3 Things I Learned from Summer Vacation
Deborah Siegel on the benefits of putting it--rather than getting it--down. Two weeks ago in this space, I shared the compulsive writer/worker’s guide to vacating. You added great things--like, um, HAVE FUN (thank you Julie Jeffs!)--to my list. Last week, I vacated. Let’s see how we did. Here were my rules, in bold; commentary in italics: • Put an away message on my email. And mean it. I did it! And I meant it! Mostly.Read a stupid magazine I don’t ordinarily pick up. Let’s just say I read a few pages—or rather, since there aren’t many words, looked at the “Who Wore It Best” spread—during the few moments when my baby girl, who was traveling on my lap on the plane, fell asleep. Good enough.Carve out some big blocks of unstructured time. Check.Go on outings without my computer. Check.Spend ample time staring at large body of water. Double, triple check. This one was huge. Just the fact of Lake Michigan renders me speechless, which is a good thing for this writer’s mind. So here are my 3 takeaways, the things I relearned this time from summer vacation: 1. Staring at a lake silences my internal chatter, quells all concerns about what I have or have not yet published, and reminds me, as ever, that there are bigger and more important things out there than…me. 2. “When you truly do love your work, sometimes true vacationing is getting to do it in a different location!” (So sayeth She Writer Maddie Dawson, and please join me in congratulating Maddie on the release this week of her novel, The Stuff That Never Happened, and a fab review in People Magazine!) I had a wonderful time meeting a handful of Chicago area She Writers (and one very dear one from Madison, WI) for a focus-group-like chat. Hey, it wasn’t “work”—it was a pleasure. 3. Letting the land lie fallow yields great rewards. Upon my return last week, feeling mentally refreshed if not relaxed (is life ever relaxing with baby twins?), I finished a draft of the essay I’ve been plinking away at in the corners of my life. That put-it-away-for-a-while shit works. And so I ask those of you who’ve had the good fortune of taking some time away from your usual routine this summer, what lessons have you learned or relearned—about your writing process, or about yourself—from taking time OFF? I’d love to hear.

Let's be friends

The Women Behind She Writes

519 articles
12 articles

Featured Members (7)

123 articles
392 articles
54 articles
60 articles

Featured Groups (7)

Trending Articles

  • I took my son, his two cousins, my mom and aunt to Legoland. To my great surprise, my son's favorite part of the trip was the family pillow fight in the small hotel room! Oh, how the simple moments are the best! I learned to slow down and not try to do so much so that I have time to just "be" so the creative juices can actually flow. Squeezing in activity after activity to stay busy and distract myself is not leaving me with time to reflect, create and grow. So today, learning to relax, be in my skin and just soak in the day I've been given. Maybe a pillow fight later! :)

  • Mary Keating

    Deborah –

    Thank you so much for asking. My summer has been one long reallocation of my mental and physical energies. While I may exit the office, stray into places in Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho which lack basic cell phone service and outside connection to the internet and I momentary slow down enough to capture a moment of “wow, this feels good” sensations, I find that I am always writing in my head. Perhaps it is a diagnosable condition. However, I am unwilling to seek medical advice as I sort of get a little thrill when I can foreshadow my next column or journal entry.

    For instance, we floated the Wind River in Wyoming, enjoyed class IV rapids in the rain, soaked in smelly thermal pools, walked among the dinosaurs, and spent the night in a home grown and owned little hotel surrounded by wet clothing and two-exhausted children and low and behold, my next column all but wrote itself. Not only that, but I have just returned from a multi-faceted journey beginning with the Lagoon Amusement Park in Salt Lake City and ended with a trip into a Cave, a campfire with Olive Garden left-over snacks and a giggle filled and chilly night in a tent-trailer with my two daughters and my husband. Lack of electricity and cell reception did not stop the pen from clicking notes in a journal for some future travel column. I have to admit, using a headlamp to write in bed does not hold a candle to drafting on a computer, but sometimes we have to commune with nature.

    Summer vacation with two young children and an engineering husband who has a perpetual itch to get out and experience nature and adventure certainly does not afford many time off moments as I quickly move from duffle bag to deadline, to washing machine and back to duffle bag. Although I love the summer filled with mini-sojourns to place off the beaten path, family time at the cabin near Yellowstone National Park, and swimming suits that are in a constant state of damp, I have to admit, I am looking forward to fall when everyone leaves me alone.

    So, after much ado, the 5 things I have learned from Summer Vacation would be:

    1) Memories, laughter and adventures make for very personal and interesting travel pieces.
    2) The writing bug sneaks into duffle bags and hitches rides to locales off the beaten path.
    3) Spending time as a family is filled with smoke-infused fires, tall-tales and memorable moments.
    4) Deadlines come even when cell phone, internet connection and calendars are left at home.
    5) And finally, moms usually need a vacation alone following a long and extended family vacation filled summer.

    Now that my tale is told, I have to go and finish the laundry so I can be ready to head to the cabin again this weekend and entertain friends who are heading into Yellowstone Park and looking forward to a little hammock sitting, canoe floating and mountain bike riding. Perhaps I have also learned that being in a constant state of motion is exhausting and is only exacerbated by two energetic children and a weekend loving husband.

    All my best to you Deborah! And I am so glad you had a fun vacation. Hugs, Mary

  • She Writes Fridays

    I had FUN!!!!! :)

  • Julie Jeffs

    But wait .... did you have fun???? Glad you are back (who else can I whine to) and your vacation sounds like just what you needed. Looks to me like you did a great job with your "rules".

  • So glad you had a great holiday!

    Clouds and flowers on the deck seem to add some calm to each day