Like most people, I have a lot going on.
I work full-time managing digital communications for Missouri’s largest school district. I own a small business, Checkmate Consulting, managing four brands’ social media presences online after 5 p.m. on my couch. I write for two city/regional publications, Feast Magazine and 417 Magazines, submitting pieces each month on topics ranging from business owner profiles to proposal stories.
I work more than 60 hours a week on all of those things. They’re things I love, so it doesn’t feel like work — most of the time.
But there are times when it feels like a lot. When it all feels like too much on my plate, and I start losing my mind a little bit. I lose my husband’s car keys (or he loses them, one or the other); I don’t go grocery shopping for over a week. I forget to send a birthday card until the day before the big day. I dry a sweater that should be air dried. I forget to return a book to the library the day it’s due. I leave the house before giving my husband a kiss goodbye.
They’re not major mistakes or grave ills to my life, these little errors. They’re just annoyances, reminders to take care of myself, to be better organized, to update my calendar, to double check that to-do list written every Friday afternoon for the week ahead. But it’s the forgotten kiss with my husband or the novel I haven’t gotten to on my desk that bother me the most. I’m missing out a life drenched in joy because I’m only allowing myself a shallow rest, interrupted by tasks and to-dos.
That’s why, for the first time in nearly two years, I’m going on a vacation.
I’m heading to Italy, Greece and Turkey for 15 days, 12 of which will be spent on a cruise ship with 2,800 of my closest friends. My husband Kevin and I have spent the better part of 18 months planning this trip with our amazing travel agent Kimberly, and I’ve worked a lot of long hours on my couch and at coffeehouses on the weekends to pay for the trip in cash. I bought my first DSLR camera, and we’re booking our excursions to Santorini, Ephesus, Athens, Naples and more next week. It’s a once-in-a lifetime kind of trip, one I’m deeply blessed to take.
But the most rewarding part of this vacation for me I suspect won’t have a thing to do with the winery we’re touring in Mykonos or the hike we’ll complete up to Pompeii. It won’t even be a slice of pizza where the food was invented in Naples. It won’t be what’s there, but instead what it is not.
I’m not taking my cellphone with me.
Now, I’m not completing unplugging my life. My world doesn’t work like that. We’ll bring a Chromebook with us so I can check email just in case and I’ll check in occasionally on the accounts I’m entrusted to while away. But I won’t have my phone in my pocket when I’m standing in Ephesus. I won’t feel a vibration when I’m walking down an alleyway in Rome. I won’t take a call when Kevin and I are walking up the steps to the Parthenon in Athens.
I’m becoming unplugged so I can recharge. So I can focus on my husband and the views we’ll see together. So I can sip a glass of wine uninterrupted. So I can live my life in the space I inhabit instead of living my life online, if just for a few days.
A few days of peace is what I’ll get, and if not, Kev will help keep me accountable and out of internet cafes. He’ll be taking his phone; we set it up to receive and send texts and calls, just in case of an emergency, and we purchased a bit of data just in case we get lost wandering the streets in Rome. But my phone will be staying home on my nightstand, back where the stress sits on my like a weight and the days fly by too quickly. I’m going to slow down and unplug to recharge my spirit, to regain some sanity.
I’m giving up the key to my professional life in order to live my best personal life for 15 too-long, too-short days in the sun on the Mediterranean Sea. That’s all I can give. But it’s more than enough.