I have worked at the same company for over twenty-one years and as a result am entitled to five weeks of vacation every year. Since the birth of my grandchildren I have used most of those days to travel back to Canada to visit them (they grow so quickly and I don’t want to miss any more of their lives than I have to). I am blessed to have the time and resource to allow me to do that.
As a result of my using just a few days here and a few days there I have ended up with a significant number of vacation days that must be taken before my anniversary date on July 2 – use it or lose it. This week I took my calendar and marked the days that I will take off. Of course, many of those days will be used to play grandma, but I am also going to take some time for me. I think a week at the end of May will be perfect for gardening and enjoying my home (while my husband goes to work every day!).
I also decided to take a more proactive stance in planning my vacation for the rest of this year and, after some deliberation and discussion with Gerry, I have a calendar marked with vacation for all of 2011. I color-coded that calendar and hung it above my desk so I can see at a glance how long I have to wait until I can take some time off. In addition to having vacation days, I have flex days that I take every second Friday, a reward for working longer days the rest of the time.
The year is looking pretty good.
I realized recently that I have allowed myself to become too busy with a variety of activities – all good and all valuable. Stephen Covey says “the enemy of the “best” is often the “good”” and filling my time to capacity with good things has prevented me from experiencing the best that life has for me at times.
This year, vacation is going to be a priority, it’s going to be one of those “best” things, and not something I dole out to myself a day here and a day there. We will spend plenty of time with our family but I also plan to take time to unplug, garden, walk, and enjoy my home. I don’t want to get to the end of the summer and realize that I have not taken time to sit in my lawn swing all day with a book and a glass of iced tea a few times.
One of the blessings of getting older is the willingness and desire to let go, slow down, and enjoy what God blesses us with. Even more, it’s the wisdom to understand that enjoying these things is one of the best ways to demonstrate gratitude for them. Imagine if you gave a special gift to someone and they put it away on the top shelf of their closet and never took it out to enjoy it. Would you feel that they appreciated the gift? Would you think they were thankful for it?
This year I am planning to take the gift of time off of the shelf, dust it off, and squeeze everything out of every day I am able to. In doing so I will be saying “thank you” and I believe I will be taking better care of myself. And by taking better care of myself I just may receive the gift of more time to enjoy with my family, my friends, and myself.
It’s all part of the circle of life.