My Midlife Holiday Expectations and Reality

Holiday Definition:

1. An extended period of leisure and recreation, especially one spent away from home or in travelling – “I spent my summer holidays on a farm.

2. A day of festivity or recreation when no work is done -“25 December is an official public holiday”

3. Spend a holiday in a specified place – “he is holidaying in Italy”

    My definition:
    I was on holiday at the beginning of July, and leading up to and during the holiday, had the expectations of:

    • I will feel relaxed and well rested
    • Be raring to get back to work, recharged and full of creative, inspired
    • Have new plans and ideas ready to action
    • Spending time getting to know myself more, using the time to think and dream ahead..
    • For once not get prickly heat…

    Why did I have expectations about my holiday and feel the need to accomplish all of the above? Looking at the Oxford Dictionary definition of “Holiday” there is no mention of my list, so where did my expectations come from?

    The need for a break, change of scene and routine was needed, and was a welcome event to look forward to, as well as to be somewhere else other than home and the regular routine, very appealing.
    With the lead up and getting everything ready before the holiday – you know the list, house, pets, parents / kids (depending on which stages either are at) getting work up to date, social medial post scheduled (because a few days of not posting will mean everyone will forget you and your business!) and then you arrive at your destination – did you take into account the travel, the whole process from start to arrival?

    Then to expect to instantly relax, tune into myself, go out and about carefree enjoying my new surroundings, be brimming with new ideas, content, plans and a sense of accomplishment, actually seems rather unrealistic now.
    Why did I think it would be this simple?
    Are we lead to believe that it is, or is it our/my own expectation that it can be and or will be?

    Where was the time to process all I was leaving (I know it’s only for a week) all that has happened in the last few months, that maybe I haven’t fully processed yet, which needs an outlet to be released? There wasn’t!

    Now this holiday was just myself and husband, no children or parents to consider or entertain so I had time to just be. Looking back there were plenty of moments just being, dropping down a gear and enjoying “leisure and recreation”, opening up windows to process and acknowledge all the pre holiday stuff.

    In my reality a week away will not magically make everything in my “expectations” list above happen, but It does offer the chance to take on board what you need and how you want to meet that/those needs and at the back of my mind, ok in all honesty at the front of it more often than not, were my ongoing stresses and worries – they just didn’t fully switch off!

    I was grateful to have a break from my dads random phone calls throughout the night, his dementia contributing to this, it took me about 3 days to stand down from high alert, every time I heard a phone ring, but then the guilt of not hearing from him or me making more contact… you can’t win can you!

    The change of scene was stunning, the change of routine welcome and the time to realise and process that I may need to factor more strategies in to my usual day to day life to feel rested, relaxed, creative and getting to know myself needs implementing – or focusing more on what I already do – my daily morning walk first thing by myself a non negotiable, are things to be added to my life. Expecting everything to fall into place in 7 days was a little optimistic, but incorporating more practices on a daily basis will have an impact over the long term, which can then help the next time I am on holiday..

    I started writing this on our last day, on a sun lounger at the beach. My husband asked what I’m doing and after explaining what I was trying to convey in this blog, said well that’s jolly isn’t it.
    (He is always advocating, to stop, relax and “you are on holiday you know”)

    It is and it isn’t, I feel it’s just being honest and realistic from a midlife women’s perspective, who when she is not on holiday is running her own business, is still a parent with worries about her adult sons and her father – although very well cared for and safe in the nursing home, needs me for a lot of things, and the thought of a whole week without any thoughts of work, kids, parents, to do lists and plans for the future etc is rather unrealistic.

    Allowing myself time to focus on these things for a set time each day, helped – especially for work. I was able to enjoy the moments in between – the leisure and recreation and some rest.

    I was looking out at the sea when typing this initially, it was beautiful and I took moments to be totally present, absorbing it all so that when back to usual I can recall these images and bring myself back to this time, remember the warmth, sound of the sea and the cicadas and use it as a pause, to focus on that moment (not the prickly heat though!) when I need to take a break.

    Midlife is a constant work in process and this holiday has shown me that I certainly am to!
    I want to implement more non-negotiable “pauses” and “mindful moments” to check in with myself, mind, body and soul. Maybe more holidays too?!
    Check my boundaries personally and work wise, find ways to step down from high alert (my vagus nerve needs some tlc) and focus on what I can control.

    I would love to know your thoughts, have you felt the same? How do you manage these sorts of expectations?

    Caroline x