This is a post about my time off. I don’t usually write blog posts or even social media status updates about my free time or vacations (just share snapshots to keep friends and family in the know about my trips and important events). I use this blogging space for sharing session ideas, reflecting on my professional experience or simply asking questions. A ‘Why?’ question, for example 🙂
I recently asked myself why I am not posting/sharing much about my vacation and free time and realized that… well… I don’t have completely ‘free’ time. Being a freelancer, I have been usually working (in different meanings of ‘work’ of course) and used to see the idea of time off’ as a time to switch from one professional activity to another. If I am not writing something new, I am editing. If not working on a course (online or face-to-face), I am applying to projects. Or updating a profile. Or writing a blog post… Or reading (no, not fiction, something serious). Or… The list can be longer, and it can get boring.
Well, I do other ‘activities’ as described in this post, but oftentimes I have to ‘budget’ the time for them, and make sure I get back to ‘work mode’ not to miss a deadline, etc. I think for many teachers reading this post ‘free time’ is even bigger luxury than I can imagine.
No, this post is not about how tired I was: I love the job I have, and feel lucky for the chance to choose the projects I am working on and grow professionally as I meet fantastic teams and colleagues.It is about my personal discovery of what ‘time off’ can mean, and why I now know it is important. It is my attempt to ‘document’ this feeling and to re-read what it means next time I consider leaving my computer at home for several days in a row, stay off Facebook and only occasionally check e-mails (as you see, it was not completely ‘offline’ time)
To me, taking 6 days off work and leaving my computer at home was something I could actually ‘allow myself’ this summer. In my L1-s the same word means ‘allow’ and ‘afford’: дозволити (doz-vo-ly-ty, Ukrainian), позволить (poz-vo-lit’, Russian). In a way, I could have afforded a vacation earlier, but could only allowed it to myself this year. I did have trips before, but they combined work and pleasure (I would be still running Skype meetings with people, facilitate online course discussions, do some writing, e-mail, etc.) As you notice, I repeatedly state that I love my job, and can’t live without it. All I am saying now that I see how ‘loving my job’ and ‘having time off and away’ do not contradict each other.
This time my husband and I went to a small town in the Ukrainian Carpathian mountains and did a lot of walking, talking and hiking, coffee and wine drinking, reading and dreaming. We were noticing small things around us: the speed with which the clouds moved, the beauty of the flowers, the sounds of birds, the smell of the grass… I took more pictures than usual and was able to catch much more moments of stillness (most likely because I was able to pause, focus and wait for the right time to take a picture?)
Conclusions, lessons learned and reminders? Very simple: allow myself to have free time. Time for thinking, breathing, living. Time off, away and unplugged!
What are/were your important lessons this summer?
Thank you for reading! 🙂
P.S. This post was inspired by Pico Iyer’s The Art of Stillness and Erling Kagge’s ‘Silence in the Age of Noise‘.