Sabbatical ’11 – 3 weeks and counting

It’s hard to believe my trip is only 3 weeks away. There is so much I feel like I need to do at work to prepare alongside my actual trip preparations. At times, it’s difficult to find the motivation to plan stuff by myself. Really, it’s just me so I can be flexible. The part I have to schedule is transportation and housing (though this is less stressful due to the large amounts of hostels in the bigger cities of Europe.

Thankfully, my first two weeks of lodging in Prague are taken care of. To boot, it’s only costing me $225 US! You have to love that. And that leaves more money for food, drinks, sightseeing, etc. I have no idea what I intend to see and do during those first two weeks, but I fully except there will be a lot of walking, photographing, sitting in cafes and parks reading and writing, and possibly meeting people in the hostels and hanging out with them as well. Admittedly, that will be a stretch for me. Then again, doing this whole trip solo will be a stretch.

The biggest thing that keeps going through my head about this sabbatical is I want it to be life changing on some level, which I’ve talked about with a good friend for a while now. What “life changing” means has been difficult to explain, even to myself. All I know is I want to come back shaped by my experiences, by time away from the routine and regular responsibilities of day to day life. I’d love to have a clearer vision of what’s ahead for me, personally and professionally.  That stretches from my roles in friendships/relationships, my leadership and management at work, taking care of myself physically, mentally, spiritually. All that time in Prague at the beginning will hopefully create that space I’m looking for to process all the thoughts that are constantly running around in my mind.

Stay tuned as I decide on where to go for part or all of week 3 of the sabbatical. I just found out Easyjet flies to Prague, so that opens up a few cities farther away for low prices. But in the spirit of the trip being life-changing, where should I go?

My (Missing) Childhood Stories

What is it that makes my life stand out among those of my friends and everyone else I know? What about my life and history makes me different? Plenty of things, of course! My story is certainly not exactly like anyone else’s, as I’m sure your story is unique to you as well. Yet the word “story” is a large driver of why I’m writing.

There is no doubt that I was raised well, was cared for, and all my core needs were met. As a kid, you don’t know what you’re missing out on because you simply are unaware of their existence. You are (mostly) content with what you have. For the most part, I believe this was the case with me. I had friends, played with toys, Matchbox cars, Legos, He-Man action figures, Lincoln Logs… you get the idea. I even watched some cartoons and other TV shows in my youth. I wasn’t totally sheltered from the world.

However, as I got older and made friends in college and beyond, during times of reminiscing about our youth and sharing stories of what captured our imagination as children, I found that our shared experiences and knowledge, particularly with items of some cultural reference, did not overlap with great frequency. Many of my friends grew up as young children in the 80’s and recall a number of classic TV shows that I was apparently completely out of the loop on. A lot of kids movies, namely many classic Disney and those they released during my youth years and into the 90’s, were and many still are completely unknown to me. Perhaps the one pressing on my mind most is that I’m so void of childhood story book memories. As I see friends talk of sharing books with their kids from their own childhood, I look on with a lack of understanding of what that means. I have no memory of having my parents read to me and my brother. These stories never told weren’t there to capture my imagination and take me to places that didn’t really exist anywhere but in my head. This could explain my love of making up worlds with Legos and later on in video games like Sim City, though these worlds always had some grounding or basis from real life.

I’ve thought to myself on numerous occasions, “Well, why not just rent all those movies you missed and read all those children’s books you never read and be caught up?” Sure, I could do that, but that’s not exactly the point for me. The experience of taking in those stories the first time as a child is something you cannot recreate as an adult. That is what is lost forever. That is what I lament now.

Now I realize there is little I can do about this, save for renting all those movies and reading all those books and catch up. It won’t replace what I missed out on while I grew up, but I suppose that head knowledge should count for something for now. If I ever have my own kids someday, reading some of these stories to them for the first time will fulfill that void from my own childhood. For now, that space in my heart will need to remain as it is and I’ll need to work out what to do with all that extra room.

Home Ownership One Year Later

Today marks my first anniversary of being in my first house. When I step back and think about it, it’s really quite surprising how much has been accomplished in that time as far as house projects/updates go, from painting to new bathrooms and windows. I’ve also learned more about sump pumps and home maintenance! Owning a home truly keeps you on your toes and is spend to spend money on pretty much any time of year.

Then there’s the personal side of the journey, arguably the more interesting part. This year, I got to see my roommate of almost 3 years begin the next stage of his life as he went overseas to fulfill his mission and dream that started so many years ago. I’ve learned how to fix things around a house with the help of neighbors and family. I remember how much I somewhat like cutting the grass every week during the summer. And through an old lawn mower, I’ve found that neighbors can be incredibly kind and helpful in assisting me in cleaning my mower to letting me borrow theirs when mine breaks. I also aspire to make sure my home is one that is open, even when I think I have nothing to offer others. It’s something I think I need to be stretched in.

As a friend of mine said to me today, “one down, twenty nine more to go!” Thanks for reminding me of all those mortgage payments. It’s just what I needed today. 🙂