Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Guest Blogger: Sara Bailey

Thanks to Sara for this wonderful article:

How to Plan a Sabbatical as a Couple

Are you and your partner in need of a long-term getaway? When routine starts to feel rote and squabbles turn into shouting, a sabbatical can be just the ticket for refreshing your perspectives. Just as many people take sabbaticals as an opportunity to destress, recharge, and avoid career burnout, a sabbatical can help you avoid relationship burnout. Without the strain of daily life weighing on you both, you and your partner can remember what brought you together, and face your relationship problems as a team.

Avoid financial strain

The first thing anyone asks when sabbaticals come up is, “How could I possibly afford it?” It’s no wonder why. When so many families live paycheck-to-paycheck, time away from work seems like a far-off dream. But other people have done it, and you can too.

The main thing is to develop a baseline budget. This may be lower than your current budget if you plan to live simply during your sabbatical, but some expenses, like food and health insurance, will remain the same. Then aim to keep costs low while on sabbatical. Consider traveling to a country with a low cost of living, moving into a small apartment, or even trading your home for a tiny home or camper van.

Home sweet home

You could stay home during your sabbatical, but when the point is to step outside of everyday life to gain perspective, it’s logical to say goodbye to familiar surroundings and head somewhere new. An option is to sell your home and use the proceeds to fund your sabbatical, but that’s a lot of work and stress you don’t need right now.

Instead, it makes sense to list your home as a rental. If you own a home in a desirable neighborhood, turning your home into a rental could cover your mortgage with money to spare. Before renting your home, you’ll need to create a lease which will include terms such as length of stay, security deposit needed, and landlord and tenant responsibilities.

What about pets?

It’s generally best to take a sabbatical before having kids or after they’ve left the nest, but what about pets? If staying stateside, BootsnAll notes your pets may be able to come with you. However, if you’re traveling overseas or taking your pets simply isn’t feasible, ask around to see if someone you trust is willing to watch them. If no friends or family members are able, leasing to a tenant who is willing to care for your animals in exchange for reduced rent could save you money over the cost of long-term pet sitting.

Add some income

Decide if you’ll work part-time during your sabbatical or stop work completely. You may find it refreshing to log a few hours doing flexible freelance work, giving yourself a financial cushion in the process, or prefer to stay off the grid entirely.

Once you have a sense of your income and expenses, calculate how much you’ll need to save for a sabbatical. Then, add 20-30%. If you’re not guaranteed a job when you return, you may want to save an even larger buffer — TransUnion recommends saving a year’s salary for a six- to nine-month sabbatical so you don’t rely on credit if you can’t find a job right away. It may take a while to save up as much as you need, but you can speed things up by living minimally in preparation for your gap year.

Making it work in the age of COVID-19

With the world in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may wonder how, exactly, you can get away safely. Fortunately, there are ways you can plan a getaway while taking precautions for your health and security. For example, Business Insider recommends booking a stay at a socially distant hotel or planning a vacation at a privately owned home through a website such as Airbnb. If you want to avoid flying, you and your partner can plot out a road trip that takes you through parts of the country you’ve never explored, all while practicing good social distancing etiquette. The most important thing is to plot out these excursions carefully and plan ahead as much as possible to ensure you follow local guidelines.

Taking a sabbatical isn’t a decision you make overnight. It can take months or years of planning to pull off a sabbatical, especially for a couple. However, when you’re in a relationship for the long haul, the planning is a blip on the radar. The result of your time spent together, on the other hand, will last for life.

Image via Unsplash


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Masks

I’ve been feeling some of the weight of the pandemic quite heavily. I know some folks (especially introverts) aren’t finding it so problematic. Some even find it soothing. I actually have moments of that myself. A lot of the “noise” is lessened or gone.

I’ve been called a “tender heart” quite a few times in my life and I’m very aware why. When I go to a store and forget the 6 feet rule and get too close to the man in front of me, he refreshes my memory quickly. I get it. How long does this have to go on before I remember? But when I immediately step back and genuinely apologize, and I get back an unforgiving glare, that is when my heart sinks.

Of course, I do that thing where I tell myself that perhaps he is dealing with something extremely stressful which might make his demeanor understandable. While I know that might be true, I also know far too many people these days who are on hyper-alert and think anyone who is not is an irresponsible asshole.

