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

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On Sabbatical, Harvey and Paying It Forward


A lot has happened in the world in the last four months...we continue to be assaulted by bad news from hurricanes, forest fires, earthquakes, mass shootings… it doesn’t seem that we can catch a break, does it? I, like you, am grieving with those impacted most recently by the tragedy in Las Vegas and continue to have a heavy heart for those who are recovering from the California wildfires, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and other natural disasters.

It is easy to get depressed and overwhelmed by the troubles of the world, but it’s important to remember that there is so much good here, too. If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to share a bit about my summer sabbatical, what happened during Harvey and how I’ve been privileged to serve the greater Houston community.

You may remember that I announced in May that I was taking a sabbatical. My goal was to “Rest & Write” because I needed more time to grieve my mom’s death, craved more time to write and honestly wanted more time with my family. In early June, my adventurous 6 year old daughter Riley and I traveled 2,000 miles over three weeks, where we visited more than 50 relatives and friends in North Carolina and Tennessee. We visited our family farm in Pinehurst, she got to attend farm camp in Bristol and I got to visit with some of my best friends in the world in my beloved mountains of Asheville.

After that epic road trip, I took a five week spiritual writing course with the Center for Creative Non-Fiction which motivated me to submit my introduction and the first two chapters of my book to my teacher. [Gulp!] That was scary to share with others and I felt really vulnerable doing it, but it also was a very decisive action in moving forward and committing to my book. Eric, Riley and I had one final vacation for a glorious week in Minnesota. During those lazy summer days at home, I had chunks of time where I could truly be and breathe. I was able to go through more of my mom’s things and took time to write in my journal. I also continued to do my grieving journey as it approached the one-year anniversary of when my mom died on September 11th and I facilitated a simple ritual with some friends that day. 

I thought I would be returning to work in September but hurricane Harvey hit Houston on August 25th and devastated our region. For three days, the storm ravaged Texas. We experienced a tornado that damaged 50 homes in our neighborhood just a mile away, several house fires due to lightning strikes and flooding of biblical proportions very close to our home. Everything that you saw on the news was real and I felt like we were living in a Hollywood blockbuster disaster movie as we hid in the pantry for 138 tornado warnings, evacuated our home in just an hour and drove through standing water on the highway, not knowing if we would make it to safety. We were under mandatory evacuation for six days for fear the levy surrounding our community would break. 

But we were the lucky ones. Our house didn't flood and after a week, we were able to return and help our community to rebuild. I quickly realized that it was not time for me to return to work just yet, and that my work was instead volunteering to help others in need. It was so heartwarming to see our neighborhood come together and help each other out. Friends helped friends and strangers helped strangers. People mucked out homes, ripped out drywall, pulled up floors and schlepped debris to the curb. Others made meals, passed out water and Gatorade and provided supplies for those who needed them. 

I’m not exactly a “muck-out-your-house” kinda gal, so I decided that the best way for me to help was to raise money. Hundreds of my friends and relatives followed our story on Facebook as I shared updates each day chronicling the rains, the tornadoes, the fear, the ultimate evacuation... I had friends praying for us daily and several said they were crying as they imagined the nightmare that was unfolding before us. I knew that if I continued telling stories of Harvey victims – our friends and neighbors - it would inspire people to give generously and I could get the money directly into the hands of people who desperately needed it. Here are some links to my Facebook posts about the evacuationthe return home and the fundraising.

Over the past 6 weeks, together we raised almost $7,000!!! Thank YOU so much --- my generous community of family, friends, clients, and colleagues. I’ve given out more than 85 "Micro Gifts" ranging from $50-$250 to families that flooded or to small local organizations that are doing great work in our community. Here’s just one Facebook post to give you an idea of who is receiving the money. We still have a little bit of money left to disburse and the need continues here in Houston. It is going to take years for Texas to recover from the utter devastation that Harvey inflicted here. Thank you for your continued thoughts, prayers, donations and love. It matters. It all matters! If you’d like to contribute, let me know and I’ll send you details on how to contribute via PayPal, check or gift card. 

What a rollercoaster ride it’s been since I last wrote to you. Ups and downs and all arounds. That’s life, though, isn’t it? Through it all, we’ve been reminded of the importance of community, generosity, gratitude, rest, and renewal. All important lessons on this journey of Life.

I started back with a few coaching clients earlier this month and have space for three new clients. If this is you, get in touch. In addition, I plan to keep facilitating my networking groups, writing my book, and volunteering my time. I have a few speaking engagements lined up for 2018 and of course we’re busy here with an active first grader and the approaching holidays! Riley’s going to be Wonder Woman for Halloween which will be lots of fun. 

Thank you for reading and for caring. I’m not sure when I’m going to return to writing my e-zine regularly, but wanted this to be a check in note to give you updates from Houston and I’d love to hear from YOU, too! Tell me what’s new (and up, down and all around!) in your world. I love hearing from you.







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!


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