If you’ve spent any time with me, you know I walk quickly—I’m a woman on a mission with places to be! When I travel somewhere, the same is true. Before I go on a trip I research places I want to go and things I want to do and figure out how I can fit in the maximum possible number of things on said trip. Any of my travel posts demonstrate this very clearly, especially my trip to the Azores last year, where I was in charge of planning what we’d do.
In my current stage of life, I travel a lot, which ostensibly means I’m on vacation. But it’s hardly ever a relaxing vacation: these days if I’m traveling, I’m going somewhere new (in which case I have a list of places to visit) or I’m visiting friends (in which case I want to do things with them in their town). Sometimes both of those things overlap (see also Portland and LA and New Orleans), so bring on the packed itinerary!
The one exception to that trend is the beach, where my mom’s family has been going every summer for 30-something years and where I’ve now spent 27 weeks of my life, one for every summer I’ve been alive
omg I’m so old.
This is how vacation is done, right?
Our beach is one of my favorite places in the world: I get to spend a week there every year relaxing and spending time with family (which I know isn’t a selling point for some people. I’m lucky in that spending time with my mom’s family is good thing). But I’ve noticed in the last few years that the “relaxing” bit of that gives me some trouble.
It’s stupid, but I am definitely someone who suffers from a feeling of needing to Do Something all the time, even on vacation.
If I’m too lazy one morning to go through the effort of slathering sunscreen all over myself (I’m tall so there’s a lot of skin to slather when I’m wearing a bikini. That’s so much effort!) and opt to stay at the house and read instead of going to the beach, I feel like I’m wasting time. After all, I can read anywhere at any time (although not on a porch overlooking the marsh!), but I can’t go to the beach anytime I feel like it. What a waste of a morning! And then it feels like I MUST go to the beach that afternoon or I’m somehow a horrible person who’s failing at properly being at the beach.
And now that I’m a blogger, heaven forbid I take a week off from writing or even reading other people’s posts!
But why? It’s not like I’m going to come back from vacation and get graded on how I did: “did she go to the beach twice a day every day? Nope, points off for that. How many books did she read? Tsk tsk, that was a failure of a vacation.”
So this year I actively tried to be actually on vacation.
I certainly didn’t write posts while on vacation
Because the next paragraph contains links: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. I will never recommend anything that I wouldn’t personally use myself since I’m not here to encourage people to spend money needlessly. Also friendly reminder that your local public library is an amazing resource instead!
What did I do? I ate way too much food (one does not simply come back from the beach without weighing a few extra pounds). I read—I finished two books and started a third (on an extremely related note, both Moxie and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle are excellent books). I went to the beach. I took lots of walks down to the blessedly unpopulated end of the island, sometimes alone and sometimes with family. I took many of those walks in the evening. I slept, although not as much as I would’ve liked. I spent a ton of time sitting on a rocking chair on the porch, watching the birds in the marsh. I went up to the upper deck of one of our houses to watch the sunset on days it wasn’t raining.
I didn’t spend a lot of time on Twitter. I didn’t check my email. I didn’t worry about the fact that yet again my inability to write posts more than an evening in advance means I had nothing queued up to publish last week. This time last year I wasn’t posting on a regular schedule; I was a three month old blogger and no one was waiting with baited breath for me to get back from vacation and start posting again. Not that any of you are doing that now! But I have at least a few readers so not posting was different this year ?
I could’ve stressed about the fact that yet again I was missing publishing posts on my usual days. I could’ve sat down Monday and Wednesday nights and tried to force myself to write something since I did bring my laptop. But I didn’t. Because I was on vacation and I wasn’t going to take time away from reading or talking to family or walking on the beach.
Maybe I need another vacation to practice more…
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t spend a week in perfect vacation mode. Frustratingly, there was only one morning where I managed to sleep in past the time I usually get up on weekdays. I still was annoyed at the multiple days of rain we had (because a day without going to the beach is a waste of a day!). And I wasn’t offline completely—I certainly posted a bunch of Instagram stories last week!
But this year was a marked improvement over previous years because when I felt like I was wasting time or somehow otherwise not vacationing properly, I’d talk myself down from that.
This was a limited experiment because the truth is that I don’t have a lot of opportunity right now for true vacations. I’ve got another trip coming up in a few weeks, then FinCon in September, but neither of those will be relaxing vacations. My next best bet to practice actually being on vacation is spending a few days in Disney after FinCon. I guess hikes in a way are an opportunity to get out of my day-to-day life, but it depends on the hike. It’s hard to relax when you’re climbing up a mountain while dripping sweat!
So I won’t be on vacation again for a while, possibly until Thanksgiving. I’m glad I actively tried to slow down and let go of arbitrary to-do lists/self-imposed compulsory busyness this past week, and I look forward to practicing that again in the future.