We had an outdoor service at my church last night. I was so looking forward to it. They do on-line services every Sunday and from what I understand they have quite a substantial following. I don’t watch and I can’t even explain why. It just disturbs me rather than feed me.

I’ve had some intense weeks lately so I knew I needed the service. It was good to be there and felt nourishing to take communion and hear the message from my very gifted minister.

But there was also that underlying sadness. I hate when I don’t recognize someone because of the mask. I hate when someone doesn’t recognize me. I really, really hate that I can’t hug people I care about. I really, really, really hate that they can’t hug me.

Clearly, I am not the only one going through this. The universe is NOT picking on me. But I also know that just because we are all in this together, that doesn’t mean that each one of us doesn’t feel it intensely and personally.

And then there are the usual “joys” that come with life whether there is a pandemic or not.

The garage roof is leaking

The small kitchen fridge is making puddles of water inside and out of the fridge

The internet hasn’t been working for over two months. It has gotten so bad, it has hampered my ability to work, have Zoom meetings, etc.

I had to get a new used bike because the gears on TWO of ours were broken

Had a small fender bender with my car but big enough to require a trip or two to a body shop and/or mechanic

The tire on the riding lawn mower fell off

Algae stains in the pool; three weeks of treatment hasn’t quite fixed it yet

Heat rashes, earaches, a fall down the basement stairs (only the last 5), blah, blah, blah

And my clients are going through some of the most difficult, painful things a person can go through. They make anything I go through small potatoes. Seriously, their strength and resilience are impossible to describe. These are not situations you can close your work door behind you and separate yourself from.

After saying all that, I didn’t intend for this to be a downer blog. What I am trying to say, is that life can be incredibly challenging. And sometimes there is no end in sight.

But we get up every day and do it again. Sometimes there are moments of joy. Sometimes there just aren’t any. But we do it. We live. We do the best we can.

And that is not a downer!


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Are You a Lead Foot?

gray rock formation
Photo Courtesy of Unsplash

I hate to admit it, but I have fallen over the COVID cliff. I’m quite familiar with bouts of depression. I am quite familiar with severe bouts of depression. This is similar, but somehow there is another element to it that I can’t put my finger on.

Earlier this week, the only way I could describe it, was to say I felt like I had lead feet. That is ironic because I’ve had so many issues with my feet and surgeries. Then I realized that my whole body pretty much feels like that. I’m certain someone put a brick into my head when I wasn’t looking. My chest often feels the same.

Every step I made that day felt like I was dragging heavy metal with me. No matter what the task.

Paralleling that, it seems like my clients have similar diseases. Many come in and melt on the couch. They cry, look like they’ve aged, and say gut-wrenching things like, “Then I realized, why am I even here anymore?”

One inspiring ray of sunshine came in this week. A family that spans four generations and is spread across the USA have scheduled Zoom meetings every three weeks. It’s a book club. They are reading “White Supremacy” a few chapters at a time and then discussing it together.

Wow!

You can get your family to agree to that? And they actually read it? And get on the Zoom? And discuss things without yelling at each other?

This topic comes up quite often in my home and in my office. There are usually bitter disagreements, cutoffs, and plenty of anger. No matter what your position is, what could it hurt to read a book together? Even if you disagree with the opinions in it, to put the effort into reading and the dialogue afterward is still a unifying gesture.

I have to admit, a good share of my misery has to be sleep deprivation. I can’t seem to get to sleep at night. I find myself awake at 1 am… A few days later it is now 2 am. Last night, it was 4:45 am until I fell asleep. Getting three and a half hours of rest a night is just not enough. No wonder I have headaches and no motivation.

But I do eventually get up when I can garner the strength to move my heavy body (literally and figuratively). I see my clients and am present with them. I make phone calls, do computer work, deal with electricity going out, the internet going out, and being placed on hold for 1 hour and 52 minutes only to find out I have to start all over again the next day. (That is a literal, non-exaggerated number!)

And the usual gratitude reminders spurr me on. Literally every person in the world is going through this. Many folks have it much, much worse. Many deal with grief and loss, and mourn loved ones who died alone.

I guess we all keep hanging in there and figure out how to get through each day, even though none of us knows what the heck we are doing.

I will be there for you. I’m hoping you will reciprocate!