A Creative Sabbatical...

Hanging out in Sydney

Greetings from Sydney!

I hope you had a lovely weekend and Mother's Day! I spent the day in Sydney with two of my four children, daughter #1, Miss Christine and son #2, Connor. On Mother's Day I caught up via Facetime with son #1, Patrick and daughter #2, Miss Claire, who jumped in with a photo from Botswana to wish me a Happy Mother's Day. Mr. H checked in from Hong Kong making my day complete. It was a cool..ish, rainy autumn day...we cooked, talked, read and relaxed together. I knew my day was on the right track when Connor suggested we watch a 'mom' movie together, Under the Tuscan SunI have trained him well!  I love hanging out, something I rarely get to do these days...it is the perfect time for letting your thoughts run away from you.

Miss Claire jumping in Botswana

And my thoughts did run away with me and this is what I thought.... ;)

Imagine...you have six months or a year to yourself and you can go anywhere in the world (expenses paid) on your own to pursue whatever creative endeavour you fancy.  It's your time to do as you please...either on your own or with others. What would you do?

Did you think of an answer right away or is it something you have to think about? 

What would be your ideal 'creative me time'? 
Would you travel far or stay close to home?
Would you travel solo or bring along a special someone or a few of them?
Would you learn a new skill or perfect an existing one?
Would it involve a mentor, a specialist in your creative interest?

I would love to know your thoughts.

If that is to much to handle on a Monday...try this. 

Ever thought about taking a creative sabbatical? Just saying to yourself..."now's the time to open that creative window again, what have I got to lose? 

I think you and I should take a creative sabbatical...one of our own making. I have a few months in one country up my sleeve...I think I can swing this. How about you?

Is there something you have been wanting to do? Take a class, join a club, tackle a project...all in the name of 'creative time'? Are you stuck, just needing a push to kick start a creative interest? 

I have been in this mindset for a few months, searching high and low for my creative energy. It sort of went walkabout a while back and I have been patiently waiting for it's return. Know what? Waiting is not a solution! I have often thought that I need a life coach...someone who can look at all the things I do, listen to me babble on about my life and all the ideas I have and tell me what to do. I haven't completely ruled out that idea but I don't think I am quite ready for it either. I want to take this creative journey on my own ...I am always up for a good journey. ;)

Sometimes creativity flows from the act of doing the things we enjoy. I like writing to you, love a good book, getting dirty in a gardenwalking, listening to inspiring podcasts and music, playing with my cameras and testing myself in the kitchen. I would like to put more quality time into each and add a few more skills to my creative base. 

I recently signed up for a silversmithing class. I have always thought about designing jewellery and told myself to get off the stick and just do it. I am one class down and am curious. It's a start...and it feels good.

I rejoined an International book club that I belonged to when we last lived in Sydney, 12 years ago. I can only join in on a few meetings but I am looking forward to it. Reading now...My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout. Have you read it? Any books you would like to recommend?

I found a 12 week online sketching class. In my life before blogging, I wrote and sketched in journals...secretly. I transferred my writing to this blog and gave up sketching. I miss it and now feel I  am ready to  come out of the sketching closet...once I take a few lessons. ;)

I just love this online teaching world..it is so well suited to my world. I have been researching writing classes and seminars...who knew researching could be so much fun! 

A friend and I took a cooking class recently with the very talented authors of Monday Morning Cooking Club. I was so inspired by their story and recipes I just had to go. They cooked and we tasted Syrian Pita Bread, Roasted Beetroot Dip, Kale Salad with Gouda, Baja Fish Tacos, Coconut Rose Malabi and Halva Biscuits. Yum to the tenth degree...especially the Coconut Rose Malabi!

My creative notebook is filling up fast in addition to my travel notes for Sydney. I will have a post on my Sydney favourites soon. If you are interested in my Hong Kong travel notes, I recently updated them here. If you are interested in Vietnam, you can find my travel tips here

It has been the year of the podcast for me. I spend a lot of time on the road and in the air and find it the perfect travel companion. A few on my list to listen to a second time because I enjoyed them so much the first...Tim Ferriss with author Cheryl Strayed. I also enjoyed his thought provoking interviews with graphic designer, Debbie Millmanhere and here.

