Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Summer is Officially Here

There are certain surefire indicators summer has arrived. The NHL's Stanley Cup Finals are over; people are asking each other: "Hot enough for you?"; parents are rejoicing as children leave for camp; college students are busy filling burger-and-fry orders; and HR sends you a memo, reminding you how many vacation days you have left.

Many workers tend to disregard this advice to use their vacation time, preferring instead to use the season's increased daylight to energize them for working on the job. The extended hours of sunshine provide an energy boost that rival any canned drink. This leaves the worker feeling good, spending more time on the job, and ignoring family members who are pleading, "Let's go somewhere for vacation!"

Perhaps another reason employees prefer work over vacation is because vacations are work too, just in a different way. There are the hours, sometimes days, of vacation preparation; there's the juggling of finances required to pull off a nice stay somewhere; and there's the effort involved, sometimes considerable, to keep the kids reined in and at least acting as if they like each other. It's no wonder some guys find it more relaxing to remain on the job, where what's expected is familiar and there are no surprises.

Cost may hinder some from going on vacation. Since transportation, meals, drink and lodging all cost more away from home, some are discouraged from leaving at all, thus forfeiting vacation days. Many workers find it hard to hand over a day's wages to feed a family of three or more at a fancy restaurant, or tap into the savings account to fly the family to a resort destination. And they know from experience it's hard to hang on to bucks when the kids are whining for one more souvenir, another ride on the "Spin 'N' Flip," or begging for a $5 candy bar before the movie begins.

So what's a guy to do?

Well, here's my plan. This summer I'm taking at least two working days and staying home. My high ambitions are to sleep a little later, work on my hobbies, read to the kids, take the family to a matinee, play catch with the boys, and sweep my wife off her feet, as I grill burgers in the backyard.

I will take the time and walk into every room in the house, recalling again why I liked the place in the first place. I will read from a book. I will talk with my family. I will go outside in the evening, lay on my back, and try to remember the names of the constellations I see. If I'm lucky I might spot a "shooting star." If my eyes are really focused, I might pick up the faint speck of a satellite drifting through space.

The point to remember here is no one said a vacation has to involve stress or money. A vacation is time away from the job. It's time to relax and refuel. It's time to shake off the cobwebs and bask in the beauty of this world -- whether that's strolling a beach in Maui or between the flowerbeds in your backyard.

Vacation equals time away -- from the grind, from the office or plant or assembly line, from the frame of mind we have when we're at work. It's about breathing a different air for a while.

Someone once said, "I don't know anyone on their deathbed wishing they spent more time at work."

I couldn't agree more.

So I'll be out of the office come Friday. How about you?

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