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Melissa's Memo: Lessons From Sabbatical

Melissa J.  |  02.26.2024

In late December, I announced a bit of a leave of absence. A sabbatical of sorts. The reasons were multilayered.

  1. It’s been almost fifteen years of Oh My Cupcakes! and it was time.
  2. I had been battling some annoying medical mysteries that those in my inner circle presumed were stress related. I don’t think they were wrong. To be clear, I didn’t take the sabbatical because of these medical things. I took it because it was time. I was battling brain fog and overhwhelm.
  3. I just needed a reset.

Here are a few things I learned from the time I took. Maybe you’ll resonate with none of them, but maybe you’ll resonate with some of them and you can ask yourself if a reset is in order for you, too.

Lesson 1

Many people in the community asked me if I was ok. Like, was I sick?

They really wanted an explanation as to why I would take this time away from the business. It’s something I’ve found is common: we tell people to take time for their mental and emotional health, then grill them when they do.

This leads me to the conclusion that sabbaticals are far too rare in our culture. I also recognize it’s not an option for everyone, but I wonder about small ways we can all unplug each day, and why we don’t take those opportunities when they come.

Lesson 2

I found out that I was holding myself to expectations no one had for me, besides me.

Because when I said I needed a few weeks to refocus a bit, and I was all emotional and apologetic about it, the team instead said, “Yeah? This kind of makes sense, right? And why don’t you take a few more days than you even think you need. We’ve got this.”

And boy, did they ever. That leads me to this:

Lesson 3

All I needed to do was get out of their way.

I had been telling them for years that they were empowered to make decisions, and that I trusted their wise decision making.  But then sometimes I’d slide back in and try to micromanage rework their decision.

I didn’t mean to, but I can admit that I did. But when I was on leave and the team not only made decisions without consulting me, but made GREAT decisions, it boosted my confidence in them, and I have to believe it boosted their own confidence within themselves as well.

People kept asking: How will you come back? What will be different? Some things are so different I can’t even articulate them quite yet, and others are small shifts that have made a huge difference.

Which leads me to my fourth thing:

Lesson 4

I have become more intentional about time. You know the whole, “days are long but the years are short” phrase? During this sabbatical, I marked time by a specific and consistent daily routine that included journaling every day and starting with “Day ___.”

So, every day I was aware if it was Day 14, or 32, etc. Though my first official day back was February 14th , I’ve kept up that habit.

Today is Day 60, by the way. I’ve been reading a book called “The Pivot Year by Brianna Wiest, and Day 37 had this beautiful quote
which I’ll leave with you today:

“The heathiest things for you may seem underwhelming if your soul has only known the loudness of continued chaos. Your biggest feelings are not always the most accurate ones.”

That resonated with me particularly because I spent a lot of time just being quiet. And within that quiet, I think I once again connected with my own soul. My prayer is that today and in the coming days, you’ll find ways to connect with yourself again, too.

With blessings and gratitude,

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