That’s What’s Up – 6 Month Career Break Edition

Before I begin, readers to this blog will probably want to know what happened with the house we offered on last week. Suffices to say, we didn’t get it. In fact, we weren’t even close. There were 44 offers (yes, you read that correctly) on the house. The winning offer had all kinds of concessions and things we hadn’t heard of like “appraisal gap coverage” and “closing cost coverage.” At least it was a conventional loan. At an open house this past weekend, I met a couple who had been house hunting for two years (insert shock and awe emoji here). They talked about being constantly outbid by cash. Sadly, the couple is shopping in the same price range that we are so that’s something we also have to look forward to also. (Super sad face!) I heard legend of this happening – that due to the amount of marijuana money circulating in the Denver market (that can’t be deposited in federal banks) that there are a lot of cash buyers out there. Fam, buckle up. This is going to be a long ride, maybe it’s good that our lease was renewed for 4 more months. I am guessing we might be here for a while. Sigh…

In other news, Sunday marked 6 months since the start of my career break. I figured it would be fitting to reflect on that today, instead of just thinking about the last week. Taking a career break has been an emotional ride. Most days I wake up feeling blessed and excited about my new opportunities. Then there are other days where I think What have I done? I need a job! Why did I leave my good paying job that I liked!! What have I accomplished?

Fury and I collectively reflected on my career break this weekend. Being a strong contender for 2018’s Husband of The Year Award, in true Fury fashion, he was fully supportive and saw the proverbial glass, “half full.” He noted all the positives that have come from me not working full time and all of the setbacks we would have faced if I had continued to commute to Boston. Whereas I only saw the things that I didn’t accomplish – glass half empty. Perspective, huh?

In my discussion with Fury I had a fleeting but powerful thought. I call these moments, “When Jesus takes the wheel” where all of a sudden you start saying something that is deep and profound but you have no idea where it came from. Your conscious is looking at your subconscious who is also confused and is like, “Don’t look at me me, I didn’t say it.” Well in my “Jesus at the wheel moment” I thought, What if the career break is not about what I accomplish on the break, but the accomplishment is the career break. What if that’s the real purpose behind this break — simply to just take a break. Then, whatever tasks or experiences I accomplish are just icing on the cake. What if? I know, right? Deep huh?

The skeptic in me still wrestles with the idea of a career break as it sounds like the brain child of a lazy, hapless drifter. But if you know me and know what my last year at work was like, you would think it was time for a break too:

It was around this time last year, that Fury and I started to talk about me leaving my job. Things at work had not reached the emotional climax yet, but they were getting there. The 2,000-mile commute was taking its toll. My students were dealing with all kinds of heavy stuff that I was ill equipped to help them with nor to extricate myself from. Furthermore, my distance from campus stifled my upward mobility. Back then the plan was to find another job here in Denver, but I needed a break, an emotional palette cleanser as a colleague described it. The writing was on the wall, but I couldn’t see it yet. A month later when I had to deal with some super awful things at work is when I finally realized that I needed a break.

Girl standing in water looking at reflection - Photo by Úrsula Madariaga from Pexels

Yesterday I received an all too sudden reminder of why we sometimes need to take a break and re-evaluate. I had plans to write this post on Monday but instead I ended up with a headache and went to bed fairly early (by my own standards). Tuesday morning I woke up afraid to get out of bed. My head was throbbing and my body felt weak; I worried that if I stood I would collapse. I managed to get out of bed and shower without incident but no amount of Advil could quiet this headache. My temperature was normal but I was inexplicably fatigued and nauseous and spent the rest of the day in bed replete with a sippy cup of water, bottles of pills and supplements, and vials of essential oils. I’ve never had a migraine, but I have to imagine it was something like what I felt but worse. Around 7 p.m. (!!!) I was able to actually get out of bed and be productive for a few hours. Then today, I woke up bright eyed bushy tailed and refreshed like nothing ever happened.

I’ll never be sure of what put me out yesterday. But perhaps it was the universe sending a reminder that, yes even me, who is on a career break, needs to slow down. I missed my self-imposed deadline of the website launch and was going to crank all this week to get it up by next Monday. Maybe the good Lord, was like, Not so fast there Young Buck, we know where this path leads, slow down! and then knocked me on my ass to make sure I’d listen.

So here I am – humpday, six months after I left my job. My website is nowhere ready for public perusal. We don’t have a house yet. I’m not back in shape. But it’s going to be okay. Instead of beating myself up about the things I haven’t done, let me focus my energy and my positivity on things I have done. Perspective, huh?

After six months, what have I learned? Sometimes we all need a break. And that’s okay. Own it. Embrace it. Do it. It doesn’t make you lazy. It doesn’t make you worthless. It doesn’t make you entitled. It makes you human. When we don’t take breaks and slow down, we get sick.  That’s the universe’s favorite method for putting the brakes on your life.  Fury was right– if I did not take this break, there is no telling where I would be. I was on a clear path to stress-related illness and this reset is something that I owe my body and my mind. I need to stop beating myself up about my “lack of accomplishments” over the last six months. Life is not measured in outputs and strikethroughs on a to-do list. Perhaps this whole break has been about me learning to accept that.

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