I just got back from a 2 week vacation in Spain. I went to visit a family that I first met 30 years ago as an exchange student. It was one of those surreal moments. Even as I was on the first plane that would take me towards Spain, I still couldn’t quite believe that I was going back to Spain & that it had been 30 years since the first time that I went. Where did the years go? There was excitement and anxiety as I began the trip. Would they still like me? Would we still get along? Is my Spanish any better than it was all those years ago? All of those questions were quickly answered upon arrival. The trip was a beautiful experience and yes, my Spanish is better than before although I’m still not fluent. I also learned a few things about myself while I was there.
The biggest thing that became evident was that I don’t give myself enough downtime in my life. This was the first extended vacation that I’ve had in probably 20 years. Usually a vacation for me is a week-long trip somewhere. About the time that I start to relax, I have to return to normal life. This trip was 2 weeks long & I even gave myself an extra 4 days when I returned to slowly re-enter my routine. I found that the first week it was hard not to be doing things. I was reminded by my hosts that this was my vacation and I could just relax. We went places and saw sights, but there was a part of me that felt like I needed to go back and check email or do some of those little behind the scenes things that always need doing. I deliberately forced myself to stay away from my computer so that I could relax. It was hard but the more I did it, I could feel myself unwinding and just enjoying the day as it was presented. I realize that I need this more in my life. It’s what balances out all of the activity that is my ‘normal’.
The second thing that I realized is related to the first. I’m so used to doing & giving to other people that when I’m told to sit and just receive I don’t know what to do with myself. Wait… I don’t have to work constantly in order to get what I want or need in my life? I can just sit back and let someone else do things for me? That hasn’t happened in a very long time. Sure, there have been brief experiences where someone else will cook dinner for me or do something else. This was different. The entire time that I was in Spain, I wasn’t expected to do anything other than just be me. I didn’t have to help make dinner in order to have something good to eat. I could just sit outside with the dogs & food appeared. I know this makes me sound lazy, but it was such a gift to have someone else take care of me in so many ways. For me, receiving from others is hard. Over time, I’ve been conditioned to be the one who is giving or providing for others. What I learned is that it’s not always necessary to be the one doing the providing. There are people who will help me in life. I just have to let them.
The 3rd thing goes back to my Empty Nester status. We stayed with a family that has 2 young girls of 10 & 13. I got to witness a close family dynamic that made me remember how my family was many years ago before my kids left the house to go to their boarding schools. I remember all of those family dinners, the bickering and the closeness. I realized that I miss those days sometimes, but I also realized that is not where I’m at in this time of my life. My kids are forging their own paths & they are making their own decisions. I’m proud of who they are becoming and I don’t want to start over or turn back time. I’m right where I need to be in my life and I’m excited to see where I’m going next.
This trip was rich in so many ways. I’ve enjoyed this break and I’ll be honest, a part of me still isn’t ready to jump back into things completely. I’ll get back up to speed about the time that I have to take time off to move my kids to their respective colleges in August. Oh well, a summer slow-down is ok with me!