I never expected to be following up a blog about new additions with a post about loss. But that’s how quickly the world can change.

This past Tuesday, December 3, my aunt Donna Lee Domingo passed away unexpectedly at the age of 58.

Donna Lee Domingo, 1961-2019

I got the news Tuesday afternoon, and by early Wednesday morning, Ryan, Artie and I were in the car, making the journey down to San Diego to say goodbye.

I thought this post was going to be my long tribute to her … that by now, I’d be able to gather my thoughts and tell her story. But I still find myself struggling to find the words.

To sum up someone you knew your whole life, who was such a big personality, is a gargantuan task. I’m not sure a blog post could truly capture her spirit and the impact she had on my life. Hell, a whole novel could hardly do the trick.

Auntie Donna was someone you just had to experience. And I’m so lucky to have experienced her for 35 years.

She had had health issues for years and even some scares, but she always bounced back. We had even recently talked about going to Hawai’i for her 60th birthday. Now, all I can think about are stolen futures that will never be.

I’m devastated that she never got to meet Artie. But I’m happy that she at least got to see pictures of him and that I got to speak to her on the phone after he was born.

Right now, I’m dealing with “what ifs” and guilt.

I had thought about calling her the night before she died, as she was in the hospital (for what we thought was just another scare that would quickly be resolved). But the baby was fussy and I thought maybe Donna had probably already been inundated with calls, so I decided I would call her the next day. When I called that next day, I got her voicemail, and later that day, I would find out it was because it was too late.

Not everything in my life needs to tie back to my sabbatical or be some big life lesson. But I can’t help to think about two big messages that are coming through to me in the wake of this tragedy. The first is inspired by her life and that is to live big, fully, and honestly. And the second comes from the loss and that is to never put off the things that your gut is telling you to do.

Maybe some day I’ll be able to sit down and write my story of her. But for now, I just will say, I miss her more than words could ever convey.


A New Addition

Well, it’s been a busy week. A busy life-changing. So busy, I’m posting this week’s blog two days late.

Why so busy? Well, exactly a week ago, we finally got to meet this little dude:

Welcome Arthur “Artie” Kanoa Short! Born November 24, 2019.

To say this last week has been one of the hardest in my life is an understatement. Slowly healing from a tough delivery while desperately trying to care for an often fussy newborn has been exhausting and, yes, humbling.  There have been sleepless nights. There have been tears. But every day gets a little better. A little easier. A little more self-assured.

What’s been really interesting is how much one week has been able to so strongly reinforce some of my biggest learnings from a whole year of my sabbatical:

Some things are simply out of your control

I’ve written a lot about coping with things that are out of your control. Well, it turns out when it came to hurrying along our little guy’s entrance into the world, I did have a little bit of control, as we ended up scheduling an elective induction. But that is where the control stopped.

At one point, I wasn’t dilating as fast as expected. And throughout most of my labor, we were dealing with issues with regulating the baby’s heart rate. When it came to the actual delivery, we had do a vacuum-assist delivery — turns out our not-so-little guy was 9.5 lbs!

I ended up having some major tearing, leaving me a lot more incapacitated post-delivery than I expected. And my recovery will be a longer road than originally anticipated.

It’s been frustrating having to balance my own healing with caring for a newborn.

But when things are out of your control and don’t go according to plan, the only thing you can do is adapt and pivot. 

The plan will change

Ryan and I spent months getting our home and ourselves ready for the baby. We revamped the apartment. We got all of our baby supplies. We took all of the available prenatal classes. We had a plan in place about what the routine would look like when little Artie joined us.

But you know what? Newborns don’t give a fuck about plans. 

That carefully planned breastfeeding schedule? Yeah, it’s kind of hard to follow when your baby throws tantrums every time you try to get him to latch.

The fancy bassinet you bought? It ends up going unused for those first few nights when your newborn seems to only be able to sleep when you hold him.

We’ve had to adjust and try new things. And we will no doubt have to continuously change up the plan.

It’s all about prioritizing

As I mentioned above, we’ve had some issues with breastfeeding. It’s been difficult to get Artie into position to breastfeed without him crying his head off.

