Windmills from two eras in Roscoe, TX west of Sweetwater (courtesy jcwadeaz at Flickr CC)The epiphany came during a nighttime drive; I crested a rise just south of Sweetwater, Texas and saw a bunch of eerie blinking red lights all across the horizon.

Massive airport runway?

A bazillion cell phone towers?

Aliens?

No, it was the red lights for hundreds of wind turbines on the wind farms that are spread across this section of the Panhandle Plains.

At that moment – free of any responsibilities other than pondering red lights – I felt more relaxed than I have felt in months, and I was nowhere near a beach, a lake, a mountaintop, a drink with an umbrella in it or any of the other typical mental vacation images.

That’s when it hit me: a vacation is a state of mind, not a particular location.

The process of getting ready to back out of the driveway is part of the vacation. It put me in a getaway mindset to simply turn on my email Out of Office (an anachronistic feature when so many of us can access email on our phones if we have to.) I needed to do that because unless I publicly announce, “Hey everyone, leave me alone for a day or so!” then I am compelled to continue shoveling out the IN box all day every day. People expect it, and they should; I’m a freelancer and an entrepreneur and those are the breaks of the “untethered to an office” lifestyle.

The problem is, without a real office door to shut, without co-workers or assistants to hand my work to, there is no vacation. There is no chance to vacate my poor noggin and let it rest.

You must make your own open spaces in your life, when your head can breathe, and until now I have failed miserably to do that.

It took a long drive to Sweetwater (which I will not insult by calling it the “middle of nowhere,” but many will look at it that way) to show me that the right mindset, not some brochure-ish destination, is what lets my head breathe and go on vacation.

Think I’ll go sit and stare at turbines for awhile….