By Elizabeth Pagano (Aug. 27, 2009

It began in Italy a week ago. What’s to come: more travel; volunteer work, both locally and abroad; church mission work; and, possibly, starting up a business. At 41, Angela Petitt left her job as a business systems analyst with Waste Management’s corporate office in Houston, TX, to embark on a sabbatical. “I felt it was time to step out, take control, and do something different for a change,” she says. She had been with the company almost four years.

I remind her that we’re living in hard times, with the end (if you believe it) of the recession just a few days old. “Many of my colleagues and friends think I am crazy for resigning right now. I still have bills and a mortgage, and I help support my college-aged nephew,” Angela says. “But I don’t want to look back on my life and have regrets in the future. I like the saying ‘If not now, when?’ Thoughts of taking a sabbatical kept coming up in my mind so much that I had to take the leap to see what all is out there.”

She began saving a year ago for her sabbatical. “This was huge for me. I’ve very conservative and frugal.”

After six months, she intends to return to work, either to a new business or to another company. “I believe that the sabbatical will give me a different perspective on things and that new perspective will make me a better person,” Angela says. To follow Angela on her sabbatical, visit her blog on our site. We hope her time off creates new thinking and unexpected opportunities!