The Pleasures (and Lessons) of a Staycation

“A vacation that is spent at one’s home enjoying all that home and one’s home environs have to offer.”— Urban Dictionary

“You don’t have to go far to travel.” Me

It’s that time of year again when September arrives and I extend the Labor Day holiday by taking my annual Staycation. While students return to school after their families unpack from vacation and pack those back-to-school backpacks full of brand new school supplies, I take a break from my day-to-day work routines and make my “to-do only if I want to lists.”  For me the essence of a staycation is to practice spontaneity (yes, I admit that I need to practice), sleep in if I want to, brunch at home or out with friends, attend movie matinees on weekdays, plan lots of coffee dates, stay in pajamas if I want to and take a vacation from showering for a day, and most importantly write, and edit, and write some more. I read too, essays and blogs, opinion pieces online, poetry and movie reviews and reread my journals.

Linda's Staycation

What I’ve learned, the lessons from keeping and rereading journals, is that I’m a creature of habit. Though I allow my imagination to wander and travel places like a free spirit, I’m pretty earthbound and sensitive to the changing of the seasons, the length of daylight in a day, the heat of the sun on skin, the relationship of the stars and moon to our planet, the color of grass and leaves, the smell of the breeze as it changes from the chilled neutrality of winter to the smoky potpourri of autumn, and finally the conscious and unconscious cycles of my life.

Staycations from the Past

Postcard

The following journal entries illustrate the evolution and essence of my annual September staycation:

Sunday, September 6, 2009 “My time off has been good. I promised myself that I would create a “to do list” but it would be a “to do list, only if I wanted to do it.” So far, that objective has been working. I’ve managed to accomplish some of what I intended to do and what has fallen off the list may only be temporary. I’ve been enjoying surrendering to the flow of my days.” 

Saturday, September 04, 2010 It’s my first day of vacation, the beginning of another journal, another year in my life, and an affirmation that I’ve made a commitment to writing. I can say out loud with conviction, I’m a writer, a poet and a memoirist. It has been a year of putting words to paper, silencing critical inner voices and embracing collaboration, sharing my work, and showcasing the work of others.”

Thursday, September 08, 2011 “The weather has been perfect these past few days of vacation, blue skies, sunny and mild, with cool breezes especially at night. I’ve had the windows open at least until today when the forecast is for warmer weather. It’s been great to smell the outdoors. One day there was a somewhat off-putting odor until I realized it wasn’t trash or cooking odors, instead it was freshly mown grass.”

Saturday, September 1, 2012  Originally posted on Facebook: “Today begins a week’s “staycation.” Since I’m a film buff the weekend starts with individual movie matinee dates with my nephew, Quinn (“Avengers”) and niece, Gemma (“Brave”), a long-awaited date with Stacie to see a romantic comedy, “Celeste and Jesse Forever,” and later in the week another film, yet to be determined, with my friend Julie. One day I’m devoting to cooking comfort foods, including my mother’s recipe for homemade chicken and noodles and someone else’s mother’s banana cake with cream cheese frosting. I’m visiting a friend, Leanne, recuperating from surgery and delivering some of the former. During the week, I’ll work on writing projects: my memoir, “Perfectly Flawed” and a new poetry chapbook, “Crush(ed).” I have a couple of house projects for which I’ve procrastinated about endlessly and saved for a time like this. I’m attending a focus group for the Dairy Business Innovation Center where I will be paid to taste test new products (yum). Two evenings this week I’ll assist with auditions for the next performances of Conceal & Carry: Queers Exposed and finally end the week with a date with my friend Candy to see Paula Poundstone at the Barrymore. Who says you need to go somewhere on vacation? I love Madison and my life this week. And, I still have time to practice spontaneity! (I know this counts as a week’s worth of status updates). :)”

Monday, September 02, 2013, Labor Day “It’s the final day of both my three day holiday weekend and my thirteen day surgery and recovery. It’s been restorative, relaxing and reinvigorating. I accomplished all of my tasks on my “to do list” over the extended weekend including a good mix of time alone and with friends.  I saw three movies in the last two weeks including, Blue Jasmine, The Butler, and The Spectacular Now. I posted three pieces on my blog, the day of my surgery, a week later and today.”

Monday, September 01, 2014, Labor Day —“It’s a quiet morning. The hustle and bustle of a Monday work day is absent, expect for the housecleaning team that paraded past my home and most likely prepared an apartment at Tobacco Lofts for its new tenants. Even the neighbor dogs and their people are sleeping in this Labor Day morning. The sun and rosy pink clouds gave way to light rain. It’s peaceful. It’s a holiday for some of us.”

Keep Calm

Staycation 2015

Yesterday was the first day of my current staycation. This year it will likely be the hottest September of the past few years, record-breaking, humid, summer temps. This weekend, as in other years it’s the annual Taste of Madison, music and small tastes of the diverse musical and culinary samplings of our city. My day began with a trip to our award-winning Dane County Farmer’s Market, followed by cooking one of my family’s traditional comfort foods, homemade egg dumpling noodles and chicken, time to journal and reflect, then a movie matinee with my friend Leanne, Mistress America, a film by one of my favorite indie directors, Noah Baumbach, co-written and starring one of my favorite comedic actresses, Greta Gerwig.

Today, after my Sunday rituals of watching CBS Sunday Morning while doing laundry, I drive to Stoughton for time with friends and the comfort of sourdough pancakes.  Tomorrow, another movie matinee at Sundance 608, and Tuesday a visit with my parents in my hometown of Racine, Wisconsin.  I have a coffee date and another movie matinee, A Walk in the Woods, with my three-decades plus friend, Sandra.  In between I have a “to-do only if I want to list” of things I never seem to have time enough during my workaday life.

Lastly, I’ll write, reflect, restore, refocus, renew and re-energize. Staycation: You don’t’ have to go far to travel.

Related Reading

The Comfort of Sourdough Pancakes

The Changing Seasons

Light & Shadow

The Impermanence of Life

Journal/Journey

Labor Day: May Day in September

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