I haven't taken a real vacation in years.
I've gone to a fair amount of conventions and conferences, including Pantheacon (a big Pagan convention in San Jose), RWA National conference in NYC, and a few smaller writing conferences. These trips are a blast--I get to meet up with other folks in the business, spend time with people I never get to see otherwise (like my Llewellyn editor Elysia Gallo and my agent Elaine Spencer, and lots of writer pals), learn new things, give workshops and presentations, and eat way too much yummy food. These trips are definitely fun, and a great change of pace from my regular life, but make no mistake: they're work, not a vacation.
Hell, I usually need a vacation when I get back from one :-)
The closest thing to a vacation I've had was probably three years ago, the last time the Blue Moon Circle gang (and families) took a three-day weekend and went to the Sterling Renaissance Faire. We used to do that almost every year, but people's schedules have gotten tighter, and of course, there's that whole money thing.
The truth is, it can be hard to find the time and money to take a real vacation, as much as we might all want to go sit on the beach with a good book, a fruity drink with an umbrella in it, and a cute cabana boy. (Wait, maybe that's just me.) But that doesn't mean that our bodies and spirits don't need a break from the stresses and strains of everyday life.
So this year, I'm planning to take a Hibernation Vacation.
And yes, I just made that up. But feel free to borrow the idea and use it yourself, in whichever way works best for you.
Here's how I envision the Hibernation Vacation:
For one thing, I'll be doing it at home. Way cheaper that way, and in some ways more relaxing. No packing, no traveling, and no worries about forgetting something important...
For another, the plan is to do less, instead of more. Most vacations involve running around like crazy, trying to cram as much as possible into the time you have. The hibernation vacation is all about UN-cramming your life.
The general idea is to remove as much of the daily pressure of life as possible. For instance, I normally write every day, for at least a few hours in the evening. For the duration of my hibernation vacation, I'm going to give myself permission not to do that. If I get an idea, I can jot it down. I can play with plans for future work. But no doing the work itself until later.
I will still have to go into the shop (I'd originally planned this for February, when we're closed an extra day and things are slow, so I wouldn't even have to do that much, but The Cold from Hell made me reschedule), but I'm not going to worry too much about running a million errands on the way home. And I'll be saying no to all social activities and requests from others.
When I am home, I am going to focus on reconnecting with my spiritual practice and my physical well being. I have been saying for months (ahem, maybe a year) that I was going to get back to meditating and a regular exercise program. But there never seems to be time to fit it into my schedule. I also want to focus more energy on my magickal practice, instead of just writing about it. (Yes, I see the irony there.)
There are also things I've been saying I was going to do, such as re-learning to play guitar and crochet [see my previous blog post about the Creativity Cauldron], which never seem to make it to the top of the "to do" list. The hibernation vacation is the perfect space in time to allow myself to recharge my creative batteries by doing things that aren't "work" creativity (like writing or jewelry making). Things I do just for me, just for fun.
A shocking idea, isn't it!
These days, we all tend to be focused on what has to be done for others, or what we need to do to ensure our everyday survival and pay the bills. It is too easy to forget to fill the well we draw from every day...and then we hit a point where the well is empty, and we can't figure out why.
A hibernation vacation is a way to give yourself the gift of time: recharge your internal battery and hit the "reboot" button on some of your daily patterns that could use shaking up. It doesn't have to be a whole week. Take a weekend, if that's all you can spare, or even just a day. My friend Robin, who is married with kids, and runs a daycare, lives for the rare times when her hubby takes the kids out for the whole day and she gets to be all by herself and not cleaning anything. She takes a long bath, reads a book, actually sits down. A mini hibernation vacation that gives her a break from the constant need to always be there for someone.
Turn off your phone, stay off the internet, only watch fun things on the TV (no news, for goddess' sake!). Read a book. Make a list of the things you want to do for yourself that you never have time for, and do them. And don't forget to focus on your spiritual practice, whatever that might be. Go out at night and look at the stars. Listen to the rain or the sound of the waves. Or turn everything off and listen to the silence.
Then you can listen to yourself, and that's what a hibernation vacation is all about.
What would you do on a hibernation vacation? Something fun, I hope!