(Or: Nobody enjoys hearing about your vacation, but just hear me out.)
We left home at 2:45 a.m. on a Thursday, which made it obvious we were catching a flight.
At the end of December I told my husband not to make any plans for January 12th through 17th, and not to ask questions. His birthday is in January, and all he knew was that I was taking him on a trip. He didn't know if we were flying or driving somewhere until the day before we left, and he had no clue where we were going until he saw his best friend in the baggage claim area in Asheville, North Carolina, about an hour from their home in Tennessee.
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I was nervous to pull this trip off. I'm not spontaneous and I don’t think I've ever spent more than $100 without discussing it with Tim. What if he wanted to go somewhere completely opposite? What if he was upset that I'd kept him in the dark? What if we arrived at our destination and he wished he'd brought something that I didn't think about?
I'm still processing that it's a new year and I haven't made any real plans for 2023 yet, and we're now nearing the end of January. This is precisely how I'll end up in March and be hit with the realization that the year is a quarter of the way gone, all at once.
On January 17th we reached our one year mark with the deli and market, and we returned home from our surprise trip that afternoon. Because I didn't plan and prepare for it, there were no celebrations or any public thank-yous to our community, who have supported and encouraged and sharpened our business this first year. We didn't give away free hamburgers or 30% off espresso drinks. Nothing celebratory happened, except for the fact that we returned from a six day vacation, to a business still running smoothly in our absence. A year ago we couldn't have imagined that would be possible. A year ago we were working 16 hour days and catching naps on the couch in the back of the store.
We had zero idea what our life would actually look like this last year, and for most of 2022 it was grueling—physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, financially. Even before we opened, the year we spent remodeling and preparing to start a new business in a completely new-to-us industry was exhausting. We began 2022 tired, and no amount of planning could have prevented it. (I know—I’ve said all this before.)
But now, today, this morning, for this moment, I feel rest. And in a way I guess that is how we did celebrate our one year anniversary—by resting. Almost like I planned it that way.
Being self-employed has plenty of perks but you have to be the kind of person who disciplines yourself for more than just work. "Working for yourself" has to include resting for yourself, and we've never been good at vacations.
For years Tim's vacation was a two to six week trip overseas, teaching pastors and encouraging disciples of Jesus to study God's word. He would take the month of January off, and our savings would go to plane tickets and vaccinations and inductive Bible study materials. It was time and money well spent, but it was not particularly restful.
Planning and taking this surprise trip was totally out of character for either one of us, and I can only look back and think of the value of sometimes doing things without over-thinking them—because, for me, overthinking usually leads me to just scrap the whole idea. I worry about all the things that could go wrong.
I didn't spend weeks praying about the trip before pushing confirm on our flights, and on the day of our travel, when Tim had no idea if we were flying for just a couple hours or overnight to see friends in another country, I stressed that maybe I hadn't prayed enough about it. What if this turned out really really bad?
Of course it didn't. It turned out really really good, better than I could have planned it, and I can see now that it was an answer to many prayers—from our friends and family who pray for us, to our own prayers over the years. None of the prayers were specific about this trip, but many desperate prayers of the last few grueling years were for rest and peace and wisdom and encouragement, all of which we received on our trip. Of course I can always pray more, but also: of course God would bless us long before we met any prayer-quotas.
This spontaneous trip to visit friends in Tennessee was, without a doubt and unanimously between Tim and I, the very best vacation we could have taken at this time in our lives. So much goodness has followed us home, so many spiritual blessings, needed shifts in perspective, and a new energy. It was restful in a way I never could have planned for.
I like to plan but it often stops me from doing, honestly. I want things to be perfect and when I see that they will not be, I don’t follow through. But “spontaneous plans” might be the answer. I might get better at resting and feasting and celebrating and doing if I stopped thinking it had to be well-planned or logical, or heaven forbid, perfect.
I know it's trendy to not have resolutions these days, to eschew the cultural pressure to Do Better/Be Better, and I appreciate all that against-the-grain-ness. But I almost always get around to making goals in lists of More and Less, instead of the significant, achievable, and measurable kind. Here are a few from my current list:
more spontaneous celebrations
less miserly saving of dollars and time
more time doing
less time thinking about what could go wrong
We’ll see how this works out, but if our trip is any indication, “spontaneous plans” are my new thing.
There was about a half hour of our trip when he thought I was taking him to Vegas, because we had to pick up our bag there and change airlines. He was a good sport about it but I would never plan a trip to Vegas ; )
Love your spontaneous adventure?
We try to surprise each other, once in a while. I have to plan & check , and make sure all my ducks are in a row. This is my nature also. So your big adventure gives me courage to book our trip to Alaska, and not to think about the what might or might not happen. 😁❤️
Gosh I love this so much. I am in the thick of book launch season, which means my calendar is overflowing with writing deadlines and podcast interviews, all on top of my regular job. A couple weeks ago southwest was running a crazy flight sale and I spontaneously suggested we take the kids to San Diego. I had a $200 southwest voucher sitting in a drawer and we are now flying our whole family down in a few weeks for just over $300! My grandparents sent us money for Christmas and we’re using that money to buy tickets to the zoo. I am such a planner, and also a type 3 on the enneagram who tends to become a total workaholic in stress seasons ... this trip will be a gift, but it was also a gift that I even had the *desire* to be spontaneous in this season. A mark of the work God has been doing in me these last several years re: rest. ❤️ all of that to say: I resonate with this so much and I’m so glad you got away!