Ahhhhh Holidays

Today is the Saturday of the weekend that ends my two weeks of holidays (that description is a little pedantic, but that’s my nature). I thought I’d spend a little time looking back on the two weeks, thinking about how it has been and how I feel about it.

Gretchen Rubin, in her book ‘The Happiness Project’, states that there are four stages of happiness:

‘To eke out the most happiness from an experience, we must anticipate it, savor it as it unfolds, express happiness, and recall a happy memory’

I know I anticipated these holidays, madly, desperately! (Not sure that’s what she means but I was definitely ready for these holidays). I have savoured them – determined to make the most of the time that I’ve had. I’ve expressed happiness as I’ve gone through (as my Facebook friends will attest) and now I’m going to recall the happinesses of the holiday to finish it off.

This is perhaps being self-indulgent but I just want to feel like I’ve had a holiday. I don’t want to get back to work on Monday and feel like I have never been away, I want to know that I’ve had a break, I want to feel refreshed. And in the last day or so I’ve been wandering around the house thinking, ‘am I feeling refreshed?’ ‘I feel so tired still, why am I not feeling like I’ve had a holiday?’ ‘is my throat hurting? maybe I have a cold’ ‘am I tired, or am I bored?’ and other uplifting and refreshing thoughts like those (need a sarcasm font right there!). So I thought I’d try focussing on the positive side and see if that helps.

I started the holidays with a long list of jobs to catch up on. I wanted to knock over a few jobs that I’d been too tired or too busy to do in the previous weeks. Many of them were general housekeeping jobs – make the spare bed, vacuum, clean bathrooms (yes, our really busy time unfortunately coincided with our cleaner’s really busy time). I also did some not-so-general jobs around the house – I took my glasses into town to get the lenses checked (the tinting in them had gone strange and they are replacing them free of charge), I bought some new bed sheets and some clothes hangers that I wanted. It feels good to get those little niggly things out of the way. One of the things I did early in the holidays was ask DH if he had any use for a couple of cardboard boxes that had been hanging around the lounge room since Christmas time. He said he didn’t need them, and I put them into the recycling. Such a little job, a tiny little thing that made the room neater and got the question out of my brain but it took holidays to allow it to happen.

I also sorted out my clothes and threw some out and gave some to charity. And sorting through my clothes allowed me to go and buy some new outfits for winter. Hopefully I’ll be set for the next six months at least and know what outfits I can wear – which clothes go together. I think it is much less stressful when you can go to your closet, know that things fit you and go together and that you are happy with what you are wearing without it taking too much effort. And the shopping was a lot of fun! Unhurried browsing with saved up pocket money to spend. That day was a very nice day!

I had a list of people that I wanted to visit and catch up with and crossing those things off my list meant a couple of very nice dinners and some nice lunches and coffees with people. I really enjoy catching up with people for coffee and that hasn’t been a big part of my life yet this year. Holidays meant having the energy to meet up with some of those I love and the time to enjoy unhurried chatting.

There’s a couple of jobs I didn’t cross off my list. I wanted to get the carpet cleaned this holidays but that might have to wait until next time. Another job that was extremely easy to put off was a visit to the dentist. I think that’s been on the list for the past four or so holidays. Really must do that. And cleaning the inside of the car. The amount of effort that it takes to get the extension cord and the vacuum cleaner and all the tools up to the carport seems to be just enough to make a road block and stop that job from happening. Maybe I need to pay a child to get that one done.

One of the problems with being a ‘list person’ is that fun things like having coffee with friends can become jobs that need to be crossed off a list and you can find that fun activities feel more like work activities just from the act of listing them and crossing them off when completed. Fortunately, I am blessed with a husband who is much more spontaneous than me (which has caused some friction, believe me, but I am learning more and more to appreciate the spontaneity). One day this holidays he said, ‘we need to have an adventure!’ and we spontaneously drove to Pelverata Falls for a bush-walk. It was so refreshing, such a break from the norm. We didn’t stay out all day – possibly because it was raining almost the whole time and we were getting drenched – but we stayed out long enough to appreciate the beauty and to take a break from ordinary life.

One of my other plans for my holidays was to get back into exercise in a very big way. The bush walk helped, I went to the gym, I’ve done some tummy crunches, lunges and planks at home in front of the TV and walked our normal route to the beach a few times too. I haven’t been as consistent as I had hoped, but I reckon I’ve done something decent at least every second day and I feel pretty good for it. Most days have been beautifully sunny for Tasmania in autumn and we’ve even had some mid-twenties temperatures! The walks have been beautiful, absolutely gorgeous! And there was even the time when I saw my good friend, also walking on the beach, and I got to have a good catch up at the same time – an extra special gift.

It has been so good to have time to get my brain into order, time to think, pray, write, plan, read and just to be. I’ve watched a lot of TV – we got Netflix this holidays and I seem to be addicted to House right now (but I’m getting it under control…). I’ve rested so much – reading back through my diary I keep seeing ‘I slept 10 hours last night and then had a half hour nap this afternoon’ and I’m still needing the sleep now (10 hours again last night), I think I must have been tired! I’ve read a book that is deep (The Bible Jesus Read by Philip Yancey) and a book that is not (The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer) and spent time just looking out the window at the view and thinking.

There have been a few big life events in our family this holidays too: we have bought a new car, DD moved into a share house with some friends in Canberra, and we bought her a car too, my mother came out of hospital and my parents started the next phase of recovery from their illnesses together at home. All these things have taken up a fair bit of my brain too.

As I got to the end of this week I started to realise that there were things I hadn’t accomplished on my holidays that I had been hoping to. Focussing on those things I had missed made me start to wonder whether I had really used my holidays in the best possible way. Wonder is too weak a word here – I started to panic that I had wasted my two weeks of holidays and that I would not be able to be my best self getting back to work because of that. But writing this post, focussing on the good things (and believe me, I’ve had to delete a few sentences where I’d gone down the wrong path and started beating myself up for not doing this or that) has really helped me to realise that it’s been a brilliant couple of weeks. There has been a lot of rest, a lot of joy and a fair bit of accomplishment. I think I am now ready to get back into work. Bring on term two!

P.S. I have now completed another thing on my want-to-do list for holidays: write a blog post in a coffee shop 🙂

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