The Sabbatical Part Deux Review

I just completed my second sabbatical break this week. Redgate Software is an amazing employer and we give employees a six week sabbatical every five years. I was overdo, and finally took mine in Jan/Feb of this year, with the third one coming up in 3 1/2 years. In any case, all the posts tagged Sabbatical and named “Part Deux” documented this break.

I had written about my plan before starting the break. This time I wasn’t as structured as I was for the first one, but overall, I think things worked out well. I dropped a few thoughts in an editorial, but this post looks back at how I did with my initial plans.


I think I did best here. I played most days, often for an hour or more. I watched a lot of YouTube videos, and even worked through parts of a few courses. I’d subscribed to GuitarJamz late last year and started building up some strength and calluses in my fingers. I worked through some exercises and learned some songs. I’ve followed Marty Schwartz on YouTube for years, and this was a good time to focus.

I also discovered Six String Fingerpicking and started working through some of his all time top songs. I managed to work through the top ten, though I just barely know them. I’m not that good with all of them, but my wife did enjoy hearing me play. She thinks I improved quite a bit.

This was a random assortment of songs, and I added a few more in there. What I think I did well was learn these things at a competent, not performing, level:

  • Blackbird
  • True Colors
  • Everybody Hurts
  • Wonderful Tonight
  • Ain’t No Sunshine
  • Wherever You Will Go
  • Every Breath You Take
  • 12 Bar Blues progression

I lightly knew these songs, but I improved quite a bit and learned a few things I had been playing wrong/poorly:

  • More Than Words
  • Fast Car
  • Landslide
  • House of the Rising Sun
  • Good Riddance
  • Iris
  • Hey There Delilah
  • Hallelujah
  • Slow Dancing in a Burning Room
  • I Walk the Line
  • Strong Enough
  • All My Loving
  • With a Little Help From My Friends

Lots of improvement here, and a good hobby I’ve enjoyed. Looking forward to taking this further in the future.

The Basement

I had hoped to not only clean the basement, but rework some framing and perhaps drywall a bit. The reality is that I underestimated the amount of junk and how quickly I’d fill our dumpster. It’s only emptied every other week and with the weather being poor, it wasn’t a good time to try and get a larger container.

I did clean out about half of it and organized things. I also managed to donate three or four carloads of things to Goodwill and the library. A vast improvement, but not what I wanted. The existing framing was in worse shape than I thought, so I didn’t tackle any of that. Ultimately, I pivoted a bit on this.

The Garage

The same thing here as the basement, though this was more weather related. I had hoped to clean out and reorganize some of my workshop areas, but this was a big project and I didn’t have good space to work when the weather was bad. Between cars, my son’s motorcycle and a riding mower, I couldn’t get going. When I was ready, it was freezing in there, so I abandoned most of this.

A failure, a bit, in my mind.

Barn Projects

One of the things I didn’t plan was barn/ranch projects for my wife. However, I did get a few things done here. I repaired a few of the feeders that I’ve built over the years and I managed to cover a building in metal.

Perhaps the biggest project was getting an electric winch into the riding arena to raise and lower the door. We’ve done this manually for years, with a hand crank. Every one of us has climbed onto a barrel to lower this slightly, then go unhook the door, then come back and open the door. When we’re done, we reverse that, resulting in four barrel climbs every day or two.

I replaced this with an electric winch and a remote, so there’s no need to climb, but also we can hook/unhook the door at the door without walking back and forth. My wife’s employees love this.

I had to engineer a way to attach this winch to the frame, which was custom metalwork for me. I then had to wire this to a battery and add a solar panel to keep it charged.


Across the last month, this has worked well and everyone appreciates it. I even pleased myself with my work at the end of the sabbatical, trying to get hay to horses. This was one thing I’m quite proud of.

I also identified a few other repairs I need to make across the next couple months. These are things I’ve let go and not checked on. I wasn’t aware how bad things had gotten with all my travel, but now I know I need to focus on some side projects around work.

Health and Illness

I wanted to take care of myself during the break, hitting the gym, getting massages, and snowboarding. I ended up with these stats in six weeks:

  • 5 massages
  • 7 days snowboarding
  • 28 gym workouts

Good progress. In 42 days, I had 35 workouts. Not fantastic, but good. The limiting factor in most of this was my health. I fought a cold for about 2 1/2 weeks, just struggling to get healthy. It only knocked my down in bed for a couple days, but I was moving slow.

Overall, this wasn’t much better than I might have taken care of myself while at work, other than the massages. Those are hard to fit in. Not great progress, but a lot less stress.

That might be the best part of this break. My stress and concern with getting things done, and having deadlines, was low. I still had coaching duties, and I kept fairly busy, but I could let things slide a bit if I needed to, like the garage.

This was a fantastic break. After my first sabbatical, I wasn’t sure what to do the second time. Now I know I don’t necessarily need a plan, but the break will do me good.

About way0utwest

Editor, SQLServerCentral
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