Sometimes in order to move forward, we need to take a step back.
It’s easier said than done though, like most rewarding decisions. Pausing whatever it is that we’re doing in order to reevaluate the situation feels like quitting. Personally, I’m at a crossroads in my life where I can move forward with the way things are, or change my environment and focus on my priorities until I’m ready to figure out where to go next. The conclusion I’ve come to is that right now is an opportune moment for me to take a leave of absence from work to answer some of those questions.
With that said, the question came up of how I would use my time away from work. Since the moment I left Iceland last year I’ve felt those black sand beaches tugging at my heart, trying to pull me back. I felt at home in those other-worldly fjords, nestled in the conversations of people speaking an ancient language, telling tales of their unique brand of folklore. Iceland was a sensory overload for me, not just because of its natural beauty or surprisingly delicious food (not everything is pickled), but because I could tell from the moment my feet touched those lava beds that my heart was open.
Perhaps most importantly I recall Iceland as a place that can help facilitate growth in the 3 areas I want to focus on:
The first condition I want to address is that of being “unplugged.” In 2012 I went to Israel and never used my phone or computer, as was the case with most of my fellow Birthright group members. I felt more present than I had in years, and as a result the friendships I made over those 10 days not only persisted through the years, but strengthened. I won’t be purchasing an international plan for my phone, and if I don’t deactivate Facebook, I hope at the very least that I can spend enough time away from my computer to lessen my addiction to it. I do plan on updating Instagram with pictures since Iceland is hella pretty, so follow me if a month without hearing from me is too much to bear.
I see this leave of absence as an opportunity to focus on some of the projects that having a full time job leaves me too tired to address. My fiancé’s mom has generously equipped me with all the watercoloring supplies a novice sketchbooker could need, but for the most part they remain untouched due to lack of time and creative energy. My goal for this leave is to draw something at least once a day, like the below postcard I sketched after my last trip to Iceland.
I also intend to write every day, even if it’s just this blog or snippets of fiction.
Whether it’s going on a hike to look for a good drawing subject or swimming in Iceland’s curiously popular public pools, I want to move for at least 30 minutes every day. Moving is good for the ol’ bones, so I’m going to give my bod a little bit of love. At the very least, I won’t have the excuse of San Francisco’s hills to keep me from running.
In making this choice, I recognize that I’m replicating the same first-world white-person nonsense as that Eat Pray Love book. Stuff’s not working out at home, so I’m going to run away to a country that starts with an “i” to discover 3 qualities about myself and then come back to find Julia Roberts has stolen my likeness. I’m sure I’m not the first person to experience their quarter life crisis in this way, but it’s my privilege and I’m sticking to it!