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Karen from Chookooloonks

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Karen Walrond is a (nonpracticing) attorney, writer, photographer, and creator of the award-winning site Chookooloonks. Karen is also the author of The Beauty of Different, a book that will convince you that the thing that makes you different might just be your superpower. She's also the creator of Lime Retreats, a retreat for that helps attorneys discover their superpowers, and use their forces for good, and not evil. She loves dark chocolate, a good rum, and she's wildly convinced you're uncommonly beautiful.

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what do you hope summer looks like? setting holiday intentions

By Karen from Chookooloonks |

I grew up on a small, oil-rich island in the Caribbean, the daughter of a serious PhD petroleum engineer.  When I was young, my father used to spend every other week on one of the offshore oil rigs that could be seen from our back door; as I got older, his travels took him elsewhere around the world. Even when he was in town, he worked late hours, usually leaving before my sister and I were awake, and arriving well after we had gone to bed.  The man was a workaholic.

I am nothing like him.  (I am totally lying.)

One thing I do know about my dad, however, is that he was adamant that every year we have a family vacation.  Sometimes the four of us went somewhere exotic, like the United States; other times we stayed closer to home, like a trip to a different coast of Trinidad.  In every case, however, we were away for a minimum of a week, and my father flat refused to work during his time off:  no one was allowed to contact him from his office, he didn’t make any calls, he didn’t try to sneak in some work time.  He stopped shaving, and wouldn’t go near a tie.  He was 100% dad that entire time.  And it was during those holidays that some of my best family memories were born, ones for which I’m incredibly grateful.

In some ways, I think my dad had it easy:  these were the days before smart phones and email, laptops and Skype.  The truth is, even if he didn’t have the rules in place that no one from his office was to contact him, they’d have had to work hard to find him anyway. All the technology that we have today is great, because we’re always connected; the downside of course, is that we’re always connected.  It becomes really, really tough to fully unplug; worse still if you’re self-employed.  Vacations turn into Working Vacations.  Quiet strolls turn into Let-Me-Just-Take-This-One-Calls.  And it’s easy to return from your vacation feeling like you need a vacation to recover from your vacation.

Well, this year, honey, I’m changing all that.

My daughter Alex is finishing her school year in less than two weeks, and we’re planning a couple of family trips over the next few months.  Normally on these trips, I do a ton of work — the deadlines don’t go away, and since I am self-employed, I sometimes end up staying in and working while my family sightsees or otherwise enjoys the day.  (Actually, now that I think about it, I did this even when I wasn’t self-employed, but working for a corporation.  Oops.)  But this summer, by gum, I’m going to take a page from my dad’s book:  I’m going to work like the dickens beforehand, so that once we leave home, I don’t have any deadlines looming over me.  I will let people know they can’t contact me, and I’ll set my email autoreply to indicate that I am completely unavailable.   While I’ll likely process a few photos while I’m away (because I love processing photos at the end of exciting days, I find it restful), I won’t be doing them during the day, or anytime that my husband, daughter and I are supposed to be spending time together.

I’m going to work extra hard to make these summer days feel like holidays Alex will remember fondly as family bonding time, and feel grateful for. This is my goal.

How about you guys?  Have you set any intentions for yourselves for the summer holidays once the kids are out of school? Is this something you do every year, or do you just go with the flow?



Read more from Karen Walrond on Bliss Your Heart and  Chookooloonks
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About Karen from Chookooloonks


Karen from Chookooloonks

Karen Walrond is a (nonpracticing) attorney, writer, photographer, and creator of the award-winning site Chookooloonks. Karen is also the author of The Beauty of Different, a book that will convince you that the thing that makes you different might just be your superpower.

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7 thoughts on “what do you hope summer looks like? setting holiday intentions

  1. Megan Jordan says:

    In fact, I wrote about this earlier today on Threadbare Theory here at Babble Voices. ;) I am having a lot of trouble reconciling my fierce desire to throw myself into summer vacation with the kids and the unceasing deadlines that aren’t interested in my fierce desires.

    Most of my struggle is with the day-to-day summer balance of work and play, but I am absolutely with you when it comes to actual family trips: email auto-reply is on, phone is disconnected from the Internet, and I am all in. Nothing but eye contact with the kids and deep breaths of their sandy hair.

    Work hard. Play hard.

  2. Karen from Chookooloonks says:

    Ha! Great minds, Megan! Although, you’re better than I: I’m not sure I could make every day a memory for my daughter in the summer — we’d end up killing each other. She’ll be at day camp most days, having fun with her friends, and I’ll be getting my work done. :)


  3. Jen says:

    I am so fortunate with my job as a school counselor-our kids here are done in two weeks, and my extended time runs not long into June. This lets me spend a large chunk of the summer months at home with my son (and husband when he is home from work). We snuggle in bed like lazy bones, we have late breakfasts, we go for nature walks, we sit on the screen porch reading books, we swing in the back yard, we catch fireflies, we eat popcicles and let them melt down our arms. It is blissful to have a lack of agenda. Now don’t get me wrong-I still check my work email throughout the summer. I check my students’ transcripts once they have final grades on them for accuracy. I work on making sure schedules are ready for fall pick-up in August. Just at my own pace! When we hit the beach for our annual family vacation, the twitter account is logged out of, facebook is shut down, email goes away, I don’t even check blogs. We have rented a house without cable TV this year even! All we plan to do is sun ourselves, swim, cook, go on walks, and at night sit on the porch overlooking the salt marsh and drink your rum punch:) Bring on the summer!

  4. kristen from motherload says:

    Love this. I spent the entire month of July with my daughters (and hubbie for part of the time!) at my parents house in RI. We go to the beach every day and on the way home stop at a produce stand and but tomatoes and corn for dinner and eat outside on the patio. It’s total heaven for me–and I’ve learned from their talk through the years for my girls as well. For me I’m setting an every-day intention of not using my cell phone when I’m in the car with my kids. Car time seems like such a good time to connect and talk, and I don’t want to get distracted by that. Even if it’s always seems to be when my kids ask the hard questions about sex and stuff!

  5. NAT says:

    Oh, glorious summer/family vacations! Bring `em on…unplugged!!! I love that idea!!!

  6. JenRene says:

    Karen, yes! I plan to spend some time set aside for myself – with a silent retreat to rejuvenate MYSELF for family – its my first on memorial Day weekend… and i have a friend who goes yearly, so i decided to join her this year. I will also be embracing my parents when they come to visit Oklahoma for the first time, and my hubby and i are going to visit our son in college as he prepares for a new year living in a new state.
    My dad also when I was a little girl gave us the pleasant memories of family trips once a year to Georgia.. of course those times with family and cousins are cemented in my mind, as well. Wonderful tradition to set aside and wonderful legacy to continue… God bless and enjoy your summer.

  7. Leah says:

    We have no kids, but my husband and I are both teachers. I’m teaching a new course next year that I’ll be planning this summer. I’m hoping to just put in maybe 10 hours a week of working on it. But during our Hawai’i vacation (our honeymoon, and the first trip there for both of us), we plan to unplug completely from work. We won’t bring laptops, and we’ll just use my iphone for finding yummy restaurants.

    And, of course, during the rest of the summer, we have recreation goals too. Just to remind us to get out of the house and enjoy ourselves. He wants to bike a century, and I don’t want him to go alone, so I guess I will train to do so too. And my main goal is to find lots of time to kayak on our local lakes.

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