Taking a 40 Hour Sabbatical is simple.
Wife. Mom. Friend. Coworker. Brunch partner. Fantasy football foe. I'm lucky enough to be many things to many people. As much as I relish all those roles, they come with a price. I spend nearly every second, of every day in someone else's company. As an extrovert, I love it. But as a writer and creative person, sometimes I worry about spending too much time, as one great article put it, "swimming in the stream of other people's thoughts." So for my sabbatical, I decided to take on the ultimate challenge: being alone for a whole week. I jumped on a plane to Colorado, where I spent three days in a one-room mountain cabin and four days at a yoga-meditation retreat in the Rockies. It was the first time I'd ever traveled alone, except for business. But it probably won't be the last, and no one's more surprised about that than me.
Kindling before logs when you're making a fire. Denver Bronco Von Miller is the voice that greets you on the airport shuttle. Sudden changes in altitude really can mess with you. So can the sound of acorns hitting the roof in the middle of the night when you're sleeping alone in a mountain cabin. Charge your phone fully before a hike. Print your trail maps. How to do walking meditation. Even the most raggedy, jagged rocks can be balanced if you're patient enough. You don't have to be religious to have a religious moment. There's a lot of time for learning when you have no one to talk to, so I learned a lot. The biggest surprise was realizing how much I relied on other people to keep me inspired, entertained, and in some cases, alive. But, it was nice to discover that, given the opportunity, I'm perfectly capable of building that fire, navigating that trail and feeling perfectly at peace in my own mind and my own skin.
Besides a sudden urge to take more solo trips, one other thing was born during my sabbatical. I finally finished a spoken word piece based on an idea that's been bouncing around in my head for a while. And a few weeks after I returned, I worked up the nerve to perform it in public with a great crowd of good friends there to cheer me on. The piece is called Show Me Your Tits. That's right. You'll have to hear it to understand. You can find it on my blog, Operation Goosebumps, along with more detailed accounts of my sabbatical experience. I hope its message resonates with any woman who could use it, and am looking for more ways to bring that message to the world.
Diane Levine is the Associate Creative Director of branding and marketing agency, Think Creative. She is a New Yorker by birth, a writer by choice, the lucky wife of a great guy and the proud momma of two amazing little boys.
"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