Cultivating Mindfulness, Peace, and Joy

Month: October 2022

On Sabbatical – Week 15: Back In Business. Already?

It’s time to play catch up. As I write this it is October 27, 2022 – Week 23 of my sabbatical. Yet I’m only now compiling my notes from Week 15, the week of August 22.

When I set out to write this weekly log of my experiences and thoughts during my sabbatical, my vision was that it would be a fun, manageable project to catalog each week’s happenings and insights. It has become a burden that weighs on my shoulders. Ever since our two-week trip to Canada, I had felt like that experience was so important that it deserved extra attention in the blog. I allowed the Week 12-13 blog entry to take a lot of time, and it has now put me in a position where I’m a full two months behind writing about this sabbatical. I continue to take weekly notes as my life unfolds, but it loses a little something when I sit down to actually write about those notes weeks afterward. The potency of my emotion lessens. 

So, I have decided to play catch up, to accept the next few week’s worth of sabbatical blog posts will just not quite have the polish on them that I’d like. It’s more important to me to get caught up and back on a regular cadence of cataloging and publishing as it happens. In the long run I will be more happy with that, and this whole thing is really for me, after all! 

With that, here are some notes from Week 15. 


Without making any attempt to do so, I’m back into work. Not exactly, but work has found me. It’s wild that the purposeful act of avoiding work has brought a golden opportunity to my front door. How could I say no to a chance to, once again, be in business with my best friend? (We worked on a startup together in our twenties.) And this time around, my exact expertise is the thing he needs help with most. In the coming weeks, I’ll be taking my first crack as a media consultant for a local business. I spent seven years working at a TV station selling TV and digital advertising to businesses and ad agencies. Now I get a chance to be the ad agency. Looking forward to seeing how this goes! 

In other news, I have a story to share, but in order to appreciate the following story you need one point of backstory, which is that our kids refer to one of their grandmothers as “Babi.” File that little nugget away. Now, one of my kids and I were lounging in the hammock while the other kid was rolling serviceberries down the slide and Kristyn was inside, in her happy place, uncovering the secrets of the universe by contemplating the intersections of attachment theory, collapse awareness, Tarot, and the Tony-award-winning broadway musical Hadestown. My kid and I were discussing the Bear Paw campground we’d be visiting soon at Itasca State Park, and I clarified it wasn’t that there are real bear paws in the campground, but that it’s just the name of the campground. But, perhaps there’s a chance we’d see a bear; we are traveling 3.5 hours north after all. “What would you do if we saw a bear, Dad?” That depends on the type of bear. “If it was a grizzly, I’d back away slowly. But if it was a black bear, I’d make lots of noise to scare it off…” and so went an impromptu lesson on bear encounter etiquette. (Thanks to the TV show Alone for the assist on upping my bear encounter knowledge!) And as our conversation about bears came to a close, my kid asked, “Dad, what if there were wolves on one side, hyenas on the other side, and a grizzly bear behind? What would you do then?” As I gave a serious ponder to this question with a deep breath, before I could exhale she chimed in, “… Would you call for Babi?” 

The final gem of a moment this week came when some friends of ours came to our house with their two kids for an afternoon of play and relaxation. I had already seen the man of this family earlier in the week, but when they unloaded from their vehicle he greeted me with a sincerely stated, “Man, the days are treating you well.” An enthusiastic embrace followed. I have to say, this was a fantastic way to be greeted. I felt… seen. This feeling of being seen as someone who is in their element, or in a groove, or happy and at peace with the moment, or however it was he meant that… it made me wonder what it was about my presence that made him say that, and it made me feel great about myself. It’s amazing what a few simple, heartfelt words, said aloud, can do to improve someone else’s life. I shall utter such words more often henceforth. 

Oh, and our kids built, colored, and played restaurant in a paper food truck all afternoon. The adults “ate” many sand pies, stick stews, and mud cakes. Good times. 

On Sabbatical – Week 14: Safe Space Fosters Deeper Connection

It hit us this week that we are now very likely in the territory of, “we won’t be here this time next year.” Because by this point next year, our plan is to be living in Costa Rica. It helps put things into perspective, to appreciate experiences as they are happening. It’s our last “couple weeks of summer before school starts” in the U.S. Once the leaves start changing, it’ll be the last time I use the leaf blower and rake. Knowing where I am headed in the future helps bring into focus my appreciation for the present. 

