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Rescuing your vacation – if only for one true day

Time Magazine recently published a feature article entitled, Who Killed Summer Vacation? It focused on both the quantity of vacations (the average number of unused vacation days in 2013 was 4.9 days), and the quality of vacation (61% of people will work during their vacation). This equates to less time away and much of that time being spent plugged in. It is a sad reality.

We wrote last year about The American Family Vacation: A History and deduced that the trend is moving towards much shorter vacations due to busy lives, expense, and work demands.

Perhaps we need to redefine the "summer vacation." Sadly, maybe we stop thinking of vacation as a week away from work. Maybe it can only be one true day.
Whether the quantity is a 2 day or 14 day vacation, we would like to focus on the quality. Could you commit to unplugging for one true day?

I attended a Women's Walking Retreat last weekend at Nickerson State Park in Brewster. We were asked to leave our cell phones in the car for three hours. I nearly panicked. "Surely that rule doesn't apply to me..." But it did and I did. Suddenly I heard the birds. The world kept spinning. Honest and true, I felt resurrected.

Back to picking the day. Tell work ahead of time, I'll be unavailable on (pick a sunny day) Wednesday. Give yourself and whoever you are traveling with this promise of one day. Perhaps your whole family, friends make the same commitment. We don't want this to sound trite. But honestly, YOU'RE ON VACATION. Just one day is all we ask.

The power of one day on the beach

Drive to a Cape Cod or Islands beach. Here's the hardest thing you'll do all day - leave the cell phone in the car. Less is more at the beach. All I need is a chair, cooler, umbrella, and book. No money needed. Immediately take off your shoes. You can bring music or enjoy the quiet, mesmerizing sounds of the birds and waves.

Walk to find your own spot. Take several deep breaths. Sit and watch the waves. Up and back, up and back. For me it is the most reassuring and powerful realization: no matter what is going on in life that worries me, the sea is predictably, reliably, and constantly moving up and back. I feel small, in a good way. More deep breaths.
After a few hours, things begin to look different. While the sea was rhythmically moving up and back, the tide has changed. This is also a marvel to me. Happens twice a day, every day. All those racing thoughts that felt crucial before, suddenly feel small. Keep those toes in the sand.
At the risk of sounding trite again, be present. Even if just for one true day.

Marconi Beach, Wellfleet (Jim Reese /
Ballston Beach, Truro (Jim Reese /