How I Spent My Summer Vacation
I must confess. This is not an article about a trip to Paris or lying on a beach in Hawaii. It’s about how I chose to spend my two week vacation this Summer in a way that would benefit my own mind.
My first question was to ask myself what my definition of a holiday was; there are many possible interpretations of a vacation, many very valid.
For me, I decided that the most important thing for me about experiencing a vacation is to let go. By this I mean to let go of the things that tie me to the stress and frenetic pace of daily life; counsellors, despite their professional training, are not immune to this! I also needed to do something pretty practical and tangible because that is the type of person I am.
So I decided to get specific and venture into the “great unknown.” I decided to unplug. No cell phone. No emails (work or personal). No Internet. I asked myself whether I was crazy to attempt this. Would I start jonesing from a lack of technology?
I had a few concerns:
- Would I miss connecting with others?
- What would people think if they didn’t get an email response from me? (I’m a conscientious person)
- Would I get bored?
- How would I get information that I was used to accessing on the Internet?
Answering My Questions
I had anticipated an acute state of withdrawal. I’ve always felt that I work too much on my computer. But something strange happened: I felt lighter, relieved, unburdened, delighted.
Did I miss connecting with others? Yes, but I re-evaluated the extent I need to do so. I don’t have to spend excess time on Facebook or Twitter. Small, targeted, purposeful time periods are enough for me. For the time being, I’ve reduced my social networking by at least 50%.
I had a lot of messages in my inboxes when I came back from holidays. This was a little overwhelming! And there were people whom I never connected with professionally because of the time lag in returning their email or phone messages.
Did I get bored? Surprisingly no! Instead I:
- Appreciated the peaceful setting where I was vacationing
- Picked up a hobby that I had previously abandoned for 2 years
- Spent more quality time with my family where I was more mentally present
- Found more time for doing other things I previously didn’t feel I had time for, realizing what a time waster that technology can be.
- Meditated more
For the most part, I had to give up my desire for instant information. For example, I made cinnamon buns and wanted to make a glaze. But how? I had no recipe and no icing sugar. I remember hearing once that cornstarch and granulated sugar could be combined in such a way to make homemade icing sugar. But what were the proportions? Mine was a stab in the dark which sort-of-not-exactly worked out. I got creative and suggested that it would make a better “dipping sauce” for the buns, just in case it wasn’t to everyone’s taste.
I cheated twice, using someone else’s computer for 5-10 minutes to deal with two urgent situations. Yes, life isn’t perfect.
I do need to say that I appreciate technology even more since my “cleanse.” It’s useful, but I don’t want it to control me. I want to consciously choose when I use it, and for the right reasons. My peace of mind depends on it.
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