I put a lot of stock into getting away. I was sure I needed a vacation, time away from work and the city to regroup. We drove for a few hours until we found our rental home in the heart of the Western Catskills. It is breathtaking here. Having space to simply be has been a relief. Yet, I brought some old baggage with me. I’m not talking luggage here, I’m speaking of my long-term dysfunctional beliefs and habits.
It took no time at all to enjoy the view from the front porch. The mountains and the greenery are simply verdant. The home has a winter-lodge feel to it, and it was nice to be in a place with high ceilings, lofts, and space. I was off-line and on vacation. A pandemic vacation. A vacation in an unknown home rather than at a destination further than our own state. I’m so grateful that we have a chance to get away. I know how fortunate I am to have a job that I love, and am employed in this difficult time. I am aware of the privilege of being able to get away. Yet, I also know that my privilege does not make me immune to human foibles. This vacation gave me a chance to become more acquainted with a few of my shortcomings.
There’s a lot to do when at a rental. Planning and preparing food, cleaning things to feel more comfortable, getting to know the house, the property, and the surrounding area. We did well the first couple of days. We found hikes, and trails, towns and local provisions. I felt at ease in the mountains and woods.
I was fooled, though. My shoulders had softened. They were no longer touching my ears. They were making their way into their natural position below my neck on either side. That alone had me believe that I was relaxed, and there were no worries. But by day three, I was starting to weigh my relief at being in the country with my small disappointments with the house, the area, the responsibilities. I didn’t think how much work it takes to be away like this. I was no longer used to preparing multiple meals each day. And, I got resentful that I was doing so much work around the house. No one made me do it. But I learned to be a people pleaser, and I took on that role like it was 1990.
It wasn’t until I became nasty because others were lounging during their vacation (how dare they!), that I saw that I was no longer giving to make others happy, I was sacrificing my rest because of some unknown sense of duty. It was not out of love, but rather out of a need to be appreciated. What I got was the opposite of appreciation. So I got cranky. A killjoy during a vacation, or at any time, for that matter.
Thank goodness they’re a forgiving bunch, or so it seems. I could go back to them and let them know that I appreciate them. And, so often, when I give what I think I’m owed, it shifts my experience. I am now able to gaze up at the night sky to commune with the countless stars. I was able to go on a walk today and enjoy the space and freedom of seeing no one. It helped to take in the huge trees, the sky. Listening to the birds chirping, and the lapping brook. Larry and I went for a couple of drives and came upon a lovely farmer’s market. Everyone friendly. Very refreshing.
And, when dinner needed to be made today, I was able to ask for help in a kinder way. Everyone pitched in happily making for a lovely evening. Sometimes it takes a break to make a break from habits that never served us.
- Pay attention to difficult feelings. Let them be and they will reveal hidden truths that hold us back. Then, without judgement, continue to provide space for the discomfort. It will release itself.
- Write a letter to your future self. Choose how many years that will be, 5, 10, 20, or another number. In thinking about yourself in the future, also think about one thing you can do today that supports the future you to whom you wrote the letter. Then, in addition to writing the letter take an action that supports your future you.
- Give yourself a second chance. If there’s something that you’ve done or that you want to do but haven’t done, rather than give up, giving yourself another opportunity to try it, means there is no dead end to the issue.
- Be in touch with someone who believes in you. When we spend time, speak with, or are in the presence (even virtually) of someone who knows your value, you automatically feel empowered, and that promotes self-esteem. If, you have yet to meet that person, look at someone who you admire and see if you feel inspired.
- Light a candle in the dark or turn on a small flashlight. You will see how one small light illuminates the darkness. Now, think of yourself and your actions as that light.