Dolce far niente? Not so much

Oh to quit your job and just do whatever you want for a year. Isn’t that a lovely dream?

It was mine and I fortuitously was able to make it happen.

“A sabbatical (from Latin sabbaticus, from Greek sabbatikos, from Hebrew shabbat, i.e., Sabbath, literally a “ceasing”) is a rest from work, or a hiatus, often lasting from two months to a year.”

Knowing myself, I immediately sequestered myself at my brother’s house in another state to ensure I wouldn’t traipse back along the old commute path. The holidays provided tremendous diversion, and my sister-in-law’s wall of romance novels ensured I didn’t dive into business reading right away. There were road trips, visits with friends, and wining and dining.

Then it was time to return home. Day one was a restful recuperation from the trip. Then my chores planner kicked in. Suddenly all the things I had saved for “when I have time” magnified themselves. I have paperwork to file, books to organize, closets to rearrange, piles of things to sort through. I need to create travel itineraries and develop a business plan.

During one of the freezing days I watched Eat Pray Love (loved the book). The phrase “dolce far niente” struck me: per Merriam-Webster “Italian, literally, sweet doing nothing.”

As much as I want to do that, the inner peace for it is lacking. This is the perfect time to hibernate, and the plan was to read books and watch movies and give myself a break. Instead I find myself making a schedule and checking off to-do lists. I caught myself writing down “relax” as a task!

But I know this is a process. Changing one’s life doesn’t happen overnight. The reactive days of getting an assignment, committing to a deadline and working hard to meet it may be over, but the habits that came with that require a gradual change. Away from one’s environment one is removed from obligations. A retreat is just a starting point, however. The real work comes with implementing the changes and resolutions that retreat triggered.

So for now, my sabbatical entails getting my house in order. As I sift through the “things to do” I am also clearing my head and processing the events of the past year. This in turn will create a list of “no(longer a)thing to do.” How sweet will that day be!

Meanwhile, intervals of 2 minutes of doing nothing will help: http://www.donothingfor2minutes.com/ 🙂 Wishing you a restful week.

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