This vacation was truly like no other I’ve experienced. Usually, we spend our vacations running from one activity to another, and come back to a mess of things to do, making us even more stressed than before we left. We usually need a vacation from our vacation.
This time, however, we really felt rejuvenated, and have a renewed energy to get back into life. I didn’t have a big pile of things to do because I’d been taking care of the important ones while I was gone. And I realized that most of the things I thought I needed to do so urgently, really weren’t urgent, and that much of my to-do list could just be wiped out without any major effects.
What’s More Important Than Family?
Before I left, I seemed to base much of my happiness on how much I got “done”, and how well I cleared my to-do list. I would work to accomplish what I had planned to do, at the expense of enjoying time with my family, even if the things on my list weren’t very important. In fact, I often didn’t enjoy time spent with my family because I was worrying about the other things I hadn’t accomplished. Pretty sad, isn’t it? I hope I can remember this lesson, and put my family first. It makes life a lot more enjoyable. Who cares how much I do if I’m not enjoying the more important areas in my life?
It’s also much easier to and more enjoyable to deal with kids if you can give them your main focus and play with them, rather than trying to accomplish something on your own while expecting them to entertain themselves. Yes, this takes time and commitment! But what better way can you spend your time?
The day we came back was a busy day that normally would have been a bit stressful. Emily and Marie had both preschool and dance classes, we needed to go shopping for food, and I had some unfinished business to catch up on. But we had a great day and almost no stress! Yes, we ate out for two meals and didn’t get to the store, but we were okay with that! Jen and I enjoyed our date while the girls were at preschool, and we even went to a children’s musical theater that night (“Honk Jr.”) in which my dad had directed the music. What a fun day!
I accomplished what I needed to do that morning (and a little bit in the evening), and spent the rest of the day with my family – just like when we were on our trip. I’ve lived like this for the past six weeks – why shouldn’t I be able to continue doing so? Do I really need to be working or focusing on my own interests for eight hours a day?
Productivity vs. “Wasting” Time
Just being home for a few days now, I already feel a pull to go back to my old habits of working hard to be productive, and to get as much done as possible each day. Productivity is great, but I’m realizing that I was placing too much emphasis on it. I am a naturally productive person. I have trained myself not to “waste time” and to make sure whatever I’m doing is bringing me closer to my goals.
What I’ve learned on this trip, however, is that “wasting time” is often necessary to truly rejuvenate, clear your mind, and connect with yourself and others. Sometimes it’s more important to “do nothing” than to get something accomplished.
How Blessed We Are!
I didn’t think six weeks would be long enough to forget so much about what life is like at home. But we were amazed when we walked into our house because it looked so clean, and new and nice! Even though it’s just an average home around here, comparing it to where we came from, where they have a different standard of “nice” and “clean”, we were blown away. Our home seems so comfortable, is always the perfect temperature inside because of central air and heating. We have soft carpet instead of hard tile (except in the kitchen), comfortable couches to lay down on, and pure water to drink from the faucet. How blessed we are!
The streets and stores of Salt Lake City are also extremely clean (comparatively). In Panama, we got used to seeing more garbage on the side of the road, run-down or abandoned buildings, and lots of pedestrians. But everything here is very clean, new, orderly, and people generally follow traffic rules. How nice! :) (I do see a lot more sloppy dress here, though. Interestingly, Panamanians generally dress really sharp.)
We’re very happy to be home, to see family and friends again, and to be enjoying the comforts of a 1st world country.
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It is really interesting how being away from all the normal distractions of life allowed us to really recognize what is most important, and to appreciate it enough to give it the attention it deserves. We truly can’t appreciate something if we aren’t focused on it, no matter how wonderful or important it may be. By allowing ourselves to get away from the distractions, we were able to focus on each other and that made all the difference. :)
What wonderful insight. I think we all need to take more time and spend it with family. It’s very easy to get caught up in the business of life- work, school, housework, etc. and forget that spending time with family is more important than all of that. I definitely need to be better at it. Especially since I’ve been working full time. It’s really hard to find time between working and housework to spend lots of quality time with family- also especially since Justin is in school. But we just need to make time.
I’m happy for you guys that you were able to have this opportunity. Thanks again for watching Kennedy this weekend :)
Glad you got what you wanted out of your trip. I’m grateful I have a wife that insists I stop working after 5:00 (and even stop thinking about work!). Anything after 5 is family time. It’s very rare that I do any type of work after that time unless I’ve planned to meet with someone about a job or something, but generally I try to do that stuff during lunch. I’m sure I could work all night – whether on the computer or in my head, but making sure I stop keeps me balanced I think.
I’m so happy you got so much out of your trip and time with your family. It’s been interesting for me to see and hear about all you have learned and and experienced.
I’m happy to have you back in the valley.