A vacation state of mind

I envisioned one or two long luxurious and/or adventure packed weeks of vacation for this summer. 

Since I’m no longer to busy with the storefront Fairy Godmother, and my online store can be run virtually (figuratively and literally) from anywhere, I planned to go to South Dakota, spending a week mining for rose quartz and enjoying the Black Hills with my high school daughter and her best friend, then later in the summer heading up to Cross Lake with the whole family to play cards and splash-paddleball and luxuriate with a book in a lawn chair firmly planted out in the sandy edge of the lake with lapping waves splashing my feet.

But conflicting work schedules, tight family finances with an unexpected $3,000 transmission repair bill for our minivan, and a handful of other good reasons derailed my summer’s idyllic vacation plans, so I decided I was still going to experience “summer vacation” but in a modified form. 

Frankly, I normally would have adopted a “poor me” attitude and lamented, with both internal dialogue and external whining, that I didn’t get a summer vacation this year while keeping a stiff upper lip when people recounted their really fun family reunions or trips to Spain or the Cape.

But instead I opted to make myself schedule, and take, mini-vacations all summer. Some have been as short as a few hours long and the longest has been two and a half days long chasing fireflies in Iowa. 

I treated them, and prepared for them, much like I would a big vacation — for one, I packed enough picnic food for “32 people,” as my daughter said, when there were only three of us on the tubing river ride. I’m kind of famous for over packing.

I am always harping that we may not always have a choice about the circumstances in our lives (although I believe we do have a great deal of influence on events), we do always have a choice about how we experience them. 

I believe our habitual, immediate/automatic response is not always the one that best serves us once the initial primal, emotional/brain response passes. Knowing myself as I do, I know that in days gone by, I would have taken my mini-vacations with a chip on my shoulder and would have hung back from embracing the full vacation spirit of my shorter adventures because they weren’t the “real” vacations I had planned.

Because they have been more brief, it does take a bit more effort to get in a vacation state of mind quickly and resentlessly. But I’ve had a blast.

My youngest daughter, the high schooler who’s still living at home, and I did the Iowa road trip, which we named (and filmed) “Chasing Fireflies Across Iowa.” We did actually pull over and chase fireflies on a dirt road, along with eating lots of crispy hash browns at small diners, hitting three factory mall outlets, and visiting the land of my grandma’s family farm. 

There was a perfect afternoon trip to Welch, Minn. to inner tube down the river; a quick Monday–Tuesday overnight to visit a friend at her cabin with the two of us, women-of-a-certain-age, jumping naked into the lake after everyone had gone to bed. And the shortest vacations have been spending time with my husband enjoying a lovely fire in the fire pit that he and my daughter built (!) in our backyard last month. And yes, we roast marshmallows almost every time.

So, instead of “I didn’t do anything this summer,” my summer has been a hodgepodge collection of fun and I’m proud that I opted for doing Plan B with a good attitude. Last summer vacation — the State Fair!

Terre Thomas is a self-proclaimed fairy godmother. She closed her Southwest gift shop in early 2010 but continues with her online gift shop, FairyGodmotherOnline.com. She and her family live in the Lyndale neighborhood. She can be reached at YFGodmother@aol.com.