Thursday, August 29, 2013

Every Day As Vacation

So my son, Kendryek, and I were in Washington, DC, over Spring Break to see the cherry blossoms and take in some museums. A friend and neighbor previously told me she planned to take her son to the Holocaust Museum to help with his history lesson. I thought that was a great idea, so I also took Kendryek to the Holocaust Museum. I've been in that museum plenty of times, having worked just 2 blocks away for 16 years. I always approached the museum and its exhibits intellectually with my friend and coworker, Mark Gielecki, whose father was a Holocaust survivor. Mark was always very upbeat and told me positive stories about his father's survival. Walking through the Holocaust museum turned into an honor to Mark's father, and it felt good to honor him.

14th Street Entrance of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.Credit: US Holocaust Memorial Museum
Once Kendryek and I got to the front door, we were greeted with a sign that said all exhibits were sold out for the day. All except, "Remember the Children: Daniel's Story," about an eleven year old boy's life before, during, and after the Holocaust. It's very well done, offering sounds, period-appropriate decor and clothes, and journal entries to heighten as many senses as possible for the viewer. Slowly walking through the first part of the exhibit, we heard children's laughter from the exhibit, parents' whispers explaining details to their children around us, exhibit knobs and buttons being pushed by viewers, gentle movement of those in front and behind us ...and then as we walked through a room resembling a cattle car, the mood became more solemn. We could hear a pin drop. The air felt stale. The exhibit was now in black and white instead of color, as it was previously. The gravity of the Holocaust, from a child's perspective, was felt.

I felt sad.

At the end of the exhibit, Kendryek and I walked into the gift shop, where Kendryek bought a Star of David necklace to wear in honor of children who had suffered. As he made his purchase, I walked into the atrium, with its high ceiling of glass panels, allowing sunlight to shine through. I looked up and had a moment of awakening. "I'm so tired of death and sadness," I thought. "So tired of grieving and depression and the energy it's taken and how my body feels." Kendryek walked over to me and stood beside me. And it was in that moment that I released a huge chunk of locked-up grief. I didn't cry; I just felt the grief energy disappear "Come on," I told Kendryek. "No more doom and gloom. From now on, we're having FUN!"

And we did! We saw an Imax movie at the Smithsonian, rode the paddle boats at the tidal basin, went to the beach and rented bikes and flew kites ... with a new lightness I hadn't experienced in a while.

On our way home from the beach, I reviewed all of the things Kendryek and I had done, and I asked him what was his favorite experience at the beach. You know what he said? "Flying a kite with you." He could feel my lightness and the symbolic activity of freedom!

And so every single morning since that Spring day, I ask myself, "How can today be like a vacation?" I make sure I have fun every day as if I'm on vacation. Many days, that looks like an epsom salt bath. Often, it looks like my silly dancing in the kitchen to my favorite music and drinking coconut milk from a margarita glass. I'll often hop in my convertible and drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway, blasting my favorite tunes. Sometimes I'll play with the cats or play a board game with Kendryek. Whatever way I can consciously put some fun into my day, I do it!

Having vacation moments throughout each day helps me feel refreshed, recharged, and hopeful and curious about life. And happy! My quest now is to make ALL of every day a vacation day!


  1. Good idea. Easier said than done though. Keep it up, then share your tips on how to do it!

    1. Thanks, Cathy. I will share tips on living each day as a vacation day soon!

  2. Love you, Girl! Sometimes we have to get to that dark place before we can lighten up... and you did it! Happy for you, and Kendryek! xo Debbie

    1. Thanks, Debbie! I still have some moments and days of grief, but don't get nearly as down. That April vacation was pivotal. Love you too!!!