8/18/13 “Vacation”

Good day, team.

This time last year, I wrote a challenge about summer vacation.  When I re-read it this morning, it seemed so appropriate for this week that I’ve decided to re-publish it. I hope you enjoy it.

These are the final weeks of August. Summer is rounding the bend into autumn, and again the seasons will change. With that change, summer vacation comes to an end. As an adult, I’ve always kind of resented having to work in summer. Those three months off from school at the peak of summer were such a highlight each year. Some childlike part of me still thinks my summers should be spent having nothing better to do than to go out and play. Whether swimming at the local pool with friends, going to camp, visiting relatives at the beach or just hanging out, my childhood summers were always a time to do whatever presented itself each day. What a sense of freedom I felt as I bounded out the door into the morning sunshine, ready to embrace whatever adventures I would encounter on another beautiful summer day!

When I started working full time after college, I realized that part of being a grown up is giving up the freedom of childhood summers. I was so disappointed to discover that I had only two weeks of paid vacation from my job each year. How could I possibly pack all the summer fun into a measly two weeks? On the other hand, who could pay for more time off? I realized I’d taken for granted the fact that my parents had paid for my summer activities. I’d also taken for granted the freedom of those three months of time off each year.

This morning, I thought about all the things I needed to do today — clean the house, shop for dinner, prepare for an upcoming business trip, finish the wash and so on. On most days, I have a to-do list of tasks that fills my time. I thought to myself, “What if I just don’t do any of those things today? What if I go out and play instead? What if I just take a mini-vacation?”

This reminds me of an excerpt from “Walden,” the wonderful book written by Henry David Thoreau. I’ve shared these paragraphs before, but this morning, it seems particularly relevant considering my desire to take time off:

“There were times when I could not afford to sacrifice the bloom of the present moment to any work, whether of the head or hands. I love a broad margin to my life. Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a revelry, amidst the pines and hickories and sumacs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness, while the birds sang around or flitted noiseless through the house, until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of some traveler’s wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of the lapse of time.

“I grew in those seasons like corn in the night, and they were far better than any work of the hands would have been. They were not time subtracted from my life, but so much over and above my usual allowance. I realized what the Orientals mean by contemplation and the forsaking of works. For the most part, I minded not how the hours went. The day advanced as if to light some work of mine; it was morning, and lo, now it is evening, and nothing memorable is accomplished. Instead of singing like the birds, I silently smiled at my incessant good fortune. As the sparrow had its trill, sitting on the hickory before my door, so had I my chuckle or suppressed warble which he might hear out of my nest.”

This week, find time to give yourself a mini-vacation. As the long days of sunlight still exist, give yourself permission to go out and play, or as Thoreau did, sit in your doorway in silence and stillness, just being with the moment and whatever it brings.

Have a good week!


Kathleen Doyle-White

Pathfinders Coaching

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