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It’s August. And, by Friday, I will have 5, count ’em, FIVE vacation days left until the end of the year. Well, 4. Because I try to roll over one every year, if possible.

2 of them are spoken for. A girl’s brunch in September (to honor my grandmother’s natal day) for one, Black Friday for the other.

So, that leaves 2.

My employer, whenever we bitch about our paychecks, reminds us that we get hella good benefits. And we do. A 401K, any insurance (deducted from our payroll, of course) imaginable under the sun, holidays off, and an air-conditioned work environment with no need to ask our customers if they’d like fries with that.

It’s a good place to work. The best I’ve had, and I’ve been in the work force for 21 years.

But we all need a break. My first days off this year, while at the beach with my girlfamily, included being struck with what I’m pretty certain was the flu, and returning home with a child who was catching it.

My week in California back in June was on company time, for company purposes. While immensely enjoyable, it was not a “break”, just a hiatus from my norm.

So I haven’t had a lot of downtime this year. And I’m needing it. Desperately.

I had plans for tomorrow that would have ultimately left me rather drained, so I took a vacation day for Monday. My plans fell through for Sunday, however, but I left the day off on my calendar. It was just too good to pass up.

Everybody and their mama has my cell phone number, and I will be decidedly swiping the RED, hang-up, straight-to-voicemail button on Monday every time I hear my delightful Downton Abbey ringtone. Unless it’s my assistant. Because I ❤ her.

My brain needs a break. For weeks on end now I’ve been running at breakneck speed. It’s past time to take a breather. A “mental health day”, as I refer to them.

I will use a sick day for these occasionally, because I recognize when my brain is sick, even if my body appears functional. But I try to schedule them as vacation days instead, deliberately, and make plans to do as little as possible on those blessed days of reverie.

My brain isn’t sick at the moment, but I would call this day off a preventative health decision. I need some alone time. In my own house. Near my own bed, shower, and coffee pot. It’s taken me years to learn how to MAKE myself be still, and not only reserve those moments for when I’m physically sick or exhausted.

The nature of my job is that it has cycles of busyness out of my control, and well, all manner of shit is hitting the proverbial fan right now. It has therefore required my constant vigilance. But when I see a tiny window of opportunity for solace, I jump on it. Pouncing it like a jungle cat with grace and stealth. (Not really. I more or less collapse on and cling to it like my life depends on it. Because it does.)

I have a new book to start for book club that resumes meeting this month after summer hiatus. Maybe I’ll start it. Maybe I’ll play Einstein’s Riddle on my phone until my head explodes. Maybe I’ll binge something on Netflix and pass out in my unmade bed. The point is, Monday is MINE, dammit, and I’m going to spend it exactly the way I wish.

Because it’s not so much the work that I do that depletes my energy stores, it’s the engagement. The constant interaction I have to have with people that run the gamut from highly experienced attorneys to certifiably crazy individuals that may or may not be serious about their inquiries into purchasing the bank property that I manage. (And I thought my Psych degree might have been a waste of time!)

And the miles. Oh, the driving. I’ve been around the world since I returned from San Diego. Driving, while not a chore, does eventually take a toll. It makes me tired. Road weariness, it’s called.

And so I stop. I will inhale and exhale, deeply, and rise early so as to enjoy the cool breeze before Mother Nature kicks us in the teeth with her steel-toed boot of heat and humidity.

I will rest my brain. I will rest my body. I will rest the parts of me the have to be “on” 99% of the time.

And I will cherish every second.

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