Dana LaMon

Motivational Speaker and Author

After delivering the keynote and giving two other presentations in a Toastmasters training session, I headed for Los Angeles International airport to start my trip to Honolulu, Hawaii. My sister driving, we made it through the high volume of traffic from Camarillo to Los Angeles. Terri dropped me off at the airport terminal to meet my wife, Jaci. Terri and her daughter continued on their drive to Las Vegas.


It was June 23, two days before our twenty-ninth wedding anniversary. Jaci and I planned to spend a week together. It had been a year since our last time together. We planned to relax and enjoy each other's company. I took my laptop computer with me, but the only work I planned to do was to write this message.


Jaci and I spent the week in Waikiki in a time share offered by my sister. We did not rent a car, avoiding the hassles and cost of parking; we walked or took a bus wherever we went. Our week included an around-the-island bus tour, a trip to the outlet mall, a trip to the flee market, several visits to our favorite breakfast place, dining at various restaurants, a couple of trips to the beach, a couple of trips to the pool, and several visits with our son Dana and his girlfriend. When we spent time in the room, Jaci read, and I worked kenken puzzles. We watched little television--no news. One evening, we bought a bottle of wine and took leftovers from a previous restaurant meal and had dinner by the pool.


I made no attempts to contact Toastmasters while in Hawaii because it would have likely led to my speaking somewhere. Though I intended to write this message for posting in July, I never got around to doing so. The week was a true vacation from the things I would usually do--things that often distract me from family, friends, and fun.


Before I retired, I rarely took a vacation. My hearing schedule varied, I wrote decisions from home, and my time was flexible. I didn't think I needed a vacation. When I went to New York to spend time with my wife, I took my work with me. When I took time off from work, it was to travel to give a speech or to attend a convention. By the time I retired, I had accumulated several months of unused vacation and sick leave.


Are you taking regular vacations?


We need vacations. For mental, emotional, and spiritual health and well-being, we must take time off from the rigor, rush, and routine of work and the other every-day stresses of living.


Here are some things you must take a break from:


* The job that you hate. Every time that you go to such a job, you are feeding hate. If you don't get a sufficient amount of love from other sources, hate will dominate your being. Of course, the best vacation to take is a permanent one--quit that awful job.


* A job that requires you to constantly meet deadlines or sales targets. The constant pressure to produce compromises the quality of your life. Quality requires time to reflect, evaluate, create, and re-create.


* A job that is routine. Performing routine tasks dulls your mental capacity. Changing what you do forces you to think.


* A job that you love and enjoy. Your capacity to love needs a source for rejuvenescence. Taking time to rejuvenate and reflect will allow you to discover room for improvement and areas of growth.


* Caring for children or others who depend on you. The best care comes from a person who is relaxed and refreshed.


* Paying bills and spending more money. When you take a break from spending it, you can take a break from making it. Of course, if you have an unlimited source, you need not take a break.


* The telephone. Turn it off when you're sleeping, in the shower, having dinner, or watching a movie. You really aren't that important.


* E-mail, e-socializing, and other electronics. Face-to-face interactions with other people are better for understanding and keeping you cognizant of your e-motions.


The break that you take need not be a week or two to be called a vacation. Use your evenings at home with the family or your weekends to take vacations from work. Delegate responsibilities to an assistant for a day, so you can rest, relax, and rejuvenate. Even the President of the United States, whose job is 24/7, leaves the Vice-president in charge from time to time.


You don't have to take a trip to Honolulu in order to have a vacation. Taking a break from the stresses of home life--caring for children, caring for elderly relatives, and/or figuring out how to pay bills--requires only that you change your scenery. Spend the night at the home of a good friend. Get a room at a local inn for a night. Go to the local park or beach to sit for a few hours with a good book, some crossword puzzles, your favorite music, or a crochet project.


Take a vacation that doesn't require that you spend a lot of money. You must avoid the stress of paying the credit card or working more hours to cover the expense of your time off. Such stress will negate the benefit of the vacation.


Notice the trend for working these days. The primary objective of employers is to continually increase productivity. They want us to work more and more and more. The number of holidays are being reduced, the retirement age is being raised, and the employer is requiring that you take the cell phone with you when she reluctantly approves your vacation time off. My point here is that you must take the vacation. Your employer is not going to give it to you.