The highlight of this week was an evening we spent with friends. We had a magical moment as we sat in a circle in our basement. But first, some context.

We are friends with another couple who live in the same town; close enough we can get to each other’s houses with a long walk. Even though we live so close, life as adults in Western capitalism is so frequently over-busy, and we don’t see each other as often as one might think. So, to combat this, we had started a tradition to make sure that at least one day per summer, we make some time to hang. In the past, we would go out for a day date (while the kids were in school); we called it our “Bougie Day.” Bougie Day to us meant driving to a fancier part of the Twin Cities, near a lake, and hanging out at a park or a beach to picnic and watch the boats. Perhaps we’d venture to a brewery or an ice cream shop if we were feeling especially bougie. 

As our scheduled day approached, though, I was still in decompression mode from our road trip to Canada. Going out and about sounded less like fun and more like work. When Kristyn and I asked ourselves what it was we really wanted, we realized that all we wanted was to have good quality time and conversation with our friends. (When we get into deep, heartfelt conversations about things that matter, Kristyn, sometimes, refers to this as “getting woo.”) So we proposed a flipping of the script, to change our upcoming Bougie Day into a “Woo-ugie Day,” where we’d hang at our friends’ house during the day, pick up our kids, and then spend the evening at our house. They accepted the proposal. 

Now what made this day particularly memorable was the evening portion at our house. After the kids were in bed, the four adults descended to our basement. We had no real agenda, just four friends sipping some tasty beverages and chatting away. At one point, our gal friend had mentioned an experience she’d had where someone had done a sort of cued meditation for her, where the purpose was to listen and connect to her Inner Wisdom. I asked her if she remembered what the cues were, the verbal prompts that the guide had used. She answered, “Well, it was a pretty straightforward process. It started like you would a ‘normal’ meditation, by closing your eyes and taking some deep breaths.” In that moment, I immediately closed my eyes. I sat in a relaxed pose with a half-smile. I focused on my breath. I had no idea what the other two in the room (Kristyn and our other friend) were doing or thinking as they saw me doing this, but despite my faint curiosity, I didn’t peek. I wanted to practice and demonstrate getting comfortable in a group meditation setting – something many might feel is awkward or uncomfortable. I thought it would be fun to play along as if she was my meditation guide, to see if she would be able to lead me to a similar experience she’d had. She continued with the verbal cues, and before long she arrived at, “… and now your inner wisdom is there with you. Notice them. Notice if they have a shape. Notice how they make you feel…” 

What happened in the next moment is what was so great and surprising. Instantly, our guy friend, the one I least expected to be playing along with this exercise, said, “I just got a really clear image of my Inner Wisdom. Whoa!” He didn’t elaborate in the moment, and everyone held safe space for the calm mood to continue. The meditation carried on for a few minutes, and eventually she wrapped it up. As I opened my eyes, I saw the other two do the same. As we shared how that experience had gone for each of us, our guy friend explained that he had never done any sort of guided meditation before and definitely had never seen or connected with his Inner Wisdom before. I can’t say for sure what everyone else was feeling right then, but it seemed to me we were all sharing in a deeper togetherness than when we had first walked down into the basement. 

I love those moments in life where something great happens, where I get some burst of joy, and I can look directly back at the choices I made which led to that moment. It’s also cool to notice how other’s choices and actions are linked with your own. Had my gal friend not chosen to share her guided meditation story, had she not felt comfortable or secure enough in our group relationship to open up about it, then this experience wouldn’t have happened. Had I not responded with immediate compliance and deference to her cues, and instead just listened as if she were telling any old story about what she’d done last week, then again, we would not have had that shared experience and my friend would not have made this deep connection to his voice within. 

It’s easy to be afraid of looking weird, of seeming different, of what others might be thinking. If I can muster the courage to follow my intuition and to be vulnerable regardless of the circumstance, great moments are on the other side. 

We close with my favorite quote of the week, when my family was out in the yard, and Kristyn and I watched as the kids wandered into our garage and out of our sight. Kristyn looked over to me, gave a half shrug, and said, “They’ll find a way to need what they find.” 




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