The Necessity of Vacation

(As previously seen on the HelaWrite blog.)

For the next two weeks, I’m creating my own sort of writer’s retreat, up in the boons of Northern California with my grandmother. I’ve got WiFi (which is on a limited GB plan!), but we were on dial-up up here just a few years ago. No joke. On Wednesday, my most exciting event was finding a dead raccoon and a (live) frolicking deer while taking the dog for a walk to the mailbox, which is down the street.

I’ve been here for a week already, however, feeling more relaxed than I have since I got back from Spain a few months ago. The most convenient part about my little retreat is that I have been able to focus on very important projects, including NaNoWriMo2014. I have never written so much in such a short time. Woot! 

Me in Oahu, Hawaii 2006

Me in Oahu, Hawaii 2006

Having time to ourselves to work on projects and reflect about things in our lives is very important. Therefore, I’d like to touch briefly on the importance of vacation–whether it’s a day of reflection or a week (or more) away from everything.

Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2007 with my grandparents.

Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2007 with my grandparents.

When I was 21, I had worked for 3 years straight with NO vacation. I thought I could conquer the world while working full-time, and going to school full-time. I worked 7 days a week (for the most part) and nearly collapsed from doing waaaayyyyy too much. Then I had a wake-up call when I finally took a vacation. 

Me in Campello, Spain in 2008--a life-changing vacation.

Me in Campello, Spain in 2008–a life-changing vacation.

One of my best friends was getting married in Hawaii and I didn’t want to miss the wedding. I booked a flight and hotel for both my sister and I, and decided we’d make the trip a full 8-day vacation. It was glorious. I had nearly forgotten how wonderful it was to relax and do next to nothing. I came alive again. And I realized that I hated working so much and needed to make a big change in my life.

Girls trip to Disneyland (CA) for Halloween 2009.

Girls’ trip to Disneyland (CA) for Halloween 2009.

A few months after that vacation, I quit my job and pursued other career paths. I was so happy and wondered what had taken me so long to make the change. Then I remembered that my vacation had triggered my desire for change, and that’s when I understood how important vacation is. Had I not taken that trip, who knows how long it would have taken for me to realize that I needed to make a drastic turnaround?

St. Louis, Missouri in 2010. Famous arch in the background.

St. Louis, Missouri in 2010. Famous arch in the background.

Vacation–or even reflection days–can bring clarity that the day-to-day grind can’t. It brings us to a different place physically (sometimes) and mentally (almost always) because we are removed from the norm. When we fail to take time for ourselves to reflect, get away from “it all,” and evaluate our current work/life situation, we do ourselves a disservice. We are more likely to fall into unhealthy habits all around, and wonder why we feel dissatisfied or stuck.

My nephew and I in Disneyland (CA) for my baby sister's Sweet 16 in 2011.

My nephew and me in Disneyland (CA) for my baby sister’s Sweet 16 in 2011.

Vacation doesn’t have to be something expensive or burdensome. It can be a day set aside once a month, or every other month, in order to disconnect from all our devices and e-mail, and become centered. It can be a day where our sole purpose is to journal and project the future of our business or career–or even plan our next novel. It’s a day where we ask ourselves: Am I where I want to be?

Times Square, New York with my mom in 2012.

With my mom in Times Square, New York in 2012.

And, if the answer is “no,” then we can use the remainder of our away time to come up with a way to answer “yes” in the near future.

Me, basking in the Cabo San Lucas, Mexico moonlight in 2013.

Me, basking in the Cabo San Lucas, Mexico moonlight in 2013.

I would like to note that an annual getaway does amazing things for our perspective on life. For myself, I come back from vacation with a new vision for my business and writing endeavors, and I just feel rested and ready for the next chapter of my life. I’m a nicer person when I come back from vacation, and that’s always a good thing. Being happier and more relaxed means that I’m a healthier person who can run a healthy business. I’ve made it a rule to travel somewhere at least once a year since that trip to Hawaii nearly a decade ago, and I’ve been blessed enough to keep that rule.

Gorgeous sunset at the Mona Lisa restaurant in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Gorgeous sunset at the Mona Lisa restaurant in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

If vacation is not an option for you in the near future, set aside some reflection days–national holidays are a good start. And, if the thought of vacation stresses you out…um…you should probably take a vacation. 🙂 Grab a piña colada and take some time for yourself. Cheers!

Homemade guacamole (with chips) and a

Homemade guacamole (with chips) and a “handcrafted” piña colada! Made it myself. 😉

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