As I come to the end of a lovely two week break in Devon I’ve been reflecting on what this holiday has meant for me and for my family. For a start, it’s the first time in some years we’ve managed to get away for two weeks - something many people can relate to I’m sure. Fortunately, throughout the pandemic we managed to squeeze in a few short breaks, including a week in Spain to see my folks last October. But this time I knew I needed longer. I needed time to fully switch off and recharge, and there really is something quite powerful about knowing you’re getting away for two weeks. We’ve really slowed down and some days embraced not going anywhere beyond the garden gate. There was a time when I would’ve found that really uncomfortable. In my twenties, I felt the need to fill every moment and explore every place - I’d stop but only when I crashed out, totally exhausted! I began to listen to my body a lot more through my thirties, and I started to release that “need” to be on the go all the time. Now I’m in my forties, I’m more than happy to slow things down and I try ensure I have weekends with nothing booked in. I do still feel the need to move every day, and achieve something, whatever that might be. But one of the things I was most looking forward to about this trip was not having a plan, just going with the flow. Sitting quietly connecting with nature, reading a book or writing my journal, spending some time on my yoga mat (even if my five year old decides to join in) is such a gift to me now, in ways that I never appreciated earlier in life.
Over the years I’ve realised just how much of an introvert I am when it comes to recharging. The more I extrovert in my work, the more I need to retreat and introvert to rest and top up my batteries. Fortunately, my partner is also more of an introvert too, which makes it easy to find holiday accommodation we can agree on as we both seek quiet locations with as much privacy as possible. We ended up selecting two properties for this trip, one week north of Honiton in a gorgeous little barn conversion on a farm with views of paddocks, trees and hills. So we were overlooked - by a flock of sheep and a family of finches nested in our roof! It was bliss. Our second week has also been on a farm, a few miles outside of Totnes. Whilst the farm is surrounded by the beautiful rolling hills of South Devon, we’re in a row of cottages and it’s felt quite noisy in comparison to the first property and having neighbours (albeit only a few) took a bit of getting used to. But with access to the British Riviera, stunning sandy beaches with clear water and sea breezes (during the week Britain is in a heat wave dealing with record temperatures) it’s been the perfect spot for part two of our break.
Of course, when spending two weeks non-stop with your family there might be a few ups and downs and a few compromises. Fortunately, our 15 year old dog is very low maintenance these days and spends most of her time sleeping! My five year old son is content with his dinosaurs and trains for a period of time making it possible for me to focus on a book (or write content for an instagram post or a blog!) for an hour or two, here and there. And my partner is the king of kicking back and relaxing (as long as he’s got access to car videos and YouTube!). So whilst I’ve not escaped for spa days or an afternoon of solitude on a paddle board, (two activities I would typically choose if I got to create my ideal summer holiday), I’ve not felt I’ve missed out. If I’d really wanted to prioritise these I could have. I’ve actually been pretty content with family time, not having much of a plan and taking each day as it comes depending on how we all feel.
Those that know me know how much I love gratitude journalling, so here are the tops ten things I’m feeling most grateful for from this holiday:
Stunning beaches and swimming in the sea.
Beautiful countryside, rolling hills and riverside walks.
The most amazing weather (never to be taken for granted for a two week holiday in the UK!).
Slowing the pace of life and embracing the opportunity to not do very much at all some days.
Quality time with my family whether that be sharing lovely BBQs or gastro pub grub, playing games, or simply curling up on the sofa together to watch a film at the end of the day.
Watching my son having fun splashing in the waves and digging in the sand, and even more elated when he saw all the trains at the Devonshire Railway Centre (and every other time we spotted a train out and about!).
Getting to hang out with one of my besties who lives “up the road” in Somerset. We’ve known each other for over 20 years and never get to see each other enough so it’s always so wonderful to reconnect with her in person.
Time to think, plan, visualise and manifest my vision of success for the second half of ‘22.
Eating fabulous wholesome, local food and being comfortable breaking my own rules if i want a cold beer or glass of rose and ice cream every day - well, if you can’t have guilt free indulgences on holiday when can you?!
Knowing how lucky I am to be going home to an equally gorgeous part of the country, to a life that can get busy, but is incredibly rewarding and fills me with passion, purpose and pride.
Whilst we all might have lost a bit of hope when it came to planning holidays throughout the pandemic, there’s now light at the end of the tunnel. It’s understandable that you might be feeling more run down, stressed or exhausted than normal, we‘ve had a very unusual couple of years and a lot stress and uncertainty. We’ve had to learn resilience on a whole new level, and create a new-normal for post pandemic life. If you haven’t had a holiday or time out for a while, maybe it‘s time to press and book some time off. If you can make it two weeks fantastic, but if not, even a long weekend and a change of scene can be so rejuvenating. Taking breaks is an essential part of The Ultimate Self-Care Tool Kit and I truly believe it’s time for us to all put self-care at the top of our priority list. Without guilt, without judgment, without the need to explain ourselves to others. Looking after our basic human needs should not be something we need to ask permission for. Yet giving yourself permission to priotitise you and your own needs is a powerful first step. Are you ready to take it?