5. Getting healthy and fit

What does that really mean? I am not the person to go run a marathon and I was never going to get that photo model body.  But really considering it I had a few habits that were not really helping me get healthy and fit. At the same time healthy and fit meant more to me than the physical. I wanted to feel good about it and cherish that body that was given to me. No, that is really under defining it. I wanted to feel strong and being able to move mountains if needed. To have the physical and mental stamina and energy that would help me mount any challenges that would come my way.

In order to gain strength the first steps was to break with dependencies. This had helped for me in the past to feel stronger. This meant quitting my coffee habit and stop the wine and late night snacks. The question was of course why after a while I always fell back into these habits. The coffee always helped me on weekdays to get to fifth gear and keep going all day. But what also helps to get the body in motion in the morning is doing some exercises. This was a much better habit. For some reason over the last year I had lost this practice completely. The first week of my sabbatical was able to quit the coffee, but I couldn’t get myself moving on the morning exercise. What really helped was the retreat. With a regular program of meditation and yoga every morning I got back into the groove. After I came back I was doing the suggested exercise, but was getting bored with it. What did make it easier for me is to follow a program. I am now on day 10 of the 31 day yoga Revolution. I can really recommend it! And the coffee habit the rest of the day? Actually once of the coffee for a week, you do not have the ups and downs any more and you don’t need it as much. And there are many great teas if you want something warm to drink. I occasionally drink a decaf if I really want to taste the coffee.

The other habit I immediately quit in the first week was the wine and late night snack. The trouble with the combination is really, that once you start to snack something with your wine, you want more wine, which also increases your appetite. Worse so, I realise now, that this happens while binching on some series on Netflix. And therefor going to sleep way late. Oh no, another habit, but lucky me, I quit that too except for max one day a week. And what a waste of time!! The real question is why was I doing this. Two reasons I think, to get the sense of relaxing before going to bed, I deserved this after a days hard work. And secondly, to fill a void. If I kept myself “occupied” in this relaxing way, I could zone out the loneliness. In stead now I do some stretching exercises and put on a guided meditation. This often times eases me into sleep, and it doesn’t get so late.

To get some more stamina I also started to run again. I am aiming for that 10k run event, which I have been doing for the last four years, but am taking it slow. In stead of telling myself during my run, come-on you can do it, just push a little further, I am now trying to focus on the flow, feel the movement, and tell myself to find that ease. It is really much more enjoyable that way. In my mental frame of mind it is still a bit tricky not to have the set dates and objectives for each practice with the goal in mind. But there is plenty of time to get there and then again isn’t it all about the here and now. Enjoy what you are doing now, and the ease and stamina will come with practice.

And then there is the healthy food off course. Subject for another day.

This was post number 5. If you enjoyed reading it, please come back or have a look at my previous posts. I am curious to hear from you, so please leave your comments.

4. Time is an illusion

Guess what, the first new thing I learnt during my sabbatical is that time is an illusion. As Eckhart Tolle writes: “Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.”………… silence……….

What have I been thinking all this time? …….more silence………

The first week of my sabbatical I had spend one day at the spa, a massage and sit in the park the second day and a therapie session on the third. I stopped drinking coffee, which made me really tired initially and banned alcohol and late night snacks. I had to get stronger and quit with the consolation habits. I was in recovery mode from a very stessfull period since our summer break I had ended up in a situation at work with several unplanned events that took up all my time. I had been onboarding my successor and in the last week had many good bye sessions. And I do not like good byes. My head was one big blur. I slept a lot.

