Taking a 40 Hour Sabbatical is simple.
I sit in the rocking chair on the front porch in the mountains of North Carolina drinking coffee. Thinking. Thinking about kids, work, life? No. I'm actually thinking about how amazing it feels to just sit. To breathe. To have a moment to think about how the morning light washes across the porch. Thinking about how the breeze feels against my skin. Breathing in the mountain air. Listening to the birds rustling in the trees. Thinking about how quiet it is. This act of sitting quietly by myself feels like nothing and everything. I feared this moment, of having this time to myself because it signified an ending. I've poured 22 years into a job I'm no longer allowed to have because I'm not needed. I am brought to tears by this moment of stillness. After a time of reflection, I will move forward. Into the next chapter that I am supposed to be excited about.
On my final day of my sabbatical, I drive to see the sunrise on the Blue Ridge Parkway. As I await the sun, the view gets more and more beautiful with each passing moment. Even though I know I won't be able to capture what I see with my iPhone, I snap away so I can have a reminder of this moment. A sunrise holds so much promise, so much potential. It's almost impossible to watch a sunrise and not be hopeful. As my sabbatical draws to a close, I am looking to the future with renewed optimism. I am excited about what's next. I've learned I'm not losing anything. I am only gaining. My boys are away at school becoming the men I had a hand in molding. This, of course, is what I always wanted. This is the goal. I am happy for them. I am happy for my husband and I. And I'm thankful for time spent in the mountains to get to this place.
My sabbatical took on a life beyond just my husband and I. I made t-shirts to commemorate our week and we wore them a few times while we were out adventuring - hiking, kayaking and attacking a ropes course. Shopkeepers and people passing by asked us about Camp Empty Nest. I posted photos on Facebook. When I returned home, friends asked me about the camp we went to. I explained that it wasn't actually an official "camp", just something I put together for my #40hoursabbatical for my husband and I to make the transition from full-time parenting to being empty-nesters. A number of my friends are in the same stage of life as I am, with kids leaving home to go off to college, to the military or moving away to enter the work force in the next year or two. A number of them said they need a camp like this. My sabbatical started something I never intended – the need to create an official Camp Empty Nest. So, next Fall, I will take a small group of empty-nesters on a retreat, where they will have fun in the mountains participating in traditional camp activities, but with the added bonus of bonding with others who are entering this same unknown. My hope is they will leave this magical week refreshed, recharged and ready to take on this new world free of school lunches, PTA meetings, report cards and missed teen curfews.
Kim Capps is an Account Manager for Think Creative Inc. and the mother of 2 college-age boys, the younger who started college in fall 2016, prompting Camp Empty Nest. Kim hopes her adventurous spirit inspires others to make the life they want for themselves at any age.
"Be brave enough to live creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You cannot get there by bus, only by hard work, risking and by not quite knowing what you are doing. What you will discover will be wonderful; yourself."Alan Alda