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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Anniversary Blog Fest: Sarah Madison


The Fine Art of Relaxation

I have to admit, I signed up for this blog hop before reading that the theme was supposed to be summer vacation. That took me aback for a second because I hadn’t the foggiest idea what to write about. As someone who is self-employed, I don’t get paid vacation. Summer is my busiest time of year, so I rarely take any time off then—I’m ecstatic if I get a long weekend. I have to plan those at least six months in advance, which is why at times I get a little frustrated when trying to coordinate my plans with anyone else.

No problem, I thought. I’ll just write about my summer vacations as a child. However, the only vacations I could remember growing up were our once-a-year ventures to the beach, in which my dad would load us all in the car at four a.m. and make the long trek to the shore (presumably because he hated traffic, but I suspect it was because we kids would all be asleep). There, we would stay crammed together in a damp hotel room that became progressively sandier with each passing day. I remember tiny little crabs that would scuttle sideways on the smoothly packed sand to avoid the incoming waves, and the hiss and bubble of the foam as the waves crested and subsided back into the sea. I remember the smell of the wet sand and the salt air, and the wheeling and crying of gulls overhead. And getting sunburnt. A lot. Apparently Sunblock 2000 hadn’t been invented back then.

So, um, yeah. Maybe not my childhood memories.

That’s when it occurred to me that I haven’t taken a ‘real’ vacation in a while now. My boyfriend and I have been talking about taking a trip back to his home country to visit his family, but something like that is hardly worth the cost unless you can go for several weeks. I just can’t do that.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I don’t even plan anything ‘fun’ for more than 3 days at a time. That just isn’t enough. In seventy-two hours you can scarcely arrive, settle into your surroundings, and order a drink with a little umbrella in it before it’s time to go home. By halfway into the second day, you’re dreading the return home to the same old routine of life and work.

Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help but wonder if we, as Americans, have been trained from youth not to take vacations. Maybe that Scots work ethic I inherited makes me think that I’m not allowed to have any time off for fun. Maybe because with the economy as bad as it is, I really can’t afford the time off in terms of lost wages as well as expenditures to go someplace purely for my own enjoyment.

That’s when I remembered that I didn’t use to long for a vacation to an exotic locale. When I was growing up, a trip to the library allowed me to go any place in the world I desired. I fell in love with Australia through a series of cheesy romances. I walked the narrow streets of cities in Greece on paper; lived and breathed the sights of Venice, London, and the South of France in much the same way. I vicariously excavated Egyptian tombs, explored damp castles, and sailed the Caribbean.

Come to think of it, the best vacation I can recall in recent memory took place when I tagged along with the boyfriend to one of his conferences. No, the location wasn’t exotic; it was pretty pedestrian, in fact. But the hotel was incredibly chic, the kind of place where you took photographs of the room because it was so unlike ordinary hotels. There was a desk in front of the window looked out on a lovely view of the harbor, and while my boyfriend was off attending the conference, I wrote madly. I averaged ten thousand words a day, stopping only to dress up in a short skirt and heels to meander about the city before meeting the BF for lunch. I felt powerful, sexy, and strong. It was an awesome feeling.

I’d come back after lunch and put in another five thousand words or so. In the evenings, we’d attend the big parties thrown by the convention, or sometimes we’d just wander the town holding hands. One evening the town was showing Some Like it Hot on a big screen outdoors; we stopped by partway through the film and watched it to the end. Normally I get wound up about not seeing a movie from beginning to end, especially if I’ve never seen it before. That night it didn’t matter.

The story I was working on at the time was full of angst; I tortured my heroes terribly! But I was never happier.

Which just goes to show, a vacation doesn’t have to be expensive or exotic to make you happy. You don’t even have to leave your home (though that probably helps). You just have to be with someone you love doing something you adore.

About the Author: Sarah Madison is a veterinarian with a big dog, a bigger horse, too many cats, and a very patient boyfriend. Writing has become a passion that takes precedence over everything; in fact, when she is in the middle of a chapter, she's been known to allow the smoke detector to tell her when dinner is ready.

