3 Reasons you need a vacation

Sunday night I reluctantly returned from an amazing week in Antigua.  I realized how incredibly lucky I am to have such an amazing, generous family. I also realized how desperately I needed the vacation, which is precisely what inspired this post.  Here are the top reasons I needed a vacation and why you might need one too!

  1. Just plain burnt out.

I felt like a zombie the week before I left. I was so burnt out, partially in preperation for my trip. I had increased my gym days to 5 per week. After work and on weekends. I also trained my horse 4 days a week, and then add work 9-5 Monday through Friday plus a 3 hour daily commute. I was basically at home, awake, for 2 hours per day.

I slept almost the full 5 hour flight to Antigua and on the way I vowed to really relax this time. Read books. Laze around. Gone are the days where I need to fill my entire vacation with activities. Don’t get me wrong, I did a ton of fun stuff on this trip; golfing, water trampoline, snorkling and karaoke. But I made a point to take some much needed r & r.

2. Increased productivity.

Part of the reason I was so exhausted before my trip was because I was so busy preparing for it, both personally and professionally.

I had to hand off all my current projects to my colleagues, finish training documents and any work that was due the week I was going away. I informed the clients of my absence.

Personally, I had to look effing awesome for my trip, so I had a six week intense gym training program. I also had 3 tanning sessions, a wax and got my hair done. I also saved up a bit of money to do some bargain shopping.

I recently bought a project horse to train. He needed training before I left so he would be well behaved for my Mom. She was riding him while I was gone. I also had to do all my laundry, pack and clean my house so my brother could stay comfortably and dog-sit for us.

Looking back on my productivity I feel like a superhero, but I realize it isn’t sustainable. Which is why it’s so great to have a huge burst of productivity before a nice, relaxing vacation.

So for me a vacation is setting a short term goal and a hard deadline. Both of which allow me to perform at my peak level of productivity.

3. Staying focused on the end game

Escaping one of Ontario’s most oppressive winters to relax in a tropical paradise got me thinking….

I need to do this more often and for longer periods of time. I need to set some long term career goals.

The early morning commute in minus 30 degrees celcius. The straight up battle it is to get into work in the winter, through snow and ice. Why bother?  I could work at Wal-mart, 5 mins from my house.

But that doesn’t support my long term goals. I envisioned myself sitting on the deck of our vacation house, at the breakfast table. Laptop out, tea beside me, breeze blowing the palm trees gently while I start my days work.

Dream big!

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My day

This morning was a particularly difficult one. My day usually starts at 5:45-6:00 am, depending on whether or not I need a shower. I’m not gross. Sometimes I shower before bed to get those precious extra minutes of sleep.

I kiss my husband goodbye while he continues to sleep in our warm, super comfortable king size bed.

Every morning I fantasize about what sort of excuse I could come up with to just stay home and stay in bed. Maybe my car won’t start, or maybe I’ve contracted a terribly contagious disease or maybe we’re snowed in.

Once I actually force myself out of bed this reluctancy to actually go to work quickly fades as I remember all of the items on my list of things to do today.

Because today I get to help my engineering team solve a really complex problem. And when I, a simple minded support specialist, (and a silly woman), can figure out an issue or a bug before a software engineer, I get a euphoric feeling that is ten times greater than the feeling you get when you decide to stay in bed. I know, I’m crazy right?

This might also sound like I’m not a team player. But I promise that I am, I just feel like one of the big kids when this happens.

Everyday is a challenge and usually everyday I get to solve a really difficult problem, with my super cool friends.

That’s why everyday I can force myself out of bed, endure 3 hours commute each day and crawl exhausted into bed every night. Because I effing love my job!

RPG’s of Yesteryear: A reflection

I never thought working in software was an option for me. I wanted to be a vet and then a lawyer and then a business owner. I was always obsessed with computers. At the tender age of 12, I started learning a bit of HTML to add to my websites. Yes, websites. I made a ton, with expage, homestead, angelfire and geocities. The founding fathers of do-it-yourself website creation. And what content would an adolescent girl possibly need multiple websites for?

Horse roleplaying games.

That’s right. I’m a huge loser. I loved (and still do love) horses. So I would have little virtual horse profiles, virtual stables, stats, contests. You could have a stable of champions on my terrible website(s). Full of amazing running horse gifs on a stunning space or sky background. Um hot pink fonts and paw print paragraph dividers? I was on the cutting edge.

I would spend literally 6-8 hours working on my websites per day. My Dad would complain that I needed fresh air. When I wasn’t working on my websites, I was using Paint Shop Pro 7 to doctor images of horses, so they would fade beautifully into one and other. I would use vector fonts to add the horses catchy name and stats. Some horses were photoshopped onto jungle backgrounds or waterfall… usually depending on what their name called for. For instance,  Catchin’ Wildfire, a black arabian juxtaposed with a forest in flames.

Fast forward to high school. Yes, I was still dabbling in these things but not quite as obsessive, because now I had been introduced to Visual Basic through my computer science course.

So now I was trying to make a horse game with software. Luckily I had hobbies and other interests in high school,so I did not treat it like my full time job. However in hindsight, I probably should have jumped on the technology train sooner as a career choice instead of wasting my time trying to get into law school. I’d be making way more money by now.