Travel and sabbatical year - black milk women


Become Who You Are


"But what do you do for a whole year? " That’s the question everyone asked me.

At each step in your life, there is always a time of preparation.

A baby takes 9 months to form within its mother’s womb, a student graduates after a few years of studying, an engagement can last on average 1-2 years. Future parents prepare themselves emotionally, physically and financially before their baby arrives. We date someone for a few months before officializing a romantic relationship. An entrepreneur prepares his business plan before launching his business. An athlete trains hard for several months before competing.

This preparatory period allows us to plan for each step in our lives to the best of our ability. It is what will equip us and allow us to complete our work, achieve our goals, tackle challenges and mostly help us overcome any difficulties that present themselves along the way.

Our biggest life decisions are never taken lightly – these choices can change the course of our lives for the better, if we take the time to make the right decisions.

And yet, when have you had a face to face with yourself to really know more about yourself by consulting yourself and preparing yourself before taking on one of the biggest challenges of one’s life, the challenge of living your life?

We often confide in others for advice or we think we know everything about ourselves and our needs by thinking that the “me” is earned.

By taking a sabbatical year, I have noticed that one day off, a one week vacation, a 30-day challenge, were not enough to really become aware of certain aspects in my life, modify certain habits, improve a routine, change direction or (re)start from scratch.

our blackness runs much deeper than the narrative we’re told.g (3).png

I hadn’t planned to take a sabbatical year. To be honest, it wasn’t in my plans. Everything I had anticipated for 2014 had fallen short. In general, when the plan A doesn’t work out, there is always a plan B… But sometimes it is best to trust life and let go of the things we plan and accept and learn to live life as it is.

That year was the ideal time for me to relook my priorities, get to know more about myself and decide whether my life desires were relevant to the person I am, the person I want to be.

Many think that a sabbatical year means twiddling your thumbs, sleeping in, taking advantage (without any valuable reason) of unemployment insurance for the sole purpose of doing nothing (while others work). No one will understand how you can just “do nothing”. That’s when I realized that for many, taking a sabbatical year was the synonym for “I don’t know what to do with myself so I’ll wait for time to pass” and that on the contrary, “working” meant living or at least doing something with your life.

There is no such thing as “wasting your time” when it comes to personal growth and finding yourself.

We embark to easily with a vagrancy in life, we live our everyday lives without striving to move forward and asking ourselves questions about the essence of our lives and the choices we have to make.

While my boat was docked, I took this time to redirect myself. Travelling, reinventing myself, resourcing myself and renewing myself by taking time for me and the things that I love.


Here are the 6 essential things I learned during the time that was dedicated to me:


1. Take advantage of your family

Family is the essential pillar in life, it is what forms our personality, establishes our values, influences our choices and equips us to tackle life. It is our first nest where love is built and our emotions develop. And yet, with the life that we are actually leading; our personal and professional choices, it is easy to fall into this routine and neglect perhaps sacrifice our family. With professional opportunities, obligations can distance us from our family and even before it is too late for us to realize that the time has passed and we have missed the most important thing… to live in the present with the people we love.


2. Stop thinking start living

We are thinking nonstop. The brain works nonstop thinking of things to do, ideas to develop, tasks to finish, deadlines to meet, that even life coaches were created to teach us how to stop thinking so much and simply live life. We stress ourselves because we are submerged by what surrounds us, but also by our anxieties that eat us up inside. How do you clear your head and make clear choices when you have to think and act so quickly?


3. Learn to live a better life

We always set things for later because we don’t have enough time. We don’t have any time or at least we don’t dedicate enough time to developing our creativity with new hobbies or learning new things. Learning is our best ally, expanding our knowledge, discovering new hidden talents, developing a new passion, refining our personality and becoming who we really are. We try our whole lives to live a life that we think we love, then one day we’ll wake up only to realize that we have forgotten our own existence. But how can you know what really inspires you if you don’t take the time to discover yourself?


life is not a race track filled with other riders jostling for space; it is a lush, green cycling track that belongs to you. You are the sole rider on that beautiful path, there is no one to overtake, and there is no one who will overtake you. Enjoy the ride and do what makes you happy.
— Jaideep Bansal

4. Live at your own pace without obligations nor schedules

Our lives are timed by our watches. No matter what we do, it is always a race against the latter. Appointments left and right, everything we do is timed by the clock and the things we enjoy doing, that give meaning to our lives, are affected by the efforts that we implement to fill our professional and personal obligations. They say the best thing to do to maximize your time is to make a concrete to-do-list, organize your time on a calendar and follow your agenda to have the impression that you lead a productive and under-control day. Do you dictate your life, or is it “google calendar” notifications on your I-phone?

One thing I appreciated during my sabbatical year was my ability to wake up every morning without having any idea of what I needed to do, which did not prevent me from feeling completely and utterly satisfied by the end of the day.


5. Help others

We won’t hide it; we live in a society where helping people has become optional. Generally speaking, we prefer to dedicate what little time we have left to serve our own interests and passions. How many people would love to be involved in a humanitarian project or be active within the community and participate in the well-being of the public, but don’t even bother because they just don’t have enough time? Improving people’s lives by giving back a simple service can also improve our own lives.


6- (Re)building yourself before anything

We often get so wrapped up in our own active lives without taking the time to measure the extent of our choices, polishing our vision, taking a step back on a certain event or situation and evaluating certain perimeters before choosing which road we want to take. We commit to an express lane with our own shortcomings, our deceptions, our wounds, our frailties, our emotional baggage, our immaturity, which will damage us at one point or another by slowing us down, by making wrong choices and preventing us from braving the obstacles. We will believe ourselves to be incapable of taking on a challenge, we will jeopardize our relationships and destroy our opportunities because we lack the knowledge and the confidence. I am not saying that by taking care of ourselves we will excel in life, but knowing ourselves allows us to make the conscious choice based on who we are and what we want in life.


Have you ever taken a sabbatical year and what have you learned from your experience? If you haven’t and you had to take a sabbatical year, what would you do?



Article translated by Marlena Ricciuti

Shirline is the founder of Black Milk Women. She finds inspiration in every areas of life. Creative, passionate and dreamy ... "Eat Beauty, Live Passionately and Drink Life '' is her everyday #Wordstoliveby.

Like music or romance she is old school she doesn't snap but she tweets. 

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You Are an Inspiration XoXo