I love to share what inspires me and I find most of all that you inspire me! For all the years I have been writing Collage of Life and I admit the past years have been slim in writing...I am so very appreciative of you.. hanging in there with me. I thought I would be coming to point in our expat life where things would slow down...but as you can see, not a chance! I will be back to Tahilla Farm next month, Botswana and Zambia shortly after and then...Sydney, Hong Kong and back to Tahilla Farm by the end of year.  Life is in full swing!

As always, I love what you have to say. If you have thoughts you would like to share, creative pursuits or anything else, I am all eyes. I know others would love to read what you have to say too! If you would like to share, just say the word.

I am researching creative retreats. If you have any you would like to recommend, I would love to know!

You can write to me jeannecollageoflife@gmail.com

I will sign off with a little something to 
kick start your week 
where It's always about the food
in Sydney.

"The value of life does not depend 
on the place we occupy; 
it depends on the way 
we occupy that place."
St. Therese of Lisieux

Best wishes for a creative week!

Jeanne xx


  1. Interesting post. Happy Mother's Day!
    A personal trainer is a lovely idea.

    For anywhere in the world, I'd be pretty much be as I am now except for making friends, a quaint apartment, and ancient ruins nearby. I'd picnic, paint, write, and nap under shade trees (with a mosquito net hat on), and, with friends.

    1. I like the way you think May.... picnic, paint, write, nap...under the shade of a tree (mosquito net included!) with friends. I feel the creative energy already! May I add a glass of champagne with that? ;)

  2. Oh the life you lead! With all the traveling you do between here and there and back again I don't know how you have time to do anything creative. As for me, right now I seem to be totally void of creativity, but I'm always open to the next idea.

    1. Linda...my mantra is simple... CREATIVTY = SANITY
      I often find myself in need of a major sanity check...creative inspiration does the trick!

  3. I ADORE the photo of your daughter JUMPING for JOY with her SIGN!!!!BRILLIANT!
    AS for that last QUOTE..............I think I have NAILED THAT ONE!
    NO time to go through the other questions.............just know YOU ARE ONE BUSY BEE and I could NEVER keep up with YOU!XX

    1. My Miss Claire is a SWEETHEART...I only wish I could keep up with her! ;) xx

  4. Oh, my, your post has sent my brain whirring like a spinning top! I would have to give serious thought to where I might wish to devote myself to a nourishing/instructive life. Perhaps it's because my curiosity takes me off in all directions. At this juncture of my life, however, I find I'm most desirous of spending quality time and activities with my loved ones with a focus on new experiences. It sounds like you're doing just that: spending time with loved ones and expanding your experiences! Happy travels!

    1. I couldn't agree more Susan, even the simplest experiences can provide a tremendous boost to your creativity. I sometimes have to push myself along with new experiences, I find Instagram a good motivator as I look for photos that are fresh and new. Exploring new places or just finding different ways to look at things makes a difference. A nourishing and instructing life is a good way to describe it, thank you!! xx

  5. Your blog posts are always fun and interesting to read Jeanne and you always seem to come up with the most amazing ideas and projects. Looks like you;ve found yourself a rental with a wonderful view. I could sit for hours on your balcony just looking at the beautiful view.

  6. Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life. A post which
    makes me thinking

  7. How about doing something that you always fancied doing? Some kind of a once in a lifetime adventure? A few years ago, friends of mine decided to circumnavigate the world. Step one was to purchase a schooner to do the trip, and next, line up others to join in. This took a year. They are still talking about this adventure. Regarding the 'life coach,' having no experience with such a specialist, I'd be curious as to what might percolate upon meeting with this type of individual. Does this open new doors? Alternatively, taking on an assortment of activities/projects to pursue creative outlets of interest sounds pretty fantastic. Whatever you decide, you could fly-out friends/family members to join you. Your entire family seems pretty adventurous and up for anything. Sounds like the sky is the limit. Enjoy. Susan

    1. Thank you Susan! Circumnavigating the world! Wow...that's one fantastic journey! I have the same question about Life Coaches..I guess if you find the right one and have a connection, it could open you to ideas you hadn't thought of before..at least that is what I would hope for. Some times these things are staring you right in the face, you just need someone to help you see it. Curious.... :)

  8. As little as you know about me, Jeanne, I'm sure you know I would love to be traveling. With time enough, and money, I could be free as a bird. Although I have traveled a bit alone, it would be nice to have a congenial travel partner who would like to do things together but one brave enough to branch out and make their own personal discoveries. My most suitable travel partner would be my best friend for more than 50 years. But she now is taking care of a husband in extremely poor health and is not in the best of health herself. Even short trips that we have taken together in the past have been a lot of fun because we like to do so many of the same things. Now I like to do things for her that will keep her cheered up as I think she sometimes lives vicariously through things that I do and places that I go--just like your readers do with you, Jeanne. Couldn't do without you!