The second week I went on a retreat for 5 days. And this is where it happened. I started to get clarity. We spend our days in silence, had meditation and yoga sessions twice a day and a session on the here and now. Just be. We were in this beautifull nature park and I spend the afternoons with leasurely walks or riding my bike. On top we had this wonderfull self prepared healthy food and many good nights sleep. It was so great to feel every step, to enjoy every second of silence and to taste every bite of food. It seemed that colors were so much brighter and sounds so much more beautifull. Life felt so rich that way. I realized that off course during these ideal circumstances it was much more easy to live in the now. But I was wondering if I could not just have the faith that I would be able to continue to focus on the now and do my exercises every day. Be aware, present as much as possible every day. Things were really so much less complicated that way. And with the clarity in the present moment I would know what to do. I would know what was right. Or at least more often as I was getting better at having that awareness. When you are in the present moment you can really sense that there is no pain, that there is no worry. There only is. The following starts to make sense: All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence. – Eckhart Tolle.

In the few weeks since I have been doing my daily practice, sometimes more sometimes less. It has been so much easier to focus on one thing, like writing these posts. With the yoga I have been able to get the stiff muscles in motion and more flexible. I have taken on leasurely running again and were are eating mostly vegetarian and a lot of vegetables. I am working on the health of my mind and am starting to be more foregiving for myself and others. If change is needed it has to start with me and it has to happen in to now. Not tomorrow or next week. In all I was starting to get more healthy, more fit and less grumpy. And the great thing is, the now is always there if you care to notice!

This was post number 4. If you enjoyed reading it, please come back or have a look at my previous posts. I am curious to hear from you, so please leave your comments.

3. Time for what?

And there it is, time! The sabbatical has started and time previously spend at work is now at my discretion. What were the most important things to focus on?

As a working mother with a busy job I was always focussed to spend my time as efficient as possible. This seemed to be the only way to have some time left over for quality time with the children. And space to do things that I liked. Vice versa it meant that if things did not go as planned, my time was going to be the first to give. Very annoying! I realize now that this was probably one of the biggest sources of my grumpyness and negativity. I complained about stupid little things. Items that I couldn‘t find, because that were not at their place. Having to do an extra load of laundry, because the kids hadn‘t put it in the basket by friday night. Or a computer that was not doing what I wanted. The kids indicated that it felt like I was angry with them, where in all reality I felt helpless as I couldn‘t get the tings done that needed to be done as swiftly as I had hoped.

Due to the treadmill of every day responsibilities I has started to loose focus on activities I liked to do that would give me energy. In stead I spend free time „relaxing“, just sitting on the couch, taking a nap or watching TV. You may say, there is nothing wrong with that, and I do agree to a certain extend. I had stopped doing sports on a regular basis and was thinking, I am really to tired to go for a run or do some exercises. Due to various circumstances I had lost the connection with some of my trusted persons and I did not go out to reconnect or make new friends. I did not spend time on playing music, which had been one of the biggest hobbies before I had children.

It was clear what my first priorities were going to be. Getting healthy and fit, spend time with the children, be not grumpy, spend time on my hobbies, reconnect and meet new people. This was going to be the focus to start with. How much time would I need for that? That was a very old lifestyle type of question. As long as it takes I think. If this was the most important to rebuild my foundation then, I‘d better get really good at it and not move to the next step until that was going to be the case. I was going to enjoy this journey and be very aware every step of the way. I was curious to find out what I was going to experience and find on my way.

This was post number 3. If you enjoyed reading it, please come back or have a look at my previous posts. I am curious to hear from you, so please leave your comments.

Often times it seems that there is only one direction we can go. The road we have been on. We have commitments to our families, to our employers, to our friends and even more. I was cycling down this road and I was going and going, peddling away. I did my best to fight the wind that was in my face and the road seemed endless. It did not feel like I was enjoying the journey, I wasn’t looking left and right and taking in the scenery. It felt lonely, no one was meeting up with me to go this journey together. I was so busy travelling the distance to that goal, to reach the end of that road. But what was that going to bring me? It seemed the right thing to do. Someone put that road there and it is clearly the best route to cycle. But was paddling away on my bike what I should be doing right now?

