Treating Each Day Like a Vacation Day

Not every day can be vacation but I’ve noticed when I start the day with a relaxed mind-set – I’m happier. When a day is for work, the guiding principal seems to be, “utilize every moment for impactful activities and choices.” I enjoy the day a lot less. There is more joy in the day when we focus on meeting our own needs first.

When I begin the day focused on work I find myself rushing, begrudging the tasks that I complete. Stressing out because I can only complete so many unpleasant tasks in a day. Doing things simply for the result of getting them done I find myself begrudging every extra step. Since life is primarilymade up of a multitude of mundane moments this can get pretty overwhelming fast.

The day takes on a pleasant energy when I focus on what I like to do instead. On a “vacation day,” I am already only doing what I want. Doing what brings me joy. Some days it is simply letting myself read a book or popping out to a yoga class. It’s a small chocolate or another herbal tea. These are simple pleasures. Rather than making myself feel worse for choosing something I’d like to do I simply do it. I don’t rush myself, I don’t guilt myself and I refuse to pressure myself to do it quickly. Reading a few chapters of a good book is delightful. Allowing myself to rest before I burn out is impactful and powerful. Doing these activities puts me in a growth mindset rather than a stagnant one.

To be clear I am NOT doing these things in order to be more productive. But I do find it easier to complete unpleasant tasks when I am coming from a place of rest, comfort, ease and satisfaction. We feel good when our needs are being met. It is a pleasure to go through the day as if it were a vacation day. It gives a little breathing room and creates opportunities to treat ourselves well.

How to you organize your day? Do you force yourself to stay on task or do you allow your day to unfold more naturally?

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Making Time for More Breaks

I recently read an article in the Atlantic about the importance of many short breaks rather than only taking long vacations every so often. Basically correlating brief repeated experiences with having higher value than a few extended breaks. Taking regular time to nurture ourselves and our relationships, rather than only doing so sporadically, makes sense.

While on vacation I took a break from my journaling – my morning pages. Every day I write three pages first thing to pour out all of the persnickety and intrusive thoughts, day dreams, and ideas that percolate in my mind over night. Once the ideas are out of me and on the page I can process them, determine how I want to proceed, and move on. They’re no longer bouncing around in my head like a bucket of pingpong balls dropped on a gym floor. They are now in the shape of a list. Or simply by writing my emotional labor of processing is complete and I am able to release the anger, frustration, or whatever energy was attached to those thoughts. 

My vacation was necessary and important but it was also exhausting. We were outside, on the beach, and in the sun for several days. We walked everywhere, splashed in the surf, and crashed into bed each night by nine. Did I mention we were also sick? It was a beautiful experience but also draining. And even not writing my pages, while it was a break, it gave me the feeling of being stalled out despite having a full tank of gas. My energy was devoted to making dinner plans and chasing children to wipe runny noses. And in the midst of that joyful and somewhat restive chaos I ended up getting sick too. 

My take-away from this experience is that we waited too long to take our vacation. We pressed ourselves so hard and for so long that we were all run down and exhausted by the time our trip came. We needed more short weekend breaks in the middle of our work – what the British call a, “mini-break.” A night or two away in the country, something different to break up the monotony and try something new. We need more joy and sporadic rest throughout our regularly scheduled lives, not just on a special occasion. 

The lesson is hard-won but a necessary and worthy understanding. As I nurse this illness with doctors appointments, teas, and rest I am also grateful that it is reminding me of this very important lesson. To take time for myself to heal, to savor and enjoy life. It is not the vacations that are our only highlights. We need more magic in our every day lives. Sharing and celebrating with the people we love most yields the most wholistic, healthful, and delightful results.

Tonight, I think we’re going for ice cream, we have sore throats and need a little joy. The first day back to work and school after a trip is a hard one. I think we deserve some sweet treats and a little love in our days. I hope you find a way to bring some sweetness into your own day today too! And plan more small vacations not just big ones!

It’s also good to remember we can always vacation at home – taking a break for recovery doesn’t always have to mean travel.

Vacation at Home Joy

Lately, I have been down and heavy. It has been cold and dark and I didn’t write because it just wasn’t time. Well, it is now time. The weather has broken and in Ohio, I know this is only a temporary reprieve. Last year we had snow in April… and I think May but I’m not going to fixate on it. It is 50 degrees outside today. And maybe that’s a sign of global warming but I’m going to enjoy mother nature’s flex. I have the windows open, there is a gentle breeze. An owl is hooting in the trees behind our house and life just feels good.

Let me begin with what I truly want to say, which is that I don’t know who needs to hear this but you can make coconut shrimp at home, whip up a batch of pina coladas, and find a copy-cat recipe for some Red Lobster cheddar bay biscuits and live your best life. I know this because I am doing it, I am living this dream this weekend. There is steel drum music blessing our main floor and I am not tired of hearing “No Woman, No Cry,” on a loop. The sun is shining and it is a glorious day. It is quiet. 

It is Saturday and no one is going anywhere, we cancelled our plans. I am wearing a coral colored shirt that reminds me of my dad, because it’s the same shirt he wears most days I just bought it in a smaller size – also, pro-tip, when buying mens clothing for women, wait a hot minute and the more feminine colors will go on sale and you can get them cheap. I consider this a double pink tax win, as I get the pink and the look I want at a men’s sale price. I’m not telling you how to live but I will say that I feel pretty freaking fabulous right now. 

All I want to wish you is sunshine, light, love, and cheddar bay biscuits wherever you are because I’m pretty sure this is love. I know it’s happiness and fulfillment but I am also pretty sure it’s love.

Studies have shown that vacations lift your mood three times. Beforehand they enhance your mood as you plan and anticipate. While you are on vacation you enjoy the splendors of vacationing and not being tethered to the outside world. Afterwards as you reminisce the vacation memory lifts your mood as you remember the joy they brought you. And maybe that is why our home feels like pure joy and instead of being drenched in anxiety or longing for spring, I am grateful for this moment. Grateful for this bone deep joy that I am feeling and inspired to write to all of you and remind you that even while we stay home, even while we await vaccinations and springtime, there is so much good we can do to take care of ourselves. If your joy is a weiner schnitzel Bierhaus, fondu chalet, or coconut shrimp beach, give yourself the gift of enjoying it at home now. Plan the trip, reap the reward, and bask in easy joy. You deserve it, we all do.

This image does not do this dinner justice. I baked the coconut shrimp and they were light and magnificent… we started eating before I remembered to take a picture. Sorry, not sorry. 🙂