Now that the summer vacation season is underway, I’ve been pondering the idea of vacations. My husband and I have been self employed for years now, so technically we can go on vacation whenever we want. We do have to continue to work while we’re away, but our job can be done from anywhere with a laptop and internet connection.
Once our son is old enough to appreciate and enjoy trips, we’ll start going on them again. But for now, they’re on hold. But as much as I enjoy traveling to new places, I am not sitting here thinking about all the places I’d like to visit five years from now. Instead, we’re actively working to create a life from which we don’t need or want to get away. I think that for a lot of people, vacations are as much about getting away from normal life as they are about seeing new places. Most people get two or three weeks of vacation time each year. Do you really want to have two or three great weeks per year, during which you try to get away from whatever it is you do with your time the other 49 or 50 weeks? I would rather have 52 great weeks and no desire to escape from my life. If we get the urge to see some new, exciting place once our son is a little older, that would be great. But I don’t ever want vacation to feel like escape, or to be something that I look forward to with so much anticipation that I forget to appreciate all the regular life days that lead up to it.
Some people are in situations (for example, being a full-time caregiver to a person with Alzheimer’s) that probably require some form of regular “escape” no matter how they tweak their life to make it as enjoyable as possible. But for many of us, the things we’re trying to escape from are self-imposed stresses. Tons of extra-curricular activities for our kids is one example. Kids do not need to be enrolled in six different kinds of lessons throughout their entire childhood in order to grow up to be good, talented people. Another example is the vehicles we drive. We don’t need to be spending a good chunk of our income each year (which translates into a good chunk of our time) buying, insuring, and maintaining cars. Old, paid-for cars are great, and so are bicycles.
The money we earn can be used for so many things, but most of us are using it to pay for houses, cars, stuff to fill up the houses, and two weeks of vacation each year to escape from our lives. It doesn’t have to be this way. What if we started to really focus on how we can create a life that we never want to leave? Travel could still be a part of that life (if that’s what makes you happy) but it could be for the adventure rather than as an escape.
My husband and I have made the happy discovery that we both love working in the garden, with our son and our dog playing in the yard nearby. We both love digging in the dirt, tending our little plants, adding beautiful flowers and trees to our little oasis, and seeing new sprouts and buds each day. We’ve been harvesting radishes now for a week or so, and the kale and chard are exploding. We will have zucchini ready next week, and we’ve been eating spinach salads every day lately. Our dream is becoming a reality, and it feels amazing. It took a lot of effort to get here. We had to make some major changes – realizing that what we really wanted (a huge garden) was not compatible with where we were living, and then going through the process of selling our house and buying another one. Our 3/4 acre yard was a blank (but weedy!) canvas when we first saw it a year ago, and now it has an orchard, a berry patch, and 27 vegetable beds. It also has ten new flowering trees (each about a foot tall), lots of new evergreens (also about a foot tall), some new shade trees, and lots of flowering perennials that we found for free on the sidewalk down the street last fall.
But although it has taken much effort to get to this point, we have enjoyed every minute of that effort. We have found something that we both love doing, and it doesn’t feel like work. It feels like we’re on vacation every day. Yes, we still have to work to keep our business running, but we get to do that from our own home, and hang out with our son at the same time. And every afternoon/evening, we get to go out and play in the yard.
What it takes to feel like you’re on vacation every day is obviously going to be different from one person to the next. But the important part is to figure out what it means for you. And what it doesn’t mean. And then take a close look to see if what you’re spending your time and money on is really what matters to you. If it isn’t, start making changes. It’s that simple, but putting it into practice isn’t easy. Really, major changes rarely are, because we are creatures of inertia. It’s easier to stay in a rut, even if that rut isn’t making us happy. But the effort required to get out of our ruts is truly worth it.
I’ll leave you with some pictures from around our yard this morning. This is our potato bed, freshly covered with a new layer of compost and hay:
And here is our son’s sandbox, which he loves. We ended up lining the hole with weed blocking fabric to create a barrier between the clay and the sand, and our little guy has been having a blast out there.
And some beautiful surprise irises that popped up this spring:
Happy Wednesday! Enjoy pondering what you can do to start creating a life from which you never want to escape.