I took a week off and it made me realize how badly I needed a break. Mostly a mental break.
When you love your job, your life naturally intertwines with your work and vice-versa as many of your social interactions are also commingled. This year we’ve added constant zoom meetings as you work from home with no physical separation of the two. Now, layer on the constant low-level stress of physical health and economic uncertainty. Throw in virtual school and it’s really messy. But you already knew all that.
The week off included some time with friends, fishing and camping on the South Fork and Snake rivers in Wyoming. It was a group of friends that spanned from high school to venture capital for me but we weren’t focused on work. We enjoyed days outdoors with our minds focused on nothing more than fooling those beautiful cutthroat trout. We laughed and made fun of each other at night with good food and amazing stars. The energy of spending time outdoors with friends still sits with me. One of my friends described it as a mental “defrag”. I love that, partly because it shows both our age and general nerd status.
The second part of the week had me volunteering in Yellowstone National Park with Clint Bybee as part of the ARCH Ventures volunteer program in support of Yellowstone Forever (please support if you are so inclined). We worked with a group of veterans from Warfighter Outfitters to help rebuild the corral at Canyon. It was a fun group of people to be around and their enthusiasm to lock-in and build together was inspiring. They had us cutting, carrying, welding, and pounding retired drilling pipe to build fences that will last longer than the people building them. I couldn’t stay for the whole week but was proud to spend a couple of days among that crowd. Again, working outdoors with a focus on giving back with an incredible group of people.
The last, and best, part of the week was when my girls joined me in Jackson to see Teton and Yellowstone national parks. It was important to have a break and come back to my girls. I could be more present and patient, appreciating their enthusiasm even more. The girls loved the geysers, wildlife, and especially the bear we saw on a hike. I was glad it was a small black bear and not a brown bear! We know that it was just a preview of more time that we’ll spend in Jackson and the park but it was again, time spent outdoors with a focus on family.
Taking a break was really important and the week coming back (and catching up) only reinforced how much I appreciated that “normal” time with friends and family. I was able to forget about all the things of 2020. It gave me some of the mental break that I needed.
My partner, Brad, has always espoused the benefit of quarterly vacations and practicing a digital sabbath. It provides you the mental break to process and an opportunity to reset. That’s why, today, I’m sitting on the couch and watching college football. Doing my best to find a brief moment of normal in 2020. Tomorrow, we’re going to get outside and hike together in Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s important to get some time with friends and family in the outdoors.
This year is a real challenge. Make sure you take care of yourself.