, walking away from my stable position at a state agency to explore the question of what I wanted to be when I grew up. February 20th was the big day, and I turned in my computer and other equipment in a drama-free, anticlimactic ritual.

So, what exciting events have transpired since then? I’ve slept in, watched movies, done puzzles, painted, and decluttered the house. Yes, it’s all excitement, all the time around here.

Quite honestly, this low impact lifestyle is a carefully thought-out decision. I don’t know where I want to go, so it seems wise to focus on where I am and work from there. For the first few days, I would have random moments of dread and adrenaline, where I would have to stop and remind myself that I was safe and no longer needed to worry about work or what others thought of me. I’m happy to report that this seems to be happening less frequently.

As I’m not sure what I really want, other than to be happier and calmer, I have decided to (loosely) follow Gretchin Rubin’s awesome book “The Happiness Project“.  I’m not committed to every item on her list, but it seems like a place to start. For those who haven’t read the book, Ms. Rubin embarks on a year-long journey to improve her own happiness. Each month she picks a topic and works on it, trying to “roll” the lessons from previous months forward. Some of the topics included:

  • Clutter
  • Relationships
  • Work
  • Parenting
  • Play & Leisure
  • Friendships
  • Spending
  • Thankfulness
  • Finding your passion
  • Mindfulness
  • Attitude
  • Rules (self-imposed)

While all these items are fantastic, not every single one appeals to me equally. So, to get started, I decided to follow Rubin’s lead and start with a house delutter. Each day, I tackled a room or two, cleaning as I went. Several friends have commented that my house wasn’t that cluttered, but I think these things sneak up on you. Here is what I removed:

  1. one 40-gallon bag of yarn (donation)
  2. two 40-gallon bags of miscellaneous household objects (example: duplicate set of salad tongs) (donation)
  3. 4 c-pap sleep machines as used by my parents (donated to appropriate spot)
  4. four 10-gallon bags of extra art supplies (donation)
  5. 40 superfluous storage bins (sold)
  6. desk (sold)
  7. table (sold)
  8. rolling cart (sold)
  9. zip bag of jewelry (donated to local fundraiser)
  10. more than 20 puzzles (donation)
  11. two bags of books (donation)
  12. one 40-gallon bag of shredding (garbage)
  13. four computers of various ages (electronic recycling program)

So now, with the house looking fantastic, I am looking ahead a little further. In the next few weeks, I hope to do some work on my website and a few other art-marketing chores. And I hope to spend some time relaxing and having fun. I feel like my next stop will be something to do with my health, but I haven’t narrowed it down further than that.

Another thing I have decided to commit to is a daily summary of this project. Each day on Facebook, I answer the following question:

Sabbatical Day ? –
Useful Chore: ______
Fun Item: ______
Peaceful Thing: ______

Some days I’ve had to dig pretty deep to find a fun item.

With the exception of Gretchen Rubin, I’m struggling to find resources to help me figure out next steps. I spoke to my recovery coach about this process, and she came up with this list, derived from asking her supervision group.

  • Make it ALL about YOU.
  • You don’t need to have plans or goals.
  • Be comfortable in discomfort.
  • Be curious.
  • Ask yourself: When I’m on my death bed, what might I regret not doing?
  • Don’t have to do what society expects you to do.
  • Pour into yourself.
  • Reset your nervous system.
  • Reconnect with the body.
  • Avoid to-do lists.
  • Say YES, especially to your inner child and subconscious (the stuff that bubbles up that we often dismiss).
  • This is an adventure in unfolding, not another thing to achieve.
  • Learn how to rest.
  • Allow. Allow yourself to unfold. Allow yourself to process and feel and rest and learn who you are.
  • Be open.
In addition to this plethora of idea, the group recommended three books:

I love having a reading list. It makes this experience seem legitimate, somehow.

I hope to write a more “art related” post this week, because a lot of exciting things are happening on that front as well. But don’t hold your breath; I’m on vacation.