What is a vacation anyway? Many times we think of going “on vacation” as in – we have to go somewhere other than home. Today is the last day of what I would call – “homecation”. It’s not a “staycation” because I didn’t stay in the area and make up an itinerary of things to do close to home. I really did stay “home” for this vacation. I was probably in the house for 75% of the last two weeks. And if you’re curious to know how that went … it was Glorious!
I have not done a very good job of taking a “break” over the last few years. Due to the ability to stay “connected” 24/7 with all of our gadgets, even when I would schedule time off and we would go out of town – I never really took a break. I was always answering emails, texts or attending just this “one short conference call”.
Finally, I realized that I was probably close to being a poster child for “burned out”. I tried to take a week off during Thanksgiving but that didn’t work because I still hadn’t figured out how to “turn off” the gadgets and disconnect. That’s the point, I had been a workaholic for so long that I really had no idea “how” to take a vacation.
So for my “homecation” for two weeks over the holidays, I had no agenda other than discovering “how” to really take a break. (I do admit though, that timing is everything and it helped that 90% of my coworkers were on vacation during the first week).
During my vacation I did NOT do any of the following things and it was like going through withdrawl:
1. Look at the “Mail” app on my iPhone (Even though at one point the email count reached over 500)
2. Sign in to any Instant Messenger Applications (Except for Facebook which is automatic)
3. Turn on my Work Laptop (I used my personal laptop that has no work related bookmarks or programs on it)
I DID do the following:
1. Wear my pajamas for extended periods of time (I am wearing them right now writing this blog)
2. Watch a lot of HGTV
3. Go out on a couple dates with the husband (once I was wearing my pajamas still but they kind of look like sweats so I got away with it)
4. Watch (2) Movies on the Big Screen with the Kiddos (The Hobbit and Parental Guidance)
5. Go to an Ugly Sweater Party – Thanks Aggie! (Next year, we will be much more creative)
6. Get a Mani/Pedi – Yay!
7. Find a new favorite alcoholic beverage that does not taste like alcohol – “Apple Cider” – Thanks Jolyn!
8. Have a Session with a Life Coach (Stop Laughing – you know you’re curious!)
9. Go Bowling and I actually broke 100!
10. Make my brother’s famously scrumptious Salsa – but it didn’t come out as good as his.
12. Buy a couple dozen domains (because that is what web geeks do!) My favorite finds include (geekweb.net – I have such a vision for that one!)
13. Start a new website for Joe’s photography business that focuses on his work for 30a Photographers.
14. Revise, update and do a few posts for my personal/professional blog – http://www.ambermayer.com
15. Sleep – A Lot!
Two weeks after I shut off my work laptop and stopped checking my work emails on any other gadget, I can honestly tell you that I feel relaxed and refreshed for the first time in a really long time. And I don’t mean the kind of refreshed after a spa day, I mean – my mind isn’t so tired.
Even though I had written several blogs about really learning the meaning of family and friends and how important it is to connect with them and put my our priorities in perspective, it is incredibly hard to actually start down the road to doing that. Our society expects us to be a workaholic. If you think about it – if you know someone who really works a 9-5 job and turns “off” at 5:01pm and plays away their weekends – we tend to look at them as slackers. I doubt that come Monday I will be turning “off” at 5:01pm but I do think that I’ve learned “how” to turn off and if you’ve been stuck in the “on” position for a long time – it is harder than it seems and takes the support of your family, friends and co-workers.
So the next time you go on vacation – give turning “off” a try. It is really one of the best things I have ever done for myself and those around me.
Some goals for the year as it unfolds:
1. Turn “off” for a few hours each day
2. Get regular sleep – I feel so much better after all of this sleep!
3. Read more often (at least one book per week)
4. Go on more adventures with my husband to expand his photography portfolio
5. Ask my kids more questions (I asked James and Annie how they envisioned their life at 25 one night at dinner and there may be a full hilarious blog that outlines their answers in the near future)