Susan and I just got back from a week on a boat in the southern Caribbean.  I am, by nature, a learner, so I learned a few things on vacation that you might find helpful.  Some of these were little things.  Some, mind-blowing.  You be the judge.

1.  I am an extravert. Maybe that's not news to you, but it kind of was to me.  My wife reminded me more than once that it wasn't a requirement that I talk to everyone on the ship personally. (especially the non-English-speaking travelers)

2.  Life is better with friends.  I haven't always believed this.  I like my space.  I like my peace and quiet.  I like to be alone sometimes.  But, we actually made friends on the boat.  We would run into them, start talking, get lost in conversation and say, "Can you believe what time it is?".  One time they found us having coffee, sat down and started chatting with us...then I pronounced we had been talking 4 hours and we probably should go eat.  We did.  Ran into them at lunch...and continued where we left off for a few more hours.  We've already heard from them since the cruise.  They can't come over for dinner as they live in Florida, but if they could they would.  Life is better when you do it with friends.  I wish I would have learned that one a lot earlier in life.  And, I wish they lived closer.

3.  I have no hobbies.  I read a book or two onboard.  One of them talked about the importance of hobbies in life to reveal and enhance hidden passions.  After Susan tried to convince me that numerous things were my hobbies, we came to conclusion I have none.  Any suggestions will be considered. (Tommy is a dull boy)

4.  I am not the best at determining when I am burned-out and in need of time away from the office.  I'm not sure what stress feels like.  I've never "felt" stressed.  I've never "felt" burned-out.  I've never thought I "needed" a vacation.  "Wanted" one?  Yes.  But, not "needed".  Apparently, I did.  We failed to get away together for a year and a half.  It wasn't a good time for a pastor or it wasn't a good time for a realtor.  Or, it wasn't a good time for our bank account.  Or, it wasn't a good time for the family.  Or,........  That's just stupid.  When you fail to plan intentional white space in your calendar and in your life, you're just playing with fire.  It's not wise.  You probably won't "feel" stressed, but you most likely will be.  You'll put yourself, your marriage, your family, your job, etc., etc., etc., at risk.  Not wise.  Since you don't know when you need some white space, you might be well-served to have someone to tell you when you do.  Listen to them.  Act on it.  Get lost.

5.  When I take a vacation from being a pastor, I read books on how to be a better pastor.  What else am I supposed to read?  Romance novels?  Tips on gardening?  Stuff about my hobby I DON'T HAVE?  Give me a small break here.  Sometimes Susan read me her book.  It wasn't on pastoring!  But, it was a Jen Hatmaker book.  Oh, well.  (Tommy is a dull boy)

6.  I am constantly amazed at the stuff God took the time to make.  He just didn't make islands in the middle of the Caribbean, He made them beautiful.  It's beauty on steroids.  God's made more colors than I knew existed. (I'm limited to the Crayola box...the BIG one)

7.  My wife, who was afraid to snorkel, isn't afraid when I hold her hand.  Amazing!  I had learned to like snorkeling (although I'm not a real drift too far from the shore kind of guy), but Susan didn't like it and it really isn't too much fun for me all alone.  Then....EUREKA!  I reached out and grabbed her hand and she relaxed and began to actually enjoy it.  We snorkeled all over Trunk Bay on St. John's Island.  Then, at Aruba, we snorkeled all over Palm Island. (we even heard this siren go off and realized someone must be in trouble...only to find out it was us...we were out beyond the buoy.  Then, (it's gets better!) she volunteered us for a personally guided tour out deep beyond where the reef drops off!  Amazing chick!  I think she can go anywhere as long as I hold her hand.

8.  I wish whoever trains the ship's staff could train our greeters.  No offense, greeters.  You rock!  But, those peeps on that boat amazed me.  They all knew my name even before I met them.  Our waiter, Soccoro,  greeted us at our table each night by asking us, "Tom and Susan, how was your day?".  The steward in the hallway where our cabin was located yelled from 4 cabins down, "Tom & Susan, how are you!".  Wait a minute...we hadn't even been to our cabin yet!  Our assistant waiter, Carlos, remembered that Susan asked for iced tea one night.  She automatically had it every night thereafter.  She also liked this one kind of little roll they served.  There weren't any in our breadbasket one night. I told him and she had 3 or 4 every night after that.  I guess...sometimes you want to go....where everybody knows your name!

9.  Sex can be better at 60 than it was at 25.  Yeah, that one surprised me too.  Who knew?  If you're only like 30 or 40, chin up.  Think of all you've got to look forward to!  Maybe it's just the sea air.  Who cares?  It's worth staying married me.

10.  I mentioned life is better with friends.  Therefore, I always travel with my best friend.  What a challenge it must be to have stayed marred to me for the last 35 years.  Amazingly, she has.  I doubt I would have, but she did.  Thank goodness I married a hard-headed woman who ain't got no quit in her.  Otherwise, who would I snorkel with...or other things?

PS: I may take up writing as a hobby.