    1. Thank you Judy..I think it is wonderful that you have been able to have such a long and supporting friendship and you are doing what best friends do so well...they are there for each other. You keep me going Judy, thank you! :) xx

  9. Hi Jeanne
    You are so often in tune with exactly what I am thinking and say it before I have managed to articulate it even to myself. This is why I follow you and so enjoy your posts -- I am sure we would be good friends if we ever met!
    I am going through a bit of an existential crisis now -- having retired (really just given up work as I'm not yet a retiree) last year I have spent the year since supporting family and recovering from a major foot operation. So I am currently wondering how to spend the rest of my life to avoid the risk of just being a granny and domestic slave. Hasten to add that being a granny and supporting my daughter is a huge joy -- but want to avoid being taken for granted and under appreciated with the consequent resentment and self pity.
    So -- "creative me time" would be studying -- architectural history, art history (particularly ottoman and middle eastern), ethnography and anthropology are high on the list.
    Yes I would travel. A huge regret is that I have never lived abroad -- and one of the reasons I admire and enjoy your blog and experiences. I should like to spend long enough in another city to no longer be a tourist there. Minimum of 3 months I should think. Long enough to have been to the galleries and museums properly and several times, to have identified favourite neighbourhoods and shops and restaurants and to feel that you have at least scraped the surface of daily life and have some sense of how the city and local life works. Rome, New York, Florence, Hong Kong, Istanbul for example.
    Alone? Yes but only temporarily. Having spent so many years trying to support and manage everyone else I should love to just find out what I can do by myself without having to consider everyone else first. I'm not sure they would really understand this and would worry about me -- particularly Mr P -- but it is not in any way a threat or criticism! Just that having been a wife and mother and now granny for almost all of my adult life there is a sense that before its too late it would be good to do some things by myself.
    I'd probably very quickly become lonely and race home to them convinced they couldn't manage with out me! Anyway, ideally they could all come and join me from time to time.
    New skill -- I'm not good enough at those I already claim to have and probably too old to ever become good enough at anything else but if I was really going to try then it would be sailing -- now what about the Round the World Race?! That would certainly require a mentor -- or several!
    Please keep throwing out these provocative posts -- such fun to make me think.
    C x

    1. Thank you so much Ceri...I just loved waking up to your comment this morning! Where do we begin? Firstly, yes! I agree, I am sure we would be good friends if we ever met! How many years have we been writing to each other now? I remember the first letter, in fact, I am sure I still have it. I love the connection we have made.

      On to the existential crisis...I get it and I think your "creative me time" list is fascinating. Where would you begin? It would be a tough decision...yet I see them as interconnected.

      In regards to travel, I agree, to step out of 'tourist mode' and live the 'everyday' is a rewarding experience. Three months is a good bench mark and funny you should mention gallerires and museums...they are at the top of my list too. I was wondering how much time you would need to give to fully absorb it all. I think solo time is a great thing especially when we have spent years cherishing those time when we might just have a few hours to apprecaite 'me time'. I have had that time at Tahilla Farm and I enjoy it...although, the days seem to pass with longer and longer to do lists...if I had to calculate 'creative me time'...it would be slim. Perhaps that is why I find the thought of a creative sabbatical so intriguing, one of your own making.

      Sailing, yes! That must go on your list, just imagine the surprise when you ask the family to step aside while you take the helm!

