Join us in welcoming back our Executive Director, Jodi Levine, who recently returned from a 3 month sabbatical. 

When people use the word sabbatical they are usually speaking about a teacher taking a school year off to pursue research, travel, writing, or some such professional growth. The fact is, however, that the root of the word sabbatical is the Greek word sabbaton. Sabbaton traces back to the Hebrew word shabbath, which is also the root of our word sabbath, which means rest. So while many might call Jodi’s time away from Earthroots a personal leave, it is more accurate to refer to it as a sabbatical. As she prepared to return to her position as Founder and Executive Director, she took some time to write down reflections from her time away.

Rest is critical. So often in my life as a mom of two young children and Earthroots (my creative child), I have found myself rushing from one thing to the next without the gift of space to take it all in. I am so grateful to have had the past few months to exhale and give space to the things in life that were passing by in a blink of an eye. 

When I told people I was on sabbatical, the first question was usually, “Are you going somewhere special?” Then, “What will you do with all of your free time?”

It often took me a minute to respond, because this sabbatical was more inward for me. I needed a STAY-battical, LOL. Instead of looking for big, outward experiences to fill this sacred time away from my usual work life, I took the time to reflect on ways to make my life more of what I want it to look like moving forward, and taking steps in that direction. I mostly stayed local, tended to myself, my family and my home. Goals on my sabbatical list included: organizing the house (decluttering feels so good), regular self-care practices (baths, meditation, journaling, nature connection, inner work), more intentional time with my kids (full moon hikes, playdates, special one on one time, Disneyland!), and things like that. I’m still raising two kids, so life is full… but with more space in between all of the running around.

Another question people asked was “How’s your sabbatical going?” My favorite moments were planting, tending, harvesting, and eating from my garden, visiting family and friends, establishing and strengthening self-care practices and doing a few projects around the house that needed some TLC. I also took a course on sewing with buckskin, and have been working on a few craft projects. So, my answer is that it’s going really well.

I’m not going to sugar-coat it. Believe it or not, the sabbatical took some getting used to. There are a lot of attachments to being an integral part of a work team, and I love my job… so it was hard at first to change my focus and let go of all the work related tasks running through my mind. Big Oak Canyon has my heart, and even when not working, I am thinking of the land. Programs are in full swing, and there are a lot of moving pieces that I have been carrying since the first Earthroots classes 17 years ago. There was an emotional transition period of “letting go” at the start of the sabbatical that I did not expect. After a couple of weeks, it got easier and now I’m loving the new confidence that has developed between me and the Earthroots team. They did an incredible job during my absence.

This sabbatical was a nourishing gift for me and my family, and a growth moment for Earthroots.

In preparation for my time away, our organization developed a plan to ensure a successful continuation of our programs and staff culture during my absence. It involved creating new procedures, imagining and hiring new positions and current staff expanding their roles within Earthroots. I am so grateful for the Earthroots board of directors and staff for supporting me in this opportunity. Good things came for everyone by me stepping aside and taking a rest. My children had lots of mama time, my home is more organized, the Earthroots team is stronger, and I am returning with renewed vitality.

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