I’ve just had a week’s break.
Annual leave is a beautiful thing, an upside to having my day job. That’s something I need to remember when I’m railing against my workday routine of 9-5 (so to speak).
Earlier this year, I was fretting that I wouldn’t be able to string the days together and dedicate a week to relaxing. There is always so much to be done.
What I needed to do was just book the time.
My initial plan was to have at least a few days without technology. No phone, no tablet, no laptop.
Hilarious. There’s a reason my family has called me ‘Techno Jo’ from time to time.* I love my various screens and devices. I’m considering a formal retreat where I’ll need to leave all the technology at the door.
A while ago, I used to do that myself. Regularly. All the technology in a room, on silent. The door shut, phone unplugged. I’d send a clear message to family and friends ahead of time that I would be unable to be contacted while I was on retreat.
The retreats featured meditation and writing. They were blissfully refreshing. I was disciplined and invariably productive, but this wasn’t the week for that sort of discipline. I had some loosely defined goals.
Assessing the break
There were a few things I didn’t manage to do:
- Go away for a couple of days. The thought of packing, then of unpacking. To go, then to come back. I couldn’t rise to it.
- Keep away from work emails and phone calls. I made it through to around half past three on Monday. Eventually, I stopped checking in. Switching off is a challenge!
- Catch up with the housework. I did some but not all the ‘autumn cleaning’ I’d planned. It would have been good to do more, but not essential.
Not managing to meet those three goals wasn’t disastrous. I had a wonderful week. It was busy but the pacing was manageable.
I shouldn’t be surprised that when I’m taking time to do things I love – with people I love – that I will simply feel energised.
Some of the things I did manage to accomplish include:
- Enjoy a couple of lazy mornings. I switched the alarm off but I woke up at my normal time but pottered about. I’m always fascinated by how easy it is to wake up while I’m on holiday. There was time for meditations and journal writing.
- Catch up with friends. Relaxing conversations with minimal distractions are a luxury. I was blessed to have time to catch up with some of my favourite people over leisurely cups of tea and chatty lunches.
- Make the most of being able to be on campus. I made it to a couple of presentations. There was time for work on my thesis. I spent quality time with The Wife of Bath and Foucault. I sat out on the lawn and made friends with one of the peacocks. (Ok, friends is probably stretching it. He was hoping I had treats. I didn’t, he left.) I hung out.
- Take in some of the wonderful events happening in Perth. The PIAF film season is in its last weeks. I made it to Rams (Grímur Hákonarson, 2015) at the Somerville on Monday. It was a hideous day in Perth (it was still about 37 at 6.30 in the evening). The film is set in Iceland and looks cold. There was a summer thunder storm with flashes of lightning behind the screen and minimal rain and made a nice contrast. Later in the week, I made it to Sculptures by the Sea on a hot day and then on a cooler, overcast day.
- Do some writing. This was where my week really shone. There was some work for uni. I went to a blogging workshop with Amanda Kendle, which is always a joy! Her travel blog, Not a Ballerina, is full of adventures and great tips. Inspired by the workshop I curated content, I finished a late post. I also kept up with the journalling. I wrote four poems (and tinkered with five or six others).
Learning from the break
I was well overdue for a decent break when this week rolled around. What I needed wasn’t necessarily a week of doing nothing. But a week which featured creativity and friends was magic.
I didn’t get to spend time with the ‘to read’ pile teetering on my nightstand, but I have plans for that in the next few weeks.
*They also call me ‘Unco Jo’ because of my decided lack of coordination. There are worse names than these, I guess.