Any new mom can attest to the fact that everyone will hammer in the idea that “breast is best” and how important it is to breastfeed. You’ll also hear things about holding off on bottle feeding for at least the first couple of weeks in order to avoid nipple confusion.

Yes, all very important. But you know what else is important? Making sure your baby is being fed enough!

This was especially important for Artie because his bilirubin levels were high and the best way to bring those down is to feed and poop them out (yes, you get to hear about poop in this blog).

My original plan was to exclusively breastfeed in the beginning. But at the end of the day, the biggest priority was making sure Artie got the sustenance he needed. So, in the end, we’ve needed to supplement with formula and bottle feed him with pumped breast milk.

And you know what? He’s perfectly healthy, his bilirubin levels got down, and he has even gotten better about latching onto the breast.

The road ahead

Having a baby is really like being pushed into the deep end. Nothing can truly prepare you for the realities. But I’m looking forward to seeing how the experiences, challenges and trials from this crazy adventure will manifest in new skills and perspectives that I can apply to my career exploration.



A couple of months ago, I wrote about impatience. Specially, I discussed my natural habit of getting impatient when activities take longer than I think; when things don’t go to plan so I have to shift gears, delaying my end goal; when my energy or motivation don’t match the rigorous pace I’ve set for myself, making me quickly fall behind on my original schedule.

It all centered around action and activity. But recently, I’ve experienced a type of impatience that has stemmed from something 1000x more frustrating: knowing an end result is on its way (eventually) but that its arrival is out of my control. In short, knowing that I can’t do anything but wait.

Today is my due date. And our little guy has shown no signs of exiting.

For the last week and a half, I’ve tried almost every trick in the book to try to induce labor. I’ve bounced on the yoga ball. I’ve done squats. I’ve taken evening primrose oil. I’ve gone on long walks. I’ve gotten foot reflexology. I’ve listened to hypnosis videos. And on the TMI end of the spectrum (sorry, mom and dad), I’ve tried nipple stimulation, sex and orgasms.

But none of these actions have contributed. He doesn’t seem to have moved any lower. I haven’t had any contractions. And other signs that labor is nigh are nowhere to be seen. 

It appears my son has inherited my stubbornness and is staying snuggly in the comforts of my uterus.

For someone like me, it’s difficult to resign myself to the fact that some things are simply out of my control … that there is really nothing I can do to influence the outcome. No pivoting. No adjusting the plan. Just … waiting.

This has been and will be a new test for me — what to do when there is nothing to do. How to cope with having no control over anything but my own mindset. Learning how to just wait.

And it will be interesting to see how I can use this experience — and the skills that I (hopefully) gain from it — in my career exploration and sabbatical.

We’ll all just have to WAIT and see.  

…..No. Oh no. I can’t end with a cheesy line like that. Let me instead end with a comment I recently made to a friend:

“It’s definitely humbling realizing that there is so much about this that I don’t have control over.”



I sat in a check-in meeting with my manager at Facebook, going over a gargantuan project that was completely overwhelming me. I was leading the creation of a brand new internal website that was going to be used as a resource for a number of our ad sales teams.

There were pages upon pages of copy to be written. A brand new design to be developed. Special coding needed to be used to let us display different content to different people based on their location and sales team. We needed to find a sustainable way to make sure the information we included was staying up-to-date, as our ad products were always changing. Some of the content needed to be translated into 20+ languages. Oh, and everything needed to be reviewed and approved by numerous people.

Like I said — a gargantuan task.

I rattled off the large list of to-dos, hoping to get some guidance on how best to proceed (and yes, maybe a little sympathy). My manager replied, “Ok, but what’s the MVP?”

I stared blankly at my manager for a minute. Hadn’t I just outlined the long list of needs for this new, revamped, ideal website? I started in on the list again, when my manager quickly interjected: “No, what’s the MVP?”

Now, here’s something you will quickly learn if you ever work in the tech industry: tech people love to use acronyms. And they love to use them without explaining what they mean, assuming everyone else already knows what they mean (we don’t). I don’t know if it’s to save time or just to create some exclusive culture with its own language, but acronyms are de rigueur in the world of tech.

