As you know if you follow me on Twitter, I spent the last ten days roadtripping to Florida and back with some of my family. We stopped in a multitude of sketchy gas station restrooms, talked to people with the kind of accents you just pretend to understand, went swimming, took a boat onto the ocean, walked on a private beach, ate amazing crab cakes at a dockside restaurant, too silly pictures in a photo booth, bought gifts, watched fun movies, went biking on an island, and ate lots of fruit. On the way home we spent a glorious day in Louisville, walking, eating swirled salted caramel and strawberry frozen yogurt, exploring shops – including a bookstore, obviously!- and listening to old music.
I read more books in this stretch than I have in some time: The Graveyard Book, The Iron King, The Girl Who Could Fly, How We Fall, The Ring and The Crown, Gone Girl, and A Dangerous Invitation. I have some actual reviews for you on a couple of these, but suffice it to say these were all absolutely amazing and glorious choices, and I’m basically floating on a cloud of major reader satisfaction right now 🙂
I only wrote 2k on vacation, so I missed my 5k goal, but I did finish plotting almost the entire rest of the book. I use a step plot method, which I may post about at a later date, and I’m super excited for what this book holds. So far this has been seriously one of my favorite books to write ever and I’m enjoying the process in a way I never have before.
Why am I telling you all these stats? Well, partly because I’m seriously proud of my reading – come on, seven books in ten days? It’s not quite, but almost, a personal best. But also because I learned a few lessons along the way, as I often do, and I want to share them with you. These are in no particular order, but encompass my experiences on this trip:
1) Say yes to things. Even if you think you might not enjoy them or be able to them, you’ll always wonder about it if you don’t. Even the worst experiences are fodder for story and memories, and you might be surprised and delighted by something that you were nervous about.
2) Carry an emergency pack with you – not of the normal stuff, but of the following – a snack, in case you’re gone longer than you think, water, ibuprofen (or your headache medicine of choice) sunscreen, bandaids for blisters, lady supplies (should you be a lady), and pen and paper. I always had sunscreen, being the European descendent I am, but I rarely had the other things along and could have cut several headaches short.
3) Come home one day early. No matter how rested you think you are, it feels like you got run over by a semi the next day and you’ll want time to sleep, and to prepare for the real world again.
4) Get gas early. So you’re not us, and don’t have a gas light turn on in the middle of a cornfield, resulting in a forced stop at the creepiest gas station in Georgia.
5)Eat meals together. It gets easy, on vacation time, to fall into a everyone for themselves meal habit, but we ate almost all of our meals together at the table, and they were some of the most enjoyable and delightful times.
6) Find your balance between planning and spur of the moment, going and staying. Your personality should play a factor, do whatever you need to to enjoy yourself, whether that’s planning every activity or doing it all on a whim, but remember that the people you’re with may vary significantly from you in terms of natural schedules, interests, and comfort with spontaneity, and you may need to adjust one way or another. You also want to have time for the unexpected, and to rest between things so you can really enjoy yourself.
7) Enjoy. Don’t count the days until it’s over. Don’t wonder what’s next. Don’t let yourself make too many lists and plans for afterward. Just relax and be incredibly grateful for this moment in time, this experience, and who you are right now, with this breath.
What’s the best vacation you went on? What did you learn from it?