In my twenties, I usually found time to go to a Prayer Mountain in Antipolo City about 25 miles east of Manila. I would stay overnight to think, pray, and discern my direction and areas of growth. I considered that my personal retreat, which helped clear my mind and reaffirm my commitment to my sense of calling.
My thirties, though, which is about to end, feel crazy busy and fast; I sometimes feel like I’m drowning in responsibilities between family, work, my master’s degree, and other personal projects here and there. Did I mention that we have three sons, two of them are under the age of 4! I feel like I need to hit pause, recharge, and take stock of how I want to spend the next decade of my life.
Thankfully, I am going on a Sabbatical for 45 days!
Years and years ago, I’ve read T.S. Eliot’s Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and I was struck by the following lines:
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
. So how should I presume?
from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot
I don’t mind measuring my life with coffee spoons. I love coffee after all. But this question: “Do I dare disturb the universe?” take on a deeper meaning as I turn 40. I remember my earlier days in my ministry and career, when I would take risks, dream big dreams and pour my heart out and hustle hard. Heck, I resigned from a good paying job when I was 23 to take on a 2-year volunteer, unpaid role being the president of the national youth organization of our church.
Does our capacity to dream diminish as we grow older, when we are weighed down by responsibilities and less willing to take risks?
Maybe. Maybe not. But as I take a Sabbatical, I want to reconnect to my dreams from my younger, less frenetic years. I’m sure that new ones will also emerge as I take the time to rest and reset.
Recast Personal & Professional Vision
Towards the end of 2018, our agency went through a reorganization process. It meant the end of my previous role working with youth and young adults globally. It meant the demise of the team that I worked with since 2015. Before taking on my new role, working with youth and young adults have been a huge part of how I saw my professional path.
One of my goals during this sabbatical is to recast my personal and professional vision, what new skills and knowledge do I need? How do I renegotiate my professional identity and my sense of calling given my new-ish, current role alongside the things that I want to achieve personally?
Personal & professional projects
I am in the last semester of my master’s degree. I’ve been pursuing my MA in Human Development and Family Science with focus on Youth Development. I have one class and I need to finish my comprehensive exam paper. This will be a huge accomplishment for me!
There are also a number of personal projects that I want to think about and launch. I have been revamping this blog, MightyRasing.com, which is where I will post thoughts and ideas on work, Methodism, productivity, and other life lessons. On the other hand, I also have a side project called “Clueless in the US.” It has several components: a website and a YouTube channel.
In addition to that, I also plan to launch a podcast next year. The goal is to serve the Filipino and Filipino-American community in the US, sharing lessons I’ve learned, tips and tricks for living in the US and pursuing financial independence and living a meaningful life as an overseas Filipino.
Between 2012-2015, I ran a podcast for young professionals in the Philippines and I miss that experience of interviewing folks and getting them to share their stories. I know that this project has potential and I’m excited to pursue it both as a creative output and as a way to help Filipinos in the US.
Write poetry! This is one of the things I miss the most! Since moving to the US, my creative writing output has really diminished. I want to continue writing poetry and at some point in the next 2-3 years, I want to finish my novel.
Rest and reflect! The list of things I want to do has grown long. I only have six weeks, though. Let’s see how things pan out. The last thing I want to happen is for this time to become as frenetic and busy as my usual months at work. Primarily, this will be a time for rest and reflection. There are disciplines I want to reestablish and work on.
Questions to ask myself
Since I want to reflect, I have been going back to my Morning Pages journal as recommended by Julia Cameron in her book “The Artist’s Way.” I came up with several questions that I hope will guide my reflections.
- What aspects of my work do I love the most? What areas of work give me energy, joy, and fulfillment?
- What makes work very challenging and what makes me want to quit?
- What direction do I want to commit to for the next 5, 10 years?
- Who do I want to emulate and connect with?
- What creative work do I want to pursue?
- What big dream do I pursue?
- What are the personal strengths I can capitalize on?
- When new set of knowledge and skills do I need?
Books to read
- The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron – I have read this book before and it helped me take creativity and writing seriously. I love the tools and strategies Ms. Cameron recommended to get creatives unblocked! If you’re not familiar with Julia Cameron, check out this interview done by James Altucher: https://jamesaltucher.com/podcast/484-julia-cameron/
- Daring Greatly by Brene Brown – I have just started listening to this audiobook. It’s a great resource about vulnerability and shame and how these two can shape us and what we can do to deal with them in a positive way.
- Falling Upward: Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr – This book appeals to me because of the ideas presented by Father Rohr and what the needs are for the two halves of life. I have read this before, but I intend to read, reflect, and use it as prompts for my journal and thinking about the second half of life, which I think I’m not quite there yet, but inching towards it. By the way, the second half of life doesn’t refer to chronological age but in terms of maturity and experience.
- At Your Best by Carey Nieuwhof – This is probably the most tactical or practical book in this list. But Nieuwhof’s writing reminds me of Michael Hyatt. This book, in particular is a guide for a sustainable path to productivity and life.
I’m excited for this time of rest, reset, and reflection! I’m grateful to my supervisor for our CEO for allowing me this extended time off. It’s not every organization that grants this opportunity. I hope to bounce back inspired, renewed, recharged, and ready to take on new challenges ahead.