Vacation of spiritual renewal

Instead of just being lazy on my vacation, I decided to make a list of things to accomplish. On the first evening of my break, I went to a coffee shop and made a list of random things I had been meaning to do. The list may not be interesting to anyone else, but I ended up in another city at the almost the last minute and got back in touch my creativity. Here’s the rundown:

Visit Nashville

The awesomeness about this item on the list is that even though it is the most difficult one for me, it was taken care of almost immediately. As soon as I posted “Making an awesome list of things to do on my vacation” on my facebook status,  my friend Susan invited me to come to Nashville and have lunch with her. She didn’t even know that #7 was “visit Nashville”. So I emailed her and dared her to name the day and restaurant and I would be there.

A long time ago I was new in this city and new to a Sunday School class. I didn’t know anyone. She welcomed me and was one of my first friends .  In 1998 we were sitting around and I pulled out a pencil and drawing pad and drew her portrait. The result was one of the few portraits I’ve created that actually looked like the subject. As happens in many relationships, we lost touch. She moved to Nashville and I started attending another church.

RESULT: We met at a mall in Nashville and she drove me around and showed me the sites. We also got lost in the beautiful countryside and ate at a grocery store/restaurant with mismatched tables and chairs.  She lives in a little town just outside the city. Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban live in somewhere near her, but we didn’t see them. We stopped in the Parthenon museum which I liked because of the awesome fight scene from the movie  Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.
I only stayed in Nashville for the day, but I saw a lot of things I want to do next time I visit for an extended time.

Write a poem

I am not a poet, but poetry is ignited by passion and I have been an open wound of emotions lately.

RESULT: I wrote an awful poem at the coffee shop. The verses talked about a complex psychological issue I am dealing with; I read it again when I got home and wept. I thanked God for using those words to cauterize the feelings that I have been meaning face head on.
Encourage a friend I haven’t seen in a while

I sent an email to a friend of mine who lives in Cincinnati. I told him I missed him and wanted to visit him. He had invited me a couple of times to visit his farm, but I was never able to make it.

We use to have the best laughs when we worked together at the library in college. We were actually pretty tight. But that was half a lifetime ago and I was only half as mature as I am now–which is pretty immature. For some reason, petty jealousies got in the way. Not sure what happened, but that was a lifetime ago.

RESULT: He wrote back. “I was just thinking about you the other day and how I was grateful to [have] you as a friend at [college]. You made me laugh a lot! Hard time for me but you made me laugh!” I think I know what the “hard time” was that he mentioned, but I forget the details.

I’m going to visit his farm in few weeks and we’re going to make a bonfire and invite some other friends I haven’t seen in decades.  It’s good to know that my email encouraged him –I can check that off my list. His hilarious correspondence this week has a familiarity to it that has been encouraging to me as well.

Draw something

Man, I use to draw all the time and then got out of it. Why do I neglect this craft? It relaxes me and it’s just so darn fun.

RESULT: I bought some fresh art supplies, including drawing pens, pencils, tracing paper and drawing books and started a project. I didn’t finish my drawing, but I’m off to a good start.

Run around your neighborhood twice (6 miles) instead of once (3 miles)

I don’t look like a runner, but I love, love, love to run. Well, really it’s jogging, but I love it. I use to run the Derby Triple Crown races, but I discovered that I don’t enjoy running with thousands of people around me. I’m either too slow for some people behind me, and I’m too fast for some people in front of me.

My favorite way to run is to get up early in the morning and run the circle around my neighborhood. It’s so quiet and I find it relaxing.  I few years ago I busted my ankle in a hole on a street that was undergoing repairs and I stopped running regularly. Now I’m getting back into it. I usually just run the three miles  that make up the circle, but I want to get back into running around it twice  like I used to.

RESULT: Well, during my vacation I ran just once around in the mornings, or went to the gym and did the elliptical machine. I procrastinated running around twice until the last day of my vacation. It was Sunday morning and I had the whole day to myself–I go to church on Saturday nights–and I ran twice around. After I was done, I asked myself why didn’t I get back into this sooner and I plan to incorporate the longer run once or twice a week. By the way, I believe running is more mental than physical.

Finish “The Help”

I love to read. I read anything, but I admit my guilty pleasure is science fiction, fantasy or horror. However, I was half-way through The Help when my vacation started and wanted to finish it.

RESULT: Spent a quiet afternoon finishing the novel and immediately went out to catch the three o’clock showing of the movie based on this novel.  I don’t usually see movies by myself, and it was kind of weird because the theatre was almost empty. Enjoyed both the book and the movie. New fan of Emma Stone.

Work on novel

I have to make a big decision. I am about a third of the way through the second draft, but I’m not feeling the love anymore. What to do?
RESULT: At first I thought I needed to convert from third-person point of view to first person point of view; however, that still didn’t’ feel right. So I decided the first third that I had already written was all prestory and I needed to dive right into the middle of the action–in medias res. I simplified the story and I feel it’s much more interesting and mysterious this way. I’m in love with my story again.

Make a new friend

On Facebook, I  “friended” a new guy at work. He accepted just hours after my vacation started, so technically I can check this one off the list.  But . . .
What I really had in mind for this item on my to do list is to befriend someone who is a total stranger. I’m envious of extroverts who make friends at the gym and coffee shops. In fact, the people I know at the gym are outgoing people who walk up to me and start a conversation. Same thing with my regular coffee shop. What is that? I never  just walk up to people and start talking to them–I’m too shy.

I still have over a week to make a friend  out of a total stranger. I will look for topics to start a conversation and see what happens–“Oh, I’ve read that book” or “Do you like your ipad?” I hope I don’t come across as a loony.

RESULT: Well, I did make a new friend. She is the librarian at the college I teach at. She had been there a year and we had never met because I teach at night and she works during the day. She came into my classroom for end -of-the-quarter evaluations, but because my class had already left, we just introduced ourselves and talked for about twenty minutes.

CONCLUSION: My list of awesome things to do may not seem awesome to most people, but for me I felt spiritually and emotionally renewed by the time my vacation was over. There were some things that happened that I didn’t expect. Maybe I’ll talk about them later.