Find Sarah online at

Dreamspinner Press:


Julianna said...

I miss illustrated book covers! Thanks for sharing!


booklover0226 said...

I enjoyed the post; it was a great read.

I look forward in checking out your works.

Tracey D
booklover0226 at gmail dot com

Karen H in NC said...

I feel your pain. As a retiree, every day is Sunday and it's hard to distinguish the weekends from the weekdays without looking at a calender. Even when I was working, I would take traveling vacations trying to see as much as I could see in a very short amount of time. When I got home, I sort of felt like going back to work was a way to recover my strength from my vacation. Seems a bit of a waste, doesn't it.

kareninnc at gmail dot com

Toni said...

I remember my husband talking about taking about taking me to all these wonderful locals after he retired....well now all I hear is I'm broke and I hate the TSA. I guess my jet setting days were not meant to be. Oh well. Great post.


Ingeborg said...

Sometimes you need a vacation when you get home. Many people think you have to be doing something all the time. I find just relaxing with a good book is like a vacation to me.

Anonymous said...

Juliana: I've been very fortunate to have some talented cover artists for my stories! The cover for Unspeakable Words was drawn by Paul Richmond and Crying for the Moon was drawn by Anne Cain. I adore looking at them and can hardly believe they grace my stories! :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Tracey! I'm very excited about an upcoming anthology in which I have a story--it's the Going for Gold anthology from MLR Press and it is due to be released around the end of this month.

My story centers around the Olympic horse sport known as eventing--and I've had a ridiculous amount of fun writing up a primer on the sport--check it out if you're interested--it's on my website, along with some free reads too. :-)

Anonymous said...

Karen H: Back when I was working for a company rather than on my own, I made a point of attending conferences in places I'd never been to before so I could see more of my own country.

In retrospect, I think it's a bit sad that this is how most people plan 'vacation', always with a view to how they can get as much as possible out of their 3-4 days away from home. Or at least, that's what it seems like to me!

And you're right--when you're already tired and stressed, traveling is even harder. A friend of mine got me a weekend at a lovely Bed and Breakfast as a birthday gift--right in my own home town. I think it's the perfect combination of 'getting away' without needing a recovery time when you get home again!

Anonymous said...


Travel had gotten scary-crazy these days, that's for sure. It's one of the reasons my BF doesn't get home to the UK very often.

Add to that the time away from work, boarding the animals, etc. etc. and it makes it very hard for us both to get away at the same time.

Which is why I love books--not only do I get to travel the Earth, but I can time travel and leave the planet too! :-)

Anonymous said...

Sometimes you need a vacation when you get home. Many people think you have to be doing something all the time. I find just relaxing with a good book is like a vacation to me.

Isn't that the truth? I keep saying the next time I take some time off, I'm going to stay home but tell everyone I went away--because otherwise the demands on your time start rolling in, you know, 'because you aren't doing anything else.' :-)

Right now, my idea of the perfect vacation would be renting a cabin at the nearby state park, turning off all electronics, and sitting on the porch reading a book. Maybe a walk in the woods or a paddle around the lake in the evenings. And marshmallows. :-)

pat nelson said...

Just a quiet day at home can be a vacation.

Debby said...

I have more fun on inexpensive vacations than I do on the expensive ones. I like ones where we can be together.
debby236 at gmail dot com

elaing8 said...

Enjoyed reading your post.I prefer the weekend getaways or 3 day weekends.It just gets to exhausting after that for me.Nice small little getaways.Although I haven't had one of those in a long time either.

Anonymous said...

Pat: Usually when I try to take a quiet day at home, I'm haunted by the things that desperately need doing around the house. Sometimes I can ignore it all and take a quiet afternoon on the couch with a book, but not always! :-)

Anonymous said...


I know what you mean--the company you're with makes the difference!

Anonymous said...


That's just it! Getting away for a significant period of time is a huge hassle, but I'm getting bad about not giving myself *any* time off. I always have a good reason, but sometimes you just *need* some time to recharge your batteries.