A sabbatical, also known as a career break, is a period of leave from work so that employees can study, travel, or rest. We usually think of sabbaticals applying to only professors, lawyers, and members of the clergy, but some corporations also offer sabbaticals. A few employers even offer paid sabbatical leave, although most are unpaid.
Why do people take sabbaticals? Some want to accomplish a goal, or travel before settling down into the career and family-growing years. Academics might conduct research or write books. Others feel drained, unmotivated, and exhausted. I was in the latter camp, and took a sabbatical to recover my spirit and passion for living. And it worked.
During my five-year motorhome travel adventure, about a year of it was my official sabbatical. I didn’t work during that time. I slept a lot in the beginning. I caught up on the sleep and rest I had missed for decades during the frantic years. The frantic years were the decades when I was a single parent and fighting to stay a member of the middle class by working two jobs, going to school while working fulltime, working overtime, or having a business on the side. It took four months of sleeping 10 hours hours a night before I naturally started waking up after eight hours of sleep. I was finally rested.
I also socialized, something I often didn’t have the time or energy to pursue during the frantic years. I met fellow travelers who all had interesting stories to tell. We shared an innate curiosity and thirst for learning or experiencing something new.
I explored, hiked, snorkeled, kayaked, listened to music and met gray whales, dolphins, bears and wolves. I spent cherished time with friends and family. I gazed in awe as rain lit up a bio-luminescence-filled sea. I fell in and out of love. I lost and found myself, repeatedly. Ultimately, I came away from the experience healed, invigorated, and ready for what came next. And it was so much better than what I had been experiencing before my sabbatical.
I’m currently exploring the different ways we explore the power and healing of sabbaticals. I would love to hear about your sabbatical experiences.
3 thoughts on “Sabbatical: Salve for the Soul”
Such a beautiful and very personal posting that was wonderful to read! Your sabbatical was a real life-changer for you, Heidi, and helped bring you to where you are now. I’ve never taken a sabbatical – unless you can count my travels as “sabbatical experiences”. They’re short-term, but a definite break from the usual, day-to-day life I have, and always bring discovery, and better understanding about myself and the world.
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Thanks for the kind comment, Nancy. I would definitely call your travels sabbaticals. Even if you’re retired, you can get a break from your normal routine and indulge your curiosity.
I loved your reply. I seldom think of my trips as sabbaticals because I’m not working – but they really are a break from the day-to-day stuff. Thanks for your insight. I really appreciate that!