I love holidays. Who doesn’t?

One of my last holidays was what has been popularised as ‘a staycation’. Following a huge holiday at Easter exploring Ghana, energy, finances, and my daughters’ ‘need’ to see their friends, meant we decided to stay at home.

With daughters of 12 and 15, holiday ‘childcare’ is easier now that they don’t need looking after all day, every day. On the other hand, it’s also harder as we don’t really want them left entirely to their own devices during our working week. So, we juggle the 7-week holiday by alternating leave between my partner and I, stints at my mum’s, and this year, an orchestra tour and a trip to stay with a friend’s grandmother in Marseille. (Yes, I was extremely jealous.)

In the 10 days I had off, I enjoyed a glorious mixture of sleeping in, days out and decluttering. We went room by room, through cupboards and piles of stuff that seemed to magically accumulate over the course of the year. It was cathartic and emotional, identifying items we no longer needed like toys, puzzles, and games. It played to my inner organiser, letting me find homes for all the bits and pieces that just hang around or are dumped in haste. I loved seeing clear work surfaces, tables and carpets.

A real joy was the treasure trove of photos and a pile of CDs with videos recording our lives, snippets of family parties, Christmases and holidays spanning 2000-2010. Engrossing myself in these slowed my decluttering but also made me smile and weep in fairly equal measure; not everyone in the videos is still with us. One video featured me, 8 months pregnant, at a Center Parcs yoga class, lounging on a mat, with Kaela (then 2) sitting listening attentively during the introduction, then zipping round the classroom, paying no attention for the entire class. Meanwhile Jon (who hates yoga), just in frame, can be seen diligently doing all the poses. It was hilarious.

In the grand tidy up, I happened across a box of work papers, including past 360˚ reports and artefacts from my professional and personal development journey, such as my Chartered Member of CIPD coursework and various development scheme exercises. It was rewarding flicking through these and considering them alongside my most recent 360˚ report. There was feedback that was repeated, but mostly there were comments that allowed me to reflect on how my behaviours have changed over the course of my professional journey.

I also rediscovered a piece of research on Tempered  Radicals. I remember how life-changing it was when I first read this and realised, I was a Tempered Radical. ‘Tempered radicals find themselves in the tricky situation of trying to be a part of the dominant culture while at the same time trying to change the system.’

It had helped me explain why I was a bit like Marmite for some. Why, despite really caring about people and always striving to create improvement, I had always been a bit of a misfit, seeming regularly to rub many people up the wrong way. This, combined with my slightly perfectionist tendencies and (though I hate to admit it) really wanting to be liked and approved of, had often led me to question myself or be unsure. Recognising that I served a purpose and that some of the cost of that was not always being liked or appreciated provided real solace, as recognising the value I add despite sometimes rocking the boat was important.

So, all in all, a relaxing and productive bit of annual leave (now a long distant memory). I would highly commend a bit of life- and mind-decluttering to all and I give a big shout out to all the fellow Tempered Radicals out there.