Monday, June 27, 2011

Returning home

I left Aspen at 9 a.m. yesterday morning and didn’t arrive home until well after midnight – this is because it takes about five hours to travel from Aspen to Denver using ground transportation, and the ground shuttles run only three times a day, so I had a long wait before my flight in Denver – but it was a good way to wrap up the trip. Flight days always make me think about what lies ahead and I find myself setting goals and contemplating decisions almost as if it’s a variation on New Year’s Day.

Sometimes this makes sense based on the calendar – today, for example, is the last day of school for the kids, so it’s somewhat logical to be thinking about what I want to have happen during the upcoming ten weeks of vacation – but even when there isn’t a particularly good reason to feel like I’m making a new beginning of sorts, that’s how traveling home usually feels to me, because being away from home is always a little bit like hitting the “reset” button. It’s a chance to take a break from ingrained habits and get out of ruts and think about what to do differently.

In this case, my week in Colorado was so restorative that it’s also a chance to figure out just what about it was so meaningful to me. Mostly, it was a week of immersion in two of my favorite things: literary pursuits and outdoor exercise. I spent just about every morning hiking, biking or walking the trails in and around Aspen, and just about every afternoon listening to authors and other literary professionals discuss the business of writing. I did a lot of my own writing as well, and one of the industry experts I met with even suggested a direction for my work that I hadn’t previously considered.

So I’m returning home with new inspiration for writing, thanks to all the time I spent at conference events, and with a really bad sunburn, thanks to all the time I spent on the hiking and biking trails and the fact that on one crucial day, I didn’t use quite enough sunscreen in quite the right places.

What I accomplished during the week is easier to identify that what I’d like to make happen when I get home, though. So I tried to use my travel day to think about what my hopes were for the long summer that lies ahead.

I’d love to maintain the fitness level that I established during my Colorado week, but that’s hard with the kids and their interests. They don’t like long hikes and bike rides, but I can at least try to get them out for some kind of outdoor exercise every day, or if not every day then at least most days. I’m also trying to rethink some of the commitments that I took on too easily last year and make better decisions about what work assignments and what volunteer roles are right for me, rather than saying yes to everything. Having a weeklong break from housework helped me to renew my commitment to taking good care of our home this summer, and having the same break from cooking gave me new energy to contemplate healthy summer meals for my family.

So I woke this morning at home, grateful for safe travels and a wonderful vacation, and somewhat hesitantly ready to see this time period as a new chapter. An arrival home means a chance to establish new habits, and I think I’m ready to try to make the most of it.

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