A Reflection on My “Year Off”

Today is my one year anniversary of leaving full-time permanent employment with the city to “take some time off”. I can’t believe that a year has already gone by. As I strolled down Revere Beach yesterday and realized it had been a full year to the day, I started to reflect on what I’ve done since I left.  At first I felt bad about myself – what had I done with a year “off”? Had I lived it to its full potential?

Then I realized I have done a lot in the last year. There is always more that could have been done, but I think I’ve done ok for myself. I explored a variety of employment opportunities, traveled, volunteered, got strong, and relaxed.

Traveling
I spent 3 months in South America, which included a ton of planning ahead of time. I’d called this the crown event of my year. I also went to Washington DC, South Carolina, and did a good amount of hiking and camping in New England.

We made a side trip in South Carolina to visit our high school English teacher, who we had not seen in 15 years!

Employment

A successful new bike rider

I’ve had spells where I’m not working at all and I’ve had spells where I’m working 12 hours a day. I contracted with two different street teams – leading the street team for Imagine Boston 2030 with the design firm Utile in Fall 2016 and helping with the Bus Rapid Transit experiment through the Barr Foundation in Spring 2017.  Both of these were interesting, challenging, and rewarding experiences.

This summer I have also been contracting with the Bicycle Riding School in Somerville, teaching adults and children how to ride a bike. I explored and founded my own side business, Get Biking, to teach people to bike but have not pursued it too much, instead choosing to just go along with my contract work.

Self Improvement & Creativity
I joined Raw Fitness Performance, doing small group training, and got the strongest and lightest I’ve been since my climbing days (i.e. 2006). In December 2016, I was able to do 5 chin ups, which made me feel like superwoman. While traveling, I returned to somewhat fluent in Spanish.

I also got to pursue some creative endeavors. I made 2 skirts with my mom (she did most of the work…I helped!). I also sewed burlap plant hanging bags for my deck, which I loved. Speaking of my deck, I had an amazing garden this year – I think thanks to my daily watering and coddling. I revamped the blog and I cooked and baked…a lot.


Volunteering
While I enjoy volunteering, I feel like it is something I just don’t have the time and energy for while I am working full-time. I really enjoyed having the opportunity to volunteer, pursuing my interests through volunteering.

Here are some of the things I got to do:

  • Prepared food at Community Servings – getting to work in an industrial kitchen and enjoy my love of cooking while helping others
  • Did mock interviews and resume reviews with students at Fenway High School to get them job-ready
  • Served on the scholarship committee for our local hostel and as a community grant reviewer for Massachusetts AmeriCorps programs
  • Planted vegetables on an island farm to be donated back to the Boston community

Overall
Overall, I can’t lament that I didn’t accomplish anything during this time. I don’t know what the next year holds for me or when I will return to permanent full-time employment, but I can only hope that I can do at least as much as this.

What about you – what would you do with a year “off” – or, rather, a year away from traditional, full-time employment?

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