Tuesday, November 26, 2013

How an Election Led to a 15 Day Trek...

This is a post that has been some time in the making. However, I did not want to post until the dust settled so as to not cause unnecessary worry for friends and family. 

Tuesday, November 19 was Election Day in Nepal. The days leading up to the election were quite eventful, but not in the same way elections are eventful in the United States.  And from what I've seen during the past two weeks, I'm eternally grateful to live in an country that has free and relatively fair elections.

Not long after we arrived in Nepal, we learned that the country would be holding their second democratic election in their history. The first took place in 2008, one year after the 10 year long civil war ended.  The war was essentially the Maoist rebels attempt to overthrow the Nepali monarchy. The monarchy eventually gave up power and an interim Democratic government was out in place until a Constitution could be established. After the first election, the Maoists were not happy with their representation in the Constitutional Assembly, which failed to produce a permanent Constitution.  Now, 5 years later Nepalis are again trying to select who will be writing their Constituiton. 

But a month before the election, various Maoists parties threatened to enforce a "bandh" (pronounced bahn-da) which is a strike.  The strike was to prevent all transportation, except emergency vehicles, from using the roads for the ten days before the election. This was not a government enforced strike but a party enforced strike, in an effort to protest and discredit the elections. 

Our original plan to continue volunteering after the Everest Base Camp trek changed for various reasons, but one was that we were to go to Chitwan for a few weeks and then come back to Kathmandu during the election for safety purposes. For more reasons, this plan didn't appeal to me... so I headed to Pokhara. My thought process was that it was a tourist town that would be left alone from any election violence, it was supposed to have a cool vibe (which I can now attest to) and it wasn't the madness that is Kathmandu. (Remember, I live in a community of 50,000 people spread over a 40 mile distance... I don't "do" big cities well.)

A few days after I was settled in Pokhara, I was enjoying a milk tea at a second story cafe when I saw a handful of UN jeeps roll in to town. It dawned on me that this was probably an effort to monitor elections. My hunch was confirmed when the next day another white jeep rolled past that was labelled "European Union Election Monitoring Commission."  And then I thought: "Wow! I've heard of those countries where other countries 'monitor' the elections. And now I'm in one.  This could get interesting."  

And interesting it got. 

On Sunday, November 10, the bandh started. (Sunday is actually a "work" day in Nepal. Saturday is the only "weekend" day.)  I made my daily stroll down the street to search out where I would have breakfast. It was eerily quiet. All store fronts were closed except for restaurants, thankfully for me. I had breakfast and then walked further in to town. The streets that were bustling with motorcycles and vans and Nepali tractors were empty. Kids were literally playing soccer in the street. I sent a message to Annette to see what the vibe was like in Kathmandu. (She had decided to stick to the city and pursue other volunteering opportunities there.)  Her response was that she was ready to start a game of cricket in the streets of Thamel, a typically chaotic town center. 

And then my mind switched from observation to action. I began to consider if this strike really lasts 10 days, my rupee stash might not last me that long and who knows if ATM's would be refilled. Considering they are not a reliable source of cash on a normal day, I could imagine the bandh could make getting cash tougher. And then I thought... if transport is stopped, how does food get to the stores? I made a stop in a little grocery store.  My provisions were 3 Snickers and a bag of pistachios. (If you are laughing at my choice... it's ok. It's laughable.) I think I didn't want to panic and stock up on a ton and was being optimistic that this thing would blow over. 

My next stop was lunch somewhere. I usually sit by the lake but decided streetside could be interesting today, and more peaceful than normal.  Shortly after taking a seat, a taxi with a giant megaphone blaring a Maoist candidate's propaganda drives by followed by no fewer than 40 motorcycles with passengers waving the Maoist flag. Even though I was only 10 when the "Iron Curtain" fell, there was still something unsettling about seeing the hammer and the sickle waved in front of me.  

