I remember exactly how I felt when I wrote Part 1 and Part 2 of this series. In those first few weeks after my return from Australia, I used words like ‘ease’ and ‘spaciousness’ to describe my experience of taking six weeks off. What I called my ‘summer of radical rest’ {inspired by Brene Brown and Sophie Cliff} had done exactly what it was supposed to do. I felt light. Unburdened. Deeply rested. My goal was to maintain this feeling.

Of course, at the time, I had no idea I was heading into what would turn out to be one of the most stressful winters of my life.

One Year Later         

‘In the online business world, there’s a great deal of pressure to immediately transform experiences into a neat, succinct list of key takeaways. What did I learn from the experience? What can you, the reader, learn from me? If I did this now, a month after our return, it would be surface level stuff. I know I could turn it into a good read, but the thing is, for me, this experience was far from surface level. It was deep. Profound. Transformative.’


Notes From a Summer Sabbatical {Part 2}, September 2022

I always planned to let some time pass before sharing my final thoughts and reflections on my summer sabbatical. As autumn crept in, and the feeling of spaciousness gave way to stress and overwhelm, I learned some much deeper lessons about myself, my business and the type of life I want to live.

  • Constant Ease isn’t a Realistic, Achievable Goal

Two months after I got back to the U.K., I finally caught Covid. I was not one of those lucky people with mild symptoms. I was in bed for days and it took me a good five to six weeks to feel fully recovered.

The timing was impeccable – I had two big projects on the go and, one week into isolating, Carl left on a work trip to America. The children and I muddled through and most of my clients were incredibly patient and understanding. Just as I started to feel better, Jesse picked up a different winter bug and found himself navigating a really nasty, prolonged period of ill health. He missed a lot of school, and I lost count of how many trips we made to A&E and the GP.

I was just about managing to catch up and keep on top of work when my laptop died. We hastily ordered a replacement, but it took days to set up and get my emails working properly. Meanwhile, my mental health was at its lowest ebb as I grieved through the anniversary of my dad’s death and what would have been his 67th birthday.

By the time Christmas rolled around, I was well and truly burnt out. The lightness of my time in Australia was a distant memory and I was cross at myself for losing sight of my goal. I should have handled the stress better. I should have found a way to make life feel easeful despite its challenges.

I wasn’t being realistic. When you’re not on an extended holiday, ease isn’t easy. In the real world, it’s something you need to work at. You must create space in your schedule, let go of things and build rhythms and routines that contain the potential for ease. When life gets stressful, a constant state of ease is unachievable, but prioritising a few easeful moments every day could help you through.

Now, when I reflect on last year’s summer sabbatical, I think about the things I made time for while I was away. Connecting with friends and family, spending time outside, moving my body more, eating well and nurturing my curiosity with lots of art and culture. I can’t make everyday life feel like a holiday, but I can prioritise these things and turn them into easeful moments in an otherwise busy day.

  • I Am Where I’m Meant to Be

Once upon a time, I saw myself living the life my sister and her family are living now. In the summer of 2004, I spent three weeks in Australia with my best friend. I had an amazing time and started dreaming about making a more permanent move. At the very least, I thought I’d head out there for a couple of years, maybe get a working visa and travel around a bit. But a few weeks after I got home, I found out I was pregnant. The rest, as they say, is history.

When I unexpectedly became a mother at 21, my hopes and dreams shifted. I don’t feel like I missed out – I chose to walk a different path. I’ve always been happy with my decision, and I wouldn’t change a thing, but I did wonder how I’d feel visiting Australia again all these years later. Would I be filled with regret? Would I long for the life I almost lived?

I considered these things while I was there and felt nothing but peace. It was like closing a loop in my life story. Izzy, the baby I didn’t know I was carrying on my last trip, was with me and it just felt… right. Like it was always supposed to be this way. The alternative path never really existed. I am where I’m meant to be.

  • Travel and Adventure Must Be a Priority

By far the biggest takeaway from my trip was that I want travel and adventure to feature heavily in my life. It’s not exactly a new observation. I’ve always been passionate about these things. But it’s something I really lost sight off during the pandemic. Although I longed to see my sister in Australia, I had stopped dreaming about seeing the world.

Our summer down under re-calibrated this part of my brain. Now, when I think about my hopes and dreams, both in life and in business, travel has a starring role once again.

Which reminds me – Carl and I are off to New York in December! How’s that for integrating what I’ve learned?!

  • Love Audrey xxx

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