Sabbatical Summer

 To listen to this post:

To set the vibe, I recommend: Don't Lose Sight by Lawrence

To set the visual vibe, I recommend the above image: Lake Pushaw, where peace nestles deeply into your spirit and refuses to let go. 

To set the emotional vibe, join me through the following: I had been working at my job, with nothing outside of the gratefully given winter and spring break holidays, for 48 straight weeks. For 48 weeks, I came into my work space, and left my work space, Monday through Friday. There was no deep mental breath I could take. Nothing much past a long weekend, a holiday week filled with family and friends, nothing that my introverted body and mind could do to replenish the reservoir of my soul in a way that was long-term sustaining. As my battery drained, I found myself holding on to July 28th (listening to Don't Lose Sight on repeat) when I could finally enter my sabbatical summer - my blissful three weeks where I could answer to no one but myself - where I could find home within my skin again. This is the story of finding that home. 


Summer 2022 wasn't supposed to be like this. As an educator, "this" being working the entire week after the last day of school. "This" being taking no time off before I returned for my summer work hours. "This" feeling like I was saying, "yes" to everyone around me which meant that I was saying "no" to me. "This" being a battery that felt even more drained instead of recharged. As an educator, the word ~*~summer*~* is not just one of the four seasons. Summer is your lifeline. The thing you hold onto with both hands when you walk back into the educational space in late August or early September, the same thing that you look forward towards eagerly on cold winter days when the slog of the day is extra sloggy, the same thing when the last student exists the building in May or June that you embrace like a dear friend whom you haven't seen in sometime. Summer is your life source. And here I was, wondering, "where in the world was mine?" I looked desperately for this elusive "summer." Was it wrapped in a day spent down at the beach? In a beautiful dinner with friends? Was summer still there when I was in the school building staring at my computer and working on upcoming programming? Was it even summer if you went to bed early instead of staying up late and gazing at the stars? I told myself no. This couldn't be summer. This wouldn't be MY summer. I wouldn't allow it.

So I pushed on. My battery drained to dangerously low levels only to be minutely replenished by a brief moment with friends or a day spent in the sun. I was holding the idea of my summer and self together with tape and glue and hoping I could last until when I decided my summer would start - on July 28th, at 2:55PM. That would be the open arms I would return to, the summer that I remembered, the lifeline I would choose to embrace starting at that date and time - when I would be able to answer to no one but myself for three blissful, glorious, weeks. 

And then it came. July 28th, 2:55PM. I walked out of the school building playing "Celebrate" by Ingrid Michaelson. I embraced summer with an at home pizza party and starting a new book. I slept. I laughed. I had days where I planned nothing. I had days full of plans. I pushed away the thought that I had all of these things before 2:55PM on July 28th. I was vacationing. I was on vacation! I read more books. I snuggled my dogs. I got my nails done. This was the summer I had been waiting for. And in this sabbatical summer, this rest and this break, came a long-awaited and much-anticipated trip to Maine with some of my best friends. 

I had never been to Maine before this trip. I knew we'd be camping at a lake, hiking in Baxter State Park, and most importantly sharing in uninterrupted time with people who knew, loved, and accepted my soul. I would be vacationing during my vacation - embracing a vacation-ception, where I was determined to recharge my battery to past it's full capacity so I could take the next 48 weeks in stride. And this entire experience didn't disappoint. I could write novels about the magical five days we spent in Maine together, but this sabbatical summer culminates on a dock overlooking Lake Pushaw (that same dock is pictured in the image above.) 

It was early in the morning and my soul sisters (Erin & Alicia) and I were sitting on the dock overlooking the lake. There wasn't one single cloud in the morning sky. The water was a deep blue, and not just glistening or shimmering, but vibrating with life and beauty. We sat on chairs, eating donuts, drinking coffee - sharing in the presence of it all. In a quiet morning worship to nature and our Earth of all that we were in in that moment. And in that moment, an eagle flew over head and I was dumb struck. A bald eagle, flying, soaring, gliding into the morning sun. Flapping its wings one to two times before coasting into the morning sky. And it was then, when I remembered, that my life isn't one I want to feel like I need to vacate from. That I want to live everyday fully, deeply, with laughter and love and heartache, and that that is good. I don't want to hold desperately onto the fictional projection of "summer." I don't want that recharge to be limited to three weeks and the other 48 weeks of the year existing just to drain that charge and repeating that cycle into perpetuity. I want to live my life as one that I don't need to vacate - as one where I can enjoy. As I stared at the eagle soaring into the day, I was struck by the thought that that's what I had been doing this entire summer anyway. Before July 28th at 2:55PM I was capturing moments, memories, laughter, tears, life and deciding that they didn't count as enjoyment or living because they weren't taking place during my "sabbatical summer." How foolish had I been to discredit all of the beauty and joy that I thought was only reserved for July 28th from 2:56PM onwards. The eagle kept flying away and I stared at it for a long time, trying to keep my eyes on its movements until it was too small to distinguish in the sky. I internally shook my head as I embraced my new realization that my life is that sabbatical summer I had been searching for over the past 48 weeks. My life isn't diminished to three weeks of joy and all of the others as a slog. My life is full, deep, filled with laughter, love, heartache, and everything in between and that is what makes it a beautiful vacation. My life is deep in the comfort of my body and my skin and that can be my choice and my home to come back to again and again. I don't have to hold onto the lifeline of summer anymore, when I can choose to hold on to the lifeline of my extraordinary, ordinary, beautiful life - as it is and as it will be. 

I don't remember what Erin, Alicia, and I specifically talked about after the eagle flew away. I do remember that later that morning we spent hours on jet skis, honoring the beauty of the world around us. Part of our jet ski adventure involved visiting the eagle's nest off of an island in the lake. The same lake that the eagle flew over that morning. The same lake that the dock overlooked. I took a few quiet moments, gazing at the massive nest on the edge of a tree, surveying the surroundings. And in that moment I thanked whatever was responsible for placing me on that dock that morning. I thanked the beautiful eagle for reminding me that awe-worthy moments can happen every single day. I thanked the four seasons for being just what they are - four seasons and not four lifelines on which I tie my rest and joy to. And I thanked myself for being open to receiving the wisdom of that morning. After those quiet moments I turned my jet ski back on and moved away from the nest. When I was a bit farther along I screamed at the top of my lungs, embracing my beautiful life and feeling grateful to not need to vacate from it again.