End of exams season loomed and my room had the debris to show for it. Mandarin peels threaten to take over every bare surface that’s not already being occupied by a semi moulding cup of tea.
It occurred to me recently that I’ve never lived a life without my breaks being structured for me. Throughout school, uni and even in my year abroad (when I worked at a school), how I break up my year has always been dictated for me by THE SYSTEM.
Despite knowing months in advance when and for how long my next break will be, it does always seem to creep up on you and then all of a sudden it arrives and now you’re not in the right frame of mind for a proper break. On the other hand, sometimes knowing you are going to have a massive 3 weeks off in the middle of the year can be a double edged sword. You know that you’ll have a chance to debrief with yourself in July so for most of May and June you plough like you’ve never ploughed before and when that fateful July break does hit you’re now yearning so desperately for a rest that 3 weeks might not cut the mustard.
In the week leading up to the break you just want to flip a big fat bird to exams and fantasize instead about what you are doing to do with all that free time when it finally rolls around. You’ll finally have time to do those jobs you never get around to or go on that run you been meaning to try and you’ll defs catch up with friends x,y and z for a series of brunches, lunches and hangouts. Just like that I’ve managed to fill up my free time with planning how free I’m going to be! (someone tell me they do this too?!)
It’s not to say you shouldn’t do those things, I will absolutely never turn down a chance for a wine with a pal, there is a difference between having time off work or uni and actually consciously getting ur CHILL on.
My July break is often very orientated towards one of my great loves, the South Island ski slopes. I did a Spotlight On// Wanaka post last year that showed a little bit of what we get up to when we head down south and even though there wasn’t much snow there’s something about a change of scene that can be really healing and energising, especially when it’s to somewhere as visually stunning as the South Island and the mountains. As corny as it sounds I really think the air down there is different and it’s in my blood now. When you’ve grown up doing something all your life it’s bloody great when you get down there and it feels exciting and familiar at the same time and for me there is a lot of comfort in that.
This year we were blessed with a great week of snow but we still managed to drag ourselves away from the ski field for a day to do something I’ve been wanting to do for years, the walk to the summit of Roy’s Peak. It’s a pretty unforgiving start with a muddy 3 hour slog uphill, it’s also quite tricky to get the timing right so we walked the whole way up in a thick cloud of fog. I’m talking like can’t see your hand in front of your face type deal. On the promise of spectacular views from the early risers who were already making their way down we persevered until finally we burst through the cloud line and suddenly the mountains revealed themselves and you just feel like you’re on top of the world (and aggressively out of breath). It’s actually so beautiful that it takes your breath away and just made me so happy that I’m actually from New Zealand. This walk actually has road access and from a far it just looks like a big hill. Just goes to show that you hardly need to walk out your front door to find some of the most stunning views. wow what a life!
It’s a 6 hour trip all up (7 if you have to stop every 2 seconds to Instagram how relaxed you are are) but for reals it was so awesome to get away from the world for a day and turn to the mountains to reboot the soul. The clouds stayed away for our whole descent and we got to walk the final stretch home through the sunset.
So that was our day! I think what I found by actually consciously trying to unwind on this trip was that when you give yourself a chance to wind right down you get to a point where you’re really ready to wind back up again. I came back to Auckland for the last week of the holidays and just did little things everyday to get my shit back together (including work because let me tell you the copious tubs of exam season ice cream really take their financial toll) Now in the new semester I feel so better for actually taking the time to stop and then start back up again. It can be so easy to just let the holidays roll past you but the power of a good ‘n’ proper recharge is not to be sniffed at.
So next hols, plan those brunches, watch that Netflix show you’ve been meaning to binge, but reward yourself with a beach walk and a bath and really give yourself a pat on the back and give yourself permission to stop and take stock.
‘A calm mind is the ultimate weapon against your challenges’ – Bryant McGill
Cover image taken by me in Monterosso, Cinque Terre, 2014 (will I ever run out of gap year photos, who knows?)