This is Just Sad

December 10, 2002

My wife and I are taking a trip to Hawaii later this month. This will be my first trip there and her second. We are taking a 7-day cruise through the islands to celebrate her birthday, our 5th wedding anniversary, and Christmas.

Originally I was only going to take off 6 days plus Christmas for a total of 7 days vacation. However, since we get back on the 30th, I decided to take 2 more days off and return to work after the New Year. Then Michele asked why I wasn't taking that Thursday and Friday off as well. I have struggled with a good reason for working those days for some time now, and have decided to take them off too. So in the end I am going to be off 9 working days and 2 holidays for a total of 11 days vacation.

This is only the 4th time in 20 years I have taken this many days off. All the rest of my vacations have been less than 2 weeks long. It just seems sad somehow that in 20 years time I've only had 4 really extravagant vacations in terms of time. Don't get me wrong, I've had some wonderful trips and vacations, I just haven't let myself take any really long vacations.

Here, then, are the four 2-week vacations I've had since 1983:

October 1986: Two-week drive to, and through, Western Canada, Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho.

August 1989: Two-week Windjammer Cruise in the Caribbean

June 1994: Two-week motorcycle tour of the Alps (Germany, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland)

December 2002: Two-week trip to Hawaii

Now that I understand that taking the least amount of time off possible to accomplish the particular vacation is really a form of self-punishment, I am working hard to give myself extra time off before and after trips. Returning home from a trip late on Sunday night and going into work first thing Monday morning taints the whole experience in a negative way. I used to think I was being good by showing such dedication.

Now I have changed my perspective on time off; time off is a reward and as such should be treated in a positive manner. Our Hawaii trip is a case in point. We deliberately added two days before hand so we'd have time to recover from the flight before having to board the ship. And I am taking 4 days off after the trip to just be lazy at home. We've set up every detail that we can control to be as relaxed and simple as possible. Instead of being a forced march with rigid timelines and agendas, our trip is going to be relaxed and carefree.

Only 10 days to go...

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.