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If You Want To Discover What You Love, Take A Vacation

Last weekend, my husband and I took a trip to Vermont. We hadn’t made many plans for the trip: we had a room booked for two nights at a B&B, and we knew the route we planned to take up north, but that was about it. We’d never been to the area before. When we left, I had no idea how we were going to fill the time, but I was excited to find out.

Vacations are like a microcosm of what we want our lives to be like. We stay in places nicer than our own homes, eat in restaurants just out of our price range, and give more freely of both our money and our time. The things we do on vacation are the things we want more of in our lives. The things we don’t want to do (clean our rooms, stick to a rigid schedule) are the things we want less of in our lives.  It occurred to me during our brief trip that I should take a mental note of all the things I gravitated toward when I was free from responsibilities.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Photo Credit: Unsplash

According to my vacation calculations, the things I most love to do are:

  1. Spend quality time talking and laughing with my husband (family).
  2. Read. All the time, during every free moment.
  3. Eat well. We enjoyed a lot of fresh, local foods on our trip, cooked by talented chefs.
  4. Wander and explore. I loved meandering around, finding new shops, cafes and interesting sights. We visited two Vermont cities on the way up to our small-town destination: Bennington and Manchester. We didn’t find much to do in Bennington, but I did like seeing the Revolutionary War memorial obelisk. There was much more to do in Manchester, and we found a huge indie bookstore with a cafe attached, both of which made me melt into puddles of happiness.
  5. Sleep. I slept late and took naps. It felt like the height of luxury.
  6. Write. Even though I set myself no project deadlines or goals, I still found myself opening my laptop a few times a day, and I got several fresh story ideas while walking around.
  7. Be with animals. There were two adorable Shih tzu dogs at the B&B, and I loved having them snuggle up to me in front of the wood stove at night.

Now that I’m home and have re-entered the world of a full-time job, parenting a toddler, caring for a house and setting writing project deadlines, how am I going to keep those happy things in my life? It’s unrealistic, of course, to think that I can read and sleep as much as I do on vacation, or stop cleaning the house. But I can set up daily quality time for all of the things I love.

All of the things on my list are possible to achieve every day:

  1. Family. I eat breakfast with my son every morning, and dinner with my son and husband most nights; we play together as a family as often as we can.
  2. Reading. I keep my bookshelf well-stocked. (Thanks in part to visiting several bookstores on the trip, I’m now in the middle of NINE fantastic books!)
  3. Food. We eat pretty well; my husband is a great cook, and I know my way around a crockpot. We’re thinking about getting a farm share this spring/summer so we can eat more local, fresh foods.
  4. Wandering. I try to have a day every month or so when I can wander and explore some of our surrounding towns. But even if I’m not able to do it on a daily basis, I can still explore new things: podcasts, TED talks, websites.
  5. Sleep. I make it a point to get enough sleep every night, and allow myself a nap on weekends.
  6. Writing. I already have a regular writing habit in the morning, afternoon and evening.
  7. Animals. I cuddle with my cats every evening.

What about you? Have you ever figured out what makes you happy, just from taking a trip away from home? How do you incorporate those things into your regular life? 

 

3 Responses to “If You Want To Discover What You Love, Take A Vacation”

  1. Mark says:

    Food… The eating of it, the presenting of it in an inviting and homey atmosphere… Unfortunately, not so much the cooking of it!

    • Leanne Sowul says:

      You’ll notice that I don’t have cooking on my list, either! The point is to figure out which things give you joy. If you love to eat, but not to cook, then make sure you have delicious food available to you. And by all means, present it in a homey way 🙂

  2. Lucille says:

    Spending countless hours with a good book — whether that be at home or elsewhere! I’ve been known to sneak a read anywhere there is good lighting and a place to sit down.

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