Right up until the last night before our latest summer holidays I kept running at full speed. Work mostly, kids, packing, getting my oldest son`s lip stitched up (!), admin, projects for the second half of the year, more work. Finally by 3am on July 19th I had all suitcases packed, a note from the doctor on how to remove stitches (!!) all emails answered and my out office on. Now I could think about myself for the following 2 hours. That was, until the 5am alarm went off to start our road trip across Italy. Thankfully I was not the one driving so once we hit the road, I was the one sound asleep for the first 2 hours.
Once holidays officially started on 20th July I made the conscious decision of logging off from everything that would not keep me 100% engaged with my life, my holiday, my family. With the exception of a few work emails, and slow visits to FB and whatsapp, I refused to look at any emails, any social media, any media at all in fact, except the news and the weather apps if really needed. And sadly have also had no time for this blog, which is however due to change soon, on this point, thank you to all those who visited also during these last few weeks of silence!
I have enjoyed 3.5 weeks of uninterrupted real life, of people and their stories, treasured life moments that have no space for the busy `standard` packed life schedule many like us lead these days.
One night during one of the many incredible dinners at our favourite resort in Sicily we were gifted with a short live concert. A gorgeous couple, guests of the resort like us and that we had seen and exchanged a few words with in previous years, sat behind their violin and harp and started playing one of the most enchanting melodies we had heard so far. I turned towards my husband and we both instantly thought the same. This is amazing. Who are they? The very next day at the same restaurant I shake hands with the harp player, telling her how she and her husband had had us almost in tears with the power of their music.
That`s when her little daughter came to ask something. She looked at me, I looked at her, what a common scenario, mums trying to exchange a few words interrupted by the softly urgent voices of their little ones, we smiled, and clicked. How did she do it all? How can you both combine musical careers at one of the most prestigious Opera Houses in the world and run a family and have time for yourself and your partner. She could not she said, just like I could not. She had decided to change, just as I had, only a few months prior, decided to shift priorities and re-calibrate efforts and engagement in my life.
More time for `being` and staying fully engaged should not happen only during the holidays. It should be a standard condition of our daily busy lives. Research clearly shows the benefits that a balanced life and time for oneself have on businesses, productivity, society and health. So why are we rushing and ending up exhausted constantly?
What is a “vacation” after all? Why do we feel the need to “vacate”, to “empty” for certain periods in order to regenerate ourselves and recharge batteries? Why would the ritual action of “being temporarily absent” from our own lives be desirable? On the verge of the 4th industrial revolution, where the borders of work and life merge constantly, it is perhaps time to ask ourselves how to make our own daily lives more desirable, less exhausting and finally fully engaged.