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Elizabeth Barbour, M. Ed.
The Revitalized Business Woman
Missouri City (Houston), Texas

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I'm taking a sabbatical...see you later!

If you read last week’s blog, you know that I wrote about David Whyte’s suggestion of having a critical conversation with yourself that your Future Self would come back and thank you for. Well, my important conversation with myself was about the need for rest…

Over the course of my 26+ year career, I have taken five significant segments of time off from my work in the world. And it’s time to take my sixth. It starts tomorrow!

Because of my own positive experience of taking time away from the demands of work, I have coached many clients to take sabbaticals over the years. There are a lot of good reasons for taking time off including:

  • Career transition (and uncertainty about what’s next)
  • Studying and learning a new skill
  • Taking time to travel and explore the world
  • Working on a major project like writing a book or renovating your home
  • Regaining your health after a sickness or stint as a caregiver
  • Focusing on your family
  • Giving your self space to process deep grief or any significant life transition

As I look at my own pattern of taking time off, the recurring theme has been taking time away from work after a major life transition… I took 3-6 months off after my dad died, after I got divorced, after two major moves, after becoming a parent…

And now, it's time to do it again. My reasons this time are three fold:

  1.  To give myself space to more fully grieve since the death of my Mom eight months ago.
  2. To regain my health. I’m dealing with some significant autoimmune issues that have shown up over the past year and I’m committed to my self care and well-being.
  3. To commit more deeply to my writing. I’m taking a spiritual writing course in July and I’m so excited!

 At first, I was hesitant to commit to the time off. Even though I’ve done this before and it’s never harmed my business…in fact, it’s only ever helped it!!!... I still have natural worries like “What will other people say?”  I also feel some guilt, knowing that other people I know could benefit from sabbatical as much as me but are unable to make that commitment right now. (I will admit it’s easier to take time away when you live in a two income household. Although I did it twice as a single person, it definitely is a bit less nerve wracking this way…I feel confident the mortgage will still get paid!)

The beautiful thing about being an entrepreneur is that you get to write the rules and call the shots.  So it's time for me to step out for a bit. In the next few months, I will continue to facilitate my Sienna and Sugar Land Women in Business networking meetings locally here in the Houston area but I’m grateful to my awesome virtual assistant Danielle who handles the lion’s share of the administrative details! I have put a hold on all coaching clients and speaking engagements and this weekly newsletter that I've written for the past two years. So I want to take a minute here to THANK YOU for being a faithful reader. I will miss your love notes each week as you respond to my articles and share your thoughts and inspiration with me. If we’re not already connected on Facebook, please come find me there!

I'm honestly not sure how long my sabbatical is going to be. I'm going to wait and see how my rest and renewal and recovery goes. A few friends are encouraging me to take a full year off but my husband knows me well and keeps saying “You’ll be bored after 3-6 months and be chomping at the bit to return to work!”

With any luck, I'll be feeling great by the fall and I will have made some significant headway on my book. But no matter what happens, I know that I will feel grateful that I gave myself the permission to really rest.

And you? Are you feeling the call to rest? If you’re resonating with what I’m writing here, think about taking some time away for yourself.  It could be taking a week off, a month off or even more. (And if you’re not sure what to do, when I return to working 1:1 with clients, I’d be happy to coach you through the process! )

I’ll let you know when I’m back from my sabbatical…

In the meantime, please take good care of your precious self,



The Art of Asking the Beautiful Question: Wisdom from David Whyte

Last week, I was privileged to spend an entire day with the extraordinary poet David Whyte at the 19th Annual Energy Psychology Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

I was first introduced to him many years ago by a friend who told me about his book The Three Marriages.  It's an excellent inquiry into our relationship with ourselves, our love partners and our work in the world. It’s one of those books that I have lovingly defiled with dog-ears and far too many underlines.

Soon after I read that, I started to pay attention to his poetry. He has a way of observing the world that is captivating and breath taking. I now follow his Facebook page where he posts poetry regularly and sometimes it speaks to me so deeply, I am moved to tears. My recent favorite is Friendship.

The workshop I attended was called “The Art of Asking the Beautiful Question” and I want to offer to you for consideration the question he posed that had the biggest impact on me…

“What if you could start a conversation with yourself that your future self would come back to thank you for?”

