Three Months and a Day

Sep 19, 2021 | My Sabbatical

II left my stable and comfortable full-time job on June 18 to start a six-month creative sabbatical. Today marks three months and a day since my last day on the clock. I’ve been doing this sabbatical thing for 90 days already.  

Woah.

Time has passed both quickly and slowly. I’ve had days of overwhelming joy and productivity, and days of doubt, confusion, and stress. I’ve mourned the death of a family pet, felt both the joy and overwhelm of so much freedom, and been scared and excited about possibilities for growth. I’ve been lonely and thankful for time alone. I’ve been proud of myself and too hard on myself. I’ve made good decisions and bad.

I’ve gotten lost in museums, redesigned my office space, made several solo trips, swam in waterfalls, laughed with friends around campfires, spent time with my grandparents at the family cabin, reconnected with out-of-state family, and read a plethora of good books.

These past three months have been more difficult than I ever could have imagined. But is change ever easy? Nope.

I read a book this summer called The Practice by Seth Godin. Seth is a thought leader who writes about creativity, leadership, and business. The Practice is about establishing a creative practice in your life, whatever form that takes for you. I loved it, and recommend the book. 

After finishing it, I googled him. Naturally. I found a quote attributed to him that has come to mind again and again during these first few months of my sabbatical. 

“Please stop waiting for a map. We reward those who draw maps, not those who follow them.”

Seth Godin

What a simple but enthralling image: draw the map, don’t follow it.

I am a very visual thinker, and this map idea has taken root in my mind. Whenever I feel anxious about the present or paralyzed thinking about the future, I imagine my map. The challenge, privilege, and wonder of drawing my own map makes my heart sing. It’s the feeling of hiking through a stunning new wilderness on a crisp and windy day. I know it sounds silly, but I can’t think of a better way to describe it! 

When I decided to step off the road I was on, and into the uncharted and undrawn part of my map, I thought it would immediately be liberating and fulfilling. But drawing your own map is challenging. It’s easier to stay on the part of the map that is already drawn for you. The road that is cleared of obstacles for miles and years, the surface smooth and easy to walk. You can see what is in front of you and not be afraid, because knowing what is ahead feels safe.

But how do you find the hidden waterfalls if you don’t go off the road? I’m searching for the waterfalls, and not stopping even when I walk into some thorns or fall down a ravine. 

How fitting that I went to a map exhibit at the Library of Congress while in Washington, DC. This is the 1507 Waldseemuller world map, long thought lost until discovered a century ago in a German castle. It was the first map to depict the American landmass as its own continent, representing a huge leap forward in the geographical understanding of the world. For all you history buffs out there.

1507 Waldseemuller world map

I am halfway through my six month sabbatical. I have shared this experience with some of you, and others are hearing about it for the first time. Designing this website is one of the projects I’ve been working on these past months. This is only the 500th design, give or take. I may have perfectionist tendencies. It isn’t completely finished yet, but as Seth Godin writes in The Practice, creatives need to share their work.

The next three months will be spent trying to establish a regular blogging schedule, in my efforts to draw my own map and see where it takes me. 

To drawing our own maps!

4 Comments

  1. Cynthia BeaCH

    Go, Bree. This is so cool–what an opportunity. A time to tune. Thanks, too, for the mention of The Practice. I’m hunting it down!

    Reply
  2. Rose

    Go Bree! We love you and are proud of you!

    G&G Byle

    Reply
  3. Zach

    Great first post! I can’t help but notice a dearth of Abraham Lincoln, but still I approve. Looking forward to others 🙂
    Awesome map too!

    Reply
    • Bree

      Thanks! Abraham Lincoln will make an appearance in another post 🙂 I did think you would appreciate the map!

      Reply

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