And then a strange thing began happening. Store owners began to crack open their store fronts.  They seemed to be assessing the situation as to whether or not they were in the clear to open for business. (The first day of the strike was to stop all traffic and business, but then businesses could open after that. And tourist busses were NOT to be impacted by the bandh.) By 3 that afternoon all businesses were open and Pokhara seemed to be back to normal. 

A few days later I met with the director of a children's home about volunteer opportunities. We made a plan for me to come over when the girls were done with school, help with homework, hang out, and help the director and his wife with English.  I was psyched to finally have an open door. And then he said that I will have to wait until the bandh was over for me to start as there was no safe mode of transportation for me to get to the home. Bummer. 

I didn't want to wait in Pokhara for another week so I began to consider that maybe trekking would be a good way to escape the election madness. Everyone around seemed to be hiking this legendary "Annapurna Curcuit", a route that typically takes 2 to 3 weeks.  For a week or so I had been hanging out with my new friend Ho. I met Ho while walking around the lake one day. This was the shirt he was wearing...

You might guess how we met. The exchange went something like this...
Me: "Hey! Did you go to Illinois?"
Ho: "Yeah!"
Me: "I was born in Peoria."
Ho: "So was I."

What?!?  I would have hit him with an Elaine Bennis "Get OUT!" shove if I had known him a few minutes longer. Needless to say, we became fast friends. So it was with Ho's encouragement that I set out on the Circuit. But not without hesitation. I would say that I was reading the headlines of Himalayan Times and the Kathmandu News a little more than the average tourist. I was also checking to see if the Nepal election news was big enough to make the international news wire so I could be prepared for a concerned email from the parental units. Apparently the Obamacare fail was bigger news. News of petrol bombs and tourist busses WITH police escorts being attacked made me have to go to the toilet almost instantly. But these appeared to be isolated incidents.  My second hesitation was whether or not I was capable of doing this trek without a porter. Ho was confident in my ability and promised his own porter service if worst came to worst. We decided on Friday, November 15 to take off on Saturday the 16th. We spent the day getting our permits, provisions and our bus tickets. The ride was 5 hours from Pokhara to Besisahar, where we would start the trek. I prayed much of the way. Minus a nagging headache the entire way, the trip was without incident.  Well...any bus trip in Nepal is full of various incidents but relatively speaking, all went well. We took another bus to avoid walking on the dusty "road" to Ngadi where we began to walk. I was now able to breathe a sigh of relief knowing the election would come and go while I was walking around in the Himalayas. 

Day 1, or "Afternoon 1" we shaved 4 kilometers off the 200 kilometer trek by sleeping in Bahundanda. There we met Brian and Kristen, a couple from Virginia who had sold their house to travel the world. Check out their blog at happytobehomeless.com. We all landed at the same "hotel". The fact that the sign said this place was NOT in the Lonely Planet sold us. These people had a sense of humor. 

The next day was a haul to Tal. But when I came around the bend and saw this amazing sandy riverbed, my response was a shocked "Whaaaat??"

This would be the first of many such responses on the trip. The travel blogs don't lie when they say the views of the Circuit are constantly changing. Unreal. 

And then, once in Tal, Ashley (a guy) from Austrailia was added to the crew.  Some formation of the crew has been together ever since.  Currently we are "Ho and the Ashpurnas".  Our first CD will be released soon. We have given each other theme songs and often DJ Jazzy Ho cues up the perfect song for the moment.  We've had many intense games of "Whist", my new fave card game that Ash taught us. And the laughs never seem to be in short supply. It really is amazing how total strangers can end up traveling together for weeks and not get sick of each other. Well... I'll just speak for myself. But I've loved my time with these guys. 

