For a month this summer, my family traded New York City for Hawaii.
Instead of waking up to cityscapes and the sounds of trucks rumbling down the street, we were greeted each morning by palm trees, cotton candy colored clouds, briny ocean breezes and quiet.
When we planned this trip, it seemed like a crazy idea. Could we really pull it off? Could we really spend a month in Hawaii? Could we afford it? Could we get away for that long?
Granted, my husband and I work for ourselves (I freelance and he owns his own consulting company) which means that we can do our work anywhere (mostly), and we could conceivably relocate for a month.
I loved the idea of a summer sabbatical. We needed a mental and physical break from the 24/7, go-go-go intensity of the city. We needed to rest and recharge and a change of scenery. And more than anything our kids needed space to run around and just be kids.
While I love raising my kids in an urban environment, they are city kids through and through. Their idea of green space is an astroturf field, a metal playground structure or a public park confined to a 15 block radius. They once thought that moss was green carpet growing on rocks. City kids.
Our summer sabbatical was filled with days spent outside. We tried to soak in as much time in nature as possible. We hiked, surfed, explored waterfalls, chased rainbows, discovered new underwater worlds while snorkeling, and searched for treasures on the beach. From morning to sundown. From the North Shore of Oahu to the South Shore, from the Windward to Leeward sides of the island. Of course, there were countless hours at the pool too.
At home, my kids complain about walking five blocks. In Hawaii, I watched as they built strength in their hiking legs.
I loved watching the confidence and curiosity start to stretch, a little bit more each time. I loved how their eyes grew big at the sight of prehistoric looking bugs, gigantic leaves and shrubs and colors beyond the black, white, and grey spectrum we see every day in the city.
I loved seeing the expression on their faces when they tried something new, especially if it was something they weren’t sure if they wanted or would be able to do. I loved watching them grow braver out in the water and on the surfboard, seeking out a slightly bigger wave, a faster and steeper drop.
Spending all those hours outside meant, for once, actually closing the computer and disconnecting from work. A real vacation for once.
And that meant, reconnecting with my family.
While we may not be able to pull off a summer sabbatical every summer, especially as my kids get older, I’m grateful we were able to do it this year. It reminded me to stop, breathe and make memories with my family.