Photograph entitled “On Vacation”  courtesy of K. Farwell

Have been on vacation—–and working at remaining on vacation since I came home. Being on vacation when you are retired is a bit different than being on vacation when you are still employed. Many would ask, “What’s so hard about taking a vacation from being on vacation?” Let me try to answer that. First, you are forced to stop using Internet and cell phones because the almighty AT&T doesn’t work in your remote location. Being out of touch with calls, texts, and e-mail gives you a sort of freedom—–you know, the kind you had when you were a kid and none of those things were in anyone’s imagination yet except, perhaps, in the imagination of the author of the Dick Tracy comic strip. Next, you walk through numerous outlet malls and feel no compulsion to buy anything, but then you hit the local Salvation Army Thrift Store and you discover wonderful and affordable clothes. Shopping there is fun because you do not need to feel guilty about buying anything because all the money actually goes to support the needy and hungry in our nation.

Finally, you get to spend quality time with your father exploring family history and hearing stories from him of  experiences that have given shape and meaning to his life. Then you get to meet a charming gentleman from across the pond that is your father’s weekend caretaker….and you are delighted to see how he relates to your father and not surprised when the caretaker confides he has a background in counseling.

The real challenge is coming home and remaining on vacation. You only communicate with select people by phone, and you slowly start getting involved in Facebook again. You avoid all the meetings and volunteer activities you’ve been involved in—-at least for a few days.  You visit the local casino and support the local economy—–but don’t get a “2X Royal Flush” until you arrive home and are playing with computer money. You enjoy a summer storm until the electricity goes off for four hours but realize it is precisely that lack of electricity that gets you to open your windows, walk outside and visit with a good neighbor you haven’t really talked to since the last time the neighborhood electricity went off.

Well, today I go “back to work.” That means I get the privilege of facilitating a women’s craft group where we get to play with the creative process and communicate about challenges we are experiencing. I won’t call it  group therapy, but what we do can certainly be considered therapeutic.  I will begin going to meetings again and touch base with the people I sponsor.  I refuse, though, to try to straighten up and organize anything including the “lived in” theme that engulfs my home. I know exactly, well almost, where everything is located in all the chaos. I think my comfort with clutter is one of my last ditch efforts to thumb my nose at society’s dictates.

Today’s theme does not seem to be focused on spirituality or recovery—–but my day by day living is actually grounded in these concepts.  This foundation allows me “time-outs” whether I am on vacation or not in which I can pause, take a deep breath, and appreciate the miracles contained in the present moment. If I did not have those  moments, all that I do would eventually become meaningless and empty because I would be so self-absorbed I wouldn’t even be aware of the magic of creation or the love that empowers it. That would be a miserable place to be indeed. God bless and keep you.