Having grown up in a sports family, to me, MVP stands for “most valuable player.” The best. The top. So, when I hear MVP with regards to this project, I think of what the perfect, ideal product would be.

But from the context of this conversation, I had a feeling my manager meant something different. So I slowly countered, “I don’t think I understand. What do you mean by MVP?”

“Minimal viable product.”

According to Wikipedia, “a minimum viable product (MVP) is a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers and provide feedback for future product development.” So, you know, the opposite of what I originally thought.

I sat there shocked. The perfectionist in me was appalled at the idea of releasing something that was just the bare minimum. Nor did I expect this to be something that was encouraged in a company with seemingly limitless resources.

But upon further reflection, I started to understand the sentiment. Facebook used to have an internal mantra: “Move fast and break things”. The idea was to just get something released (even if there were bugs or we knew things wouldn’t work perfectly) in order to test and iterate. With so many people using Facebook, it would be quick to get enough data to see how to update/fix things. Of course, this didn’t really account for the damaging effects on public opinion, so I should mention that this is no longer a motto (now, it’s just “Move Fast”).

After the meeting, I begrudgingly revisited the project and tried to “trim the fat”, figuring out what was the bare minimum we could do to get this website released. I hated it. But we got the project completed. Well, a version of the project. And it was another thing I could check off my list.

So, why am I talking about some project I did back in my days in tech? Well, it hasn’t been until this sabbatical, and really in these last few months as I’ve prepared for the arrival of our little guy, that I’ve finally understood the value of just aiming for the minimal viable product, the MVP.

Because working toward the MVP isn’t necessarily about compromising and accepting less; it’s about prioritizing and really identifying what’s most important.

Here’s a big example:

When Ryan and I ultimately decided that we would stay in our current apartment rather than moving, we knew we had a lot of work to get done in order to fix up our place and make it comfortable for our expanding family. In my head, I had this picture of what our perfect, redesigned apartment would look like and set out to make an extensive project plan and schedule.

But, of course, life got in the way. And we quickly got behind. I soon became overwhelmed balancing the apartment revamp with other obligations like school, theater, work, etc. This undertaking seemed daunting, and I had no idea how we were going to get everything done.

Then, I realized. We don’t need to get everything done.

So, Ryan and I sat down and sorted our to-do’s into four categories:

  • Must-haves
  • Love-to-haves
  • Like-to-haves
  • Can wait

And like that, a weight was lifted off of my chest. This task was suddenly conquerable. 

And with the baby due any day now, I can say that we’ve pretty much made it through our ‘must-haves’ and have even checked off some of the ‘love-to-haves’ and ‘like-to-haves’.

It’s not that we won’t get to the other items on our list. We just don’t need to feel the pressure to get to them right now

Because when everything is important, nothing is important.

Photo by Julia Caesar on Unsplash

Courage and Vulnerability

I finally recently watched Brené Brown’s The Call to Courage on Netflix. For those unfamiliar with her, Brown is a researcher at the University of Houston who studies courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. Her 2010 TED talk “The Power of Vulnerability” went viral and has close to 45 million views.

When we think about courage, we often picture the strong, confident superhero. But Brown frames courage in another way — it’s about being vulnerable. In fact, in her Netflix special she says, “Vulnerability = uncertainty, risk, emotional exposure. There’s no courage without vulnerability.”

Many people have applauded my courage in going on this sabbatical. But I can’t help thinking that I really haven’t been all that brave. I had a lot of savings and our expenses are relatively low, so I knew there was not much financial risk. It wasn’t going to hurt my professional prospects because (a) I was looking to change fields and (b) these types of sabbaticals are pretty common these days so employers wouldn’t blink, even if I did end up returning to the same industry.

I haven’t even been all that courageous in the way I’ve approached my career exploration. I’ve taken classes, which I knew I would succeed in because school has always come easily to me. I’ve explored content creation more as a hobby where stakes are relatively low and have taken on tasks that I knew I was skilled in. 

