I was sitting by the pool today, enjoying the warmth and healing energy of the sun and I found myself paying attention to the interactions among many of the people around me.

What struck me first was the number of young families who spent hours just following their children around as they played in the pool, or in the sand. I watched grown ups who perhaps in their every day lives have little time to just BE in the moment with their children being very present to what ever it was that brought their children joy…and then watching the joy they felt experiencing their children’s joy.

I watched couples leaning across their beach chair to touch the hand of their beloved, or hold the hand of their spouse as they walked in the cool water of the pool. I watched strangers take the time to chat with others as they sat dangling their feet over the edge of the pool. I noticed my father light up when the young Mexican man teaching us aqua aerobics took time to acknowledge how well he was doing, as he probably was the oldest participant in the activity.

Overall, I couldn’t help but wonder why we often have to be on vacation to experience undivided attention to the moment, softness towards those we love, connection with strangers and acknowledgement when someone does something well.

I suspect the answer to my question lies in the fact that every day life often has us so hurried and stressed that we don’t have the ‘energy’ or the inclination to do much of the above. That we focus on what is most pressing versus the being in the moment, we feel annoyed by the people we love not because of anything they have done, but simply because we are agitated generally, and if we don’t have time or energy for those we love how could we ever carve out time for strangers, and to acknowledge someone for their accomplishment would require having the presence of mind to even notice what they have accomplished!

So, how to create ‘vacation’ moments in the every day reality of life? If you see the value and the beauty in what I have described above, than I have a couple of suggestions that might help, especially since the Christmas holidays are just around the corner and you may be even more stressed and busier than your regular ‘normal’.

Suggestion Number 1:

Make a choice; make a choice to place relationships, connection, presence or in the moment moments a priority. Your to do list will still be there tomorrow, next week, probably even next year, so put some of the ‘doing’ aside and put the ‘being’ at the top of the list. Better yet be mindful to what you are saying yes to so that you leave space for what really is important. For many people busy is the way we think we get our esteem needs met, and yet at the end of the day relationships are often where we get ‘fed’ the most.

Remember the quote by the Dalai Lama:

Suggestion Number 2:

Make agreements with those around you to ‘buy in’ to the suggestion number 1, it’s often easier to follow through with what you said you were going to do if others are on board and committed to the same goal. We tend to inspire and be more inspired when we share a vision and a goal and hold each other accountable.

Suggestion Number 3:

If going on vacation is not an option over the holiday’s plan a staycation, get all those that you love to agree to taking time over the holidays to stay together and spend time being with each other. Plan activities that have gone the way of the dinosaur…instead of video games plan to go ice skating on an outdoor rink, instead of looking down at your cell phones, go look up at Christmas Lights together and drink hot chocolate, instead of laying on the couch watching television, grab a toboggan and find a hill to slide down, play a board game, massage each other’s feet. Find something to do that brings everyone joy!

Suggestion Number 4:

Have a presentless Christmas. Decide that instead of doing the mad rush and stress enhancer of buying people a bunch of stuff they either don’t need or probably won’t like anyway, donate to your loved one’s favorite charity of choice, or get them a gift certificate for groceries or gas, something that will help them in a very practical way and guarantee it brings value to their life.

And last but not least,

Suggestion Number 5:

Tell people how much they mean to you, highlight the things they have done over the past year that have made you proud, express gratitude towards them for what they have contributed to your life, and of course at some point look them in the eyes and tell them sincerely, “I love you.”

And so as the holidays get closer, I would like to say to each of you, thank you for being in my life over the past year, I am grateful for the part you have played in my learning, my successes, my evolution. I hope that over the holidays I may get to hold your hand, massage your feet, share a eggnog, and if not, please know how much I love you and more importantly know that I look forward to continuing to serve you in the upcoming year in whatever way you may require.