Hey Table friends!
I was very excited to read this newsletter and I know all of you will be too. Our Director of Operations, Andrew, went on a 6 week sabbatical through April and May and shared some of his reflections below.
We love you, Andrew, and are grateful you are back!
The construct of time has been a topic of fascination for people throughout all of history. We never have enough time. It takes too much time. How should I spend my time? Don’t waste your time. This is once in a lifetime. Do I take it slow and relax or do I rush? Time is perplexing, but one thing for sure is that our time is valuable. Our time on this planet is our most valuable commodity and time is the most precious gift. So, being granted a 6-week sabbatical to spend time on myself was a tremendous gift.
Leading up to the sabbatical, I thought a lot about how I should spend my time. At first, I thought I should stay home and work on some projects around the house I’ve been dying to complete. Living in a 120 year old farmhouse, there are an endless amount of projects. But, I will have time in the evenings and weekends to work on that. I should spend this time doing something I couldn’t otherwise do, so I decided to travel. Now the next decision was how to spend my time traveling.
I am so lucky to have 2 grandparents in their 90’s, and their influence on the man I am today is tremendous. When I was a child, my Nana and Grandpa gave so much of their time to me, but as an adult I have not had much time to spend with them. My decision was made, I definitely want to visit with Nana and Grandpa. In fact, I want to spend this sabbatical catching up on lost time with my family.
Having moved to North Carolina 5 years ago and spending most of my time working in the cafe, I haven’t been back to Louisiana but for a weekend or 2. My wife is from New Orleans, and she hadn’t visited with her family in a few years, so I knew we must make a NOLA trip part of my sabbatical. Now most of the traveling was planned and I was ready to hit the road.
It truly was a gift to spend all this time with my family. The first two weeks were spent in Gulf Shores, Alabama and New Orleans. We soaked up sun on the beach, did a ton of fishing in Perdido Pass, and attended my favorite event, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. We ate the best food, danced till we were sore, and saw many old friends.
Rachel had to go back to work, so on the drive back to NC she dropped me off in Vicksburg, MS with my dad. We had work to do on the house I grew up in. Mom and Dad are moving away from MS and back to their home state of Florida, so lots of work needs to be done on the house in order to get ready for sale. After a few days of work with dad in the Mississippi delta humidity, I assisted in driving a separate car from MS to FL while he towed his little sailboat. 14 hours on the road. Good times!
Down in Delray, I got to spend a week with my Mom, Dad, Nana, and Grandpa. It was such a gift to be able to help my parents, just a little, with taking care of the elders. It’s always hard to be away from those you know could use your help. We cooked some great meals and enjoyed evenings chatting and laughing till we fell asleep in our chairs. My Nana is beginning to experience some dementia and confusion, which was certainly hard for me to witness. But, I am grateful I could give her company and see her smile! I am so lucky to have had such wonderful role models in my life.
I took a flight back home to Raleigh to clean up the yard and check on things around the garden. Two days at home and then Rachel and I took a spontaneous trip to visit her brother in Los Angeles. I had never been to California and had so much fun cruising through the Hollywood Hills, walking around Venice and Santa Monica, exploring Catalina Island and eating so much good food! The sheer density of population is a bit overwhelming, but I must say it was a very fun place to visit!
My sabbatical was a whirlwind, yet it felt like much longer than 6-weeks. I sincerely missed the cafe. I missed my people, my community, my chosen family. I had major anxiety upon my return. I thought, “if I could be away for 6-weeks do they even need me” , “what did I miss out on” , “Did I leave something undone and let the team down..” As these feelings began to overwhelm me, I had a realization about my own insecurity. I crave affirmation and the feeling of being wanted, needed, accepted, and appreciated. It is so crucial to my happiness to have a purpose and people who depend on me. In this thinking, it dawned on me that A Place at the Table provides a place where I feel wanted, needed, and respected. Furthermore, A Place at the Table provides that for everyone in our community regardless of means.
Each day is an opportunity for everyone to come into the restaurant, be greeted by your name, be invited to work alongside our team, gain confidence and ultimately just feel better about yourself. Everyday when I thank one of our volunteers they also thank me. It is such a symbiotic relationship, the cafe needs its people and the people need this space. Our cafe is community first and the people are what make the cafe special. I am amazed at what all can be accomplished simply by providing a space and healthy food without any barriers. I am so grateful to be a part of this beautiful thing, and can’t wait to see what the next five years will bring.