My Sabbatical Has Come to an End

My four-month sabbatical/furlough is almost over.  I return to work on September 1st. It feels like a lifetime since I closed my work laptop on April 30th. Four months ago, I had no idea what the world would be like at this time or whether I would have a job to return to.  I am grateful to be returning to a paycheck and continued health insurance during a global pandemic, but it feels surreal after four months away.  It feels kind of like I quickly left my home in the middle of a war, not knowing when or if I would return.  Now the war is over (but not really) and I am returning home after a long time away.  I have heard that my house is still standing but I don’t what condition it is in.  What will my house feel like when I go back inside? Will I dust everything off, set things back up, and forget that I ever left? Or will it never feel quite right again?

In the physical world, I am in literally the exact same place that I was when I left.  My body has not traveled more than two miles from my home office desk, and I have spent most of the past four months sitting at this desk.  This year feels like a weird, time warp.  It will be a very strange adjustment, even though I will still physically be in the exact same place where I was when I left. (I expect to be working from home for the foreseeable future.)

So what have I done with this amazing gift of time that the Universe gave me?

I spent a lot of time studying astrology, and you might have noticed, I did some writing about it.  I love that astrology can help us understand ourselves better so we can live happier, more meaningful lives.  Every birth chart is like a beautiful puzzle of a person’s soul.  Astrology is a passion that engages my analytical mind and my compassionate heart.  If you had asked me a few years ago what I would do if I had four months off with so much time on my hands, I probably would have panicked. I am so grateful that astrology found me before my quarantine furlough/sabbatical. I am sure some of you think I am crazy (but secretly you are also really curious about the puzzle of your soul, aren’t you?)

I also spent a lot of time this summer trying to understand what was behind the angry content from Trump supporters that started showing up in my social media feeds after George Floyd was murdered.  I was getting passive aggressive messages that I was a “brainwashed liberal” so I went down a rabbit hole for many weeks to confirm for myself that this was not true (Spoiler alert: It’s not true). I won’t share everything I learned in that rabbit hole, but if you have any questions about QAnon, I probably have the answers. I didn’t find any magic solutions to the problems we are facing, but I am much more informed and engaged. And I have a much better understanding of the feelings behind the anger and why so many people support Donald Trump. We are going to need a lot of compassion and empathy to get through whatever comes next.

No matter who wins this election, we will still all be living together in this country. The forces that are dividing us won’t go away.  The angry voices will probably get louder and more dangerous. The issues we are fighting about are complicated and do not have simple answers.  We need to work as hard as we can to get honest, compassionate, intelligent, and capable leaders into our government.  Then we need to fix our political systems so they better represent the people (check out RepresentUs who is doing just this!)

We have a lot to do and we have to stay engaged. Make calls to swing states. Listen to each other. Ask people why they believe what they believe and why they feel what they feel. Get everyone you know to vote and to vote as early as possible. (If you are not sure how to vote early in your state, read this.) And be nice to each other! Be especially nice to the people who are the most angry.  They are the ones who need the most compassion. And if you can’t be nice because YOU are too angry, just walk away and use your Mars energy where it will make the most difference.  Yelling at angry people is not usually effective.

I digressed. Back to me and my sabbatical (which is really completely irrelevant in the context of our world right now, but I will continue.)

When I was not trying to understand our country and the depths of everyone’s soul (which is clearly how I like to spend most of my time), I did the same boring, quarantine stuff as everyone else. I finally had time to organize my recipes (highly recommend Paprika) and have cooked every one of my meals since April.  (This was a HUGE change for me. I rarely cooked pre-COVID/sabbatical).  I have become really good at making pizza and I even started roasting almonds (I will never eat another unroasted almond again.)  I miss the Pilates reformer, but I replaced it with this weird thing called PVolve that I don’t hate, because it is kind of easy (which probably means I am not doing it right). I did lots of projects around the house and collected zillions of pictures of clouds on my long, daily NYC walks on the East River (hence, the featured image on this post!)

I went back and forth between being super productive and feeling completely unmotivated to do anything.  I am amazingly good at being a quarantine hermit (that shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows me) but I called my family in tears a few times, because sometimes being a hermit is HARD (no matter how good you are at it) and 2020 is bringing a lot of really hard, sad things.  I also had a lot of inner turmoil about whether to travel this summer since I had all of this time. Ultimately, I decided that it was not worth the extra COVID risk, hassle, and cost, so I stayed put and streamed beach views on my television.

I don’t have to tell you that this is the strangest, hardest year of our lifetime.  I did not totally reinvent myself during my sabbatical (as I hoped I might when I kicked it off), but I did REST and let my body and my mind go wherever they wanted to go (within COVID limitations).  That is exactly what I needed to do.  I am so grateful that I had this time and that I was healthy and that my family was healthy so I could just relax (when I wasn’t anxious).  Many, many people are the opposite of relaxed right now, so I know how lucky I am.

The story, for all of us is still very much unfolding. My next chapter is returning to work, but there are many more chapters to come.  I have told you that astrology says there are big changes coming that we can’t really see yet, and that is what it feels like for my own life as well.  I have no expectations about what my future chapters will hold.  I think right now, we all have to let go of any expectations, pay attention to where our hearts are leading us, wear our masks, and go with the flow. (and vote!)