Are Vacations Possible?

English: Panoramic image of South Beach, the s...

On February 8, we in Boston all suffered under the snowy weight of Blizzard Nemo. The 8th was a Friday, and so most offices shut down, mine included, as the snow came down fast and heavy. Governor Patrick began enforcing a complete travel ban on all roads. Even I, a lifelong New Englander, admit that it was a bad storm. And it came as no surprise that, as a result of Blizzard Nemo, my Saturday flight to Miami for a long-anticipated legal convention, was cancelled.  I resisted it for days beforehand, refusing to change my flight reservation because, again as a lifelong New Englander, I was convinced that it just wouldn’t be that bad and everyone was sensationalizing this storm.  Wrong.

So, I worked from home on Friday the 8th. Then I had the regular weekend because I couldn’t get out of Boston until very early Monday morning. I spent two days in Miami for work, two days in Naples on “vacation,” then had a 3-day weekend for President’s day. In the years since I started practicing, I’ve never been away from the office for this long, a full twelve days. Hello, anxiety attack!

I’m at a point now where I have a lot of clients to call and email, a lot of responsibility, a lot of people needing my attention. Aside from the regular weekends, I only took two days, Thursday and Friday, to be with my father in Naples, where he retired. But, I had an article to edit and finish, approximately fifteen urgent emails that needed responses, phone calls with clients, and a conference call during these two days. I’m one of those people. I can’t unplug. Or, I have trouble unplugging. Evidently.

At 2:30 PM on Friday, after running in and out of my room and being on the computer intermittently, I happily submitted my article, I put my phone away and I told myself not to look at it. I lasted until 5:00 PM when, yet again, I got an email that included the word “urgent.” It’s strange how when I am actually in the office, I rarely get emails with the word “urgent” in them.

I actually got up from the middle of a movie, in a packed movie theater, and went outside to respond to that email. This was the absolute wrong response. I should have nailed my feet to the floor and continued watching “Lincoln.” The world will most definitely not end if I actually take a full day off. My law firm has functioned for decades without me, and is full of some of the best lawyers in the state, what in the world do I think will happen if I just relax for a couple of days??? Time for a reset.

I learned a lot during these two vacation days, and one of them is that I need to re-balance in a big way when I travel. The past few weeks have been tough. Sneaky, nefarious burnout tried to worm its way into my heart. (It failed, worry not.) Saying “no” is the most difficult word in the English language, right? Especially for a young lawyer. It’s particularly difficult when you love what you do, and you simply don’t want to turn down great projects and opportunities. But I made the conscious decision to take two days off when I planned this trip, ostensibly because I thought I needed some time off, and then I completely undercut myself by spending hours working.

And so then I made a resolution: to shut off my phone, leave it in my hotel room and/or let the battery run out if I find myself constantly checking it for work emails while away. But let’s really be honest, is it going to be possible? Can we ever truly disengage and forget about our jobs, careers, offices for days at a time? Is this even something we want to do? In the event of an emergency, I don’t ever want to be perceived as unreachable or uncaring. But I also allowed far too much work into my two-day Florida respite and that is my own fault.

What a struggle. Not only do adults have to do pretty much everything in a responsible fashion, they also have to vacation responsibly. I’m having trouble making the transition, and finding the balance. You really can’t ever fully take a mental vacation.  No one, these days, can ever be completely unreachable. You would have to take a sabbatical, not a vacation! I guess we have to own it. We created these iphones and blackberries and droids and now we have to live with the good, the bad and the imbalanced.

3 thoughts on “Are Vacations Possible?

  1. realtalkrealdebate says:

    Happy to see you blogging again. I checked your blog yesterday because I thought maybe I wasn’t getting your posts on my reader.

    Glad everyone is safe from that storm. Understand what you mean with trying to disengage. I forgot my phone at home today and kept going to take my phone at work only to realize that I had forgotten it. Talk about anxiety attack.

    I want to go on “Survivor” because of a myriad of reasons but also because it would force me to disengage from the web.

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