Sabbatical Round Up, now that it’s over

Written Sunday, January 24, 2010.  Held in abeyance while waiting to see if I experienced further inspiration or eloquence.  No such luck.

Devo goes back to work this week.  And while the sabbatical experience is still fresh and not clouded with schedules and meetings,  I want to solidify the experience.

I’ve written this post a number of times from the comfort of my bed at inconvenient times of the night.  But now I can’t remember any of the well-turned phrases I so brilliantly composed.  How about a list.  Lists are always good.

Some of the Things I Want to Remember from our sabbatical

  • swimming at Blue Lagoon on weekday mornings.  Just our little family, playing in the sand, swimming in the warm, clear ocean.  Peaceful, contented, joyful.  And no sunburns, thanks to the trees on shore that allowed us to swim until noon without sunscreen.
  • night time walks with Devo.  Half hours, hours to talk and talk and talk without saying, “Mommy’s turn to talk now”.  Confessions and future plans, setting and shaping our experience of the world.  Together.
  • Snuggling in my mom’s bed, playing with Levi
  • swimming at the Hyatt.  No matter how frustrating or catiwampus the day had been, it all seeped away into happiness at the pool.
  • How my mom loves my kids and how much they love her.
  • Levi has spent a whole third of his life in Guam now.  While we were there he learned to sit up, go from tummy to sitting, pull himself up, crawl, walk around holding on to furniture, babble, he sprouted two teeth, say Mama, bye-bye, ta-ta, night-night, Nana (Liana), point, clap.
  • Lia changed from being a small girl into a big girl while we were there.
  • Lia sitting all snuggled on Grandma Ruby’s lap.  I loved looking over to see Lia feeling Grandma’s wattle, or the soft skin on her arms.  They must have read “The Eleventh Hour” 20 times, per Lia’s request.
  • Everyone needs a Grandma Ruby in their lives : someone who loves you and supports you and listens to you and believes you’re the best.  All the time.  I enjoyed watching her extend that open, judge-less love to all her family.
  • I loved how Levi loved Grandpa Bob and Grandpa loved Levi.  Levi would reel Grandpa Bob in.  Grandpa would be headed from one place to another and Levi would catch his eye and a half hour later, they’d still be there playing and laughing together.  “He’s quite a boy”, Grandpa says.
  • watching Heidi in Afrikaans with Grandma Ruby
  • Going with Liana to get our hair cut together and then taking all those pictures.
  • going across the street to Grandma and Grandpa’s house
  • camping on the beach during the full moon
  • reacquainting myself with my “natal land”.
  • Spending our anniversary where we spent our honeymoon.  And enjoying ourselves so much that we decided to do it again as a joint birthday gift.
  • The absence of church crap
  • Devo being around all the time.  And doing the laundry and cleaning.
  • How Grandpa Jesse loves my kids and how they love him back
  • our one family hike
  • skipping church and going out together, alone, instead
  • I hate to put this in a list, because it doesn’t do it justice, but the amount of love, work, time, and money my mom and sister poured out on us.  I just love them and it stinks that we live so far apart.

A long time ago, someone asked me if the sabbatical was turning out to be what I thought (or hoped) it would be.

Well, frankly, for myself I wasn’t hoping for a big change from my normal life.  I anticipated that my “job” would continue as usual.  Directing the family day, being responsible for food, laundry, milk, toys, etc.  I would just be doing it in a different place, with the added benefit of more hands.  I anticipated that, like always, more hands might mean I don’t have to be the one to pick up the crying baby while stirring the family dinner, but the task of organizing all these people’s plans and needs to fit together would replace any of the let-up the extra hands might provide.  In other words, that it would be crazy.

But I wasn’t quite right.  Oh, it was crazy.  Especially those weeks before Levi learned to crawl and Liana had many extra curricular activities and my grandparent’s car was in the shop for days on end.  But even though I was busy, the pressure of it all laying on my shoulders was gone.  Mom did the grocery shopping (something for which I don’t know if I can adequately express my gratitude…shopping there is a 3 hour tour, at minimum).  Devo did the laundry, the cleaning, the daily pick up, the driving.  Liana did a lion’s share of the child-entertaining.  I have no idea what I was doing, but I was keeping busy too, I assure you.  By the last few days, I was just floating from thing to thing, enjoying the last little bit where other people were around to pick up any slack, gathering strength to jump back in and be The One Upon Whom It Rests.  So I experienced renewing I hadn’t anticipated.

I thought it would be nice for Devo to not be at work.  That he would be released from the strain of his job.  I wasn’t sure how the absence of that strain would manifest itself. A brightened countenance?  An added spring to his step? Maybe a lessening of  technological use?  (We left the iphone at home).

I knew for sure that the absence of the iphone was great.  And I knew that we had more time to really communicate.  And I knew that we had regained a lot of our lovey-dovey interaction that had fallen by the wayside.

But I wasn’t able to tell really how much it had changed him until we got back.  And saw all of his colleagues, our friends.  And saw how very tired and stressed and pressured they are.  And how that’s just normal.  Status quo.

And frankly it freaked me out.  There has GOT to be a way to do this job without life just seeping out of us. Or being sucked out, as the case might be.  (Probably a bit of both).

I don’t know if we are going to be able to resist the allure of doing things like we did them before.  Can we make changes in how we perceive things, how we handle daily pressures, so that life is joyous and filled with movement and satisfying work?  If the sabbatical gave us one thing in this area, it is that we are now both much more aware of the negativity and positivity of our situation.  A little bit of clarity goes a long way to making changes.

I had thought that maybe, during the three months, we would find a new calling.  Maybe some brilliant idea for a fairly lucrative (meaning, pay the bills) non-profit that could be run from our home in some beautiful place.  Something that would help people who needed help.

But it didn’t appear quite as hoped.  We did come away with some new and exciting ideas for something to do here, in this job, in this community.  Devo has a meeting with Pastor Chris (senior pastor) tomorrow to talk about some visioning and revisioning.  I’m excited about this (sorry, I think I’ll wait to tell you precisely what it is until he’s had a chance to talk it over with his colleagues) because it’s something that I personally feel very passionate about.  And am already somewhat involved in.  And, if I must admit, because it was my brain child.  It’s quite a compliment that my husband could take my vision and make it into his.

This, of course, only scratches the surface of what such an extraordinary three months encompassed.  But I’m glad that I’ve at least jotted down this much.  It will be interesting to see in future times what we remember of the experience and how we look back on it as a whole.

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