It’s been a very controlled and calculated approach to my sabbatical. But in The Call to Courage, Brown states, “Vulnerability is not about winning. It’s not about losing. It’s having the courage to show up when you can’t control the outcome.” 

Now, pre-sabbatical Laura — the control freak — would have cringed at that notion. But even mid-sabbatical Laura is slow to take this path. “Can’t control the outcome” … now, that IS scary.

That’s why I’m proud of a little creative endeavor I took on: directing a staged reading. This was the first piece that I have ever directed! To you, the stakes may seem pretty low. “It’s just a staged reading.” “You’re not even looking to do that professionally.” But for me, this was a big deal.

Imposter syndrome was in full force during the process. I really did not know how skilled I would be and what the finished product would look like. Would the actors hate me? Would my vision be stagnant and boring? Would I even have a clear vision for the piece? Would the reading live up to the writer’s expectations? Would the audience be totally turned off by the piece?

I had plenty of opportunities to back out. I got pregnant, and the reading was a mere two weeks before my due date. I got offered an acting gig that would have conflicted with this. 

But I was determined to stick with it. To do something I had never done. To do something that scared me. To do something that I might fail at.

And parts of the process didn’t come easy. I struggled with scheduling and juggling actors conflicts. I had to sometimes take different approaches to communicating my vision. I had to try things, see they didn’t really work, and then try something new. And I had to accept that some things I had in my head weren’t really going to translate on stage.

Well, that staged reading was last night and … it went great! Was it perfect? No. Are there things I would have changed? Of course! 

But the point is, I showed up. I did the thing I wasn’t sure I would succeed in. And even if it had gone horribly, even if I had failed, it would have been important that I did it anyway.

My wonderful cast takes their bow. Photo: Ryan Lee Short

The play I directed was part of the San Francisco Olympians Festival, an original works staged reading series. This year’s festival runs Wednesday-Saturday, November 6- November 23. Learn more.

Planning, Reflections

The Future of This Sabbatical

For the last two weeks, I’ve shared with you my insights and reflections on this past year off of work. I looked at how I’ve explored the nine careers on my list and my updated thoughts on those potential paths. I also reviewed the various methods I used to explore these new fields and how effective I found them.

Well, enough of looking back. Let’s take a glimpse into the future!

And yes, there is a future for this sabbatical. As I’ve mentioned in many of my previous posts, the baby news immediately changed my plans. What was originally going to be just a year off to dedicate the majority of time, energy and focus to exploring new careers will now be an even longer period of time where I’ll need to balance this exploration with … oh, you know, keeping a tiny human being alive.

So, I’ll get something straight now: this post is not going to outline a strict and specific plan and schedule for the future of my sabbatical. That would be impossible! 

It’s hard to know how the baby is going to affect my time, energy and mental capacity for career exploration. I may be able to balance the two easily. Or I may find that — for a while at least — I need to pause my exploration entirely to focus on the baby. And yes, I may even discover that for financial reasons, I have to put my sabbatical on hold to go back to work full-time for a little bit.

For now, I want to use this post to lay out the things I’d like to focus on in the upcoming months, but with the awareness that all of this could drastically change once the little guy comes into my life.

Revisiting the List

Since January, the majority of my career exploration time has been dedicated to interior design, with content creation being a close second. In fact, as I discussed two weeks ago, I’ve really only touched about half of the careers on my list.

Well, I think it’s time to move on and start exploring some of these other fields. The two I want to focus on are both related: theater administration and acting.

Theater Administration

I figure that starting with at least some theater administration experience is a good way to be exposed to the role of a Theater Executive or Managing Director. Whether it be paid or volunteer, the work would likely need to be part-time only and flexible with hours and location.

I could see myself easily being able to take on part-time marketing and fundraising work immediately, given my past jobs. Eventually, I would want to also get experience on the operations side of things (contracts, budgeting, etc.).

I’ll keep my eyes open for part-time and volunteer opportunities at my local theater companies.


