When I received an email from Leah last May stating that I was now eligible for a 4-week sabbatical, since I had been with SHIFT for more than 5 years, my mind starting thinking of all the possibilities. Where should I go, what should I do, what did I want to get out of this amazing benefit? Italy, coast of Cali, my homeland of Sweden? Who would, and can, come with me? My husband (known as “my Todd” around the office) to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary, my daughter, who immediately volunteered to take some time off ;), my Mom who unfortunately isn’t getting younger and it would be great to spend more time with her, my girlfriends? How would my team possibly get along without me, and I don’t want to burden them! My worst fear; what if they don’t miss me and now think I am replaceable!

Fast forward a year, and I am sitting on my front deck at home thinking to myself, “K, what is important to you, right now, at this stage in life?” I knew the answer right away; family, friends, beach, summertime, our new beach house, slowing life down a little. I needed to change my expectations and KISS (keep it simple sabbaticallady). I decided to do what meant the most to me right now; actually make it about me! It’s been a while. I have worked since I was 14, been married for 30 years, raised 2 wonderful kids, and now here we are. It actually took me a week plus to do so. Stop looking at email every day, stop thinking about work; the big things and the little things. Stop planning what’s for dinner and instead start thinking about how am I going to get some exercise in my day, relax and read a book, check off some of my own, personal to do items.

So here I am, down the Cape (Cod that is) with a full calendar. Family and friends flew in, crossed the bridge, stopped by and spent some time, went on adventures. We went to Nantucket to drive 4 wheelers on The National Seashore and swim with seals (but not too close since sharks are following close behind). Did you know there is a shark app, (scary huh)? We went to a winery on my Birthday and Block Island, RI, where we had never been, to celebrate our anniversary. Got my Mom in the saltwater for a good swim, planned my older sister’s wedding at our home next summer, kayaked, walked, hiked, biked, swam, loved life outside every day. Something we don’t always get to do!

Vacation and sabbaticals are meant to be taken, enjoyed, and allow you the time to rejuvenate and refresh and not set your alarm! Time to actually relax and forget about work. You deserve it, you really do. You earned it and your job will be here when you get back! SHIFTers are so lucky to have this benefit; our generous vacation accruals and all of the holidays SHIFT offers. Enjoy them, take your PTO, and do what matters to you. It’s all about working hard and playing hard- work/life balance. Go take your PTO. SHIFT wants you to. And you know what… your team has your back!

Don’t just take this advice from your “work Mom” –  read here about how people are taking less and less vacation – when they should be taking more! We are very fortunate that Senior Management has already recognized this!

Thank you Todd, Jim, Paula, Amy and my team, it was a blast and I can’t wait until the next one! 😉

Kristen Zukowski
Operations Manager


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