What Sheryl Sandberg, Sloths, and Knitting Taught Me this December

Enjoying coffee in a mug on balcony overlooking rain forest in Costa Rica.
Enjoying the view from the top balcony at Villa #3, Rancho Pacifico, in Uvita, Costa Rica

December 2014 was a month of rest and recovery for me. It was — by far — the most relaxing holiday season I’ve ever had, what with no job and no kids at home. I was done with all holiday-related shopping and prep by the first week, which left me able to concentrate on what mattered most: quality family and friend time.

The month also wound up being time almost completely away from electronic communication. While in Costa Rica, there was no computer, and I put my phone away except to take photos. There was no TV to watch, either.

When we weren’t out doing something, I taught myself to knit, read, played games (Bananagrams, cards, and some drinking games my adult kids hilariously shared), and had conversations. And rested. And reflected.


One of the several books I read was Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. Perhaps the point that hit home most with me was embracing the concept of the “jungle gym,” dropping the idea that a career progresses along a linear ladder — up, down, and getting off when a lateral step is taken. Rather, progress in work can result from moves in myriad directions as long as one recognizes the benefits toward the end goal. It made me feel more positive about the multidirectional course of my professional life.


Many of my friends are participating in #15for15; people pledge to spend 15 minutes for 15 days every month in 2015 doing something beneficial. The group I’m in is focusing on positive, new, and challenging changes. For me, that’s knitting. My instructor is Stitch ‘n Bitch, a hilariously instructional and inspirational book guide. I’ve worked up to a beginner scarf with multiple colors and found out that there is a need for knitted scarves for the Texas Special Olympics athletes. Now, I can combine my new form of much needed quiet meditation with a charitable work. Perfection!


My oldest daughter loves sloths in a major way (think Kristen Bell’s Sloth Meltdown, as seen on Ellen). I spent almost all of our time in Costa Rica with my neck craned, scanning the tree tops for sloths. We stayed at Rancho Pacifico in the rainforest at the Oso Peninsula and Jose, the gardener, kept a lookout for the five or six he knew lived nearby. On our last two days, we had close encounters with sloths.

Sometimes, the best thing in the world is seeing someone else so very happy.

If you would like to make and share a scarf with the 2015 Texas Special Olympics athletes, see the Facebook page: 2015 SOTX Scarf Project. Due date is January 29.


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Published by Leah Nyfeler

I'm a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I've come to learn it. In addition to my blog "Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life" at www.leahruns100.com, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

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