It's probably not a good business practice for an author to recommend a break from reading. Nor is it good professional practice for an author to stop reading. (Must always strive to get better…) But here I am, on vacation, with no plans, and I have not yet picked up a book.
Every year on vacation, I read or re-read a classic. Each year, I have enjoyed it so much, I have had trouble putting the book down. A sneaky little part of me, however, wanted the book to hurry up and be finished, because I wanted to do other things on my vacation.
This year I didn't. I have my classic picked out and loaded on my Kindle, but I have not started reading. Instead, I looked around. Here's what I found.
1. The sound of the ocean waves breaking is one of my most favorite sounds.
It's one sound that has never changed, throughout history. (As far as I know, anyway. I have only seen a few decades of history.) There's an incredible thought. The first people in the world to ever see the ocean heard exactly the same sound that we hear today. No enhancements, no digitalization. Nothing but the shear beauty of power.
2. My youngest loves to play in the sand. And she likes to help and be helped.
I remember my youngest child being grumpy in the past, but this year, she has really been much more pleasant. She has always enjoyed digging in the sand, and in earlier years, I was grateful for that easy entertainment. Every year, my feet have been buried in the sand. This year I enjoyed the bond of digging with her. Together, we buried everyone's feet to cool them off. And she's right. The feeling of wet sand on your hands is very relaxing.
3. My middle child is not a big fan of crabs.
I probably could have guessed this one, but it was nice to be there in person to see his reaction rather than hear the story at dinner and wonder where I was. (Oh yeah, I was in Civil War Georgia…)
4. There is some great scenery on the beach.
The beach is beautiful, but also, I love to people-watch. It's amazing to see how so many people can come to the same place and all be thinking something different. I try to read minds, too, based on what the person is doing. Kids playing in the sand are the best. Older folks are trickier. Also, I look for cute new bathing suit trends.
5. No one dies from boredom. (But it does lead to fake hunger.)
I almost posted, "I'm Bored!!!" on Facebook. I knew if I did, however, I would get sucked back in to Facebook and miss other things. Most of my "busy items" on my to-lists are back at home. Cleaning, phone calls, working, appointments, errands. None of it can be done at the beach! So here I am… back to sitting. Sitting, thinking, day dreaming. (OK, yes, I still do some exercise too. But not enough to take up a whole day.) All this time has been here on past vacations, but I never found it while I was lost in a book. I really haven't been bored since I was a child. I hated it then, and was a little afraid of returning to it now. But you know what? It really wasn't that bad. However, my brain often decided the best way to fill the void was to take a trip to the kitchen.
6. Adults can be grumpy when you interrupt them to talk while they are reading.
My kids learned this years ago, and I knew it when I was a kid too. But somehow, when you are on the other side of that book, you forget. The adults to whom I was trying to talk (whom also shall remain nameless) didn't even know I was talking to them. I am not putting down these adults - as I am usually one of them. But I am reminded how my children feel when I do it to them.
7. Days are longer than I thought they were.
Why did vacations seem to fly by so fast in previous years? Because I thought time was standing still while I was reading when it actually flew by. (I am SUCH a slow reader.) Without a book, I am getting done everything I want, and some of what the kids want me to do too. Mini golf might not be quite the chore I always thought it would be. Maybe this year, when it's time to leave, I will actually be ready to go.
8. There are lots of people in this family.
And they're all a little different. We're a party of 11 when we are all together. (My parents, my brother's family, and mine.) Watching the interaction and relations between each of the members is intriguing. Different family members act differently to one another. If you're in the mood for playful beatings, you go to my dad. Baseball talk? My nephew. The latest book? My sister-in-law. Everyone brings their whole world to the family, and interacting with each completely can take up nearly a lifetime.
9. Sometimes just sitting is okay. (But only when I have, or have plans to exercise.)
I sat on the beach today. I had to tell myself a few times that it was vacation, and it was okay to not be doing something. That self-talk was the only thing that kept me in my chair. Because I sat, I was able to do some of the other things on this list. (And knowing I would be on a bike within a few hours helped me not feel too lazy.) BTW- those who enjoy my "Body Language" humor series will soon hear from my body how difficult a battle this actually was.
