In September of 2010 my husband and I were burnt out.
We had a young child, my husband was working and traveling a lot and we lost my father-in-law in July. We were tired, stressed out and grieving.
On a Friday my husband said, I need a break. He’s not someone who says this often, or really ever, so I listened. We decided to get away and leave our troubles and stress at home for some sun.
Saturday morning we booked flights leaving the following day for a beach vacation.
In the previous six months we had payed off a good chunk of our consumer debt. Going on a beach vacation was a step backwards. The flights and all-inclusive resort were A LOT of money.
But we felt we needed it. We were on the brink. My husband couldn’t focus and couldn’t work. I had just finished a stretch of solo parenting while he was on the road with his band. I desperately wanted some R & R. R & R that I couldn’t get at home with a spouse that needed to put in 12+ hour days at his job and with my 10 month old that was an unreliable napper.
Needing a vacation from your life is a desperate spot to be in.
It means you’re counting the days till the weekend first thing Monday morning.
It means you’re tolerating your life instead of living it.
It means you’re on the edge of losing something big: your health, your sanity or the people around you.
When someone tells me they’re “just holding on” or “counting the days” until they’re through something, and that something isn’t climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, I know what the meaning is behind the words. I need a new reality. I need a new life.
Last weekend I had my first “away from husband and son” trip ever.
It was exciting to book, exciting to chat with my sister about spending some time together and planning what we would do for 48 hours without my toddler along for the ride.
It was exciting but I didn’t count the days until the trip happened.
It actually snuck up on me. We’ve had some big events around here that overshadowed my impending getaway.
This vacation was a want, not a need.
When I think back to that last minute beach vacation I know we needed it. We needed a break from our lives, we needed time to decompress and we needed to push the reset button. Taking a break from our reality gave us a better perspective on it. Something had to change.
It was on the return from that vacation that I made the decision to get rid of a lot of stuff.
At the time it seemed like a silly idea to a lot of people. Like I was distracting myself from dealing with our real problems: my husband worked a lot and we still weren’t sure if we could manage financially without me returning to work.
The silly idea that started with purging our home lead to a move overseas, a new career for my husband, getting out of debt, more family time, and writing again after years of thinking that dream was dead.
I’m not the only one that decided to make a big change after a taking a vacation. Several of you have emailed me and shared a bit about your start to living with less stuff. It is uncanny that so many of us decided to let go of possessions after some time away from our homes.
Obviously leaving our routine can lead to positive change. It can be rejuvenating and, most importantly, fun.
But if you think you need a vacation, if you need a plane ticket booked to tolerate your Monday to Friday, if you’re clinging to that mark in your calendar for your next break from real life, what does that say about your life?