Sometimes all you need is just a little bit of time and distance, to really put life in perspective. This past week our family took a spring vacation to Florida, and while it was cold and rainy at times, from the very first minute we stepped foot in the door, I could feel my entire soul exhale. Here’s the chronicle of this past week’s journey and some lessons learned about breathing more deeply more often.
Our traveling companions
So I should explain that we decided to take this trip with another family, the Tucks- quickly becoming good friends of ours. Our kids have been in grade school together for years and well, we’re at that age where the friends of the kids become the friends of the parents as well. Fortunately it’s a family we really like and admire. They’re sort of like an interesting compliment to ours. We have all girls (4). They have all boys (5). Yep, you read that right, we took a trip with 9 kids in tow altogether (imagine the grocery store run!).
Because most of our kids are exactly the same age, developmentally they all get along well. Secretly (or not so secretly), I’m always interested in how other folks are raising their young boys as a dad of all girls. Are they teaching them to think about how they feel? Are they teaching them to express themselves verbally? Or are they simply raising “boys who will be boys” or whatever that means. I get the sense that they’re growing into thoughtful young dudes, and that’s a true testament to good parenting.
We made the decision to caravan down from Atlanta to Florida and ended up only needing one pitstop along the way. By the time we arrived, it was dusk and everyone was tired and hungry. But, since there was no food, and we were at a beach house, of course we had to make an epic Wal-Mart run. It was my crazy idea to insist that we all come…and of course it made for more money being spent than necessary, but also some good memories. After a late meal and a late (for me) turn in, we were up and ready for Day 2.
The Quiet Storm
Its 6:30 and our baby is crying so I guess it’s time to get up. Ordinarily I’m usually up before everyone having quiet time but for some reason my body just simply didn’t want to get out of bed. As I stumbled down the stairs I noticed that no one else was up yet. The Tucks did mention that their kids don’t wake up until 9 (which I still can’t believe). Within the next 10 minutes two of my other daughters are awake leaving London the only one still asleep. Yet all the boys are fast asleep.
This is where I get to put in a plug for how great of a wife I have. She sees me gathering all of my stuff, books, journal, laptop as if I’m getting ready to sneak away (which I am). But she lets me go because she knows that if I don’t begin my day with the most important thing…my day will be off altogether. It’s true. My daily glamorous life is made possible by a generous donation of time and energy from the Samantha Wakefield foundation. I’ll pay her back (I always do). After my quiet time it’s breakfast time, which means I’m on pancake and eggs duty for the entire house. Let’s see how this turns out!
Sitting on the beach by myself
I always love asking the question of other families, how do you guys vacation? Are you the kind of people who do a lot of activities or do you like just chill and relax? Usually I try to steer clear of those “do a lot of activities” people. I get enough of that in my everyday life. When I go on vacation, I want to actually vacate. Do the things that I don’t ordinarily get to do….you know, like sleep in or rest…or read a book for longer than 20 minute stretches at a time. This morning I got up and walked to the beach by myself. I took my chair, my journal and a book and just came and sat on the beach. Sure, kids had already gotten up (by 7:15 this time) and the house was buzzing with activity- mostly people waiting for me to cook breakfast. But how often do I get the opportunity to simply go and sit quietly and read on the beach? Almost never. So, I asked for permission and my wife graciously granted me a repreive to go and sit on the beach by myself.
And let me tell you, it’s been glorious. For me, besides relaxing and clearing my head serves another purpose. Vacations are opportunities to reassess and reorient around my life’s focusing question: how do I make my life count? It’s the free space I need to assess whether or not on balance, my small moments each day are adding up to big impact over time, and whether I need to make any changes in habits or goals. I love it, but in order to do this type of reflecting, you really need space and time (both things that come in short order in our everyday lives). So, I’m thankful this morning for the opportunity.
One of the benefits of living in this age is that we document almost everything. I tend to the fall on the side of over documenting things, constantly snapping photos and making videos. With the advent of social media we now have a forum for sharing our documented lives with others and there are pros and cons to this. When I’m on vacation I try to stay off of social media…there’s something more important happening here right in front of me. But, I still capture the moments for myself and for the videos that I’ll ultimately make for our family as we tend to enjoy reliving the moments. Here are a few of my favorites from this past week: