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There is nothing like unplugging from our quest to reach our dreams or our goals or desire to get other than where we are and just enjoy the moment as so often can happen on a vacation. Truly, I am amazed by the number of people who choose not to vacation and experience a world that is vastly rich with peoples and cultures and new ways to experience this experience we call life. It's not "the" right thing to do; however, if you are one of those people, have you considered what you might not know that you could experience and learn from?

Perhaps for me, the key factor in the importance of taking vacations was based on the fact that as a military kid moving from one state to the next every two to three years, there was always a reason to vacation.

Mother was an avid historian and would research the plentiful historical cities, along with the wonderful federal and state parks throughout the abundant United States. We saw the huge replicas of President's heads at Mount Rushmore, the massive dam of Niagara Falls, which held back thousands of tons of water while at the same time feeling the spray of mist coming off water that was let out from behind the dam which was thunderous as it traveled hundreds of feet to the waiting river below. We would travel via big old wood paneled station wagons staying in clean little motels or vacation rentals on military bases rented for a modest fee along the way. I remember one summer we traveled in an old silver Airstream trailer where we sat around the campfire at night and listened and laughed to wonderful stories told by my parents or fellow campers in the same campground. We had to visit the origin of the Mississippi where we were instructed to walk across the plank that ran over the tiny little trickle of water that was the beginning of one of the mightiest rivers in the world. It was a pre-fast food environment and my very favorite place was Howard Johnson's where we would stop after a roadside picnic for dessert on special vacation occasions and I could order my favorite Peppermint Stick ice cream.

I knew that life was great. We were on vacation.

Dad was an avid fisherman and when we weren't moving from state to state or country to country, we would be at some little fishing resort that would take a family of 4-8 kids, depending on the year, with fishing gear and aluminum skiffs, and always a ski boat where he would drive madly around the lakes with kids in tow either solo or in tandem, depending upon the boat of the season and how large the motor was. He would take off to fish in solitude while the rest of us would swim or fish our own way or sit around and read books with each other or get lost in a story alone.

When we moved to Europe, Mother's itineraries spread from tiny little Moroccan cities in España to huge cathedrals in Italy and cities in France where she and my father might have visited previously during their assignments in WWII. Dad being the water person that he was would choose vacations along the Costa del Sol in beach cities such as Benidorm, Barcelona, and Sitges.

Ah yes, vacations are important to me. I truly think that to have accomplished what I have of which I am proud, my accomplishments have been based in my choice to continue my family tradition of vacationing. While I no longer stop at Howard Johnson's, I have had the pleasure of SCUBA diving in Fiji while taking movies and pictures of sharks being fed inches away from me, and visiting the Oktoberfest in Munich with two good friends from Germany and Austria, and sailing for 10 days in the British Virgin Islands dropping anchor in deserted little anchorages and plunging into the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea, and traveling to Europe with an inexpensive Euroraíl pass, getting on and off the trains for visits to "Youth Hostels" where albeit the water wasn't always hot in the showers but the beds were welcome and clean while traveling the Bay of Biscay where Napoleon's mistress, Desiree, had her estate, or a customized pizza was served to me in Brindisi, Italy, or ouzo was served to me in a Café Neon in Crete, Greece.

Because of vacations, I have been able to indulge in one of my favorite passions: to study people and cultures throughout the world; to realize that my own little perfect oasis of life in the United States of America may be an incomplete picture. That what is available beyond an automatic-way-of- looking at life may open my views wider and assist me in appreciating life for what I knew not.

Are you vacationing?

~ Patricia Hirsch, MBA, Master Certified Coach