Savoring my Sabbatical

One of SHIFT’s core values is #dedicated – to the firm, our clients and our amazing team. One of the newest benefits our progressive agency offers is a sabbatical program. And this August, I enjoyed every minute of it!

I started planning a few months ahead. It was so much fun to relish in the options of what to do with the time. From family time, to volunteering home or abroad, to travel, to seeing friends or seeing no one. I devoured a fantastic book leading up to my sabbatical, Reboot Your Life. One of the authors and I share a name, so I figured she had some cred already. While much of the book was planning more for a life change with a year or so off, so many tips were relevant in anticipation for taking a company-sponsored, month-long sabbatical. I followed much of the advice – from brainstorming what to do and what not to do, to planning without over planning.

My month began with a digital detox. I removed email, texting, social media, etc. from my phone and left my laptop at the office. The minutes that once went to my phone or laptop were spent in face-to-face conversations or quiet time by myself. In PR, we’re in a job that feeds off multitasking, adrenaline and deadlines. We are always-on. So it seemed fitting to let that go as a first step.

From there I drove across the state to visit Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, a beautiful retreat in the Berkshires. I practiced mindful eating of three square vegetarian meals a day, plenty of yoga, enjoyed a sunrise swim and took this gem of a photo – which was just as serene in person. I attended a fascinating series of seminars on the topic of Neurosculpting, a blend of meditation and modern neuroscience. I found my zen.

Kripalu 2

From there I rented a house with my family in Ithaca NY. We spent much of our time outdoors at the house, grilling, flying kites, coloring on the picnic table, climbing hay bails and watching the clouds roll by in the distance.

backyard

I’m an Ithaca College grad, so it was great to visit the campus and see all that has changed and all that has stayed the same. The town itself is amazing too – from the restaurants, to the shopping, to of course the waterfalls. Ithaca Is Gorges you know. At Treman State Park one of my daughters got up the nerve to jump into the icy waters of Enfield Falls. It was the scariest moment of my life followed by the proudest moment of my life.

Waterfall

There were so many other amazing experiences too, from staying at a quiet inn in Vermont with husband, to reading The Whole-Brain Child for new parenting ideas, to riding the oldest continually-operating roller coaster in the country, to dancing the night away at a family wedding in Pennsylvania, to camping with friends, to seeing the kids off at the bus stop on their first day of school. So many beautiful moments captured. I journaled throughout the experience and took way too many photos. Or maybe it was just the perfect amount.

On the last day of the month, I sat on a secluded bench at the Garden in the Woods for an hour with an iced tea and my journal – recording my final entry and re-reading it top to bottom. I walked away with so many a-ha moments, about myself and my family. I learned to look at life with more curiosity and thankfulness than ever before.

I’m all smiles and you know what they say, if Mom is happy, everyone is happy. It is apparently true!

family

It felt fitting to return back to work in September – back to school for some, back to work for me – rejuvenated through new experiences. On my first day back, the Agency encouraged me to pause and reflect, and look at the firm through my new lens – what should we continue/discontinue, how can we be even better. This new perspective and energy is awesome.

I want to express my gratitude all the team members who stepped in to pinch hit while I was out for the month, and to SHIFT for the generous opportunity to refresh. It was truly amazing. Now it’s time to get back to work…

Cathy Allen
Executive Vice President of East Coast Services

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Posted on October 9, 2015 in Agency Life, Dedicated

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