Wednesday was Day 1 of our family trip to California. We rented a cabin in Yosemite National Park, and were ready to explore and breathe in all the natural beauty around us.
The day before was a pretty grueling travel day. We woke up at 4:30am to catch our long 6-hour flight from New Orleans to Fresno. Jena’s sister lives there, so we spent a few hours catching up with her at the local mall, then drove an hour and half to our cabin. We were exhausted. But after a good night’s sleep, we were all ready to go.
The day was absolutely breathtaking. The drive to Yosemite Valley was filled with beautiful scenery all around us. Upon arrival, we hiked a trail by the river, and then climbed uphill to a bridge at Venal Falls. In an attempt to fill up my water bottle with the crystal clear natural water from the river, I fell in and got soaked from head to toe. So, the rest of the day I was drenched. I know. I’m a mess.
Later that evening, we drove up to Glacier Point, which provides an aerial view of Half Dome, the waterfalls, and pretty much most of Yosemite. It’s also where we took the picture at the top of this blog post.
You can also check some more pictures I took at the bottom of this blog post.
One of the things I appreciate about a family vacation is the opportunity to get out of “go” mode.
Everyday life is filled with a lot of activity. I, like many of you, juggle a lot between family and work responsibilities. No matter how many things get done in any given day, there’s always a lot that didn’t get done and more to do the next day.
That’s why I think it’s important to intentionally get out of “go” mode.
The good news is you don’t have to take a trip to Yosemite to do that. I’ll give you some ideas on how to do this later in the blog post. But for now, here’s why getting out of “go” mode is good:
#1 – Your weaknesses and insecurities emerge.
Wednesday wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies. After the hike up the hill, my legs were killing me the rest of the day. I was in pain, really tired due to the hike, and cold because of the fall in the river. I was annoyed at Joey and Emma, who like many siblings on vacation, were aggravating the heck out of each other all day long.
Although I was experiencing positive emotions like awe, a deep connection wth God, nature, and my family… much of the day I was in pain, tired, cold, angry, and grumpy.
I had to come to face-to-face with a lot of negative emotions and figure out a way to deal with them in a healthy way. I would consider this a weakness and an insecurity of mine. Lately, I’ve been working real hard at getting in touch with my emotions, identifying what they are in the moment, communicating with others about how I am feeling, and figuring out how to deal with them.
I wanted to be happy and enjoy the moment. But, instead I was grappling with these negative emotions and beating myself up for feeling them.
In the busyness of everyday life, we’re not often aware of our weaknesses and insecurities. Others around us might be, but our hectic lives often blind us from those realities.
#2 – You see the big picture of life.
On the plane, and Wednesday morning before the family woke up, I took some time to look at the big picture of my life.
Earlier this year, I wrote down some goals in just about every area of life: work, family, spiritual, relationships, financial, etc.
Life rarely turns out the way you expect it. Things are always changing. Obstacles emerge. Life gets messy.
In the grind of everyday life, you only see what’s right in front of you. Your life becomes a long, never ending to-do list.
It’s easy to lose touch wth your goals. You forget what’s really important.
Taking the time to reflect on the past 6 months, adjusting goals in certain areas and making new goals in others, I was able to connect the dots of everyday life with a bigger sense of purpose and meaning.
When you do take time out in life, take the opportunity to reflect on the bigger picture.
#3 – You appreciate the beauty around you.
Obviously, in Yosemite it’s easy to notice the beauty around me. But on this trip so far, I’ve also been more aware of the beautiful qualities of family, rich friendships with others, and so much more.
When you take a step back from the grind of life, you’re more aware of all that is good in the world. You see the many people and things in your life that are beautiful.
I think it’s important to intentionally build ways to get out of “go” mode in your normal, everyday life. Here’s some ideas:
#1 – Hit the pause button.
When I was on staff at a church in La Jolla, we would hit the pause button just before summer started and right after it ended.
Before summer, we hosted an intern retreat.
All of the children’s staff, youth staff and newly hired interns spent a few days out of town together.
The overall purpose was to train summer interns and get to know them. But it was also a really nice break before the craziness of summer events, camp, missions trips, etc.
Then, when summer ended we took a two-week break from all our normal programming, other than our weekend services. No midweek services or events were on the calendar. Usually, our children’s and youth staff took a vacation during this time. Or at the very least, we took a few days off. And if we were in the office, we weren’t yet in back-to-school mode. We were relaxed and moving at a slow pace.
I really appreciated this approach to ministry and found it extremely beneficial.
More recently, I’ve been working on a new habit I like to call “hitting the pause button”. Every so often I dedicate a big chunk of time to pause and reflect on life.
Earlier this year I rented an Airbnb just a few miles from my house for a day retreat. I spent the day setting goals for 2018, and asking myself big questions about what my purpose in life is and how I can best express it. It was a great way to start the year.
I try and do something like that once every few months.
You might not be able to rent an Airbnb or take a whole day to do something like this. But you can block out a chunk of time, and spend a few hours at a local park or coffee shop to do something similar.
Be intentional. Experiment and see what works for you.
#2 – Establish a morning routine.
For me, having a morning routine is really important. Most mornings I sip a hot cup of coffee, read for 15-20 minutes, and go for a 15-20 minute walk in my neighborhood. On that walk, I pay attention to my breathing, notice the sights and sounds around me, thank God for the good moments of the previous day, and express to God whatever is on my heart at the moment. I also often review my goals a couple of times a week as a part of my morning routine.
Everyone is different. Find out what works best for you and make time for it.
#3 – Make time for yourself.
I play in a Dodgeball league on Thursday nights. I make time in my schedule to workout 3-5 times a week. Once every six weeks or so I get a massage. These are some of the things I do to make time for myself. My thought is that taking care of “me” helps me better serve and love others.
I encourage you to make time for the things that energize your heart and nurture your soul.
Well, I hope you’ve found this blog post helpful.
I’ll leave you with some pictures of Yosemite (see below).
– Nick Diberto, Ministry to Youth