Back-to-school sales are reminding us that we are quickly moving through the “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.” Some of you are recouping from vacations away. Hiking in the mountains. Cruising to the Caribbean. Camping at your favorite recreational park. Enjoying the sand and surf at the beach. Catching “the big one” at the lake. Relaxing at a spa. I do hope you found a refreshing, rejuvenating time for your mind, body and soul. Yet, many of you find yourselves gazing out the window, imagining time away to enjoy a much-needed respite from everyday life. The problem? You don’t feel you can take time off or commit the extra money to get away. So, for those of you whose mind would like to be on vacation while your body must be at work, let me offer a few ideas from a “Hope for the Heart” newsletter (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). They are shared with permission, hoping you’ll find something to ‘take you away’ without actually taking you far away. 1. Go on a mini-vacation. If you can’t get off for a long break, enjoy a few smaller breaks instead. On an evening when you would normally go home and collapse on the sofa, go to the driving range or to a summer concert in the park. Get a one-hour spa treatment, massage or facial. Force yourself to relax and retreat by doing something other than watching TV. (I’ll also suggest visiting some of the great theaters, nature parks and museums nearby.) 2. Transform your routine. A few minor breaks from your normal routine can make a major impact on the way you feel about your job. Take a different route to work. Treat yourself to lunch at a new restaurant. Add unusual plants or fragrant flowers to enhance your office decor. Liven things up with cheerful art or sleek new desk supplies. 3. Try a taste of the tropics. If you can’t get to the beach, bring a little bit of the beach to your workplace. Find a miniature palm tree for your desk or an ocean-theme screen saver for your computer. Trade your normal cup of coffee for some passion fruit iced tea. Make a salad with mangoes, papayas, and pineapple for lunch. Add a CD with steel drums or calypso music to your listen-at-work library. 4. Escape from the “wired” world. Take a day or two to totally unhook from your laptop, cell phone, TV, BlackBerry, and e-mail. Make yourself available for a true emergency; otherwise, disengage from all things technological. Spend a day at the lake, by the pool, or in the country, where you can get back in tune with nature and with the One who created it. 5. Change you master list. If your days contain a surplus of work and a scarcity of fun, take some time to reprioritize your “off work” activities. Make a list with two different columns. On one side, list the things you really love to do when you are not working. On the other side, list the tasks you especially dread doing on an evening or weekend. Then, make a plan to swap at least two things you loathe for two things you love. Can you hire a cleaning service to help so you can attend a musical with a friend? Can you pay a teen to mow your lawn so you can go fishing with a buddy? If you take a good look at your list, you might find that you have greater flexibility than you think when it comes to replacing the ‘un-fun’ with the ‘fun’ tasks. Life today seems to hold many challenges and uncertainties for us and too often we find ourselves waiting for a better time, more money, or more extravagant ways to relax and enjoy ourselves. Unfortunately, some people put that pleasure on hold as they wait and then find themselves left with regret over missed opportunities. We don’t know what tomorrow will hold, but we do know God has given us today to enjoy as best we can. So my friends, look around for creative ways to enjoy these last days of summer, and have a great time. Nancy Williams, LPC is a licensed counselor, consultant, speaker and writer in Kingwood. Send comments or questions to her at www.nancywilliams.net.

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