One of the lovely things about being in the locations I was in on my vacation was that I was pretty much off the grid. I could use my iPhone a bit while still in the country, but once we got to France, we had little contact with the outside world. Although we could have purchased an English language newspaper, we didn't and we watched a bit of French news which was mostly about the Tour de France. We did manage to find out about Michael Jackson, but mostly we had no idea what was going on. And we didn't really miss it. At least I didn't.
I spent time just appreciating my surroundings, but also thinking about where I am and where I'm going. And this extended to Mr. Geeky and together, we reflected on our lifestyle--what was good, what we didn't like, etc. Overall, I'd say, we like where we are and how our life has turned out, but there are things that we'd like to be better. Just before we'd left, I'd commented on how I felt our lives here were sort of rushed, that it was fast-paced and it seemed difficult to slow down. In essence, I feel like this is part of the culture here. This would probably be true of any major metropolitan area where commute times (both to work and to shopping, schools, etc.) eat into time to spend alone with a book or with family. I also think there's an element of our own rushed tempo with our careers in technology that move at the speed of light. I think we have been influenced both by the locale and our careers to feel the need to do everything quickly.
Another element that feels problematic to me is the lack of connection I feel to my neighbors. I have plenty of friends, but they are far flung, living in the city or in other suburbs. I've made a real effort, though, in the last few months, to make those connections. It takes time and effort. I think improving these connections might help slow things down a bit, and make us feel like we have ties that support us.
On the material side, with my leaving regular work, the plans we had for improving our house to gain space and make it more our own have been put on hold. Moving out a ways might gain us some space, but it adds to the commute, uproots the kids from their schools and disconnects us from the few connections we do have. But there are small things we can do--painting, smaller improvements--that might make a big difference. And really, we don't care that much about our physical accoutrements.
One thing I've been thinking about is trying to not be so hard on myself. I've spent much of my life comparing myself negatively to others, and although I've mostly stopped doing that, I find it sneaking in occasionally, making me feel that who I am and what I have is not good enough. But it is. I really have few complaints. Those I have can be fairly easily remedied. So I came away from my vacation much more appreciative of what I have and the life I've built, but with an eye to continue working on the things I want to be better. And I hope to slow down and appreciate it even more.