Friday, May 27, 2016

A Bit of Child's Play

The end of May seems to be right smack dab in the middle of the second busiest season of the year for us; the first being Thanksgiving/Christmas. It is the season of graduations, Mother's Day, birthdays and Father's Day with an occasional wedding thrown in the mix. I am feeling desperate for a vacation. This year due to a couple of unplanned events we have gotten a late start on deciding the what, when and where of vacation. As we jockey for a position between co-workers' vacations, we penciled two possible options on the calendar from which to give ourselves a week of renewal. One of the seven-days-in-a-row time frames has a family event attached to each end of it. Then we have to wrestle with the idea of missing one or book ending our much needed week with celebrations. Those of you who know my husband and I know we like to be at family events, but rarely mix these gatherings into a recipe for vacation.

Vacation means something different for everyone. When I was a kid it mostly meant parents took a week off of work and did projects around the house; we didn't go on vacations. Summer vacation was a reading fest for me; it was a time to roam outside and daydream. Childhood summers were filled with helping my grandma in the garden, snapping beans and pitting cherries, visiting cousins in Cincinnati, family reunions and going to the county fair. We didn't go on trips, but I dreamed of seeing the world one day.

Not only have I not seen the world, I haven't even left the continent of the United States and I dont have a passport. No pity here. I have taken vacations though. You know, gone places and done things. I rarely do a stay-cation. I like to get out of town and mill around someplace with which I am unacquainted. I love tucking away the part of me that cares so much and rest. Resting for me is reading, discovering quaint shops, used book stores and lovely little hikes. Discovering unexpected treasures apart from the plan is one of the best parts of a restful vacation.

One year Jim and I drove north on the coastal highway, a beautiful experience; at one point I spotted a whale spout, then another and another. We finally pulled over and watched for spouts as my excitement grew and awareness dawned; the gray whales were migrating north. I loved the idea of joining them. That particular vacation was packed with all kinds of adventure and, to my husband's surprise, my greatest joy was in seeing the whale spouts off the coast and the feeling of connection to the whales' migration.

Now when you are going on vacation with someone else it is no longer just about what you need or want. My husband and I like similar things, but the differences do stretch me. He likes to go help someone (selfishly, I just like helping myself) and he likes to see things more than I do and with more intensity; he is task driven. For me, vacation isn't a task, it is an attitude of being present with myself, with him and in the moment. It is chill time even when family factors into the experience. And I love just being alone with my husband and no one else. Part of the dilemma of planning our vacation is agreeing on one in which we both have our needs met.

I do love going and seeing. I love road trips, but I miss summers off and just being a kid. Fortunately at this time my schedule is somewhat flexible, but I have some extra work pressures right now related to licensing. So just in case I don't get enough of the kinds of things I need on vacation (How can I, it is just a week?), I am making a list of ways to insert mini-vacations into my summer. I will have to discipline myself to work these in, but me thinks this may work in conjunction with my efforts at Sabbath rest. Here are a few things that give me a dose of the good ol' summer time kind of relaxation, as well as remind me of my grandparents.

  • Nurture potted plants on the patio and throughout the yard. Even planning on a herb pot outside the kitchen door.
  • Reread childhood favorites like:
    Professor Diggins Dragons by Felice Holman (Has anyone else read this one?)
    Up the Road Slowly by Irene Hunt
    Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
    Heidi by Johanna Spryi
  • Sketch and color
  • Blow bubbles (I know some of you are laughing right now, but bubble blowing is calming. Maybe you should try it.)
  • Sew a fun project (nothing necessary or serious)
  • Make a picnic like grandma: fried chicken, potato salad, sweet pickles, cheese, and sugar cookies
  • Visit the nursery that has farm animals
  • Eat ice cream at the beach
  • Better yet, make homemade ice cream
  • Fly kites

What are your vacation plans? What are the summer time activities you find relaxing and reminiscent of childhood summers?

P.S. Photo looking through the gate at my grandparent's home was taken by my niece Kadi J. Love.

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