Holiday Breaks Are Hard Work

Hello from my most relaxed and vacationed self. 2015 is here and much like opening a brand new notebook, it feels as if the possibilities are endless. 2014 was exciting and completely exhausting all at once, and I made a point to reflect on the year’s successes and failures with a (real) holiday break. Minimal email. Minimal internet. No spinning of the wheels. Just thinking about big picture stuff. It was good. It was hard.

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Joe and I shared our resolutions by posting them to the fridge, signed and dated January 1st. I’m so proud of Joe for taking on big personal goals this year, and mine are less about achieving finite accolades, and more focused on changing my outlook to improve my mental and physical health (an ongoing project). A few resolutions from my list: Choose Happiness. Live in this moment. Love what you have.  Easier said than done, but the sentences themselves are good mantras. I’m hoping they snap my perspective back into place when I slide down the rabbit hole of comparison and shame. Again– it’s good. It’s not easy.

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Case in point: During an episode of the Sunday Scaries last night, I began to lament over the time I devoted to doing nothing. All those articles I had read about the imperativeness of being quick to reinventing yourself. Being an early adopter. Seeing shifts in communication and culture before the tide swings. The work I do (here and as a consultant) relies on this. Taking a break is lethal. And then, a big fat hive popped up in the center of my forehead.

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When I (or anyone one of our friends) begins doubting our path, Joe always asks, “What does success look like for you?” It’s a rhetorical question, and the answer is different depending on the topic. For me right now, in 2015, success is about having an impact on people. It’s about working more efficiently, not necessarily more. It’s about about facilitating a meaningful transaction between two people (and sometimes for work, people and brands) where values are exchanged, not just money, power or influence. It’s not about hustling someone for leverage or a job or a friendship. It’s about strengthening partnerships, and giving both parties what they need. It’s about getting the best result possible for the right amount of energy. If you’re doing it right, if you’re really smart about the way you work, you have more time to devote to the things that delight you. The things that you need to feel happy and balanced. Sometimes, this means doing a lot of nothing.

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Here’s what 2 weeks of nothing looks like for me:

  1. I slept. I slept for 10 hours some days. It was glorious. Absolutely glorious.
  2. I sat on the couch with Winnie on my lap and did nothing. I listened to her breath. I listened to my breathe.
  3. Did you hear Friends is on Netflix? Not to mention Black Mirror and An Honourable Woman? Have you seen Transparent? All great ways to spend the time you could be working.
  4. Speaking of Netflix, I watched Love Actually 2.75 times between Dec. 23rd and Dec. 27th.
  5. We finished moving into our house. And by finished, I mean we unpack the last two boxes and I reorganized the basement and ALL of the closets in the house. It took a solid 3 days, and now we know where 50% more of our stuff is.
  6. Three: the bags of M&Ms we ate. (2 peanut, 1 peanut butter)
  7. I ate my weight in cookies, too.
  8. I played cards. A lot of cards. Around 15 rounds of Pitch and 20 rounds of 500.
  9. I finally read Gone Girl. Then I watched the movie. Book > Movie
  10. We had our fireplace inspected, and then our house filled with smoke. I’m fine smelling like a campfire all winter because it is FREEZING up north right now! I did have a moment where I thought the house was going down in flames. The smoke detector is now in the living room…just to be safe.
  11. Joe and I visited family in San Antonio. The cold followed us down south (again) and it was a balmy 55 degrees the entire trip.
  12. We began decorating the guest room! Friends, we have a bed you can sleep in now.
  13.  We ate lobster and shrimp and steak on NYE. I made the cake of all cakes: Winning Hearts and Minds Cake from Orangetta. It delivered.
  14. Most excitingly, we celebrated the engagement of my sister-in-law to her girlfriend, Marit!

Now, it’s back to work. Back to scrambling and scheming and staying up late. It’s back to finding that perfect balance between perfecting your craft and being efficient with your time. And this year, we will make time to revel in the little delights in life because, without them, we’re just working towards the inevitable.

Images from W&D on Instagram

  • Allowing yourself to really relax is probably one of the most underrated achievements! I’ve also opted for mantras this year instead of traditional resolutions (I even made a blog post about it, inspired by Jennypurr). Your blog post reminded me how important it is to be present; it’s hard when you’re all caught up in thinking about potential blog posts and pausing to take pictures. -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

  • It’s nice to hear that people who seem to “do it all” like you also take breaks once in a while :). I took a good long 2 weeks off work completely this holiday and it felt amazing. I hadn’t realized how stressed out and averse to fun and less than happy I had been feeling leading up to it, until the first day with nothing to do I realized how light I felt. And how much more meaningful the conversations I had with friends and loved ones were now that I talked about things other than work (which was all I could even think about before). It made me realize the importance of breaks, and of letting life go a bit slower. Here’s hoping I can stick to it! Thanks for the lovely post as always :).

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Sara. It’s crazy how we do things that hinder our wellbeing without even realizing it. And sometimes, we believe those things are actually good for us! I fall into the category of talking about work too much. I try to remember that the person I’m talking to enjoys me for me, not because of what I do for a living. It’s easy to see the relationships that matter when you put on the lens. <3

  • Really great post – it was wonderful to get a little insight in to your personal goals as well as a peek into how you guys spent your vacation. Also “Now, it’s back to work. Back to scrambling and scheming and staying up late. It’s back to finding that perfect balance between perfecting your craft and being efficient with your time. And this year, we will make time to revel in the little delights in life because, without them, we’re just working towards the inevitable.” I could not agree with this more. I have not made up my list for this year yet (will be doing it soon though!) but I think it is very important to always find a balance whether it be between creating and being efficient or between working hard and taking a break.

    Rae of love from berlin

  • I’m curious why you decided to cover up the little stained glass window to the right of your fireplace? Maybe you addressed that in an earlier post and I missed it, but I remember it looking really cute in your “before” pictures of the house. Kind of one of those old-house things that seems special.

    • Hey Leanna! It’s only temporary. I’m looking for a new (old) piece of stained glass to replace it. The ship is charming but feels a little opulent for the space. My husband disagrees 😉

  • Breaking is hard, but damn it is soooooo necessary. I love your spirit Kate and I love Joe’s question. That’s the kind of question that sets you back into reality in all the best ways. Excited for this year! High five sista.

  • Reading your post has made me realize I’ve kinda wasted my break by doing too much and not sleeping enough…Definitely going to make up for lost time in my last few days! Oh-and your photos are gorgeous!

  • Thank you for this! I have been so inspired by everyone who took serious time off over the holidays. This was the first season that I worked most of the time. And now my goal for this year is to take at least 2 weeks off in December. It’s tricky, but worth it!

  • Looks like you really did have an amazing time off! It is nice just to take time to relax and just be, but you never really appreciate it until you are so busy in normal life to be happy of the break! Christmas is such a great time to spend with friends and family so it really is the perfect time to take a break! Your home looks beautiful! Good luck with your goals for 2015 ! Happy new year !

  • That is quite a feat, I can only imagine taking a break sometimes. I do try to take tiny breaks within the week…but I do long for more extensive stretches of time.

    Here’s to my doing better at taking “me” time in 2015.

  • Thank you for your clarity: clarity of thought and purpose. Good for you.
    I am constantly out of balance and it is unfortunate. Before I hit the halfway mark, my focus and time involved children and work. Since the children grew up, I have put more energy into work. That is a pit, much like the Money Pit – it will eat you alive.
    I enjoy your words and your outlook.
    Thank you!