The Invaluable “Brebbatical”

Many years ago I caught the tail-end of an Oprah show on “personal sabbaticals”. I am not an avid watcher of Queen Oprah but for some reason this show drew me in. She was talking about how important it is for EVERY woman to take periodic “time-outs” from their lives. As women we tend to utilize every last second of our day. We tend to be multitasking not only during carpool and work but also in our sleep. Our brains rarely get the rest that they need. We rush, we work, and we care and compromise to the point of total exhaustion. Sometimes we need a moment just to STOP.

A friend of mine recently regaled a story of a woman who had a special needs son and worked tirelessly for her family. Her husband started to witness a strung out, deer-in-headlights, poor excuse for a wife. He finally took it upon himself to book her two nights at a local hotel. He seized her phone and her computer and said, “go, eat room service, and watch four movies”. She was not to come home until she had napped twice and slept past ten AM. She went. Upon her return she commented to my friend that she had no idea how far from balanced and healthy she had stepped. She noted that after two to three hours without work emails, kids screaming and her deadlines looming she could actually calm her mind to the point that she started seeing solutions to many of the dilemmas that she had been struggling with for months.

Back to me, standing in the middle of the living room, with a pile of laundry in my arms, staring at the TV. Oprah went on and spoke to women who practiced regular sabbaticals. One might think, that these “life-breaks” are a lovely option for women of means and supportive husbands who are willing to take over and somehow figure out how Jimmy likes his apple cut and what Marilyn has to take to ballet. Oprah shut that down. She interviewed several women of low income, even single parents, who utilized resources of neighbors, exchanges with friends, and helpful church members to assist them in getting the time away they needed. Oprah commented that even an intentional half-day respite could be extremely beneficial. Her point is that you need to get out of Dodge. Often. We need to give our brains a rest so that we can return refueled, refilled and ready to engage with our families and our work.


This week I embarked on a trip away.  I have coined these little excursions “brebbaticals”, a very brief sabbatical from my life. I fleW to Palm Springs and checked into a newly renovated funky apartment complex I had rented off VRBO. Larinda, the tall lanky landlady, thick-middled, with a glass of white wine permanently attached to her left hand, checked me in.  Suddenly I was in a large apartment by myself. I took a deep breath in, and a deep exhale. The air felt more available. My shoulders started to drop, my pulse slowed. I thought about my plan and then realized I didn’t need one. I knew I wanted to write. I never get enough time to write and it is relaxing to me. I set up my computer, unpacked all my groceries and sat down to a leisurely writing session.

Brebbatical 2

Mid-way through writing I donned my bather and headed out to the pool for an hour. I think I read through every rag magazine that was available at the store. I took myself out for a casual dinner at TRIO and then returned to the apartment to hit the hay early. I slept like a log. The Next day I walked more slowly, ate sitting down, and flipped through a novel unhindered. My mind started to clear. I got ideas for blogs and books. I was relaxing.

Brebbatical pool

 The brebbatical does not have to be fancy. You could find an arboretum, a beautiful library or gallery where you could spend the day. You could ask a friend to borrow their house for a few days while they are away.

I had a set of girlfriends that did a brebbatical exchange. Twice a year one of the women would take all the kids to her friend’s house for the weekend. The owner of the house would then go to her friend’s empty house (away from distractions of laundry, work and cleaning) and retreat. This was so effective the practice was maintained till their kids went to college.

Consider planning a brebbatical in the next six weeks. Consider your options for utilizing your resources and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Remember that you will return refreshed, refueled and ready to engage.

What are your ideas for a brebbatical? Have you taken a retreat somewhere special? What do you think the benefits of this “life-break” proposition would be for you?

 Please share in the comments section below.

2 Responses

  1. About once a month, Usually while waiting for my son at class, I spend a couple of hours at the library NOT checking out books, but just getting a comfy chair and going through any or all of the magazines that suit my fancy that day. No subscriptions cluttering my house, a notebook by my side to jot down interesting things, and no agenda. Sometimes I get more caught up in health issues, and other times, recipes, or travel or home decor. I catch up on local events too. Its a nice break from care giving and chauffeuring. I am blessed that my husband is home in my absence to take over. (alhz care)

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