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Archive for Sunday, August 13, 2006

Take a vacation in your own backyard

August 13, 2006

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There's a famous commercial featuring a couple looking back wistfully on their cruise. They were treated like royalty, basically. Their minions were instructed not to disturb them until such-and-such a time. Tea was poured. Pillows were fluffed.

Eventually, they returned to their workaday lives, but they were comforted by those days of fluffed pillows and such.

An at-home vacation is kind of like that, or rather a mirror image of it.

When you come back from vacation, people may ask, "Where'd you go?" But more important is where you didn't go, the things you didn't do, the miles you didn't put on. That's what you find out when you stay home.

Some people claim they are exhausted by spending a week of vacation on the home shores, claiming that they do too much work around the house, run too many errands, that kind of thing.

If you find yourself tired and distraught after a few days, you are doing it wrong. Consider these your guidelines for the AHV (At Home Vacation):

Make a list: Ideally, you should accomplish few if any of the items on your list. Actually, your real goal is to complete none of the tasks. Be firm in your resolve.

So why have a list? It has an important role. For one thing, your list will serve as amusement - during and after the AHV. Just look at the things you thought you had to get done! Ha! You did none of them, and nothing bad happened.

But most important, it will remind you that you needn't accomplish anything to feel content. Rather, you will find that the reverse is true.

Read your list and feel how good it is to not do.

Saunter around the yard: This should be your chief activity during the AHV. Ideally, this will be done after rising late.

Why is this so key? Think about it: When you are working, your time at home is spent either a) rushing to get out of the house to get to work; b) slumping into a chair after work or c) sleeping, so you are rested for work.

You're either unconscious or rushing or exhausted. Sure, there might be some other stuff wedged in there, but how often do you get to work up a nice, prolonged saunter around the yard and enjoy what it is you're rushing to and from work to pay for?

So saunter around the place. Do it early and often.

Pat yourself on the back for not spending money

After you're finished sauntering around the yard daily, sit down in the place of your choice (such as a porch or chaise lounge) and congratulate yourself for not buying a plane ticket or spending $150 a night or more for a hotel (when you can stay at home for free).

You saved a bundle by staying at home!

This makes you smart. Feel how relaxing this feeling is.

Go to a cool restaurant: Go ahead, do it. Didn't you save a boatload of money by staying home? It would be lunacy not to go out to a fancy schmancy restaurant.

You can go out and splurge - you'd be a fool not to.

While at the restaurant, deduct what you are spending on this posh meal from what you saved by not going anywhere. You will find that you are still ahead.

Allow feelings of smartness and relaxation to take hold.

Go to a coffee shop in the morning and watch people rushing to work

This can also be done later in the day, while driving to the above-mentioned cool and pricey restaurant. The point is to take in the fact that other people rushing, and you are not.

Lovely, isn't it?

Read a book: This might seem an obvious choice, but it is an excellent move during the AHV. Think about it: When you are on a regular vacation, you are rushing about taking in the sights or "relaxing" after taking in the sights, leaving little time for reading.

Prepare for wistful feelings: One day, this will end. It's true that you had no minions scurrying about fluffing pillows and not bothering you when you didn't want to be bothered. But after a week or so of this sauntering, reading and not doing, you will re-enter the work world, and it will be rough - as rough as if you'd been on one of those cruises loaded with minions.

So what have you gained?

It is true that you will be one of the people rushing to work. Perhaps you will get coffee on your way, and you will notice people who are not in a hurry.

You must accept this. What else can you do? Fluff your own pillow, get some rest for the First Monday Back.

Take comfort in a few simple facts: You do not have to unpack, you don't have a vacation to pay off, and, yep, you read a whole book.

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