There are many advantages to living on Cape Cod, especially in August when the weather is glorious and the North Atlantic is finally warm enough that you can ride the waves on a boogie board without succumbing to hypothermia.
You learn to live with it, and if you can get beyond grumbling about the traffic, you can begin to understand how much it means to people to be here for a week or two and how much you take living here for granted. Then it begins to dawn on you that it might be possible to live your life during what local businesses call the 106 day sprint between Memorial Day and Labor Day more as if you, too, are on vacation.
There’s also the disadvantage the comes from living and working in a vacation community—sitting in front of a computer knowing you’re surrounded by hordes of happy tourists who are freely enjoying the sun and surf while you are working!
Based on these insights, and the fact that eight of my eleven grandchildren are here for a visit, I have decided that, instead of writing the column on a new way to think about retirement I had planned for this month (look for it in September), I will play—fly a kite, beat my husband at miniature golf, chase fiddler crabs on the tidal flats, float on my back in the cool, clear water of my favorite kettle pond.
Sharon Teitelbaum, a work-life balance and career coach who writes a wonderful newsletter, recently emailed me to ask if she could print one of my columns about being on vacation for a second time in her newsletter. Observing her make life easier for herself opened me up to the idea that after writing a column every month for five years it might be OK for me to take a month off. At first I thought I’d do the same as she did and re-run my vacation column in this month’s newsletter, but then it occurred to me that if I told the story of my decision to take a month off it might help legitimize summer simplification for my readers, just as Sharon had for me.
I also had another peer, a highly qualified and experienced career professional from the Boston area, come to me last week for a career retreat. She came with the clear intention of spending time working with me for only a few hours each morning so that she could have the rest of the day to play because the particular life transition she was working on involved shedding her propensity for overwork.
A few hours ago, before I gave myself permission to do a short column for August, writing my monthly column with a house full of company and summer in full swing was weighing heavily on me, like a term paper I had put off until the end of the semester.
Once I realized, however,that the size and scope of the project, along with the grand expectations I put on myself, could be modified, I couldn’t wait to get to the computer and play with my new idea.
By freeing myself from an “I should” message (as in “I should be working on my August column”) and giving myself a choice, I’ve completed the task in far less time than I expected, leaving the rest of the afternoon for the beach, and I’ve had fun doing it. When work becomes play and there’s still time to play, it’s all a vacation. Enjoy the rest of your summer.