va-ca-tion: Noun. 1: a respite or a time of respite from something: intermission. 2 a: scheduled period during which activity (as of court or school) is suspended b: a period of exemption from work granted to an employee 3: a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation (Webster’s Dictionary).
I will never forget a conversation with a boss about vacations. I was experiencing a particularly stressful time at work with some of the most mentally taxing cases that I had encountered and the idea of ‘burn-out’ seemed like a step up from where I was in that moment. Feeling full of despair, I remarked that I desperately needed a vacation. His response was “You have to realize that vacation will not solve your problems of how you are feeling. Escaping only provides temporary relief. The real issue is for you to find a way to achieve peace and inner calm without having to physically leave and go somewhere.” Granted, I know he had positive intent when he provided me that insight but all I heard was “blah, blah, blah, buck up and keep going.” Needless to say, I didn’t receive the wisdom very well and rationalized his advice as ‘fluff’ that can only come from people who get 6 weeks of vacation a year. Therefore, I rejected his advice and the equally insightful guidance that followed and proceeded to wallow in self-pity instead of figuring out how to navigate the enormity of my emotional and physical state of exhaustion.
Eventually, I managed to explore some options and restore my spirit, and now I can truly appreciate what he was getting at with his statements. Here’s the deal. We have a right to enjoy vacations, but it can’t be the answer to life’s complex and exhausting challenges. It can provide us with relaxation, adventure, and a pause of our daily chores, but if we look at it with great expectations of erasing stress and wiping our memories of pain, heartache, and turmoil; we will only set ourselves up for deeper disappointment when we return to the reality of our everyday lives.
There is something magical that can happen on a vacation; we tend to notice nature more, not be in such a hurry, be more open to love and hope, and generally allow ourselves to take good care. And the most amazing phenomenon that happens (sometimes), is that we realize everything we need is within us no matter where we go.
Vacations can help us reconnect with our spirits but we don’t have to travel a great distance to achieve an inner state of calm. I mean, it’s not like we become different people on vacation. We are always there. We convince ourselves into thinking that vacation helps us be calmer, happier, and more content. But let’s get real, we don’t turn into ideal human beings just because we don’t have to worry about laundry for a few days or sit in bumper to bumper traffic. The core of who we are is always present, unfortunately we are just too dang busy to notice while we are working all day, managing our personal life, and keeping up with endless tasks that create our ‘daily grind’.
I wish we all were guaranteed weeks of vacation every year to the destination of our choice, but the reality is that most of us simply don’t have that type of luxury. However, nobody says we can’t take a mini-vacation of our own without ever having to pack a bag. Here are some ideas that can give us an ‘intermission’ from the daily grind and encourage us to take in some of the awesome things that surround us each day.
- Lose yourself in a good book for a couple of hours
- Take a class in something you have always wanted to try
- Visit a museum
- Explore a park or take a walk outside
- Drive a totally different way to work one day or drive in silence for a while
- Prepare a dinner that you have never eaten before (or go to a brand new restaurant)
- Get up and watch the sun rise tomorrow (or watch the sun set tonight)
- Lay out and watch the stars for an hour ( I hear there will be awesome meteor showers in mid August! http://stardate.org/nightsky/meteors )
- Give yourself permission to do absolutely no household chores for a few days
- Go to bed early or sleep in late
Yes, summer vacation can be a magical time, but so can today. We just have to decide if we want to use our senses to take in the beauty and awe that exists in abundance everywhere or simply ‘save’ it for those elusive vacation days.
My suggestion is to embrace today. Listen to your spirit. Hear what it needs and explore your options to appease it. Then, just maybe, the idea of vacation (in any season) will take on a whole new meaning. 🙂