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staycation reading

My first-ever staycation just came to a close. A few friends of mine are seasoned with this notion of taking time off and staying at home. My travels are nearly always working vacations. One trip last year was the first time in 7+ years that I spent true time off. And I loved it.

I am exhausted from the traveling we have done this year. Although I shared in past posts about trips to Asheville, New York, Grand Teton, Yosemite, and other parts of Western North Carolina…time did not allow for posts on other trips to New York and the coast. Combine the time and energy requirements imposed by travel, my clients’ writing project deadlines, the demands of all our animal care, and my own personal pressure on creative writing projects–and I decided earlier this summer that I would take time off. Unplug. Stay.

Time off from my clients’ writing needs felt full of possibility. How much could I write with several days to myself? How great will my hammock be? How happy will the chickens, the cockatiels, and the dog be? I thought I could also finally resolve the things that are on my mind:


Are the animals getting enough attention?

Did I get to workout?

Will I get to read?

How will I make time for my creative writing?

What can I do today to make tomorrow’s work easier/less stressful?

Of course, then there are the pre-vacation stresses: Tying up loose ends with projects, making sure all important parties are aware of the vacation, getting up early and staying up late to get everything done on time. If you subscribe to my monthly newsletter you would have been aware I was trying something new with this vacation. I wanted to tell clients my vacation started two days before it actually did, and that I would return two days after I actually did. This was to help prevent the last-minute influx of to-dos that splattered on me before I left for Italy without my laptop last year. The day and night before leaving on our trip was so stressful then I decided I needed a better plan in the future. This year it seemed to work well. Once again, last-minute items hit me, but I had a small buffer zone. I dropped the two-day window and instead it turned into a one-day buffer. Will do this again in the future!


Cleared mind. Avoided temptation to use my vacation to ‘get ahead’ on work.

Cooked. Tested a few new recipes! Lava cakes (not as good as my foolproof recipe) and butternut squash chili (YES!).

“Studied.” Went to a non-writing class. Attended a ‘coffee cupping’ event to learn about how coffee buyers taste, identify, and select coffees. A post about this is forthcoming.

Hiked. Took our dog Ramsay on his first hike since his ACL injury this spring. He made it more than 5.5 miles and pulled me more than half the time!

author James Kilgo

Love this book of essays about time spent in Southern mountains, Yellowstone and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Read! I read half a book before 9AM one morning. Decadent.

Organized. Sorted story fragments, journals, and film photos/negatives from my childhood through college. I threw away about half the photos (all the blurry/obscure/no-good ones) and this saved nearly half the room the photo piles take up.

Unplugged. Did not turn my computer on for an entire week! 🙂 I also signed out of GMail on my iPad and phone and went four straight days without checking it!

Coasted. No new clients or rush projects surfaced during my time away. Big sigh of relief!

Progressed. Checked off several pending house projects I never seem to have the time to address. Scheduled estimates for deck repair/staining, outside spigot replacement, and landscaping. Our deck will be fixed and stained in the coming weeks, our spigot was replaced early this week, and our yard will be weed-free later this fall! 😀


Cleo, one of our cockatiels, loving the extra attention.

Animaled. I feel like all the animals got equal attention. I spent time with Ramsay, the chickens, and the cockatiels every day.

Thrifted. I thought I would get to spend a day visiting vintage shops around the Triangle. Instead, I went to one of my favorites in Hillsborough, Uniquitiques. I got a faux fur vest (If you have been following New York Fashion Week, fur is big this season!) and spent half the day wandering the town. Got truffles at Matthew’s Chocolates, and the novel Byrd by local author Kim Church at the neighborhood book store Purple Crow Books. (Remember I heard her read a few years ago at the NC Literary Festival?)


Itched. My first experience with chiggers…occurred on Day 1 of my staycation. 😦 This kept me awake three nights in a row. If I had not been on vacation, I’m not sure how I would have managed to get enough sleep to get my work done. I spent several days doing intense laundry and deep cleaning of the house–extreme vacuuming and steam cleaning. A few stragglers have been responsible for two more bites. :\

haw river kayakNo kayaking. I had visions of getting up early and watching the sunrise on one of the rivers nearby…but battling the chigger bite pain really drained me.

No big run or exercise class. I’m up to four miles when I run, which I never thought would be possible. I have been wanting to try for five miles–but usually I’m too pressed for time. I thought the vacay would be perfect to try it out. Also thought I’d have time to try out a few different gyms, barre studios, or spin classes…but again, the chigger bites got the best of me.

No SUP class. I was really looking forward to a Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP) class, but the weather forecast did not cooperate.

No writing. Not one poem, not a start to a short story, not even an edit of anything.

Not so much reading. I thought I would have read everyday. Instead I may have picked up a book three times.

No query reviews. I thought I might take some time to respond back to the 100+ guest post queries I have received for Write Naked….but I did not even read one of them. So sorry for the backlog and the delay!

I hope to take a staycation again in 2016. To all of you staycation pros–please tell me your successes! I’d love to know how I can make my only non-working vacation of the year work for me.