The end of the school year is almost here. Shortly thereafter my new life will begin. I’m surprisingly calm though it dawns on me that I may be in shock! Up next are several months of study either on my own or enrolled in a program in order to get certified as a personal trainer. My time as a student will act as a bridge between my old life and my new one. I feel grateful that I have sufficient resources to take this sabbatical from my working life, to pause and catch my breath, to learn and grow.
Twelve years ago we were uprooted at work for about nine months while our building underwent renovation and expansion. When I say uprooted, I mean uprooted. I work at a synagogue and back then we moved into an office park for our administrative hours, held our Sunday School at a Jewish day school and our weekday Hebrew School at a different Jewish day school. Friday night services took place at one church while Saturday morning services took place at another church. And that was just our regular programming! Special programs were held all over the place. One of my most vivid memories from that period of time was my absolute commitment to making just one trip to the car each time I left one location for another. During those nine months in exile we slowly let go of how things had been and tried to prepare ourselves for how things would be once we returned to our new building.
It made perfect sense that change was the theme at our annual staff retreat that year. We were presented with William Bridges’ Model of Transition. I bring this up because in this model, the time between the ending of one phase and the beginning of a new phase is called the Neutral Zone. The Neutral Zone is characterized as being both a time of difficulty and a time for creativity. I’ve begun mentally preparing myself for the Neutral Zone.
I know that I’ll need to impose some kind of structure and put in place new routines during my upcoming student days. I know that I’ll need to keep my social network strong. And I know that I’ll need to take care of myself as it is bound to be a time of anxiety as I face the unknown future. But I love knowing that it can also be a time of heightened creativity. I’m reminded of a dream I had many years ago during spring break while my husband and I were on a camping trip. I had been unhappy and stressed out during that year as a special ed teacher. One night during our trip I dreamed that the school where I worked was our home and that a freak summer snow storm came and blew the roof off the building. It was a liberating feeling. I awoke knowing with certainty that it was time for me to leave teaching which I did at the end of the school year. This time it feels like the roof is coming off my entire life and it feels so freeing. Sometimes I can’t wait to see what is going to happen next.