Lazy summer days

By James Willoughby

I recently returned from a two week vacation to Florida. I am now sporting a nice tan and seven more pounds that I can’t even pretend is muscle weight gain. At least the tan helps hide the fat, or so I am telling myself.

My family vacations hard. Taking two weeks off isn’t for the faint of heart. Knowing that I will eventually return to work and face hundreds of unread emails is daunting. But I courageously submit my two-week time off request each year and venture to the beach.

I believe this is what they call a ‘first world problem.’

We spent the initial week of the vacation with my parents outside of Tampa and headed south to Siesta Key for the second leg. While at my parents’ house, we actually plan some outings. But our days at the beach share a common theme: lotion up, lounge, swim, eat and repeat.

It’s really no mystery, then, why I return from these trips with my weight a little heavier and my wallet a lot lighter. I exercise little restraint when I’m on vacation. I spend and eat with no regard to the impact of those actions. That is so contradictory to how I live my life the other 50 weeks of the year (okay 48 weeks of the year – let’s not forget about Christmas).

In my normal life, I’m very conscious of how we spend our money. I know the impact of going over budget and work hard to keep our spending in line. And I do the same with eating for the most part. I know that if I eat without restraint, there will be an immediate response by my body. So I exercise regularly and try to eat accordingly.

All that goes out the window when I’m on vacation though. I assume a vacation mentality where only my immediate desires matter. ‘Vacation-me’ tends to spend without regard to any budget, knowing ‘normal-me’ will sort it all out later. ‘Vacation-me’ creates a ripple in Florida’s ecosystem with the amount of seafood I consume in two weeks, and I figure ‘normal-me’ will somehow work the pounds off when we return to Ohio.

The vacation mentality is fun in the moment, but it can leave lasting negative impacts that can take months to recover from. Sadly my vacation mentality can sometimes extend beyond my two weeks off. I’ve allowed myself to have lazy, undisciplined summers before where I stopped exercising. I dropped my morning routine of rising early for prayer, meditation and reading. And I was lazy in my marriage.

I could immediately feel the impact of losing these practices in my life. Most noticeable were the effects in my marriage. We have a routine of dedicating every Tuesday night to distraction-free communication. We call it ‘No-Tech Tuesday.’ We power down the electronics and talk about what’s going on in our lives, sharing our inner-most anxieties and joys.

Developing this habit has been marriage-altering. Letting this habit slip for a summer also altered our marriage – for the worse. Have you, like me, found yourself taking an extended vacation in any area of your life? Maybe it’s time to get back to work in some area.

If that area is your marriage, maybe you need a ‘No-Tech Tuesday’ of your own.

By James Willoughby

James is a regular contributor who writes about marriage, family, and faith. He lives in Tipp City, Ohio.

James is a regular contributor who writes about marriage, family, and faith. He lives in Tipp City, Ohio.