Tag Archives: vacation

Fly Away

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I work too much. Classic humblebrag and the most annoying answer ever to the what-is-your-greatest-weakness interview question. Can it be true anyway? Asking for a friend.

I avoided the Enneagram for a long time but succumbed recently in a moment of weakness and think I may have broken it. Supposedly a 3, but possibly a 1. The official article differentiating the two types made it perfectly clear that I am a 3 (sometimes) and a 1 (sometimes). Thanks a lot, Enneagram.

But one common trait stuck out to me: Both tend to work too much.

3s are told: “Take breaks. You can drive yourself and others to exhaustion with your relentless pursuit of your goals. Ambition and self-development are good qualities, but temper them with rest periods in which you reconnect more deeply with yourself.”

And 1s are told: “Learn to relax. Take some time for yourself, without feeling that everything is up to you or that what you do not accomplish will result in chaos and disaster. Mercifully, the salvation of the world does not depend on you alone, even though you may sometimes feel it does.”

Alright I get it. But I’m a little confused on what to do about it right now.

This is a weird way to observe that it is supposedly summer at work following graduations on Saturday. Summer is typically a time to reflect on a busy academic year, make adjustments and plan for the year to come, and even take a week or two to get away from it all and breathe. That last part doesn’t come easy for me, and I’m struggling to remember when that has truly happened in the past couple of years. Work conferences, family events, officiating weddings and funerals—sure, I remember going places, but we even scheduled our 25th wedding anniversary trip over a holiday weekend because there was work to do.

Don’t hear this as complaint or a plea for sympathy or an attempt to impress (although that blasted Enneagram might argue otherwise!). No, I think I am just processing my own brand of mental illness. Temperatures are in the 80s, the calendar is less cluttered, and I hear Lenny Kravitz singing in my head about wanting to get away, but alas, there is nowhere to go. Plus, there really is so much critical work to be done to plan for a thousand possible scenarios.

What to do? Well, Enneagram 3s are told, “For our real development, it is essential to be truthful. Be honest with yourself and others about your genuine feelings and needs.”

It’s a start, I guess. Talk to me, Lenny…

I wish that I could fly
Into the sky
So very high
Just like a dragonfly

I’d fly above the trees
Over the seas in all degrees
To anywhere I please

Oh I want to get away
I want to fly away
Yeah yeah yeah

The Path to Rejuvenation

Family at Sugarloaf

“I have become convinced that the best gift I can give my clients and the community that I serve is for me to be alert and energetic, thoughtful and ready to take on the day’s work. For me, failure to recharge and step away from the difficulties of my practice results in a burnout that dances dangerously on the border of malpractice.” – Brittany Stringfellow Otey

Given my socioeconomic roots, it feels pretentious to say that my family just returned from a week’s vacation in Rio. But we did. Yep, that felt pretentious.

We counted, and in our eighteen years as a family of four, this was only our fourth true family vacation. It was also intentionally our last. My wife and I love our daughters very much, but the oven timer just went off when our youngest turned eighteen, and we are done. People tell us we are wrong, but we stick our fingers in our ears and sing la-la-la-la-la at an annoyingly loud volume and refuse to listen. We are prepared to party.

We chose Rio for our farewell celebration and made the right choice. Brazil—and Rio in particular—is spectacular.

“Breathtaking” is a lousy attempt to describe the views in Rio. Words cannot describe what you see from Pedra Bonita high in the Tijuca rainforest; or at Grumari facing the roaring ocean; or at the Christ statue atop Corcovado; or at sunset as the city lights flicker on after riding a cable car to the peak of Sugarloaf Mountain.

And the beautiful people! Holy cow, Brazilians are beautiful. Pull up a beach chair at Ipanema’s “Posto 9” and prepare to feel inadequate about multiple characteristics of your own body.

And the colors! Brazil is not shy with bright colors. The ubiquitous green and yellow of the national flag shine at every turn; the flashy ceramic-tiled stairs of Escadaria Selaron sparkle like a neon rainbow; and the majestic, gaudy costumes of Carnaval at the Plataforma overload the senses entirely.

And the energy! The Samba show in Lapa supplied a beat that is the rhythm of Rio. The amazing athletes on Copacabana Beach never stopped playing Rio’s special brand of volleyball (played without hands). We stood and cheered for Flamengo, Rio’s favorite soccer team, with the raucous crowd at Maracana Stadium where the drums, songs, and massive waving flags never lost their infectious spirit. Rio exudes endless energy.

My friend, Brittany Stringfellow Otey, is a public interest lawyer extraordinaire who serves on L.A.’s Skid Row and writes with expertise on self-care and burnout. While my family vacationed in Rio, she published a blog post on “vacation as a matter of professionalism.” Brittany argued persuasively that time away benefits you, your family, and the people you serve.

Her timing was impeccable.

We went away, and with the deft assist of incredible hosts, embraced Rio de Janeiro as best we could. According to Lonely Planet, we found a way to see, smell, hear, taste, touch—and feel—something from each of the top ten things Rio has to offer. And so much more. We mangled Portuguese. We saw abject poverty, colorful ingenuity, and lovely smiles in the slums called favelas. And I for one prayed more in the crazy yellow taxis that infest the city than at Christ the Redeemer. We truly escaped our lives, inboxes, and routines and immersed ourselves in another world.

Now we are back, and I am magically ready to embrace life once again. Brittany is right: The signs for the path to rejuvenation point directly away from the office. ¹

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¹ For example, we are purchasing chairs and umbrellas to go with our new Frescobol beach game from Rio. It took a twelve-thousand mile round trip for us to realize that Malibu has darn good beaches to use!