Category Archives: vacation

Hours fall off the clock

I may need to reinforce some limits around my writing time, allowing myself just an hour each day. At least while I am still working full time in clinical research. I can lose literally hours off the clock when I am researching or writing on a topic that interests me, and I get to play with words, ideas and stories.

This week I am at a regional work meeting in Belgium and I am called upon social with my colleagues. I enjoy the opportunity to meet 1:1 or in small groups and have face-to-face conversations with those I usually interact with via phone or email. However all of the initial small-talk required when meeting so many new people drains my energy.

It occurs to me that maybe my soul is asking for a more minimalist approach to work networking and people-time, and this is another reason I am bringing this current phase of work to a close by September.

melting clocks

One of my favorite Salvador Dali pieces – photo credit link

I feel at my best when I am doing “deep work” which involves thinking, reading, writing and synthesizing research. I still intend to make time for teaching, offering workshops and facilitating small group meetings. But my best ideas and most productive periods seem to emerge after periods of luxurious solitude and reflection.

This summer I am planning for 4-6 weeks off starting in August/September, if I can make it work between work “ventures.” Let’s see if I can honor that and keep the personal and family budget discipline it will require to make this break happen without undue stress.

I know if I declare this intention in writing, there is a higher likelihood I can make it happen. I am not as good at having accountability to others (it can sometimes cause me to rebel), but I tend to be better at honoring my word to myself.

What makes you lose hours off the clock? Do you have a creative practice or hobby that, when you start working on it, causes you to lose all track of time? 

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

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Out of office

Hubby and I are traveling for 4 days starting today to the Phoenix/Scottsdale area.

My “out of office” notification is on, and my cares about work are off.

We will get exposure to sunshine, 90 degree weather and time on a Fat Boy motorcycle. It may not be the Honda VTX 1800 that my husband usually rides, but it is a chance to be outside and away from the chilly April in Minnesota.

I am truly grateful for the opportunity to attend a seminar with Liz Gilbert and Martha Beck. I will also have quality time to hang out with hubby. Poor guy had to work an extra day during Easter weekend to deal with the extra snow. He’s totally overdue for a warm weather vacation.

So here’s to Friday and to weekends and to escaping now and then when we need a breath of fresh air. Skymiles, baby! Cheers!

 

Class is not about money

I realized recently that I grew up on the poor side of town. I did not grow up poor, mind you. I grew up with lots of love, a wonderful family and in a safe neighborhood in a small town. But I always thought of our lifestyle as “middle class.”

My family always had enough to eat, we never went without any basic necessities, clothing, health care or even luxuries like television and eventually a microwave. My sis and I shared a bedroom until I moved to the basement in high school so I could wake up earlier to run in the early pre-dawn hours.

But social class and income class are not the same thing. Both my parents had college degrees. Mom chose to stay home and raise her daughters until we were in middle and high school, when she went back to work part-time, as a substitute teacher. I just assumed that meant we were middle class.

My Dad was a teacher and a leader in the local community. All of the parents of the students he taught in the bilingual program treated him as a respected professional in our small town. Of course, some administrators and teachers were not as respectful. He had his share of good principals and a few racist.

Recently my mother-in-law called herself “working class.” I was shocked. She has a master’s degree and she and her husband bought and sold homes together a few times during their history. So I always considered her middle class. But she considered herself working class. Probably it was more about her upbringing (to her) than any type of income category.

In contrast, my parents never bought a home. Not quite enough income from a teacher’s salary. We had the advantage of summers at Grandma’s house in Bemidji. So we did not go without space to enjoy ourselves in the summer, on a lake in Minnesota, no less. It was a long drive from Southern Wisconsin, but we had the picnic lunches that my Mom made, and there were rest areas for potty breaks. It was a blessing for us. We read books all, swam in the lake nearly every day, and there was plenty of introvert re-charge time.

By income standards, we probably would have been considered working class, or perhaps slightly less. In comparison to families with two working parents, mine were certainly not as well-off financially. But I always had what I needed. I always had a couple of new school outfits to start the year. There were a lot of farm kids in my school, so all of us had pretty similar income, or so I imagined.

***

 

I relied heavily on need-based financial aid for a private college, but being 2nd in my class in high school, I qualified for it. I won’t say I didn’t work hard for that.  It may have helped that my name belied my half-Mexican origin. But I was born in Wisconsin, not Juarez. Therein, by the grace of god, lies the difference. 

Why was I born here? Because my Mom fell in love with her guitar teacher when she studied in Mexico. And he fell in love with a Minnesotan woman, despite her mother serving as a chaperone on most of their dates. Why did I have the opportunities I have today? Because my family worked hard, and made sacrifices for me, so I could grow up healthy and happy.

