Merits of the “stay-cation”


I’ve been on stay-cation since Monday. It’s been sort of a stealth stay-cation because I’ve felt guilty about well, just being at home. I did spend part of it with my mother last week, but I also planned to spend a few days “with myself”.

Having breakfast on the deck, thinking, recharging are essential stay-cation activities. I think I originated the stay-cation, before it was cool!

Some 15 years ago in one of my previous positions, I would take about a week off in the summer. After a very busy and active school year, I was often mentally exhausted and needed some time off.

“Doing anything special?” folks would ask me.
“No, not really,” I’d reply, thinking nothing of it. “Just hanging around the house.”

The following year, when I would take a week off again, I’d get the same thing:
“Going anywhere for your vacation?” someone would say.
“Er, no. Relaxing at home.” Didn’t everyone do this?

At that point in my life I was starting out again in the traditional professional world after spending two years in graduate school and three years as a full-time Residence Hall Director where you lived your life in a fishbowl. Your time was never really yours, it was shared with your residents, staff, supervisors and graduate program. You were encouraged to take time off because everyone knew how hard you worked and the expectation was that you’d be there for your residents and/or staff if need be at three in the morning and beyond.

Because of that non-traditional background, I was not aware of the “unwritten rules” for vacationing. Over time I began to observe that the only time you were “supposed” to take a vacation was if you were going out of town. Otherwise, you were to remain at work, maybe only taking a day off here and there. I remember hearing someone say once that yes, we have vacation but “who has time to take it all.”

What I learned was that in the traditional working world, you were to be the “toiling worker”, who always puts the job first and who rarely takes time off because “there is just too much work to do.”

If you were not that person, you were probably not going to get recommended for promotions and in addition, you were perceived as being lazy and/or not having a good work ethic. Wanting to be seen as a team player with a good work ethic, I stopped taking my weeks off for me and I embraced the toiling worker mentality.

I have to add that I am grateful to my previous employer for allowing me to obtain an additional graduate degree while working full-time. Still, during that three year time-period while in grad school, I rarely took any time off, except for the two weeks (one in Spring and one in Fall) when I attended my on-campus residency. I was very conscious of being allowed to have those two weeks off and I always made sure my colleagues knew how much I appreciated it. I understood the message: Don’t take too much time off.

Of course in the current economy, this feeling has been enhanced. You don’t want to be gone for too long, or you may feel as if you can be easily replaced. However, recently there have been many discussions about the idea of work/life balance for both men and women. What is the price of the toiling worker mentality? Who benefits and who suffers?

What I have now come to realize is that I NEED the occasional stay-cation so that I can write, piddle about the house, eat on the deck, work on various gardening projects, cook and plan meals, work-out as long as I want to, run basic errands I never have time to complete otherwise, and just do whatever I please. I am mentally frazzled without this opportunity and I am a better employee who is able to be more focused when allowed this type of break.

Gardening helps clear my mind. I love to prepare flower/vegetable beds with rich composting materials that encourage earthworms, nature’s tillers.

I’ve also spent this time developing a shopping/cooking schedule for the rest of the summer. I love to cook, yet I like to be efficient about it. Knocking out three meals in one sitting to freeze for later is very relaxing.

My basic books for meal-planning.

I think I also have a problem. Shhhh, I enjoy my own company. I rarely run out of things to do.  I guess this is why I have remained single for so long. I haven’t required company! (Although a compatible partner would be nice.) Hmm, perhaps a plan to meet this compatible partner needs to be a future stay-cation activity, LOL!

Closing, I want to say that I am MERCIFULLY appreciative of having a job that I enjoy in this uncertain economy. I am also thankful for all of my previous employment situations where I have learned a great deal and made wonderful long-lasting friendships.

Your thoughts? Do you stay-cation? Please follow my blog!