Little white flakes fell on my nose and my clothes. My wish had come true, it was snowing! Now you northerners might dread snow in September, but for this Florida girl — who hasn’t seen snow in 22 years — I was like a kid in a candy store! It was so beautiful as it blanketed the trees and mountaintops in its shimmery splendor. I twirled around and squealed with glee! No phones, no emails, no work… just snow.
Work Hard – Play Hard. Work Harder – Play Less.
The more “successful” you become in your career or life path, the less time you usually have to actually relax and enjoy the life you’re building. If you’re anything like me, you actually feel guilty for taking time for yourself or socializing with friends and family. My “quality time” with my husband consists of watching television on separate couches while I simultaneously work on my business or client projects. Weekends — those are for getting more work done and squeezing in some cleaning & laundry so I won’t lose my sanity around a messy house. Now perhaps it’s the mountain air still getting to me — or the reintroduction to Florida’s 85% humidity — but that lifestyle isn’t too stylish. It's not fair to my husband. It's not fair to my family. It's not fair to my friends — oh wait, I don’t really have any of those left. Something. Must. Change.
I didn’t plan on my trip as a time to reset. We just needed to use our vacation days before they expired. And Canada – my friend had just gone there on her honeymoon and her pictures were stunning, so why not! But somewhere along the trails and away from the hustle and bustle, I realized it was time for a change. I cannot and will not go back to my old lifestyle. It’s time to reset.
The 7 R’s of a Successful Refresh:
While I’m no Bear Grylls, I do enjoy an outdoor challenge every so often. My dad questioned our itinerary… Josh and I both suffer from bad ankles or knees, yet our itinerary was packed with strenuous half-day hikes, and some 3-hour treks on our “rest” days. If the end result is worth it, we’ll push through the pain. But the waterfalls or overlooks we hike to aren’t the final destination. You can often get the same views from a roadside pull-off. The destination is in the journey. Miley Cyrus’s “The Climb” kept running through my head as we hiked. We totaled 144,000 steps (roughly 62 miles) during our 9 days in Canada. After 4 years of marriage and about 5000 steps, you run out of things to talk about. So you walk silently, reflecting. You push yourself on, telling yourself you can make it up this mountainside. You think back through your life and remember what’s important. You let go of the petty things that don’t really matter. Take-home Tip: Go for a walk to clear your head every once in a while, reflecting on what’s really important and letting go of everything else.
While our trail time was exhilarating, my favorite day included a different kind of reflection. As we paddled around Emerald Lake we had panoramic views of the mountains, mirrored back across the crystal clear water. It was serene, peaceful, romantic. It was perfect. We didn’t schedule any hard plans that day, so we just sat around the lake, taking in the beauty of it all. Later we journeyed to a beautiful waterfall where we sat back and drank hot cider as the sun set. Life doesn’t get much better than that. I don’t do things like this at home, but I needed this. Friend, you need this. Take-home Tip: I’ve realized that I can’t save these moments for just vacation. I need to make time for relaxation more often.
There’s something so refreshing about panoramic mountain views, waterfalls, and pine trees. It’s the presence of nature and the absence of technology that allows you to truly rest. We hit up the hot springs and hot tubs, unwound with some wine, and halted all activities after dinner. Although our itinerary was tiring, I felt so rejuvenated each morning after a good 8-9 hours of sleep, much better than the 6 I’m used to at home! My headaches disappeared and I could actually wear my contacts for a week without my eyes drying out. Take-home Tip: I know I need to get more sleep during the week — that should be a priority!
When you’re too busy for sleep, you’re typically too busy for romance. My husband and I don’t really “date” each other anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still crazy in love with Josh — actually, more in love with him now than ever before. Yet there’s a little something missing in our relationship, and that’s intimacy. Not just sexual intimacy, but personal. We may live in the same house, eat together and sleep in the same bed, but we’re not always mentally present. We’ll do dinner by the TV or while playing on our smartphones, only half listening to one another and not connecting on a deeper level. When I shared stories of our trip with some friends, they both said, “Wow, that sounds so romantic.” And it was. But I didn’t realize it. I had forgotten what romance felt like. It took being wifi-less in another country, surrounded by post-card perfect views to set down our phones and really cherish each other’s company again. Take-home Tip: Shut off your electronics and go on a romantic date already — go, now! And then do it again next week… and the week after!
My sisters are my best friends. They both live in my same town – one on my same street. Both had babies last year. The week before our trip my sister scolded me for not seeing my nephews often enough. Ouch. I knew it was true. I had become such a workaholic that I was missing out on these precious moments with the babies — moments I’ll never get back as they grow. While reflecting on the trails, I knew something had to change. No more excuses, I needed to make an effort to see them more. This means cutting back on client work, postponing laundry or cleaning, and even turning down opportunities with friends… yes, the few friends I have. At this stage in life, you can’t waste time on petty friendships just for the sake of having friends. Would you rather devote time to your nephews, or that girl from the gym that never invites you out? Your husband, or a coworker you don’t have much in common with? Take-home tip: Think about what friendships and relationships are worth your investment, and which ones could be let go. It’ll be hard. Really hard. But it’s worth it to put all of your relational time into the few people you care about the most.
The worst part of vacation (besides it ending) is the travel time — driving to the airport, checking bags, customs, security, layovers. Can I just be on vacation already! But the one thing I look forward to on airplanes is disconnecting. I shut off my phone, leave my laptop at home, and actually hope that I won’t have a back-of-seat television to distract me. This is my time to read and journal. Prior to Canada, I’d finished one book since high school, and it was on a plane. This trip, I finished two, on top of spending some time in my Bible. On the flight out, I journaled a selfish thought about my business. On my way home, and after finishing my books and spending a week on the trails, I realized how wrong and self-centered I was, and journaled the opposite. Slowly, one step at a time – reflection, relaxation, reading – I was changing.
I’m a creature of habit. Wake up at 5:30. Take out the dog. Pack lunch. Read my Bible. Workout. Shower. Primp. Take out the dog again. Leave for work. Arrive 5-minutes late. Not sure how I manage to wake up 3.5 hours before work starts and still be late, but that’s my routine. The great thing about vacation is that you break that routine. We were going to bed early & sleeping in, all in a different time zone. Beautiful! Now back in the real world, I have a chance to reset my schedule. Alarm now goes off at 5:25. Boom — no longer late to work! I used to plan for dinner when I got home from work, now I plan the week’s menu on Sunday. I formerly used weekends for cleaning, now I make time to see my nephews. I’ve created new habits, though it’s not easy. My mind and body want to go back to my old routine, but I am molding myself new. Take-home Tip: If there’s a bad habit you need to break, focus on making the change and reward yourself once you’ve accomplished it.
So if you're not already convinced that you need a vacation to reset, just take a look through some of my photos below. You'll be sure to get wanderlust real quick. You're welcome.
If you’re ready for a refresh — physically, mentally, relationally — take a vacation, I challenge you! Take a nice, looooong vacation and leave the technology at home. But Lauren, this business won’t run itself! I know. I’ve been there. But there’s this great little invention called an “out-of-office message” – use it! Your clients can wait, or hire backup to cover for any emergencies your clients may run into. It’s worth it.
Now let us know what YOUR tips are for rest and relaxation amidst your busy life in the comments below!