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On the day before our spring break vacation, I felt I was screwing up left and right — with our Airbnb guests, with our neighborhood cat-sitter, and with our oldest daughter. Then I went to pick up a book I had ordered at the bookstore and thought, Will my book ever get here? Will I even be happy if it does? Has this all been a childish dream?

I decided to go unplugged on the trip (and make the kids do it too). I needed to disconnect from everything, and when I’d done it before, I’d escaped my little self and tapped into something bigger. I’d found answers.

That week in North Carolina we climbed sand dunes, flew kites, boarded ships, and made candles out of beeswax. But with all the touring, bickering, grocery shopping, picnicking, and the impossibility of finding a movie that the 5 of us could agree on, I began to long for a vacation from my vacation.

One evening after trying unsuccessfully to get the kids to settle down and read a book, I remembered the writing workshop I had been looking forward to. It was online, but since I was off-, I figured I’d skip it. But something inside told me: Go.

“See flash fiction and micro-memoir as a bootcamp,” said the teacher Heather Sellers. “You can improve more quickly if you train in this tight small canvas. Keep a daily diary. Listen and look very closely. Record what you see, you hear, you do.”

The next day I wrote about the grills where we played basketball the night before, furry with our charcoal dust, and the green lizard that tilted his head as he kept watch on me. I wrote down what the ladies in the thrift store on Friday morning said, and before the kids woke up on the last day, I took my notebook to the beach and wrote about the lacy foam, the bubbling crab holes, and how soon my footprints became puddles of sea water.

When we returned home, the world rushed back in. For a few days I was barely staying above all the laundry, unpacking, weeding, and emails. But if I hadn't pushed back the noise of the world, I wouldn’t have heard the message I needed to hear: You can write a book if you want, but don't be in such a hurry that you miss the beautiful little things right in front of you.

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