Detox, perspective change, and recharge

I'm currently in the middle of enjoying a week-long vacation in a rented beach house on the Oregon coast. I'm sitting at the dining room table, looking out the giant picture windows and sliding door, and there's nothing between the house and the water but sand (and some sea grass and some GIANT rose hips).

 We're in the middle of a strip of houses between highway 101 and the water, but despite the close proximity of potential neighbors, it's been very quiet here. The houses on either side of us are unoccupied and the beach is sparsely populated.*

Yesterday evening we watched the sun drop below the waterline like a molten ball of gold. Last night the spouse and I walked out to the water at low tide, and saw the Milky Way arching overhead. We saw shooting stars. We've soaked in the backyard hot tub and the jetted soaking tub in the master bath (both designed for maximum ocean views).

List night was the witch's moon and I used the opportunity to call on Hekate and do a little work.

The house was an indulgence, but one that I rightly guessed we were in desperate need of. Of all the things that money can buy you, the only ones of real value are space, peace, privacy, and security (note, these things don't have to cost money, it's just something that can be worth spending money on). In fact, being right by the highway means a certain amount of traffic noise, but we couldn't afford a beachfront home with hot tub in a quieter area. That's the economics of leisure right there.

* The beaches of Oregon are never very crowded. In part because it's hardly tropical. The ocean is never warm, even in high summer, and the weather can be rough all year round. But it's also because the entire Oregon coast is public land belonging to the state, up to 16 vertical feet above the low tide line. You can have a house on the beach, a certain distance above the high tide line, but the ocean behind your house is public and you can't block beach access, regardless of your property ownership. There are rules about beach behavior of course, primarily to protect the shared environment, but access is open. This means that none of the beaches are hugely crowded. It's the opposite of the Tyranny of the Commons and the legislation almost died in the 1966 legislature, strongly opposed by republicans.

There are three things I am looking to get out of this week:

I've been running flat out since June. In fact, I don't think we've ever had a summer this busy. My work has increased in both intensity and travel. The spouse has been left to take care of everything at home while pushing to increase his strength (he's in the midst of a long recovery from a serious injury as I may have mentioned). The only vacation thus far was a trip for the kid and I home to visit relatives (not the most relaxing trip but a necessary one). The kid's been running flat out too. Having fun, but the kind of fun where you eat too much crap, drink too much coffee, get too little sleep, and are too plugged in.

The first two days I was here, the spouse kept asking whether I was OK. As the stress drained away, it literally left me feeling flat affect and empty. Like I wasn't sure what to feel if I wasn't feeling rushed and pressured.

The good news is that what I'm feeling now is love and joy. There's been a lot of laughter in the house. The whole family needed a detox and there's nothing like the ocean to help with that process. Interestingly I've had several really stressful dreams while here (work stuff, not like earthquake/tsunami dreams) and I think of those as side-effects of the stress leaving my body. Waking up and realizing that it's not real and not something I have to worry about in real life is wonderful.

Perspective Change
One of the best things about staying in a house (rather than in a hotel) is that it feels more like you are living there rather than just visiting. You can do all the same things you do at home (cook, do laundry, hang out, blog) but everything is at the same time completely different.

It gives you perspective change and that's a very valuable thing.

Until recently, we were pretty avid car campers. We'd go out to campsites frequently throughout the summer for long weekends or up to a week. Inevitably, once we get unpacked and setup, I'd find myself thinking "let's live here!" Of course, five days later (when even the soap is dirty) I'm like "OK, time to go home again." I loved it because it gave me both an appreciation of nature and an appreciation of civilization -- all in the same week.

I've been needing to step back from my life in order to evaluate a few things that I'm doing. But I find that I'm approaching this process in a more mature way than I would have even a decade ago. Instead of thinking "let's live here" (though if you have a spare beach house that you'd like to give me, I won't say no) I'm thinking "what are our priorities?" "how do I need to embrace my new role at work?" "what are my goals for the dark months and the coming year?"

And yes, I've been using the tools of project planning in order to set some goals and identify some first steps.

I have a whole post planned on this topic, but to just touch on the theme lightly... you have to fully recharge your batteries in order to get best use out of them.

Your energy* level is one part muscle and one part lithium-ion (I'd like my metaphors shaken and not stirred, thank you). Like a muscle you have to work with energy in order to strengthen your ability to manage and harness it (increasing capacity). But like a battery, you have got to recharge all the way or you not only get depleted but can also damage your charge capacity.

* Energy here isn't some nebulous "magical force" that people argue about. It's literal... the amount of mental, physical, emotional, and magical energy you can exert to get stuff done.

I've been needing a recharge. I feel like my efforts for the past few month have been like short charges that don't get me back to 100%... and that's not good for battery life. The best way to recharge a battery, or a person, it to give the device a complete rest and charge it all the way.

Home Away from Home
I have to admit, we are pretty domestic people. We enjoy our home life, cooking together, art/craft/music hobbies, hanging out. We've had many a fruitful stay-cation in the past where we just spend a week together at home, taking mini-day trips and having adventures.

But while we weren't up to a big trip, we knew we needed to get away. The risk with staying at home is that you decide that this free week would be a really good time to organize the garage, or clean up the yard, or catch up on 1000 tiny chores you've been putting off. Useful, but not restful!

So that's where I'm at, both figuratively and literally. Today is my favorite kind of weather -- fog -- the girls are asleep, the spouse and I are hanging out in our jammies. It's good to be home away from home.


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