Slowing Down

As I fly to California, I am reflecting on an article I just read in the 8/26/14 Health and Science section of the Washington Post.

The article is about taking significant time (20-30 days) off for vacation on an annual basis. It talks about the price we pay as Americans, in terms of productivity and health (significant increases in depression, heart attacks, and general cultural tension as we play the “work martyr complex” role.)

To quote the author Brigid Schulte, “The United States is the only advanced economy whose workers are not guaranteed paid vacation time. Europeans, with their 20 and 30 days of paid vacation every year, are healthier and live longer than Americans.”

This brings to mind summer of 2013, when my whole family visited Berlin, Germany, Dresden and Prague for two weeks. I was struck by how relaxed Berlin felt in the summer time. The parks were filled with people of all ages enjoying themselves.

Kathy Simons, who directs the Work-Life Center at MIT was interviewed for this Washington Post article and she loves her work. AND, she had not taken a vacation in five years when she finally relented and took time away with her husband this past summer. Ouch. This article is getting dangerously close to home. I love MY work. And last summer’s family vacation was my first in many years.

Then there is this summer, just ending. I taught seven classes in nine weeks. They were all classes I truly love to teach. They are all life changing events for many of the participants, so I always leave them feeling that I am fulfilling my life’s purpose.

I also noticed that my creativity outside of the classroom (i.e., my blog posting) diminished significantly as the summer unfolded. It was a quiet thing. I hardly registered it at first. Then I realized that it was only natural to have this outlet diminish as my other outlets expanded, like a river’s flow being diverted. And in the last two weeks after the run of classes was all done, I noticed a sense of my energy being a little flat.

SO…it was exciting to read this article and realize that I am heading off to Esalen for 27 days of rest, being fed healthy delicious food and housed in a sweet little room overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

In return I am teaching the Esalen faculty for seven hours per week. I think this may be as close to a month long vacation as I am going to get for a while and I am truly looking forward to this time. I hope to feel my creative juices return as I explore moving at a slower pace.

(UPDATE: Here is a link to a similar article by the same author published 8/1 in The Washington Post online.)


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