Sunday, August 9, 2015

Taking an actual vacation

I’ve mentioned so many times in this space about how I fit it all in. The full-time job, the two kids, my ultrarunning habit, freelance writing and editing, and, of course, my love of loves, my fiction writing.

I work my butt off to get it all in. I write on my phone at the gym and over my lunch break, edit clients’ manuscripts after the kids have gone to bed and the house is quiet.

It is rare for me to stop doing so much.

But this week it happened.

I had planned on doing a little pre-revision to a rough draft I finished last week. I had a few items I wanted to fix before reading through the manuscript as a whole for the first time, and I decided I would use my vacation in Colorado to do just that.

Whether by chance or the luck of the draw with kids’ naps and downtime, I happened to finish everything on my pre-revision list by Monday evening. Meaning, I still had four days in the mountains and no work on the horizon. Sure, I could’ve just started reading/editing my first draft right then and there. It was ready to go, after all.

But instead, I took one look at the mountains and said, “Nope.”

I decided to let the manuscript breathe for a week, and, therefore, gave myself a chance to air out as well.

So, for four days I took a real vacation. From everything. I didn’t edit. I didn’t revise. I didn’t open my document a single time.

Instead, I went for multiple runs, hiked with the kids, read a book for FUN—the excellent AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir…a book that I told myself I wouldn’t read until I finished my first draft—ate cookies, hung out with my parents and niece, and did yoga on our cabin’s front porch (see the above pic and excuse my sweat because I went for a run pre-yoga).

It was glorious.

It was also a lesson in something I’m typically terrible at: taking a rest. Yes, I know it’s good for the soul. I know it’s good for my creativity. I know it’s good for work-life balance. I know all this, yet I find it impossible to look a window of work time in the mouth and say, “Nah, not today.” No, if I have that window, I hop through it, MacBook Air in hand.

But this time? I’m so glad I let that window fill up without “work.”

When was your last “real” vacation?

P.S.: E.B., as you can see, I pick the mountains over the beach any day.


KM Rockwood said...

Great timing! I read this just as I am getting ready to go on a family vacation.

I just printed out the submissions from two of my critique group partners to go over on while waiting in the airport or on the plane.

I've e-mailed my own submission for that group (we're getting together an anthology) so I can work on it if I want to. My experience is that if I don't have access to what I'm working on, I'll fret over changes I want to make & am afraid I will forget.

I think my next novel, Abductions and Lies, is ready for my final edit (Ha! they're never "ready.") and e-mailed it so I can have access to it, too, for when I wake up with one of those "Wait a minute..." moments. They are much better when they occur prior to sending the manuscript off than just after you've hit the "send" button.

Since the person who takes care of the dogs when we're away is also one of my best sources of information, I'm making a mental list of questions for the book I'm planning. How often has your parole officer shown up unannounced? How about the police? I know they've done parole searches of your truck, but how about the house? I also know they have called & told you to meet them in a public parking lot a block away (parking can be a problem in that neighborhood) How discreet are they in public? Are they polite or demanding?

Does all the disqualify it as an "actual vacation?" I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone.

Sounds like you struck a nice balance with your family.

Jim Jackson said...

It’s one of those lessons that is important to incorporate because here is an old man’s truth: if you don’t take time for rest along the way, you break down. The body, the mind, the spirit all need rest to be whole.

Glad you got at least four days of it.

I’m reminded of an employee who wouldn’t take his vacation time. I finally told him, I was forbidding him from coming into the office for two weeks. I gave him plenty of lead time, and told him I didn’t care what he did as long as it was not at the office. AND that his direct reports were not going to take his call AND if they wanted to talk to him about a question, they needed my permission first.

He was mortified. I stayed firm. He took the two weeks as required by me and returned pissed that I hadn’t made him do it earlier. I had no furhter problems with him and his vacations – and a guy everyone figured would work until he was 70, retired at 55 (he could afford it because he’d never spent money on vacations or anything else!)

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

I'm so glad you got a vacation, Sarah (even if it wasn't at the beach!). My vacation isn't very relaxing. I've had non-stop guests and business concerns--and it appears that I'm back to scratch business wise. It's an arduous process, but I keep thinking of when everything falls into place, when my husband and I can get up in the morning and go to the beach. He'll fish, I'll shell and just enjoy it all.

Being able to visit and talk with your parents is special. Although my parents are dead, talking with them usually wasn't a pleasure. Funny thing though--a friend of mine had her parents here at the beach. I enjoyed talking with them! Maybe it was too close for comfort or fear of judgment--not sure, but my friend's parents were fun.

Gloria Alden said...

Sarah, I'm glad you're getting a vacation. I remember the years when I was raising four children that were born less than five years apart. However, even when they were still babies, we went on camping trips with my parents and whatever of my siblings still lived at home. Those were great vacations since there was help with the cooking and setting up the camp sites. Lots of sightseeing, hiking and sitting around the campfire talking and laughing at night. Several weeks ago, as I blogged here, I took an 8 day camping trip with two sisters. It was fun, but I was glad to be home when it was over.

Because I'm retired and live alone, even though I keep quite busy, I still have less stressful days with less demand on my time except for my dog or cats wanting my attention, or friends or family calling me when I'm in the midst of writing. Still, all in all, most of my days start with a quiet walk in the woods that is as good as anything else I could do to bring peace to my soul.

Sarah Henning said...

KM - Hahahaha, your vacation is basically how I normally do vacation. I think it qualifies!

Sarah Henning said...

Jim - That's a great story! And so true. Burn out really happens and it's funny because you don't notice it until you're forced to realize how much time you need off. I'm glad you made him take his vacation time!

Sarah Henning said...

E.B. - I knew you were a beach person! You do need your time to finally relax at the ocean and just enjoy it. It'll happen some day. And then those shells better watch out! I actually really like the ocean but our family vacations have always been to the mountains, so maybe, even though I lived in South Florida for four years, I'm not "conditioned" to enjoy the beach as much as the mountains? Or maybe I just got soft living there:)

Sarah Henning said...

Gloria - Starting the day with the a walk sounds lovely. Vacationing with all those kids, are a super woman. My husband and I were just talking about how once the baby is one we really need to try to take a long weekend *just* the two of us. It's not very relaxing chasing around two kids, and we actually had three because my adorable toddler niece was with us. Nap time was my run/yoga time!

Shari Randall said...

A "real" vacation…hmmmm….
I think most people would say the Mediterranean cruise my husband and I took to celebrate our anniversary last year was a vacation, but I usually come back from all our trips exhausted. We tend to GO on vacation - emphasis on GO - and try to pack in as much as we can. So we come back tired.
I'm seeing the wisdom of an unplugged, sitting on the beach - or porch overlooking the mountains - vacation. Some peace and less activity would be great.
I'm glad you got some "you" time - being a parent is one of the toughest jobs of all. Nice when everyone shares care of the little ones and mom gets some run/yoga time.

Kara Cerise said...

It's so important to rest the body and mind. Glad you had a nice time, Sarah.

My husband and I vacationed in the mountains near a lake last month. It started out to be a good escape from everyday life especially because of the sketchy Internet and cell phone service. But then my husband injured his back. Now I need a vacation from my vacation.

I'm impressed with your yoga pose!