People were saying they thought it was brave to make the decision to start a sabbatical, while for me it felt like giving up. Maybe both was right. Often times we continue on a certain path because we are afraid to face our fears. I had been doing some thinking about those fears. My job kept me engaged and gave me a high sense of fulfilment. At work I was someone and I felt valued. I was able to work on meaningful things and I had always been passionate about what I was working on. It was clear to me what had to be done and I enjoyed working with the people. I had made a commitment to this company and the people and I was rewarded well for it. And now I was coming back to that commitment, not delivering what  had promised. People may be very unhappy with me, I was letting them down. I was deciding for the unknown, who was I going to be in a professional sense. I spend a lot of time at work, having a lot of my social engagement there. Without that, I going to be lonely. Was it going to feel like to walls closing in to me? Was I going to get lost now that I was not going to go that road, also not at a slower pace by foot?

But it didn’t seem fearful for me. I had checked whether I had the gear and supply to go off road and felt prepared to head off the beaten track. I was going to take time to take in my surroundings and was going to go where ever it seemed worth exploring. I was going to make sure to get fit and stay fit and take breaks whenever I needed. I was going to get rid of the unnecessary weight. All those piled up chores. Deciding to either not do it or get on with it and getting them done. All those negative feeling and resentments, finding out what was bothering me and either accepting them or resolving the cause. I was going to enjoy this journey, every step of it and I was going to need my full attention. It was not important to reach my goal, but I was going to explore and learn, feel at peace and enjoy. I was ready to accept anything unexpected that was going to come on my path.

This was post number 2. If you enjoyed reading it, please come back or have a look at my previous posts. I am curious to hear from you, so please leave your comments.

There are two questions that I was asked the most when I announced I was going to take time off. Why did I want to take a sabbatical ? What was I going to do in that time? Several people expressed they thought  I was really brave. It felt more like giving up for me. Many said they were going to miss me and wished me all the best. To be honest I only had partial answers and felt I was going to find out once I got there.

Making the decision felt very difficult and at the same time the only right thing to do. I had been working for the same company for nineteen years.  Working in different locations in different countries. Always having very interesting jobs and great opportunities for advancement. I was not unhappy, but felt stuck somehow. Stuck in my ambition and passion for what I did at work. Spending too much time. But not enough time to do anything right. Stuck at home, because issues started piling up and whenever I had time to relax I was too tired to meet people or do anything I liked. Seven years ago, after my husband died, I had made myself the promise to take the time off whenever I felt is was right. Was now the time?

Just thinking back to the time I became a single mum (I hate the word widow) with a more than full time job and a 5 and 7 year old, everything seemed so much clearer then. I knew how I wanted to take care of the children, what was the best way for me to stay healthy so I could take the best care. And included in that was staying on the job. Continue doing what I liked and was good at and working with the people I enjoyed working with. Off course several adjustements had to be made, but it was clear which ones and it was absolutely no problem to stick to them. Apart from the grieve I was happy and felt everything was in balance.

How much time would I need to get that clarity again? It was clear that the more time I tried to create to figure this out during the job, the more unclear things became. Was was feeling this way because of a reason and I was looking for explanations. But all that had happened in my life and all that was on my path now seemed to get so comingled in terms of feelings, reasons and impact. How was I ever going to get that clarity of mind of what I wanted to do, how I wanted to live and how to best take care of my family? So why was it so difficult to take the decision?

On that monday morning I walked into my bosses’ office with my coat still on. I was determined to drop the bomb first thing, so that I would not talk myself out of it again. That was also the beginning of being emotional at work. And I hate that! Never mind, I did pull through and laid out my decision. We agreed I would talk to several more people to get clarity of mind on what I really wanted. And there it was, the decision to hand over this exciting and very interesting job, which really was a good stepping stone to a future career move. The plan to take six months off with an open view on what I would do when I would return. I really did come back on my commitment to do this job for four years, after only being at this location for a year and half. Leaving behind a great journey with spelled out change plan for this organisation, which I had started and a bunch of really great people.

One month in I do know the answers. I am taking a sabbatical to find my core, to get centerred on what is important to me and what I love to do. What I am going to do is to create the space to grow that understanding. Ultimately I want to find the strength to let my heart tell me where I am heading. To have my heart as my compass, my guiding star showing which direction to take.

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