Why Your Vacation Isn't Working

unwind pace live every week like shark week

- Jen Wise

Let me just be honest: the entire premise of this post is based on a Tracy Jordan quote, so if that is going to bum you out, you know where to click.

A few years ago while on vacation a realization struck me: most of what I love about being on vacation really has little to do with the location, spending money, or anything spectacular. Sure, I love going to fun new restaurants, trying new activities, and taking in the local beauty. But what I truly value most in a vacation is getting to just embrace and enjoy the time: long walks with my family, riding bikes, leisurely cooking dinner with fresh, local ingredients, waking early to sip coffee and have some quiet time on the patio… it’s these little rhythms of the week that make it so sweet.

And that’s when it hit me: live every week like it’s shark week. Tracy Jordan was right.

 

 

Often times on vacation we’re this more-alive version of ourselves—we slow down, we eat better food, we get more sleep, we spend more time with people we love. But why do we think it has to end there? Why do we unwind for a week—invest in what matters for a week—and then come home and pick right back up where we left off? And we wonder why we’re worn out, stressed, and unhealthy.

Here’s the thing: slipping away for a bit can give us a sweet space to unwind and nurture relationships, but if we completely neglect these things in our day-to-day life, it’s the same as going on a 3-day juice fast then returning to a diet of fast food—no one is going to be surprised when you’re not any healthier or fitter.

What if we lived every week like it was special, like it contained all the possibilities of a trip to the shore? Let's make a conscious decision to form new habits, new routines.

Think of our mornings—sure, most of us don’t have the luxury of sitting out on our patio reading and sipping coffee for hours each morning, but we probably can wake 30 minutes earlier to enjoy the fresh air and think, read, dream, pray, journal—whatever it is that prepares our hearts for the day.

And family. Is it sad that we need to leave town to spend more time with the people who live in our very own homes? Of course we’re all so busy, and being home means more responsibilities, people to answer to, and tasks waiting to be done. But what if we made a point to not be over-scheduled, over-committed, and spread thin? What if not every single evening held lessons, sports, and clubs? What if we actually had space to toss the ball around in the yard, go for a bike ride, or snuggle up and work your way through a good book together?

And the evening, let’s talk about evenings, because these are tricky. There’s nothing wrong with watching TV—I love watching a great story unfold over time. The thing is, most evenings spent in front of the television are less about great entertainment, and more about the path of least resistance. When our laptop is finally closed, the children are finally in bed, and it seems no one needs us, are we choosing to sit down and watch something, or is it just habit? Is it just what we do because we’re not intentionally doing anything else? What if instead of zoning out in front of a screen, we popped a bottle of wine, sat under the stars, and shared a bit of our days and a bit of ourselves?

It doesn’t have to be big things, either—we waste small windows of time all throughout our day as our minds and bodies plea for a break. Maybe rather than ‘unplugging’ by realizing we’ve been staring at our phones for 20 minutes, how about intentionally unplugging for a bike ride around the block, or to play a few songs on the piano, or to enjoy a mug of tea and a sunny spot on the porch?

By all means, go on vacation. Slip away for a long weekend. Find times to completely and utterly unplug. But let’s look for little ways to bring vacation into the everyday. Let’s live every week like it’s shark week.