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A Golden Cage Is Still A Cage

The version of me that initially cooked up the idea of taking a year off sounds so young and naive now. I can see her in my mind’s eye sitting cross-legged on the couch and firing off links to my husband about building a Skoolie home-on-wheels, bookmarking composting toilet articles and seriously considering “worldschooling” my daughter. The realignment from “high-apple-pie-in-the-sky” plans to naked self-honesty would astound her. And if I could speak to that version of myself from the vantage point of being a week into the sabbatical, I’d beg her to go take a chill pill and a nap.

For the record, there isn’t anything wrong with big unrealistic plans. Some of the best things in life come from what others might view as overreaching. The problem with my plan is that I was constructing an irresistible yet familiar cage. Inside it was lined with the soft alluring promises of adventure and freedom but the reality was tight schedules, hard trip goals, long lists, and budgets galore. Stress would be readily available and disguised as a never ending vacation.

It dawned on me that my “plan” was never an actual plan; it was a substitute for work. At work, I know where I stand and I can measure my value. Travel, goals achieved, and completed college classes have associated metrics so that I could have returned to the familiarity of juggling except on a full time basis *eyeroll*. If I could have wrapped the idea of tangible results around me like a warm blanket, I would have because how does one measure improving mental health? While I was busy building a brick path back to my beloved cage of over-commitment, my good friend stopped me in my tracks with one question. “Is this going to recharge you”, she asked. I tapped danced around it and said I didn’t know. “We both know the answer”, she replied. She was/is right.

Blessedly, my village stands ready to act as sounding boards or, if necessary, truth tellers. My friend and present me understands something that past me did not want to accept. It’s ok for the plan to continuously evolve as long as it continues to shift towards the overall intention to rest and recharge. We have arrived safely and soundly to our new home in Little Rock, Arkansas RV-less and in search of a school for the little. I am surrounded by unpacked brown boxes. It has occurred to me that these boxes are a lot like sabbatical. They belong to us and yet we have no idea what’s waiting inside.

To Be Continued…..-Jita

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