The immeasurable value of VACATION MIND.


When was the last time you heard someone say …


“Oh MAN! I just had the most INCREDIBLE idea and PRODUCTIVE creative experience, while sitting at my computer after a long, hard day of trying & thinking & typing!”

Or …


“You know that PROBLEM I’ve been trying to solve? The ANSWER totally came to me, like an EPIPHANY … while I was mindlessly checking my Twitter stream!”

Or …


“Dude! I am SO glad I decided NOT to take a month off to explore the castle ruins of Scotland … because I got some Very Important Email Answering done!”

I can tell you the last time I heard those phrases uttered. 199-NEVER. Ha.

So, friends. Lately, I’ve been testing out a new theory … a creativity mindset, if you will.

It’s a state of living & working where the boiler-cooker in your brain gets turrrrned down to a gentle simmer, and priorities get reshuffled, and obligations get reframed, and there’s a lot more coconut water & good music & movement.


It’s pretty simple to step into VACATION MIND. (No monk-level meditation required.)


Here’s how it works:

When you wake up in the morning, you tell yourself, “Hooray! I’m on vacation!” and then you go about your (usual) business.

And then when something arrives to interrupt your flow, you tell yourself, “It’s OK, I’m on vacation!” and then continue onward. (That’s it.)

Here’s what happens:

: You have (actual) epiphanies about why you’re on the planet & how to serve the people who need you.
: You walk through the snow & actually marvel at it, instead of texting mirthlessly whilst dodging black ice.
: You say YES to spontaneous yoga classes, and brunch dates, and leisurely phone calls with your mom.
: You actually taste your coffee & consider the morning news.
: Emails linger for a day or two or three longer than usual — and nobody dies, or even blinks.
: You gracefully extricate yourself from entanglements — and it feels good, and humane.
: You launch & host kickin’ fundraiser parties, just like that.
: You outline your next book. And then another one.
: You cook kale & bake pies & fluff pillows.
: You post letters to the president.
: You feel your way forward.
: You write a poem.

… because you’re on VACATION, after all!

And the counter-intuitive thing is, you still start what needs to be started, and finish what needs to be finished, and fulfill what needs to be fulfilled.

Because you’re not dead, and you’re not lazy, and you’re not burying your head in the sand. You’re just choosing to move through reality, differently.

So. I want to know …

When was the last time you experienced VACATION MIND? What happened?

And: what would you create this week, if you were on vacation?


P.S. I just looked up the etymology for the word “vacation.” It stems from the Latin word vacatio, meaning “freedom from obligations or duty, leisure, release.” RELEASE! I like that. A lot.


I get my best ideas at the SPA, in the bath or walking in nature.
“Disconnecting” is absolutely necessary so I am now implementing “no electronics Sunday”. It’s a start :-)

Definitely when I’m in the shower. It literally feels like the ONLY place and time when I am doing something for ME without being interrupted. I have soooo many breakthroughs and ideas! I just wish a had a mind recorder or waterproof pen and pad!

Jackie – I have this and I LOVE it! Waterproof pad and pencil


I’ve been holding off on finally getting a mani/pedi and I think I’m just going to go do that today :)

Thanks for this. I need vacation mind right about now.

I love the idea of going through life like that. Today I woke up feeling kind of like I was on vacation. I’m doing things that need to get done, but I’m also drinking my coffee at a leisurely pace and I suspect I will lose myself in a book for a few hours

The last time I experienced this, I noticed that I was unattached to getting a particular result. I was able to talk to someone about coaching and have them get totally enrolled in the idea and want to hire me. The stakes felt low because I chose for them to. Maybe the stakes never have to be high! I love this idea, Alex!

Ahhh…this is a gem. Lately I’ve been tipping my toe in and out of vacation mind, while I’ve been in my creative cave. Now, I didn’t call it “vacation mind” but you’ve put it so well…I’m going to jump right in because it’s soooo feels good. I aspire to be there ‘forever’ too…hmm, better go take a walk and I’m sure it will come to me. :)

“Nibblin on sponge cake
Watchin the sun bake
All of those tourists covered with oil
Strummin my six-string
On my front porch swing
Smell those shrimp they’re beginnin to boil”

Betsy McDowell on Jan 23, 2013 Reply

Sing it, sister!
I stay HOME on Wednesdays (instead of heading to the local coffeeshop) and that means sleeping in, making coffee slowly, then doing the work that sounds like the most fun in my pjs and fuzzy slippers.
I might not get lots done (I call it my “day off”, so there’s no pressure), but the day AFTER is crazy-productive. Ideas, focus, and laser-fast writing.
On weeks where I have too much going on or just feel uninspired…I take a second day off. It started off as an experiment, but the results were so conclusive, it’s now the Law.