What might that conversation be about?

  •  Love
  • A big decision you are facing
  • Parenting
  • Health
  • Asking for help
  • A book you are longing to write
  • Your work in the world
  • Spirituality
  • Joy
  • Grief
  • Quitting a job
  • Starting a new business
  • Travel
  • Forgiveness of self and others
  • Rest
  • Learning how to say NO
  • Gathering courage to say YES

There are thousands of possible answers to this question but only ONE that will matter to you and your future.

I had a chance to explore this question during the workshop and began an important conversation with myself in the process. One question led to more questions than I have answers for but at least I started the conversation! I’ll tell you a bit more about it in next week’s blog.

Grab a journal and dig deep with this one. See what shows up for you!

Here’s to Beautiful Questions!



Cultivating Resilience: Sheryl Sandberg on Option B

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of listening to Sheryl Sandberg, the COO for Facebook, speak at a live event here in Houston. She was talking about her new book, Option B, which was released just two years after the sudden death of her husband.

If you've been following my writing for the past year, you know that I've written a lot about grief and loss since the death of my mother last September (gifts to give someone who is grieving, embrace the mystery and the magic, gratitude in hard times, the importance of rest). So the timing of going to hear Sheryl Sandberg speak was absolutely perfect. I found myself nodding my head in agreement at many of the things that she said.

The title of the book came from a conversation she had with a friend who volunteered to step up for a father-child event at school after her husband had died. Sheryl said “But I want Dave!” and the friend replied. “That is not an option. But we will do our best to kick the sh*t out of Option B.”

Life doesn’t always work out the way you plan it, does it? I don’t know about you, but I can think of three or four ways that I’m living or have lived Option B in my life. When you’re young and the world is your oyster, you think you have it all figured out. You may have plans on what your career will be, where you will live, who you will marry, how many children you will have….But then life takes a lot of detours and U-turns and where you end up is often not where you set out to go.

Where are YOU living Option B in your life? Maybe one or more of these have happened to you…

  • You got fired from a job.
  • You are not in the career you prepared for in college.
  • You’re not as successful in your career as you thought you’d be.
  • You got divorced (or ended a serious relationship).
  • You’re not living where you want to be (house, neighborhood, city, state, country).
  • You’ve experienced financial crisis (and maybe had to sell your house, move in with relatives, etc.).
  • You developed cancer (or other disease).
  • You became a caregiver to a loved one who got sick.
  • You have a child with health problems.
  • You suffered infertility.
  • You experienced infant loss.
  • Or, like Sheryl, you had a beloved die WAY too soon (child, spouse, friend, parent, etc.).

According to Sandberg, everyone is living some version of Option B in their lives. It’s not a matter of if but when you will have an Option B facing you. What matters most is how you choose to respond to it.

 Here are a few highlights from her talk about building resilience and finding joy:

1.  You can build resilience (It’s not something you naturally have.) The best way to build resilience is in community.

2.  For the person grieving: People feel isolated after suffering a great loss. Writing helps (Keep a journal.) and so does sharing it on Facebook.  

3.  For the person supporting someone who is grieving: People fear saying the wrong thing, so they don't say anything at all. Don't make that mistake! Just show up.

4.  It's OK to laugh. Humor gives a minute of release.

5.  Joy is a discipline (And an important one to cultivate in times of grief.) and we have to work at it. Before bed, write down three moments of joy that you experience each day.

She also offered that after a big loss, many people experience post traumatic growth. They have deeper relationships, there is more meaning in life and they experience profound gratitude for the life they have. I wrote about my own experience with this last year before I had ever heard the phrase “post traumatic growth.”

One last tip she shared. Sheryl suggested spending time with loved ones at the dinner table asking three questions:

  1.  What was the best part of your day?
  2. What was the worst part of your day?
  3. What are you most grateful for today?

These conversations will allow you to deepen your connections and will invite everyone to express their feelings in a healthy and open way.

If you’re living an Option B in your life right now and are struggling with it or trying to find more meaning and understanding of what it’s all about, I suspect her book, Option B, will help you.

I’ve just started reading it. If you’ve read it, are reading it or plan to read it, let me know!

Here’s to cultivating resilience!


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