I wrapped up my position as a hotel General Manager a few weeks ago, allowing myself a bit of precious time to decompress before leaving on my sabbatical to Europe. It is usually in my nature to push through, right until the end of every situation, with very little time left in-between for transitions. If I am going away, I tend to put in long hours right up until the evening before I leave, to “make the most” of the valuable vacation days I have to use. When a position brought me back to Halifax from Victoria, I worked until the day before I left on my marathon 7 day drive across the country, getting to the east coast just in time to complete the closing on my home and begin work the following day. I kid you not, I literally pulled into my new driveway at 4:59pm for the meeting with my Realtor at 5pm. Shit, a minute to spare in the timing of my drive across the country, how did that happen? I have decided that this time things will be different.
This whole sabbatical is about trying to find balance, so I want to start this new chapter by doing things differently. What if I am kinder to myself this time, perhaps by not setting the stage for nerve tingling anxiety by trying to cram a million people and things into the last few precious days before I leave? How would it feel to allow myself the time and space to actually enjoy the process of this huge life change? Allow the pleasure of anticipation for this adventure to wash over me, undistracted by hundreds of work emails, voicemails, texts and the never ending in-tray of that life. What if I unplug completely a few weeks before I leave for Europe…go off the grid? Give myself permission to politely say “No” to the things that I don’t want to do anymore, radical!
As a person who has made his living by pleasing others and creating positive experiences for guests, clients and colleagues, it is not in my DNA to disappoint, or say “No”. This coupled with the fact that over the past 20 years or so, I have rarely ever completely turned off my work life, had me a wee bit concerned about how I would react and adjust to suddenly being disconnected from the 24/7 world of hotel management. I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to find my footing, adrift in a world without the tethers of commitments both work and social. Would I feel remorse for taking this huge leap, when suddenly I had no one to be responsible for or to? After 2 weeks off the grid, I am pleased to tell you that it feels like the most natural, wonderful thing in the world. My body and mind fell into rhythm with eternal time immediately. The decompression was instant, and there was no moment of hesitation or looking back.
For the first time in a very long time, there are no distractions. It makes me realize how much of the subtle beauty and joy in life we miss, because the white noise of being “busy” drowns out our own thoughts, intuitions and dreams. When we allow ourselves to truly unplug from that white noise, even for a few hours, our ability to pickup on the signs and signals that the world leaves for us heightens exponentially. A breadcrumb trail for the heart.
When I leave for France this week, I will move deeper off the grid. I will of course be keeping in touch with my friends and family, and continue to blog about my journey here, but the familiar day to day interactions that create a sense of place and home will also be removed. During this time, I want to stay committed to being open to hearing the call of my own heart, and that of the world. What will they reveal to me now that they have my full attention, at long last?