Monday, April 5, 2010

From Where I Sit ~ A Sabbatical for the Soul

Somehow, when you are in the tropics, it's easy to lose track of time. There is a sense of timelessness that washes in with the waves, a whisper of "Just Be" that floats in with a warm breeze. I've been listening to those soulful notes and allowing them to take me deeper.

That's why you haven't heard much from me. We've finally moved into the little writer's cottage by the sea, the one I've been longing for for years. It serves as the perfect hostess for my creativity. And because it is, you'll be hearing from me less and less, for a while anyway. In fact, I've cleared my desk to take—for the first time in my entire life—a real sabbatical for 30 days of uninterrupted writing.

This feels like a luxury to me, but an essential one (oxymoron that it is). Creative people need creative space and vast expanses of time to honor the Muse. If you are a creative person, I wonder, do you allow yourself this "luxury"? I hope you do.

And sometimes, even though we are well-intentioned, we just don't make the commitment to honor ourselves in this way. It may take a nudge from a wise other to give our souls what we need to express themselves, to thrive.

My "nudge" came from Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I fell in love with her work in the mid-90s. Her landmark book, Women Who Run with the Wolves, opened up a pathway for me to explore the deep soulful Feminine through myth and story. In doing so, for the first time I really explored my self.

An e-mail from Dr. E's publisher announcing her new book and on online series of fireside chats with her based on The Dangerous Old Woman (a work thirty years in the making) sealed my decision. Dr. E said this about her own choice to go "underground" and write:

"What you’ve heard over the years about my having disappeared and gone underground to work and write is true. When people ask where the heck I’ve been and why I so seldom come out when called by the “clattering world,” I often want to respond by saying that one can’t fulfill one’s calling by being called away. Rather one fulfills one’s calling by filling up . . . by studying, thinking, listening, looking at, living in the layers of life beyond the collective ones. Then . . . one can pour outwardly again."

Isn't her statement profound? She gave voice to what I've been feeling (but then wise woman others do that, don't they?). It is time for me to fill up again. I've not done so for an extended period since 1994. Do you think I might be due? I do. :-)

So for the next month or so, I will not be blogging for the most part. Not going to my computer until later in the day. Not taking phone calls before 4:00 p.m. Of course, no TV, but I haven't had one of those in five years. In other words, as few distractions as possible so I can hear the whisperings of my soul and, yes, put them down on paper. There are books to be birthed!

I will, however, be sitting in on Dr. E's fireside chats. I can hardly wait for the first one which begins Tuesday, April 6. (You can learn more about the series by clicking here.) And I'm finishing up my Lovingkindness online retreat with Sylvia Boorstein. Two powerful ways for me to fill my energetic well. That, and plenty of beach walks, watching dolphins, and yummy dinners with my beloved.

Should you need to reach me, I'll be available by e-mail through the Contact Box here. And here's an early announcement for the only weekend retreat (so far) I'll be leading in Michigan, once I return home. Check it out. June 25-27, "Come Back to Your Center." A fitting subject, don't you think? And I will continue to offer Spiritual Direction to women long-distance, one-on-one, should that be something you're interested in.

It's all about the spiritual journey—yours, mine, and ours—and I hope you will create time and space in the next month for your soul to sing. To write, paint, draw, dance, hike, rest. To do whatever it takes, as Dr. E says, to "fill yourself up ... to live in the layers of life between the collective." Will you? I hope you do.

So, what would it take for you to create even a tiny sabbatical for yourself?

As always, I hold you in thought, heart, and prayer.


(Writing image courtesy of


Anonymous said...

Hi Jan,
I will miss your posts, but I understand the need for a sabbatical to write. I would like to have one in Flagstaff. I told my sister, it's hot at 76 degrees, how am I going to stand it 20 degrees hotter? You need lots of ocean time, too, while you're in Florida. I finally found a good CD, Sounds of the Sea by Naturescapes. I am going back to Hawaii with my sisters next month for the first time since I went to college there. Best wishes, Gayle

Cheryl Wright said...

What will it take?

Someone like you, your insight, your words, your passion, your example.

I have five days before I snap back into babysitting action. But I won't be snapping back at all. I'll be easing back because from tonight, I'll be on a 5-day sabbatical - a mini version of yours.

Love and blessings of silence, solitude and peace to you Jan.

twila said...

I'm excited for you, Jan, but I will miss your posts. They have been like manna from heaven to me. I'll just work through your archives! :)

What you are doing sounds absolutely divine and I am trying so very hard not to be jealous! I know this time will be rich and precious. Write on!

Carolynn said...

I'm so envious of your little waterside Eden. I would so love to take a sabbatical, as well. I've been doing my best to nurture myself through an incredibly stressful period, I'm experiencing. It's only been in little nibbles though. Not nearly enough.

I also really like the boundaries you've set, like not taking phone calls after 4pm, etc. It sounds like a wonderful period of renewal for you.

While I'll miss you, I also offer my full support on this leg of your journey.


Sharon said...

I, too, will miss your presence here and elsewhere. I can imagine the peace that a "writing retreat" will bring to your life as you nurture the creative spark of your next book. I send all good thoughts for the month ahead. [I know the occasional week-end "away" I've taken has done wonders for my perspective.]

Laura Hegfield said...


Deborah Carr said...

My wistful heart goes on sabbatical, however, it does not take my body with it...perhaps my time will come soon. Thanks for the encouragement. Enjoy your pause.

Jenn said...

Jan, how delightful to be here and read your news! I feel such warmth in my heart for you and the lovely writer's cottage that you found for your creative soul! congratulations to you! ;) I always feel a soft cushion in coming here and I wanted to say 'thank-you' for that! I absolutely understand your sabbatical and think it is wonderful! I think of you often and send over much luv to you in your writing adventures! I do feel that in this season of my life, I am entering more of this luxury -essential that you speak of and it is a new feeling. I am withdrawn quite a bit from the traditional distractions now also and so it is just learning to 'fill up' as you speak of that is so incredibly important! Thank you for what feels like a fresh new permission slip for me to take away today from this post! big hugs, and I appreciate you so much! happy writing and calm adventures ;) ~Jenn