Sabbatical Update: 4 Months of Fun and Reflection

In Marrakesh, Morocco

In Marrakesh, Morocco

I’m about four months into my planned six month sabbatical.

At the beginning, I worried a little that I might not like life as a grownup without a job. Would I feel lost? Purposeless? Bored?

Nope. It turns out that I am excellent at not having a real job. I’ve learned a bunch, enjoyed life, seen a bit of the world, gotten healthier, and created some teaching materials that I’m super proud of.

My Mini-Guide to Having a Terrific Sabbatical

  • Travel as much as you can, within your budget
  • Be physically active every day, and work on becoming stronger and/or more healthy
  • Develop hobbies and projects you care about. Extra points for hobbies that get you out of the house and talking with people who you wouldn’t normally talk to.
  • Build regular “weekday” patterns for times when you aren’t traveling (because it’s still fun to have weekends)
  • Spend time with your family
  • Take naps

The cool thing about time spent on a sabbatical is that everything is up to you. That’s also the scary thing to some people. It has helped me pause and sincerely enjoy my activities and my life. Everything I do is intentional, and it’s up to me to make the most of this time.

Travel: The Netherlands, Morocco, Spain, California, Virginia, and More

Jeremiah and I have seen new parts of the world.

We flew to Amsterdam and spent a few days staying at a houseboat, and walking through the city, dodging out of the way of flying Dutch bicycles. We flew to Casablanca and took a magical tour of Fez, Meknes, Rabat, and Marrakesh. We spent a few days walking and soaking up the sun in Barcelona.

I visited family in Virginia and California. I headed to Liverpool for the SQLBits conference, then up to Edinburgh to see the sights and depart on a tour of Scotland.

Travel has been wonderful. Travel allows you to spend time with people you might never meet, and get to know people you love in new ways.

I Wrote a Precon!

I wrote a new day’s worth of content on SQL Server indexing. I presented the material at SQL Saturday Huntington Beach, and the amazing SQLBits conference in Liverpool. I thrilled to learn that my pre-conference session sold out. (Yay!)

Writing training material is time consuming, and writing a precon is definitely “work”. It took me about six weeks to write the content. I have no regrets about making the project part of my sabbatical. I really enjoy building training, and the project gave m a creative and intellectual outlet. That’s important, too.

I Love Working Out (For the First Time Ever)

When I’m at home, I walk my dog for at least 45 minutes each day. I also take fitness classes five days a week.

Fitness classes are well worth being part of your sabbatical budget (or your anytime budget). They get you out of the house, help you meet new people, and your instructors teach you all sorts of great things and keep you safe while making you stronger.

I always thought the best I could do with fitness was to make peace with having to do it. These days I look forward to going to my classes. I want to lift heavier weights at circuit training, or hold a plank longer. I want to get more mileage on my spin bike and go faster in hard intervals. I am so surprised to actually enjoy exercise.

I’ve lost about 30 pounds at this point, and I couldn’t have done it without the awesome trainers and community at Honest Training, here in Portland.

So, What’s Next?

I’m going to stretch this out a little bit. Summer in the Pacific Northwest is a little bit of heaven on earth. It’s sunny but cool and just perfect for walks, bike rides, and laying on the grass in a park, reading a book.

I still plan to write here, make videos, and create new training content. And I still plan to get back to drawing, I promise. I’m just going to keep the ability to nap whenever I want for a while… because life’s too short not to nap when you can. But I’ve got more fun projects coming, so stay tuned.

Some photos…

You can see lots more on my Instragram feed.

I got to teach in a pod at SQLBits

I got to teach in a pod at SQLBits

Even my dog things I smell awful after a workout

Even my dog thinks I smell awful after a workout

With my parents at the Grotto in Portland

With my parents at the Grotto in Portland

Discovering the beauty of Scotland

Discovering the beauty of Scotland

4 Comments. Leave new

  • Congrats on the exercise and weight loss! That’s amazing! I wish I had the right frame of mind to do that! (Trying, failing).
    Glad to hear you are having a blast on your sabbatical! 🙂

    • Thank you!

      One of my favorite tools for mindset has been a book called “The Beck Diet Solution.”

      The book uses cognitive therapy to teach you how to adjust your habits and stick to it. It doesn’t contain any nutritional or exercise advice, it’s just exercises and practices that help you teach your brain to not quit a diet when you have setbacks and to keep motivated. (It’s set up to work with any reasonably nutritious diet.)

      I started reading the book after I’d already lost about 10 pounds, and found that the exercises it recommends have really worked for me and made progress much easier. It’s very much about small things you can do daily that help keep you focused on the positive and not letting negative thoughts drag you down. It’s available on Amazon, but it’s also been out long enough that I’m sure it’s fairly easy to find cheaply in used bookstores as well.

  • Woohoo, that sounds like so much fun!! I’m so happy for you both being able to take time and focus on what you want to do, whatever that is.

    And congrats on the weight loss and achievements in exercise! It’s so hard at first, but once you get going and seeing the progress in lifting that stronger weight or feeling the difference in the way clothes fit and how you feel, it’s so worth it!

    I still miss all of the days I haven’t worked with you, but there’s always occasional PDXSSUG for a chance to see your smiling face! 🙂

  • Outstanding news. I took a sabbatical many years ago, and I highly recommend it for anyone that can afford to do it. I got a couple things out of my system during that time that were always pushing from the back of my mind to the front, yearning to explore. I learned that some of my goals (like grad school, starting a business) were not as desirable as I thought. Felt good to know that, cleared things up a bit, and learned a lot along the way.

    That was a huge amount of time-consuming work you put in to earn that sabbatical. Health is so important — all else flows from good health, so keep up the good work! Especially when you get back to being super busy sitting at the computer.


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