Wow. Where has August gone? Even though it’s still in the 90’s in Tennessee, summer is over. I watch the big, yellow school bus pick kids up on the corner in the morning. My dog barks every day at 3 PM when they’re dropped off. I swear, I even see some trees start to lose their leaves.
This was a special month because my husband, son and I took a week to road trip around Lake Erie. We were invited to see my friend and mentor get married. It was doubly special because one of my best friends from college was going to be there too.
The wedding was just north of Niagra Falls, on Lake Ontario. We decided to drive north through Louisville, Kentucky and cross the border into Canada from Detroit, Michigan. From there we headed East, attended the wedding (which was lovely), and drove South to Niagra Falls. Niagra Falls is the second natural wonder I’ve seen. If you haven’t been you need too. It’s one thing to see the Horseshoe Falls on a postcard but in person, it’s another story.
The mist from the falls hit our car before we could even see them. We walked along the Niagra River and watched as it turned from a peaceful stream into the roaring of water pounding into the basin below. We watched the Maid of the Mist inch closer and closer to the waterfalls, stopping just short of being submerged.
Awestruck, we continued our road trip around Lake Erie. We drove through New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Finally, we made it back to Tennessee. Our journey complete, it was time to get back to work.
The Vacation ROI
In my International Business Class in college, I learned that Americans are one of the most productive people. We live to work and hardly take vacation. When I worked on international projects, I remember grumbling to my fellow North American’s how the Europeans got the whole month of August off for “holiday” and we didn’t. Even if you don’t get a month off each summer – take your vacation! Here’s why:
It’s a time to reset. Like taking a walk during lunch break, we reset our brains and come back refreshed. We’re better able to tackle our jobs and solve problems. Disconnect from work email and even social media during vacation to reduce as many stress factors as possible. Better yet, leave your phone behind during dinner or a day at the beach. Studies show that just seeing our phones increases our cortisol levels.
Rediscover what’s important to you. What you do with your time off should be what’s important to you. Our road trip was connecting with as many friends and family as we could fit in. Since we are a military family, it’s not very often we can visit so many people at once. A week-long road trip may sound like torture to some, but for my husband, son and I, it was treasured time together.
Use vacation like a mini-sabbatical. Use PTO as a mini-sabbatical to upgrade a personal skill or learn something new. During my maternity leave, I took a memoir writing class. The class wasn’t something that directly related to my job but it was something I thought about doing for a long time. I’m glad I took the time to do it.