I rarely blog, though I write almost every day. In my journal.
I'm writing a book, so when I feel the urge to write for "others", that energy usually goes into whatever chapter I'm working on. But not today.
I'm on vacation. And these thoughts keep swirling in my mind, that I need to write. But they don't fit in my book, and I think they're worth sharing. So there.
I have Vacation Brain. I'm suffering from a condition that comes about when I'm on an extended time off from the daily routine. Wait, did I say "suffering"? Actually, I'm thriving on this condition. It's a state of mind. Actually, it's more a state of soul. And I like it.
And then I think, why can't I live with this condition every day of my life? Vacation Brain every day.
You're thinking I'm a little loopy. And maybe the combo of sun, a little wine and locally produced dried-fish spread on pita are affecting me. Along with these fresh Bing cherries I can't stop eating. But anyway, here are some of the symptoms of Vacation Brain, that I'd like to take back home with me. Maybe you'll find it contagious and catch some of it yourself.
Symptoms of Vacation Brain
On vacation, I spend time with Jesus. Ok, I spend time with Jesus most mornings at home, but when there's no schedule to keep, the time is unhurried. I drink a lot (and I do mean a lot) of coffee and read, journal, pray, and talk with Eric about what I'm reading/thinking.
On vacation, I get to sit and talk with my husband for as long as I want. And I get to listen to what he's learning/thinking. If you know Eric, you know that's always fascinating. Back when we were newlyweds, I would always ask him on the way home from vacations, "How are we going to be different when we go home?" Sometimes we'd decide on vacation that we were going to look for a new job or ministry or place to live. I love change. I love improvement. And vacation seems like a great time to get an outside look at my current place in life, and determine some changes that need to be made. Which leads to the next symptom of Vacation Brain:
On vacation, I get to examine myself. Psalm 23 mentions "He leads me beside still waters." Back in "those" days, I'm guessing that still water was one of the only ways one could see a good reflection of herself. God leads us to a restful place where we can examine ourselves. "He restores my soul" comes next. On vacation, I can get a good look at myself and let God restore my soul to a healthy place during a time of rest. On this trip, Eric and I have had some...um...energetic conversations about a blind spot in my life, that I am committing to change.
On vacation, I read. I read Scripture; I read books that inspire me and build my faith in Jesus; and I read fiction. This trip, I've read Pablo Giacopelli's Holding on Loosely, and I'm just finishing a second book. I won't mention it because the topic is pretty personal to Eric & I. Both of these books have brought us much healing and perspective as we've come out of a painful season in our life/ministry. I started reading a third faith-building book, but Eric just stole it from me. In his defense, he is the one who bought it. This morning I finished a novel I picked up for $.50 at a flea market. It's called Mermaids in the Basement, and aside from a couple of scandalous pages that I needed to flip quickly, it was pretty good. I do love to read fiction for fun. And I rarely do it. Except on vacation.
On vacation, we learn from the locals. The locals will tell you the best places to eat, and the places to avoid. You can't always rely on reviews online, because generally the crabbiest people are the loudest. If you just look online, you'll think everywhere sucks. A nice local who actually knows the area will give you the truth. This is a good lesson for life. Ask someone who has intimate knowledge of something, and then go experience it & decide for yourself.
On vacation, we also learn from the experts. Yesterday we drove to a place called The Old Salty Dog JUST because Adam Richman from Man Vs. Food ate there and said it was awesome. It was. Another good lesson for life. Listen to the experts. But again, then you have to go experience it & decide for yourself.
On vacation, we actually look at each other and talk. All of us. We sit and eat meals together. Sometimes we cook, sometimes we go out. But we don't have to run to the "next thing". We enjoy our food slowly and talk and smile at each other. And we say, "I love you," a lot. We don't have ringing phones and commute time and schedule-jamming requests. We have time to live together and love each other.
On vacation, we laugh. We're silly. My kids play together in the pool. My husband asks me if I dare him to jump into a private pool as we're walking back from the beach ("NO!" "Haha, I'm just kidding. Unless you say I can do it...then I will." "Jeez...NO! You'll get arrested!")
