Permission to Do Nothing

Today is my first day back at work after more than a week off. I had such grand plans for that week — a whole list of tasks which I’d use all that free time to accomplish.

Oh foolish me.

I got one of those tasks done. One. (And that was rearranging my sock drawer. Possibly the most immediately helpful thing on the list, but certainly not the most important!)

This is just the drawer. There are also four boxes of nicely sorted tights and pantyhose in the closet that used to live in this drawer. Such an improvement!

This is just the drawer. There are also four boxes of nicely sorted tights and pantyhose in the closet that used to live in this drawer. Such an improvement!

It’s amazing how your time can fill up with random bits of nothingness and long chunks of relaxation. I can’t believe how fast the time went by. And I spent all of it with a vague sense of unease because I knew I wasn’t doing all the things I should have been doing. I kinda half-decided that I felt more like lounging around or cooking or going out to eat or … whatever, than I felt like Getting Things Done. (And unfortunate mental health issues didn’t help with that at all.) But I didn’t fully give myself permission to treat those days like a proper vacation.

Oh foolish me.

Sometimes a vacation needs to be a vacation. However, for me to get full rejuvenation from such a break, I need to commit to it. I didn’t do that, so I’m not back at work feeling as refreshed as I should. Not only is there a lot of day-job work ahead of me, but I’ve also decided to work on getting back to my “clean living” lifestyle that seems to have degraded over that last few months. (Note: This is not a New Year’s resolution. It’s simply an attempt to return to what I consider my baseline lifestyle.)

Some of the items I’ll be working toward are exercise (on my elliptical trainer while watching Arrow and The Flash), diet (not a weight-loss diet, but a healthy one with no gluten or dairy and FAR less sugar), and general productivity (using the two hours after I get home from work to Get Things Done before I run out of steam — leaving things until later in the evening never seems to work).

But…

I’m not ready to start that today. (See? It’s not a New Year’s resolution!) One mistake I often make is trying to start too many things at once. This always backfires. So today is simply about getting back into the routine of getting up early and walking to and from work. I was much more sedentary during my time off, and holy buttons, did I sleep in late! (11am or noon wasn’t terribly unusual, so 6:30 felt mighty painful this morning.)

Thus, today, I am officially giving myself permission to Do Nothing.

When I get home, I’ll plop down on the couch with my spouse and some reheated leftovers. We will watch the Oilers game. After that, I will do whatever the heck I feel like, even if that is nothing but play Candy Crush while the TV plays in front of me. In addition, the plan for tomorrow won’t be decided until I see how I feel tonight. If I’m totally wrecked, I’ll give myself another couple of days to ease back into the general grind before I add anything to the routine. (It’ll be two days minimum because there’s another early Oilers game on Thursday. #priorities)

This is me, trying to avoid the pitfalls I’ve dived into before. I’m taking it slowly and hoping that being thoughtful and methodical will result in more success than my sudden headlong rushes have in the past. I’d appreciate it if you’d wish me luck.

A Different Kind of Vacation

Sedona sunset

Almost every vacation I’ve ever taken has been to do something. Go to a convention. See the touristy sights. Look at Doctor Who locations. Visit as many friends and family as I can squeeze into a few days. I come home feeling no more rested than when I left (and often far less so).

This last trip to Sedona, Arizona was something different. Finally. Okay, maybe Steven and I did manage to fill it up with going-and-doing-type-stuff more than was entirely necessary, but it was easily the most relaxed vacation I’ve taken in many many years. And it was great.

I didn’t de-stress quite as much as I would have liked, but the somewhat-enforced relaxation did make a difference that I can feel even now. I’m more clear-headed and ready to face the challenges of the day.

A big part of that was largely unplugging from social media. I didn’t even know where my phone was half the time, and I was 100% ok with that. I checked emails and incoming tweets a few times, but I didn’t check my feeds overall. I had next to no idea what was going on in the larger world and it was fantastic.

This was a family vacation, so I spent lots of quality time with my mom and dad, sister and brother, and my aunt (plus, the aforementioned Steven, of course). We played games (Pandemic! Catan! Apples to Apples!) and grilled our own food and soaked in the hot tub a LOT. There was a ton of just sitting around and talking or reading or staring at the views. (The pic above is a sunset as seen from one of our three patios.)

After experiencing something like this, I realize this is the kind of vacation I truly need every once in a while. I can remember only one beach vacation in Florida that left me feeling so recharged, like I’d gotten what I needed out of a vacation (and that one I spent almost entirely on the beach, reading). This is something I’m going to take into account the next time I start planning future trips.

The tricky thing is I’m not in a financial place to take vacations like this often. (Or at all, really. This one was planned so far in advance that it happened despite my current looking-for-work state.) Even when finances are firmly in the black, there are only so many trips I can take in a year. When I’ve got a day-to-day gig again, there’ll be a limited number of vacation days to take into account too. If I skip Doctor Who conventions (very much do-stuff kinds of trips) for a year that means I miss seeing most of my friends for that whole year. That’s no good for my mental health either! And when it comes to non-con trips, I’m married to a “do-er”, who wants to go see things and do things. So there’s that to consider.*

I guess for now I’m just incredibly thankful I got to take this particular trip at this particular time. It might not happen again soon, but it did happen. And I’m overjoyed that it did.

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*I absolutely recognize how lucky I am that this is a “problem” I have. There are many people for whom any kind of trip would be a dream, and I don’t take it for granted.

Post-Vacation Update

Sedona Panorama

Things have been quiet here in March. The early part of the month was spent concentrating heavily on job-hunting. (And on trying to avoid getting sucked down into the emotional mire of insecurity and uncertainty that can accompany that search.) Both struggles continue.

I also had a family vacation last week that was nearly two years in the making. (My mom is A Planner.) Mere days before I left, I learned a dear, dear friend passed away. I’m still struggling quite a bit with the complicated grief this news brings.* While I’m thrilled with my life here in Canada, being 1500 miles away from what I still think of as “home” is difficult at the best of times. When something like this happens, there’s another layer of guilt and helplessness and then a little more guilt for good measure.

So that colored the vacation a bit and led to sudden moments of deep sorrow in the midst of great natural beauty and family-induced joy. Continue reading