Annual vacations are time well spent

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Back from my annual week-long vacation on a North Carolina beach, just in time to be consumed by our annual budget planning and vote.

Go back in time. I lay down with my feet in the water. The melodic, recurring and gentle pounding of the waves drowning out all other sounds clears your head and soothes the mind. I had a week without Atlantic storms with gentle breezes, lower temperatures (91° instead of 104°) and no requests for public information.

I grew up near the coast and the ocean and miss its mysteries terribly. The rhythm of the wave action as everyone rushes to shore to lay down their thin edge of foam plunges you into such relaxation unheard of by those who vacation elsewhere – especially not vacations where all you seem to do is to repeat the house routines in your life and just look at all the work needed to be done around your house.

Watching the lone surfer at the end of the day anticipating that perfect last wave to ride error-free, I smiled as I enjoyed the setting sun. Each evening, the pelicans dove headfirst from their varying elevations into the ocean, sometimes with a slight twist adjustment – ​​angle is everything in catching this fish. While voraciously consuming novels, my sister and I have been on this journey for the past nine years. We walk to our restaurants selected from a myriad of dining choices each night – claiming to burn calories. It’s a laid back lifestyle that I could get used to. No porpoises or dolphins (did you know killer whales are the biggest dolphins?) this year but also no visible sharks.

Many county employees accumulate large amounts of banked vacation hours. I suspect this happens in many work environments. Are you one of them? I encourage anyone doing this to rethink this approach and give themselves a break – it’s healthy and necessary for a more balanced life. Getting lost in the adventures of a novel is a plus.

A May 23, 2021 article in Forbes magazine on the benefits of a vacation reflects the benefits I received while getting away from it all. In a poll, they found that 26% of Americans didn’t take two weeks off at a time, confirming our reputation as workaholics. The article also listed the results of research by the World Health Organization showing a 35% higher risk of stroke from working more than 55 hours per week and a 17% higher risk of dying from heart disease by working 35 to 40 hours a week.

With our focus on emails, social media, calendar alerts, and phone calls, we all need to seek the solace of isolation and rest. I return, although my vacation lasted only a week, with a renewed sense of humour, a new perspective and an increased commitment to the various issues of public service. The Forbes article also talked about the benefits of a relaxed mind. Vacation relaxation may reflect the benefits of transcendental meditation. I came back and even committed to replacing my 22-year-old van by ordering a 100% electric vehicle.

Yes, my road trips may be interrupted for a while as I wait for fast charging stations to be built across the county and across Texas – maybe my side roads are gone. I just can’t invest in another internal combustion engine. Even my frugal husband is a little excited about this new technology and is considering installing this fast charging system in our garage. It will be interesting to see how it serves me on my travels in the area. I guess then I will always have to have reading material in the car.

This is the last year my sister and I will have our dear B&B to go to as it is sold to a North East real estate conglomerate on August 16th. Sigh. Change, of course, is inevitable. We will spend the next six months looking for a new destination.

No hurricanes have hit the Mid-Atlantic Coast or Texas so far despite expectations of a busy season. Fall could be quite exciting.

If you can’t cope, at least invest in yourself with a good book. Round Rock’s new library is nearing completion. Take a trip inside your head and sleep dreaming about the story and the characters. It’s good for the soul, the brain and your blood pressure.

Terry Cook is County Commissioner for Precinct 1 of Williamson County, which includes most of Round Rock, most of Austin in Williamson County, and part of southern Cedar Park.

Terry Cook
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