Finding Happiness On A Real Summer Vacation

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Lisa is a freelance writer, consultant and life coach. She has her BA in English and Creative Writing from Princeton and her MPA from Harvard. Lisa recently finished the first draft of her book manuscript, Burning Down the House. Her dream is to publish this first book and teach the world how to discover their hidden joy. Her post day is Tuesday.
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Who doesn’t remember the essays that our teachers made us write in grade school, every September, after returning to school following summer vacation? “What did you do over your summer vacation?” was always the big question.

I worry that most adults lose this concept of a fun “summer vacation” once “real life” kicks in which for most means a 9-to-5 job and plenty of bills to pay. Most Americans work so hard to pay for their toys – homes and cars and iPhones and flat-screen TVs.

Who has time to take a “real” summer vacation when you are working overtime to pay for the rest of your lifestyle? I was curious about what percentage of American workers actually still do this.

Right now, I am finding happiness in a real summer vacation! And loving every minute of it.

Most People Opting Out of Vacation?

An article in the UK Guardian last year quoted research stating that only 15% of Americans were planning to take a “real” summer vacation.

A survey of 1,005 Americans revealed that 33% of them couldn’t afford it. Another 30% were just too busy to take one, while 22% just planned to take just a short vacation over a summer weekend.

This makes me sad, and makes me feel especially fortunate that 1) I am self-employed and that I can be flexible with my time; 2) that my family owns a beach house on the Jersey shore where we gather once or twice a year for big family gatherings and 3) that I am treating myself this year to what even for me is something rare these days: A REAL vacation in which I am not working every day on my own projects even while on “vacation.”

Being Self-Employed Is Awesome and Means Working Random Hours!

I love being self-employed, so you won’t hear any complaints from me about this lifestyle. It has allowed me to travel domestically and internationally over the past two decades, and to have adventures with family and friends.

I wouldn’t trade it for anything! That said, being self-employed also often means that you work odd, long hours, including evenings and weekends, because you are the only one who can keep your business running, and keep generating income.

There is no “boss” to “make it rain” – except you! If you don’t do the work and market your programs and fill them – then you may not generate the revenue you need to support your lifestyle!

It is both liberating and a big responsibility to be the one in charge of generating all of your own income. I love it personally and am very self-motivated. I have done this for so many years that I’m used to setting deadlines for myself and meeting them, and used to creating new programs and generating new streams of revenue.

But this summer, I decided that I will take a “real” vacation because even the hardest work self-employed entrepreneurs need a break sometimes.

This week is an actual “real” vacation week in which I am not completing any reports, starting any new projects, or saving the world. Of course, I am writing this blog post about taking a “real” vacation but this is the one exception.


What Am I Doing On This Real Summer Vacation?

I am blessed to be part of a family that owns a beautiful three-story beach house in southern New Jersey. The beach house is a short walk from the ocean and only one block from the bay.

Tonight, we had cocktails and dinner at Lamberti’s, a restaurant that is located right on Sunset Bay. Earlier today, I swam in the ocean with my niece and nephew, who were boogey-boarding with their dad.

This morning, I watched my nephew at soccer camp. Last night, I caught an outdoor light show on the boardwalk in Atlantic City with techno music accompanied by live pipe organ.


Because my family loves to eat, there has been tons of good food and the wine is flowing. I am eating mostly vegan and gluten-free these days but still have had indulgences – some Prosecco, which is a favorite; pear, walnut and almond salad with goat cheese, which is currently a “cheat” for me; frozen “Banana Whip” with hot fudge.

The best part of a “real” beach vacation is I wake up when I want, nap if I need to, wander down to the beach at whatever hour I want. For me, that generally means late afternoon since I am so pale and burn to a crisp if I visit the beach too early in the day.

I spend these lazy days on the shore enjoying the company of beloved family, relaxing and catching up on sleep after a hectic few weeks, and returning to one of my first love’s – the ocean.

I have always felt calmed, restored and renewed by the waves and ocean breezes. There are few things that make me feel more peaceful and put life back into proper perspective than returning to the ocean, which always seems infinite and powerful and soothing, and makes my “worldly” problems seems so small.

My Wish For You!

My wish for everyone reading this is that this summer, or if not maybe this fall, you get to take a “real vacation.”

To me that just means time away from your regular, everyday routine, preferably even away from home if you can swing it, where you can relax, kick up your feet and just enjoy yourself.

I’ve taken “real vacations” totally by myself, with romantic partners, and with family, and personally I have loved every single vacation I have ever taken. Our bodies and souls need a chance to recharge.

Americans especially are known to be so hard-driving and often over-worked, stressed out and sleep-deprived. Sometimes what you really need most is just some time on the beach, when nothing is scheduled, where no one can reach you, with all of you electronic devices unplugged or shut off.

May you have a “real vacation” in 2015! To your relaxation, health and happiness!