- Set better boundaries. Part of the beauty of getting away is that you’re automatically excused from certain things. “Sorry, I can’t—we’ll be gone.” Whew, huh? We can’t avoid stressors in life, but I could re-evaluate all the things I think I “have to” do, and someday learn to say no without mental anguish.
- Purge my house. Living with so few possessions makes me realize I could—and I want to--live with less every day. Why am I keeping all those mismatched socks—their mates are never coming back! And the crafty odds and ends and stretched out sweaters I’m sure I’ll use someday… I blame Pinterest.
- Get more sleep. Sleep, much like chocolate and cheese, makes everything better. I can’t help what time my brain nudges me awake to start asking ridiculous “what if” questions, but I can control what time I go to bed. I once read that at the Minirth-Meyer clinics, when a new client first arrives, they schedule no counseling appointments or group therapy for the first few days. They just advise the client to sleep as much as possible. Sometimes that alone is a huge step toward mental health.
- Pay more attention to my relationships. I just spent two solid weeks with nobody but my husband for companionship. (I’m pretty sure he’s the only one I could do that with, and not end up as the perpetrator or victim of a homicide.) It was an interesting couple of weeks. There were times I felt like I had just met up with a guy I used to date. We don’t really have to run away from home to get to know each other outside of our daily routine (although it helps). I could have meaningful conversations with my loved ones without leaving town. I think I’ll try it. (What was that sound? Oh. Just my kids groaning.)
- Put work in perspective. Get a little mental distance between me and the ol’ 9-5. Actually I think I’m pretty good at this one. (Easy for me to say, with my part-time, summers-off job.) But not everyone is. Ahem.
- See the beauty around me. While I’m visiting someone else’s town, someone else is visiting mine. We have a lovely state park seven miles down the road from home—I could actually get away without leaving town. Also, Yard Crashers is not coming to my house. I can quit dreaming, hang some wind chimes next to my lawn chair and enjoy my own space.
- Slow. Down. My vacation is not even over—it feels like I just got into low gear—but as departure approaches I can feel my mind beginning to ratchet up for “real life.” Real life will get here soon enough. Enjoy the slow.
I have WAY more experience staying home than going on vacation, but here are some vacation things I always want to continue when I return home to the state 50% of its residents want to leave.
On a Sunday afternoon in the golden age of the 1970s, the teenage me went to my boyfriend’s home for dinner. I don’t remember if it was Christmas time or my birthday or what, but after dinner we were chatting and watching TV and a commercial came on for the popular perfume, Charlie. In front of his parents, he asked if I liked it. With my normal diplomacy I made a vomit sound and said that it smelled like kerosene. (I bet you can see where this is going.) Minutes later I opened my gift from his parents--a bottle of Charlie. I made a quick mental note to someday take revenge on him* for this trap and did my best to amend my statement by saying that on my friend it smelled like kerosene, but she wore way too much of it, and that on me I was sure I’d like it. There! I put some on! See, I do like it! Whaddya know?!
I’m not sure if this makes that story better or worse, but I’m pretty sure it was a re-gift. His mother was a teacher and I was occasionally the recipient of some of her teacher gift overflow. In case you think that makes the story weirder, I have been known to pull over and pick trash from the side of the road, so I’m ok with re-gifting. Usually.
So anyway, this past Sunday I was sitting in church and the worship leader was reading Psalm 139, which says in part, “God . . . I’m an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking . . . You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence.”
Awww, nice! I almost did a coffee spit-take. God knew I was going to say the Charlie thing and just let me? Years later he knew I was about to laugh while scolding my Jr. High daughter because she started to cry and had so much mascara running down her face she looked like Mini Tammy Faye Bakker? (You had to be there. It was funny. I was trying to lighten the moment. She’s still mad.) He couldn’t have stopped me before I said in a job interview that I lacked compassion? (Fine, the mascara thing bears that out but it was a JOB interview, for crying out loud.) Come on, God, I thought we were friends! We talk!
What was he thinking when he gave riffraff like us free will? If that’s not a gift I’ve abused I don’t know what is. Maybe it’s like this--maybe he knows what we’re about to say and smacks himself on the forehead or pounds his head on his desk, but since we get to call our own shots the stupid/angry/weak/hurtful thing gets said. And he hopes that we will come to our senses and ask for his help next time.
Maybe I need to talk less and listen more. And wait. Maybe I’ll try that and see if I can keep my foot out of my mouth for a couple days.
*I believe I got my revenge by marrying the guy. He’s been paying ever since.
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