When we lived in Turkey, we needed to leave the country every three months to renew our passports. At first it was a complete pain—we’d wake up early, take an hour-long bus ride down to the ferryboat, and then take a jostling hour-long jaunt through the Aegean Sea to one of the closer whitewashed Greek islands, usually Chios or Samos. We’d stay for a few hours, then return later that afternoon, finalizing the day with an exhausted, late-night collapse into our beds back in our Turkish apartment.
But eventually, these visa runs became a blessing. I would actually feel the tense muscles in my shoulders relax with every mile the boat inched away from Turkey, so desperate was I for a break from the culture, language, and surroundings that I loved. Even though I was glad to live there, the daily cultural pressures happily welcomed a little release in tension four times a year.
We’d exit the boat in Greece and listen to a language we didn’t understand (and didn’t need to—our language-learning brain could shut off for a day). An afternoon of lying on the beach, eating the local food, and hitting up the market for goods unsold in our host country, we’d re-board the boat and head home as refreshed people, better able to live in Turkey for another three months.
It was amazing, really, what just a few hours’ respite would do.
Now, it’s not exactly like we have a Greek island at our disposal at all times.
But as a family, we’ve taken these life experiences to heart and do our best to live them out here in the U.S. We love going on little day trips, taking weekend getaways, or even giving each other occasional days of alone time in order to stay strong and correct our focus.
I’m in the middle of my annual writing and social media break—I do this for 4-6 weeks every summer, and it’s proven vital to my health and my family’s sanity.
The summer is a great time to set aside our usual rushed routines and embrace a slower pace of life. We pare down extracurricular activities, and we just enjoy being together. Instead of saying yes to the pressures of school, church, and outside obligations, we just… live. We take time to rest, reflect, laugh, and learn for fun.
Grown-ups need a “summer break,” too. I’m not talking a full three months of eating popsicles and watching The Facts of Life reruns (or maybe that was just me)—I mean a deliberate mental break from the craziness of life. We need time to go on long walks, dig in the dirt, read a novel just for the heck of it, take a dip in the pool, and just sit on the couch and talk to our kids over ice cream. No checklists, no pressure to move on to the next thing. Just time to be yourself and be with the ones you love. An escape to our own, personal, whitewashed Greek island.
Join me in taking a breather from life’s pressures. You’ll be better able to roll up your sleeves, look at your family schedule without wincing, and smile at the day ahead because you took time to rejuvenate.
What are some of your favorite ways to rest, reflect, and find renewal?