On a challenging afternoon at the beginning of February, I decided to schedule a vacation day before the end of the month. I clicked through my calendar to find one that did not seem overly booked and Friday, February 22, seemed ideal. There were two blocks of unscheduled time on that day and the meetings already scheduled were ones that could easily be moved to earlier in the week. I blocked off the 22nd and typed VACATION, claiming the day for myself.
Making vacation days matter is hard work
I looked forward to it and thought about what I wanted to do – sleep late, take a long walk, catch up on correspondence, attend a meditation class and then have dinner with a good friend. It promised to be an excellent day, one that I felt I owed myself.
When the 22nd finally arrived, it did not start off as I had hoped. Rather than sleeping late, I woke up at 5:45 a.m. I could have stayed in bed but since it was earlier than I expected to be up, I decided to take thirty minutes to wrap up a blog that I had written for work. Then, I promised myself, the vacation day would begin. By 6:00 my tea was brewed and I had logged in. All I needed to do was make a few final edits to the blog and forward it to the appropriate person for posting. Thirty minutes, tops.
No doubt you have already guessed that I did not switch off my computer at 6:30. One thing led to another and when I logged off just before noon I had accomplished a lot. I had not, however, honored the commitment I made to myself when I blocked off the 22nd weeks earlier. A question played over and over in my mind, “How can I encourage others to take loving care of themselves when I just spent over five hours working on a vacation day?” I sighed and decided that rather than berate myself, I would enjoy every remaining minute of my mini-vacation, and I did. It was a wonderful afternoon and evening.
Be true to yourself
In thinking about that day now I ask myself why it was so easy for me to switch into “work” mode and stay there for hours? No one had asked me to work on my vacation day. It was my choice. And while I remember feeling a sense of accomplishment at having gotten so many things done before I switched off my laptop, I had also felt something else, an underlying unease that had remained with me through the afternoon and evening.
A few minutes ago, I sat quietly, took several deep breaths (my solution in many situations) and checked in with myself. I realize now that what I really felt was disappointment. I had let myself down. I also understand that working that day had to be linked to a need to please others. Striving to avoid letting others down, responding to requests as I read them that morning, I let myself down instead.
Happily, I see this for what it is – another valuable lesson, another insight on the long road to self-discovery and self-love. Few of us make the commitment to carve out time just for ourselves, and fewer still honor that commitment to its fullest. I am doing better with this since February 22nd, though it is a process of unlearning reflexive behaviors and reminding myself frequently that I cannot be of service to others if I do not first take care of myself.
Share your self love secrets with us
As you read this I am certain that you have insights to share that can help me, and others, honor our commitments to ourselves. I thank you in advance for sharing them in the comment section below. We have much to learn from each other and from ourselves if we choose to do so.