Some of you may have noticed that the the blog was lacking its regular flow of content the week before Labor Day. The reason: I needed a vacation. I was overworked, overtired and well beyond burnout. Therefore I did something that I haven’t done in years – I spent an entire week not working. It’s true. My MacBook never left my briefcase, which never left the company of gloves and umbrellas on my parents’ entryway bench. The iPad only came out when my nephew tried to teach me how to play Minecraft. And my iPhone? Its only use was to take photos of the lake behind my parents’ house. That was the extent of technology’s role during my week of vacation. And it was lovely.
My routine consisted of morning coffee on the back porch with my mother, naps on the lake pier, lunch with my grandfather, late afternoon reading sessions on the porch (I read three novels that week), homemade dinners back on the porch with my family, and late bedtimes after wine and memorable conversation and laughter. It was exactly what I needed: A reboot, recharge and renewed sense of self.
Then, I came home.
Yes, I was excited to come back to New York after being hidden away from city life. However the work that I left behind, left unattended to for seven days, didn’t go away. In fact it piled up to about 1,000 unanswered emails, catch-up meetings, and a dusty apartment – plus Fashion Week was here and promised a crazy schedule. Usually after my long weekend holidays, I find myself excited to get back to work and go at it with a vigor fueled by excitement and lots of coffee. This time however was different. Perhaps it was the fact that I haven’t taken off a whole week in years and it shocked my system. Or perhaps I needed an even longer vacation. Or perhaps I was just being pouty and didn’t want to come back to work.
Whatever the reason, this past week I skirted by with doing just enough work that was required of me. I felt anxious and very guilty. I love work and I love what I do. When I get in these funks, it makes me nervous and frustrated with myself. Then comes the guilt trips. My friends and family know them well. Why wasn’t I excited to get back to work? Why was I so lazy? Why was I bored and not doing anything about it? Why, why, why?
Usually when I get this way, it means that I don’t have a routine and it makes me feel out of sorts. So I clean my apartment (did that), go on walks (done) and home in (I could’ve been dubbed a hermit this week). It was yes a frustrating week. But by the end of it, I was surprised to feel something besides guilt. I felt acquiescence. I realized that my vacation routine was fighting with my pre-vacation workaholic routine from which I was escaping from, and it just wasn’t working. Therefore, I reluctantly compromised. And as almost all reluctant compromises go, it was the right thing to do. As we discover from vacations – they breathe new life into our everyday lives, and it’s not always welcomed. But it does work for the better.
So instead of working and running around to meetings and working some more, I’m allowing some remnants of my vacation to stay with me. Instead of reading on the porch and looking out onto a lake, I’m reading on my front stoop and enjoying the tree-lined streets of my Harlem neighborhood in the early mornings. Dinners with my parents are not replaced by nights behind the computer, but rather with nights out with friends balanced between meeting deadlines and feeling confident that needed work is done. The rest can wait for tomorrow.
With the work week starting anew, I am now finally feeling that sense of excitement to hit the ground running. But before it begins, I’m going to read my newspaper on my front stoop, coffee in hand. Also, I’m not going to wait several years before another long vacation. I even put it in my Google Calendar.