Home, sweet home: my first week back after sabbatical

October 8, 2017
beers
Sunday afternoons between 3pm and dinner time is one of my favourite times of the week. I’m winding down from a productive weekend of de-cluttering, spending time with local friends yesterday, and then meal planning, grocery shopping, baking this week’s morning tea, a bit of house and yard work today.
I’m finally sitting back at my desk with my laptop, the Supercars Bathurst 1000 race on the telly. I love these weekend afternoons of nothingness and pottering around the house. My husband and I have been home just over a week, after six months of overseas travel. It’s good to be home. Here’s how the rest of the week went.

A family welcome

We arrived back in Brisbane after our six month traveling sabbatical on the Friday late-afternoon and were met at the airport with my husband’s Mum and sister. Upon climbing out of the car in our driveway, the kids (our nieces and nephews) were firing party poppers at us and everywhere else. A ‘welcome home’ banner was taped to the back deck above the doors. Dinner was already in the oven and drinks were quick to come out of the fridge. The house was full. Laughter, stories, banter and chat filled our living room and back deck. I find much joy in seeing our house like this. A home to more people than just the two of us. I loved every moment of it.

The next day

I was awake at 4.30am. Darn jet lag. We resolved to having our favourite breakfast out, at a place less than a kilometre away called ‘Putia’. We are very spoiled here at home. The best brekky in Brisbane.
scrambled eggs on toast

Breakfast at the local – scrambled eggs on sourdough and potato beignets. Mmmmm….

We had a 1st Birthday Party to attend on the south side of town in the morning, then I dropped my husband off at a mate’s place for the AFL Grand Final. I was content to spend the afternoon at home, setting the place to rights – buying some groceries, cleaning the bathroom, tidying. I had a low-key catch up and beer with a close friend in the evening.

De-cluttering!

I rose out of bed on Saturday morning feeling overwhelmed. As I looked around the house at the boxes we packed our stuff into prior to leaving for overseas, I couldn’t believe we had that much stuff. I had grown content with my limited possessions and wardrobe I had been carrying around for the last six months. Although ready to not be living out of a bag, I wasn’t ready to contemplate that I might have a larger wardrobe or more stationery than I needed (though I found out I still have a weakness for beautiful notebooks and journaling supplies).
I started de-cluttering straight away. I’m not even giving myself a chance to grow an attachment to stuff again. I need to do this quickly. The spaces most ripe for de-cluttering so far has been the wardrobe, digital storage on the laptop and books.

Back to work

I was fortunate to have a full-time, permanent position at a university prior to us leaving on sabbatical, and that my six months away was approved by the powers that be. These circumstances made coming home less stressful. Pay day is this week.
I only worked Thursday and Friday last week as I wanted to ease myself back into things. I knew I’d also still be fighting jet lag at that point. The library staff held a lovely ‘welcome home’ morning tea for me (seriously, libraries will take any excuse for cake). I sorted through email and caught up with my supervisor about the major things happening and current priorities for the library.
In library land, there is a online professional community mainly via blogs, LinkedIn and Twitter. Over the last few months, I didn’t keep up with any of it, apart from responding to a few direct mentions on Twitter and one Skype meeting. I intentionally shut myself off so as to fulfil the purpose of the sabbatical and learn more about myself.
On my first day back, I felt my brain couldn’t keep up, couldn’t process all the information I was taking in during conversations and via the countless emails that told the story of what had been happening. I started to doubt my abilities and my level of passion, drive and overall care factor for my work. I wondered whether I belonged there anymore and if I had what it took to be a productivity ninja, switched on, on the ball and do a brilliant job. Then, my second day….
….was much better. I realised I have a different lens to my work now, and that this is a good thing. I assisted some colleagues on a conference submission, talking through the idea, clarifying it, shaping it and giving the submission focus. I could hardly believe the words coming out of my mouth. I was on fire! Afterwards, I thought ‘yep, I’m totally fine. I’ll be ok’.

Definitely a common thread in coming home after six months away has been overwhelm. I expected this. Easing my way back to every day routine and new home and self-care habits will be a process and will take time. But I love being home. There’s no place like home. And no place like Queensland, Australia.

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