Summer is vacation time for families! Most of the world goes on holiday in August every year. Students travel during the summer because they are off from school. For the last fourteen (14) years, I travel overseas during the summer. When students return to school, their teachers usually use vacation experiences as a subject for a composition or discussion. Did you take a summer vacation?
Most people get two (2) to four (4) weeks of vacation a year. When I worked industry, it was pretty rare to take even three (3) weeks off all at once. I feel really fortunate that I routinely receive fourteen (14) weeks of vacation every year. That is a lot of vacation and I prefer to work summer school, although the school budget has limited what subjects are taught. I prefer traveling during lower demand periods such as Spring or Fall, but I will have to wait until I retire to do that.
Southern California is hot during the summer which limits what I can do. I use vacation time to do the things I like to do or what I do not have time to do during the year. You probably think I certainly have enough time off to do a lot. I could catch up on my reading, but I read a lot anyway. I actually read less during vacation, because I am doing other things. I put together a short project list to do this summer and I get to supervise it!
See, I am not good at DIY projects and probably never will be. I am very good at finding good people at reasonable rates to perform the work though. I spent a couple weeks with workmen remodeling our three (3) bathrooms and kitchen. It was not a major job, but it took a lot of time. It was more decisions versus actual work and a lot of coordination of people and time. I know what a general contractor goes though and realize it is a very stressful job.
We managed to have a real vacation for one of the weeks by attending my sister in law’s surprise birthday party in New York. I renewed my love of typical New York food I grew up with and realized I am still an ex New Yorker no matter how long I live in Los Angeles (43 years). At the party, I even met someone who graduated high school with my wife. It was remarkable and he looked much older than my wife which made her feel good. I even met someone who went to school with Billy Joel.
I use vacations as an opportunity to ride my bike six (6) or seven (7) days a week. I enjoy the exercise and the endorphins it generates. The physical result is not bad either! I trim down my body fat and feel better too. I am going to try to ride two (2) times during the week during the school year. One of my friends plans to ride across country (Portland OR to Portland, ME) next summer. Part of me wants to take up the challenge, although one hundred fifty to two hundred miles a day just does nothing for me.
During vacations and weekends are opportunities to write and do research. This summer, I decided to slow down a bit. A little “me” time was necessary and enjoyable too. I tried to do things I enjoyed and set priorities. I enjoy writing, but sometimes I get writer’s block or it is no use forcing it. I did some of the things I normally do very little of. I shopped! I replaced some bicycling gear, went to the outlets and discount stores. I probably saved fifty percent and used up my annual budget.
Between bicycling and meditation, I improved my health this year. Yes, I said meditation! Last year was pretty stressful and I needed an additional resource to deal with the stress. I used a little visualization and was able to clear my thoughts through meditation. I love the beach and I remember how the sound of the waves (West coast) is very soothing. I play an audio of the waves and close my eyes and try to clear my thoughts. It helps although I am just practicing it occasionally.
I tried something new! I started to drink a glass of wine with dinner. I normally drink very rarely, so this is a big deal. After two (2) weeks, I sleep better and am more relaxed. I am curious to see if it affects my cholesterol too. Another side effect is I actually feel better. I am sure, it is partly due to my increased exercise, but I have been exercising for seven (7) weeks before I started drinking wine. I plan to verify my experiment with a blood test in a month or two.
I am at the twilight of my working life and I am starting to plan my retirement in earnest. I am not talking about savings or investments. I am thinking much more about what I will do in retirement. I came up with some ideas I plan to pursue, although I am not ready to share them yet. My key driver is I want something to get me up out of bed in the morning for a couple hours a day. I may volunteer or entrepreneurial. It is still a work in progress. I have at least one or two more years to figure it out.
Summer vacation may be over, but I still have things to do! I love vacations, but they go very quickly even it is nine (9) weeks long! Retirement will be one long vacation, but I want to make it worthwhile. I expect to live thirty (30) years in retirement and I want to accomplish a lot of things. Let’s face it, you cannot travel fifty-two (52) weeks a year! I know some of you can and will. I am actually looking forward to returning to work and a permanent assignment. Summer vacation is over!
Photo by: Flickr