Summer Vacation

I’ve tried to be a good person most of my life. I followed the rules. I used my manners. I brushed regularly.  I felt shame and experienced painful self-consciousness, tried not to speak out of turn, rationalized slights and setbacks, worked constantly to be better, thinner, kinder, and more invisible. I said “yes” when I felt “no”. And I dealt with all the depression that comes from striving so hard to be right and good and never feeling like I was quite good enough (you know – being human and all).

This summer, I took a couple months off from giving a shit about anything. My child is alive and happy. I’m still employed. My husband remains kind and patient with me. Even my garden survived, evolving into a feral jungle of mismatched flowers and surprise vegetables. The other shoe did not drop. The great disaster that I’ve been holding at bay never happened. I’ve decided to give a shit again, but not as much and not necessarily about the same things.

I took a break from writing and read books instead. I took a break from trying to employ proper parenting methods and yelled my head off. I stopped trying to be more attractive, improve my love life, my weight, my hair, my intelligence, my home. I watched dragonflies darting and diving across a Canadian sky. I swam with minnows. I sank my teeth into juicy watermelon. I listened to live music. I walked with my family at dusk and watched my child whiz by on her bike, so exuberant in her newly discovered freedom. I breathed. In and out.

Re-energized and re-focused, I’ve returned with a stronger sense of direction and with some lessons learned. Here is what I learned while my brain went on vacation:

1. If you pull up your Under Armour compression shorts high enough, they work just like Spanx.

2. Put on your sunscreen before you put it on anyone else. Ouch!

3. Don’t try to low block a tall person’s kick in taekwondo unless you like tenderizing your arm.

4. If you are going to weight train until muscle failure at the Y, wait a few before trying to ride your bike home. Thank goodness for helmets.

5. Don’t discuss 50 Shades of Grey with anyone who liked the book (insert retching sound here).

6.  If you make the Mean Green Juice touted in the movie “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead”, expect to have kale breath. Ach.

7.  Even when you think no little ears are listening, it’s not a good idea to refer to your cats as “little hairy bastards”.  Your kid will surprise you with their newly acquired vocabulary when you least expect it.

8. No one is indispensable. The world will not fall apart when you stop trying so hard.

9. When you don’t know the answers and you’re stuck, just put your body in motion and your brain in park. You’ll be surprised what emerges out of the fog.

10. If you want to be a writer, write. And there it is.

9 Comments on “Summer Vacation

  1. Love your writing 🙂 “When you don’t know the answers and you’re stuck, just put your body in motion and your brain in park. You’ll be surprised what emerges out of the fog.” one of my favs here! Thank you for sharing.

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    • That was definitely a lesson worth learning. I’m an introspective person and sometimes I think I can work everything out using just my “little gray cells”. Many times, it’s a workout or gardening or even housework where I just do, without thinking and the answer, the solution or resolution occurs. I love it when that happens. Thanks for reading!

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  2. Excellent! Love your style of writing, your openess and lack of guile. Your 10th lesson of vacation is my favorite, “if you want to be a writer, write.” Thanks for a great post

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    • Thanks for the compliments. I know it’s not an original lesson, but I have to keep repeating it to myself. It’s a reminder that what we do defines who we are. Right now, I’m doing the work of a procrastinator. I’m awash in all these lovely comments when I should be slogging through the next blog.

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  3. 8, 9, and 10 were my favorite lessons learned. Being a writer is a privilege and the only requirement is that you do it. A lot. Period. Fact 8 reminds me of the Stephen Crane poem: A man said to the universe:
    “Sir I exist!”
    “However,” replied the universe,
    “The fact has not created in me
    A sense of obligation.”

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    • I have used up every excuse not to write, every distraction to keep me away from doing the work. If you make it a rule that you can only use a particular excuse once, you run through the list pretty quickly and are left with the truth.
      I like that Stephen Crane poem. I will add it to my bulletin board as a reminder to write concisely. Thanks!

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  4. “This summer, I took a couple months off from giving a shit about anything.” Lol’d at work. You are awesome 🙂

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    • I have to admit, that sentence makes me laugh, too. It’s also a reminder that one’s first thought is the one to go with. I edited out “shit” several times, but I kept putting it back in. A writer friend suggested I stay away from scatological terms, but that just made me want to use it more. I can be so childish at times. Thanks for the compliment!

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