I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to visit Greece in June. I went with my mom for a 10-day Greek Island Hopper adventure. When asked, I say, “It was the trip of a lifetime, and I can’t wait to go back.” In truth, I contemplated how I could stay there and work remotely. I loved the energy and the vibe of the people. Someone coined it “the good will of the people”. That describes it perfectly. They were people of good-will for sure. Besides the lovely locals, the views were spectacular. At every turn we would ooh and ahh at the crispness of the white buildings among the backdrop of the mountain or volcano upon which they were built. (We also oohed and ahhed at all the yachts in the harbors too!) Exploring the history of ancient ruins and realizing the ingenuity of people all those MANY years ago. It was amazing! Again, the trip of a lifetime.
Besides the highlights mentioned above; breathtaking scenery and the positive energy of the Greeks, it was also a gift to unplug, totally and completely for nearly 2 weeks. I can not remember the last time I’ve done that. Don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely unplugged for a few days here and there, but not for ten!?! There is something to be said for stepping away from work to that extent. To be honest, I definitely had pangs of guilt or curiosity about what I was missing back home and if I was “needed” or “neglecting” responsibilities therefore burdening others who were left to pick up the slack. But overall, I chose to enjoy the moments, relish in the freedom, and trust that everything was and would be just fine. And you know what, I came back refreshed (and infected with COVID) and everything was just fine. I was able to reacclimate and jump right back into the fray (albeit a bit slower no thanks to “the Vid”) but life cycles on, just like getting back on the bike.
Furthermore, we went with a tour group and subsequently made many new friends while we all experienced life in a different country together. There were a couple of families in our group, celebrating graduations. And then several pairs of ladies who were there with their sister or childhood best friend. We ended up becoming our own little clique the 8 of us, not to the exclusion of others. We would all mix and mingle but more often than not we found ourselves sitting together for meals. We enjoyed our new experiences together, learning, laughing, sight-seeing, eating, photographing, and shopping. In each city there were opportunities to spend our euros on souvenirs and other trinkets to commemorate our time there. What struck me as I observed my new compatriots milling around the little shops, was how eager they were to buy for others but hesitant to get anything for themselves. That is common, especially for women who are often socialized to put others above themselves. I know I’ve been (am) guilty of that too at times. I found myself encouraging several of my new friends to also treat themselves. They would say, “I love this ring, but I really shouldn’t get it.” Mind you these items were not very expensive. You could see the internal struggle taking place. In all honesty, I can also be frugal (which at times is a blessing) and I can see the point of debate “Well I got to take this trip so that’s my gift”. Which is a legitimate argument. However, if this purchase is going to bring you joy (and not harm) then why not?! Spend those euros! You (Euro) worth it! After much deliberation all of them got something special to bring home as a reminder of a place we left part of our hearts. And none of them regretted it and in fact were beaming to show off their purchases.
What does all of this vacation recapping have to do with self-care? Glad you asked. I share all of this to first encourage (nay, implore) you to visit Greece sometime in your lifetime. You must go! (I’ll go with you!) Secondly, to remind you the value of stepping away. Typically, educators get the summer months off (some more than others), but it is vital that you allow yourself to completely unplug. Give yourself permission to ignore those pangs to pull you back in. You owe it to yourself and those you work with to get refreshed. And then finally, spend the money! Be responsible but find something that makes you happy and get it. It’s ok to spoil yourself from time to time! Spending money doesn’t HAVE to be part of self-care but finding things that make you happy definitely does. You (Euro) are worth it!