Normal is the new special.

It’s almost to the point where I feel guilty.

“Have a great time in Italy!” they squeal at me. As if I’m going on a cruise ship where confetti is tossed from the balconies upon boarding. “I’m so excited for you!!!”

I repeat unaffected, “It’s not a vacation.”

They look at me, confused. I let the silence extend itself to underscore my reply.

I put some thought to this. Why it bugs me to be misunderstood.

It’s a sore spot because I don’t intend my travels to be anything special. It is my regular, not my someday come true. Is it my lifestyle not my annual vacation. It is what I wish were more often the norm–for many others who say, “I’m so jealous.” It is possibility made possible. And this shouldn’t be so rare.

Wish me a good trip like you wish me a good day at work. Like you wish me a good run. Off the cuff, cavalier…as if just another day of countless many.

Because that’s the way it should be. Nothing special. Just another day in the life I choose to make mine.

The Dessert-first Life

I’m working with a new client in online education and learned this new term called flipped classroom–one that’s more engaged and more active in learning where the students own the experience, not necessarily the teacher.

I started to think, what about the flipped life as a whole? The 40-hour work week devoted to things we love, not have to do to get by. So it’s neither live to work nor work to live… it’s play for work. What if turning our lives around is literally about flipping the system? Dessert first…

This is my quest and I’m learning, it’s possible. I’m spending the next month in Italy–mostly in small towns and near lakes and mountains. I’m working 20 to 30 hours a week while I’m there but writing from la terrasse under the Tuscan sun. Fortunately, I have a client where working remotely is doable. I know this isn’t the case for other lines of work. But still, if I weren’t a writer, why wouldn’t I change my career path to fit how I want to fill my days? Why wouldn’t you? This. Is. Your. Life.

Why do we put off the things we want to do on the weekend to motivate ourselves to get through the week? What is the logic in trudging through five days to get to a two-day break, one of which is half spent preparing to re-trudge? What is this fence we put up around Saturdays and Sundays–premium time that we have to work our way up to week after week? It’s crazy. If you really analyze the norm–the norm does not set us up for happiness, for health nor for success. Who wants to trudge their way through life for small spurts of relaxation and joy?

Maybe some of us need that juxtaposition of boring and blah blah blah to fully appreciate the high points. I get the concept of ying and yang but even ying and yang is a balanced split and five out of seven days (workweek vs. weekend) is definitely weighted the wrong way.

I’m drawing the line for myself. And I’m rebalancing the scales.

I like the idea of turning things physically around. Playing all day and working at night to match my client time zone. Living in rural places but staying connected to a digital megalopolis. I’m changing my trajectory for now. Or maybe forever, who knows.

Some day I might love to trade the flight to the mountains for a front porch facing a mountain view, a short walk to the ocean or a lake and nowhere to go but the front yard. Hmm. There is an irony in traveling so far away to get closer to the idea of what I’d some day call home.

That’s what discovery is all about–to continue to venture out until you find what pulls you in. The more you seek, the more you see what fits you. And that experience alone is the sweet life.

Who’s with me?

 

 

 

 

Day 25: Lucky me time.

When I tell people about what I’ve been up to in my 30 days of me time, I get things like, “Wow, aren’t you lucky.” If this all happened by chance, my luck is remarkably predictable as this is my third career break in ten years. I went to Paris in 2005, to Argentina in 2010 and, now, the faraway and most exotic Wesport, Massachusetts. (Apparently my luck arrives on a renewable five year plan.)

lucky pennyAm I lucky? To step outside of your world where the only consequence is positive is lucky, I suppose. It’s easy to judge as some selfish luxury, but really, there’s a lot of practicality to sabbaticals. And to some folks, breaks are the things that move them forward.

Stefan Sagmeister, a world renowned designer, gives a great TED talk on the Power of Time Off. It’s about how he rejuvenates by taking year-long sabbaticals every seven years. His rationale? Here’s an excerpt from his talk:

Right now we spend about the first 25 years of our lives learning, then there is another 40 years that’s really reserved for working. And then tacked on at the end of it are about 15 years for retirement. And I thought it might be helpful to basically cut off five of those retirement years and intersperse them in between those working years. (Applause) That’s clearly enjoyable for myself. But probably even more important is that the work that comes out of these years flows back into the company and into society at large, rather than just benefiting a grandchild or two.

Sagmeister goes on to talk about how time off re-ignites his work. He owns a wildly successful New York design firm with clients like the Rolling Stones, HBO and the Guggenheim. So it’s easy to see how someone with his clout can shut down for a year and pick right back up again. What about the rest of us?

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