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Another video blog on where do you go when you need a break!

I haven’t posted in the past week, as I’ve been on a sort of personal sabbatical.  I’ve had quite the busy and full past few months, and I needed some time that I could take to slow down, take stock of where I am, and get prepared for the months ahead.  I’m just now coming out of it, and I think I’m better centered to do what I need to do for the winter.

Part of that was doing my Alternative Black Friday retreat.  I had planned on doing that at a location in Arlington, but as luck had it I instead went to The Peace Abbey in Sherborn, Massachusetts, which is a lovely place.   The day consisted of meditating, journaling, reading, walking, and other activities.  I’ll be planning on doing it again in the future, so let me know if you’d like to be a part of the next session!

Part of doing this was to see what interesting and creative ideas could come out of my head at this time, and I think I got a good one.  Massachusetts has 351 cities and towns.  I’ve been to a majority of them (having lived in the Commonwealth for most of my life) but there are a number of towns that I haven’t been to yet.  I have seen at least one blog about a couple working to visit all 351 towns and cities, and I thought this might be a great idea for me, as I’ve been looking for ways that I can incorporate practices to my life. I’m calling this the Meditate Mass 351 Challenge.

So, here’s my spin on this: I have to do a number of things in order for a town to count in the 351.

  1. I have to actually be in the town and either meditate/pray/sit quietly for at least 10 minutes.  This makes it so I can’t count places that I’m driving through on the Massachusetts Turnpike (Yup, just picked up Blandford!)
  2. I have to take a picture of me in front of a landmark or building that would only be in that town (e.g. post office, town hall, police station, etc.) It doesn’t have to be a government building, but at least one where there’s no mistaking where it is.  For example, I could choose Durgin Park or Fanueil Hall in Boston.  It also means I can’t just step over the border 3 feet and sit for 10 minutes.  I have to find where the life of the town is.

When will I finish this?  I don’t know.  It will be a fun project, and might get me to go out of my way to see a town I’ve never been to.  I’ve always wondered about Nantucket, Egremont, Wales, and Plympton. I’m setting this as an intention and not a goal.  I think that this will allow for some interesting things to happen, and if I just give myself the space for this, I hope they will.

Here’s my first proof:

So, what are you creating in order for interesting things to happen?

Broom Flowers at Easton Mountain

Here in the US, we are just about to celebrate the Labor Day Weekend. Regardless of what it is astrologically, this is effectively the end of the summer. The academic year for colleges (and the deluge of students that move in the Boston area this weekend) and schools really starts in earnest on Tuesday, and the whole spirit and pace of the land changes.

Just like squirrels scurrying around to gather enough food for the too-soon-coming winter, the pace quickens here with professional meetings starting and theater and musical organizations seasons opening (Do you have your season tickets?). The days are getting shorter at an increasing rate, and we’re having cooler mornings greet us as we get up and start our days.

I feel like I still need about another month of summer to really unwind. We had a sort of abbreviated summer with a cool June, and there are many things that I’d still like to do.

I’m going away to Easton Mountain for their Labor Day weekend program, and my goal is to read, take pictures, lie in a hammock, and just be. I’m going to extend this summer as much as I can, and squeeze every drop out of it.

I’ve been doing a lot of self-development work on trying to be present in each moment. I’m too easily distracted by the great drama that continually plays in my mind. I’ve found that if I pay attention to that instead of what’s in front of me, I feel like I’ve missed out on summer and any other event that I’ve enjoyed. I’m hoping that by being present even when it’s not summer, I can live in that retreat/non-rushed feeling a little while longer. It’s an experiment, but one that has very promising outcomes.

I hope you have a great, relaxing weekend.

So, what are you doing to have a retreat in your mind this weekend?

As many of you have possibly noticed (or just noticed now as you read this), it’s been a while since my last post here. Part of that time I was away on vacation; other times I was just busy with being outside enjoying the too short summer here in New England. I had become really good at posting a few times a week and the readership of this blog rose dramatically.

And, then it all just seemed to stop. My body and my mind needed a break. I have plenty of partially finished posts as well as numerous notes for future development. I was getting down on myself that I was breaking my own rules by slacking off.

Then, I took a deep breath and realized the my body and mind was imposing a sabbatical on me. I had written over 100 posts in the 1.5 years that I’ve had this blog, and I had run through a lot of the knowledge collected in my mind. I needed that fallow time again to refresh.

Most ministers and professors take a sabbatical ever seven or so years to really get there minds clear and try something new. The goal is to come back with new energy and ideas.

I, like many of you, don’t always do the best things for myself and sometimes I have to be hit with a “clue by 4” before I do what’s needed. If I had listened to my needs earlier, I might not have needed to take this break so abruptly. It’s a continual lesson to notice where I am and listen to my needs, whether physical, emotional, psychological, or spiritual. I’m getting better, but sometimes I need to be reminded with a sledgehammer.

So, when was the last time you took a sabbatical from something? If you listen to your body, mind and spirit, what are they telling you to do?

I was very fortunate this past Thanksgiving week to be able to take time off to rest and restore. Between the sinus infection that still seems to linger and some family health issues, I’ve been in a somewhat constant state of low level stress for the past few months. Nothing completely debilitating, but aggravating nonetheless. It’s just kept me from having the energy to do a number of things (including writing blog posts).

I have been told many times that our bodies are very wise and let us know when we should do something. From that gut reaction that any opportunity in front of us is right or wrong, to the overwhelming “clue-by-four” that we are tired and need to stop and rest, to the smell that leads us into a great restaurant, we are led by our bodies more than we think.

In the Christian calendar, we’re in the season of Advent. I’ve seen this defined as expectation, waiting, or arriving. Whatever it is, it’s definitely a time for slowing down. With the darkening days, our bodies know this instinctively. Unfortunately, our commercial culture tells us that this is the time to speed up and get crazy. I personally think that this I’d the reason why do many people get the blues in January. They are so out of touch with the rhythms of the year that they crash.

Much of my career development work is to get clients to listen to their own needs as far as what will make them happy in their work. Too often, people have been programmed by culture or family to deny what they really want and what really makes them happy. I’ve found almost universally that a dream deferred will pop up somewhere in life to disrupt your plans, much like your body will shut you down if you don’t listen to its needs.

So, what needs are you denying or ignoring and how is your body or spirit screaming to be heard?  What actions are you doing to start to hear?

Ken Mattsson

Ken Mattsson

Ken Mattsson

I am a career consultant who specializes in the connection between what your spirit wants to do in the world, and how to marry that to the work that you do in order to support yourself. While I work with people in all fields, I specialize in working with "creative entrepreneurs" and the LGBT community.

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