Ahh, August. The month when many of us, at least here in the US, vacate. The pace of life slows down, work is left behind (ahem....), the suitcase gets packed, and the daily routine is temporarily disrupted. By the time you read this, I will have joined the masses who are on vacation this month.
Let's look at that word – vacation “A period of suspension...normal activities are suspended...freedom or release”. And I love the origin of this work (but I'm geeky that way): 1350-1400;
from something; see
Suspension, freedom, release, freedom from something. No wonder we quest after vacations.
There are many ways to vacate. Yes, you can take days off from work, spend oodles of money and visit an exotic location. I have done this and will continue to do it. But this is Creatavita, my friends, so we must think of another way. What if you:
Wandered around your town? Two years ago, on a Thursday afternoon in August, I left my house. While I had some ideas about what I wanted to do, I had no specific plan. Right there, no specific plan – that's a vacation for me. I took the train to Center City. From there, I meandered, through Chinatown (of course I ate), Franklin Square (boy, has that changed), the National Constitution CenterNational Constitution Center and even took the El to Northern Liberties. Wandering around alone, with no purpose, seeing places and areas in Philadelphia that I had always intended to see. Delightful. The cost of this day? I'll say $50, but the admission to the National Constitution Center was about $20.
Changed something in your life? Vacation can also mean something changes around you. A routine, an item in your life, a habit. The Beloved and I are presently taking a vacation from our bedroom rug. This rug is a gorgeous Oriental which we both love. We had to move it out of the room this spring when we sanded the floors. The floors look fabulous with a sheen that comes not only from the finish, but from our collective sweat and grit. Plus, the summer was approaching. The deep red Oriental suddenly felt heavy and unnecessary. So we left it in the attic and plan to retrieve it in the fall. Guess what? Almost three months into this vacation, I still have a moment of bliss when I look at that beautiful floor. The cost of moving the rug? Since I was the one dragging it up the steps, about 125 calories off of my body. That would be what we call a win-win situation.
Here's another example. One of my students has been struggling with a song for the past month or so. A challenging piece both vocally and dramatically, he was always way too spent when he finished singing it. He brought the song to his lesson today and son of a gun, if that song didn't sound significantly better. I asked him what happened. He reminded me that I had told him to, get ready, “take a vacation from that song”. So he did. Didn't look at it, didn't think about it for 7 days. Time away so the music could marinate in his body and presto, chango, the song is working for him. The cost of staying away from the song? Nothing.
Stepped away from the screens? What if you didn't watch television or, gasp, didn't go on Facebook? Even for one day? What would that feel like? Like so many others in our connected society, I regularly attempt to detox from technology. It isn't easy, but I find I'm less likely to react quickly to life's little fun events after these detox sessions. The cost of stepping away from the screens? Zilch.
Said “see you later” to media? I have this article by Dr. Andrew Weill (Spontaneous Happiness and other goodies) taped to the wall above my desk. This forces me to read this quote every single day:
“Not only do we suffer from nature deficit, we are experiencing information surfeit.”
which reminds me to turn off the noise and limit my media intake. Remember, the 24-hour news cycle needs you to pay attention so they can pay their bills. This means there is a lot of unnecessary information being thrown out at all of us, hoping we'll stay tuned. Don't. Get the information you truly need and then turn it off. The cost? Another freebie. You're welcome.
Went Outside? Most of us spend way too much side inside. Take that cup of coffee and open the door. Look up at the sky. When was the last time you actually looked up at the sky? Listen for the birds. I give you permission to stay out there as long as you want. The cost? You guessed it. Free.
Breathed? Many of you are now rolling your eyes and saying, “oh boy, here we go, now she's going all crunchy-granola on us.”. Fine. Think that way if you want. But let me tell you, as a voice teacher there's many a person out there who could benefit greatly from good-ol'-stop-thinking-and-breathe-into-your-body. Whether they choose to use that breath for singing or for living, I don't care. And while you're focusing on that breath, go ahead and imagine that you are on vacation. See if you can trick yourself into taking a break from everything around you. Another Freebie.
See you later.