Time Off


What Would DJB Do?

Taking extended time away from work is a luxury for many Americans – not to mention for many citizens of the world. As the oligarchs have taken over large parts of our economy, the 90% are pressured to work ungodly hours and take time off at their peril. One of the most telling – and incredibly sad – segments of Michael Moore’s “act of guerrilla humanity” called Where to Invade Next is his reporting about how other countries provide their workers so much more time off than U.S. companies AND realize more productivity.  Imagine that.

All of this is to say that I feel very fortunate to work for an organization that has a sabbatical policy to encourage creative, restful, and restorative time off.  Several of my colleagues have taken a sabbatical in recent years – some to travel, others to work for preservation groups in other countries, and still others to work on projects for their faith communities.  In each case they came back with refreshed perspectives and energy for their work.

My last day in the office before heading off for the first three-quarters of a sabbatical at the American Academy in Rome was Friday.  (I’ll take the last quarter in August.)  After 40 years of work (I started my professional career immediately after graduation from college), I feel that I’m getting a bit of a gap year…even if it is only 8 weeks. And I know how precious this time is.  My sister texted today to say my 90-year-old father was in the ER with shortness of breath.  It turns out that it was not related to his heart, but it was just another reminder of the fragile nature of life.

Before heading off, my management team gathered earlier this week to review our plans for the time I’m away. Each team member arrived with a coffee cup which – when turned to face me – had my picture and the letters “WWDJBD?” plastered across the mug. “What Would DJB Do?” Oh my! They said that when they were faced with a tough decision, they would pick up their coffee cups and get – I don’t know – inspiration? We had a great laugh. As you can see, my assistant checked my pictures and they chose to go with the “relaxed DJB” – from a photo taken by Claire on a beach trip a few years ago.  I wonder if they had as tough a choice as the postal service did when choosing between the “skinny Elvis” and the “fat Elvis” back in the day.

I am very grateful that Candice and I will have this opportunity together.  Andrew will hold down the fort at home, yet both of the twins will find time to visit us while we’re away. I’ll post as many pictures as possible, and – hopefully – a few thoughtful reflections as well.

More to come…


9 Responses

  1. Que viaje bien, David and Candice! Have a wonderful time! (How could you not?!) So glad I got to see you when I was here…until the next time…be well, and enjoy…xoxo

    • Thanks, Janet. It was good to spend time with you, and we’ll look forward to catching up on both our travels when we’re next together. DJB

  2. Have a wonderful trip! We will live vicariously through you! Love you brother.

  3. What a marvelous time you will have in the Eternal City! So many priceless antiquities and art to behold, and examples of how to and not to preserve them. Just saw an article about the shortage of money in Italy’s preservation budget because of it’s fiscal crisis. Have a wonderful time doing as much sightseeing as you possibly can!

  4. David, I had a sabbatical semester last fall and it is truly a precious experience. Have a wonderful rejuvenating time.

    • Thanks, Gwen. I think I’ve prepared to the point where I can focus on Rome and leave the day-to-day behind. All the best – DJB

  5. […] family’s biggest 2016 adventure was my six-week sabbatical at the American Academy in Rome during March and April, and an additional two weeks of sabbatical during August in Maine.  Candice […]

  6. […] left for Rome in early March, and Time Off was my post to set the stage for my sabbatical. I had a number of nice comments from friends and […]

  7. […] “Fighting your micromanaging impulses might be hard at first so pull back slowly. You need to get comfortable, too. Do a test run on a project that is a bit less urgent and give your team full accountability and see how it goes . . . Recognize that your way is not the only, or even necessarily, the best way. The acid test of leadership is how well the team does when you’re gone.” (Side note:  I’m reminded of how my team tackled my absence during a sabbatical—and made me laugh at myself in the process—with their What Would DJB Do? (WWDJBD?) mugs.) […]

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