Thursday, August 13, 2015

The vanishing vacation

I used to enjoy vacations. I’ve traveled to many places, including Ireland, Aruba, Hawaii, Mexico, London and India. I enjoyed trying new foods, learning about different cultures, seeing historical sights and meeting new people.

Now, however, most of the vacations my husband and I take are centered on visiting our families back East. “They aren’t going to live forever” and “What could be better than quality time with family?” is our thinking.

Work has been an inhibitor, too. If it isn’t one priority keeping me from taking extra time off, it’s another. In addition, my husband works in finance, and it seems tax season, quarter-end or year-end reporting keeps him tethered to the office.

I know in my gut that time off is medicine. It can help me to destress and reduce anxiety. Time off can help me recharge my battery and come back to work refreshed.

I have a number of close friends who are going on river cruises, safaris, Far East excursions and trips to South America. They’ve been encouraging me to come along.

I used to love travel—for eight years I commuted each week from Los Angeles to Chicago, and even that didn’t make me tired of travel.

So why is it that these days I am just happy to stay at home?

It may be the long lines, crowded flights and political unrest that make traveling to some areas dangerous, but there seems to be a more intrinsic reason.

Is it inertia? To some degree, yes. I’m happy with my current routine of going to work, coming home and sitting in the backyard, reading a book, enjoying the view, cooking or going out to dinner with my husband and playing with the dog.

Do I feel a need to simplify life? Having my days less full is beginning to feel good. Today, the things that fill up my day align with my core values of giving back and enjoying friends and family.

Is it financial? Not exactly, but I do weigh the long-term payoff of an expensive two-week trip against a newly decorated room that I will enjoy for years. Has my connection to the world become smaller? Certainly it has.

In my last job I needed to learn the customs, culture and work environment of Bangalore, India. Today, my time is spent working for a local nonprofit and writing for the Acorn, encompassing a radius far smaller than halfway around the world.

Is it about doing what I love? The answer is yes. What I do most days brings me great happiness.

I get to spend more time with those I care about. Despite exchanging life stories with countless strangers while traveling, I can’t remember a long-term friendship from those travels. But the satisfaction I get from enjoying my Conejo Valley friends and work mates is energizing and heartwarming.

At home, I have a number of rituals that nourish me. My morning routine of walking the dog and evening routine of cooking a nice dinner for my husband are special to me and help to fill my day with pleasure.

So, after some introspection, I’ve come up with some really valid reasons not to join my friends on their trips.

Some might say life is short so I should be enjoying myself. My response is I am. I am just very fortunate in that I don’t need to travel anywhere for that to happen.

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Andrea GallagherAndrea Gallagher

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