Jan 3, 2011

WORD OF THE WEEK: Sabbatical

Summary: What happens when your vacation is ruined? What's the worst bad vacation story you have—and how did you react to it? Through studying this week's word, sabbatical, we can swap bad vacation stories and share tools to get through life's such surprising circumstances.

Sabbatical (suh - BA - teh - CUHL) - As a noun, it means a break or a change in normal routine, especially from work. As an adjective, it describes the time period of the break (or the break itself): "sabbatical year"; "sabbatical trip." Professors and clergy are typically given this time off every set number of years. From the Hebrew word shabath, for rest, this word strolled its way through Latin and Greek to finally enter English in 1880 when Harvard granted the first Sabbatical to its professors to be instituted every seven years. Interestingly, shabath is also the antecedent to the word Sabbath, which helped to derive our Saturday—along with some other religious-based words, like Saturn.

Last week was my personal sabbatical. I took a week off from blogging (and from all other work, as life would have it)—initially to focus on writing a book I'm co-authoring with Susan J. Moreno of MAAP Services and Marci Wheeler of the Indiana Resource Center for Autism. The book, which will focus on marriages where one partner has Asperger Syndrome, is due out later this year. I call rest periods like this my "writing sabbaticals."

But seasonal depression and legitimate grief clouded my creativity last week, as a family member went in the hospital—thankfully to recover and be sent home this week—and a friend passed away. I was glad to have the break on my calendar, so that I could tend to my own needs and feel my emotions, rather than push them aside to tend to other matters and only have them explode on me later when suppression inevitably doesn't work anymore.

Has that ever happened to you? You plan a vacation or a little break, and you look forward to it with gusto. But things just don't go as planned. Life circumstances change the reality of your expectations. How do you handle it? Do you pout and simper and throw yourself a pity party, sharing your blues with everyone you meet? Do you suffer in silence, acting stoic (but secretly taking your disappointment out on those closest to you)? Or are you one of those who springs into action, scouring the internet and the self-help bookshelves for anything that can serve as a tool? I admit I've fallen into each category at some point in my life. This time, I yo-yoed between wallowing alone and using the tools I already know. Compared to the past, this time I was flexible.

What tools do you already know that can help you roll with life's unplanned punches? This week, I'm asking you to share your story. I'll compile some answers and put them together for all of us to learn from later this week.

Here's to a healthy and positive 2011. Let's start it off right: Speak your truth and share your story or stories now. (And check out a few "bad vacation" tales at Bored.com to get a preview.)

© KiKi Productions, Inc. 2010

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