Vacation on!

A zillion times YES! The immeasurable value of VACATION MIND, from @alex_franzen

So true….. I totally also get all my best ideas in the bath, shower or if I’m having a nana nap…. The days where I unplug (not often enough) are where those little gems just pop in loud and clear…
Thank you for the reminder!

I love being on vacation and tend to do this in a half-assed kind of way by never using an alarm clock, turning on music and dancing with my son first thing in the morning, going to my favorite cafe for their Love Bomb smoothie at least 2 times per week, staring out the window of my office and watching the pods on the tree outside move in the wind.

HOWEVER…..I was sick this week and something I noticed is that when I turned off Facebook for 2 days, I felt BETTER. And it did feel more like a vacation to not be so plugged in all day and night. I felt present in my life, I felt free ( and freedom is one of my highest conditions for greatness )

I told a few friends not to expect me there as much anymore.
They understood. When I’m on vacation I explore, I buy 4×5 film and break out the pinhole camera and take photos, and I create MUCH more artwork than when I’m working. Which doesn’t make sense since I’m a photographer. So….

Yea….Adjusting to the Vacation Mind. STAT.

The immeasurable value of VACATION MIND. via @Alex_Franzen

LOVE this…… a client of mine just introduced me to a new word… maitri, which means unconditional friendliness to oneself. It seems that vacation mindset is exactly that ! Amazing what shows up when we take a gentle approach :)

I went on vacation today when I decided not to spend hours working on home under a rock. I took a detour helping my mom nanny her kids this afternoon. It was a good time because I never hang out with little ones and I forget about the wonder and awe of childhood. We played and danced and imagined. We studied the difference between reptiles and amphibians. I laughed out loud. It was simply a few hours. I probably wouldn’t have gotten much done in that time anyway. I’d rather work tonight for a short while & with more gusto after making a new little friend, if that makes sense.

Monica on Jan 23, 2013 Reply

Brilliant! Leaving for my vacation today. And then going to Europe for real trip in February where I will be offline for two whole weeks. Taking a journal in expectation of incredible insights and ideas.

So how much do I LOVE your posts!!! <<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>> this much!!!! I’m standing with my arms out from each side of my body as far as far as they can go… :o)

Yup vacation mind… I LOVE IT… I love to let myself flow as I do my day and creativity in me thrives in those places … so let’s just see what happens when I wake up tomorrow and say… “I’m on vacation!” and go about my day.

GOOD ONE! Thank you! Continue Rockin’ sister!

Yes! Synchronistically affirming something ive made an experiment goal for 2013. I know for sure that when I get away – even for a day or two – from home & to do list, I get more present happy playful delicious feeling…and yes breakthroughs will follow. Ive heard about “work like you’re eon vacation”- the idea of working some short power hours in the morn and then living the rest of the day as if vacationing. This approach can go deep–i am going to devote myself to it. Thanks for making it make even more sense! Sorry for insane typos—good old kindle fire makes typing whacked.

Liz Eastwood on Jan 24, 2013 Reply

Yes, yes, yes … have been playing with this concept too …
I find my biggest best ideas, creativity, writing, strategies and transformative insights arise while in the hot tub or sauna. I found it so interesting that a huge percentage of women above said that they had the most breakthroughs and ideas at the spa or in water … I’ve always wanted to create a women’s retreat where we have tons of “doing nothing” time, so that a million epiphanies come through. Sounds like other people women would be interested in this type of thing too. Lovely.

CAROLINE :: “No Electronics Sunday” sounds stellar.

JACKIE :: I get brill ideas in the shower, too. And baaaaaths.

AMANDA :: Those AquaNotes are genius! WANT!

LADY UNLACED :: I believe life should generally be lived at a leisurely pace. What’s the rush?

JEN KEM :: It’s amazing what a quick walk can do … you could even take a swim, Island Lady! ;)

BETSY :: I don’t know what that song is, but I dig the vibe. Feels like summer.

TARA :: A Very Fine Law, indeed!

MICHELLE :: Pop Pop!

CATHERINE THE GREAT :: Recipe for Love Bomb Smoothie now, please.