Day 4 was Election Day. We had spent the night before in a village called Tamang. Our host asked that we take breakfast at 6:30 so they could go to vote. We figured that since voting only happens once every 5 years, we could oblige them. Our route that day took us 20+ kilometers uphill to Upper Pisang. Halfway through the day I noticed that we were passing many more Nepalis than normal. Then it dawned on me, they were going to vote. The law requires that all Nepalis return to their hometown to vote. This is no small task as there are villages that are over a week away and accessible only by foot. Halfway through the day, I decided to congratulate every Nepali I saw for voting. The exchange went something like this:

Me: Election?
Nepali: smile
Me: Voting? Election? You go vote?
Nepali: Yes! Yes! (Showing finger that had been inked to prove it.) Election finished. 
Me: Yay! Good job! 

These two ladies walked two hours to go vote AND two hours back. This is awesome and amazing and inspiring.  

Seriously, people of the United States of America. If 70% of Nepali people turn out to vote with many traveling days to make that happen AND enduring threats and violence in addition, our voter turnout should be at least that. 

Ash and Ho were a ways ahead of me for these exchanges. I'm not sure if they were embarrassed or annoyed.  Or it could be that they are just faster, as the "Tortuga" name from the Camino lives on. Regardless, they claim they found my enthusiasm for voter participation entertaining. That night, there were few rooms in the inns as so many had traveled so far to vote that they spent the night. 

The next morning, the Nepali police, who were ensuring security at the pollong places, rolled out of town as we made our way to Manang.  We asked a few locals about election results. No one appeared to know anything. And news indicates that results are still days away. I remember hearing how in the first Afghan elections that the votes had to be brought to Kabul on the backs of donkeys. I did see many donkeys the next day and it made me wonder if the sacks on their backs were filled with ballots.  I was having another one of those "I know where I am, but how did I get here moments."

And then the focus was back on our trek.  Ho, Brian and Kristen opted for a side trip to Tilicho Lake, the world's highest lake and the best views of the Annapurna  Range. The Ashleys headed straight for the Thorung La Pass. Ho caught back up to us 4 days later in Marpha. The scenery has been absolutely incredible. Pictures don't do it justice but here are a few attempts...

Now we have 3 or 4 days left.  It all depends on how much time we stay in Tatopani, which translates "hot water" named for the hot springs there. I'm just a little excited to soak there... for a long time...

...AND celebrate Thanksgiving. I've decided that this is the holiday I will miss out on the most during my 9 months away. I have spent the last 9 Thanksgivings in Longboat Key, Florida where Aunt Nancy creates the quintessential Thanksiving feast that is making my mouth water just writing about it. But instead of being jealous of all of your amazing Thanksgiving feasts, I've decided to imagine that I'm partaking in your feasts, just as many of you are partaking in "The Journey" with me. 

So, I have MUCH to be thankful for. I'm thankful I live in a country where voting is a right as much as a privilege that I should not take for granted. I'm thankful I'm able to travel to countries who can't necessarily say the same which makes me even more thankful for where I am from.  I'm thankful for a body that is able to complete such a trek so I can see God's creation in some of the most remote, and beautiful parts of the world. I'm thankful for the INCREDIBLE people I've met during the last 2.5 months. I truly believe that at the end of this journey, these people will be what this trip will be all about. You have blessed me greatly. I'm thankful for the INCREDIBLE friends I have back home who have encouraged me in so many ways during the planning of this trip and continue to do so each day.  This has been a very unexpected part of the experience...not that people would be discouraging but that they would be SO encouraging!  And I'm thankful for my amazing family who loves me no matter what crazy advetures I find myself in and encourages me as well.  I'm thinking of you all whether you are in Florida, Peoria or Fort Wayne. 

Wow.  I'm blessed. The end. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

It's My Dad's Birthday!!

My Dad is a special guy.  Anyone who has spent more than a few minutes with him knows this. He is about as friendly as they come. No one is a stranger. He knows the story of every waiter at any restaurant he has ever been to, and probably knows someone from their hometown as well. The smaller the town, the higher the likelihood this is the case because it seems he knows every family who has ever raised cattle in the country...or has at least heard of them.  I can't tell you the number of times I've found myself shrinking down in my seat at the table as I watch these conversations take place. And then my mom is quick to remind me that I do the same thing. Dang it. 

