I am off on a trip soon. A work trip. An escape is very much needed, although I wish this trip was with my sweetie and involved not a drip of work. A true vacation it is not.
A word of warning from a dark place - if you ever get the wild notion that completing a PhD is something you want, please keep in mind that it may usurp vacation in your life for a few years. Both because of budget and time constraints. Taking time off from paid work means - hey, even more work!
Brilliant idea, genius.
Which reminds me, I saw someone in my PhD cohort walking around campus in a complete stupor on the day we turned in our comprehensive exams. He told me, "I just didn't know what to do with myself, so I just walked around for a few hours." I'll never forget the blank look on his face. His mental capacities completely drained. Like academia had sucked out his brain rather than increased its capacity.
I identified my workaholic tendencies in college. In fact I delayed pursing a PhD for some years because I knew I needed to find the key to balance first. I've gotten better at it as I moved from my early 20s to my late 20s to my early 30s. Most weeks I find good chunks of time to relax, and I know enough about myself now to see the warning signs once I'm headed down the road to stupor. Lack of sleep. Working on a Friday night. Worrying all week there is not enough time to relax over the weekend.
Yesterday evening I spontaneously started writing a Bucket List. I've never had any impulse to do this and even find the term "bucket list" to be a little annoying in its clunkiness, but the listmaking started instantaneously. Work overload induced, must reclaim power over fun in my life, big dream listmaking. This was all top of mind. Whatever came to me, I wrote down, in order of appearance in my reduced capacity brain.
- Get an invitation to an event at the White House
- Be a vendor at a craft show
- Sell over 200 items on Etsy
- Take a two week backpacking trip
- Bike across Europe
- Grow a big garden
- Raise a child
- Visit Asia, South America and Africa
- Go on a trek in the mountains in New Zealand
- Camp in Alaska
- Camp on the deck of a ferry through the Inside Passage
- Learn to play the guitar (again and much better)
- Learn to speak Spanish
- Take a weekend trip with my mom, involving her red convertible, lake visits and good food
- Go to a weekend or weeklong craft retreat
- Get a photography lesson from a professional
- Sell some of my photographs
- Finish my PhD
- Take a weeklong trip with Big City Mountaineers again
Ambitious right? I start right off with working so hard the President will invite me over for a visit? Mind you, this all started off after watching a White House meeting on the outdoors on YouTube. Somehow between policy making and the Secretary of the Interior, I got the itch to write down my dreams to travel more. The ambition continues pretty far down the list. Bike across Europe? Do I really want to do that?
It wasn't really until #14 that I hit on something that wasn't a gigantic undertaking. Something that was possible, and sounded, well, just perfectly pleasant and lovely. (Not to discount raising a child as a perfectly pleasant and lovely undertaking but is admittedly a project more time consuming than visiting 3 corners of the globe).
I guess this is the problem with writing a Bucket List when you are overworked. It's too ambitious. But that's kind of the point of a Bucket List, right?
Maybe the remedy to overworking is just write an anti-Bucket List. It would say something like, I intend to be a lazy lounger who bathes in relaxation and takes on only the responsibilities necessary for my continued existence and pleasure. That sounds better.
Well, anyway, just a week of a lazy existence would be welcome. Instead, for now, I'll be spending some time on that pesky number 18. The dream I pursued, the one I insist on finishing so I can cross it off my list and move on to others, and the one that, at the moment, is keeping me from a solid week of relaxation with my sweetie.
Which brings me to #20 on my bucket list, which is actually #1.
- Spend a minimum of one week every year with my sweetie. Wherever it is in the world, it doesn't matter, as long as it's together, away, and doesn't involve a drip of work.
Got any ideas for an awesome relaxing week away for a cash strapped but airline points rich couple? Due to a year of overwork, I don't think this is the year for biking across a continent or trekking across mountains, but any suggestions that involve copious amounts of lazy lounging in a beautiful place would be welcome.