Going Off The Grid

You know that moment when you exit a highway and, accustomed to moving at 70 miles per hour, you find it strange to acclimate to a slower speed?  That's how I feel in July. You see, late one evening I was surrounded by papers, rubrics, and end-of-semester spreadsheets, looking like this:

And early the next morning -- quite literally fifteen minutes after uploading final grades -- we loaded our family into a minivan that looked like this:

And five hours later we arrived at our destination (Bethany Beach, Delaware) where we encountered views like this:

It was lovely. There's nothing quite like ending a semester by putting 270 miles between you and campus.

Now we're back home again, and I'm falling into the rhythm of July, the one month that I don't teach. There's no real rhythm to July. My days are loosely structured. I drive my kids to places. I clean. I gather things for our annual garage sale. I cross off items from my to-do list as I complete small projects around the house. I read books. I drive my kids to even more places. I slowly try to build some running stamina again. I sometimes go a full 24 hours without checking my work email. I go off the grid.

July reminds me what it's like to be, not just to do, while also daily reminding me that my hair and humidity don't get along well. It's a quirky kind of a month -- a bit slow and sticky, speckled with moments when I feel unproductive and off-kilter because I'm not used to downshifting. I almost feel guilty.

But I'm learning. Yesterday afternoon I took my kids to the pool, and although it had been hot and humid, I sat on the side while they swam. Finally, after finishing the chapter I was reading and tucking in my book mark, I walked to the deep end and jumped in -- no hemming and hawing, no slow wading into the shallows, no deliberating whether I should get my hair wet.

I just jumped, at first shocked by the contrasting cold, then entirely refreshed.

It reminds me: when life opens up and refreshment is there for the taking, whether a dip in a pool on a scorching day or a few weeks when I'm relieved of my teaching schedule, it's okay to embrace it. It's okay to yield, to let go of the structure, to relinquish control, to forgo the urge to always adhere to a productive routine. Because, Lord knows, the break is only temporary.

Sometimes it's smart to jump in without overthinking. When refreshment is there for the taking, just take it.


  1. Sometimes you just need to relax. My son and I just got back from the beach too. The crashing waves are incredibly calming.

    1. Agreed, Jennifer! There's nothing quite as peaceful as watching waves roll in. Glad you and your son were able to get away for a little while!


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