Well, today is "Big" Steve's birthday. And although no longer an original gift, this blog post is my preset to him.  I've decided to take a trip down memory lane and regale him with stories of the good times we have had together. My memory is about as good as his memory is bad, and so my hope is that these stories will sound vaguely familiar and bring a smile to his face, and a knowing smile to the rest of the readers who are blessed to know my pops. 

My earliest and most consistent memory of my dad would have to be how he would coax all of us out of bed on Sunday morning to go to church. By the time he woke us up at 7:30, he would have been up for a couple hours doing "chores" AKA feeding cattle. He would come home smelling of the farm, but I didn't mind because he also brought with him the smell of fresh donuts from Mr. Donut. My eagerness to get out of bed varied depending on if the donuts had sprinkles or not, but this tactic was guaranteed to do the trick. 

There were other memorable times of cows and my dad arriving home bearing gifts as well.  Several times a year he would go to cattle shows and sales in exotic places like Reno, Nevada and North Platte, Nebraska. But he managed to bring these faraway places home to us in the form of gifts. I recall him arriving home and rushing him at the door to give him kisses... and ask if he brought us anything. We would eagerly watch as he unpacked his bag and revealed our gifts of... hotel shampoo and shower caps!  We couldn't have been more excited...literally. But there would always be a skirmish for who got the powdered mouth wash from the Executive Inn in Louisville, Kentucky. 

And while I'm thinking about cows, some of my favorite summertime memories were going to "check" cows.  I'm sure I asked dad what we were "checking" them for and I'm pretty sure his response was something about we were checking to see what cows were "in heat". I'm sure  there were follow up questions and explanations. Regardless, talking about such things and having cow semen roll around in a tank of liquid nitrogen in the back of my dad's truck was a normal part of life. In fact, I didn't realize how ABnormal it really was until one particularly awkward dinner conversation with a guy I was dating, my parents and their best friends in the Angus breeding business.  I'll let my dad tell that story to you in person, if he hasn't told you already. But I digress. Checking cows. We would drive out to the field and dad would have a notepad to take down the numbers of the cows (identified by the tags in their ears). Sometimes it was a family affair and other times I would go alone, which meant I didn't have to compete with Zack for getting to drive the truck through the fields. I was on dad's lap as there was no way my feet would touch the pedals, no matter how much I tried to convince them they could and I could drive by myself.  And if the chance to drive wasn't incentive enough to tag along, there was always the hope of stopping at the Dairy Barn for a rainbow slushy on the way home. 

And then, there was the era when my dad was the Bradley "Superfan." This era covered most of my growing up life.  I realized somewhere in middle school that if I wanted to have a closer relationship with my dad and brothers, it would be best for me to like sports. College basketball was the place to start. More specifically, cheering for the Bradley Braves.  Well, really I think I began by cheering for the Bradley Brave cheerleaders.  For years we had two season tickets to the basketball games and I had tough competition to secure my seat.  Eventually Dad caved and got an extra two tickets. But now we had 4 tickets and we had a family of 5. But mom became the one who, so sacrificially, gave up her seat. (That's sarcasm, people.) I loved the games. Everything about them. The shiny court, the ball boys, the scoreboard, Dave Snell's "Kaboom" tally board, the nachos, Rox Bucklin on the organ, the band, the cheerleaders, the people-watching, oh yeah... And the game itself. But I loved going with my dad and I have great memories of how his face would light up when his Braves, and his best friend, Mo, were on a hot streak.  Those were the days!!

