Yes, I have been away from making my three posts a week, but it is for a reason. I went on vacation. The picture above is of “the point” on a piece of land on Edisto Island, South Carolina, that has been in my husband’s family for many generations and hundreds of years. We were more than fortunate enough to get to stay there.
I realized just how much I had been working when, amidst cleaning the house, giving instructions to our friend for dog-sitting, and packing for the trip, I couldn’t seem to even find the time to put up a post about going on vacation and essentially being “off the grid” for a week.
There is no internet or wi-fi on this plot of land that sits directly on the waterway, and cell phone reception is spotty at best. I was so excited for this! We had everything we needed in this house and in this place for an incredible vacation back home in South Carolina, just over three months after we’d moved to California. And I’m not going to lie, it was strange at first for both of us to get used to not working for a while – we’d practically been working nonstop since we moved.
I alerted everybody I worked with – all the fantastic writers in our online communities, Laura with CWC, my gracious and very understanding clients – and explained that I would be MIA for nine days, without internet connection. The responses wished me a fantastic time on our trip, mixed with a little bit of anxiety at my upcoming unavailability on multiple projects (though that was very humbling and flattering, to say the least). And I honestly didn’t think it was going to be that difficult, that I would have a stress-free, work-ignoring, removed-from-my-everyday-life vacation. Nor did I really think that my short hiatus would be that greatly noticed.
All of that was an understatement, which quickly became apparent to me as we landed at the airport and my phone exploded with notifications, a lot of which asked for my input, advice, or contribution. None of them were absolutely necessary or essential from a business standpoint, mind you, but all of them new ideas underway, new projects starting, and exciting additions to my already busy schedule. And I realized then that I wanted to be a part of all these things, to connect and share and participate, far more than I actually needed to do so. The difficulty in that, then, lay in how to overcome the urge to check in and work when I was actually on a planned vacation.
The Friday before last did actually carry work with it that needed my attention; the CWC schedule for our third project Ark has to be adhered to in order to continue the process of writing our genre novel. So I drove an hour into town and parked myself at the Barnes & Noble (the favorite writing spot when I was in high school), and gave myself four hours to get everything done. Those four hours were jam-packed with efficient work and I managed to get everything finished, even with the added conversations from my friends and cohorts who were pleasantly surprised to find me online.
While everyone made it very clear to me that I was missed, and they tried as hard as they could to include me in the new creations while I was away, no one expressed anger with me or feelings of being let down by my absence. A few lovely people even told me to get off the computer, stop working, and return to my vacation of visiting with friends and family, eating fresh seafood, and watching glorious sunsets on the east coast. It was hard for a few days not to check my phone or tablet for updates, but I eventually threw them in my suitcase and left it alone. Because it’s important to stop working, to remember to return to the present and enjoy the things in your day that you may not have on a regular basis. Especially on vacation.
As a small business owner and a collaborator with many authors, editors, and entrepreneurs, the protectiveness surrounding both my business and the relationships I’ve cultivated is almost impossible to ignore. I always want to make sure that I’ve checked everything on my list, that I’ve not missed any opportunities, and that I’m doing all I can to foster the growth of my company and my communities that, I’m pleased to say, I very much think of as my own “brain children” (some of which I lovingly foster with others).
It’s tricky, when you do what you love for a living, to put that passion aside for a week, a few days even, in order to give yourself that much-needed R&R. When we returned from our trip, I was met with an incredibly overwhelming sense of both having missed out and having to catch up on way more than I expected. But as a friend and fellow editor told me upon my return: “Take a breath every now and then, or you’ll forget you ever went on vacation!”
Wise words, and they hit me pretty hard. The point of taking a break, going on vacation, giving yourself time to enjoy other beautiful things in life, is not to drive yourself crazy once you get back. It’s to give yourself an opportunity to set aside the work and the busy schedule, so that when you return you can approach your projects with a fresh attitude and a more relaxed outlook.
So for all you busybodies out there, anyone who thinks they don’t have time to take a day or two off from writing, or editing, or promoting your own work, or building a website, or running your own business: your work will still be here when you get back. Your friends, colleagues, and fellow collaborators aren’t going anywhere, and will not drop you or your value if you take some time off. You can’t give your all to your creations if you’ve sucked yourself dry in the process. It’s okay to let go for a little while, and “take a breath every now and then.”
After all, I’m still here too.