Recently, I took my first real vacation in over 6 years with my family. By real, I mean that I took a full week off of work, left town, and, to quote Zac Brown, had my toes in the water and my ass in the sand. It was long overdue, and it was glorious. It also is over now.
I may be back home, but in some ways, I feel like I am still at the beach. It has nothing to do with the sand that stowed away on the bottom of my flip-flops or the heat wave that heralded my return. It has everything to do with the feelings and thoughts that I collected like the seashells that my daughters and I plucked from the shoreline.
As I unpacked my suitcase, I sifted through the emotional and mental souvenirs from my trip. I am left with wonderful memories and a desire to make every day a vacation day. That may sound like a lofty goal, but the thought of living days on end without the elements that contributed to a truly wonderful vacation or waiting another six years for a real vacation is a powerful motivator.
It is amazing where the mind and heart will lead you, when free of household chores, work responsibilities, and an endless supply of daily distractions. My heart and mind reminded me that there is more to life than routines, tasks, and To Do lists, and they begged me to make them parts of my life, not my life.
It is easy to indulge in self-care practices and do what makes me happy without any professional or personal responsibilities. Since I have yet to discover a path to independent wealth that would free me of these responsibilities, I am focusing on infusing my life with the lessons I learned while on vacation:
- Take time to read. I LOVE to read, yet, I don’t do it on a regular basis. While on my trip, I read 3 magazines and 3 books, all of which had made the trip from my nightstand at home to my chair on the beach. I had more than enough time to read all of them, and I really enjoyed it. A lot. I could fall back on my catch-all excuse of I don’t have enough time to read when I am at home, but that is not true. I do have time to read when I make and take time to read. This morning, inside of perusing social media, I read as I sipped a cup of tea. It was such a pleasant start to my day, and I look forward to more reading and less social media.
- Doing nothing is something. I pride myself on my strong work ethic and ability to decimate a chore list, and while those qualities help me to be efficient and productive on and off the job, they do not define me, although I have allowed them to more and more. There is more to me than what I can do. Sitting alone while watching the ocean serve up crashing waves or seagulls and pelicans flying in formation may not be described as a worthwhile use of time, but it was needed and appreciated. Just being in the moment and being still reminded me that I do not always have to be doing something. There is great merit in simply being. When I returned home, I had plenty to do, but I eased back into my routine and enjoyed those moments of choosing not to do anything at all, knowing that it would still get done.
- Spend more time outside. I took advantage of the beach and the surrounding community to take walks every day, but I also sat outside to drink my tea, to read, and to talk with my family. Those latter moments are the ones that have been missing from my daily life. I have a porch and patio that are rarely used, and I have set out to change that, as they are perfect spots to gather with my family and to sit in solitude.
- Create the life I have imagined, not the one I have settled for over the years. When I did not have to focus on work or home, everything else came into focus. I realized that I have allowed the daily minutia of life to rule me and that I have lost sight of the grand life I have imagined. There is something about the ocean that makes me feel both small and empowered at the same time. As I looked out at the horizon, I was reminded that I am a very mall part of the world, yet I do have power in how I shape the world for myself and for others. I feel like I have the ability to harness that power to make some significant changes, and that is what I am committed to doing.
- There is a flow to life that is beautiful and mysterious. It has been awhile since I have been to the beach, and I was mesmerized by it. I always am. It occurred to me that even in my absence, the tide continued to go in and out and that life at the beach for its various inhabitants had gone on, as well. There was something comforting and reassuring about this, and I have felt a greater sense of gratitude for life’s nuances that I often overlook or take for granted. As I walked in my neighborhood this morning, I marveled at how everything changes from season to season and how animals possess a unique survival instinct. All of these commence on their own, and I am part of this life cycle in my own way. That struck me as pretty cool indeed.
As I transition from a real vacation to the real world, I do so with a great anticipation that I have not felt in a while. It feels really good to be able to say that about my life, rather than just about a vacation. That’s what a real life is to me, and that’s the kind of life that I want to claim as my own.
That’s another story. . .
Categories: That's Another Story