And when I said my dad was a Bradley Superfan, I wasn't kidding. There were few games that were too far for him to travel to. One particularly memorable roadtrip was to watch the Braves play Auburn in Mobile, Alabama. I pulled in the driveway, arriving home after completing my first semester at Taylor, got out of my car and hopped into my dad's car for a roadtrip to the Southland. We drove through the night and made a stop in Boaz, Alabama.  Here, I had the enligtening experience of seeing the inner workings of a chicken plant. We saw it all... chickens sqwaking in cages to being wrapped in plastic. (As a sidenote, I still eat chicken, but not the nuggets.) We kept heading south to watch Bradley put up a valient effort against Auburn. It's possible it was a heartbreaker and it's possible that we decided to forgo staying the night in Mobile and drove home that night. It's also becoming clear where I get my love for driving from...

...And my style of road-trippin'.  I didn't know this style was unusual until Spring Break 2000 to Breckinridge with the Academic Sabbatical Committee: college friends Missy, Mindi and Steph.  I thought  a 15 minute stop every 300 miles was being generous!  When they thought I was crazy I explained how Weaver Family roadtrips were conducted. We would drive...no...scratch that...Dad would drive  until mealtime.  He would drop us off at one side of McDonald's so we could all go to the bathroom. He would drive through the drive-thru and order our food, and we would meet him on the other side, just as he was picking up our food. It sure made sense to me!  Apparently this is not the norm. But pops, I appreciate that sometimes you just want to get where you are going!

And where I seemed to be going was Colorado. And now I realize that my dad can only blame himself for this move. He took our family (minus Luke) on our first ski vacation to Winter Park, Colorado in 1987.  I vividly recall sliding back and forth in the backseat with Zack as we drove the switchbacks up the mountain. The excitement of being on my first adventure to the mountains and realizing how close we seemed to be to the edge of a cliff was almost too much for a 6-year-old to handle.  Over the years we visited Vail, Steamboat and Keystone for a family ski vacation. But it was the summer after sixth grade when we visited  our pastor and my parents' mentor Ira Galloway and his wife Sally in Pagosa Springs, Colorado that I knew this was where I wanted to live. My dad took me out horse back riding and we talked about what I wanted to do be when I grow up.  I think teacher was one of my options, even then. It's funny to think how things have unfolded since then. And although I've beat out my dad my 8 years in the Rocky Mountains, it's a place I know is almost as dear to him as it is to me. 

And now, the occasion of my Dad's birthday reminds me that it's just a few short days before our family gathers together in Flordia for Thanksgiving. I'm pretty sure this week has become the week I look forward to most in the year... and a week I will dearly miss soon! It's a much needed break from the long haul that is the fall of the schoolyear. Our family is really good at sitting on the beach but my dad and I have our special spot in the sand, toes in the water, books in hand. And the most important decision that is made each day is where we will eat. Although the decisions are pretty much made for us as we always go to the same places every year, it's just a matter of which place on what day...and if we will go to Crab and Fin on Saint Armand's Circle for just lunch, or lunch AND dinner.  These Thanksgiving week feasts are something I look forward to all year... until I regret stuffing myself at about 2 am. But ten hours later that is a distant memory. My dad loves to share good food with his family. And then remind us of it a month later when he gets the credit card bill... 

But my dad really is a thoughtful guy. One of the most thoughtful things he's done I am reminded of everyday. When I was born, he gave my mom a ring that was really for her to wear until he gave it to me on my sixteenth birthday.  This ring reminds me that his love for me is great and unconditional, and started before I was even born...just like our Father's love is for us. 

To use his own words, my dad is a "piece of work."  He is a work that only The Lord could make and continues to make. My dad is continiously seeking wisdom and his generosity abounds. And many have been blessed because of his willingness to be used by The Lord. 

I love you Pops!  Thanks for loving me the way you do!  

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Why a Sabbatical?

I Googled this question and found the following article considering the role a sabbatical year plays in the world of academia and it's roots.  Much of what Max Page articulates in "Who Took the Sabbath Out of Sabbatical? Worshipping real academic productivity means giving it a rest now and then." resonated with me. Here is a good chunk of the article.

