The very first time I planned a 10-day semi-vacation away from my home office, my business partner just about flipped out.
‘No one takes 10-day vacations!
I’ve never taken more than a week at a time!’
That was back in 2002, I was in my late 20s and I was off to the big island of Hawaii for some much needed downtime after an eventful year.
My divorce to my first husband was finalized, I had just spent several intense weeks helping the family of a friend after she was killed in a car accident and my mother had just battled breast cancer.
I can credit these events with catalyzing change in me due to increased awareness of how precious and short life can be.
My business partner? He was also my father and one of my closest friends.
He had instilled in me the joys of entrepreneurship and designing your own life. We worked from our respective close-by homes writing code, supporting our clients, taking mid afternoon beach breaks and having a pretty good amount of flexibility in our day.
We had a pretty sweet setup.
So his reaction to my wanting to take a little more than normal downtime hit me like a ton of bricks. I had expected him to be supportive, not disappointed.
There was something in his upbringings that had been so deeply ingrained that more than a week away from the office was irresponsible.
That ‘work until you’re dead’ culture is ingrained all over corporate America.
We have some of the shortest vacation & personal time allowances of most any other developed country in the world.
Taking more than a week’s vacation at a time is viewed as indulgent, selfish and not being loyal to the company. Some go years without taking any more time off than a long weekend.
Vacation time in the United States is frowned upon – whereas in other cultures, it’s encouraged.
I went on that trip to Hawaii anyway, with my heart carrying his guilt across the ocean with me.
I walked on active volcanic fields, swam in the ocean naked with dolphins and dove with sea turtles. The powers of Pele instilled me with confidence to come back and not just speak my truth.. but live my truth.
I wanted more to life than fitting in week long vacations once or twice a year. I inherited strong wanderlust from my dad, and I wasn’t going to suppress it.
My father and I had a tearful heart to heart conversation upon my return that positively impacted us both for years to come.
I started integrating in a lot more personal travel, while working remotely. And my father came around to see that travel didn’t have to be synonymous with being non-productive.
I was in the perfect place in my life in 2006 to meet and join new-to-the-road nomad Chris.
But working remotely isn’t the same as vacation.
Heck, sometimes traveling full time and trying to work remotely is even more stressful. We certainly get our own life/work balance out of whack way too often.
It’s not necessarily the travel, but my own inner fight against perceived expectations.
These past couple of years I’ve worked through a lot of grief since my father’s passing. It’s a natural thing, of course – the best case scenario in this timeline of life is to have our parents pass before us.
While I knew I really needed an extended sabbatical after shutting down the business we ran together – I instead (unconsciously) hid from the grief by falling into work-a-holism.
We got tempted into big projects and working non-stop. Surely if I created enough, my father would be proud and I wouldn’t have to feel the pain of missing him.
Last year the pace became unsustainable. I had to face the grief that was now bubbling over into everything.
I was blessed to have a supportive partner and dear friends who held me through it.
My biggest learning curve has been embracing that true approval comes from within – not from society, clients, followers, family or even loved ones.
Taking a 7-week semi-vacation this summer was a big part of my healing process. When planing it, I kept waiting for those old disapproving voices.
In my heart I know I embarked on this summer’s journey with my dad’s blessing, and I felt it every step of the way.
I so wish he would have been able to realize that freedom to travel more himself. He left this world just months after finally letting himself reach retirement, but without the health to enjoy it.
- Life is short.
- This isn’t a dress rehearsal.
- Live your dash.
- No one lies on their death bed wishing they had worked more.
- Yadda yadda yadda.
We hear these words all of the time, but how often do we really listen to them?
Especially as I get older, a week just seems shorter and shorter. I can’t imagine going back to a lifestyle where a week off at a time is as good as it gets.
The rewards for making choices in your life to support your desires.. priceless.