Sometimes it’s the very simple things that remind us of important parts of life we are missing.
I tend to be a pretty tightly wound person. Worried about work, what’s on my to-do list or my schedule. Even at home after work or on the weekend my mind tends to be racing through a few things. I’ve always chalked it up to just how I am and decided to accept it for what it is. Recently, my family took a vacation for spring break that showed me a new perspective.
I don’t remember the last time my immediate family was on vacation, outside of visiting other family members. Even vacations on my own have been very few, mainly just long weekends here and there. That isn’t some badge of honor about working hard, has just been how I’ve chosen to spend my vacation time over the years.
So this was a big trip, my brother and his wife and three children…my parents…and my two daughters along with my girlfriend. Five kids ranging 4-9, what could go wrong right?
As it turned out, very little. But sitting on the beach watching all these kids running and playing gave me a new perspective on life…at least for a little while. The picture above is my daughter. The look on her face says it all!
Treasure the little things
As soon as we walked on the beach the kids started grabbing seashells and pointing out how unique they each were. Every thing they saw was new and exciting. Digging in the sand, rolling around, wading into the ocean then doing it all over. They were covered in wet sand and all smiles. We often pass over things that aren’t productive or viewed as a good use of time…but many times little things that make you laugh and smile will be the most rewarding thing you do all day.
Enjoy the moment
The second day of our vacation it rained all day. No beach or pool time and very little to do outside. So we all hung out for an afternoon in the house. Some people napped, others watched a movie, but everyone at some point hung out together doing very little but coloring, laughing, wrestling and goofing off.
I see a lot of social media posts about people “unplugging” or needing to learn to put the phone down and connect in the moment. Admittedly I’m terrible at this. By no stretch did vacation turn me into a new person. BUT, I enjoyed it…and I will take that as a win. It was a good realization that the work will still be there, no one contacting you needs a quick response. I certainly didn’t even make it the entire trip, just a day, but it was perspective I needed and have reminded myself of when I’m at home with my kids.
Get out of your comfort zone
One of the afternoons, my daughters, my girlfriend and I went out on a dolphin cruise. Both of the girls were a little bit hesitant when we started, but one of them in particular was anxious about falling in…at one point even yelling at her sister to “sit down, I don’t want you to fall in!!” But as the cruise went along she was increasingly bold. After about 45 minutes she climbed a ladder to the top level all on her own and didn’t need anyone with her to enjoy the view.
Watching as they got more and more open with new things and how much they enjoyed it reminds me that it is good to break up the patterns once in a while. I’m a creature of habit…the waiter at one of my favorite lunch spots doesn’t even bring me a menu…I needed this reminder!
Make the best of a difficult situation
The travel day back was expected to be long. Three hour drive from the house we rented to the airport and several hours of waiting before an evening flight. Halfway to the airport we get a message the flight has been delayed almost two hours. So we are looking at a 5 hour wait in the airport with five kids under 9…not optimistic about how this was going to turn out.
Turns out I was dead wrong. We found an empty waiting area in a gate no longer used and the kids played tag, raced each other and met other kids traveling with their families and stuck in the same situation. They had a lot of fun and were ready to sleep as soon as we sat down on the plane. I realized that had I been traveling alone it would have been fine, but I likely would have just finished a book or gotten a little work done, it wouldn’t have been enjoyable and fun. Without awareness of it, the kids created games, ran around and had fun passing the time.
I’m already looking forward to the next trip and getting out of town. But in the mean time I’m trying to incorporate some of the basic lessons I was reminded of this trip into my daily life.
Also by Patrick Sallee
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Online Dating Has Turned Us Into Unicorn Hunters
To My Daughters: You Are More Powerful Than You Ever Imagined