      So glad you are thinking with me...happy thoughts to you! xx

  10. Hello Jeanne,

    Sounds like life is good and your family are all living their exciting lives. Your silver smithing course sounds fabulous too. Your live has great variety and you are blessed to have so many interests.
    What a fabulous question you ask. My immediate wish would be to be with my art partners, painting and exploring. To have the freedom to sketch from break of day and to pull all night painting sessions if one felt like it. To have a chef prepare our meals. To be free of responsibilities.
    Many years ago I attended a seminar hosted by Tony Robbins. It was a 2 day workshop called "Constant and Never Ending Improving" It was one of the best lessons for me and I still apply what I heard. Essentially we are on a journey of constantly growing and improving. A curiosity and love for learning is what I took from this seminar. There is so much to learn.
    Your book club sounds interesting too. I belonged to a Book Club in Canada which I loved. Our leader has a PhD in English Literature and we read Canadian literature and American literature. Books I would not have chosen and they challenged us but loved and so many of those stories remain with me. I am looking to find a similar book club here in Ireland. I am a slow reader too
    I loved looking at your journal and sketches. Are you familiar with Sarah Midda's writing and sketching?
    So Jeanne, I am now buzzing and thinking of your excellent question and I shall have sweet dreams
    Fondest wishes
    Helen xx

    1. I hope you had the sweetest of dreams Helen and that you were able to remember them! Even better if you were able to write them down. So of my favourite journal entries over the years start with "I had this dream..."

      I love your idea for a creative sabbatical and even better the idea of having a chef prepare your meals. It provides even more time to 'go deep' in the creative process. I can see you all doing just that!

      Interesting you should mention Tony Robbins, I have just started listening to his podcasts. I connected with him via Tim Ferriss podcasts. I like what Tony has to say. I can see how he would have inspired you in 2 day workshop, that man has the magic touch when in it comes to the spoken word.

      I have Sara Midda's 'In and Out of the Garden'...i found it tucked away in a used bookshop and have since treasured my secret disocovery. Her book sits on my 'inspiration' shelf...I love her work.

      Wishing you a wonderful week Helen...fillled with creative inspiration!

      Jeanne xx

  11. Hello Jeanne, YES, creative endeavours. What is more enriching to the spirit? I take short two-day courses from time to time in different subjects, and have done for years. It's a side of life that is necessary to me and some of my happiest moments have come from both the courses and the creative thrust that often endures for a long time in their wake. The other day I emptied out a drawer filled with old paints, papers and photos of artefacts I've made over the last 20 years at least. Some I had forgotten; all gave me pleasure. I had the same smile on my face I experience when I look through my row of photo albums; happy days.
    In answer to your question, I am dreaming of spending a month, a term, I dare not imagine longer, at the Cecil School in Florence (I live in England), learning, first to draw from life, then to paint portraits. I currently do an evening class once a week in life drawing, with a live model, and over the past year I have also been taking monthly two-day courses (from a different tutor) in pencil and charcoal portrait drawing, this time using photographs. I would really like now to up the ante and attend this school in Italy which teaches the classical method for portraiture and full-figure drawing and painting. Like you, my children are grown up but I still have a full-time job (University lecturing) and a (lovely) husband. For the moment I do have just a long summer holiday but I am thinking of 'retiring' next year and I want to use that time well to pursue creative activities. Learning keeps us young..
    Tricia x
    By the way, I so enjoy your blog which covers so many different topics. Always stimulating!

    1. Happy days indeed Tricia! I love that you take the two-day courses for that 'creative lift'.

      I know that smile...the one you experience when you see something you treasure.

      Your creative quest to the Cecil School in Florence is wonderful. I am imagining a scene right out of the Merchant-Ivory film, 'A Room With a View'..with Cousin Charlotte, Eleanor Lavish and Lucy Honeychurch trailing behind you. Let's throw in Mr. Beebe too...because I love Mr. Beebe.

      Italy after that...perfect! You are so right, learning keeps us young, so important to have a plan as we embrace the notion of 'retiring'..or rather a long term creative sabbatical. ;0

      So happy to see that you are enjoying my blog posts, sporadic and crazy as they are. I always think I should stick to one topic..but it is not in my nature. I ramble at will...happily.

      Sending you a big creative wave from Sydney to London...

      Jeanne xx

  12. Your posts are always like chatting with a friend. I'm thinking I'd like the overalls in eggplant since I'm a color person but thinking about how I'd look in them makes me change my mind!

  13. What a happy post. I think I'll go watch the film (again). You made me nostalgic.


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Can I just say....that I so enjoy what YOU have to say. If you would like to write to me directly, I would love to hear from you... jeannecollageoflife@gmail.com

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