Saturday, January 31, 2009

Feeling a bit lighter now!

Last Day of Work

I met with the president on my company on my last day and he again asked me WHY I was so interested in this sabbatical. I told him that travelling around the world makes me feel young again. Like a 20 something again, only wiser. I may have grey hair again soon, but I feel young. As I pack my bag for the first part of my journey (inner travel), I feel giddy with excitement. Just 2 more sleeps and I'm off! Come along and join me.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Latest Plan for the Year

For those of you who have patiently read back to the first day I started this blog, you'll find our plans have changed again for what the year looks like. Here's the latest update. The first items are actually firmed up in the form of plane tickets, so they're feeling pretty sure. The things at the second half of the year, well, they're still works in process. So here goes:

Feb. 2 - April 2 Silent meditation retreat in Cranbrook, BC by myself and my monkey mind.
April 29 - June 20 Adrian, Richard, and I all travel to Paris for 3 days, and then on to Delhi India. 2 1/2 weeks in Burma visiting sites we saw for the first time together in 2001. Rendezvous with Josh (Richard's son, age 20; presently in Israel) in Nepal. Travel together to Tibet, maybe Mount Everest, Llasa, pilgrimage around Mount Kailash in Western Tibet. Visit Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lama lives.
June 20-23 Return to Toronto. Adrian graduates grade 6 and leaves Howard Public School with friends.
June 23-Aug. 15 Drive out to Cranbrook, BC through US. Visit frends and family enroute. Help build a residence at retreat centre. Drive back to Toronto through Canada.
Sept. 14-Nov. 14 Meet Kathy and Lois (sisters) in South Africa. Take safari in Kruger National Park. Spend time with Cheryl (sister) and family in Mozambique. Climb Mount Kilimajaro.
Nov. 14 + Settle into life in Toronto again. Relax. Enjoy my friends and family. Maybe read the paper every day. Integrate lessons learned.
Feb. 1 Return to work.

What do Shopping for a new Car and Meditation have to do with Each Other?

No, this is not a joke. Did you know that shopping for a new car is lot about ego enhancement. Choice of car is all about matching your image of yourself with a physical manifestation of an object that will propel you around.

Our 11 year Subaru wagon recently bit the dust at the end of our last trip to Almonte. We were really hoping that it would last a bit longer till we returned from travelling and were ready to pick up car payments again. But the car had a mind of its own. So we set about looking for a cheap replacement. Suddenly we were looking for one of those cheap American cars that they always use at car rental stores. They're all ubiquitous and look a lot the same, but with different names. Some a bit smaller or a bit larger, but otherwise very standard.

It was humbling to wander into dirty car mechanic waiting rooms asking for any car that was certified, but cost less than $3000, the price we had been told it would cost to put a new engine into our old car. The second mechanic we spoke with told me he had the car for me- a Dodge Stratus. Now, do any of you get a picture in your mind when you hear that? Unbeknownst to most of you, I'm a bit of a car aficonado. I can tell you what most cars are at a glance, and usually have an opinion about that kind, whether good or bad, or powerful, or gas-efficient, or built-to-last, or a host of other details. So to go looking for a car based solely on price and the abilitiy to get our finances through the next 6 months is humbling. I didn't know that this knowledge was a part of my self identity.

"I am a car driver of a ..." is an important defining statement for me. Or at least it was. For the next 6 months we will be driving a maroon car. It's not really me driving it. I locked my car ego in the trunk of our Subaru as the tow truck towed it away on Friday, never to be seen again. At least not till next year when I go searching for another car!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

When Planning for a Sabbatical is a lot like Planning Your Own Funeral

I've been planning to replace myself in all aspects for over a year now. Ever since I realized that this is really MY sabbatical and not my family's sabbatical afterall. So now I feel like I could die and everyone who I normally take care of would be fine. That's Richard and Adrian (age 11), all my staff at work plus everyone else at the office, my family and friends, everyone I love and connect with regularly.

I've spent the last few months teaching everyone around me to do the things that I do. My staff are learning to answer their own questions instead of bringing their problems to me to solve. I've taught Richard about our finances, and Adrian has a large repertoir of food that he can make for himself, they're more self-sufficient than before. They're less dependent on me. I could die tomorrow, and they'd be fine.

And this all makes me really happy. I can't describe the feeling it gives me to know that everything will continue without me. I hope I feel this same feeling when I die. Funny, but I always thought I wanted to have a legacy and be around forever, but instead I want people to get on without me!

From Vacation to Sabbatical

How does one transition from a lovely vacation to a sabbatical? It's easy. Just pretend that you're not really back. Oh yeah, and cut off all your hair. That's what I'm doing. I just returned from 2 1/2 weeks hanging out with Richard and Adrian in the winterland of Almonte and Calabogie, about 1 hour SW of Ottawa. I pushed hard before I left to tidy up lose ends and finish projects I'd started at work. Now I'm back, but just staying detached. Not letting anyone scoop my happiness. Reminding everyone (including me) that I'm only here temporarily. Staying focused on me and loving it. Feeling the loosening of Self and image. It seems the loss of my car is also part of this. Soon I may be driving some thing that has nothing to do with me. Something functional but nothing else. This is good. I'm getting what I need from the universe.