We loved our visit to the T-Rex Cafe in Orlando. The food was delicious, the atmosphere fun and it kept the interest of teenagers. What more could you ask for?
When I was potty training my son, I received a helpful suggestion from a teacher at the Montessori preschool, She asked, “Do you take him into the bathroom with you at home?” Obviously she didn’t have kids. I threw her an incredulous look and replied, “I haven’t been to the bathroom by myself since this child was born.”
No. I take that back. I had dogs before I had my son was born so truly I hadn’t been to the bathroom by myself at home in years. YEARS! You have kids, you have dogs, you have no more bathroom privacy. Until they get older. The kids I mean, not the dogs. The dogs don’t care.
So during our trip to Peru, my kids were older. I had the bathroom to myself. Or so I thought. Here’s what happened.
From the book A Life Without Borders
…on our way out of the rehabilitation center, I stopped to use the bathroom. While I was minding my own business, doing my business, a large aggressive parrot walked under the stall door and began nipping at my legs and clothes. I screamed. From over the stall door, I could heard my family dissolving into laughter. They saw the parrot follow me into the bathroom and were now enjoying my predicament.
I tried to shoo the bird away while putting my clothes back on, but I wasn’t successful. The parrot was mean. I couldn’t scare him.
Suddenly a large wooden stick swept under the stall. Through a crack in the door, I saw a robust, older woman, bent over, looking under my door while wildly swinging a thick, wooden stick at the parrot, aggressively trying to get him out. The parrot was unfazed. The more the woman swung the stick, the more aggressive the bird became. That was unpleasant. It appeared these two had tangled before and shared a mutual history of dislike.
The woman was determined to get the bird, and the bird was equally determined that she wouldn’t. My “savior” was now on her hands and knees, her head under the door, looking up at me. Awkward! As we made eye contact, the parrot, the woman, and me, a thought occurred to me that surely I must be on Candid Camera Peru. If so, I’d better get my clothes on. So while trying to pull up my pants, I had to avoid being bitten by a parrot, avoid being whacked by a large stick, and stop a Peruvian woman from crawling under my bathroom door. It was really a lot to ask, but I was up to the task. The bird, sensing the end was near, wisely ducked into the next stall and headed for the door with the woman right behind him. I emerged a few minutes later, unscathed, but suffering the hysterical laughter of my family.
You can read more about our family adventure, selling it all and traveling the world for four years in A Life Without Borders available here at Amazon.com http://amzn.to/13Ixl8X or Barnes and Nobles.
Life is a balancing act. Don’t believe it.
I believe what Josi from The American Momma blog wrote in her post The Trip That Changed My Mind. Josi talks about her recent attendance at Bloggy Bootcamp in Atlanta. and how life-changing it was. (I attended Bloggy Bootcamp in Charlotte NC last year and it was life-changing.) In her blog post Josi recalled the words of Tiffany Romero who said, “Time with your kids is flying by” and the words of Danielle Smith “balance is bunk, it’s all about juggling.” This is so true and sadly most of us realize it too late.
My dream was always to travel and write, but I was seduced by a high-power corporate career and took that path instead. Children were never on my radar, until they were BIG TIME and I was torn between career and family. But I was a feminist and had swallowed hook, line and sinker that women can now “have it all”.
So I tried. And I did for a while. But somehow having it all turned to doing it all. I made the meals, I grocery shopped, I was a room parent, I dropped off and picked up the kids from daycare and worried constantly how they were doing. I did this all while I was in the top 100 financial advisers out of over 6000 brokers in my Fortune 50 company. Oh boy, I had it all. Oh yes, I had a husband, but weren’t we taught that as women could do everything?
I read all about work-life balance and I tried my best. And it seemed to work… for everyone else. I would balance corporate mom with stay at home mom by doing all the laundry, errands, shopping and cooking. I would balance my work time with being a room parent. I would balance my vacation time with playing with my kids on the beach when I really just wanted to take a nap, read a book or have a few minutes to myself. I was trying to balance my life with me as a mom and me as a career woman, but the me as a person wasn’t in the equation.