"...Something seemed woefully wrong here. It made me go back to that word that is at the heart of this whole endeavor— sabbatical. As in Sabbath. As in “day of rest.” How did we make “productivity” the key word associated with a term that expressly forbids productivity?

I decided to go back to the source to make my case anew for an old idea of the sabbatical.

The very idea of the sabbatical year (yes, a full year), as opposed to the weekly Sabbath which is derived from the seventh day of creation, comes from the Old Testament, in Leviticus, chapter 25:

The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai: Speak to the Israelite people and say to them: When you enter the land that I assign to you, the land shall observe a sabbath of the Lord. Six years you may sow your field and six years you may prune your vineyard and gather in the yield. But in the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath of complete rest, a sabbath of the Lord: you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. You shall not reap the after-growth of your harvest or gather the grapes of your untrimmed vines; it shall be a year of complete rest for the land.

It was not understood, at the time or by later commentators, that the sabbatical year was a year for doing nothing. (And what faculty member would, even if I proved that this was the biblical decree? At my university, a joint administration faculty union study recently found that tenured and tenure-track professors work on average sixty-three hours a week at the various aspects of their jobs. There is no danger of faculty members working less than full-time jobs.) The Sabbath was established for religious reasons: this was to be a year of dedication to honoring God, as was the weekly Sabbath. It was also established for practical ones: fields and animals worked endlessly will become progressively less productive and eventually die. The sabbatical year was a time for shifting emphases, from production to reflection and rejuvenation. The long-term goal was to produce better fields, a better harvest, and better people.

What “sabbatical” meant was that the land—your productive capacity, your brain, your heart—should not be used or exercised in exactly the same way it had been for the previous six years. It needs to be refertilized. It will be more productive and life giving (and refereed journal article producing) if it is allowed a rest from its usual activities. I found it particularly remarkable, and disturbing, that in the sabbatical seminar I attended no one spoke about improving the quality of the work of their sabbatical, only that they produce more, and faster.

My plea to my striving colleagues is to be true to the origins of the word. Don’t do nothing—but don’t focus on your usual activities either. Do not till the same soil; dare to do things differently for a year. You will be doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing— honoring your profession and the confidence placed in you— when you explore new areas, pursue projects that might fail, expand your mind with art or music or great literature, and generally upset your routine.

You will be doing what you were hired to do, renewing your capacity for thinking, teaching, researching, serving the public good. You will be doing yourself, and the very idea of the university, a favor."

Page, Max. "Who Took the Sabbath Out of Sabbatical? Worshipping real academic productivity means giving it a rest now and then." September 2010.

I like this. I love the concepts of "reflection" and "rejuvenation."  My life in the Valley is wonderful and full but I've created a life that doesn't allow much time for these two concepts.  And as I consider what my "calling" is and a possible career change, I'm finding that the time away is helping me to consider what my gifts are and figure out how those gifts translate to the right career. 

And I'm challenged by these concepts. Growing up we regularly practiced a day of rest on Sunday. After church and lunch we all came home, changed into pajamas and took naps for a good two hours, then woke for a leisurely afternoon of watching football. I recall scheduling a Sunday afternoon work session on a group project in middle school and was quickly taught that we don't do work on Sundays. I knew we didn't do work on Sundays but I didn't know it was intentional, until then.  And that lasted until 2003. 

