“V” is for…

Vacation

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Who doesn’t love a vacation? The image of my toes in the sand, a cool drink in my hand…ahhh…heaven.

When I was younger my definition of vacation was narrow, including only the traditional meaning of the word–“a period of time that a person spends away from home, school, or business usually in order to relax or travel.” (Merriam-Webster).

As I get older–although I prefer the word “seasoned” rather than older–I have developed a much broader view of the word, which now encompasses the full definition–”

1:  a respite or a time of respite from something :  intermission

2a :  a scheduled period during which activity (as of a court or school) is suspended
 b :  a period of exemption from work granted to an employee
3:  a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation
(“Vacation.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vacation)

Vacation means more than just a break.  Taking a break from something has its time and place, but taking a vacation is feeding the soul.

It means spending time reading a book in the sun, even if it’s on my backyard patio, with a glass of lemonade, without a shred of guilt from thinking I should be doing something.

Vacation means going somewhere with no phone service, no television, and no computer.

It means pitching a tent in the woods with nothing but a backpack, the smell of oak trees and bonfire smoke, sounds of rustling leaves, black coffee early in the morning, and the ripples on the waters surface to start the day.

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It means a day spent lying in a boat floating in the water for an afternoon, throwing a line in to catch dinner, and even dozing off in the sun.

It means picnics under a big oak tree, eating nothing but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and chips, stretching out for an afternoon nap afterwards.

What does your ideal vacation look like?

Reclaiming the Carefree Days of Summer

English: An irrigation sprinkler watering a ga...

Watching two of my young grandchildren play with such complete abandon in the pre-summer afternoon sunshine last Saturday, I longed for the days when summer was unhurried, unstressed, and carefree.  The days when summers weren’t defined by days spent within office walls watching the clock. Or when the most beautiful scenery wasn’t my computer screensaver.

I watched my granddaughter, clad in her little pink and white striped Hello Kitty tankini, her long wavy hair tangled and blowing every which way, smiling from ear to ear as sticky sweet juice from the watermelon she was devouring ran all the way to her elbows.

I watched her little brother, my grandson, so proud of his brand spanking new Spiderman swim trunks his mom brought home for him on her recent trip to Puerto Rico, his bare feet running through the grass, squirting his sister with a squirt gun, laughing.

My husband couldn’t resist the urge to play and began squirting me and his daughter through the open patio door, laughing as we squealed–half from surprise,  half from sheer delight.  Delight at playing.  Something as adults we take too little time to do as we get caught up in what we have allowed to become our life.

It was at that moment I decided to reclaim my summers of the past.  When I took time to play, creating memories that have carried me through too many summers that blurred past in a flurry of “planned” activities and to-do lists.

As the official start of summer arrives this week, I’ve resolved to reclaim my childhood.  I’m going to:

*    Just once–at least–run through a sprinkler.

*    Go on an old-fashioned picnic, complete with blanket, picnic basket, and book, and spend an afternoon by the river.

*    Have a guilt-free entire afternoon reading a good book, lying under a tree–a big oak tree if I can find one.  If for no other reason than the poetic magic of lying under the “big shady oak tree.”

Oak Trees

*    Sit on the porch, awning rolled out, cool glass of lemonade or iced tea by my side, doing absolutely nothing but drink in my  surroundings, whether it be the birds on the feeders, the dog frolicking in the grass, jumping on grasshoppers.Iced tea, popular throughout the U.S.

*    Spend a few evenings reclining on the back patio with a light blanket, a cup of tea, perhaps a candle, and star gaze.

*    Lay on my back in the grass with my grandchildren, using our imaginations to see what shapes we can see in the clouds.

*    At least once a day, practice becoming aware of my thoughts.  Rather than allowing several to tumble around within my head like clothes in a dryer, focus on just one, truly savoring that precise thought at that precise moment.

*    Rather than spend my Saturdays running around, crazy, trying to accomplish everything on my list, only do the things that absolutely have to be done that day and only one other item.  The rest will still be there the next day or the next weekend.  And by then may not even need to be done anymore.

What are some of the things you can do this summer to reclaim, and perhaps even relive,  your childhood summertime memories?  I would love to hear.

Grace to you.