Taking a year-long sabbatical from work with Penni Berbert


When Penni Berbert was 22, she moved to NYC with big dreams of becoming an actress. Within two years the rosy glow had faded and Penni packed up her things and came home. She spent most of the next two decades working in practical, stable jobs and denying her creativity.

But the toll she paid for suppressing the best parts of herself was high—she ended up feeling, as she bluntly put it, “a little dead inside.”

In this interview with a “normal person,” Rachel talks to Penni (one of her former clients) about how she went from feeling lifeless and terrified of making a change to quitting her job and taking a year off to pursue her interest in filmmaking.

We talked about:

  • Why “do what you love” sounds good, but rarely works in reality (and what does work).
  • How Penni figured out what she wanted to do and got over her intense fear of the unknown.
  • What made her decide to quit her job (with no new job lined up) and take a year-long sabbatical from working.
  • Why it’s a myth that you can’t make a complete career 180 at ANY age.
  • How she found opportunities and got people to consider her despite her lack of experience (in the film industry—but her advice applies to everyone!).
  • Why she’s way LESS afraid now, even though so much of her life is up in the air, than she was when she had a stable job.
  • How she deals with what other people think of her unconventional choice to be unemployed.


Did you know that the average person thinks they’re LESS addicted to their phone than everyone around them, even though the average person is actually touching their phone over 2,000 times a day? Yes, you read that right. TWO THOUSAND.

So, to help break us our phone addictions, we sat down with Kristen Kalp, a poet, writer, coach, empath, introvert, and most importantly, person-who-has-somehow-managed-to-only-be-on-her-phone-for-an-hour-per-day.

She totally  convinced us to get off of our phones so we can get back to enjoying life.

If you’d like to join the two of us in doing Kristen’s 21-day email-based course all about breaking your phone habit, you can sign up here! It starts on MONDAY (June 11th).

Full disclosure, Kristen asked us if we’d like to be an affiliate of her program, and we said yes! So we may receive a portion of proceeds if you sign up for her course. But, in typical Krachel fashion, we only endorse things we personally love and are doing ourselves. This is one of those things!


Sign up for Space, Kristen Kalp’s 21-day email-based course about breaking your phone habit

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8 Comments // ADD COMMENT


  • Audrey

    I enjoyed this podcast episode. Penni is definitely my kindred spirit ha-ha. I did the course this past September to the end of 2017. Although I learned new things from the course, I have still been looking for a position. I have reached out to other people regarding film making, and inquiring about internships/entry-level positions even though I graduated a few years ago. However, I have only heard from a few, but most people will not give me a chance. They won’t allow me to gain experience, and I am not expecting to be in high position when it comes to anything in the media industry, but I want to start somewhere. I want a job, and media/film business have always intrigued me because like Penni, I enjoy the storytelling/authentic aspect of films/documentaries. So, again I feel like I am at square one and I keep trying, but I seem to not be getting a break. Anyway, interesting podcast.


    • Rachel East

      I know it’s easy to get discouraged, Audrey, but don’t give up yet! Think about how many really famous authors (not that you need to be famous–just an example) got rejected over and over and over again for books that, eventually, someone ended up publishing. Rejection isn’t personal, it’s just part of the game. You’ve got this!

  • Myra

    I just want to say thank you, thank you for this podcast. I always look fwd in listening to your podcasts. I prayed for a sign if I should take a sabatical leave from my current job. This hit right to the T especially feeling I am In my mid 30’s i must be crazy! I have a year’s worth of savings & I keep telling me what is stopping me?? Thank you once again, I know the decision I must take now

    • Rachel East

      I LOVE when people ask for a sign, and then something we put out there ends up confirming your intuition for you. It’s the best! I’m glad this is inspiring you to take your own sabbatical, Myra! 🙂

  • My Early Retirement Journey

    I have been contemplating a sabbatical of varying lengths for quite some time now. I actually just made peace with my current situation but always looking to be persuaded. Looking forward to hearing more perspectives like this.

  • Victoria

    I can relate to Penni. I have a fear of risk and change that is absolutely horrible. I am also addicted to being productive. It has locked me into a profession that I feel isn’t the right fit anymore. I also agree that it is important to make “the jump”. It is very difficult when you don’t have a savings and live paycheck to paycheck but I am at the stage of starting to explore my interests by going to events and classes. I love what you said, “It happens one random step at a time,’ and also ‘Productive won’t give you emotional fulfillment.”

    • Rachel East

      Hey Victoria — I think a lot of us need to question what “productive” even means. Often, it’s a performance we put on for other people. Like, if other people weren’t watching, would we care as much about being “productive?” Probably not. Also, what does “productive” even mean? A lot of us mistakenly equate productivity to hours put in. Which isn’t the best way to measure, in my opinion. Quality is always a better metric than quantity, I think. If you haven’t listened to our episode from back in April about how to work like a woman, I’d recommend that! We get into this in that episode. 🙂