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Live while I’m Alive!

Remember this? 

Bon Jovi. “It’s My Life”

 This ain’t a song for the broken-hearted

No silent prayer for the faith-departed

I ain’t gonna be just a face in the crowd

You’re gonna hear my voice when I shout it out loud

 

It’s my life, it’s now or never

I ain’t gonna live forever

I just want to live while I’m alive

(It’s my life) My heart is like an open highway

Like Frankie said, “I did it my way”

I just wanna live while I’m alive

It’s my life

 

I loved this song when it came out, and am now sitting here singing the lyrics to myself as I write this blog.  Today, it is like this song was written for me. 

Live while I’m alive.

At the beginning of 2019, I made the decision to ‘live rather than survive’.  During the first three years, after getting divorced and then losing Liam, I have been in survival mode, doing all I can to keep moving each day and earn the money I need to keep my farm.   For me, this has been a very useful way to live because it is all about being ‘present’, and not getting hooked into my grief so deep I become inert.  Don’t get me wrong, there have been days, even weeks, where I have not been able to claw my way out of grief.  Yet I am here.

But… this year is about living, more specifically ‘Living while I’m alive’.

With this intent in mind, on the weekend I booked a short sabbatical for myself, a two month journey to the UK.  I will spend sometime with my daughter, Keira, who has moved there, and the remaining time will be mine for the taking, for the living.  A sabbatical.

To be honest, I had to look up what a sabbatical is, as in my mind this was a privilege of the educators or the professional among us; like teachers, doctors, academics, who get this opportunity after 7 years of service, and they are given a paid year off to relax and unwind to come back invigorated. It would seem in many organisations the sabbatical has been replaced by long service leave entitlements and the modern sabbatical is no longer defined by the absence of work, instead it is defined by the presence of work.  

I have read many articles about organisations who are encouraging their employees to take a sabbatical, to use the time to learn something new, or try out a new challenge, even pursue a new line of career.  It has been recognised over the years that providing the opportunity for your employees to search for ‘more’ and be ‘more’ is invaluable to an organisation wishing to remain relevant and ahead of the curve.   What a wonderful way to recognise your staff?  I have enjoyed reading the literature.

When you are self-employed, long service leave is not an option, actually it is very easy to get hooked into working continuously and not taking any form of extended leave almost out of fear for survival, because if you are not working you are not earning money.  I know over the last few years I have managed my own working anxiety by using my ‘holidays’ to research or develop new processes for my business, rarely do I switch off.   I don’t seem to be able to hold boundaries within my days or weeks for appreciating all I have and all I have achieved. 

Before finally deciding on a sabbatical, I spent the last few months dreaming about retirement, that illusive time of your life when you have paid off all debts and have all the time in the world to do as you please.  My notional age of retirement is still seven years away, I can’t wait that long to start living, so I will do it today!  Nor will I be debt free, so, a sabbatical it is.  

My next step has been to determine what value a sabbatical will add to my life, I am not the sort of person who can sit still and do nothing, even when hooked into a series on SBS on Demand, I crochet or sew.  A sabbatical then, must be active and purposeful to provide any sort of time-out.  Here is what I came up with.

What do I want out of my sabbatical?

Active pursuit of purpose.

My business ‘slogans’ over the last decade have been “Live the Story You Wish to Tell” and now it is “Live What Matters”.  What these intend to incite is the excitement of pursuing who and how you want to be in the world, to live the eulogy you want someone to read one day.

Clarify working boundaries.

As I mentioned earlier, the drive to survive often has self-employed people hooked into working 24/7, we remain connected all the time, reading and looking for opportunities all the time, and have to justify ‘down-time’ as a business goal. Let me be honest, I am not talking for others here, this is how I have been.   So, I want to spend time clarifying boundaries, what is useful and what isn’t and how can ‘taking time out’ be a comfortable choice.

Appreciate Me.

I often find myself hooked in harsh self-judgement when I see my colleagues achieving great things in our field, and I am still, business wise, where I was five years ago. I can hear my thoughts slide into depression at these times and my energy drops.  The reality, I have done and am doing amazing things whilst living with deep grief.  It is not helpful to continue to compare my progress against others.  This time is to appreciate me.

Not waiting for retirement.

At the rate I am going, my notional retirement age is just that, notional and not actually the time I will be financially able to ‘put down my tools’.  So, I am not waiting until then to live.

Volunteer.

How cool to help out someone in another country?  I have applied to work, for free, with a number of charities in the UK that focus on purposes very important to me.  Through the ‘Work-A-Way’ program, I can work for free room and board.  This makes a sabbatical financially viable.

Write my book.

Will I write my book in eight weeks, unlikely, but I will take my iPad to dabble and have fun, without any guilt or creative challenges like my BAS.  At the very least I would like some ideas to percolate to my keyboard, whilst drinking tea and eating scones, baked by my daughter. 

To live an “unreachable” goal.

What is this? I am not sure yet, but as I continue to prepare to travel, I will look for ways that I can pursue my purpose and passion, to help me grow into the person in my ‘eulogy’, being an adventurous and courageous woman who believed she could make a difference.

To relax.

Whilst I mentioned earlier that the entire time will not be for relaxation, I have factored in time to sit back and enjoy the sun in the UK.  (I can hear those knowing souls laughing at my fantasy about UK weather).  Before I journey back to our fine country, I want to take time to appreciate this time I have given me.  I have earned it.

 

There it is, my reasons for making the quick, not quite thought out decision to take a sabbatical. While booking the tickets, my inner voice was berating me for being financially irresponsible and then the universe delivered today – a friend of mine has asked to rent my retreat for the next 9 months! Huh, mortgage is covered.  

The tickets are booked, volunteering arranged, and Keira is busy baking scones.   To say I am excited is an understatement: 

It’s my life, it’s now or never

I ain’t gonna live forever

I just want to live while I’m alive

 

Enjoy! And thankyou for being you. X

 

 

 

 

 

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