As I’ve written about before, I continue to act for fun. But it’s time to really start treating this as a business. Some things I want to achieve in the upcoming year:

  • Getting new headshots and finally building my acting website
  • Talking to peers who have ‘gone Equity’ or regularly get commercial and other paid work
  • Exploring resources and workshops on the business side of being an actor
  • Researching the advantages and process of getting an agent
  • Dedicating some of my audition and training time to paid work rather than just passion projects

Adding to the List

There may be some new careers I want to look into. Yes, that’s right. Despite the fact that I already have nine careers that I planned to explore, I may be adding to that list! To be fair, I’ve already all but eliminated some of the original nine.

And the thing with this type of exploration is that you never know what you might discover. It can open your eyes to paths you never thought of (such as podcasting) or it can uncover opportunities you forgot you had once considered.

Public Speaking Coaching

One career, in particular, that had once piqued my interest but that I had forgotten about was public speaking coaching.

When I worked at Facebook, I had the opportunity to attend a free, all-day workshop hosted by Own the Room, a company that provides communication and presentation training. I really enjoyed the workshop and remember thinking throughout the day that the coaches leading the training must have a really enjoyable job.

But, of course, this was at a time when I still had those pesky demons like Doubt and Pessimism whispering in my ear. I immediately talked myself out of pursuing this type of work with excuses like how the job would likely require a lot of out-of-town travel and thus conflict with my theater activities.

Now, in retrospect, it’s so silly that I didn’t pursue this type of work more. In my past jobs, when asked to list the elements of my role that I most enjoyed, I consistently identified presenting and training/teaching as the top tasks.

So, I’m adding this one to the list. I think I’ll start by researching companies that focus on this type of work and exploring their qualifications for being a coach. Then, it might be a matter of starting a conversation with people in the field.

The Road Ahead

As I look to the year ahead and possibly many years ahead, I need to remind myself of something that I said at the very beginning of this sabbatical: The plan will change.

Little did I know then how very true that statement would be. And I think having that mindset allowed me to be so flexible this past year with my exploration. I’m determined to keep this same mentality. I need to remember my destination — finding a professional path I’m passionate about — but know that the road (or roads) getting there will be winding and unpredictable.

Photo by Craig Adderley from Pexels


I was having lunch with a friend the other week, and we were both discussing major life decisions (you know, as one does over lunch). 

At one point, he gently reminded me, “You can be … I don’t know if this is the right word — impatient.”

“Impulsive?’ I replied.

“Sure, impulsive.”

I guess both words are appropriate. I’ve been known to be both. I can’t really pinpoint where these traits came from.

Maybe it’s my control freak nature, where I need to have things done my way and I need them done now!

Or maybe it’s this thought I’ve had since as long as I can remember that I am going to die young. I have no idea where this prediction came from. I’m not particularly unhealthy or reckless. I guess I’m just morbid.

And these days, while I feel like I’ve been able to temper both impatience and impulsiveness when it comes to my actions, they still constantly plague my mental state.

Impatience, in particular, has been a pretty nasty demon lately.

“Why haven’t I found my new career path yet?!”

“We’re behind on getting the apartment completely redone before the baby arrives.”

“I need to get x and y and z done by the end of the day or else I’m a complete failure!” (yes, this is where my mind goes sometimes…ok, A LOT of the time)

And while these insidious thoughts do pop into my head often, one thing I will say that I’ve gained from this sabbatical is the ability to talk myself down from the anxiety a lot faster than I could before. I just try to remember a few things:

Most deadlines are of my own making

When I started this sabbatical, I thought it would take no more than a year. But here I am, approaching the one-year mark, and I’m nowhere near knowing what I want to do next in my career. 

Granted, when I found out I was pregnant back in March, I already knew that this sabbatical would last longer than I had originally planned. But part of me thinks that even if a baby wasn’t in the picture, there is a real possibility that I still wouldn’t have known at this point what my next career path should be.

And that’s ok. 

There is no hard and fast rule that says this sabbatical has to be just a year. That time period was pretty arbitrary, actually. 

I guess in my mind, a year seemed like a period of time that others would be comfortable with; it felt easy to explain. But another big goal of this sabbatical is to divorce myself from this need to have others’ approval.

