Coach’s Challenge for 8/17/09

Good day, team,

As this summer ebbs and flows, I’m reminded how important it is to allow ourselves the luxury of taking a vacation. Or, if you prefer, spending time doing nothing at all.

When I mention this idea of doing nothing to some of my clients, I get an “Ugh!” in response or the comment “I can’t just do nothing. I have to do something; otherwise, I’ll get bored!” Sometimes I ask these clients to make the something they have to do be the doing nothing itself, but that doesn’t work well for people who feel that a day without achieving something is a waste. In my case, I have to occasionally stop doing everything to see who I am and where I am. There’s something deliciously calming about the experience. It’s a mini-respite.

On a bit grander scale, my idea of vacation looks like this: lying around on the beach with my husband, where the temperature is 75 degrees and the ocean not much colder, looking at a gorgeous view of the ocean with my favorite book tucked under my arm, and knowing there’s nothing on the agenda for days ahead of us. Or looking at wonderful paintings in one of the world’s great museums with fellow art lovers, having dinner at a scrumptious restaurant later that evening, and then walking back to spend the night at a lovely inn. Or visiting friends in Europe who’ve managed to create a lifestyle that encompasses much of the above on a more consistent basis. Or hiking with my favorite hiking buddies somewhere in Great Britain for the morning, then having lunch at the local pub, a nap in the afternoon, dinner that evening that includes yorkshire pudding,  and later on, sitting by the fire while engaged in scintillating conversation, while sipping on a great scotch. Or sitting on my front steps admiring the sunset, enjoying a glass of cold white wine on a hot summer evening,  and watching the street scene (which in my NE neighborhood can be quite entertaining), thinking of not much at all, just watching the world out in front of me.

On a bit grander scale, my idea of vacation looks like this: lying around on the beach with my husband, where the temperature is 75 degrees and the ocean not much colder, looking at a gorgeous view of the horizon with my favorite book tucked under my arm, and knowing there’s no agenda for days ahead of us. Or looking at wonderful paintings in one of the world’s great museums with fellow art lovers, having dinner at a scrumptious restaurant later that evening, and then walking back to spend the night at a lovely inn. Or visiting friends in Europe who’ve managed to create a lifestyle that encompasses much of the above on a more consistent basis. Or hiking with my favorite hiking buddies somewhere in Great Britain for the morning and then having lunch at the local pub, a nap in the afternoon, a dinner that evening that includes yorkshire pudding,  and sitting by the fire while engaging in scintillating conversation, sipping on a great scotch. Or sitting on my front steps admiring the sunset, enjoying a glass of cold white wine on a hot summer evening,  and watching the street scene (which in my NE neighborhood can be quite entertaining), thinking of not much at all, just watching the world out in front of me.

Do I have your attention yet? This week’s challenge is a reminder that if you haven’t taken a vacation this year, now is the time to go or at least plan one for the fall. I wonder how many of us haven’t spent time doing the things that made us really happy when we were kids. I used to spend my summers in Cape Cod and in Maine. One of my favorite things to do was look for shells on the beach. I haven’t done that in many moons. Perhaps I could arrange a vacation around that idea. Maybe you haven’t been fishing in a long time, and  could plan such a vacation with your kids or grand kids. One of my friends recently traveled to Peru and tromped around Machu Picchu, then took only local buses into small villages and made friends with some Peruvians who took her in for a week and infused her with their loving hospitality and culture. She’s made new friends for life.

We forget that the process of renewal and regeneration is crucial to our well-being. We forget how to take a vacation and find ourselves steeped in too much to do, in lives that have become increasingly difficult to keep up with. Sooner or later, we forget what makes us happy and how to let go of all the things that keep us trapped in our daily existence. Life becomes very narrow, and our ability to think new thoughts, feel different feelings and experience new sensations diminishes to a dangerous degree. As my shaman used to say, “Don’t let your inner fire go out.” In other words, don’t let the momentum of daily life hypnotize you into taking care of it every minute of every day, using up so much of your energy that there’s nothing left to reignite your flame.

The dog days of summer will be over before we know it. Don’t miss the chance to enjoy some of it by relaxing, refreshing and doing absolutely nothing, if it pleases you!

Have a good week,

Kathleen

Kathleen Doyle-White
Pathfinders Coaching
(503) 296-9249

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