I started thinking about people who use racism and class-ism to divide people. Take ahem… our Harasser-in-Chief. No matter how much money he makes, or pretends to make, he will always have NO class.

You know why? Because class, true class, is about how you treat people. It is about your character.

My father always treated the cooks and the janitors in his school as respectfully as he treated the other teachers. I learned to treat people as equals, not as superior or inferior due to their education or social status. I am really proud that both my Mom and Dad taught me that the measure of a good person is in how kindly you treat others.

To be a classy person is to realize that it is not about what you have, or what you do. There is honor in ALL work, and there is compassion for those who may not have work right now. There is a belief that ALL people are worthy of human dignity, no matter their skin color, creed, religion, or national origin. America was founded on these principles, that all people were created equal, which is why I am still proud to call this home.

 

 

 

Spring Escape Plan

I have been jonesing for weekend vacation getaway. This winter, without an escape vacation planned has felt long to me. Don’t get me wrong. I realize I am very spoiled by my ability to travel to Latin America for work, and I had I trip to Mexico in December.

But I have been wanting to go on a retreat of some kind, to get away from the day-to-day with my sweetie and/or go on a workshop. I just saw a promo from Martha Beck and Liz Gilbert for a weekend workshop in Scottsdale, Arizona yesterday and today I decided: let’s book this thing! I am so excited now!

Liz and Martha

I have been reading Martha Beck for about 16 years now, and I discovered Elizabeth Gilbert just a few years ago. Her work also speaks to me at a soul level that is hard to describe. Both of them have been like magical gurus to me over the years.

I am kind of dazzled and amazed that I just booked this weekend trip. I asked my hubby to go along with me. He’s not into the workshop part but the enticement of motorcycling in the Arizona dessert sounded like a good deal to him.

Fortunately I have a gazillion Skymiles so the flight from MSP to PHX costs us $22.40 in total. So now the task will be to find motorcycle rental while we are on the trip. I want  my hubby to have his share of fun while I am indulging my own fantasy of meeting two of my favorite authors.

Scottsdale McCormick Ranch

This is the photo of Scottsdale Resort in McCormick Ranch where we still stay for 3 nights.

This is one reason why I love vacation: planning head and having a couple of months of sweet anticipation is fun. Then the event itself! So cool! And the memories afterward: priceless. I’m thrilled my hubby is game for my random adventure ideas, and so very jazzed about the opportunity.

I started my taxes last night and realized we were getting a modest refund, and when I plan for the expenses of the trip I realize we are covered. No need to take the money from savings, though I was willing to do that if needed. So much gratitude right now. It will be a little hard to calm down and breathe in my yoga class. But it’s all good.

Have a great weekend, y’all!

Paradise found

I woke up with the song “Remember Me” in my head from the movie Coco. If you have not seen it yet, please do. It is a sweet movie.

I wondered what it was my brain wanted to remember. And since it is January in Minnesota, the most logical choice is summer vacation.

We get something we call “cabin fever” right about this time, a little restlessness with being inside so much of the time. It got up to 42 degrees F yesterday which is actually quite warm for us, so I did fit in a little run outside in the fresh air and to get some sunshine. While I take my vitamin D religiously in the winter, since are all deficient at this latitude, there is really no substitute for real sunshine.

Paradise, Michigan

Photo taken from Paradise, Michigan – July 201

I thought back to the lovely motorcycle trip last summer around Lake Superior, and checked my phone for pictures. Ah, sweet memories. One night when we had made it to Paradise, Michigan, we stopped at our campsite, realized it had rained a bit that day and the campground was soggy. So we opted for a hotel that night, a place with laundry facilities. Hot showers and a real bed were awesome, and the view from the hotel was amazing.

This is why you often hear the advice: buy experiences, not things. When you spend money on a vacation, not only do you get to enjoy a lovely time away, you get the benefit of anticipating and planning the trip. Then you also get the experience of fond memories on the trip, and stories you can tell after the trip with your loved ones.

Granted, vacations can be expensive. But they do not have to be when planned in advance. My hubby reserved campsites for 8 out of our 10 nights on this trip, and then 2 B&B’s/hotels so that was quite affordable. When traveling on a motorcycle you have to plan alternatives in case of rain, so we did forfeit the campsites twice and opted for hotels. But still, a lovely and memorable trip around Lake Superior with good memories was a bargain for the cost.

Those of you who are indoors and tired of the cold and snow: try thinking about where you may want to spend some summer vacation time. It gets your creative juices going and if you plan now, you may be able to put aside some savings to make it happen.

Ah, Paradise!