Some things just take longer than you expected

I’ll start with a simple example here. We are repainting our apartment, and this afternoon, I thought I could quickly get our hallway done because it is so small. That would give me time to get the living cleaned up and rearranged. And quickly get this blog post drafted and published.

But alas, the hallway painting took much longer than I thought it would. Doing all the prep work was more difficult (and thus, more time-consuming) than I anticipated. And while the hallway is small with less area to paint, it has a lot more tight spots to get into, which slows down the painting process. To top it all off — I ran out of paint, so I couldn’t even finish the job!

It’s not that I executed this task poorly per se, it’s just that I had unrealistic expectations.

I think I’m experiencing something similar with my exploration of interior design. I’ve been taking classes since January and have been working as a design assistant for a couple of months now. Surely, I should know by now if this is a career I want to pursue. Or at least be leaning one way or the other. But no. I find myself still firmly on the fence — neither persuaded nor dissuaded. So, I’ll take my time and keep going until I know for sure.

It’s ok to change the plan

Remember that apartment revamp I wrote about? Well, the original plan was to do a major purge of all our stuff, repaint the entire apartment, and build out custom storage in almost every room.

But life got in the way. And things just took longer than I expected (see point above).

So, I really had to look at the entire plan and split it up into the “must haves” and the “nice to haves”. For example, we must have the living room repainted and rearranged to make space for the baby stuff and to better host all the visitors we’ll have. But the entire kitchen can wait until after the baby is born.

And, of course, my whole sabbatical plan has changed since becoming pregnant. Baby prep has eaten into time that I could have dedicated to career exploration. And, of course, I’ll have to pause my career exploration altogether for a while after the baby is born.

Sometimes, you just need to forgive yourself

Every now and then, things don’t get done as fast as I originally planned because I simply got too tired. Or lazy. Or I haven’t followed through on steps I should have.

But you know what? At the end of the day, you have to cut yourself some slack. Because it’s not the end of the world! (Pre-sabbatical Laura would gasp in horror at that statement).

I’m not saying I want to let myself get too lax or stop setting challenging goals for myself. I just don’t want to spend so much energy beating myself up if things don’t work out the way I had envisioned.

At the end of the day, I have to remember for whom I’m doing all of this. It’s not my peers who I used to work so hard to impress. It’s not my friends. Or my family. It’s simply … me.

Interior Designer, Reflections

On the Job Learning

I’m wrapping up my fourth week at my part-time job as a Design Assistant with Susie Novak Interiors. It’s amazing how time flies!

I’ve already learned so much — not just about the interior design business, but also about my preferred working style and how well a part-time job fits within my sabbatical plan.

Insights About Interior Design

My interior design classes have given me a good foundation on the concepts, theory and even art of design. However, it’s this job that has really revealed to me what it’s like to actually work in the field, particularly as an independent designer.

This experience has already been so fruitful, that I’ve started stressing to my classmates how important it is to get some hands-on experience in a real office. With just a few weeks under my belt, I’ve learned:

  • How much time is dedicated to each stage of the design process
  • Different ways of bringing on new clients and preparing sales & marketing materials
  • Project management and invoicing tools that work well for independent designers and small firms
  • The abundance of showrooms and vendors in this field and how to get set up with a trade account to get that designer discount
  • Different ways of charging for your design work and for purchasing furniture, furnishings, etc. on behalf of your clients

How I Like to Work

I’ve also reflected on the areas of this work that I particularly enjoy. I’ve really like sourcing inspiration photos and adding them to our Pinterest boards — it unlocks my imagination and creativity. And, of course, I’ve enjoyed drafting! That’s no surprise, given how much I liked my AutoCAD class. I’m learning a new program for drafting floor plans but have also been able to use my AutoCAD skills to mock up some room elevations and designs for a custom cabinet.

But beyond that, I’ve also learned a lot about my preferred working style: 

Right now, the hours of my job are set week to week, based on the other things in my schedule as well as the work needs for the business. And that has been great! Not only does it provide me the flexibility to accommodate the other activities in my life, but it also guarantees that my time is always put to good use. No twiddling my thumbs before the next task comes in or wasting time just waiting for 5 o’clock to come around. If I’m working, it’s because there are certain tasks that need to get done. It really makes the time go by quickly, and I end the work day feeling energized and accomplished.