10. My favorite waves are the ones that have not broken yet.
I remember this vaguely from my days as a kid, when I actually went in the ocean as deep as possible. (I'm still a little grossed out by the ocean as an adult, but this year I spent a little more time in it, just up to my knees.) The unbroken waves roll your floating body in a way similar to when you drive over that slight hill on the road and your stomach goes airborne. Why to we like that feeling so much? Maybe because we just realized that we got away with a free amusement park ride.
*Bonus- The little waves close to the shore look like they are smiling and giggling as they run up to your toes.
Now, some of you will be pulling out that soapbox, ready to yell, "Same with phones! Put away the phones!" I did keep my phone out with me. Why? First, because it is my camera. I don't want to forget this special time, and I want the kids to be able to enjoy it later too. Also, I did want to share it on social media with my friends. Not everyone gets a family vacation like we do. Some don't want to hear about it, but some really do. I appreciate those in the latter group, and I am happy to oblige.
And please. I am not condemning anyone for reading! (As a matter of fact, I would love to offer you a suggestion for reading here.) There is a time for everything, and if reading is your pleasure, you should definitely make time for it. All I'm saying is that I took a break and noticed a few things.
If you are thinking hard about it, you are realizing that, if I am writing this while on vacation, I am on my computer, and not doing any of the above. Well, I have a short memory, and didn't want to forget, so I had to write about it right away. And yes, technically, I am reading it too.
But that short memory of mine? That's exactly why I am very glad to be able to enjoy this "book vacation" as well. Who knows what I'll remember of these vacations when the kids grow up?
What am I doing wrong? No, seriously. When are these kids going to be content?
We just had an issue come up in our family that my husband and I thought we handled the best way possible. You would never know it by the reaction of the offspring. What we had to do was determined by the medical condition of our youngest, but it afforded her a privilege that our older two had been waiting for for a long time. (And we still don't think they are mature enough for it.) I will not tell you this privilege, because you undoubtedly have an opinion about it, and frankly, we're sick of hearing everyone else's opinions right now.
We are doing what we deem to be right. We are convinced of it, but every other outside force - most notably the smaller ones we live with - is trying to tell us we are not being fair.
Who's helping us see we are right? Those in the same boat as we are. Others who have a child with a chronic condition that needs to be monitored like ours does.
The world may call us helicopter parents, hovering over a child, who would might not actually die if we did not keep such a watchful eye. My daughter does not belong to the world; she belongs to me. The world is not responsible for adding as many years to her life as possible by preserving her organs. That's my job. Watch your own kids, World, and leave me alone with mine.
Many may favor the opinion of my older kids. Especially those who have children their age who have already given their kids this privilege. My kids are not their kids. My values are not their values. We are doing what we believe is best for them.
Then there's my own conscience. Good grief, it's so hard to hear how unfair we are as parents. Every. Day. We've had tears, fits, arguments, tantrums, and silent treatments. (Sometimes, that last one is almost a relief.) We are told routinely that we do not love our kids. By every one of them. They each believe we favor another child in the family- always a different one, too. I just don't know how they seem to know better than we.
How hard is it to stick to our guns? Impossible without the grace of God. So, for those of you who have had to give in at one point or another - I TOTALLY GET IT. I will not judge you, because I want to be you every day.
And I wish we would not be judged either.
This reminds me of walking life as a Christian. Nowhere in the world are we ever going to see a non-believer say, "Way to stick to your guns! Way to stand up for what you believe!" Instead, our persistence in our faith is countered as "closed-mindedness."
Are we doing what is right? Yes, if we are truly following what Jesus tells us. And the Word even tells us we will be hated for it. Daily, told how unfair we are. Sometimes, even by those in our own family. We will get more arguments, tears, and fits. Sometimes, not as much, and our silent treatment is the act of just being forgotten and left behind. Somehow, others in the world have found that they know better than we.
But we're not giving up. Is it hard to persevere? Impossible without the grace of God. So who do we get to support us? Others in the same boat. Christians, THIS is why we are told to love one another.
This past week I rode in the Tour de Cure to raise funds for research for diabetes. As you know, it's a cause dear to my heart, especially now that my daughter suffers with T1D.
The bike ride was annoying. But then I realized that having T1D was probably more annoying, and therefore a good use of my time. Here's what I mean.
