7 Things I “Learned” On Vacation

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.

29 comments… add one
  • Warren Jan 18, 2011 @ 9:40

    Absolutely agree on all points. And I also agree that the Turks is a perfect place to discover these points. My last true alone time with my wife was also at the Turks, 15 years ago, right before our first boy joined us. Good luck in that new journey, it absolutely changes everything, but in a a good way. Less is more!

    • Chris Jan 18, 2011 @ 11:12

      Very nice perspective that everyone should adopt. As I learned in college pursuing a graphic design degree, less is definitely more. Those people who have joy in their life have learned the skill of knowing what is truly needed and tuning out the wants of the world. We’re called to serve one another and it is our responsibility to keep our mind, body and spirit as strong as they can be in order to perform that task.\

      Wait until your son gets around 35-40 pounds. That’s when you’ll get to enjoy doing toddler swings, presses and get-ups! My twin boys are around 40 pounds now and both get a daily dose of “being Daddy’s kettlebell”.

      • GEOFFN Jan 19, 2011 @ 10:09

        Chris – “Daddy’s kettlebell” – something to look forward to for sure!

    • GEOFFN Jan 19, 2011 @ 10:12

      Thanks, Warren. Looking forward to the journey.

  • Jim D. Jan 18, 2011 @ 9:55

    Glad to see you have your priorities straight! 😀

    • GEOFFN Jan 19, 2011 @ 10:12

      Jim – Yeah – it’s about time! 😉

  • Ronnie T Jan 18, 2011 @ 10:06

    Geoff, This short read is ‘hitting home” for me….At 60 I am a bit wiser in how I workout, eat , simplifying and living….Better but still working on it…..Thanks

    • GEOFFN Jan 19, 2011 @ 10:11

      Ronnie – I’m coming to believe this is a lifelong process – no matter what age we are – we should seek to simplify. In the long run it makes life better.

  • Tim Tweedy Jan 18, 2011 @ 10:22

    This has got to be the best post I’ve read on any blog in a long time. Completely agree. Less is absolutely more. Well said Geoff, and thanks much for sharing.

    • GEOFFN Jan 19, 2011 @ 10:10

      Thanks for the compliment, Tim.

  • Daniel Hanscom Jan 18, 2011 @ 10:22

    Thanks for sharing the insights Geoff. Each point is worth giving some serious time and consideration to… not just skimming over and moving on. It takes time and reflection with such points in order for the mind to accept them not simply as a truth, but as a reality. Also, sounds like everybody should get to the Turks.

    • GEOFFN Jan 19, 2011 @ 10:10

      Daniel – I agree -everybody should get to the Turks – or their variation of it.

  • tony petiprin Jan 18, 2011 @ 11:38

    Thanks for the post. I have been shoveling snow non-stop this winter. T&C is on my mind. I little time away with the wife would be a good thing.
    T

    • GEOFFN Jan 19, 2011 @ 10:08

      Tony – Yeah, I think you’ll like T&C. Definitely check it out. Easy to get to from the East Coast.

  • Bdougie Jan 18, 2011 @ 12:24

    It’s too bad we usually only realize and contemplate these things while on vacation. (GUILTY)!!! Let’s see if you can follow through on your thoughts now that your back home ( being a type A and all)! It’s amazing the amount of self inflicked stresses that are placed on our daily lives and how we take for granted something so simple as remembering how much we love and care for our partners, friends and neighbours. If we could all focus our attention on how good life is instead of focusing on what we dont have. Life for everyone would be a better place !!!

    • GEOFFN Jan 19, 2011 @ 10:08

      Bdougie – yeah – I’m with you. That’s the goal – following up on this while I’m home…

  • Mike T Nelson Jan 18, 2011 @ 12:40

    Hi there Geoff! Glad you and Courtney had such a great time there! I’ve heard great things about the Turks from some kiteboarding friends; so Jodie and I have it on the travel list for sure!

    Going from 6 meals a day to the Warrior Diet at once is probably going to be a bit too much change, so kudos for going to the more moderate approach and working from there. We alway needs to remember that the human body is amazingly adaptable!

    I feel blessed too that my wife is also my best friend. It is an awesome thing.

    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)
    http://www.ExtremeHumanPerformance.com/home.php

    • GEOFFN Jan 19, 2011 @ 10:07

      Mike – good catching up with you yesterday. Thanks for the call.

  • Judy McDaniel Jan 18, 2011 @ 12:42

    I agree. Slowing down, enjoying life and the ones that you love really makes life worth it. I choose to work less and enjoy my friends and family. I have all the things that I need. More stuff means more work and time away from the ones I love and care about. May you and your bride always take time to enjoy each other, even with your bundle of joy around. That way, you will still know and love each other when your son leaves to have his own life. Glad that you are reining in the type A side to have balance. Life is worth savoring!

    • GEOFFN Jan 19, 2011 @ 10:07

      Thanks, Judy – I am learning the savoring part!

  • Anna Dornier Jan 18, 2011 @ 12:44

    This is a great post, Geoff. I am slowly learning similar things you discussed here and I feel the same way. This post is a nice reminder of all the things we take for granted and shouldn’t. Thanks!

    • GEOFFN Jan 19, 2011 @ 10:06

      Thanks for stopping by, Anna. It’s amazing how easily we lose focus and get off track.

  • Brian Dixon Jan 18, 2011 @ 17:32

    As a type A personality I completely understand how hard it is to slow down and really relax. Working 10-12 hours a day, typically 6 days a week, sometimes during the day, and sometimes during the night doesn’t leave me with much time to spend with loved ones. Nor does it really give my body a chance to adapt to a normal schedule. So maximizing that time and being able to find peace and love in the small things during the day helps keep me focused and sane. All of the things you’ve mentioned from enjoying meals to reading a book to just simply getting outside in nature are absolutely essential–great post and great perspective! Keep up the good work!

    • GEOFFN Jan 19, 2011 @ 10:06

      Thanks, Brian. I hope one day you can “escape” your situation if you so choose. That’s what I’ve been working on over the past 5 years…

  • Alan Gaa Jan 18, 2011 @ 19:30

    Good stuff Geoff, especially numbers 3 and 4. Not to be a “downer” but I lost my wife to breast cancer three years ago, and now I’m a single parent of four kids. (Wow that’s the first time I’ve ever written that down, or even talked about it since she passed.). Being with her in the hospital everyday you learn how to really appreciate time and try to “compress” it; try to make a minute last an hour basically. And you realize what’s truly important in life. I stopped drinking\partying and made health my priority, as well as enjoying life. Simple is best. Good luck to you and your future son; I have two sons and two daughters and the gray hair to prove it. Start saving for that sports car he’s going to want at sixteen… 🙂

    • GEOFFN Jan 19, 2011 @ 10:05

      Alan, Sorry to hear about your wife – not a downer at all – just telling it like it is. I can’t even begin to imagine what that’s like. I appreciate you sharing and your encouragement.

  • Wayne Kindschi Jan 19, 2011 @ 14:13

    Fantastic article, Geoff! I need the “right between the eyes” treatment from time to time, and that is exactly where you hit. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, I find myself inspired by them. (And along with that, I have (finally) started the Kettlebell Burn 2.0 program.)

    • GEOFFN Jan 20, 2011 @ 14:30

      Good for you Wayne for finally starting “the Burn!” Stick with it and you won’t recognize yourself when you’re through!

  • M.H.Deal Jan 21, 2011 @ 13:44

    On point seven to simplify – Henry David Thoreau remarked on how easily luxuries become necessities. Still true 150 years later.

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