On vacation, we sleep when we're tired, we wake when we're rested, and we eat when we're hungry. Natural rhythms that God created; not dictated by a clock or a culturally acceptable timeframe.
On vacation, we seek to be healthy. OK, I know, we do that all the time. But it seems that on vacation, we have time and energy for an extra 10 push-ups or to run just a little longer. And we feel good about ourselves. We've also been careful this vacation to be strategic about what we eat so that we continue to feel good about ourselves. :) Hence, the bowl of cherries beside me.
On vacation, it's easier to not judge other people. Huh? Well, we're at the beach. At the beach, you see all shapes and sizes, ages and economic levels. But we're all there for roughly the same purpose: to enjoy ourselves and appreciate God's creation. Who cares if there's cellulite? Who cares if there's no makeup? If your clothes are stained or you smell like sweat? It's VACATION! I won't judge you if you won't judge me. What a lovely way to live.
On vacation, we use what we have. We wear what we packed. We make do with what we brought. I've been out of my Mary Kay moisturizing cream for a week, so I'm just using my daughter's body lotion until I can order more Mary Kay from my sister. Remarkably, I didn't immediately develop wrinkles, blotches, or zits. Also, I'm cooking in a tiny kitchen with a limited amount of supplies. Funny: I can get along just fine without a paring knife, wooden spoon, pizza stone, or much counter space. I made pecan pie in a rectangular cake pan. And it tasted GREAT! It's amazing what we think we need, and really don't.
On vacation, we don't stress out about being clean and organized. There are tiny ants marching around the kitchen, and I just don't really care. The only shower Aidan gets in is the one by the pool, and I just don't really care. The beds aren't made, and there's a pile of towels and damp, sandy clothing behind me by the door, and I just don't really care. I have more important things to worry about. Like sitting here listening to a Rick Riordan novel on CD with my kiddos.
On vacation, we no longer try to get more out of an experience than we should. (This is a newer philosophy for us). Consider this:
- Have you ever stuffed yourself until you're in pain, just so you can get your "money's worth" at a buffet?
- Have you ever exhausted yourself and your children just so you can get your "money's worth" out of an amusement park?
- Have you walked until you're half dead or stayed in the sun until you're burnt or stayed up late talking or partying until you are barely coherent and no longer having fun? And then you regret it the next day?
We've done all of these. And we just won't anymore. Instead, we take what there is to enjoy from an experience, and then let it go before we hate it. For example, we were at an amusement park last week. We'd arranged to take the hotel shuttle back at 8:15 pm. But at 4:45, we were hot, sweaty, tired, and some of us had headaches. Rather than sticking it out to "get our money's worth" or "soak up every possible second" available to us, we made the wise choice to call for an earlier shuttle. We left while we were still enjoying ourselves. We went back to our hotel to cool off in the pool, and we ordered pizza. The amusement park, then, did not leave a bad taste in our mouths. Rather, we have memories of a lovely day that ended well. At the beach this week, we aren't putting pressure on ourselves to spend all day, every day, in the waves. Rather, we're strategic about enjoying the beach, the pool, and the area. But we will not kill ourselves trying to see more, get more, eat more, do more. I think that old mindset is one of fear. "We'll NEVER get to do this again, so get all you can!" I prefer to trust that our good God will indeed provide another opportunity for enjoyment in the future. We are grateful for each opportunity we're given, and we're careful not to suck it dry or try to get more out of it than has been provided for us.
Well, I'm tired of writing (finally), and I'm on vacation, so I'm not gonna try to make more of this than it is. But I'm happy to have gotten this on (virtual) paper.
This Vacation Brain; vacation state of mind; I'd like to live this way at home, too. Starting each day with Jesus. Letting peace rule the day. Loving my family well. Living according to a natural rhythm. Relaxing my expectations on myself and others. Being content with what has been provided for me. Living in gratitude. Sounds good.
I'm going to the pool with my daughter. And then to get ready for my date tonight with a really hot pastor. He's picking me up at 6:30.