My husband and I are fortunate to be able to escape to our place nearby in Vermont most weekends and throughout the year for a few extended visits. But similar to the Massachusetts staycations we’ve taken in the past, we usually find ourselves painting, splitting and stacking wood, taking care of our cows, or working on other projects around the property if the weather is fine. And when it’s not, we almost always end up using that time to catch up on indoor work: overflowing email boxes, farm research or other online tasks.
Don’t get me wrong—we truly enjoy these jobs. In fact, my husband goes stir-crazy if he can’t get up early in the morning to hop on his tractor for some chore or another. And I often I crave curling up in my old recliner with an afghan and cat in my lap, finally having the opportunity to pin recipes and organize yoga class sequence ideas. But it took a funky new friend, an Internet blackout and distance from home on our most recent vacation for me to realize that time (and space) has become a basic need in this overly digital world.
Sandwiched between two family weddings, our extra-long time in Vermont was capped off with my annual two-day retreat on Stratton Mountain for the Wanderlust festival with a fellow yoga teacher. A sarcastic self-proclaimed "slacker," Sam had me laughing until my sides hurt, helping me loosen my grip on my tendency to overplan everything. So much so that by Friday morning I was rearranging my full schedule (carefully crafted months in advance) to join her for a class that was accompanied by--surprise!--one of my favorite yoga DJs, Taz Rashid.
The days before Sam arrived went by in a flash. There was grass to cut, repaired doors and windows to paint and install, and heifers looking for relief from biting flies. Later that week, while waiting on my paddleboard for our Wanderlust SUP yoga class to start, I reminded myself that I’d have plenty of time on our second week off--when we flew south to visit family in Mississippi--to see what digital work was piling up. Until I couldn’t get my Surface to connect in our AirBnB condo.
I tried everything, including recruiting my tech-whiz stepson, to no avail. It took a couple of days for me to get to a Best Buy to purchase cables so I could hardwire to the router, but by that time I was surprised to notice that my interest in looking at anything other than where we could find vegan meal options or good vintage shopping had completely faded. For the remainder of the trip I kept up with important emails and started a blog post, but otherwise I found myself enjoying my newfound digital freedom. And--just like on Stratton with Sam--without dog hair to sweep, weeds to pull, or a barn to straighten, I had time to meditate, read, and go for a walk. Heaven!
I knew that feeling wouldn't last, because reality was waiting once our plane touched down at Logan Airport. Just like Newton's first law of motion, I find that I keep my head down and speeding forward most days to get everything done: work, eat, yoga, teach, repeat. When the weekend comes I shift to take the same approach to home and online projects. But when we're blessed with the occasional opportunity to enjoy time physically away from home ... that's when the real vacation begins.
Most of us can't completely escape from our daily routine more than once a year, so we've got to come up with ways to bring some of that time-away sweetness into our regular days. I seem to go through the same ritual when I get back from a trip: Once I catch up online I unsubscribe from as many email lists as I can, turn off unnecessary app and social media notifications, and try to be better at making the most of the time I have in each day. I book real dates with friends, and of course look forward to the next time I can escape my daily grind. I've already successfully weaned myself from TV ... can I find some space by spending less time online? That's a tall order these days, but I'll let you know how it goes. I've already made plans for my very first evening beach yoga class with my friend Beverly this week ... so far, so good ;)