Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Pausing for the Cause

Back in January my husband and I were to leave on our first Real Vacation in many years. By Real Vacation I mean yours truly didn't plunk a book signing or speaking engagement into the middle of our schedule, nor was I going to spend my evenings clacking away on my laptop. (Okay, I had one teensy east coast book signing tacked onto the end of our trip, but that's when our Official Vacation would end and my work would reconvene.) We were going to fly and cruise and make merry. WAHOO!

Instead, within three weeks of our scheduled departure my husband blew out his knee (which his able orthopedic doc sawed away and replaced, and don't I make that sound easy?!) and I broke my leg. Bye-bye body parts and vacation. Life marched on (okay, came to a screeching halt then crutched and gimped) while we endured, convalesced, grumbled and healed. My addled brain left me running behind with a major book deadline, leaving Poor George a worse fate than that: he had to live with someone running behind with a major book deadline. Just call me Ms. Distracted and Crabby.

As a result, since the beginning of May I have been holed up writing like a bandit which is good for me but which makes me absent to George—which, come to think about it, might also be good for George. (Ms. Distracted and Crabby, remember?) I have an upcoming book convention to attend (fly, baby, fly—and back on the road we go), an out-of-state extended family gathering (drive, baby, drive) and more writing to do before George gets his other knee replaced on 8/21, which was the "bad knee" until the other one went suddenly badder. All this to ask, what vacation, and when?
But last week a fresh wind of insight blew through my working brain: the luxurious capturing of mini-vacation moments.

No matter where you roam or how jam-packed your schedule, you too can root them out with just a few minutes of dedication. Granted, I am temporarily residing in a dear old farm house up on the ridge of the beautiful bluffs in a Minnesota river town along the Mississippi. (Oh, poor baby!) From the living room I can witness, unobstructed, the sun both rise and set. Not much more than ten yards from my keyboard, a few times a day the neighboring farmer's cows saunter, march or high-kick their way up or down the hill, and the horses, tails flying and nostrils flared, race through the field just behind me. Hummingbirds, bluebirds, finches of all sizes and miscellaneous others (feathered others, that is) bathe in an old fry pan I set on the porch rail (also visible from my keyboard) lined with a bright blue Frisbee and a couple marbles to attract them. In the evening I can hear the frogs and coyotes, and on a clear night, the stars are close (Venus is captivating) and the big dipper empties its heavenly contents right onto the roof. Each moment I decide to lift my eyes and drink of these wonders is a mini vacation from my daily working grind.

You say that's nice for me but that your hotel room only offers a view of the hotel next door? As you can see (and if you can't because you receive this by some tricky means that doesn't enable photos click here) I'm gifting you with a few visual slices from my neck of the planet. Dive into them, allow yourself to "hear" the sounds, imagine your toes waggling through the grass, feel the restfulness. May these small country reminders whet your appetite enough to cause you to stand on the sidewalk and seek out wedges of blue sky (yes, the sky still exists beyond the top of those sky crappers, as my grandma used to misspell them), notice a bird's nest near an overhang or a determined flower growing through a crack in the cement. Or perhaps S-T-O-P for a moment and actually tune into the soothing sound of that architectural waterfall in the lobby rather than whisking by it. Let your eyes blur over as you imagine yourself in an exotic lush green place of respite.

If you cannot succeed at discovering even these simple natural nature-istic pleasures, be on the lookout for a breeze to soothe your fretting brow, the scent of real flowers in a window box to flare your nostrils—allow the bright welcoming smile of the doorman to imply "Welcome home for the night. I hope you sleep well." Or try luxuriating in these momentary sensory-loaded mini-vacation moments: the healthy sound of your gym shoes slapping against the treadmill in the exercise room; the smooth cool feel of the high-count cotton in your pillowcase; the bevy of mouth-watering culinary choices on the menu as opposed to the gob-wads of leftovers in your fridge at home.

Give thanks for the simple pleasures and see how they multiple when you look for them. Even on the road.

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