Take a break!



By Caitlin Kelly

I know, for some of you — parents, caregivers, those on super-tight budgets, in school — that’s not easy to do.

2018 did not begin well for me — the first time in many years I earned no income at all from my freelance work, for two months.

And our fixed monthly living costs, even without children or debt, are more than $5,000 a month, so no income from my side meant digging into our savings. (Which we are lucky to have!)

Burned out, I recently took a two-week break, and that cost us even more lost income and savings, in hotel/gas/meals, for 2 weeks back in Ontario, where I grew up and have many friends. (A last-minute change of plans meant our free dog-sitting housing fell through.)

The “freedom” of freelance work also means that every minute we’re not working, we lose income. No paid vacation days for us!

But oh, I needed some time off, and so did my weary full-time freelance husband Jose, a photo editor.

We didn’t do very much: napped, read magazines and books, had some very good meals, enjoyed long evenings with old friends, took photos, hit some golf balls at the driving range. Visited with my Dad, who lives alone and who turns 89 in June.

I was burned out and deeply frustrated by endless rejections and some nasty encounters. Fed up!

I came home renewed, and have been pitching up a storm of fresh ideas and projects, trying for some new and much more ambitious targets. I’ve also been asking others for more help achieving some of my goals than I used to — doing everything alone is exhausting and demoralizing.  (It’s really interesting to see who follows through, generously, and who — for all their very public social media all about how they believe deeply in mentorship — won’t lift a finger.)

In a country, (the U.S., where I live) and state (New York) where costs are so high and many people work insane hours, it’s counter-cultural to even admit to wanting a break, let alone taking one.

Not a glamorous brag-worthy Insta-perfect exotic and foreign vacation.

No poolside fruity drinks with little umbrellas in them.

Just a break.

I’m really glad that we did.


Are you able to carve out time to recharge?


Daily? Weekly? Every few months?



What do you do to re-energize?

14 thoughts on “Take a break!

  1. Paid vacation? What’s that?

    I, due to my strenuous job and simple living style, take my breaks whenever I can. By leaving early and a quasi-part-time/full-time working schedule. I struggle sometimes, but I have feathered my nest, planted my garden, and hung a chime on the Virginia Creeper that twines between me and the parking lot next door, and I Zen out, and watch the ferns and hostas grow, and go on nice long bike rides along the river, walk the dog down some forest path, laugh at her antics “off-leash”.

    : )

  2. I actually just applied for some vacation time at the beginning of June. I’ve been feeling a little burned out at times, so this will be good for me. I plan to sleep in, write, and just be. Should get me recharged and ready for whatever comes next.

      1. Just NOT working sounds like a dream (though writing is more fun than work, so it doesn’t count). I’ll enjoy what I can get on this vacation, though. Hopefully, a lot of writing and editing done, and maybe some good news on the publishing front (God willing).

  3. I’m finding as I get older that I need to erect a barrier around the weekends (which I have off). My job is very demanding and busy and all kinds of unexpected stuff pops up, so I literally need the weekend re-charge time. I get tired.

    We’re planning to take five weeks from mid-July to mid-August to do a leisurely trip around and about BC and AB. Attitudes here are Canadian of course. People expect holidays and typically take them. There’s much more of a belief in “working to live rather than living to work.” People want to enjoy their jobs, but they’re less inclined to let those jobs kill them. We’re fortunate in that Canadian culture supports and encourages this approach. 🙂

    1. Americans’ attitude to leisure is insane. It’s really insane — all about $$$$$$ and being “productive.” All it does is keep corporate bosses profitable and workers exhausted and scared….not having a decent social safety net also makes sure of this. Even people with jobs are too scared of losing it or too in debt to take much time off. Those of us who do so are viewed with suspicion.

      This is why I stay self-employed.

  4. sometimes when it seems the least likely or prudent thing to do, that is exactly when a break is needed. i feel fortunate to have time off each summer, with breaks in the year to reenergize, and i never take it for granted. for many years, i worked numerous jobs, went to school and raised kids, so this is a luxury for me. even now, i could work another job and pay off things from the past much more quickly, but the time is worth so much more to me than the money. i know how worrisome it is not to have enough, or worry that you won’t. and it adds to the challenge of taking relax time for yourself.

    1. Thanks! Glad you get it…:-)

      I find so so restorative to see my dearest and oldest friends, so this is always a priority for me. I was very burned out from so much rejection.

  5. I just wrote a parallel piece on the same topic, the need to take a break. I do not do it well. When I farmed, I must have gone as long as 10-years at a time without a vacation. I have been retired since 1999 and I have never learned to take time off. I travel more – but often look upon the travel as opportunities to write and will return home pretty tired from trying to fit in time at the keyboard and keep-up with the travel schedule.

    I have never had a paid vacation in my life.

    The challenges of being a free-lancer, even though I have a contract with a major publication, are at times overwhelming. Long hours with little pay, increased bureaucracy and time spent on administrative matters; and that nagging thought in the back of my head, that maybe, just maybe, I ought to just give it up and go to work for a fast food restaurant. At least I could get paid, I would take the opportunity to write about my experiences, especially the interactions with the public.

    However, I grabbed a paragraph from my piece, it might even be the takeaway: “‘there are incredible health and wellness benefits associated with time off from work.’ And ‘Several studies have demonstrated that taking regular vacation time can be preventative medicine.’” Just saying…

    1. We are not industrial machinery — and for everyone who is able/willing to work for decades without a break — or who hates taking breaks — there are many people who desperately want and need one. Work is tiring.

  6. Pingback: Take a break! — Broadside | Kevin Dayhoff Time Flies

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