I used to struggle to use all of my vacation days. I guess you could say I was addicted to work.
It wasn’t that my employer didn’t encourage me to take my time – they were very supportive of me using my vacation days to recharge. It was that I enjoyed what I did and was driven to do more. I think I got a lot of strokes at work. Having an incredible fiscal year or raising more money to help kids through the Y motivated me to do more.
I remember working all weekend long and sometimes multiple weekends in a row. It’s as if I thought things would fall apart if I wasn’t there. How could they survive without my input?
What I gained at work, I probably lost at home. Perhaps my overriding commitment to working harder put barriers between my children and me. The truth was the more time I spent at work, the less time I spent with them. And I know that I often put work before my marriage. I’d work late or bring my computer to the bedroom. Speaking from experience, that is not helpful in the romance department.
But over the years, I found myself spending less time in the office and more time with my family and friends. I’ve seen the view from my office window 20,000 times. I’ve only seen Old Faithful once. I spend about ten days a year on the beach, I’d like to spend more. Tonight I sat with some of my best friends in a backyard – just eating, laughing and talking. What a beautiful, beautiful view.
The year Lisa was diagnosed with cancer, our family went to Disney World, Yellowstone, Topsail Beach, Lake Gaston and spent a romantic weekend in New Bern. We sat on our screened in porch countless times and ate dinner with friends. In August when our last summer vacation was complete, I said, “This was the best summer of our lives.” That was two weeks before we found out she had stage 4 colon cancer.
It wasn’t the best summer because I’d spent more hours in the office or because I’d made more money. It was the best summer because we’d spent time together – and with our family and friends.
I work hard. I bring value to my job. I enjoy what I do and I want to leave a strong legacy at the Y. But more importantly, I want to make sure that when I die, whenever that may be, that the previous year has been the best of my life.