I also realized that I like to have a clear to-do list but the autonomy to decide how and when I complete each task. And related to that — I need variety! It’s nice being able to switch from sourcing furniture pieces to drafting up a floor plan to working on sales materials to even getting out of the office to pick up samples from the design district.

Part-time Work & My Sabbatical

As I’ve alluded to earlier in this post, this part-time job has been a great contributor to the goals of my sabbatical. The key, of course, was taking on a position that was related to one of the careers I set out to explore.

In just four weeks, I feel like I already have a lot more insights into what it would really be like to work as an interior designer. And I’m determined to take this approach as much as possible with my exploration of the other careers on my list.

It’s also been helpful, mentally, to add this part-time job to my sabbatical repertoire. I feel a lot more accomplished — not only in getting stronger and faster insights into this career path and my working style but also in the fact that I’m bringing in money again. 

While I’m still not 100% sure if interior design is the right path for me, I’m confident that this position will help me figure that out more quickly.


Another Perspective

This sabbatical has really centered around finding the career path I’m passionate about. So, it was interesting watching this TEDx Talk from career coach Ashley Stahl that actually cautions against putting too much stock into just pursuing passion. She talks about going beyond just “what you love” and finding “what you are”.

I’m not sure if I 100% agree with her take, but I do think it would be a good exercise to think about the three questions she posed:

  1. What am I good at?
  2. What do people tell me I’m good at?
  3. What’s holding me back?

I’ll be ruminating on these questions over the next week to see if the exercise helps uncover some new thoughts on the path of my sabbatical.



My husband and I are off to Hawai’i today for our babymoon and a much-needed week of general sloth and eating way too much food. I’m determined to unplug this week with limited time online and little interaction on social media. I just need a little mental break from the craziness of this world. So much so, that I’m publishing this week’s post two days early so that I don’t have to worry about it during my trip.

Surprisingly, given how much of a workaholic I am and how I usually can’t stand being idle, I’ve actually always been very good about disconnecting (from work, at least) during vacations. I think part of it is that I’ve always gone out of town for my breaks, and I appreciate travel as a valuable and productive experience in life. 

But I know that a lot of people have a hard time completely unplugging, often finding themselves checking in on work email during their vacation and maybe squeezing in a little bit of actual work. So, for today’s post, I scoured the internet for some good tips on disconnecting from work during a vacation:

Declutter your digital space

It takes a lot of time to unsubscribe from emails you don’t care about, unfollow accounts that annoy you, and tailor your notification settings. The quickest way to have the same effect? Deleting the entire app. You know your problem apps; just uninstall them, even if it’s only during your trip or for a few days at a time. Turning your phone back into a phone is pretty liberating.


Turn off your push notifications

You’ll be far less tempted to check in if there’s nothing new and exciting calling to you.


Set up a smart out-of-office reply

When you set up the vacation auto-responder message on your primary work account, write a message that helps you avoid the dreaded backlog that typically awaits your return: let your correspondents know that you may not review all the messages you receive in your absence, and that they should email you again after X date if they need a reply. As a courtesy, provide an alternate way of addressing their issue more quickly, such as contacting your assistant or colleague.


Assign a gatekeeper

Find a co-worker to notify you in case there’s an actual emergency at work. Give this person your hotel phone number only. And, heck, let it ring if you want.


Leave your work computer behind

You probably don’t need a computer on vacation at all, but you might want to bring one (or a tablet) for watching movies, researching things to see and do or to spontaneously book a hotel somewhere. But leave your work computer behind. There are too many temptations to check email in the morning, get a head start on a project or even pop over to Slack. Remember, the point of vacation is to disconnect from work, so leave the computer behind and you won’t have the option to open it.


Ask your travel companions to hold you accountable

The people with whom we share our vacations want to spend time interacting with us, not listening to or watching us interact with our technology. If we need help dealing with technology withdrawal during that first day or two, we can make a pact with a friend or spouse to swap cell phones, so no one gets distracted.


Until next week. Aloha!