1. Nature is a good relaxer.
Some people like the mountains. Some people like the beach. I fall into the second category. We went to the Turks & Caicos – a group of islands in the Caribbean for our last vacation without kids. I splurged and got the ocean view room. What a great decision!
It was so refreshing to sit on the balcony and watch the ocean. It was even better to sleep with the french doors open and have the waves put me to sleep. And even better was to just sit on my lounge chair soaking up the sun and reading a good book or two.
In today’s fast-paced modern society, I don’t know how many people spend time outside in Nature, but I’d be willing to bet we’d see a pretty good drop off in anxiety medications if people spent more time outside. There’s just something incredibly relaxing about being outside, at least for me anyway.
2. Slowing down is good.
I am a very Type A individual. I have a hard time slowing down. With the approaching birth of our son, I have made some major scheduling changes to allow me to batch all my work into parts of the day and to batch all my relaxing into parts of the day. It used to be that I’d literally work all the time – during the day, between clients, before and after dinner, just before lights out… Many times busy, but not so productive.
Vacation was yet again another reminder that taking time to slow down is good for the body and the mind. We both slept a lot this vacation – especially the first couple of days. Apparently, we needed the rest and the change from the daily “grind.”
3. Time is precious – use it wisely.
Time. I love it and hate it. I love it because of all the stuff I can do. I hate it because of all the stuff I fail to do. But when you really stop to think about it – you never get time back once it’s spent. It’s the only thing I know of that is “non-renewable.”
I was forced to look at how I spend my time and how I want to spend my time. I have to admit, as much as I love to train – it wasn’t a top priority on vacation. Sure, I went to the gym, but the work I did was minimal – just some maintenance stuff to counteract all the sitting around. (One thing I’ve learned over the years is my body won’t let me just sit around even on vacation – I have to do some exercise.)
But honestly, I wasn’t overly concerned with “missing my workout.” The older I get, the more I truly view workouts, or training, as a means to an end, not the end in and of itself. (More on that later…)
So the best use of my time on my vacation was spending time with my wife. Speaking of…
4. My wife is truly my best friend.
It’s amazing how you can go through your daily grind and say “I love you” and not that it becomes ritualistic, but that it almost becomes habit. The grind is just that for many of us – it wears us down if we let it. (I do my best not to…) And because of this, sometimes we just take for granted that our spouse will always be there. It’s not until something bad happens that your jolted awake to the possibility that she or he might not be there. (Yes, everything’s fine – no, nothing bad happened.)
I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately as I’ve watched her belly grow.
In about 3 months or less, life will no longer be about us.
And that was the point of this vacation – the last true “us” time for probably 20+ years. It made me realize how long we’ve know each other, how long we’ve been together, and how well we know each other. And I’m incredibly thankful that God put the two of us together. I can’t imagine life without her and don’t want to.
Vacation just reinforced this. Sometimes it’s easy to take your spouse for granted.
5. Food is meant to be enjoyed (within reason).
Admittedly, this sounds strange coming from me. It would be fair to say that I am perceived as Draconian in my approach to food – “it’s only fuel and that’s all it needs to be.” But there is something intensely pleasurable about a really good meal.
As I age, I have been slowly changing my stance and exploring my views, beliefs, and perceptions about food, diets, and eating. For example, a couple of years ago, I departed from my 6 meal-a-day regimen and went on the Warrior Diet. That lasted 6 weeks before my body rebelled and I ended back up at a 5 meal-a-day plan.
Recently, I came off most protein powders and started eating 95% of my food as whole foods and dropped my meal schedule down to 4 meals per day as an experiment. (I hate that extra prep time…)
But, I LOVE a nicely prepared and tasty meal. What does that look like? On this vacation there was a lot of fish in various cream and butter sauces with mixed veggies and even some potatoes. And of course the obligatory glass of red wine with dinner (good for digestion and overall health you know…).
It was nice just to sit down and enjoy a meal together that someone else prepared. I’d like to do that way more often.
And now, with the boy on his way, I’m looking for ways to enjoy my favorite foods even more often than I have in the past – to go beyond the “tricks” that I’ve used with such success. (More on that later too…)
6. Reading fiction is good for the mind.
Up until a couple of years ago, all I read was non-fiction – anything I could get my hands on regarding strength and fat loss. All the time.
Then, my wife gently poking fun at me, suggested I read some fiction. “What a waste of time!” I thought. How wrong I was! I really enjoy reading fiction – especially military fiction like Tom Clancy. So I took The Cardinal and the Kremlin with me and finished that up on Day 2 I think.
There is something so relaxing about reading something that transports your mind to a far away place (and time). Tom Clancy may not be your cup of tea, but if you want a great night’s sleep, read some fiction before bed. You’re brain will shut down and you’ll sleep much better. I always do.
7. Simplifying life is one of the keys to happiness.
Accumulating stuff. It’s the American Way. Bigger. Better. More.
We stayed in a studio suite on our vacation. There was a small kitchen with a place to eat, a really nice bathroom, a balcony with a chaise lounge and a table and two chairs, a dresser, a closet, nightstands, a chair with an ottoman, and of course a big king sized bed.
Although it was probably 600 sq ft or so, we really didn’t NEED anything else. It was freeing in a way to “only” have that much space. And even after a week, I was perfectly fine with “only” that much.
It’s funny how the American way of life convinces us that the lie is true – the more the better.
I was thinking about it – at the end of the day do we really want more stuff? No! I think we all want more time to do the things we love. The less we have to tend to, the easier this is to do.
But we always tend to think that more is always better.
Take workouts for example.
Why spend an hour when 30 minutes will do? Why use 3 exercises when you really only need one? Is it because we have “freedom of choice?” or live in the “land of opportunity”? I don’t know.
I just know that moving toward the simpler sure felt more freeing – more liberating. And that’s a direction I want to move – more free with more time to do the things I want to do – enjoy my family more and my life more.