LINZI :: Oooooh … maitri. I had a therapist who often said, “Be gentle with yourself.” Sound advice.

LORAN :: That journal is going to be FULL. (Bring an extra, just in case. ;)

ELIZABETH :: Sing it!

LIZ :: Power-work in the morning. Play in the afternoon. Get into (good) trouble at night. Sounds like a sane + humane + beautiful LIFE!

KATIE :: We all crawled out of the primordial sea, once. Maybe we all turn to water, for renewal & reinvention.

Alexandra Franzen on Jan 24, 2013 Reply

Been doing the same with a new morning ritual where I and don’t start anything until it’s completed.
Release = two new coaching clients in a matter of days.

Hmmm – I think I will have to try this!!! I love the idea of looking at everything from a different perspective, a less “trapped” or “I should” one if you will. :)

I do vacation really really well, lol. But yeah…my best ideas come in the bathtub (glass of wine usually helps) :). I now have tub crayons but will be looking into Aquanotes!

I wish you could have included some advice about how to get vacation mind for folks who are under the thumb of poverty. I think most people don’t vacation their minds not because they don’t know how, or don’t think its a good idea, but because there are real reasons, real systems, that prevent them. Its not as much of a choice as the article makes it seem.

dreadedwren on Jan 25, 2013 Reply

EMMANUELLE :: Release is a magical thing!

STACIE :: Do it!

JEN :: Tub crayons sound kinda incredible. Please send a photo of your next bathtub art project.

DREADEDWREN :: You raise a really interesting point. Can you step into Vacation Mind when you’re facing excruciating external circumstances — like poverty, illness, or grief?

I don’t have a perfect answer to that question, and I can only speak from own personal experiences, as an (undeniably privileged) Western woman.

But I will say this …

I like to think of Vacation Mind as a mindset of freedom, flexibility, creativity & release. I have known people with very, very little money who completely embody those qualities. And I have known people with plenty of money who don’t.

So, does living in a state of financial oppression make it harder to feel “free”? Definitely. But I believe that it is still possible.

Alexandra Franzen on Jan 25, 2013 Reply

I guess my point was that “freedom, flexibility, creativity, and release” are privileges that are largely mediated through a person’s position in the world–class, race, sex/gender, Immigration or HIV status, body and brain health, etc.

When you write things like “when something arrives to interrupt your flow, you tell yourself, “It’s OK, I’m on vacation!” and then continue onward. (That’s it.)” it normalizes a very narrow way of being in the world, obscures the struggles of others, and sounds a lot like victim-blaming.

Not acknowledging the people for whom VM is not easy or possible, and validating those reasons, is a missed opportunity to deepen the discussion here. Which is a shame, because Vacation Mind is an otherwise useful coping mechanism. And I think your article would be enriched by that kind of accountability.

dreadedwren on Jan 25, 2013 Reply

DREADEDWREN :: It sounds like the intersection between ‘privilege’ and ‘mindset’ is a subject that you’re deeply passionate about — and it sounds like you have some personal insights that I don’t.

I’d love to see you write a piece about it … and if you do, feel free to post a link in the comments, here, so we can find it!

Alexandra Franzen on Jan 25, 2013 Reply

Ahhh, Vacation Mind – something I experience when I run. Time for me to unplug, breathe deeply, ground myself, create and absorb nature.

I need to try and have some vacation mind this week! I’ve been creatively blocked when it comes to trying to rebrand and rename my blog/business and clearly the pressure I’m putting on myself to perform is not giving me the results I want!

Oh, love this idea Alexandra! I can say that today I accidentally woke up in vacation mode since I was sick and home all day. I imaged actual ideas for my future bakery and to expand my blog. Thanks! This post put it into perspective.

This is perfect. Great timing. Just going solo freelance and totally need this perspective. As you know, it’s pressure-cooker style stressful leaping with no net, and that tension leads to bad mojo. Bad mojo means poopy work and an empty wallet. No bueno.

Your post kind of brings to mind, what Bruce Lipton calls the honeymoon mindset. When you’re on your honeymoon, you have no looming, grinding deadlines. You go wherever you want. Eat the foods you want to eat. Enjoy people watching. Explore. Have long conversations into the night after amazing sex. Sleep in.

If we could carry that mindset into our day to day lives (as you suggested), we’d all be better off. And more productive. And more delightful to be around.

Thanks Again


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