How I Spent My Summer Vacation (#830)

Many of you will know that this is my first piece of new writing over the past month or so. I’ve spent that time at home with family and friends and on the road in Oregon and Mexico. But what some of you might not know is that until seven years ago, the idea of taking four weeks off work would have struck terror into my heart.

In early 2005, I had a conversation with supercoach and author Michael Bungay-Stanier in which he casually shared the fact that he was about to take a month-long sabbatical from his business. As the longest holiday I had taken as a working adult had been one week and that had been under spousal duress, this struck me as an insane idea. (Even our honeymoon was only three days long because I was due to start rehearsals for a new play immediately after our wedding.)

I believe I actually asked him to let me know how it went “if you’re still alive and in business when you get back”.

But something about the idea got stuck in my head, and that summer I decided that as an experiment, I too would take an entire month off work. I didn’t coach, I didn’t write, and I didn’t go into the office to see how things were going. And I didn’t die. And despite my darkest imaginings, I was not only still in business when I got back, but business looked better than ever.

I’ve repeated the process every year since then, and I always come back with less stress, more inspiration, and a renewed sense of possibility. Part of where this comes from is by taking everything off my mind as best I can. Instead of trying to “use” my time off to catch up on a backlog of work or even to think more deeply about the business, I give myself both a vacation and a holiday. I vacate the role of “he who is in charge of keeping the world spinning”, and I experience the holiness of days spent in connection with and gratitude for my family and my life.

The other place this quiet inspiration comes from is what I put into my mind. While this included a host of James Patterson novels and the new Gabriel Allon thriller, it also included two books I wanted to mention in case your own holiday has not yet come to an end…

Dying to Be Me1. Dying To Be Me by Anita Moorjani

The managing director of Hay House UK went out of her way to recommend this book to me, and while anything subtitled “My journey from cancer to near death to true healing” is not my usual fare, I threw it into my suitcase in case I needed a break from murders and intrigue and things that go “boom” in the night.

To my delight, Ms. Moorjani has shared the story of her illness, near death experience, and the sudden and complete healing she experienced in its wake in simple prose and without undue superstition or sentimentality. What she experienced, and the implications that has for how we see the world, was both thought provoking and inspiring!

 

Spiral Up Yoga2. Spiral Up Yoga  by John E. Groberg

As we were pulling out of my driveway to go to the airport a couple of weeks ago, my son noticed a package by the side of the mailbox. Inside was a new book by one of my students along with a nice card thanking me for my contribution to his learning and vision.

I tend to receive a couple of unsolicited books each week, and while I am always honored to be thought of, I rarely have the time to actually read through them beyond a cursory glance when they first arrive. Fortunately for me, the timing of the arrival of John’s book meant it got tossed into my luggage instead of into the pile of “maybe someday” reads that lives by the side of my desk.

Have you ever met someone at a party or on holiday who seemed like a “nice person” and later you found out that they were a famous musician or scientist or politician or CEO?

That was my experience reading this book. For a couple of years now, I’ve experienced John as a quiet, kind, sincere student. In reading this book, I was introduced to a quiet, kind, and inspired teacher. Quite simply, I was blown away both by the simplicity of the Spiral Up Yoga concept – “5 minutes per day lifelong self-care foundation for body, mind and soul” – and the quality and depth of his writing.

While in all honesty I’m unlikely to start using colored glasses and gemstones to stimulate my chakras, reading the descriptions of how human beings get stuck and what it’s like to live with greater freedom and connection to spirit stimulated my imagination. My daily readings from this book were a highlight of this year’s hiatus!

And that’s how I spent my summer vacation…

I’m thrilled to be back, and look forward to sharing more thoughts and inspirations in the weeks and months to come!

With all my love,
Michael

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