Not Exactly a Vacation Day!

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.

18 Responses to Not Exactly a Vacation Day!

  1. Salley Mcmullin April 24, 2013 at 9:30 am #

    You need to be a part of a contest for one of the best sites on the internet. I most certainly will highly recommend this blog!

    • sharon April 24, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

      Thanks very much, Salley. I look forward to hearing your comments on this or any other blog on the site. Your perspective can help us all.

      Sending a hug,

      Sharon

  2. Lyndia Buley April 15, 2013 at 12:33 am #

    I blog quite often and I really appreciate your content. Your article has truly peaked my interest. I’m going to bookmark your site and keep checking for new details about once a week. I opted in for your Feed as well.

    • sharon April 30, 2013 at 10:03 am #

      Thanks very much, Lyndia. We look forward to any perspective that you wish to share with us. With all the best wishes,

      Sharon

  3. Katy Minuski March 12, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

    Sharon,

    I can absolutely relate to this! I always feel an intense pressure to get work done even when I’m home resting, relaxing, or taking time to myself. I know that I don’t need to feel this way but sometimes I just can’t help it. Reading that this happens to you makes me feel a lot better though and I hope that I can work on this in the future. I plan on taking a couple days off in a few weeks and I will definitely enjoy every minute of my mini-vacation too!

    Best,

    Katy

    • sharon March 13, 2013 at 10:54 pm #

      Thanks very much for your comments, Katy, and I hope that you have a terrific mini-vacation!

      Sending love and a big hug,

      Sharon

  4. Ann Lee-Jeffs March 11, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

    Having time to think about why I am doing what I am doing help me to shapes how I do things…I used to get chased by all the things I need to do, instead of taking the time for myself to really asking why I feel compelled to be focused on being transactional….. This process of periodically checking in with me about why am I doing what I am doing helps me to have a little bit of time to myself on regular basis. I also try to take care of me, by taking time to some excercise and try to eat right….. Not easy but friends like you remind myself to question why am I doing what I am doing…..so, thank you for all your encouragements Sharon! A big hug back to you, Ann

    • sharon March 12, 2013 at 6:40 am #

      Ann, thanks very much for your comments and for the reminder that this is a process and not a one-time event. I also appreciate the image you use of getting chased by the many things we need to do — it does feel like that sometimes. Thank you for sharing your perspective and advice.

      Sending a big hug,

      Sharon

  5. Laura March 11, 2013 at 8:24 pm #

    Hi Sharon,
    I was hoping to receive a blog update from you soon :). They’re so inspirational and I can always relate. Please don’t stop sending them!

    I’ve accepted that email will always be there tomorrow, but I believe most personal needs- including time with loved ones- can’t wait until tomorrow. For awhile, I found myself logging in early, staying late, and picking up extra responsibilities without the recognition. It’s sometimes a struggle to choose *you* over work, but I try to remind myself that a job can replace me, but I am irreplaceable to my family and friends. For me, time with them rewards me immensely. Scheduling that balance is a way to do it. It’s just a matter of sticking to it and consciously putting everything into perspective. Finding that perspective is something I try to remind myself everyday until it becomes second nature again. Reminders that others feel the same way is helpful!

    Best,
    Laura

    • sharon March 12, 2013 at 6:44 am #

      Thanks very much, Laura, for your sharing your insights. I am struck by the truth of your comment that “I try to remind myself that a job can replace me, but I am irreplaceable to my family and friends.” You give us an excellent framing for how we choose to invest our time. Thank you!

      Sending a big hug,

      Sharon

  6. Kandy Ferree March 11, 2013 at 10:22 am #

    Sharon,
    As always, your reflection and choice to share it were right on time…. Today, my birthday, My Day! I have taken a “vacation” day since high school, despite my parents’ objections at times. I had planned to do the same today. A self-care day. No work, just reading, a long walk by the river and quiet dinner with family.
    Then a few weeks ago, I was at a client meeting. They began to search calendars to find a date for their next full board meeting and evening of 3/11 came up as the best date for them. I too was feeling the need to please – it was my client after all AND I felt like I had mis-stepped a few weeks earlier so needed to compensate. So, I made a joke that this meeting they would have to bring the Cannoli from Arthur Ave. in the Bronx, instead of me, and agreed to the meeting.

    Then I got a request from the Chair of the Board of my son’s school to meet this week, in preparation for next week’s board meeting. I agreed to 1 hour meeting at 9am telling myself that “it was only an hour, and it was family-directed so it was ok.” The meeting was productive….

    Then, I decided that I also “needed” to get my 2012 books in order for the business and ready things for my 2012 taxes. And this “needed” to be done before I jumped on a plane for a work trip to San Francisco, tomorrow. So, another thing to add to an already busy “vacation” day that was my birthday too.

    Then I find myself sitting at my computer reflecting on the decisions I have made and wondering if i can chose differently, in real time.

    • sharon March 11, 2013 at 7:21 pm #

      Happy birthday, Kandy! I hope that you celebrate for a month, especially since you did not spend it as you had originally planned. Thanks very much for sharing your comments with us, describing a scenario that, with some variations, many of us have experienced. One thing and then another and then another, leading to an un-birthday or un-vacation day!

      Sending a very big hug,

      Sharon

  7. Elaine March 11, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    Sharon, thank you so much for this! I find myself doing the same thing and am so happy I am not alone in this. I feel very guilty taking vacation days when I know my colleagues are working and almost always check my email on days off. I too look forward to advice from others! Look forward to seeing you soon!

    • sharon March 11, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

      Elaine, thanks so much for your comments. We can all encourage each other as we learn to unplug completely from work when we need time for ourselves and/or for those we love.

      Sending a big hug,

      Sharon

  8. Eugena March 11, 2013 at 8:59 am #

    This happens more often than not… and not only on vacation days but other times when I should be doing something other than work. Thanks, Sharon, for a great reminder that time for oneself should be just that. I am trying to ensure that my energy is well spent on the people and things I value most. It’s a great reminder that *I* should be one of the people that I value most as well. There is a reason they say to put on your oxygen mask on first before helping others… I hardly ever do that. This reminds me to do so.

    Thanks again!

    • sharon March 11, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

      Thank you very much for your comments, Eugena. I appreciate your advice “to ensure that my energy is well spent on the people and things I value most.” The oxygen mask analogy is good one that I will remember.

      Sending a big hug,

      Sharon

  9. Amy Jumbelic March 11, 2013 at 7:47 am #

    Hi Sharon – as always, i love reading these blogs and notes from you. It makes me feel closer to you – as it has been way too long since i have seen you! I am smiling reading this as I can certainly relate. We are so trained in that feeling of accomplishment at work but perhaps need to strive harder for that same feeling for ourselves. I guess we need to step back and think about what is important in the long run, answering/conquering the unending emails or, taking some me time to recover and revive ourselves? Thanks for prompting the thought! Hugs Amy

    • sharon March 11, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

      So good to hear from you, Amy, and thanks for the reminder that we need “to step back and think about what is important in the long run.” It’s very good advice. Hoping to see you in the not-too-distant future and in the meantime, sending a very big hug!

      Sharon