1. I Hate People
Whoops, that's probably too broad a statement. Allow me to refine. I hate exercising with people. When I run, I don't have enough breath to carry on a conversation AND use my asthma-strangled lungs to take in oxygen. So leave me alone and stay out of my zone. I'm focused on what I'm doing.
Speaking of my zone, riding my bike is a tenuous thing. I am not confident enough in my balance to ensure that I won't fall over and land on you. So stay away. And don't put me in a "pack" of other people.
(It should be noted, though, that playing sports does not count here. That's not exercise. That's fun, and more fun with people.)
1. High Blood Sugars Make You Feel Terrible
I only know this from watching my daughter. When her blood sugar is too high, she is a monster. And why wouldn't she be? Chemicals that work themselves through in a normal person are pooling in her stomach and blood supply and making her whole body feel sick. When it gets really bad, it is literally killing her.
So, those with diabetes probably hate people too, when their disease is getting to them.
2. There's So Much To Do to Get Ready
I'm a little bit into cycling now. Yes, I wear bike shorts and even the tight jerseys. Gotta have at least two water bottles and something to consume. I need my gloves and helmet, special shoes and sunglasses. Must have my cycling computer to know how fast I'm going. Then there's sunscreen, lip balm, phone, iPod, inhaler, & tissues. Let's not forget that fix-a-flat kit that I don't know how to use. Then, since it's not just a ride from home, I need to have my waiver, number, donations, I.D., toll money, directions… is that it? I hope so. So much stuff. (What a first world problem.)
2. In order to EAT - eat anything-, my daughter needs to first check her blood sugar.
This involves, cleaning her fingers, "priming" them to get the blood flowing, getting out a test strip and prepping the meter, lancing her finger, squeezing out the blood, hoping it's enough for the strip (which isn't always, in our case), dipping the test strip, waiting for a reading, cleaning up the blood and supplies. THEN we have to count the carbs in what she's eating, enter the blood sugar reading into the pump (or algorithm), enter the carbs, praying that she will eat and be satisfied with what was chosen, push all the rest of the needed buttons on the pump to get the calculation, decide if the amount of insulin the pump recommends is really appropriate, and then administer the insulin. Wait a few minutes, if possible, and THEN she can eat.
That's for every meal, every snack, pretty much every time she opens her mouth. Yeah. That's annoying.
3. It's Early in the Morning
Not a convenient time for me. I prefer exercising later in the day, and ideally late at night. Now, my ride started later, but my husband rode the 63 mile ride that I wanted to do before I broke my wrist. He woke up at 4 am for his ride. Umm, no thanks.
3. There's never a convenient time for your pancreas to stop working.
I can give my daughter insulin, but it will only work when it wants to. When my she eats pizza, we still have not found the exact time when the insulin and the carbs will intersect. That's not convenient.
It's also not convenient for her blood sugar to drop during school, so she misses class to go to the nurse. It's not convenient when her blood sugar goes high in the middle of the night and she is up sick in the bathroom.
4. I Have to Ask People for Money.
I HAAAATE asking people for anything, especially money. Fundraisers, even for a good cause, bring out the fear in me. I can't even bring myself to ask people to buy the books I've written - and that's my job! I'm a lousy marketer. This time around, for the first time ever, I didn't have as much trouble asking people to save my daughter.
4. I also hate PAYING money for things I shouldn't have to.
Like, bank fees, parking tickets, and medication to replace a hormone your body should already be producing. Recently, I picked up my inhaler from the pharmacy to find it was covered by insurance 100%. I told the pharmacist, "Hey, nice that I get to breathe for free!" She answered, "Well, I don't pay for air. Why should you?" Now, some of my daughter's medications and supplies are covered by insurance, but not all. What is not covered adds up. And heaven forbid we make a mistake (or the pump makes a mistake) and we need to pay for the insulin before the time the insurance company has allotted for us. It's really enough to make me want to suction insulin out of my own body to give to her. If only…
I am always telling my children that life is not a competition. Fair is not always equal, and all those clichés. But in this case, we can call a winner, and it's not me. So, I will ride as many bike rides as it takes until they find a cure for my daughter and others who suffer with diabetes. Thank you to all of those who make it possible by raising support money and arranging for it get to the right hands. May it only be a few more until we ride for something else.
Passion Under Grace,