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Give Yourself Time: The Joy of Taking a Break

Friends and family ask us, “How do you do it? How do you manage to leave for a year?” Others say, “You are crazy; I would never do that!” These people usually think of the dictionary definition of a vagabond as “…a person who wanders from place to place without a home or job.” I prefer Ralph Potts’ definition in his book Vagabonding:

‘Vagabonding’ is about taking time off from your normal life — from six weeks, to four months, to two years — to discover and experience the world on your own terms.

In this season of Thanksgiving, I reflect on what Seth Godin said last year:

A modern Thanksgiving would celebrate two things: The people in our lives who give us the support and love we need to make a difference, and… the opportunity to build something bigger than ourselves, something worth contributing. The ability to make connections, to lend a hand, to invent and create.

When we departed to realize George’s dream of travel in SE Asia, I wrote every month to my friends and former students, wondering at the time if anyone would read our words. Would I make a difference if I wrote at all? I remembered Ralph Waldo Emerson’s thoughts:

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

Leaving both our homes and our careers can free us to think about our path and what we want to do with our lives. If you are considering a long vacation or a career break you might ask, “From where am I leaving and how might I find a purpose? What will the trip be like? What will happen in this new unknown world?”

A Sabbatical may allow us to step back so we might give more to our lives in the future. An academic study, Sabbatical Leave: Who Gains and How Much? conducted by researchers from the US, Israel and New Zealand, researches this question. The study concludes: “Sabbatical leave promotes well-being…the present study confirmed the beneficial effect of a respite on positive well-being.”

Maybe we cannot all take a year-long sabbatical but at least we may find a sabbatical second or moment to acknowledge our dreams and pull our lives more into focus, and become closer to making our dreams come true. Support someone else’s idea for a Gap Year, Mini-retirement, Big Trip or Sabbatical—between stages of life, after college, or after the home nest empties.

Last year passed without a National Meet Plan Go event in Los Angeles. I discovered that no one had volunteered to host the occasion. So this year, we facilitated the day, and drew an incredible panel with a sold-out crowd of over a hundred attendees. I wasn’t sure how to bring the event to fruition, but as with all such tasks, the journey began with a first step.

This Thanksgiving season I am grateful for a support team that allows me to ship early and helps to make my dreams come true. For many of us who have left “the rat race” with a sabbatical or career break, we realize that the journey is for the sake of the adventure and that we can be transformed by our travels. I hope that you will put one foot in front of the other and proceed firmly in your life to make your dreams come true. Find a tribe that understands our world, takes care of our planet and also supports its members.

I hope that this during this Thanksgiving and holiday season, you can carve time out of your schedule and not be permanently tied to your Blackberry, carpool, office or deadlines, to focus on realizing your dreams, whether they involve travel or something that only you can imagine.

For a moment, a year, or a lifetime.

Author’s Note: This post was first published on Squidoo Thanksgiving Magazine on Nov 18, 2011. I thought you would enjoy it for Thanksgiving! I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with warmth and family. George and I have been in Thailand for the past month and fly to Kolkata, India on November 23rd. Namaste! Lisa

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About

Lisa Ellen Niver, MA is a teacher, traveler, author, speaker and social media ninja who has traveled to over 100 countries and six continents. She is a frequent author in the Huffington Post, USA Today, Wharton Business Magazine, National Geographic, The Jewish Journal among many other publications. She is the founder of We Said Go Travel, a global online community of over 1400 writers with articles from every continent. As a 2012 nominee for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching, she received commendations from US Senator Barbara Boxer as well as Fran Pavley, Holly Mitchell, Eric Garcetti from California State Senate, and Assembly, and the Los Angeles City Council. She founded in 2009 the Los Angeles Science Teachers Network with teachers participating from over 70 schools, runs the Science Isn't Scary website and operated the Simply Science camp. She was featured on KTLA National TV on the program Career Day, a show that shares great careers for teens and was invited to speak as an expert on three different radio programs about global citizens, international education and the PISA test. She holds MA. and M.Ed degrees in education and graduated Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania. She is certified in California single and multiple subjects. She is currently working on the new Nickelodeon television show, Bella and the Bulldogs.

Comments
3 Responses to “Give Yourself Time: The Joy of Taking a Break”
  1. this is a great post and made me grateful I do travel and write too as well as continually sharing my passion for education. Great post this is. :)
    Wends of Journeys and Travels recently posted..Mudra, jiaobei, geisha and terracotta: travel souvenirs on the roadMy Profile

  2. Carrie says:

    Lisa and George–I just came across your site and it’s so inspirational! The quote you alluded to, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” helps me get started with long, daunting tasks and it’s especially true in planning a sabbatical. Thanks for sharing your journey with us and I look forward to reading more!
    Carrie recently posted..Re-Entry Reality Interview: Harder than Culture ShockMy Profile

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