Henry W. Longfellow’s poem, “A Day of Sunshine” reads …

“O gift of God! O perfect day;

Whereon shall no man work, but play;

Whereon it is enough for me,

Not to be doing, but to be!”

Welcome to summer. School is out, and summer vacation has begun for kids across our nation. Many families are ready to set their vacation plans in motion, plans that were made during the cold, dark days of winter.

Moms and dads have their personal time off from work approved. The getaway to the place where memories will be made have been moved from the plans file to an action item.

The great American road trip has been a special American tradition, dating back to the days of loading up the family station wagon and hitting the highway for a national park. Nowadays, plans may also be made for an ocean cruise or an airplane trip to the special location across the world.

Dreams of exploration, discovery and picture postcard moments are expected. A bucket-list fantasy or the once-in-a-lifetime experience are now commonplace occurrences. There are so many wonderful choices, regardless of the family budget.

Amidst the vacation plans — with its carefully-scripted itinerary — is a major need, so often neglected … the need, “to be.”

This self-care component of our lives must be scheduled into the itinerary. The goal of a vacation is to decompress, to chill out, and to deescalate from the pressures of our daily routine. However, many people come back from their vacation in need of a vacation … mission not accomplished.

In the poetic verse above, written by Longfellow, he pens his description of the perfect day. It is a sunny day, where playing trumps work, and where activity is held in abeyance in order to “simply be.” What does it mean to “be?”

To be means to be alone with your thoughts. It means to be alone with God in prayer and meditation. It means to rest your soul by resting your emotions and the catalysts of reaction. It means to have some recreation to refresh the body, like a walk in the mountains. It is a stress-management plan in effect.

The “me time” is not a selfish desire. The “me time” is a requisite to a healthy parent, spouse and employee. We see too many people around us burning out. The stress overload leads to emotional, physical and spiritual collapse. We are not machines programmed for 24/7/365 output. We must come apart from the pressure cooker of our lives and do you time … be.

The respite from the rat race is your highest priority. The vitality of your world is at stake. Your children need you at your optimum abilities, as well as your marriage and career. While you may not be in a position for a sabbatical, most of us can make arrangements for a long weekend in Gatlinburg.

As your summer plans unwind, be sure to spend some time. Body, soul, and spirit need a long, cool drink of calm, cool water. Invest in you. Ensure that your vacation has met the expectations of rest and relaxation … the proverbial R & R.

Have a tremendous vacation, and remember, God loves you.

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