If You Want to Nap, You’ve Got to Lie Down (and Other Life Lessons I Learned on Vacation)

We’re just back from a fabulous week on Block Island — a small (3 miles by 7 miles), under-developed island 12 miles off the Southern coast of Rhode Island. The water is crystal clear, the land is hilly and green, and with old stone walls everywhere, the terrain looks like Ireland. This is the view from the backyard of our rental house.

It was our first vacation of any kind in two years, and our first restful vacation since we had kids. This trip was all about simple pleasures: daily trips to the beach, drippy sandcastle making, ice cream excursions, bike rides, the farmer’s market. And I learned a couple of simple lessons while we were away:

If you want to nap, you’ve got to lie down first.
Every afternoon, I’d lie on the couch with a book while my son napped and my daughter slowly extracted every piece from the trunk full of board games and mixed them all together in various bowls as she made “pie”. And every afternoon, I’d fall asleep. Which is ironic, because I’ve always told myself I’m not a napper. Even when I had newborns, I rarely dozed off during the day. I realize now, that was only because I never lay down! Woah. It was quite the revelation.

Vision boards work. I have been wanting to try stand-up paddleboarding for over a year now. I even have a picture of a woman riding one on my vision board. So on Block Island, my husband and I booked a babysitter for an afternoon and went to rent his and hers boards. Only problem – it was so windy nobody was renting. This was the only sitter we could find for the only day she had available, and our trip ended in 2 days. Then we brainstormed a solution – the next morning, we’d rent one double kayak and one paddleboard. One of us would paddle the kids in the kayak while the other rode the paddleboard, and we’d switch every so often. It was pretty windy the next morning too, but with the image on my vision board seared in my brain, I was persistent in asking the outfitter to let us go out. He agreed, gave us a quick lesson, and we were off. It was so much fun. But if I hadn’t declared to myself and the universe that this was something I really wanted to do, it probably wouldn’t have happened.

Keep it simple, stupid. I was a little worried that we’d be bored during our week away with just the four of us to entertain each other. What if we drove each other crazy? What if it wasn’t fun? But it was perfect, as we spent the mornings and evenings all together (mostly digging holes on the beach) and had a couple hours to ourselves every afternoon to sleep or play or watch Wimbledon. Not having others to coordinate with anyone else let us follow our own rhythms, which was supremely relaxing.

And while we were there, I picked up a copy of Nora Ephron’s last book, I Remember Nothing. Her writing is so straightforward and lighthearted (even when talking about capital-I issues, like death), it really inspired me to root out any fancy-pants sentence construction or words from my own writing. I had just finished reading the book (which she ends with a list of things she will and will not miss when she dies), when I found out she was gone. I’m inspired by Ephron’s effortless writing and our uncomplicated week to find the ease in everything – even the big, scary stuff.

I hope you’ve been able to enjoy some simple summer fun in the past couple of weeks. I’d love to hear about it! (Leave a comment to share your story, pretty please.)

Take care and keep breathing,

Join me in Boston on August 7th!
I’m super excited to attend Spark and Hustle in Boston on August 7th. If you’re in the area and are looking for an entrepreneurial energy infusion, join me! I always love the opportunity to hook up with my people. Here’s the link to sign up. Email me at kate [at] msmindbody.com if you’re coming!


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3 thoughts on “If You Want to Nap, You’ve Got to Lie Down (and Other Life Lessons I Learned on Vacation)

  1. I love what you said about keeping it simple in order to find your own rhythms. I’ve just returned from vacation for a few weeks with my family. I work for myself, so I spent about 3 hours every morning working at the local coffee shop, then joined the family for lunch and the rest of the day. Even with work still around, I was able to completely relax, and i realized much of the stress in my life is not from work, but because of the rush-rush of over scheduling: social engagements, school/camps/ballet classes, etc. On our return home I am committed to slowing things down, to limiting social engagements and classes, so we can have lots of open time in our lives to just be.

    We traveled light, and with only two bags of clothes/toys/books for the four of us, there was surprising freedom in having so few possessions, with fewer choices to make in the morning (what to wear?) and no THINGS to take care of. So far I have taken two car-trunk fulls of clothes, toys, kitchen items, and knick knacks to goodwill, in an attempt to further de-complicate our lives. Always a battle against over-scheduling and over-buying, but one worth fighting.

    1. Love this, Amanda! Yes, we brought 2 toys with us — a box of Duplo blocks, and a Thomas the Train puzzle. And the kids were delighted with them the whole time away. They are still basically the only things they’re playing with even now that we’re back.

      I really hear you too on the over-scheduling and the over-buying. It’s something you have to continually check in on, and in our culture it can feel like you’re swimming upstream. It’s totally something worth doing, though. Good for you. And thank God for vacations!

  2. Imagine this…I read your post while waking up from my second nap of the day. My schedule was clear due to the cancellation of a sailing vacation, so I found myself, reading/relaxing/sleeping for the day. Wow, what a luxury. I read long ago that one reason we get sick is to enforce a “rest” for the body…and if we would just take a “rest” our body doesn’t need to make us sick. Makes sense to me, so I am a big fan of rest time.

    It made me think of a childhood tradition of naptime after Sunday lunch….this included adults and kids of all ages. We took it for granted, of course. Guess i am lucky to be a trained napper, but usually I get wired, and have the to do list running my day. All good, as they say….well, legs up the wall for 10 minutes is nice too.

    But a real nap, is a treat to body and soul. Just google “famous nappers”…naps have been credited with genius and creativity. Another good reason to indulge…and enjoy!

    ps. Your Nora Ephron synchronicity was poignant, love her and her genius spirit… quietly elegant and so very witty.

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