Thursday, January 20, 2011

How I Spent My Christmas Vacation (or What I've Learned In 30 Days)

I love vacation. I mean, who doesn't? But I love it because at the end of the year, I am 100% completely SPENT. For a typically calm, casual, laid back person that I am, at the end of the year, I become what I can only describe as a MONSTER. I am a wound up ball of stress, anxiety and usually, as a result of my monstrous transformation, I am sick. Without getting into the details of what leads to this transformation, mostly because it's all work related and boring to most people, I will tell you that this happens EVERY YEAR to me. Usually occurs right after Thanksgiving, which, by the way, is my favorite holiday and one that I enjoy and celebrate with all my might. Maybe I celebrate so hard because I'm anticipating the horror that's to come. I don't know. But, like clockwork, I'll wake up the Monday after Thanksgiving, usually at some god-awful early hour in a panic, sweating, and grinding my teeth. This is followed by a lovely visit by the flu fairy who sticks around so long, I have no choice but to bear down and go about my business as usual. And this usually means going into work with a temperature of 103, attending meetings where I get daggers thrown at me when I start coughing like I've got tuberculosis, and attempting to work out without passing out. Fun. The other pleasant part of this transformation is how plain old MEAN I get. I'm pretty sure I'm called "Grinch" behind my back by my employees, family, and friends. I so desperately want to relish in the holiday spirit, but I'm so sick, so stressed out and so unlike myself that I can't possibly be anything but AWFUL. Ugghh.

So, I LOVE vacation. Because I know that those few days off from the regular world will bring me back to sanity. I magically get well, I wake up to the horror that is me, and get to evaluate what went wrong that let me to the monster. ask, did I actually learn anything this time? And I will tell you that YES, this time, I think I actually figured it out. I think I might be able to change something about this vicious cycle once and for all. And good lord...maybe I'll actually ward off the monster next year!

Here's what I learned on vacation:

1. I don't actually NEED to get stressed out. Because truly, everything always works out. The things I'm worrying about have a way of working themselves out, regardless.

2. I get sick because I'm not taking care of myself. I'm consumed with things I'm not normally consumed with. The balance that I have most of the year shifts dramatically, and it's no wonder that my health is the first to suffer.

3. While we're on the subject of "balance" (yeah, it's one of my favorite subjects), I realized over vacation that there was a bit of a missing link to achieving that balance for me. Simply put...I was really missing my long runs in the mountains. This year, I was experimenting with a new training concept and adapting to the regimen of crossfit endurance and the idea that I could train for an endurance event without spending countless hours running. Instead, I was spending more and more time with metabolic conditioning and anaerobic, interval training in less than half the time I'd typically spend on the trails. Now, don't get me wrong...I LOVE crossfit and what it's taught me. I will always find a way to incorporate it in my training because I feel it's imperative. But, my long, long hours on the trails is also my mental health. It's my think time, it's when I work out most of the stuff in my head, or the problems I may face. Without it, I'm "off". That explains a lot, at least, this year.

4. I am an adrenaline junkie. Simply put, I NEED something adventurous and risky in my life at ALL times. During my monster phase, I fall prey to the mundane routine of work, work, work and all work. During the rest of the year, I've always got some adventure in my plans, so my focus is balanced (there's that word again) between work and play. So, I decided to reinstate the adrenaline and adventure back into my world with a trip to Historic Banning Mills, site of half-mile long Screaming Eagle Zip Line crossing over Snake Creek Gorge in Whitesburg, GA. Nestled in the beautiful mountains and trees near Atlanta, GA, Historic Banning Mills boasts many other adventures: Team Building courses, GPS Treks, and Kayaking. But their claim to fame is hosting one of the longest,highest, and fastest zip line canopy tours in the world! I was instantly sold. My tour involved climbing up wobbly, narrow wooden bridges up into the trees over 300 feet above ground, standing on a tiny wooden platform built around the tree, hooking myself to a line from there and zip lining from tree to tree or tree to bridge and so forth. I can't even begin to explain how awesome of a rush this was. The video doesn't even do it justice. All I can say is, about halfway into the tour, I asked the guide, this twenty-something, outdoorsy, laid back, super-cool guy with a winter beard who actually builds the zip lines, how I could get trained to lead zip line tours and do it full time! And a couple zips later (I still haven't mastered all the "lingo" yet) I was considering throwing a few "tricks" while mid flight (which, by the way, I wasn't allowed to do) Still.... AWESOME! And after only four hours of this much-needed adrenaline rush, I realized...I'm BACK!!!!!