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What I Learned on Vacation

Yours truly took a little vacation for a while. It was the first time since BMNB and I bought our house that we took a trip together, so we were long overdue. I went in search of clarity, and I got it from some of the unlikeliest places. Maybe what I learned might be of use to you, so here goes:

1) Sleep is underrated. There's a reason they call it "beauty sleep" -- no sleep, no beauty. I was amazed at how much my skin's appearance improved just because I got more sleep.

2) Rejuvenation is underrated. Sometimes you really need to unplug and just let the world pass you by while you relax and rejuvenate. I didn't realize how much in need of rejuvenation I was until I had it. I returned to work more rested and more focused.

3) Sometimes you can't get the answers unless you become still and listen for them. I went searching for clarity on what to do next with my life and what to do about an increasingly iffy job situation. I wouldn't have gotten the answers I did had I not taken a break from my normal busy routine to stop, wait, and listen.

4) Water is underrated. Just increasing my water intake improved my energy level immensely.

5) Caffeine is overrated. I can't say I kicked caffeine completely to the curb, but I definitely decreased my intake and I noticed the difference. I'm not as hair-trigger as I had been and not so physically depleted when my day ends.

6) Turn off your T.V. You'd be surprised how much you won't miss it. I didn't watch television except for the news shows. Instead, I read. I didn't really miss it.

7) Fun is underrated. I'm really good at scheduling meetings and the like, but lousy at scheduling in fun. I didn't realize how much I missed doing something just for the fun of it without feeling guilty that I wasn't working on something or doing something for the benefit of my household. We all need fun. I rented "Easy A" this weekend for free (Thanks, Redbox!) and had a ball watching it, especially the references to John Hughes' movies of the '80's. I'm going to try to schedule in more fun, even if it means that other things don't get done. There will always be work to do. You gotta have fun.

8) Have a "bucket list." And don't wait until you're terminally ill to have one. I have one that I wrote when I was in college but I can't find it. I didn't realize how important it is to have one until recently when I was in a Starbucks and was chatting with a couple and their college-aged daughter about artists I never got to see perform live, like the Beatles (I was too young.) The daughter said I needed to see Cirque du Soleil's "Love," which is set to Beatles' tunes. "It was on my bucket list," she said. I told her she was too young to have a bucket list, but I later realized we all should have a bucket list of things we want to see, do, or be before we die. I was even able to cross one item off my bucket list on vacation. Without a bucket list, you'll never get around to doing things that are meaningful to you because you won't have the reminder that the list represents. I'm going to find the list I wrote back in college.

9) Walking is underrated. Instead of catching cabs or buses, I walked everywhere. It felt great! Plus, the weather was great. I didn't realize how much I missed sustained physical activity, even though my hips and butt hurt the next day. Even 30 minutes of walking a day will make a huge difference in your health.

10) Sometimes Kathie Lee Gifford has something wise to say. I was watching "Later Today," and there was a segment on turning your hobby into a paying gig. Kathie Lee Gifford passed on two pieces of advice she received from her father: 1) Figure out something you're passionate about, then figure out how to get paid doing it; and 2) If you put up with with you've been getting, you deserve what you've got. I'm definitely going to get to work on number 1. Who knew that Kathie Lee Gifford might have pearls of wisdom to share?

11) You have to pull back and get a different perspective. Having the distance and time away from all the things I've been involved in has given me a different perspective. I started to think of all the commitments I'd made and thought of how those commitments don't necessarily reflect my priorities for myself or my family. I need to adjust the time and energy I spend so that they're consonant with my priorities. I also realized that I've allowed certain folks to feel they have a right to my talents and my time. They don't.

12) Boundaries are crucial. People will sometimes cross your boundaries without malice -- they don't even know they're crossing a boundary. I've come to realize that I really value my independence and my privacy, and I will do a better job of protecting both down the line, even if doing so isn't what people might expect or isn't considered "nice."

Well, that's what I learned on vacation. If you've got some vacation wisdom to share, be sure to comment.

Oh, and Gung hay fat choy! (Happy Lunar New Year!).

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