Monday, March 16, 2009


What a wonderful word that is: Vacation. It evokes time away from routine to explore new cities, lie on breathtaking beaches, investigate new cultures or simply bring a break in routine. Vacations can give us a much needed respite from the doldrums of everyday existence. We can be someone else for a few little while, even if that someone else is simply a more relaxed version of ourselves. Or, we can try on a completely new persona: a carefree one, if we’re normally regimented or an adventurous one, if we’re normally cautious. We can slip out of our schedules and into letting the moment take us where it will. That said, if we tend to be more artistic and flexible, taking a tour in which our sightseeing is planned for us can also bring us a much needed sense of order, without having to be organized. In short: vacation is time to just restore, recharge and renew our internal batteries.

The key to a successful vacation is finding what works for you, and not trying too hard to 'work' at having fun. For me, being a natural sloth, my native environment is lying on deck chair, enjoying the fresh air, and simply allowing myself time off the hamster wheel of life. Because my state of relaxation is simply removing all stresses, I am very easy to please on my time of vacation: I simply need to take time to look inward, to rest and to feel at peace. My husband, on the other hand, is a natural explorer. He can lie by a pool with me for a day. But, his adventurous spirit gets bored easily. So, we have learned to find places that are relaxing for him, also: with mountains to climb, golf courses to conquer and interesting locales to to investigate. Restless spirits can be renewed and strengthened by seeing new places and expending energy. This doesn't mean that one hasn't relaxed. It's simply a different method of allowing one's brain to shift from technology to terrain.

Unfortunately, with the economy being in its current complex and scary state, many people are finding their vacations budgets have vanished and are investigating a new phenomenon: the "stay-cation". Using up vacation days at work doesn't mean only tackling cleaning out the basement. It can still provide you with a wonderful opportunity to explore your hometown and the neighboring region. I'm always amazed at the amount of incredible things to see and do in our hometown...and we never scratch the surface. We are so busy living our fast paced existence that we don't take the time to go hike in the state park, peruse the local museums or even pitch a tent to camp on the lawn. When we live in a community, we often have blinders on to all our towns and cities have to offer. So, why not turn off your phone (as you would on vacation out of town), have the post office hold your mail, and go exploring in your own backyard? You may find a wonderful vacation is waiting for you: at home.

As long as you commit to relaxation, whether you travel abroad, or stay put, finding ways to refresh and renew yourself can be endless. It can be extremely difficult, in our 'always plugged in' culture to let go. We can feel guilty, undeserving, or just afraid we'll miss a vital moment. But, the truth is, we all need to take to explore, to see new sights and to experience a break in routine. Let go of the guilt, of the yearning to check your email one more time, and of your need to control every moment. Just allow yourself the freedom to 'be'. You will find yourself more conscious in your decision making when you come back, and you will also appreciate your home even more.

Whether you head to a spa, a ski resort, or the big city, make sure that you don't just stop in at the same chain restaurants you would at home. Allow yourself the experience of soaking in local flavors, literally. During your staycation, why not try new recipes that will evoke thoughts of time in Mexico or Paris? You never know what will happen when you allow your taste buds to explore on vacation too. Most of all: relax. You deserve it.

Every man who possibly can should force himself to a holiday of a full month in a year, whether he feels like taking it or not. ~ William Joyce