Do you Need a Fake-cation?
I’ve been working from home for two and a half months. I’ve cancelled a much needed vacation with my husband where we planned to do a whole lot of nothing but sit on the beach or by the pool, a writing/yoga retreat with one of my best friends that took us a full year to arrange our lives to allow, and at least four work trips. And, instead, I have been working a minimum of 8 hours a day (but more realistically 10-12) and taking care of my family when I’m not working. I love my work and I adore my family. It is very fulfilling for me to courageously lead my team and care audaciously for our clients at this time of massive change that requires unprecedented leadership and radical innovation. It’s invigorating, inspiring, and deeply satisfying for me. I am also incredibly grateful to be home with my family at this time. My husband and I have been trying to figure out how to travel less and make more time to be home together. Done. Our two youngest sons are home from college and are a delight. They completed their junior and senior years of college online from home without any help from me. Our two oldest sons and their families are close and have quarantined themselves in such a way that we get to see them every weekend. My husband and I don’t normally watch TV, but decided we needed to stop watching the news, so we’ve watched 5 seasons of Outlander over the past six weeks. We’re shopping for our next show now. Ozark and Westworld are on the short list. We have been playing board games (our favorite is Pandemic Legacy) and cards, gardening, and embarking on many cooking and crafting projects. The boys are all great in the kitchen and have recently taken up making sourdough bread. I’ve never done so many dishes. I don’t mind dishes, but it’s starting to take its toll. Oh, and we got a puppy. My husband has been wanting a puppy for three years. We decided now is a good time to get a puppy. I’m not sure now is a good time for me to be training a puppy. She is now house trained, can sit and come, and (mostly) minds her boundaries and doesn’t run off too far. But my carpets need to be cleaned, as does everything else in my house. I am good at keeping things tidy. I am terrible at keeping things clean. And, I have nothing to complain about. My life is good. My family is healthy and adjusting well. We love being together. Our business suffered a small adjustment with a lot of early cancellations of in person work and our pipeline immediately dried up. But our coaching and online, live, virtual trainings are in very high demand and our pipeline filled back up with new clients with new problems. I really have nothing to complain about. And, I’m exhausted. And, I’m not the only one. My team and most of our clients are also working 10-12 hours a day and managing their families, many of them with school age or teenage kids that need a lot of help with school and filling the void of their social lives and extracurricular activities. Remember that saying, “It takes a village?” We’re now doing the work of our entire villages. And, we need a break. But, there’s nowhere to go and there’s nothing to do, so we’re not taking one. And, it’s time. We all need to start taking some time off. I started by requesting that my team start taking a couple days off, even one. So, we all diligently took one day off last month – a Monday or a Friday, to make a long weekend. Here’s what we learned: one day is nice, but it is totally not enough. It is enough to do a life repair day, but not enough to actually rest, relax, and recover. A life repair day is a day where you catch up with all the things that you haven’t had time to do and important, but not urgent things that are bogging you down: going to the grocery store, cleaning out your email inbox, paying your bills, catching up on chores, cleaning out your closets – Marie Kondo style, etc.
We all needed life repair days because there are all kinds of tiny constructs that used to exist in our lives that allowed us to take tiny breaks and catch up on things that we’re now falling behind on. That commute that so many of you abhor? I bet you’re missing it now. When I lived in LA, my commute was where I caught up on personal phone calls, listened to podcasts, listened to music, or just thought, or did nothing. Mostly, it was my thinking time. And, I have no time to do any of those things anymore. I also used to spend a lot of time on airplanes. Here’s what I did on planes: I listened to podcasts or slept during take-off and landing. At 10,000 ft, I cleaned out my email inbox and did any work projects that I needed to do (building slide decks, writing proposals, writing blogs, etc.). And, then, I watched movies or read fiction. Again, I have no time to do any of those things anymore. When my inbox hit 300, I scheduled time to sort that out and have been on top of that ever since. That may seem like a low number to some of you, but I am a recovered email hoarder and don’t normally let myself go over 100 before taking action. I build slides and write proposals and blogs late at night or on weekends because my days are full of calls, video conferences, coaching, and training. I haven’t read fiction in months. I still read, because it’s something that I absolutely need to do for my mental health. But I’m only making time to read things that are purposeful. For me, it’s been learning to make homemade pasta and bread, gardening and composting books, beekeeping books, and whatever business books I need to read to stay on top of what our clients are working on.
Are you exhausted yet? If you didn’t know you needed a vacation before, maybe you realize it now. If we can’t have a real vacation, maybe we can have a fake one. I took off a Thursday, Friday, and a Monday, giving me five days off in a row. Today is my first day off. I know that I need a life repair day before I can settle in and relax. Here are all the things I plan to do:
Write this blog and several others, plant blueberries and raspberries, catch up on personal phone calls (call my mom and two of my best friends – Erika and Karen), make focaccia, order new sourdough pans, clean out the garage, clean out my closet, return my Rent the Runway items and cancel my subscription (because all I wear now is jeans and yoga pants), sign up for StitchFix (hoping to get some new jeans and yoga pants), shampoo the carpet, catch up on the laundry, change the sheets, weed the garden, check the bees, watch the Soundheim 90th Birthday concert, read some fiction, and watch at least one episode each of three new TV shows. I also plan to go kayaking as much as possible. I was planning to kayak every day, but the weather may not cooperate. Kayaks and thunderstorms are not a good combination. I know that I only have five days off and that my family and our new puppy are still here and will want more of my time and attention because I have it to give. But, I also know that at the end of today, I will be exhausted and care less about the crazy list I made and more about taking naps, reading for pleasure, and doing what I want to do, not what I have to do.
I hope you’ll join me in taking a Fake-ation. Let us know how it goes!