I was mentally and physically exhausted and my health declined. I easily became pregnant with my son at age thirty-three, but two years later I had a miscarriage and my fertility went right out the window. At age thirty-seven, I was losing a battle with fertility treatments and finally threw in the towel and we adopted our daughter in 2001.
Time did fly by. All the beautiful pictures and videos I had of my babies? I couldn’t watch them. They left me sobbing, aching for the time I missed and was continuing to miss. Feminism told me I could do whatever I wanted; I could be whoever I wanted. I could rule corporations and companies. Just get in there, work hard. Lean In. The top of the corporate ladder is where you want to be.
But they never told me what to do if I changed my mind. If I wanted to spend more time with my kids, I was someone who was not serious about her career. I needed to be someone who was serious about her career, right? So I stressed, and I cried and I hated myself for not having the guts to do what my heart wanted to do.
Until one day I did. One day I said no more. I always told my clients to live their life. Enjoy life. I decided to take my own advice. My husband and I dropped out of the corporate rat-race. It freaked everyone out.
We sold our house, we gave away our “stuff” physically and literally, bought a sailboat and took our kids on adventure. Co-workers didn’t truly believe it until my last day at work. My own mother gave me 30 days before I would come back. But we didn’t come back for over 4 years. We crossed oceans, climbed volcanoes, explored jungles and reconnected to each other. It was an incredible healing experience for me and my family.
When we came back, we were determined to hold on to what we found and implement the lessons we learned. The most important lesson is that if you don’t make taking care of yourself a priority, it’s hard to take care of anyone else. You know the sign on the airplane that says, “remember to put your own oxygen mask on before assisting others”? I used to think that was crazy. Of course I would put the mask on my child first. But they are absolutely correct. You have to take care of yourself first before you help others. You have to be part of the equation.
So now my juggle consists of things I love… writing, traveling, family and helping others find the fun in their life. Helping them to find the “no”. I picked up a good mantra from Tiffany Romero at the Bloggy Bootcamp in Charlotte… don’t say yes unless it’s a hell yes. I’m going to embroider it on a pillow! Here’s to more “hell yes” in your life.
Normally I don’t write about commercials, but have you seen the new one by Mastercard? It’s called One More Day and it shows children asking their parents for one more day of vacation. One more day to make memories.
While that alone is heartbreaking/inspiring, the shocking part to me is the statistics it quotes. But, before we get into details about vacation and workers in the US, let’s see why vacations are so important.
The following Infograph comes from Expedia.com
OK, so here’s the deal. We have better sex lives when we travel, especially to new destinations. We are more satisfied with life when we travel and we like each other better. Unhappy with your job? Take a vacation. You’ll like your job more.
But wait. People dislike their jobs and still aren’t taking vacations.
Here’s another shocking statistic, coming from an article written by Ben Steverman on paid vacations days.
According to Ben Steverman, 4 in 10 workers fail to take vacation days offered to them. He is talking about paid vacation. PAID VACATION PEOPLE! The company is paying you to go have fun! Americans leave an average of 8.1 days of vacation according to according to a 2014 Oxford Economics analysis. That’s 429 million unused vacation days per year.
What’s up with that? Why do statistics prove that vacations make us feel better, but workers aren’t taking them even when they are paid? According to the article, Penn State University economic professor Lenn Golden says it has to do with job security in a cut-throat job market.
Or maybe they just like accumulating days that they hope one day, they will be able to use. But that can backfire too. I know a few people who have accumulated paid vacation and paid sick days. One day they got the call their position was terminated. Bye bye vacation days.
I personally have only worked commission only jobs. No paid vacations, no paid maternity leave. That was fine with me. It also meant to me that if the company wasn’t going to pay me to be there, I could come and go as I pleased, as long as I was making my numbers. Believe me, I took advantage of it. I follow the adage that you can always make money, you can’t make more time. So I took my time.
You should too.
Take your time.
Take a vacation. You’ll be a better person!