I can make all sorts of excuses for why Sabbath rest has not been a part of my life in the last decade but I think the most obvious one is that I've chosen to live in a community that values "doing" more than "being". For example, if I'm not out taking advantage of the Rocky Mountains in the form of skiing or hiking (I'm one of the few who doesn't bike) I feel lame.  And in the last year, I've been challenged by my Uncle Chuck to take a "Day of Solitude" each month. I did a really good job for 4 months. And then I neglected to be intentional in setting the day aside.  And now I have declared that I am on "sabbatical"!  This is an entire year devoted to "rest" or at least that is what the word implies. So when I landed in Pokhara, Nepal last week, it became clear that this would be my spot where rest could happen. Very clear. I was excited about the prospects of doing "nothing."  And then 24 hours later panic set in. What am I going to DO for a month or more in this laid-back tourist town in the middle of Nepal? I had to remind myself of Goal #4: Rest. 
And so I have a routine. I leave my $8/night hotel sometime between 7 and 9 for breakfast. I eat breakfast and read for the next two hours. Then I figure I should move on so I go to my "desk". 

I get some masala tea, read, then a few hours later, I order some tomato soup. It arrives an hour later.  I watch life go by at the pace of Pokhara. Over the course of those 7 hours or so, I have usually met a new friend and heard some version of their story.  And then, the evening consists of dinner and socializing. In the midst of this busy schedule I've found time to take a few boat rides, a hike around the lake and several strolls along the path around the lake. 

But, I've found my office hours to be extremely "productive" the last few days. 

I finished the book "Banker to the Poor" by Nobel Peace Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus and founder of the Grameen Bank, the original micro-credit organization. 
Take away: Although not well written, it's a captivating account of a revolutionary, yet simple idea coming out of Bangladesh in the 70's.  The evidence is there that micro-credit can help break the cycle of poverty, welfare dependency and give people dignity and opportunity. 

I began to watch TED talks. I was hoping to watch one a day on this trip. I started yesterday. The first installment was a recommendation from Camino Amigo, Gorka: Barry Schwartz' "The Paradox of Choice."
Take away: Choices can paralyze.  This laughingly hit close to home as I tried to choose from the ridiculous number of hotels in Lakeside, Pokhara. There are quite possibly as many hotels as there are tourists. After happily making my decision to stay at the Nanohana Lodge for the next month, I began to question if I 
maybe missed out on a better choice. 

This TED talk made me want to make up for lost time and go through the rest of my bookmarked list. And then I remembered I had time. So instead, I will marinate on this idea... and save another one for tomorrow. 

I began to read through my "reading list" from bookmarks on Safari. (This is a brilliant invention by the way... How many times do you want to read an article but don't have the time?  No problem!  Save it for later by "adding it to your reading list.")  I started my reading list in February. I'm just now getting around to reading selections such as... 

This is what I've been doing with my sabbatical the last few days. 

I've also learned to "expect the unexpected", which is a separate blog post. I've learned to love flexibility. And I've loved watching how The Lord works when I ask Him to use me today. 

Which reminds me... When I tell people that I'm on sabbatical (which is unpaid, BTW.  The Eagle County School district has been generous in promising a job back in the district, but the budget does not include funding my budget in this time away)
I often hear the response: "Must be nice"!  And my response is: "You can do it too"!  I'm not naive to think that some professions might be harder to take a break from than others.  For example, I think of my bro and sis-in-law who have taken years to build a client base in the field of wealth management.  You can't just leave your clients high and dry. But not all sabbaticals are the same and my guess is there are some creative thinkers out there in your field of work who have managed to make it happen. But just like the principle of the risk/reward relationship in the financial realm, it might take a little risk to do this, but I'm quite certain the reward is worth it. 

If you need more inspiration, read on. Or if you are already inspired and have any questions about this crazy Sabbatical talk, email me!  I have time...

A TED Talk where I heard the idea of taking 5 years of your retirement and interspersing them throughout you career....
Stefan Sagmeister: "The Power of Time Off"

Dizik, Alina. "The Career Value of a 'Pointless' Sabbatical."

Barr, Corbett. "10 Lessons Learned on a 6-month Sabbatical."  July 16, 2009

Quora. "If You Were To Take a Year Long Sabbatical How Would You Spend It To Enhance Your Career"? April 15, 2013.

Lazier, Meghan. "Should You Take A Sabbatical? 3 Women Weigh In."