Taking a Vacation from Vacations

I recently took a week off (OK, four extra days around the July 4th holiday weekend). This week off was very different from many vacations over the last decade. There was no hauling gear down to the beach, no getting up early to hit the theme park as soon as it opened to get in as many rides as possible, and no dragging the grandkids to one more place to make sure we got in every event in the compact amount of time we had to spend with them. (They live 800 miles away). Instead, this vacation was held at my son’s house. We played on the kid’s playground, got cool in the 12’ diameter above ground pool and spent time making train track set-ups in my grandson’s room. (Brio still exists!)

The days didn’t speed by, but they didn’t drag either. Each morning, we slept in until our bodies woke up – with no alarm clocks to tell us to get going. When the grandkids went to bed, we had the time (and energy) to play games with the other adults. We made most of our meals at home, with trips out limited to a couple of grocery trips when we bought lunch to bring home and one special take-home meal on our last night in town.

Yes, I checked email once or twice each day, but I didn’t spend time working on any projects. My mind and body got the rest it needed after almost four months of continuous work at home. When I came back, I felt rested and mentally alert. I was ready to hit the ground running and had a very productive (if short) week when I started making that 15-second commute from the kitchen to the study again on Wednesday morning.

This vacation was very different, but maybe it was what a vacation was supposed to be about all along. It was time to recharge, not fill social media with the latest experiences I rushed to get done; time to really sit with the grandkids and listen to them instead of waiting an hour for a one-minute ride; time to spend with those I love to remind me that, while my colleagues at work are great, it’s those I love who deserve my uninterrupted attention as much as any of my direct reports. Yes, it was a new type of vacation, or maybe it was an old type of vacation revisited for the first time in a long time, that reminded me what vacations were supposed to be all about in the first place.

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