Taking time off

Jenny Lawton
Jenny’s Thinkings
4 min readJul 11, 2016

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I am taking the summer off. I left my full time job and I’m doing a lot of different things. And I know that this is a luxury. A luxury that I am most grateful for.

Why am I taking time off? Between me and my husband we have four kids and only two of them are relatively on their own. One is going to college next year and the other just starting high school. So, seems like a hell of a time to take some time off. Yes, a luxury.

I need the time off. I feel like I’ve been working since I was a teenager and as an adult, working long stretches of total flat out sprinting marathons kind of work. My brother is 8 years younger than me and so, from the age of 9 I’ve been babysitting. By the time I was in high school I was basically doing nanny and day care level babysitting, running my own birthday party business, selling calligraphy services, waitressing and hostessing and teaching flute lessons. Once I went to college, I was the student manager for the freshman food service hall, started a dessert cafe, typed papers for people, tutored and worked as an RA and tutor and mentor for the Academic Opportunity Program for 3 of the 4 summers and then after college I started working.

In 1991, a few months after my first child was born, I started a business and ran hard with that until I sold it in 1999 and ran hard with scaling a newly public company in the newly minted wild west of the Internet until I took a step off the crazy travel and adrenalin laced work world after 9/11 to buy an independent bookstore … and open another and buy a cafe … for another 7 years.

The bookstores and cafe were a break — right? Small business is idyllic and easy. The softball retirement dream everyone has. Not. What an amazing experience but softball retirement it wasn’t. It was more like a slow leak of retirement into funding community treasures so that kids had awesome places to learn to love books and find their community roots inside of. And then I leapt right back into the world of business and have been hard at it until May 31.

So, I’m going to take the summer (mostly) off and take some time to just be. To wake up and love the morning quiet and the sounds of the world waking up. To sit and grok with the dogs. Spend time talking with people about what their dreams are and how they want to achieve them — and offer my experiences in hope that they help along the way. Mentor. Advise. Listen. Grow friendships. Play tennis. Visit family. Make connections. Watch my heart rate go down month over month and to finally average over 7 hours of sleep a night. To laugh more and snap less.

To get bored. A little bored every day.

My oldest son, Thomas’, 4th grade teacher counseled us that in the summer time, we needed to let Thomas get bored. And not interfere with his boredom. Let him get bored and then find his way out of the boredom. And, when I think about it, this is what I did day in and day out as a kid — I spent my day going in and out of boredom but not being directed or entertained by a parent (okay, there’s stories to tell still). And so, periodically I share this same bit of wisdom with anxious go getter employees who want to know when and how quickly they can keep leveling up the ladder of life. I counsel that you need to get bored, sometimes, to really know what’s next.

I truly have no reason to get bored. I have list upon list of things to do with varying degrees of desire to do them versus have them done. And I have endless ways I can spin my hours — devouring books serious of frivolous, walking the dogs, planting my garden, filing away years of pictures, alphabetizing the books, categorizing collections, doing the laundry, cleaning the house, exploring my state, emailing friends, visiting people both virtually and for real and it goes on and on.

I like grinding it all down to a slow pace and letting my mind just be and seeing where it all ends up. Slowing my breathing down. Feeling my body relax and just taking it all in as the world spins by. Letting the day unfold in whichever way it wants.

I already know that this is going to be just a few weeks of treasured time. I’ll be back at the go-go life that fuels my endlessly revving mind and will have this summer to look back on and draw energy and comfort from. In the meantime, I’m loving picking and choosing what I do. Making sure I do it with intention and care.

By September, I’ll know where I’ll be spending my days. I’ll know how I’m going to invest my time in to make an impact in my community. And I’ll know how I’m going to make sure that I hold onto the peace so that I stay a whole person as I slowly swim back to the top.

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Jenny Lawton
Jenny’s Thinkings

entrepreneur, mentor, advisor, mother, wife, dog parent and lover, tennis player : changing the world one woman and entrepreneur at a time